That’s what I’m wondering after having read Claire Fallon’s article Obama, Possible Aspiring-Novelist-In-Chief, Once Wrote Short Fiction for the Huffington Post. How awesome is that? And I’m not being partisan here; I also love the fact that President GWB discovered he has a remarkable talent for painting. He even honored military veterans by painting portraits of them that are displayed at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
I’m just more excited about Barry’s writing aspirations because my own more closely match his. And I’m figuring if the man who held the most powerful office in the free world could contemplate writing short fiction in his free time, then I can too. Even if he is just contemplating it.
Ideas have to come from somewhere, because they certainly don’t just magically shoot out of my fingers when my sit down at the keyboard, that’s for sure. (If they do for you then you must be either the luckiest writer on the planet or JK Rowling. It’s the only way she can be that prolific and that brilliant!)
Writers have to find the time to ruminate. And once ideas are formed, we must then percolate them to ensure only those with merit make it into the story itself. Creating a story takes time, and I guess our sorely-missed ex-commander-in-chief has more of that on his hands these days. I for one would love to read a short story by Barry O, so he better be ruminating while he's off windsurfing with billionaire Richard Branson on some private island. His readers await!
In an interview he did with NY Times book critic Michiko Kakutani, (who I’m embarrassed to admit I’d only previously heard referred to by Carrie Bradshaw in Season 5 of Sex and the City because he [she?] reviewed one of Carrie’s books), Mr. President said, “People now remark on this notion of me being very cool, or composed. . . . I generally have a pretty good sense of place and who I am, and what’s important to me. And I trace a lot of that back to that process of writing.” ....See, writing is cathartic too. I knew it!
So why am I so darn awful at putting pen to paper/fingers to keyboard/yada-yada? Why am I happier finding the time to write a blog post than I am beginning with that first keystroke of a short story? I think it’s because I know what’s coming. It’s purgative in nature. Just like Mr. Prez mentioned to Mr.s.z. Kakutani. Nobody likes sticking their finger down their throat, even though they know they’re going to feel so much better in the end.
Sure, comedy is easier to write – to a degree. But lightheartedness can also be incredibly dull. Satire at its best also involves ripping off the Band-Aid from wounds far from healed, even if only to mock with self-deprecating humor. There’s a reason some of the best clowns in the business, like John Belushi, Chris Farley, and Robin Williams are no longer with us. Really good comedy involves soul searching deep dark places in the hope it will make us feel better for a moment or two.
Yep. Carving out the time to write is the key. It is just a matter of doing it. No excuses.
No “Oh, I have to get ahead on my blog post research/writing.”
No “I really need to read this week’s short fiction in The New Yorker.”
No “I haven’t reached my step goal yet, so I should walk to dog round the block.”
(And TRUST ME, when I’m using exercise as an excuse to write I know I’ve hit rock bottom. My kids got me a FitBit for Christmas for a reason.)
What’s even crazier, I have my storylines for the next five or so stories already laid out! So, here I am. I’m going public. Some people get motivated by calorie challenges. Some by step challenges. I’m announcing that within two weeks I’ll have published my next two stories in my five story trilogy The Senses. If I haven’t, I expect you to shame me. Shame me like the High Sparrow shamed Cersei. I’ll deserve it!
TTFN. I’ve got some writing to do (gulp!)