E. L. Doctorow’s latest novel and thoughts on writing.

Princess of Fire is now at 60,000 words. My best guess at the moment is that this is perhaps halfway through the story. I went back and looked at my progress reports from last year and did some comparisons. With Princess of Shadows it took me approximately six months to go from 26,000 words to 60,000. To cover that distance with Princess of Fire it’s taken me about six weeks. I continue to be amazed at this level of productivity, but I do see some potential trouble down the road. Because I’m writing the easy, pre-written/pre-imagined stuff, some sections still to be written are going to be harder to get down. More than that, because of the way I am writing this novel, I’ve got numerous disconnected sections that will need to be linked up and reconciled. Still, I’m okay with those kind of problems if they’re the price of completing a first draft in jig time.

On NPR this morning I heard an interview with E. L. Doctorow regarding his latest novel, and in the interview are some of Doctorow’s thoughts on the process of writing. One of these is “write in order to find out what you’re writing.” That may not make sense to everyone, but does to me. I thought the interview was worth sharing– let me know what you think.

I’m thinking I need to add some of Doctorow’s titles– probably Ragtime and The March— to my literary bucket list. Jane and Chuck, move over and make room.


6 thoughts on “E. L. Doctorow’s latest novel and thoughts on writing.”

  1. The Doctorow quote makes sense to me, too. It’s the proof that we should write even when we are not sure we have anything to say. I know what you mean too when you write about the parts yet to be imagined and the challenge of how the disjointed pieces will come together. I write just like that and have to assure myself that it will all come out and make sense. At some point.

    1. Thanks for commenting. Personally, when I try to plan ahead, the actual act of writing almost always rips my well-laid plans to itty-bitty shreds anyway. Something about setting the words down causes the narrative to come alive and take off in its own directions.

  2. I heard and appreciated that same interview (moved me enough to include it in my most recent blog post, same quote, of course!) I love that it’s making its way through other writers’ hearts and brains. I’m approaching the process of this novel much differently, than the last, but the heart of the process, that “writing to write” will never waver.

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