Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday: Reading and Writing

Just finished the first fiction I've actually finished in far too long: James Crumley's The Last Good Kiss. It had the effect on me that all good art does. It opened up possibilities. It made me want to do better.

Part of my new life as a full-time writer is more time for reading. Like I said, I haven't read much fiction lately. I've always been more of a biography and non-fiction reader, but there's been too little of that lately, too. For too long, I've clung to a stubborn belief that staying away from other people's writing helped preserve whatever was unique in my own talent. There may be some kernel of honesty there, but it's mainly a rationalization for laziness. I'm fixing it. I'm not going to be lazy about reading anymore.

Winding my way through Crumley's wonderful prose, I was struck by how you have to get into a flow to read well. I cannot stand to skim through the page. I want to really feel the impact of a clever observation. I'm not just reading for plot. I want to study what the writer has laid out for me, and that takes time. As I made my way through The Last Good Kiss I found myself more in tune with Crumley's style, and the pages flew by. It took me about as long to read the last 150 pages as it had the first hundred.

Crumley also made me wonder about writing more prose. It's something that's been on my mind lately, anyway. I've always said that I liked writing comics exactly because I didn't want to write prose. I thought I preferred writing a script that served as a guide for an artist, and letting the dialogue serve as my only accompaniment. I'm starting to wonder, though. I don't know if I could ever touch Crumley, but I can string words together. It's worth thinking about. There are practical considerations, as well. I have at least some sort of career as a comic book writer. Writing prose means reaching out to an entirely different business... one that is reeling.

On the other hand, in these days of e-reading, maybe I could write prose without finding a publisher in the old-school sense. Well, I know I could write it and distribute it. The question, as always, would be making a buck out of the whole endeavor. Stupid bucks.

That's enough of my rambling for today. Go read some Crumley. I'm moving on to some Steve Hely.

Anj

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