I’ve been deep in the embrace of The Sick over the past few days. Coughing. Sneezing. Hacking. Sopping up bucketloads of snot with tissues that quickly become drenched and disgusting. Waking up at 2 am, and 3, and 4, tangled in sweaty bedsheets, head spinning, eyes pounding. I turn crotchety when I’m ill; skulk around in pajamas, curse at every sneeze and chest-wracking cough.
I wish these hours could be devoted to writing, but alas – my brain colludes with my sick body, and refuses to cooperate.
Instead I’ve been reading, for short stretches here and there.
So many gems in this one – where to start? How about here:
I’m not intelligent. I’m not arrogant. I’m just like the people who read my books. I used to have a jazz club, and I made the cocktails and I made the sandwiches. I didn’t want to become a writer—it just happened. It’s a kind of gift, you know, from the heavens. So I think I should be very humble.
I wonder what kind of sandwiches he made for the jazz club?
I think that my job is to observe people and the world, and not to judge them. I always hope to position myself away from so-called conclusions. I would like to leave everything wide open to all the possibilities in the world.
Love, love, love.
To the interviewer’s question about how he feels about Neuromancer today, he had this stunning reply:
When I look at Neuromancer I see a Soap Box Derby car. I felt, writing it, like I had two-by-fours and an old bicycle wheel and I’m supposed to build something that will catch a Ferrari. This is not going to fly, I thought. But I tried to do it anyway, and I produced this garage artifact, which, amazingly, is still running to this day. Even so, I got to the end of it, and I didn’t care what it meant, I didn’t even know if it made any sense as a narrative. I didn’t have this huge feeling of, Wow, I just wrote a novel! I didn’t think it might win an award. I just thought, Phew! Now I can figure out how to write an actual novel.
Though it seems incredible that he would say such a thing, I often feel that way about the novel I’m working on now. If I get to the end of this, maybe I can figure out how to write an actual novel.
And this made me inexplicably happy, because while I don’t start at page one every day, I do revise constantly, and somehow I had started to feel guilty about the habit:
Every day, when I sit down with the manuscript, I start at page one and go through the whole thing, revising freely.
Revising freely. Two words that say so much. The whole interview is full of goodness; these are just scraps.
A lovely, but pointed, essay on why it’s so important to take the time to write, even when you don’t think you have any:
“…creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.”
And finally, because I can’t end on sweetness and light when I’m feeling so blue (ha), here’s an article that made me cringe:
This piece counts as horror, in my opinion – a tale of writers churning out 2,000 words a day, 7 days a week, like workers in a kind of Dickensian book mill:
In this environment, publishers say, producing one a book a year, and nothing else, is just not enough.
One book a year is not enough! Indeed, this entire article seems to be devoted to the notion that readers are like greedy children, stamping their feet and begging for more candy, and that we MUST give them what they want – now! – or risk them running away and finding another source to fill their neverending hunger.
Publishers also believe that Salinger-like reclusiveness, which once created an aura of intrigue around an author, is not a viable option in the age of interconnectivity.
Did Twitter kill the author?
And with that, I do believe I’ll slump back on this pillow and close my eyes for a few…