Even if you don’t want to waste your time with things like plot, back-story, or character development, you can still be a famous writer like James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, or Kurt Vonnegut. All you need to do is adopt a “Stream of Consciousness” style and you can start writing your way into literary history in no time at all. But wait, it’s not as easy as it might seem at first glance. There are a few subtleties that must be mastered before grinding out the 2012 equivalent of Ulysses. I’ll use the first question on this “author’s questionnaire” I’m filling out as an example.
“What book would you say had the greatest effect on your writing career?”
My immediate response was:
I guess the most influential book in my life was Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Sex,* but were afraid to ask. We studied it in Biology in the 10th grade, I was a sixteen year old kid living in Luray, Virginia. To say I lacked sophistication would have been like saying Einstein was a pretty smart guy. It opened my eyes up to so many things I’d never thought of before. I suddenly knew that if I had been born with differing genitalia I would have been a lesbian. Everything they wanted to do, I wanted to do, and to the same people. It gave me a sense of kinship with others.”
But wait. Even though that may be our initial answer we need to think about a few things. Like, is this really something we think is appropriate to share with people none of us even know yet? Well, that depends on whether or not we think my wife will hit me in the head if we do.
It’s always important to think to ones self, “what personal damage could be inflicted upon me if I write this down.” Now that isn’t to say that bodily injury isn’t advantageous for the stream of consciousness writer, and I have written about falling down stairs, trying not to let warthogs eat personally cherished portions of my anatomy, and similar things, but I always try to wait until after the horrifyingly stupid and dangerous things have already happened before I write about them.
Never, NEVER, NEVER let your brain get loose and try to cook up an interesting situation you could possibly write about. It never turns out well. Especially if you intend to write true crime or murder mystery. It might possibly turn out okay if you happen to aspire to be a romance writer I suppose. But with my luck, my breathless lover with heaving bosoms would turn out to be having an asthma attach and expire as I penetrated her in what was supposed to be a non-lethal encounter, and there you are back in that damned true crime genre…
The most interesting book I remember was A Tidewater Morning by William Styron. Not one of the works he’s best remembered for. Everybody knows Sophie’s Choice and it’s very good, but A Tidewater Morning shows an author at the end of his life putting forth his visions of youth. It’s the way you hope you can write as an author, truly without fear.”
Much better, very safe, no chance of offending anyone. Styron’s dead so no one probably even remembers he wrote that one. People will think we’re … … …hmmmmm… … …eclectic. Eclectic’s good. A writer can never be too eclectic. If you’re eclectic enough, hell, nobody will even know what you’re writing about in the first place, just bounce around from thought to thought. Try to avoid coherence as much as possible.
The books that changed my life most were several. The Life of Pi was a mystical journey on a raft. A raft much like Huckelberry Finn’s, which floated along the mighty Mississippi River. A river full of Sound and Fury signifying nothing.”
See how easy that was. Now let’s look at question number two.
Russell Scott Anderson M.D. is a Radiation Oncologist who serves as the Medical Director of Anderson Cancer Center in Meridian, Mississippi. He is a former Navy diver who worked in operations in the Middle East, Central America, and in support of the Navy’s EOD community, SEALS, the US Army’s Green Berets, the Secret Service, and the New York Police Department at various times during his time in the service.
Dr. Anderson received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and
his M.D. degree from UA’s School of Medicine in Birmingham.
The father of seven has written the family oriented literary columns Una Voce and The
Uncommon Thread in the JOURNAL of the Mississippi State Medical Association as Scott
Anderson M.D. for the past five years. He has also written as screenwriter R. S. Anderson
on several feature films, and author Russell Scott on his debut novel Time Donors Wanted
(IsoLibris, 2011, Murder Mystery) and forthcoming novel The Hard Times.
Three of Dr. Anderson’s stories in The Uncommon Thread collection were nominated for the
small press Pushcart Prize award.
Having spent some years in San Diego and Virginia Beach, the author lives once again in the
Southeast and has settled for the past twenty years in the state of Mississippi with his wife and