Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sometimes it’s hard being a writer.

People often ask me, ‘Of all the forms - the novel, short story, creative non-fiction, memoir – which is the hardest?’

Well, I’ll tell ya. It’s the postcard. Jeez. What do you put? I mean, it always sounds so banal, and there is nothing worse, for a writer, than sounding banal. There’s no point protesting, ‘Look, it was my intention to sound banal!’ Other people can sound banal, but if you’re a writer, you’ve got to aim for something else. Like profound. Or acerbic. Or transgressive.

I like the idea of the transgressive postcard. ‘Fuck you’ instead of ‘wish you were here’. Or maybe it would be to send someone a dirty postcard, by which I mean one you had defaced in some unspeakable way. But that would be a performance artist’s postcard, not a writer’s.

Anyhow, it’s hard. Harder even than those messages you have to write when the leaving cards get circulated at work. People expect a little bit more from a writer. Especially when the postcard is one advertising the book you’ve got coming out.

This I know, because earlier this week I sent out the first of my huge stack of glossy Taking Comfort postcards that Macmillan New Writing printed up for me. It’s going all the way to Santa Fe to my friend and fellow blogger Richard Cooper. Let me just say, it was a titanic creative struggle and it just about wore me out for the whole week. You may have noticed the blog’s been a bit quiet.

So what did I put? Well, I wasn’t in a particularly profound, acerbic or transgressive mood, unfortunately. But after a lot of looking deep within myself, interspersed with long periods spent gazing reflectively out of the window, I settled for ‘Greetings from a chilly London.’

Sorry Richard.


Richard said...

That's excellent news! I'm getting an authentic London writer's postcard advertising his new book! And yours is on the way. I just drew a stick figure of the flute playing Kokopelli on the one you're getting. And rubbed some horseshit on it, too. (It was the horse's idea--he's into a new transmodal-transgressive performance art these days.)

roger said...

That's a talented horse you've got there! I can't wait, though I don't know what the local postman (mailman) will make of the horseshit.


Richard said...

I've received your postcard in fine condition! Upon closer examination, I've discovered a series of secret symbols and cyphers that seem to prove that the Church of England has been hiding a centuries old secret that will shake the very foundation of English literature--Shakespeare was Queen Elizabeth's favorite boy-toy-courtesan!