Ask the Author: Eleanor Lerman
“Ask me a question.” Eleanor Lerman
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Eleanor Lerman The secret is not to expect to be inspired but to discipline yourself to work every day. Sometimes, a thought or an idea or a few words can, indeed, inspire a poem, but most of the time you have to think of writing as your job. You go to your desk every day (in my case, my desk is a purple couch with a little white dog at my feet) and go to work. You have to train yourself to do that, but it's the only way. If you wait for inspiration, you will never get anything done.
Eleanor Lerman Read as much as you can. Reading is what teaches you to write. It never occurred to me that I could write anything until, when I was 17, purely by accident I came across a copy of "The Spice Box of Earth," one of Leonard Cohen's earliest books of poetry. I remember reading that little book as I rode home on a bus and by the time I got to my house, my life had been changed because I knew I had found what I wanted to do with my life: write poetry like he did. His work was the first time I had encountered poetry that was modern and approachable and written by someone of my own generation (well, not quite, but it seemed that way).
Eleanor Lerman To start with, writing is not a choice; it's something you've got to be driven to do because most of the time you don't get a lot of reward. You don't get published much more than you do; you get rejected a lot (a whole lot!) and you spend a lot of time all by yourself with no one to help you figure out what to do or how to do it.But that's also the best part: you're on your own. You write about what interests you, what pleases you to spend time on. You just have to be doing it because you want to and you need to. First and foremost, you have to write for yourself.
Eleanor Lerman I don't let myself ever have writer's block. I work every morning, even if it's just for half an hour. If I'm working on a novel, I just pick up where I left off the day before. If I'm between projects, I've trained myself to wander around in my own thoughts to consider what I care about, what ideas interest me and what stories might form a framework for those ideas. I've been working as a writer for many years now and I've narrowed down the subjects I'm interested in writing about: mostly, I'm wondering about what might lie beyond the human horizon and how to tell stories that would lead me--and my readers--over that horizon to whatever comes next.