Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Random Thoughts During a Snow Storm

It's a slow day at work. It's 17 degrees and we may be getting up to a foot of snow before the storm that started last night ends, if it ends, tomorrow morning. This is what is called system snow, not caused by moist air blowing in off Lake Michigan. That will follow the current storm. At any rate, not many patients are venturing out for imaging studies this afternoon.

I got the latest edition of Poets and Writers magazine in the mail yesterday and it includes an article by Walter Mosley, who is coming out in April with a book on writing entitled This Year You Write Your Novel. He makes the point, which I already know but don't practice, that you must write every day, or a least sit down and do something with your writing every day. Maybe you reread or rewrite, but you do something. There are a lot of people who say they are writers who don't write. Seems simple enough, doesn't it?

I am reading the memoir of Ralph McInerny, philosopher and mystery writer (the Father Dowling mysteries, among others). He became a successful fiction writer in the golden age of the 50s, when magazines like Redbook and Saturday Evening Post actually bought and published fiction for popular consumption. A new word I learned from reading the book is velleity, which means a mere wish, or the lowest form of volition. My life is brimming with velleity. McInerny, who used to live at 2158 Portage Avenue just down the road from us a piece, started out standing up typing at a bench in his basement.

Our writing group meets March 1 and I have to take something. I have been working, intermittently (how else?) on a short story from the point of view of a mouse. Blame Kafka. I recently read some of his short stories, including the last he wrote before dying of TB, "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk." Well, don't blame Kafka. I accept all the blame, and I am blatantly stealing the character of Josephine. Not so much stealing as using. She vanishes in Kafka's story and reappears in another mouse village in mine. I just need a plot. A beginning, a middle (or muddle, as McInerny says, quoting another writer whose name escapes me at the moment), and an end. Desire. Conflict. The hero's best efforts have to make the situation worse before it gets better. Etc. Etc.

Somerset Maugham said that there are three rules for writing a novel, but no one knows what they are.

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