You don’t write with your keyboard. You don’t write with your pen or your hands. You don’t write with your typewriter, your chisel, your audio transcriber, your fancy new app, gadget, or journal.
Most people find this strange since, for instance, the field goal kicker for the St. Louis Rams kicks primarily with his leg.
But not the storyteller. “Writing” is one of those rare more-than-actions for our more-than-physical world.
See this is the problem with most journalism about fiction writers. Journalists try so hard in interviews to get the story behind the story, to “see through” fiction rather than using fiction as a tool through which to see. They insult those of us who have spent years fantasizing and imagining and crafting another world from scratch. As Terry Pratchett would say, Fiction is a minor province in the world of Fantasy, not the other way around. Even the most Woolf-esque, heady literary fiction is fantasizing and, if it’s not, it’s little more than memoir.
That’s not to slight memoir.
That’s simply saying we fiction writers do something that nonfiction writers do not do.
We craft tales from scratch.
Recently at a writers’ enclave in Massachusetts, I considered leading a session in which I confiscated the phones, computers, typewriters, pens, and paper of every attendee. We would then take a simple writing prompt for a fairy tale or mythology and would write it together. Aloud. Without any recording device to bear witness. Then we’d retell the story, start to finish, patching it together. Then we’d elect a delegate—the best of us—to tell our community’s tale from start to finish.
And then we’d write our own longhand versions. [Read more…]