Did I ever tell you about the time Kurt Vonnegut called me a coward to my face? And made me cry? The old smoky bloodshot dragon had burned down his apartment in NYC and set up residence at Smith College for a semester my senior year. I was taking a couple writing classes and psyched myself up to give him some of my (earnest, dark, Andre Dubus, Raymond Carver esque) stories to read. Then I went to his office in the library to hear what he thought of them. He said “You’re a coward, aren’t you?” and couldn’t stop laughing and wheezing.
This book talks about writer’s block plainly- as fear. Fear of what other people will say and fear of what you will say. Good writers know this and use that fear and anxiety to their advantage. Scared writers don’t write, write and don’t publish, or write in an obscure abstract jargon filled literary style that is preferred by academics and intellectuals because it cannot be pinned down. (If I can’t understand it, it must be pretty good writing, and no one will figure out what I’m really talking about.) Anyone who is struggling with their writing should read this book.
Thanks to the late Mr. Vonnegut for calling me out ten years ago and putting a name to my problem.