I never took the "Famous Writers" course offered to optimists a few decades ago, but there is something in their assertion that all you have to do is let one word follow another, keep it up, and you'll soon be a famous writer.
I do know a successful cartoonist who took the Famous Artists' course that was co-offered, but he too said there was something lacking in the course, that lack probably a person with more desire than actual talent.
Letting one word follow another.
Well, hell, that's how I started without taking the course.
I've said it before, but even a paranoid, if he writes enough, will eventually come out with something sensible, certainly resembling some sort of expository writing. The ninety-nine monkeys on ninety-nine typewriters thing.
"To be or not to be, that is the glatz...(whoops, typo!)
Jesu Cristo, how crappy our writing is when we first begin.
We men start with the great "God Is My CoPilot" type of novel, the iconic fighter pilot, face, helmet earphones reflected in the instruments of our P-40's, John Belushis, all of us, in "Pearl Harbour", or maybe fuzzy Snoopy puppies, keepers of the flame, flaming out with Red Baron strafe tracks all over out doghouses. Sad nights in the barracks. Love later. "When Dashing Pierre of the Lafayette Escadrille goes down, he goes down in Flames!"
So we send our chapters to our smart friends and the smart friends have a look and say "I wouldn't sent this to anyone just yet" and we persist and come out with something like a first novella, and it's about some harm done to some damsel a long time ago, and you realize that it was all autobiographical and somewhat nasty, since you yourself were involved and your conduct was hardly heroic.
Scratch one first novel.
"You've got to begin at the beginning," says the smart friend.
So you beging with "I was born..."
Then it seems to work better.
But you still haven't learned how to write, Famous Writers Course or no.
One word does follow another, but to the experienced editor, whether it's you by now or somebody else, it is just drivel, the kind of drivel this writer here was accused of when he interviewed a maker of gargoyles (maker of gargoyles??!) for a big magazine and totally f*cked up the story.
"Meet Victor Tinkl, famous gargoyle maker
"When it rains the medieval gargoyles surrounding his studio, as if around a cathedral, pee and ejaculate like crazy, some with wings outstreched, others just appearing to masturbate quietly, with griffon wings folded."
Mr. Tinkl, a successful drawing and sculpture master at the Ontario College of Art, took immediate umbrage and accused me of "irresponsible journalism: and calling my work "drivel."
That's what happens when you write for a magazine that is into sensationalism and you're just the nut case, with your "let one word follow another" style to go along with it all. ("I want peope to choke on their breakfast when they read you...Run just short of libel," said the sensationalist publisher, who sort of wanted a National Enquirer here in the boonies outside Toronto).
Well, he hired the right man. There was very nearly a libel suit.
A more proper way to have gone would have been a serious story on Mr. Tinkl as a scumptor with a baroque flair who sculpts for the love of sculpting and though he has a salary from the college, nevertheless spends tens of thousands of dollars doing what he really loves.
Like maybe we writers?
Letting one word follow aother.
Nah. You gotta have some structure, some planning, some judgment.
And yet and yet, to the beginning novelist, I really would suggest letting one word follow another. How else are you going to splatter 300 pages with words? You gotta have that word count. Writers, successful or not, gotta count words. Three hundred pages, and you have 40,000 words, you have a novel.
Whoops. Power failure in this heat. Computer going wonky.
More on this later.