|Patchett: No getaway |
The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life weighs in at 195 KBs and is meant to be read in one sitting. But you'll want to spend many sittings with this little book, not least for the support Patchett offers aspiring writers, and the no-nonsense "get back on track, you nitwit" advice she dishes out. When you stray, she reminds us, remember: Good writing comes down to practice:
"It turns out that the distance from head to hand, from wafting butterfly to entemological specimen, is achieved through regular, disciplined practice. What begins as something like a dream will in fact stay a dream forever unless you have the tools and discipline to bring it out."
"If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish but because you long to learn to write well, because there is something that you alone can say. Write the story, learn from it, put it away, write another story. Think of a sink pipe filled with sticky sediment: the only way to get clean water is to force a small ocean through the tap. Most of us are full up with bad stories, boring stories, self-indulgent stories, searing works of unendurable melodrama. We must get them all out of our system...
You've heard the advice a thousand times, but maybe never as eloquently, as Patchett keeps circling back to it in widening gyres.
And now here's a funny story that happened to a blogging friend of mine, Joanna Marple, and a famous children's author, Kathleen Duey, only this week:
|Duey: Go forth|
and Tweet no more.
Because Duey was procrastinating, she couldn't seem to focus, her mind was a billion miles away from her work-in-progress.
Duey said she would choose the best advice she got and give the winning tweeter a 30-minute page critique. So Duey got dozens (I don't know, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands) of entries. Kind tweets, stern tweets, wise tweets, snarky tweets, earnest tweets. But she finally picked Joanna's. Which read, in full: "To quote a friend, 'the secret to writing novels is to get off Twitter.'"
And nary a tweet has been heard from Kathleen Duey, YA fantasy writer, since.