i'll start with a comment from blog-reader joe mc l. who comments on the blog i wrote about writer's block. he starts by saying he never has it. joe is a well-known poet and the author of the cult book Zen in the Art of Golf. to help those who do get writer's block, he adds, 'One suggestion I could add would be to commit to marketing/publishing something you've written. Seeing your work in print is guaranteed to inspire.'
he includes another suggestion: "ask yourself, Is it really writer’s block?"
@gwenmccauley: “1st I make sure its writer’s block not doneness.”
this is a good point. just as a painter can over-paint a painting, so can a writer over-write her book. obviously it's not doneness when you're on p. 50 of what you plan to be a full novel. but if you're on p. 230, it's something to consider.
now to comments about two of the books i'm reading: in steven millhauser's Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories, people are always disappearing. these are not mysterious disappearances that you would read about in detective fiction. no, these are people who disappear in themselves, who disappear because we no longer see them. they disappear in everyday concepts that millhauser twists: words, painting, laughter, or clothing. all of the stories i have read are reminiscent of herman melville's 'bartleby the scrivener' and other of his stories. they also have a touch of chekov, as in 'the overcoat.' i'm embarrassed to say that i picked up the book as a collection of mystery stories, when millhauser is hardly an unknown. among other honors, he was awarded the pulitzer prize for Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer. dangerous laughter is published by alfred a. knopf. it is 244 pages and consists of 13 short stories.
for a whodunit? i prefer novel-length to short story length. as g. k. chesterton (quoted by p.d. james in talking about detective fiction) says, 'the long story is more successful, perhaps, in one not unimportant point: that it is possible to realize that a man is alive before he is dead.' well put.
i'll close with a remark pundit joel rosenbaum sent, not because it relates to topics above, but because i like it: 'desCartes stops thinking for a second and immediately dies.'