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27 September 2007

A Post Inspired by a Book I'll Never Read

A post inspired by a book I'll never read

When you write fiction and have a writer’s block, that’s fine. But if you have nothing to write about in a non-fiction blog then you’re just boring.

Just look around, see what inspires you… Here you go, that wasn’t hard:

On the bookshelf, I have a non-fiction book by Roddy Doyle, something about his parents falling in love.


Here’s my Roddy-Doyle-non-fiction-book-inspired post:

My name-dropping creative writing teacher, Howard Norman, was on a train once with this Doyle fellow, on their way to a writers’ conference, and from the train window they saw an interesting billboard or a hotel sign or whatever, something that made the writer in them get excited, and Doyle said he had to get out at the next stop to investigate, so they got off and walked toward that billboard or that sign. I wasn’t really listening, to be honest.

The point of the story is not what two authors actually found in a random New Jersey town, but that there is such a thing as an author’s life, and Howard Norman was living it. We had that story, and we had other stories about dinners with Leonard Cohen, and meetings with what’s-her-face who used to go out with Jack Kerouac, and disparaging statements about the interviewing techniques of Diane Rehm. Every class, someone new popped up and became a real person. The man who wrote The Commitments was chasing signs, Diane Rehm asked set, inane questions, and even Tommy Dorsey was there, somehow related to the family, playing trumpet in the basement.

To be honest, when I was trying to be a rock star I was never looking forward to the rock star life. I mean, once you throw the TV out of your hotel room window, you can’t watch TV anymore; the hotel is not simply going to give you another set, after all. But when I heard Howard Norman's literary anecdotes I thought that a writer's life had to be the life for me: writing, teaching, criticizing, meeting Leonard Cohen, and more importantly, telling people about meeting Leonard Cohen. Maybe it’s not so much about writing and getting a novel published, but actually about looking out of the window from a fast-moving train and searching for signs.

Look at that, I just created a metaphor without even trying. There’s hope for me yet.

30 comments:

Enemy of the Republic said...

More than hope. This rocks!

thewishfulwriter said...

I was so going to point out that you created a metaphor at the end of your blog...and then you pointed it out yourself.

clearly I need to work on being more original. sigh.

You, however, are an incredible writer (and metaphor-er), and I have no doubt that instead of hope, all you'll need is a great agent and a lot of time for book signings!

Jill said...

Yeah, she's right!

And I *****LOVE***** looking out train windows, reading signs, and meeting Leonard Cohen!!!!!!!! At least, I love looking out train windows and reading signs. I *would* love to meet Leonard Cohen though!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-) :-) :-)

Jill said...

Yeah well, they're both right. I hate it when I get phone calls in the middle of commenting and then I've missed things in between!

Ms. Q said...

Yes, you ARE a wonderful writer! We all have different views of what a particular callings' "life" involves.

Like being a rock star and throwing out TVs or that writing is about angst and loneliness and living in your head. I had one person tell me that your best writing is done when you're unhappy. If that is the case, who'd want to be a writer?

Blogging has opened up a whole new world for writing and I think it's allowed the writers out there to come out! It's also exposed people with so many different ways to experience a story and from there, even what is considered a novel has changed form.

I'm waiting for your book about sharing that apartment. Something like oh, "Six Years, 23 Roommates and one Landlord with a Glass Eye"?

ajooja said...

I have a difficult time writing for fun these days. I do it, but my blog isn't what I want it to be.

I think it would be much better for me to change what I think my blog should be rather than try to live up to my stupid ideas.

Of course, this all just means I'm crazy.

Scot said...

Sometimes assumptions based on something you know little about (said book) or hearing something wrong is where all the fun comes from. Like finding meta-fours and corporeal-fives

Secret Simon said...

If you want to write because you like the idea of a writer's life that's great - as long as you actually like writing too, because otherwise you're going to spend a lot of time not enjoying yourself.

I knew a guy once who was really into the idea of being a *hack* writer, just kind of writing for the money and shrugging and saying "it's a living" when people asked. I could never work out where that came from. I used to co-edit the magazine which bought his first short story, so for a long time I felt rather guilty about setting him off on this - but the last I heard he'd published a novel and was writing for TV, so now my conscience is clear.

On a personal note, I really like writing for children but I don't think I'll ever make it. I'm pushing success away subconsciously. It's the terror of having to deal with all those kids...

cooper said...

clapping my hands. I always enjoy reading writers and you seem to be doing a very good job of being one.

Without the life their is not writing worth reading and yes indeed when the creation of metaphors becomes intrinsic then there is great hope.

spooky said...

well spank my monkey and call me lydia

spooky said...

Sorry, I was just having a go at the metaphor thing and it just came out.

People in the Sun said...

Enemy, hey, thanks.

Wishful, wow, thanks for saying that. Reading nice comments warms my heart like a candle in the wind (damn, lost it again).

Jill, thanks. (And thanks). --which is why I feel weird about children watching movies in the car. I don't remember if I wrote it here or as a comment somewhere else, but I used to love looking out of the car on long drives and play games by myself with the trees and the lines on the road. And now kids don't even know there's this magical world outside the car. Then again, on these long drives my sister and I would fight (her fault) and it could have been dangerous... I don't know. I guess I'll deal with it when the times comes.

Ms. Q, I bet that friend of yours was really depressed when he said that. And I read some depressing books, but I can't imagine Jerome K. Jerome was depressed when he wrote Three Men in a Boat. A friend of mine once told me that intelligent people have to be skinny. He was really skinny.

Thanks for encouraging me. I should write that book. Maybe I will.

Ajooja, I'm sorry that you're crazy. I think your blog is beautiful and honest, for what it's worth.

Scot, let me find a link to that book, first of all... Here. I might read it one day, actually. I'm sure it's a good book. I'm just a really slow reader. I've been reading the Da Vinci crap for over a year now. They're still stuck in the Louvre. This book is so bad.

Simon, I'm only really happy when I write, because that's the only time I can actually express myself. I love children's books but there are just so many of them... For every million crappy books you get one Captain Underpants (I hope he made it to England. He's my hero). Good luck.

Cooper, thanks. But I don't think I'm good at that whole metaphor thing, at least not when I consciously try to come up with one. That's okay. Maybe life is complicated enough and beautiful enough without the need to compare things.

Lydia, you were spanking the monkey and it just came out?

durante vita said...

1) The hubby got a DVD player for the car. I know.
2) I'm not skinny, which explains a lot.
3) I like lists.
4) For the record, I read that Dan Brown book before it went mainstream. I don't always admit I read it.
5) Cute feet!

Jill said...

I have to totally get back to the point about the memory/scrapbook page thing because...well, I actually have to work...but I have been thinking about it ALL morning, 'cause I heard the Flaming Lips on the radio this morning, I'm pretty sure. What was that song?!!?!?!? Something about a magic trick? Was that them?

Kirsten said...

unintentional metaphors are the best kind!

People in the Sun said...

Durante, 1) It could be worse--at least it's in the back seat. 2) You stupid. 3) I'm also a fan. 4) For the record, I wanted to write a conspiracy book about the Illuminati before it was fashionable. Too late now. 5) Thanks. I'm hoping to quit my job and becoming a foot model.

Jill, the only song I came up with is The W.A.N.D. Was that it? And even though you're the one who raised the subject, I still take credit and am forever proud that this blog had something to do with anyone thinking instead of working.

Kirsten, see, I wanted to answer in the form of a metaphor but I can't come up with anything. I guess I'll have to count on the unintentional ones.

Big Ben said...

I would prefer to hang out with Leonard nimoy - he does a lot of nude photography now.

DeadMansHonda said...

I absolutely heart this post....you are living the writer's life I think. Just not giving yourself enough credit.

People in the Sun said...

Ben, you mean Leonard Nimoy is doing nude modeling? Sign me up.

Honda, on one hand we live in a Capitalist society where people's identities are determined by the money they make and by the activities that pay them that money, but on the other hand maybe there's something in what you say. Thanks.

Square1 said...

A writer often can impress themselves, as in with unintentional twists or metaphors. After all we're easily impressed! I do write non-fiction and fiction alike. When writer's block hits, it has less to do with being boring and more to do with my brain going on strike because I've overloaded it's synapses. A cup of coffee and an incredibly horribly written screenplay usually shakes me out of that state.

laurenbove said...

If only he had something to say about meeting Dorothy Parker...now that's a novel chick I could sink my teeth into, and I'm not even a lesbian. (Not that there's a thing wrong with that!)

Love your writing, posts, post-ors, postees and photograph of those beautiful books. I recently lost my entire library save a few in a flood. I could never replace...

Woozie said...

Mmmm, Leonard Cohen...

People in the Sun said...

Square1, I think so too. It's all about writing when you need to write and tuning off when you need to relax. The brain does a pretty good job of ordering us to do the right thing. We should just stop fighting it so much.

Lauren, sinking your teeth into Dorothy Parker--hey, that's not a bad metaphor. Sorry to hear about the library. I cherish all my books, even the ones I know I'll never read.

Woozie, relax--from what I hear Leonard Cohen is still alive.

Jill said...

Lauren Me too - sorry to hear about the library. :-(

People - I think my brain missed the lesson on relaxing...it more or less orders me to constantly do everything, all at the same time. :-0 :-0 :-0

Jill said...

Oh yeah and on this: "I still take credit and am forever proud that this blog had something to do with anyone thinking instead of working."

Aside from record keeping, evaluating, planning, crowd control, assuring parents that their child is not a freak of nature, or occasionally informing parents that their child IS a freak of nature (KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!), my work is mainly singing all day, so it's a pretty fair trade off for actual thinking. :-) :-) :-)

People in the Sun said...

Jill, I love to sing! I'd probably feel too self-conscious to sing, even in front of children.

Jill said...

It's pretty much the rules that everyone sings in preschool. I used to be really self conscious about it, but apparently I'm not anymore since a friend and I broke into song in a restaurant while we were joint telling a story and this was all in front of a guy I was on a second date with. :-0 :-0 :-0 You get used to it after awhile & when it's preschoolers you have the option of ordering them not to cover their ears all in the interest of teaching politeness & manners!

Jill said...

Oh yeah & I meant to say that that was *****without****** alcohol! My friend is in the gay men's choir, so he's used to it to...

Yes, I take my gay friends with me on second dates...any takers???? KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!! We happened to run into them actually.

People in the Sun said...

Jill, I used to work in a school/kindergarten but all I got the preschoolers to do was call me Poopy Head. I will never forget that. And I will never forgive them. One day... like the Count of Monte Cristo... I'll get them one by one.

On the third date, are you inviting the whole choir? Are you reenacting Greek tragedies on your dates?

Jill said...

Aren't Greek tragedies reenacted on every date? :-0

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