Monday, September 3, 2012

Boring Interview


Q:  When did your preoccupation with boredom, as it relates to writing, begin?

A:  Well before I became involved with publishing on the other side of the desk, where one of my chores was reading submitted manuscripts.  I became preoccupied soon after some editors began accepting some—but by no means all—of my stories and other editors began asking if I were interested in writing about a particular topic or individual.  The thoughts occurred to me that I’d reached a plateau, which in effect meant that at least some of the time, I wasn’t boring them.

Q:  So you carried over your sensitivity about boring editors into your own behavior as an editor?

A:  No question about it.  The circuitry was formed.  Sometimes, I’d read so many boring manuscript submissions during the course of a day that I could scarcely read for pleasure when I got home, much less work at my own writing.

Q:  Can you walk us through the progression of how boredom enters the picture for you?

A:  When I took a second or third look at things of mine that had been accepted for publication, and the process that resulted in my being given assignments, I realized there was a common thread—my significant interest in these works.  This interest was so profound that it overrode my concerns about following conventions or my preoccupation with technique.  My enjoyment carried me through revision and either the mailing of things to out-of-state editors or hand delivering the finished product locally.

Q:  Were you truly bored, or is that writer exaggeration?

That’s part of the arc of personal development—what you might call the learning curve.  I was so caught up in keeping elements of technique, style, word length, and point-of-view together that my interest fragmented.  When your interest is fragmented, holes appear.  Boredom can sneak in through these holes without you realizing it because you are so busy juggling details.  Next thing you know, Boredom is sending for its relatives.  In a little while, you’ve got a whole family of Boredom living in there.  They start making noise, and soon you’re distracted from the focus of trying to keep things together.  Then, Man, you’re bored.

Q:  So you’re equating interest and focus as enemies of boredom.

Doesn’t work that way.  You work to get yourself inside the idea you’re working on.  That’s job one.  In effect, you’re working to take all the space boredom might occupy.  When you’re inside the idea, starting to own it, offer it a partnership, boredom doesn’t stand a chance.

Q:  Is this your vision of The Process?

A: To a point.  Process does exclude boredom.  That is important.  But Process is so much more.  Process needs room to stretch, investigate what shape it will want to occupy, then play out a hypothesis or two before settling into a Vision that generates energy.  Process can and often does begin when boredom departs, may even speed boredom on its way, but if you’re looking for cause-and-effect, try this:  Process cannot exist in the presence of boredom.  Process fills the vacuum after the departure.

Q:  You’re likening boredom to a negative energy.

A:  Precisely.  Boredom is a drain.  Individuals have developed a defense against boredom.  The defense is called daydreaming.  No matter the circumstances, you should be able to daydream your way out of boredom.  Writers have evolved Process to keep them looking compliant, even obedient on the outside, but on the inside, they’re miles away in time and space.  Readers have a splendid defense:  putting the book down and not coming back.  A boring book is an invitation to a writer to write something that is not boring.  Many stunning books have been written because the writer had nothing interesting to read.

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