On Writing Novels: Thoughts on Elizabeth George and Olen Steinhauer

While doing a signing in South Louisiana, a writing friend introduced me to a book by Elizabeth George entitled, Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life.  I spent some time last night and this morning reading in it. I think it is a good book for aspiring novel writers to read. The book truly does reveal her approach, and I think a novelist would find her techniques and practices quite helpful. She talks about how “he who possesses the best bum glue wins.”  That is so true. She talks about how to create one novel, she wrote from eight to twelve hours a day. I definitely need that kind of commitment.

Here are a couple of other quotes that caught my eye in Chapter 16, “The Value of Bum Glue”:

“One cannot simultaneously teach English at the high school level and write novels, since teaching English well at teh high school level is generally a twelve-hour-a-day job.” (This may be an oversimplification or hasty generalization, but there is truth to this statement)

“The writing life is one of extreme isolation, and for the person who needs the continual stimulation of other people attempting this as a career is a choice fraught with anxiety, unmet needs, and frustration.  Writing well also requires forced introspection.”

Last night, after the SCV Christmas party, I also read two chapters in a fine novel another writing friend gave me. It is written by Olen Steinhauer and is entitled, The Bridge of Sighs.  The first two chapters have hooked me. I am impressed with this novel that critics place in the genre of literary crime. Steinhauer was raised in Texas and currently lives in Budapest. The award winning author is a recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship. You can see more of what he’s written at his Website here:  http://www.olensteinhauer.com/

Tomorrow, I’m in Vidalia, Louisiana, making presentations at the schools.  Today will be spent frantically preparing for that event. Saturday, I’ll be at the Sam’s Club in Shreveport. I’m feeling pressure. For a writer, it seems like there’s never enough time.