Truer Words

A quote from John Gregory Dunne by way of a Jonathan Yardley essay about Dunne (the whole thing is worth reading):

"Because one has written other books does not mean the next becomes any easier. Each book in fact is a tabula rasa; from book to book I seem to forget how to get characters in and out of rooms — a far more difficult task than the non-writer might think. Still I went to my office every day. That is the difference between the professional and the amateur. The professional guts a book through this period, in full knowledge that what he is doing is not very good. Not to work is to exhibit a failure of nerve, and a failure of nerve is the best definition I know for writer’s block."

(BookWorld is actually stuffed with good pieces this week — Dirda on Conan, John Crowley on a new bio of Robert Louis Stephenson, etc. Plus, there’s the Style pageant piece.)

6 Responses to “Truer Words”

  1. Greg van Eekhout

    Love the Dunne quote, but of all the stuff you linked to, I think this is by far the best passage:

    “Ships did not put unasked into this port, where dusky sorcerers wove awful spells in the murk of sacrificial smoke mounting eternally from blood-stained altars where naked women screamed, and where Set, the Old Serpent, archdemon of the Hyborians but god of the Stygians, was said to writhe his shining coils among his worshippers.”

  2. Margo Lanagan

    I dunno, Greg. The writer’s block one works for me better at this point in time. *cauterises failed nerves and tries to grow new ones* :)

  3. Greg van Eekhout

    I’ve chosen to combat writer’s block by making offerings to the Hyborian archdemon and Stygian god. Just because, you know, I it sounds even more diverting than cat waxing.

  4. Margo Lanagan

    Hey, [lightbulb!] and a whole lot less taxing than putting pen to paper! I must try it.

  5. Chris McLaren

    If you’re not careful you’re both going to end up with caves under your houses where you can worship made up snake gods–gods that are realer than real because the are imbued with the truth that only comes from fiction.
    There is precedent.

  6. Margo Lanagan

    Wha? Hm? *brushes dirt from hair and clothes, trips over spade, shakes votive snake from hand so as to type* Thanks for the warning, Chris, but too la—*keels over from snake-god bite, gasps, with last breaths, “It’s all…Greg Eekhout’s fault…”*
    Blog-surfing – it just exposes you to a whole bunch of bad influences, doesn’t it?

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