For God’s sake, don’t do it unless you have to … it’s not easy. It shouldn’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible, and it’s damn near impossible. (Frank Conroy)
Hard to believe that a writer as well-known as Frank Conroy would have the same feelings I do, but that’s what he said. Conroy, who published only five books, including Stop-Time, which was nominated for the National Book Award, said that he had to reread everything he’d written the day before so he’d know what to write next. I feel pretty happy about that, Mr. Conroy, because that’s exactly what I find myself doing on the rare day that I can force myself to sit down long enough to get back into my main character’s head. Spending hours trying to figure out how to squeeze out just the right words, seems like a big waste of time.
Conroy also believed that the work leads the writer. Amen! I’ve been saying that for years. But what I want to know is why it’s leading me so slowly? Admittedly, Dancing Naked in the Rain, took me five years to write—a bit of an exaggeration, but close enough. The main character, Megan McEller, did manage to prod me along more quickly in the sequel, Stars Walking Backward, and, together, we managed to complete that journey in half the time as Dancing Naked in the Rain.
Now, the third of the trilogy, Voices in the Dark, is a romantic mystery beginning with Megan’s struggle to … oh, never mind … just read Voices after you finish the other two. That is, if I ever finish it. Once again the written word has me staring at a blank sheet of paper—a bit of an exaggeration as it’s well over 50,000 words, but I just wish I could write faster—that it would come more easily. Conroy is right. It ain’t that easy.
So I must end with the words of another well-known writer, the playwright and poet Richard Brinsley Sheridan. He was Irish, by the way, just as I am. At least Irish blood runs in my veins, along with German and English. Anyway, he said you write with ease, to show your breeding,/But easy writing’s vile hard reading.
Hooray! Maybe I’m doing something right.