In Erika's Dreams, For Writers, Writing

This morning I enjoyed reading 100 Things About Writing a Novel by Alexander Chee. Here are the truths that resonated with me…

1. Sometimes music is needed.

2. Sometimes silence.

3. This is probably because a novel is a piece of music, like all written things, the language demanding you make a sound as you read it.

12. Writing novels can make you a bad employee.

13. You do write because you have to write, in the end. You do it because it is easier to do than to not do. And so families should try not to punish their writers.

14. Coming across a character with your characteristics is like walking into a store and finding a paper doll of yourself.

15. The more so if you wrote the character.

17. Attempts to find out what the novel is about on uninvited occasions may meet with an enormous resistance.

18. This is because their sense of that meaning changes. My sense of a novel changes in the same way my knowledge of someone changes. And I know you are looking for the sort of answer you can rely on later, when you see the book. But that by then, my answer will have evolved, into the entire book, and so whatever I told you will have almost no relationship to what is there. If I seem cagey it is because I am not a liar and hate being considered one by an accident of craft.

22. Revision turns something like laundry into something like Christmas.

23. This is because a first draft is like scaffolding; often it must be torn down to uncover the thing being built underneath. Which is to say, some second drafts, when they emerge, have very little visible relationship to the first.

24. And so another way to think of a first draft is as a chrysalis of guesses.

36. The novel coming not from the mind but the heart, which is why it cannot fit in your head. Why, when you hear it, it seems to be singing from somewhere just out of your sight, always.

To read the complete list, visit Alexander Chee’s blog, Koreanish.

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