a few things about writing

so i’ve been thinking a lot about writing lately. my sister megan sends the most wonderful emails from brazil, my dad just sent some of his pieces to megan and me, and i’ve been doing more writing myself.

do you guys know about ken levine? he’s a television writer who wrote for mash, wings, cheers, the simpsons, and frasier, among others. he has a great weblog where he writes about his own shows, the current state of television, and various other things. recently he wrote this:

Writing is rewarding but never easy. We resist starting and constantly fight the temptation to stop. Kurt Vonnegut talked of the difficulty. He said whenever he’s in a room with writers they’ll all be bitching about how hard the process is. All except one. He’ll say it’s a breeze. Every day it just flows. Invariably HE’S the worst writer in the room.

which reminded me of a line i noticed during my recent third reading of cat’s cradle. it’s one of my favorite books; the inside cover of my copy says “James Headley, 3-71.” i guess i never gave it back, dad.

When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed.

right now i’m reading don delillo’s white noise. i’m not too far in, and already i’m unimpressed with the dialogue.

“You should have been there,” I said to her.
“It’s the day of the station wagons.”
“Did I miss it again? You’re supposed to remind me.”
“They stretched all the way down past the music library and onto the interstate. Blue, green, burgundy, brown. They gleamed in the sun like a desert caravan.”

Here’s another quote:

“They’ve grown comfortable with their money,” I said. “They genuinely believe they’re entitled to it. This conviction gives them a kind of rude health. They glow a little.”

i ask you: who talks like that? ten pages in and delillo’s characters already speak as though they’re channeling his prose. people don’t talk in metaphors and complete sentences that way; conversations are colloquial, fragmented, grammatically incorrect. the creative writing major in me can hardly stand to read it.

maybe writing is a breeze for don delillo. or maybe he was writing at top speed.