Harold Bloom Photo from One Poet’s Notes
Lots of Top Ten-, Five-, and even One-ing going on in the crime-writing circle which I mostly hang on the outskirts of. For the most part, the only crimes I write about are the ones that are caused by the subtler effects of childhood conditioning. Mild causality. Nothing heavy like one-time or serial killing. No Susan Smith, no Ted Bundy.
But I do go for the crime fiction genre and eat it up if it’s written locked down tight. Like—my memory’s shorter than a sonnet, so for example—McBride’s “Death By Shotgun,” Godwin’s “The Liars Of The Laughing City”, Brazill’s “The Tut”… I’ve recently read or re-read those. They’re sealed up. There are no weak spots. I am in good hands. And I want, as does every reader, to be in good storytelling hands.
It’s hard, like Chris Rhatigan says about Hemingway in his Chin Wag, “You read his stories and think, ‘Fuck, I could do that. It’s just this minimalist kind of thing. No problem.’ But you can’t. Sorry.” That’s it for the amateur. You know good, solid writing when you see it, but you can’t duplicate it like you thought you could. It takes so much practice. And a propensity for writing in the first place, says I.
I love the writing process. There’s nothing in this world like putting your hands to the keyboard and submitting yourself to the Gods, the Universe, the Ether, the Mind, whatever, wherever it is that the superhuman words come from. And if you love it, you keep on, you read, you practice, you want to tell a story worth telling in such a way that folks would sooner miss dinner or a TV show rather than quit reading it.
And every once in awhile as an amateur, you hit it or get close to hitting it. So thankya jesus! I don’t depend on writing for a living, but I sure do appreciate when readers say, “Man, that was one great story!” And it’s usually by pure accident. So by pure accident, in the crime-writing circle I spoke of, I have a nomination for “Wasted Space” as a pick for being one of the best crime stories of 2010.
This only means one professional writer thought it wasn’t half bad. But that is righteous forward progress to the amateur.