Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Leaf Blower's Guide to Stripping and Steroids

I've hit 35,000 words. I like the sound of that. It has the mouth-feel of a landmark; the cruising altitude for an airliner. But don't get too excited: I'm about a third of the way through my first draft and I'm starting to rethink my strategy. While the just-vomit-on-the-page method has helped me develop my story and blaze forward unselfconsciously, lately I find myself wondering if I've developed my characters well enough to know what they'll do next. I'd also planned to eschew any serious research until I'd completed my first draft, but I've found that some technical stuff (FDA procedures, symptoms and treatment of the disease I'm highlighting, etc.) is integral to my plot. So, I think I may pause for a bit and spend some more time developing my characters and researching.

Or course, it could just be that I'm spending a week in sunny Fresno, and I've found that hot weather pretty much kills the drive to write, or to do anything else. No wonder San Francisco is such a productive city.

People always ask me, what are you going to blog about this week? Actually, they don't -- but I wish they would. Blogging ideas hit me at odd times; usually when I have nothing to write them down on. The other day I was running and had an epiphany that I could write a whole post about those people who jog in place at stoplights to keep their heart rates up. But by the time I got back home I'd forgotten why that was so funny.

Some writers have gone to extremes to drum up material. Diablo Cody is the darling du jour of Hollywood who won an academy award for her first screenplay Juno. Everyone assumes she's a stripper-turned-writer, but it's even more interesting than that: she was a writer who started stripping so she'd have something to write about. She was blogging about the banalities of her office job, and no one was listening. So she became a stripper and wrote a blog about it. That blog, called The Pussy Ranch (only a smidgen more intriguing than The Leafblower), drew a huge following. Next came a memoir, then a screenplay. Now she's writing a series for Steven Spielberg. See where blogging can take you? And don't bother looking for The Pussy Ranch -- it's been taken down.

In a similar vein, here's an excellent article about a writer who takes steroids to lend some verisimilitude to his novel -- about a boxer who takes steroids.

Guys can especially relate to this article; nearly every guy I know wonders what would really happen if a "normal guy" took steroids. After his ordeal, the writer says he would never do it again, but boy did he gain some writing material -- not to mention an article in Esquire.

This week I thought I'd solicit suggestions for blogging topics. Send me some ideas and I'll pick one to write about in the next few weeks. This blog is first and foremost about writing my book, but I'll write about other topics from time to time.

Please post your suggestions in the comments. You can also give me ideas via email or phone. This is really just a hedge against my embarrassment when no one responds. I can always say I got so many great suggestions offline and I had to narrow it down to the best one.


  1. Three things you should blog about:

    1. Potential pictures you'd use for your author cover shot.

    2. Sample dedications you might use when your brilliant book is finished (something like "to amy, of course)

    3. How you match character names with their personailty.

  2. - How do you pick character names?
    - How do decide the age of your characters?
    - Can you write about a character who comes from a place you have no first hand knowledge of? For instance...if you decide that an evil villain is going to come from Bulgaria...but you have never been to Bulgaria...would you just nix the idea and make him come from Burlingame?

  3. It is said that a writer should write about what he or she knows. Aside from the bio-tech theme, are your characters drawn from real people who you've known?

  4. 1. The conversation you had with your buddies camping that you shared with Dan, K and me at that quaint little rural winery. You know the one - about the taco.

    2. Your take on the latest NYT article which talks about research revealing other earth like bodies and thus - probably life out there....

    3. You should blog about what others should blog about on their blogs. Start with mine - please - I am going through a slump in motivation.

  5. Is this the first comment sent from Costa Rika...

  6. Blog about your favorite cousin and how he inspired you to become a great author.