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"We need to make books cool again. If you go home with someone & they don't have books, don't fuck 'em."--John Waters

I'm the author of more than twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, THE MIDNIGHT ROAD, THE DEAD LETTERS, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. Look for my next one THE LAST KIND WORDS due out May '12 from Bantam Books. Contact: PicSelf1@aol.com

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bleeding at the Bottom of the Tiger Trap

Writing a scene where my protagonist regrets some of his life's choices and pines for what might have been. Really shaking my head up. Sometimes you create a character so you can slip inside someone else's skin, and sometimes it feels like you're just suffocating inside your own. You go in deep and pick open your emotional sores and let them bleed all over the page. You wonder what life would have been if you’d cut right instead of dodging left, if a phone conversation thirty years ago went a different way, if you’d cared more about that instead of this. The trouble is that this kind of thinking can’t be quantified. It has no parameters, no start and stop. Way leads on to way, the dominoes fall. I dwell on mistakes. I reflect on faults and fumbles. I ponder oversights and blunders. Writing is nothing but a series of what ifs. Sometimes the scenes sweep you in. I finish a sentence and then stare at it and reread it and reread it. What if? What if? I see myself in the page, I hear speeches that have been swirling around inside my skull for decades that have never been spoken aloud. Bits and pieces show up in dialogue. One regret leads to another, one dream into the next, and a few dusty holdout hopes come creeping out of their corners. It makes the writing real but it leaves me in a sweat. What if? All these years of digging so deeply inside have left trenches and abysses. There are spots now that are like camouflaged tiger traps set with punji stakes. If I get too close I drop in and get carved up, and it takes me forever to claw my way out again.

So how’s your day going?

1 comment:

lizB said...

Sigh. I hear you. Writing is truly a masochistic sport (or, for some of us, need).