Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Cycling (no: CRASHING) as Metaphor for the Writing Life

Dan Wickett at Emerging Writers Network ( today posts a terrific interview with the very funny writer Mike Magnuson, author of LUMMOX, among others. Here he riffs about the relationship between his favorite activity (cycling) and his least favorite (writing):

You ride bicycles, when you do get hurt, you’re REALLY gonna get hurt. We’re talking about skipping your body over pavement at fairly high speeds--20 or 30 or 40 miles per hour--and while you may walk away from such a crash, you’ll be limping. Definitely. And bleeding. And you’re gonna be a hurting unit for days and weeks and sometimes months or the rest of your life….So you get injured, you don’t feel sorry for yourself. You heal and get back into shape and get out there and ride again.

I’d say the experience is identical to publishing books...

I should have gone to law school or something instead of being a writer...

The pavement is there waiting for us, but so what? We aren’t able to stop seeing the world the way a writer sees it, which is as a thing to be recorded, which means, one way or another, we will go on recording it. We will live in the hope that the next time we crash, it won’t be our last.

Here's the link to the full interview.


Dawn Hawkins said...

I just found your blog and I really enjoy it. Keep up the good work!
Dawn (

Anonymous said...

LOVE the cycling analogy! As a former PTrainer for the likes of Andy Hampsten and Alexi Grewall, and now a writer...I relate to that way of looking at things. Great site! Thanks! CMLyons

Anonymous said...

Far more common is the "writing a book = running a marathon" analogy. I put that one to the test this year -- ran my first marathon and had my first novel published. Both are exhausting and exhilarating, leaving you wanting another go but too spent to get moving. Now I'm finding that the will and energy do creep back... and you forget how tough a slog it was in the beginning -- both starting the novel and beginning to run.


Cornelia Read said...

I would have to compare writing a novel to being pregnant with twins. First there’s the shock and disbelief (“Okay, I just typed ‘Chapter Two,’ so I guess this is a novel…”), followed closely by months of nausea and a hypersensitive olfactory take on the world--“The people in 12B are having Chinese food delivered from EMPIRE SZECHUAN GARDEN, not Empire Szechuan TERRACE, dammit!”—(“This is an unreadable pile of stilted crap… what was I thinking? Why didn’t I become a neurosurgeon or a blacksmith or one of those really mean ladies at the DMV?”) Then there are the months of ridiculous crankiness, (second draft, third draft…draft draft draft) then there’s the whole having-to-climb-out-of-the-loft-bed-for-the-billionth-time-to-pee in the middle of the night (querying agents), and then when you finally wake up and your water breaks you have to argue with your husband about whether the taxi should go up Third Avenue or the FDR drive, but by the time the OB-GYN chick actually calls you back and you hail a freaking cab, the taxi guy takes Sixth and you don’t even care anymore, you just want to find out if HE can do an epidural (the agent wants revisions), and then eons later when you actually deliver one kid, they remind you there’s ANOTHER one and you can’t just get up and leave yet (um… the agent wants DIFFERENT revisions). And then there’s the whole denouement business with the placenta(s), which I won’t even go into because it’s just completely skanky.

But other than that it’s a regular laugh riot.

Really. Can’t wait to start the sequel.

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A VOCATION OF UNHAPPINESS [Courtesy Georges Simenon (1903-1985)]

"Writing is considered a profession, and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy."

PRACTICAL MARKETING [Courtesy Zornhau, 2005]

"They should put the 1st couple of pages up in subway adverts. Having read them several times, you'd feel compelled to try the book - if it was any good."

PLATE OF SHRIMP [Courtesy Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, circa 1984]

"A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. I'll give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."