Writer’s Desk: Make Things Up to Get By

Writers go through hard times like anybody else. For some, their writing can then become a slog. When things are bad, many of us like to escape from ourselves. And when you are sitting alone, hour after hour, plumbing your thoughts for new insights and plot points and similes (“The fresh-risen sun painted the sky like a…”), it feels like you cannot get away from yourself.

In her new book Never Say You Can’t Survive, author Charlie Jane Anders (who wrote the fantastic sci-fi novel The City in the Middle of the Night) has some suggestions about what to do when things are miserable, starting with how she coped with what she calls her “hell-year” of 2020:

… dreaming up imaginary worlds and larger-than-life people who never lived.

Just as reading can transport people, writing can take us out of ourselves. Anders goes on:

You never stop learning how to do better at writing—even if you’ve published a bunch of books and “arrived” as an author, you’re still on a steep learning curve, for as long as you’re stringing words together. This is excellent, because it means there will always be new discoveries and insights. Put another way, if writing was a house, you would never run out of rooms to explore…

Exploring beats wallowing.

Reader’s Corner: ‘The City in the Middle of the Night’

My review of Charlie Jane Anders’ novel The City in the Middle of the Night was published at Rain Taxi Review of Books:

The City in the Middle of the Night, is precisely the kind of novel that benefits from being called speculative fiction rather than science fiction, which can still seem pejorative to some readers. So far, “speculative fiction” seems not to scare off genre-unfriendly readers, meaning Anders may attract the kind of broad readership she deserves with this bristling and vivid book…