How Goes the Writing?

by Addie Boswell
Published on: August 26, 2013
Categories: Other Topics
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It’s nice when friends ask about your latest novel. I mean it’s nice to know they are thinking about you and interested in your projects. But the question itself remains loaded. If the writing goes well, you want to stay inside your writerly bubble with a superstitious zeal. And if you’re struggling, or discouraged, or outright stuck… a lot of hemming and hawing ensues. This article in the Sunday New York Times captures the problem quite nicely.

Roman Muradov

Roman Muradov

Don’t Ask What I’m Writing


No stage of the writing process — not the editor’s first response to the manuscript, not the review gauntlet — is as fraught for writers as those first few months of uncertainty: that miserable time when we think, believe, know with absolute assurance that we’ve found the key to the novel in our heads, though maybe, probably, definitely not.

Want to lose a friend who’s a writer? Ask her, a month in, how it’s going. Better still, ask her to describe what she’s working on. She’ll try, because she has to (“Well, it’s about this friendship between these two, um, friends . . . ”) all the while listening to the magic leaking out of the balloon, and she’ll hate you for it.

If writers agree on anything — which is unlikely — it’s that nothing can damage a novel in embryo as quickly and effectively as trying to describe it before it’s ready. Unfortunately, because we’re writers, a k a bipedal nests of contradictions, avoiding the temptation to share is never as easy as simply keeping our mouths shut.

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  1. ScrivaRuth says:

    Thanks, Addie. I missed this article, and now I can read it over…and over…and over!

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