I’ve had this book on my shelf for at least ten years. Probably more. The first book on writing I ever bought was Lawrence Block’s Telling Lies For Fun and Profit. This was the second. So maybe more like fifteen years.
I was pulling books off my Books About Writing shelf the other day: Writing the Breakout Novel. The Weekend Novelist. The Art of Fiction. And this: Writing a Novel. They just sat on my desk, in case I had a break and needed to occupy myself. Today I picked up this one.
I’ve tried to read it several times, but it was just SO DRY, so LECTURE-Y. Since I was 25 years old I’ve been trying to read this book. I’m now 40, damn near 41, and finally–FINALLY–I’m ready for it.
A vigorous realism is the only possible way for the novel. Only through a vigorous exactitude of presentation can the essential strangeness of life be conveyed. If you don’t see the surface clearly, then you’ll never see what’s beneath.
You’ll never be able to write a novel as long as you have the illusion that only a special kind of world is worth writing about, that the world you know is too dull and commonplace.
-John Braine, Writing a Novel
So that’s sorted, then. Santa Barbara it is.
Next up: Voice.