Stalling out into silence.

I’m borrowing this from Neil Gaiman’s blog:

Writers are people who write. By and large, they are not happy people. They’re not good at relationships. Often they’re drunks. And writing — good writing — does not get easier and easier with practice. It gets harder and harder — so eventually the writer must stall out into silence.The silence that waits for every writer and that, inevitably, if only with death (if we’re lucky the two may happen at the same time: but they are still two, and their coincidence is rare), the writer must fall into is angst-ridden and terrifying – and often drives us mad. (In a letter to Allen Tate, the poet Hart Crane once described writing as “dancing on dynamite.”) So if you’re not a writer, consider yourself fortunate.

Obviously I like this quote, or else I wouldn’t be posting it here.  It also happens to be very, very true.  While driving to work this morning, I was thinking about how I haven’t written anything since last week, since all that crap with the bank, and how I’ve just felt extremely unmotivated.  I’m beginning to wonder if writing it all out by hand isn’t the best course of action to take.  At times I feel overwhelmed by the story I have to tell.  I thought breaking it up into smaller chunks would help.  I thought about maybe going back, typing up the prologue and chapter one to see how it would look in print, and then go from there.  Ultimately I’ve made no decision.  Maybe I’ve reached a pocket of silence?  Not death, of course, but perhaps I’m mentally tapped out at the moment?  I’ve no shortage of ideas – in fact, there’s another one for a novel just screaming to get out, and I suppose if things don’t start moving again with imagiNATION, I may take it out of the box and tinker with it.  We’ll see, though.  I think I just need to take a few days and really meditate on chapter two, because it’s not going as well as I’d hoped.  More on that soon.

I also realized I’ve not been doing much reading, either.  I’m in the process of (slowly) reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for the first time (yes, yes, I know I’m late to the party), as well as re-reading World War Z by Max Brooks.  I also realized that Chuck Palahniuk’s latest novel has been out for two weeks and I completely forgot about it.  And that’s when it hit me:  I’ve no interest in reading it.  That’s a first for me.  Usually I’m there on day one and have finished the book in a matter of days.  Now my reaction is simply “Meh.”

Seeing as how summer is here and I usually try to catch up on my reading, I’d love a whole number of recommendations.  In the meantime I’ve got some story thinking to do.

’til next time,


8 thoughts on “Stalling out into silence.

  1. I wouldn’t get down about the way the book drafting is going–even established authors have to get the shirt off and beat a story out of the ether every now and then. It’s just a matter of focus, which might come after any number of catalytic events (good day at work, bad day at work, fantastic sex, finding a penny on the ground, picking your nose to great satisfaction, etc. etc.). But it will come, and when it does I have no doubt you’ll be there ready with your metaphorical catcher’s mitt.

    On the other hand, have you tried freewriting lately?

    Huh, Chuck has a new book out? Shows how often I go to the shops :\ Hrm. I’m afraid I don’t really have any recommendations for you either. The last two books I’ve started have been non-finishers, and I’ve taken to watching series before I go to bed rather than reading (though I started a mental roster this week whereby I read one night then watch ‘TV’ the next). So perhaps in a few more weeks I’ll have some. Be well!

  2. My problem is that I’ve found a bunch of other things that need to get done, and bugger if they’re not interfering with my writing time. I’m not stressing about it, so neither should you. It comes and goes, the trick is just to pay attention when it’s coming and put pen to paper when the torrent spews forth.

    As for recommendations – Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan. I think it’s from 2002, but it was new to me, and I loved the hell right out of it.

  3. I understand Todd I really do, usually I have plenty of time to write and my mind is like: Eh, lets try tomorrow. It saddens me that I’m like that and I know I can get one novel done by the time my summer vacation is done, it also hurts that I’m getting too many ideas for short stories or novels. I have two novel series I can write and yet it’s like the train has come full stop.

    As for reading again that is like a slow place but I’m getting there, I read The Husband by Dean Koontz last week, wonderful book, and now I’m reading Final Theory by Mark Alpert, which is going at a slow pace, slower than usual. (What’s sad is that I want to reed Chuck’s books as well but I blame that on money and school.) I blame two things for my slow pace reading and writing, my laptop and my laziness. Combined it will keep me from doing anything and the sad thing is I need my laptop to write. Though I hope for you that you get back into the spirit of reading and writing, it be a sad thing if that doesn’t happen.

    As for recommendations, if you like Albert Einstein, FBI, Physics, and hired killers then you probably like Final Theory by Mark Alpert. It just came out this year so it is still in hard back, and this is a book I’m taking a chance on, though in my opinion it seems to be pretty good and I would not find it strange if it gets turned into a movie. (I hate that they screwed up Jumper by Steven Gould, another book you should read).

    Anyways, good luck and take care.


  4. I know exactly how you feel. The worst part is that I’m going through waves where I *am* motivated, then hitting these stupid walls entirely due to poor planning (more 2 years ago when I began the intensive writing; my habits in the last year improved so much). So I have to pause and then write passages from scratch, which is daunting.

    Since you’re on goodreads now, you can look through my recent books for recommendations. Though, as a caveat, I would not recommend Hans Henny Jahnn to most readers. It’s hard enough to find English translations of his work, and it is just so grotesque and weird.

    Have I recommended Dennis Cooper to you before? I recommend him to most Palahniuk fans.
    Which reminds me, did you ever get around to reading more Poppy Z. Brite? There is some connection between the two. I sold off all our Brite books some years ago, but I still consider her 1st two horror novels well worth the read.

  5. The fire dies that isn’t being fed and stoked. Digressive much, Neil? Break up your sentences a bit.

    Anyway I think you’re right about the by hand writing. It’s nice every now and again to take a stroll through the countryside, but it’s not how you make the daily commute. Everyone’s got his or her own method. If I hear something screaming, I let it out. It might not scream later. At least I get down some notes so that it’ll still talk when I need it to. Do read, do. Input has to match output. Reading and writing are like breathing: too much inhalation and you’ll hyperventilate, too little and you’ll go into a yawning fit or outright faint.

    If you haven’t already, read old man Pressfield’s War of Art. His novels are good reads too. DeLillo’s Great Jones Street. I recall you’ve tried White Noise or maybe Underworld: those aren’t good DeLillo primers. Anything by Paul Auster. Go into the library and just browse through some old nameless fiction. Let the good draw you in and give you fuel; let the bad reaffirm the confidence you have in your own work and process.

    I’ll give you the advice I’ve found most helpful, which I must constantly give myself: turn off your fucking brain. Don’t think about writing, do it. Don’t talk about writing, do it. Set aside your half hour or hour each day to sit down and let come whatever may come. Hopefully it’s work on the project you want to work on. If you’ve taken the step to knuckle down and work, usually your subconscious / muse / whatever will support you in that much. If it’s something else, which sometimes it will be, it’s your turn to trust your subconscious / whatever and repay the favour by letting the new stuff out. Leave organization of the material for later, outside the writing time. It’ll work out. Your soul will never lead you astray.

  6. it is creepy as hell how similar that sounds to my own situation. all of it, the quote and what you wrote. good company.

  7. Join Me by Danny Wallace.

    ‘So you see, imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.’
    -Brenda Ueland

    Relevent? Perhaps.

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