Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Dear Sir

Have gone all indignant about an interview I read with Lee Child in Writing Magazine - indignant enough to write to the letters' page about how I really don't agree with his view that writers who struggle with finding time to write, or the discipline to write 'are probably not motivated correctly to be a writer.'

My problem with it is that it's too black and white, doesn't allow for much deviation, but mostly I think it could be dangerous to read if you're a writer who's going through a bad spot.

I'll let you know if it gets published.

Other news

The Fiction Project book I'm putting together is almost finished - I have the content ready (remember - it's the story called 'Oh hey so I love you! Oh, no, I just sicked it up') and will transfer it into the Moleskine tomorrow and the day after, then it's going to the US where it hooks up with all the other participating Moleskines to go on tour, eventually winding up at Brooklyn Art Library. The whole process has been useful and interesting - I'll write a post about it when I've got it finished and posted away.

Away I go now to my evening bar shift. Often when I'm working later in the day I get more done, a race against the clock kinda thing.


Dan Purdue said...

Hmmm... I bought that issue of Writing Magazine, but I haven't read any of it yet. But now I'm kind of annoyed with him in advance. I'm away from home at the moment so I'll have to see whether I have it with me so I can get up to speed with the interview.

It's a bit much for somebody making an extremely comfortable living from their writing to gaze down from their lofty perch and say the rest of us just aren't putting enough effort into it. Motivation is one thing but if your life keeps you busy enough to squeeze your writing time to the fringes, it's always going to be a struggle.

Julie P said...

Hi, Teresa!

I'm afraid I'm going to play Devil's advocate here and say that I can see where Lee Child is coming from (sorry!)

I think what he is trying to get across is the fact that published writers need a certain amount of tenacity and determination to succeed. They make the time to write their projects and know that if they don't get their bum on the seat and write, they won't get published.

From my own experience,I know that even taking into consideration the stuff that gets in the way of my writing, ie, life, my family, work, etc, if I don't schedule in time to write, I don't get anything published. I have to be ruthless sometimes and just get on with it.

There has to be a balance between satisfying your family/life's needs and writing. If there is no balance neither side is satisfied!

Lots of people manage to get published despite their busy lives but they have to make sacrifices and almost 'steal' that time from another area of their life. There are lot of times when I miss out on family time, when my husband and daughter go off out together while I write, but I see that as her having quality time with her father, so when I've done my quota of writing for the day, she and I know that Mum had done her work and can now come out to play.

It's hard, but writing is a job - a business - and you have to treat it like that if you want to take it seriously and have a crack at being published.

I do know how hard it is to juggle, though, and it's something I think most writers who also have a life struggle with!

Good luck with your writing projects.

Julie xx

Teresa Stenson said...

Hi Dan - it's actually not a bad interview otherwise, he's obviously just very adamant about his view of what a writer is or is not and that's what I wanted to address in my letter. Mainly because there will be lots of aspiring writers who read his words and will compare themselves, unfairly. And from my own experience of how cyclical (if that's the word, you know from 'cycle') the writing process is, there are so many nuances and stages, and I rarely, if ever, have to tear myself away from writing. It's hard to accept, even for someone fairly confident in their ability, that this is OKAY. It doesn't mean you're not a writer.

Hi Julie - please, yes, do play the devil! I agree with you - I agree with Child that writers need discipline, I just found the absolute-ness of his comments too, er - absolute. I appreciate it he is head strong, and has beliefs about 'correctness', I just think they are potentially dangerous for *some* aspiring writers to read. I know that no one has to take his comments on board if they don't want to, but there will be a few who will feel the gap between themselves and the successful, published writer widen as they read that interview. I think, anyway. Thanks for your good-luck-ness, I hope things are going well for you too.

Miles said...

Tree. The voice of Lee Child does not a novel make ;-)

Teresa Stenson said...

Unless you're Lee Child.

Miles said...

Yeah, I can see both sides of this.

No-one can tell someone else the 'correct' way to write, and I'm wary of that. Writing is work. Enjoyable, addictive work, but work nonetheless. There are no shortcuts, just writing. So anything that distracts you from that is baaaaad.

If Lee Child is saying that you aren't a PROPER writer because what works for him is different to what works for you or I, well then poo to him. But if he's saying you have to treat it as deadly serious as a job with a deadline, he's right.

In the end, all you can do is write, right?

Julie P said...

Hi, Teresa,

Yes, I can see that there may be writers who feel put off by Lee Child's comments. But he is a successful writer and I do have to wonder how he did it when he was starting out - whether he had that singlemindedness he seems to be advocating or whether he struggled to fit writing in with his life, writing in snatched moments, like the rest of us and has forgotten what it was like in the early days! Who knows! Whatever works for you is best, I feel.

Julie xx

Teresa Stenson said...

Hey Miles - yep, I agree with you about treating it like a job and I'm a big believer in the need for determination, thick skin, all of that. It's really just down to the idea of whether or not these things come easily to you or not - I'm sure that they don't always come easily to most writers, including the very famous ones, the great ones, and I didn't agree with the finality of what he said. But yes, defo with you on the points about taking it seriously if you want to get publsihed. Or published, even. Hope I'll see you soon, Cumberbacon.

Hi Julie - it's interesting, he was always a writer of some sort before he became a novelist. He wrote for TV: commercials, trailers etc, then when he was fired he turned to novel-ing. He's very productive, very successful, writes a book a year. I admire his productivity.

Anna Cathenka said...

Hi Tree,
I'm not going to get into this debate..or maybe I am..yep, I think I am...all I will say is that I am very undetermined and not very productive but I am occasionally addicted to the writing process (which happens to be very brief with a lot of editing, being as I am mostly a writer of poetry.) Surely it is different for everyone and depends how you work, what makes you tick. Because of this I agree with you that his comments may seem a little bull-headed and narrow-minded. As long as you're writing, you're a writer, right? I find the concept of 'being a writer' a strange one anyway, it has very specific connotations and yet covers such a broad spectrum of people, what they write and how they do it. And why is it important to be prolific? Eh? EH?
Also, something has happened, it would seem? It's hard (almost impossible) to tell what someone is experiencing through their online persona, but something tells me a change has happened? Your conversational writing seems more relaxed and confident. Of course, I'm probably completely wrong, but I just thought I'd share my observations with you!
Hope you are well, Tree-face.
Anna xxx

Rachel Fenton said...

You write therefore you are a writer. That'll do.

All the other stipulations are either boasting, helpfulness gone awry, positive to the point of making others feel inferior or plop (I am apparently guilty of this one - apologies for that), or general pooh.

Let us know what happens with the letter.

Teresa Stenson said...

Anna - am I? I dunno, I'll go with it. Maybe I sound all self-assured because of my points-of-view letter. It'll be interesting to see what an effect your move and travelling will have on your writing. I love that your Mum has made a little bit of garden for you to use as a writing space, that's very thoughtful and supportive. I'm going to come and use it while you're out. You'll know I've been there because of all the discarded letters on the floor, all starting 'Why oh why oh why...'

Rachel - thank you, I'll let you know if it gets in the mag. New issue not due out for 3 weeks or so, I just missed one. You've never made me feel plop (ha) - I just always admire your straight-forward approach, and that you Do it, you don't just TALK about it. Hope things are good with you.

Teresa Stenson said...

Hang on... I replied to this! Must have been when Blogger was being weird last week.

I said something like...

Anna - I'm not sure about my style on here changing but I'll believe you because you read it and you are observant. It might have been because I had a bee in my bonnet. I hope your new life is being good to you. See you soon x

Rachel - you have never made me feel plop, more like inspired by how you approach writing and being a Mum and wife and yourself and an artist and many more things you might be... I will defo post about it if the letter gets printed. Should know when the next issue comes out, in about 2 weeks.

Rachel Fenton said...

You did leave a comment because I read it in my email and flagged it to remind me to reply (good one that - see how quickly I responded) because I wanted to say thank you for being so kind - but now you've added wifely accolade I must point out I cannot claim points for that - indeed I am the very epitome of the anti-wife!

Look forward to knowing the outcome - if there is one.