Writing Is Easy - Just Open a Vein and Bleed

To write you need passion, technique, patience, and perseverance.  In '90 I began a memoir of Manic Depression called Invisible Driving.  It's available on Amazon - finally!  Author, Alistair McHarg.  You can read sample chapters on my site, www.invisibledriving.com  It isn't a novel, it's a memoir, but it reads like a novel - it takes you inside the experience of a manic episode.  When I began it, I didn't even know if what I was attempting was possible.   I would say conservatively that I've rewritten it completely at least 5 times.  What I learned in the process was that writing a book is like Lewis and Clark heading west, you have no idea what you're getting into.  You have to surrender to the process; you have to become a servant.  Sounds odd, because people think of writers controlling their characters.  Wrong.  If there's any truth to your story at all, it will show you where to go, and you will simply carry the bags and clean the ashtrays.  There is an element of release in all artistic creation, without it, you can never tap into the wellspring of creativity that is deep inside of you, in your soul.  You don't make it happen, you let it happen.

With Invisible Driving published at last, I am free to market the two regular novels I wrote afterwards, Moonlit Tours and Washed Up, but they are another story for another day.

ElLagarto ElLagarto
56-60, M
22 Responses Jun 17, 2007

Thanks Myo (I think!). Thanks Nyx. It's true that the novels are not what you would call "orthodox".


Or these novels! =D

"...I am free to market the two regular novels..."<br />
El, there nothing regular about you! ;)

You Syd it!

I know. I don't let myself indulge in those sentences, but it is a ruthless process, as you said.

Guy de Maupassant referred to these as one's "darlings". Editing must be ruthless, it is no time for self-indulgence.

Definitely. Plus, when you write a sentence that is brilliant, if it doesn't add something new to the story, it is wasted. That's why editing is a heart-wrenching process for me. =)

I've found that the hardest thing about being a writer is having something interesting to say.

I've had moments like that. I just crash and burn though if I do to much at one time. So those writing projects haven't really turned out at all for me. But I'm still a young writer, so I'll probably figure the best way to tackle a book in time. It's really not easy being a writer, but it seems easy from the outside looking in. =)

On the other hand, one finds time to do the things one wants to do. In the case of my first book, I had such a burning desire/need to write it that I used every spare second. The 2nd book was written in a fever pitch, the first draft happened in a month of 18 hour days.

I understand. I am very busy myself. It is not easy, I suppose. =)

Thanks for the heads up. - My only problem with writing these days is finding the time to do it - I have no end of projects lined up.

I have the same philosophy on writing. Have you ever read the books "Writing down the bones" by Natalie Goldberg or "From Where You Dream" by Robert Olen Butler? Amazing, eye-opening books for a writer. They really helped me. You don't sound like you need help at all with the getting started thing, but perhaps you would be interested in reading them just because I know that when I read them, which I do over and over and over again, it is refreshing. If I am ever having a problem with writing, I just open up to a random page, read only that page, then get back to writing. It is just amazing how they understand the life of writing so clearly, and I have really began to build my own foundation of writing practice. I would suggest the latter of the two books first. It is more challenging due to all the undoing of the concious, logical mind for a while and doing the subconcious mind how Olen Butler describes. Really though, he is right. I have reached that subconcious place in myself and it is my favorite place to go. The first one is more practical, but the same guidelines apply. Great books, both of them.

It really is, in fact, it can render you immobile. The secret is to focus on being better than you were yesterday - compare yourself to yourself - not to others. I will never write poetry like Yeats, or novels like Beckett. But I don't let that stop me from trying to be the best me there is.

i think letting go has become harder since i have come to a college full of writers. intimidation is dangerous, i suppose, if you let it get to you.

A qualified "agree." It takes tremendous discipline, preparation, and concentration to arrive at that safe place where one is ready to let go - but for me at least - when I let go, I can tell - there's no mistaking it.

it's funny how much effort letting go takes. it would be easier if it were just about control, i guess. but with writing, the lines between letting go and taking control blur until you don't know which is which.

The approach is applicable to other activities as well. Writers are generally thought of as self-focused, anti-social, and egotistical. Not to mention alcoholic. Of course there is some truth to this. But to excel, as you would in painting or composing or underwater chess - you need to eliminate thoughts of self-aggrandizement and the illusion that you are different - much less better - than others. You have to stick to the knitting and remember that there is a higher purpose to what you do.

I'm no writer, but your approach sounds like the one I would take if I was.

You have to clear everything out of the way, all the distractions, and the lies, most of all, your ego. Let it happen.

that is how i have always thought of it, too - as cutting yourself and bleeding. the only problem is, sometimes it is hard to find the vein. when you brain is cluttered with fear and doubt, you search your entire body for the promise of that thin blue line. and when you can't find it, it's like where is your life? where is your life to bleed onto the paper?