Robert McCammon on Writing

As some of you know, one of my favorite books of all time is Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life. Aside from To Kill A Mockingbird, I think it captures childhood and the magical, frightening, and wondrous conduit to adulthood as well as any novel I’ve ever read.

Mr. McCammon is also very articulate on the writing process. Here is an excerpt from a quote on the experience of writing Boy’s Life:

This is the thing about writing. The thing. When the writing isn’t going well, there’s nobody on God’s earth who can help you. Not spouse, not brother or sister, not best friend, not editor. Nobody. Because no one understands the work as you do. If there’s a problem, you have to deal with it, and you alone.

Conversely, when the work is going well … what can I say? That you hear angels singing? Or you hear the music of the spheres or something? That every fortune you get in your cookie says “Great Success Is Ahead, If You Don’t Mess It Up”?

Something like that, I suppose. But when the work is going well, and you see the painting coming to life, and the people are real and you know them and see their faces and realize you are creating Life, in a way, then … I don’t think there’s any better satisfaction in the world.

I have never had the satisfaction of publishing a novel, let alone one as indelible as his. But I have written and published enough to strongly identify with his feelings on this most unique, frustrating and glorious of crafts; the art of keeping one’s butt in one’s chair.

Thank you, Mr. McCammon, for the privilege of sharing in the journey of Boy’s Life. It’s a trip worth taking again and again.

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One Response to Robert McCammon on Writing

  1. Brad says:

    I thoroughly agree with it all, and as a huge fan of Robert McCammon’s work, it is always a pleasure to read any words he has laid down to print. Also, as a published writer myself (two novels available; THE MELTING and TROPAES, check out the website) I know exactly how hard it is to keep one’s butt in one’s chair, not to mention staying away from the ever-dreaded internet surfing. And don’t even get me started on my you tube video’s addiction. Simply said, McCammon is the best, and if you haven’t read Swan Song I can only shake my head and walk away.

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