Of all the novels I’ve written, Psychic was the most difficult. All my first drafts came out easy except for this one. It was like pulling teeth. And the couple of newer works I’ve begun didn’t go as easy as my previous efforts. Stories didn’t just flow out of the fingertips like they always had.
So, I had to give this statement some consideration.
Maybe Franzen’s statement is true. Maybe, like Franzen says, initially you’ve written all the “low hanging fruit” and later in your career you have to dig deeper into those eye-poking branches…create more depth to your stories, make them more meaningful. Think more complex.
Or maybe just find something interesting to write about.
I write commercial fiction…but I do try to have an eye for the literary. I try to give my stories extended and layered depth and meaning. Try to make the writing itself go beyond the words and story itself…while simultaneously trying to keep the writing as “transparent” as possible to the story…which I feel is king. Perhaps a contradiction, but I try to make the mechanics as well as the plot meaningful.
As I’ve tried to create some new work the past couple years, I have found that those have not been as easily started as all of my previous efforts. I used to call writing “easy” for me, while others continually called it frigging hard. The act of doing it…sitting down and putting fingers to keyboard to generate stories…not that there aren’t aspects of writing that make you pull your hair out. I don’t feel most things worthwhile are meant to be “easy.” But the longer I do it, it does seem that some aspects of writing are getting, well, “harder.” My ex-agent told me this is totally natural in writers who stick around, because you’re getting better…and writing does get harder, because you’re pushing yourself. Your limits. And if you’re not pushing yourself, you’re not getting better.
So, Mr. Franzen, I guess (for now) I’ll have to agree with you. But, I’ll let you know once I get started on my next effort.