Yesterday I read all of Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Consider This: Moments in my writing life after which everything was different”, in less than six hours.
I think that was a new personal best.
I’d ordered it online and had been waiting over two weeks for it to arrive. I was eager to get my hands on a new Palahniuk book.
Honestly, I hadn’t read anything of his for a long time, the last book of his I had bought was a collection of short stories; ‘Make Something Up: Stories you can’t unread‘ and that had been a few years ago .
Most of his books I’d previously read had only taken me on average a few days to finish.
I remember in high school I read ‘Choke‘ in two days, that was my previous personal best.
I’d always been fond of most of his writings. ‘Pygmy‘ and a few of his shorts in ‘Make Something Up‘ being the exceptions, but only because at the time they were a little too experimental for my tastes. His style, for the most part anyway, had been easy to read and so absorbing of my attention.
If it had been any other writer I’d probably have skimmed ahead to see how long the chapter or short story was and if I had deemed it too long I’d have tapped out.
I have a short attention span.
I bought ‘Consider This‘ because I had decided to teach myself how to write short stories, I had consumed all of Chuck’s craft essays on ‘Lit reactor‘ and was ecstatic to find out he was finally bringing out a book on writing. I was entirely aware that I wouldn’t magically become an amazing writer just from reading his book, I don’t think any book has that power, but I knew his book would have some incredible insights, and it did not disappoint.
I especially found the section on Authority very useful. My present concern for my own writing at this stage is how to make my stories believable and have the characters appear authentic. Now this sounds a little contradictory as Fiction is essentially a fabrication, it isn’t real , it never happened.
By believability and authenticity I mean to be able to make the reader surrender their disbelief and just be consumed by the story that no matter what you write, whether it’s a story about aliens, or ghosts or monsters, they will be compelled to keep reading it.
I’ve written a list of writing commandments from Chuck’s advice, I’ve named them ‘Tenets of Minimalist writing’. I’m not going to tell you what they are because they are for me, not you. Also, go buy his book and write a list of your own commandments.
Anyway, I’ve stuck mine on the wall above my desk next to a piece of Ray Bradbury’s advice; “Don’t Think”. He was referring to what Chuck said Tom Spanbauer describes as “shitting out the lump of coal”, the struggle to write out that raw first draft.
I’m trying not to think Ray, really, I am.
But I can’t.
So for now I’ll just think out loud.