George Saunders needs no introduction now. Tenth of December is without doubt a contender for my book of the year and it’s only February. As well as being a writer of humane and truly engaging short fiction he gives good interview, even when the interviewer is less than articulate. Case in point, the recent Amazon Asks with George in which he talks about his process:
His whole description of his writing method is wonderfully vague and intuitive. It certainly rang a bell for me, my process being largely about working out exactly what the story is trying to tell me.
The answer that jumped out at me most though was what he described as the first condition of his writing:
make sure that what you’re writing doesn’t suck and make sure that it engages
The fact that this was his answer to the old chestnut of when/if he’s ever going to write a novel makes this fried gold. The length of the story’s irrelevant. It’s the not sucking that matters.
This also got me thinking about what my first condition might be. I’m going to take ‘not sucking but engaging’ as a given now and add:
write the thing you want to read that no one else is writing
What would your first condition of writing be? Slap it in the comments and I’ll tot up a list post if there’s enough response.
9 Responses to The first condition of writing
Thanks for this post, Dan. Great conditions. Here’s mine:
when the story won’t rest, it’s time to start writing it
I totally get that. I get physically restless when I don’t have time to write and the story is whispering in my ear.
Love his analogy with fado
And first condition? Make something beautiful.
If your stories weren’t enough of a clue, Neil, you’ve just outed yourself as a bit of a romantic. Great first condition.
Engage, entertain, exit.
Like that, Rachel, sounds like secret mission instructions for some sort of super-spy. Makes me think of writers all in black, skulking about with laptops, hacking into someone’s wifi to submit their latest short while on the run.
My first condition would be: engage with the humanity of the story.
Adam B @revhappiness
A condition George Saunders would, I believe, heartily approve of.
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