To find an intriguing plot with engaging characters isn't sufficient.
To write without lapsing for long periods of time into the enclave of passive constructions isn't enough.
To put together sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters of coherent thoughts, to eschew flaccid prose, to make Strunk and White proud, to offer up details and concrete particulars— isn't adequate.
I want to write a good novel, not fiction masquerading as good, but one that is worthy of being read.
I read across the spectrum —from weak kneed quick reads to tomes requiring a slow perusal.
Some books, like fine sherry or good teas, slow time down. They obliterate the now and offer a glimpse of another reality.
Sentences stop time. Nothing happens there, and it's happening round the clock.Jonathan Lethem
I pause. I am engrossed with the thought and immediately my autobiography enters the line. Every book seeks its reader's autobiographies, if not the book sputters.Cynthis Ozick wrote
: Fiction is all discovery—
Essays know too much.
It is the act of discovery that lures the writer to check the landscape ahead. You may know the type of toothpaste your character likes, but it is the unexpected turn the character takes that draws the writer to follow. Following without stalking, following without fencing in, without predetermined outcomes, following without judging —
I think of writing a lengthy piece beyond the confines of a short story, an exploration toward the edges of a novel. Desire isn't sufficient. If
If I find a setting and people it with characters and if I discover a plot and if I know what my protagonist desires and if I set up pitfalls and if I allow my characters' voices that travel beyond my assumptions— how do I begin? Everything is gestation, then bringing forth. Rilke
How long for gestation?
Suppose I tell the story of a woman who loses her children one by one. I knew such a woman. When her refrigerator only contained wine, beer cans and leftovers her children began to leave. Their father offered a refrigerator of food, shelves of snacks.
She told stories until the only story she knew how to tell remained at the bottom of a glass. The last time I saw her she never knew I left her sitting in the living room lecturing an empty house. I learned that there's only so much you can do. I left food in the refrigerator.
Aharon Appelfeld starts his new book:
My name is Laish, and those who like me call me Laishu. I have yet to run into anyone with such a strange name.
If I write a first sentence...will the rest follow?