Upon reading the deeply serious opening of Scott Spencer's 'Endless Love', you will very likely laugh out loud. The tone is something like what you might find in a teenager's diary: verbose, feverish, furiously self-important.
In the Children's Zoo, Enrichment meant presenting the goats with a trash can smeared with peanut butter or dangling keys at the end of a broomstick in front of the cow. The goats would knock their heads around the inside of the can and emerge giddy, peanut butter drunk.
To write fiction is to think that you're doing it wrong - that your work habits are inhibiting you; that you've chosen the wrong subject; that you've chosen the right subject, but that someone else has, unbeknownst to you, already written exactly the book you're laboring over.
To learn a piece on the piano - even a simple one - has proved every bit as agonizing as writing a chapter in a book, every bit as tedious and hopeless and halting. But this is not to say that the piano hasn't helped my writing. It has, just not in the ways I expected.
For me, novel-writing, by its nature, contains months of feeling lost, gloomy, fatally misguided. The challenge has always been in assuring myself that by setting one foot in front of the other, I will eventually make my way out of the desert.
When I first read 'At Freddie's', I was struggling with my own writing, particularly with how to write about a sad subject - the death of a parent - without writing an entirely sad book.
Every morning as I begin my work day, my computer presents me with the usual array of garbage: email, Twitter, updates on the state of the nation, updates on the state of the sneakers I just ordered.