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.