In my post last month, I talked about a really hard-to-find essay that was written in 1985 (thanks for the fabulous feedback, by the way). This time, I’d like to talk about a very easy-to-find conversation that took place in 2009 between two extremely popular writers/speakers in the tech community (John Gruber & Merlin Mann). The thing about this talk is that pretty much all my geek blogging friends know and love this discussion, and not one of my non-geek literary friends knows what I’m talking about when I mention this discussion. But I think this talk is oozing with insight for anyone that creates anything. It shouldn’t be limited to geeks. It shouldn’t be limited to bloggers. They talk about two essential qualities for success when creating something: Obsession & Voice. We writer types are always talking about voice — so that’s no surprise — but I hadn’t thought as much about obsession, both for my writing process and for the characters I write about.

In my five-minute video tribute, I illustrate what this talk means to me as a novelist and as a goofy presentation maker. I’ve swiped some excerpts from their talk (accompanied with my third-rate animations) to give you a feel for the parts that hit me the hardest. I even try to draw a stick figure dropping his pants to tease out some of the charm of these two people.

After you check out the video, you might want to read John Gruber’s preface to this talk here.

And if you didn’t already click through to the audio link via Gruber’s site, you can get to the (one-hour) audio file directly from Merlin’s blog here.

Have I linked you to death by now?

If not, then what do y’all think? Do you think obsession and voice are essential elements in your own writing? And do you find it refreshing to look outside the literary community for insight into your writing process?



About Yuvi Zalkow

Yuvi Zalkow writes and worries in Portland, Oregon. His stories have been published in Glimmer Train, Narrative Magazine, Carve Magazine, and others. His first neurotic novel is now available. He is working on a second novel (about one Jew obsessed with napkins and another Jew in the Klan). He recently received an MFA from Antioch University, which makes him feel official.