Friday, December 18, 2009

Never say never

There are some topics I never figured I'd write about. Christmas is one. But things change. Here's "Christmas Naked" from the current issue of Mountain Gazette. It's not nearly as risque as it sounds. And I'm forever grateful to John Fayhee, the brilliant curmudgeonly editor at MG, who keeps throwing these unlikely topics my way.

"Spawning in Mud," meanwhile, is a title that Laurie gets full credit for. An oldie of sorts, about the 2003 flood that changed things a lot in Stehekin, it appears in the current issue of Watershed journal from Brown U

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fast words, slow words

For several years now, ever since we got our satellite Internet connection, I’ve been thinking about how many words I spit out each day – in emails, student critiques, press releases—and whether any of that counts as writing. The answer is sort of. But not really. It’s kind of like the difference between fast food and real food.

When my first book, Now Go Home, came out a reporter asked me how long it took me to write an essay.
“About a year,” I said.
He nearly fell over laughing.
“Is it getting any easier for you?” he asked.

I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t sure I wanted it to get any easier. The long process of writing, revising, then writing some more, was, I thought, the whole point. Every writer I knew and admired had spent years on a single essay or story. Maybe not every single essay or story, but still …

Truth is, five years later, the process is easier for me. Essays come faster. Sometimes in less than a week. But the books I love the most simmered for a long time. And the writers I admire the most are the ones who have stuck at it for years. They’re not necessarily bestselling authors, but they are real writers, who have what Michael Ventura calls the “Talent of the Room.”

That is, I suppose, what I aspire to.