Wednesday, March 18, 2009

writer's block

A couple nights ago, I gave a reading at SMC, and one of the audience members--a student, if I remember correctly--asked me what happens when I get writer's block, how I get through it. For some reason, this question really stumped me. I thought about it. I thought about it some more. Ok, in a q&a session, you don't actually have that much time to think so yeah, I didn't think so hard. I gave an answer. Quickly. I admitted that I don't get writer's block, that I am not a "typical" writer in that sense. But then, I thought about why it is that I don't get writer's block, and I think it has everything to do with constraint. Because I do put all these superficial constraints of my writing, the process is then not as open and yet somehow there are more possibilities. I think it also has to do with the fact that I'm not a realist writer. Whereas I'm sure that non-realist writers get writer's block too, there is something stiffling about mimicking reality, right? Time is so focused on plausibility that a lot is forsaken in the process.

Well, this question has stuck with me, and I'm not entirely sure I have an answer now. But it is certainly something to think about.

Another question someone asked (Amanda asked this) that I was "unable" to answer: If my concern isn't plot or narrative, per se, how do I tell someone what my novel/story/etc. is "about"? How do I speak about the work? The honest truth is that I hate describing my writing. The truth is that I'm not articulate about it at all & I often sound like a bumbling idiot. I remember telling JB about this novel I was working on a couple years ago--turns out it's now THE EVOLUTIONARY REVOLUTION, which Les Figues will publish in Feb. 2010--and he told me that whereas my writing may be good, I should never talk about my writing. Well, yeah, maybe that wasn't a kind thing to say--his compliments are so often mixed messages--but there is some truth to it. So, now it's my goal to work towards speaking about my writing more articulately.

I wonder, how would any of you out there answer these questions?

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