… I teach patience and stubbornness.
So said Richard Bausch, who writes as well as teaching writing.
Without patience and stubbornness a writer of fiction would die (fictionally speaking). We need patience while we dream up our characters and discover who they are. We need, as I heard Jeanette Winterson say at the London Book Fair many years ago, to find time to sit by the well and fill up once more. We need patience to make the story (and to make the story work) and we need patience when we think it is done to listen to our editors and then to redraft and redraft and redraft. And then we need patience to leave the book alone to settle, more patience to go back to it and see what more there is to be done (Hemingway said he put his manuscripts away for three months so that when he looked at them again he could read objectively) and, finally, we need patience while our characters do their best to impress themselves upon publishers. And through all this time of patience we need the stubbornness to sit there and find the patience, the stubborness to go back to our desks when it is the very last thing we feel like doing, the stubbornness to push through the doubt (without which no writer can be a real writer) and the stubbornness just to hang on in there when all about you are doubting that a book is what you are working on at all.
WRITTEN in WATER is now rewritten for the manyieth time, with the inspired and inspiring help of a wonderful editor who said that, at times, she was transported and enthralled by the novel but at others there was more, much more, work to be done. I have done – to the best of my ability – that work and in the new year my agent will submit the manuscript to publishers. Wish it well, please.
THE THING I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE MADE this month is:
To have the imagination to create that tumbling confection of silvery curves would be delightful. To have the engineering knowledge to understand how to make steel bend like that. To give us all something so absolutely surprising and yet so utterly perfect that it seems as if it has always been, is genius. Frank Gehry‘s Bilbao Museum is a wonder.
PS: I’ll be offline for a little while because I’m moving (terrestrial) house. So … happy new year and see you in it.