The written word and I

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Evelyn Waugh – Born October 28, 1903. Died April 10, 1966

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I was listening to an old radio interview with the English writer Evelyn Waugh a couple of nights back on BBC Radio 4 extra, first recorded in the nineteen fifties. He is probably best known for the iconic television series Brideshead Revisited. Towards the end of the interview he was asked if writing got any easier as he grew older. I thoroughly agreed with him when he said, “No. The older I get, the harder it is to write.”

While I’m no Eveylyn Waugh by any stretch of the imagination, the older I get the more I go through the same thing he did. My latest science fiction work in progress – The Guardian is a case in point.

Does it mean I’ve come to a grinding halt? No. Perhaps I have run out of ideas? No. Maybe I’m bored with it? No. Could it be that I’m suffering from procrastination? No.

What it does mean however is that with eight books of mine out there in reader-land for you to be getting on with, I am in no hurry to finish the ninth. Like all other serious writers, I strive to improve with each new book. Plus, writing for 8-12 hours per day, seven days a week is not the way to go about it, unless you want to suffer total burn out. Writers don’t just write. We have a life.

Daily word counts no longer matter to me the way they did twenty years ago. What does is the way I construct the words and their relevance to the story as a whole. Plus, unless I’m in the mood to write, it simply doesn’t happen.

With each chapter, each paragraph, each sentence I write, they no longer flow freely. Instead I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to say. More importantly, how I want to go about it. The fact that I haven’t written another word in my WIP for over two weeks is neither here nor there. When the mood takes me, I’ll get back to it. But not before.

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With science fiction being my first love, I found and posted a quote from Ray Bradbury on my Face Book page the day before yesterday. Here it is:

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My sentiments exactly Ray. I couldn’t have said it better myself…

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PS – I see WordPress has decided that not only is the old Stats page no longer automatically available, but also the old familiar, tried and tested Add Blog Posts page as well! At the time of writing this post WordPress switched it back and forth between both versions. Most annoying! I don’t know about you, but I hate change for change sake. I really wish they would stop imposing upon us what they want us to use, especially when the originals worked, and worked well I might add. My biggest gripe with the new blog post composition page is that WordPress has shrunk the damned workspace!

Bah Humbug!!!

😉

12 thoughts on “The written word and I

  1. I agree, Jack. It doesn’t get any easier. We’re of an age, but my own problem with the actual writing at present is simply finding the time. Mind you, that’s probably because I moved house a couple of months ago and there’s a good deal of work needed in the new place, especially the garden! Priorities change as we mature, I think that’s what makes the difference. Perhaps the growing awareness of our mortality has something to do with it?

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  2. Maybe as we get older, it is not the quantity of words but the quality. We don’t so much feel the rush to get the words down on paper, more so we feel the urge to get the right words down.
    PS: Do you find when you are writing a new post on WP, it seems to slow to a grinding halt after you reach a certain word count – or is it just me?

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  3. Hopefully these words will cheer you up, Jack: great post! I was already older when I started writing, but I’ve also slowed down. I’ll go for a week doing research, reading and blogging and then all of a sudden, sit down and write two chapters or more. Not sure what moves me to it, but your comment “We have a life” couldn’t be truer. Life gets in the way. My younger colleagues churn out 2000-5000 words a day, and bless their souls for doing it. It’s not me.

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  4. I definitely agree with your PS. There was nothing wrong with the old composition page. Leave it alone, WordPress!

    Regarding science fiction, I am continually amazed at the current day must-have items that came from science “fiction”, such as the Bluetooth device first used by Lt Uhura in Star Trek. But personally I have a hard time visualizing science fiction writing.

    As an amateur editor, I need to learn to allow myself to take breaks from editing. I understand that the author I work with wants to get the manuscript published. But I’m afraid I will miss something if I don’t take the occasional day off from the computer.

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