For a variety of reasons — social commitments, mostly — I won't be posting much for the next couple of weeks. Aside from that, I have the last round of cleanup/formatting for Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned to take care of, and some thinking about what the next book will be. That and how to make it happen without relying on wishful thinking or magic.
Over the last dozen or so years since I started writing under this imprint, I've modified my work habits tremendously. I used to employ an intuitive process — impulsive, more like — where I'd drift around until I bumped into something interesting, and then I would follow that interesting thing until it burned itself out and the work declared itself done.
Eventually, I became more systematic about it. The real turning point was Flight Of The Vajra, since that work ended up becoming so expansive and detailed that I had to take notes (something I'd always disdained before). The note-taking process I developed for that book became a standard procedure for me for every other book going forward.
But as systematic as I've become, even all that systematization hasn't replaced the fact that if I can't on some deep level care about what I'm doing, if I'm not plugged into it and it's not plugged into me, nothing will happen. I have many ideas I've jotted down and set aside but never used, because while they strike me as clever or potentially interesting they don't engage me on a level deeper and more fundamental than all that. There's nothing in them, it seems, that I could either laugh or cry over — and if I can't feel that way about something, I'm going to have a devil of a time getting anyone else to do that, either.
One reason I always felt jealous, in a good way, of someone like Georges Simenon was because of how he seemed to have a bottomless well of experience to draw on for his fiction — and not in some abstract way, but all of it connected to the grimy, squirming emotions at the bottom of the human being. He taught me to look a little harder to find such things, to connect with things I might never have imagined myself connecting with.
As I've grown more systematized in my work, this one fundamental underlying impulse — the need to have an almost mystical relationship with the idea to make it work — hasn't changed. And the more I think about it, the more I would rather not have it remain a mystical thing. Then I'm in the position of the fellow who waits impatiently through the rainy season for that one fine day when she can ride her bike in the park. I'd rather not have this whole thing, at its seat, turn on something that is too romanticized and irrational for its own good.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind