Monday, December 6, 2010


Something in a lighter vein, a cartoon by David Kazzie dealing with writing novels. These aren't Pixar production values, by any means, and the robotic voices are annoying, but as crude as it may seem this little cartoon manages to hit some ringing truths and elucidate some commonly held misconceptions. Here at the Hammer offices, we were rolling in the aisles. Like the best observational humor (and the worst dentist) this really hit a nerve--partly because we still believe it is possible to write a meaningful, challenging novel (there are still wonderful books being written) and partly because we are, in fact, writing one. We're stealing moments away from jobs and televisions and loved ones to hammer together an entirely made-up story (it's amazing how many intelligent people you meet who only read non-fiction, as if there is nothing "true" in a novel, meaning nothing to be learned), and we're just bold enough to believe it's worth the trouble. When will it be finished? When it's done. The trick is doing it right. It's not as easy as most people (including our animated bear) think. It takes heavy construction as well as fine carpentry. There are complicated characters and plots (in fact, several) and a strong narrative pull (profluence, John Gardner called it) but at this stage of construction one has the impulse to put up wallpaper in a room before the entire house has been built (to make a little showcase, perhaps) but the impulse must be resisted. It takes slow and steady work, checking the blueprints from time to time, and, lacking the reassurance and feedback that smaller pieces afford, something like faith. Anyway, the work is going well. There are sturdy weight-bearing walls and a strong foundation, and with any luck the sheetrock will go up without a hitch and the roof will hold water. Ha ha. Watch the video.

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