Listen, I love the Internet. And I love NaNoWriMo — I started once, but didn’t finish. I tried: I made new routines that prioritized writing, didn’t worry about things like cooking and laundry, postponed social obligations. And still, I ran out of steam. Because getting 50,000 words into semi-coherent sentences in just 30 days with characters and dialogue and plot and a beginning, middle and end — that’s hard. It’s going to be really, really hard, and there’s no time to waste. So…
Get off the Internet.
That, I am sorry to say, is easier said than done.
I wonder if the authors who write books instead of making babies ever have feelings of tenderness toward the hardcover editions of their books. Do they ever want to fashion tiny flowered dresses for the books? Might they ever consider adorning a book with a leather glove and then attempting to teach it how to play catch? Do they sometimes feel a tendon deep in their groin stretch and throb when they open their books and whiff the scents of its paper? Have they ever dreamed themselves pregnant and contracting on a book’s hard corners? In their deepest fantasies, do they both fear and desire hard labor, the sensation of something they created emerging violently from their bodies, and/or genital paper cuts?
Lots of authors compare the writing process to giving birth. Normally, I groan or get teary-eyed at the comparison. This time, I laughed.
The rise of easy readin’ conventional and commercial science fiction and fantasy indicates that, now more than ever, literature—all “written art,” whether set in space or in an English country house or even, I suppose, in some oh-so-alienating Midwestern college dorm room—all belongs together, in a dreamy house with many rooms, apart from the blatantly commercial.
The “blatantly commercial” can live in the pool house.
“The paper I copied it on kept wearing out, and I kept recopying it. I don’t know how many times, twenty or thirty, I expect,” Truman reportedly told the journalist Merle Miller, adding that he “had a lot more faith in poets than reporters.”
Truman is not the only President to appreciate the power of poetry.