Some years ago I went to a massotherapist at the behest of my wife. The mt was a distant cousin of hers, and was quite good, although some of her methods seemed rather odd (she was what you could call a New Age Massotherapist).
One of the things she did was this odd little trick with a knitting needle. Something about realigning the electrical and magnetic fields in the nerve endings in my back, she said.
There were some rather odd side effects to this, and I learned a few things about physiology from this woman… and after years this knowledge came in handy during the interrogation scene I wrote today.
If there is a moral to this, it is that a writer by necessity should not always be cooped up in a room banging on the keyboard to fulfill a literary vision. Yeah, it’s a romantic image (we’ve discussed this before), but it’s impractical.
A writer needs to get out and experience life. Because you never know which of those experiences are going to come in handy for something you’re writing. Some of them, like my massotherapy session or my wife getting clocked by the goat, I knew were going to be used at some point.
Other more mundane experiences just seem to pop out at the right moment when they’re needed.
For all the talk about J.D. Salinger and the manuscripts he has allegedly produced over the years, I can’t help but be cynical about their quality. After all, what could he be writing about after all those years of being a recluse? Novels about recluses? Novels whose character growth stops with the age at which he withdrew from the world?
I know the rule about “write what you know.” There’s some truth to that, but like any rule, it is one that is meant to be broken. After all, I’ve never been a bioengineer, a corporate terrorist, or a starship captain, and yet I’ve written novels about all of them. I’ve never picked up an alluring but strange woman in a bar and ended up on a cross-country chase, but that’s the subject of this novel. And, as in the case of one of my unpublished projects, I’ve never been a woman, period.
Yes, you have to rely on your imagination and skill.
But when it comes to the little details that give a novel verisimilitude, you need to experience life.
So fill your brains. Experience life. Get out there and live.
267 pages (+10)
62903 words (+2924)
NP – Wendy Carlos, Wendy Carlos’s A Clockwork Orange; The Complete Original Score