Thursday, February 16, 2006

The most important part of a writer's anatomy

Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, and wife of Michael Chabon, was on my show yesterday. At the end of my show, I usually ask my guests for advice for the writers out there.

Ayelet talked about the girls in prison that she teaches and that she asked them what was the most important part of a writer's anatomy. (What do you think it is? Before you read on, guess.... I asked my own students last night and they said, "The eyes," "the brain," "the heart." Her students gave similar answers. Yes, they are all important but that's not it.)

"Your butt!" she said. Because if your butt's not in the chair, nothins' gonna happen. No writing is going to get done.

Yep. A writer's butt reigns supreme.

8 comments:

amy said...

I'd always heard the quote attributed to Conrad Knickerbocker when he worked at Hallmark. How do you become a writer? Apply ass to chair. Maybe this is because I was a writer in Kansas City. In any case, I did guess the answer!

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

Yes, he said it and we all say it (to ourselves, even), over and over and over......

Victor Infante said...

Then, of course, is Sinclair Lewis' maxim:

"The art of writing consists of the art of placing the seat of one's pants to the seat of one's chair"

This is currently what I'm procrastinating doing right this second...

cardeia said...

I think Natalie Goldberg mentions the application of buttocks to chair at some point in one of her books. You also reference this concept in your own book, I think. Must thumb through when I get home...

Getting that arse down into that seat and just writing, whether the ouput be crap-tastic or prose worthy of a Booker is the important part. You are writing. You are working. An object in motion?

I always say to fellow writing colleagues who lament with me on the lack of muse or motivation that writing is a muscle. It needs to be used to get better, and can get stiff if you don't. The hard part is in motivating yourself to get tookus to the prone position and stare at the blank page in the word processor, or the last sentence of the previous endeavours efforts and making a face that would scare small children. Getting the muscle moving... monstrous effort some days.

This is my fate as I look at my days work (being a Technical Writer) right now, hence my distraction of checking in on blogs. *grin*

An interesting concept on how the Internet makes us better writers can be found at (warning, some use of "rude" language):

http://warren-ellis.livejournal.com/54613.html

Leslea said...

I enjoyed her so much when she and her husband were on your show talking about how they found out about his big Prize. I really thought to myself "they sound like the neatest couple." Glad to hear she's been a repeat guest!

Today I'm listening to you and Susanna Clark (again), and I just want to reiterate that I absolutely take away more and more with each listen of the same shows. Beautiful, beautiful, thank you!!! I never regret the time I spend listening to your archives.

Leslea said...

Oops! Make that "Susan Straight." It says Susanna Clark on the feed, but that must be a boo boo.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

Ooh, thanks for telling me. I've just forwarded your post to my web guy who will hopefully know how to fix it.

Barbara

Writers on Writing said...

That was a boo-boo indeed, the link was incorrect. It should have linked to Susana but it linked to Susan. What a different a letter makes.

It's been fixed tho and if your using iTunes and it doesn't redownload the correct file for you, you can get it by downloading it from here or here.