mad in pursuit notebook


writingWriting from Life: Today's Manifesto

So many people have book projects in the back of their minds. It's one of those yearnings particularly plagued with self-doubt and many false starts. Been there, done that. I keep imagining that I'll do a high-class Powerpoint presentation of the process -- a learning history. While I may be a bust at self-marketing, I do know how to produce a book and I do know how to make a gift of it.

I'd like to do one of those cool slideshows, with the animated doodles, but, alas, all I can eke out this week is a manifesto. I wrote most of it as I was falling asleep the other night; hence, it's a little "spontaneous." But you have to start somewhere, right?

  1. No one out there cares. You care. Do it. Make it remarkable. Share.
  2. Memories are biased, warped, false. So what. Find the chunks that tell the story you want to hear. Make
    yourself laugh, cry, groan with the lessons learned.
  3. Don't take yourself so seriously that you can't have a laugh at your own expense.
  4. Introduce your fantasy memory self to the factual world. Make chronologies and timetables. Create a correct family tree. Don't be sloppy. Don't kid yourself. Don't lie.
  5. Find your mentors and informants but let yourself be surprised who they turn out to be. Your genius-helper may reside close to home.
  6. Writing happens in your fingers. Write, even if you are just copying out someone else's work to get their rhythms into your fingers. 1000 hours in a year is a good start. Craft counts.
  7. Bombard your project from different angles. Find new ways to get unstuck. Change your first-person story to third-person.  Throw out your ending. Throw out your beginning.
  8. Don't be boring.
  9. Learn how to make a book. Fonts, layouts, chapters... Look at books. This is your baby. Do it all. Don't outsource your creation.
  10. You are raising a creature from the mud puddles and boggy swamps of your mind, and your heart, and your guts. You have to clean it up to make it a gift.
  11. Start with a premise, but discover your theme along the way.
  12. Learn by dancing with your ignorance.


Mar 29, 2012