• Edie Montreux

Borrowing Chabon


I don’t have writer’s block, per se.

Every time I have a new and exciting idea for a story, my brain shuts it down.

“You still have that short story to edit and submit.” “You still have scenes to write for your contemporary novel.” “You still need to rewrite that YA novel with a happy ending.”

“You might as well quit now and go play a video game.”


To break that cycle, I’m trying something new: writing exercises from Deliberate Writing Exercises by Mike Karma. The name sounds like a pseudonym, and he doesn’t seem to have many published works on Amazon. I didn’t scrutinize his credentials when I bought the book. I was thinking, “I need to do something to claim this writing gig. Otherwise, I’m just a wannabe with two blogs and no credibility.”

The first exercise is “Copywork,” copying your favorite novel for fifteen minutes a day. I started yesterday with The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Not my favorite Chabon, but it’s shorter than The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Short is important when you’re handwriting someone else’s novel fifteen minutes a day. Gentlemen of the Road is shorter, but not as compelling. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but it’s no K&C. Nothing is, and nothing will ever be, no matter what he writes. That’s okay. One Pulitzer in a lifetime is more than I’ll ever have.


I’ll never capture Chabon’s voice. We have dissimilar styles. He likes to write in long, flowing sentences that maybe someday get to a point. I write short, sweet sentences. If they’re too wordy and lengthy and I get lost before the end, I break it into two sentences and ask myself if they’re both necessary. I know, part of Chabon’s style develops from character. Art meanders through his life until he’s forced to be himself. It will be interesting to see if Chabon’s sentence structure changes as Art’s sense of self materializes from the ether. 

I’m borrowing Chabon for this exercise. I really doubt I’ll copy the whole book, but I will spend some time on the beginning and the ending.


It’s already helping. This is my first blog about writing in over a month. I also spent some time on that short story yesterday when I finished. Once I get back on this horse, I won’t need to borrow Chabon any more.

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