I am not Salman Rushdie

The September 2015 issue of the “Harvard Business Review” (creativity section) included an Interview with Salman Rushdie by Alison Beard. Thank you to Heidi, who admits to being obsessed with Rushdie, for sharing this inspiring article.

This is how I interpreted some of the interview in relation to how I write (I know, how arrogant to compare myself to a writing giant such as Rushdie):

Rushdie states that he evolved from a plotter to a pantser. He appears to write in a linear fashion, composing only 400 to 500 words a day—mostly complete scenes, requiring minimal, if any, revision. It’s perfect the first time.

I have never succeeded as a plotter. I attempted to outline my current novel, “Claire,” using a storyboard and post-its. Instead of sticking to my outline I ended up writing an island for our most recent writing group and then I determined where it would fit in the plot. (I was told that’s the definition of an island!) I was surprised to find that it closely matched an existing post-it. However, it was neither perfect nor the next unwritten scene.

Rushdie does not share his writing until it is finished. That is hard to pull off in a writing group as the expectation is that you will submit your work on a regular basis. And since I tend not to finish anything—you can see where this is headed!

Undisciplined: me. Disciplined: Salman Rushdie. He treats his writing as though it were a job with a regular schedule—no waiting for inspiration to strike.

I am nowhere near that point in my writing progression. I write when I have committed to submit to my writing group and when it is my turn to post on our blog. That’s not much. Heidi (who else) has suggested that we resurrect our group writing project centered on a bridal shop. Why not? At least I’d have a third reason for writing.

Would Rushdie ever delay publication of one of his works because he had to paint a bedroom to match a quilt? Or even just not write for the same excuse—I mean reason? Certainly not. For one thing, he most likely hires out his painting. Does he realize he’s missing out on the pleasure of a sore back, of putting on the same smelly painting tee shirt every time he paints, of putting Vaseline on his elbow where he scrubbed too hard with a pumice stone to remove stuck-on paint?

Yet I am a day late with this blog post so that I could assist my husband with just such a task. Further proof that I am not Salman Rushdie. As though any further proof were needed….

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About Karen Whalen

A contemporary fiction writer with an accumulation of incomplete novels and short stories, I consider NH "home," spending the summer through Christmas there with my husband. My youngest daughter and her family live nearby (as well as my mother and other family members). January finds us venturing to VA to visit our middle daughter and her family before we make our way to sunny AZ to live with our oldest daughter and family. We spend time in VA on our way home. I am fortunate that my daughters live in places I would have retired to all on my own! My 87 year-old mother asks if I will finish my novel (which one, I wonder) before she dies.....Even with that for a goal, I manage to excel at procrastination!

Posted on September 12, 2015, in blogging, Karen Whalen, writing, Writing Group and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Heidi you are too kind. I, on the other hand, am waiting for the release of “Eliza” and “Gracie.” Funny how we women write about strong, interesting women…..

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  2. But we already have a Salman Rushdie. We are eagerly awaiting having renowned debut author Karen Whalen sign our copies of her book. And in the meantime, we can enjoy multiple versions of her story as it evolves. Win-win!

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