How to be a writer

I’ve spent several years trying and I’ve finally figured out how to be a writer.  I’ve learned from the greats, like Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Faulkner.  Certainly Salinger was a student of this school of writing, along with Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, et al.

Take up heavy drinking.

While writing my first novel, I sat slumped over my keyboard one day with my most morose expression on my face.  My nine-year-old came along and asked what was wrong.

“I’m so tired of these two characters!” I wailed.  “I just want them to hurry up and DIE!”

“So kill them,” she answered blithely.  “It’s your book.”

“I can’t,” I cried.  “The sequel will suck if I kill them!”

“Hmmm.  That’s a problem,” she answered, before getting herself a soda and heading back upstairs, leaving me to hang out with these two whiny losers for several more hours.

I read an article in Teen Ink Magazine (fabulous journal, written entirely by teenaged students) about National Novel Writing Month, and decided that would be exactly the break I needed from my two teen-angst-ridden characters.  Since it was already late October, I had plenty of research and thinking to do in order to be ready on the first.

Eighteen days later I held a manuscript that was such a refreshing change that it had practically written itself.  Okay, it’s no Moby Dick, but I finished it and printed out my Winner certificate, leaving a small-but-appreciated donation to the head organization, The Office of Letters and Light.

 Enter the heavy drinking.  I don’t want to go talk to those two whiners again.  And now I have no excuse not to.  The speed-novel is done and submitted, and now I have to buckle down and stop pretending I’m spending a month-long hiatus on something creative.  Ugh.

 Maybe it’s not too late to kill them.  More likely, maybe it’s not too late to make them less whiny.  Only time will tell.

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