Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Writing is like. . .
"It's like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." E.L. Doctorow
That famous piece of advice about writing sees me through many a tough place when I panic because I don't know where my story is going. At those moments, I put myself behind the wheel of an imaginary car on a road at night--just like the one above--and I think, "Okay, I can't see very far ahead, but I *can* see this far." Then I advise myself, "Write to the end of the headlights." Sometimes the car and the headlights keep moving on down the road, revealing more of the story bit by bit. That's a great relief. I can keep writing like that. Sometimes a deer bounds across the road, figuratively speaking, startling me. Sometimes the car keeps moving but the headlights mysteriously go out. That's scary! Sometimes, everything breaks down. And my cell phone won't work. And here come a rough-looking pair of guys in an old pickup truck. But now and then Doctorow's advice works really well for me in a straightforward and simple fashion. So I pass it along today in case there are any writers reading this who need it as much as I do today.