This (re)tweet came across from my good friend Miranda from Viable Paradise. It reminded me of a little story…
One of my friends is best selling crime author Donald Harstad (Eleven Days, Known Dead, and Code 61 among others). Don is a former Sheriff’s deputy from just south of Decorah and his stories all take place in the Midwest. They’re quite gripping and have earned him a number of accolades. He’s also a lot of fun to just to chat with and is a great guy.
Some years ago, I attended a book reading Don gave at the local library and he told a story about writers. It goes a bit like this …
Don was invited to teach at a writing workshop out East. The focus was on Mystery and Crime and one of the other teachers was a rather famous author, someone big in the genre (afraid I don’t recall his name). In any case, at one point the students were asked to spend 20 minutes writing a short piece. As the students started writing, Don, seated next to Famous Author, mentioned that he had hated critiquing these sort of exercises.
Famous Author waved a hand and said, “Here’s a tip. See that one?” and pointed at a student who was writing furiously. It was continuous without a pause. ”That will be shit. Now look at that one.”
This next student would write furiously for a few moments, then stop and stare up at the ceiling or tap his pen against his cheek. Then he’s start writing again. After a few lines, the process would repeat itself.
Famous Author said, “That too shall be shit, but it will be interesting shit.”
Don now has a plaque above his writing desk that says:
“Strive to Write Interesting Shit“