Thursday, February 16, 2006

Writing Like a Madman

My very best writing is like lightning. I'm not the fastest typist (I do alright) so on my best stretches I'm typing as fast as I can to keep up with the prose as it forms in my mind. I correct on the fly. Whole chapters have been written this way. The good chapters. My best stories have been written this way. One or two nights of writing and I have a 4k story.

The trick, of course, is all that went before I sat down. I don't plan any of it, not even the novel length stuff, if by planning one means making outlines and writing up character profiles. Can't do that. It is torture to me to teach prewriting to students - brainstorming, freewriting, etc. I wind up confessing that none of that has ever worked for me but it might for them. Hey, anything might work. (I also went through college and beyond without being a serious notetaker. Most of my notes were reminders of when assignments had to be handed in...which I promptly lost :-)).

I'm more of a starer. I used to sit on the benches in the Bronx Botanical Gardens (one of the more beautiful spots on the planet) and stare. There's this one bench in particular facing the Peggy Rockerfeller Rose Garden that was always very productive for me... When I had the voice for the story, the general shape of the plot, I'd get up and go into the rose garden or get on the bus to go home.

So do you count those hours of sitting and staring as writing hours?

I've been writing like a madman the last few weeks. Of course, since the semester began I don't have all that much time so it hasn't been as productive as I'd like. Still, the words are flowing and soon enough, I'll let you know what I've been writing. Think Noir. Bronx Noir*.

* Not the forthcoming anthology from Akashic .


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