Monday, September 28, 2009

The Joys of Not Writing

I've been having all kinds of fun getting started with my next book. Here's the progress I've been making.

First, after I identified an absolute killer of an idea, I decided to just run with it. Write like crazy, see where the idea and the characters take themselves and in a year or so, voila, I was sure to have a blockbuster.

That worked well for about 15 pages.

Index cards! That's what I needed. Create scenes on different cards, post them on the wall like a Hollywood storyboard, and it would all come together. One of my kids would surreptitiously snap a photo of that wall, which would be included in a biography many years from now: "The actual index cards King used on the actual wall of his actual office (scratch that--"study" sounds more writerly) to plan his second novel."

Outstanding approach, until I realized I was unnecessarily killing a lot of trees by throwing into the wastebasket more cards than I was posting on the wall.

An outline in Microsoft Word was next. I told myself it's important to know everything that's going to happen, every step of the way. I would outline the novel in exhaustive detail so that when it came time to actually write the thing, the words would just... flow.

I never did get the hang of outlining in Microsoft Word.

Current status: PowerPoints! A separate slide for each scene. AND I can do all sorts of worthwhile things, like add different colors for titles and bullets, insert background graphics, use WordArt to make funny shapes with different character names.

I'm having so much fun not writing I may jump out my actual office... er, study... window.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Derek Jeter and Writing

Last Friday night, Derek Jeter broke Lou Gehrig's record for most hits by a Yankee--a record that had been unbroken for more than seventy years.

Jeter is the classiest guy to play for the Yankees--or any other team--in my lifetime. He's not a braggart or a trash-talker. He works hard, keeps his mouth shut, and focuses on his job.

And, yes, he's talented. But that's not what makes him successful. What makes him successful is his uncompromising commitment to the game; more specifically, his ability to play the game. He doesn't practice only when he's in the mood. He doesn't wait for "inspiration" before stepping into the batter's box. He doesn't take a day off during the season because, well, he's been playing a lot of ball and has "earned" a day off.

When it's time to practice, he practices. When it's time to play, he plays. He does not allow himself to get distracted from that valuable, irrecoverable time by... er.... blogging.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Book Readings, Signings, and Courage

I admit it: I love getting authors to sign their books for me. (I once breached the curtain between the coach and first class sections of an airplane to get Tom Wolfe's autograph.) I also attend readings when I can. I find these events motivating.

Last Wednesday was one of the more inspirational I've attended in a while. Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor, were reading from their just-released book, "Traveling with Pomegranates." During the reading, mother and daughter talked about the courage it takes to write. I've heard that many times, but somehow I always felt that writing--fiction, anyway--was more about narcissism than courage. But listening to Sue talk about the leap she made from nonfiction to fiction and Ann discuss her very understandable fear of trying to become a writer in the wake of her mother's huge success... well, some writers definitely are courageous. These two most definitely are.

And, yes, I got BOTH of their autographs.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just Buy It

My friend Kevin Pilkington has just had another collection of his poetry published.

Buy it.

Click here.