Monday, December 29, 2008

Flawless

New Year’s Resolutions

By Barbara D’Amato

I asked a few people, award-winning, wonderful writers, to comment on what they would work on in their writing this year. I think their writing could not be improved on, but it may encourage all of us if people as accomplished as they are have work lists.


Sara Paretsky says:

For years, I hoped that my writing could become freer. I worry too much about reactions to what I'm doing, by readers or reviewers or other parent surrogates--what Annie Lamont referred to as Radio Station WFCK-U plays in my head too much of the time while I'm writing. Now I'm less hopeful that I can change that dial. When I wrote Bleeding Kansas, a standalone novel set in the part of rural Kansas where I grew up, I was a little more playful, a little more lyrical, but I'd like to become more playful, more lyrical, more of a risk-taker in my writing. The trouble is, I'm at a loss on how to make that happen.


Libby Hellmann:

Someone once said of my writing, “You never use one word when three will do…” So I’m trying to work on being more concise.

I’m also tackling a new challenge... the story I want to write next is more mainstream (although it is a thriller). And it’s set in another country. Twenty-five years ago. Um…actually, I may have bitten off more than I can chew.


Michael Allen Dymmoch:

I'm still trying to develop some discipline. I'd be dangerous if I could keep at something long enough to finish it in a reasonable amount of time.


I am very much in Michael’s camp. I’ve been a terrible procrastinator this last year. As for content, I want to become more visceral. I seem to want to intellectualize everything, which doesn’t always work for the immediacy of the characters.

My informants above are all like Nancy Kerrigan, flawless.

Writers out there--what are you working to improve?

16 comments:

James Watkins said...

I just want to write everyday. Practice different styles like ridiculous and silly stream of consciousness poetry, a script, and essay outlining my opinions on the world political climate for instance. As well as read as many quality books from quality writers.

Kevin Guilfoile said...

I'm a crazy notetaker. I write down pieces of conversations I overhear in restaurants and bars or descriptions of a person's shoes I happen to notice standing in line at the supermarket. And of course there are those story ideas that come to you in a sentence. Then you can take those notes and transfer them into bigger notebooks and color code the ideas according to category. It's all an excellent vehicle for procrastination, which is a problem I'll try to solve later.

Anyway, this last year I feel like there were too many moments when I said to myself, "I have to write that down" and never did before the notion was gone. Part of it is getting older and more easily distracted. Still, I'm determined to be much better about holding on to my observations this year

(Incidentally, one of those ideas, written down years ago, is about a writer who loses his notebook of ideas and then finds his unlikely story premises popping up in novels in and story magazines by different authors. A recent issue of McSweeney's (since sold out) took a bunch of unrealized ideas from a notebook of F Scott Fitzgerald and had a number of contemporary writers nurture those one-sentence concepts into stories. It's really interesting.)

Maryann Mercer said...

I'm in dire need of discipline when it comes to editing although I do work better under pressure...a hangover from my college days. Knowing I want to pitch my work in six weeks (less even) is my biggest motivation, but I still need to plop myself in my chair and crack down.
And work on a decent pitch while I'm at it!
Happy New Year everyone!

Barbara D'Amato said...

Thank, James. Thanks especially for mentioning reading. I think it's maybe more important than bein self-critical, because it leads to better writing, more than self-inspection does.

And thanks you Maryann and Kevin. Kevin--my older boy has a neck-worn tape recorder the records stuff on when he thinks of it. Because it's so simple, and hangs on a thong like any neckwear, he feels he has no excuse not to use it.

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