Why try to engineer masterpieces anyway? The idea smacks of our tendency to make a science out of every imaginable pursuit.
As a teacher, and occasional perpetrator, of writing, I decided it would be fun to ask some of my favorite people how they deal with The Block. These bits of testimony will not work for all writers, but I believe a sense of the options (while remembering that one does not struggle alone) is of great practical value in staving off madness.
In other words, do try these solutions, alone or in combination. “Mix and match” is the cry.
PURCHASE: Dinner for two at Junoon
NOTE: This was the day we got the royalty check and was our first “fancy dinner” out in two years. To quote Brian: “Happy anniversary, birthday, and book contract day.”
WOULD STEPHEN KING LIKE IT: Junoon is in a publishing neighborhood so it’s quite possible he’s been there. Also, what sane person wouldn’t like deep fried paneer?
What do you do when Stephen King uses the same title on one of his books as you used on yours (which came out earlier)? You reap the rewards of mistaken Amazon purchases, and you document the spoils of those royalty checks.
Now that I’ve escorted two e-partners to the edge of the grave, I’m wary of this brave new world of digital publishers and readers. As recently as the 1980s and ’90s, writers like me could reasonably aspire to a career and a living wage. I was dispatched to costly and difficult places like Iraq, to work for months on a single story. Later, as a full-time book author, I received advances large enough to fund years of research.
How many young writers can realistically dream of that now?
"Like John Singer Sargent and Ted Williams, John Updike has been made to suffer for his self-sufficiency. What will become of his posthumous reputation, whether he will have a community of readers at all in fifty years, or in twenty-five, still feels very much like an open question.”