The Journal: Anthony Trollope and Challenges

In today’s Journal

* Anthony Trollope
* Challenges
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
Anthony Trollope

A couple of years ago I posted a link to a video about Anthony Trollope. The title of the video is “How to Be Prolific.” I posted the link in today’s “Of Interest” again.

What brought this up is a cmment someone made in response to a comment I made about 2 years ago. His comment (today) was “Yeah, but Trollope was using pen & paper for all of it. That’d slow you down!”

In the first place, he obviously missed what I was saying, that the old pulp writers, many of whom wrote on pen and paper or typewriters, were much faster than I.

So I replied, in part, “Nope. Many of the old pulp writers wrote far more than I and did so with pen and paper or typewriters. But the point is, whether using pen and paper, typewriter or computer, what slows one down is ‘constructing’ a story rather than just listening to (and recording) the story the characters themselves are living.”

Another commenter (sliver tain, a year ago) wrote, “It’s surprisingly easy to write shit.” Yes, some commenters are just that gracious.

But that old myth again, that anything written “fast” must be bad. So again I responded: “What an incredibly juvenile statement. I’ll let my work speak for itself. How about you? Where can I find your books and stories?”

That’s what I wrote. But I have to admit, what I wanted to write is the following:

“First, forgive me. I admit, I don’t deal well with stupid people and those who believe the best use of their day is to spout garbage in the hope of running someone else down. So as long as you’ve gotten my attention, allow me to correct you as gently as possible. But I’ll retain your graphic representation of “poor writing” so I can be sure you’ll understand. Okay? Is your tiny brain ready? Here goes:

“No, it isn’t easy at all to write shit. In fact, it’s incredibly difficult to write shit. Instead of simply letting the story happen, you have to plot and plan and edit and devise and scheme and trade atta-boys and other “critiques” until your story is scrubbed and polished and Just Simply Peachy Perfect. You know, just like all the other finely polished stones in the publisher’s inbox. And oh, Heaven knows just like You yourself are, and you know that’s true ’cause your mommy said so.

“Yeah, good luck to you with that. Me? I trust my characters to convey to me the story that they, not I, are living. Like King says, I’m only their stenographer. But what do I know? I’ve only written 66 novels, 8 novellas, over 200 short stories (and around 35 collections) and 15 or so nonfiction books, all of which are selling well. That must compare very poorly with your own achievements. Which are?

“But I’m being unfair. You’re probably still making your way through the “talking about writing” and “thinking about writing” and “taking classes about writing” and “teaching others about writing” stages rather than actually, you know, Writing Anything At All. So you get yourself on into the plotting and planning and devising and critiquing and polishing stage just as quick as you can, you superbly precious creature, because sure as shootin’ the world is Just Waiting With Bated Breath to read your singular masterpiece.”

Don’t worry. I’m just having fun. (grin)


All of that reminded me I’m feeling a little contentious right now. I’m also very much in a “put-up or shut-up” kind of mood, and I love challenges.

So instead of lying around whining and waiting for the fog to clear and the stars to line up right and for myself to “feel” better, I’m going to start Novel 5 of the Gap series today and see what happens. Because what’s important is THAT I write, not what I write or how much time I take off or other things I do.

It’s easy to push myself when I’m standing on both feet, energized, leaning forward and ready to run. It’s a different matter when I’m mentally lying face down in mud that somehow I can at least (but just) breathe through.

I look forward to seeing what happens. This no-crutch living is a hoot.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “The Silver Age of Essays” at Any essayists out there?

See “The infantilization of Western culture” at

See “How to be Prolific – Anthony Trollope” at

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 750 words

Writing of WCGN 5: Tentative Title (novel)

Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for August……… 6933
Total fiction words for the year………… 623282
Total nonfiction words for August… 2210
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 148640
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 771922

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 13
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 66
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

4 thoughts on “The Journal: Anthony Trollope and Challenges”

  1. “This no crutch living is a hoot.” I laughed out loud.
    That said, this is an important post because of your challenge to write no matter what. I’ve just finished Stephen King’s “On Writing”. (And just read my first King book, “Duma Key”–wowwwww).
    A writing habit is key. And of course, I’ve been terrible since I finished and published my last short story. Time to bring the word count spreadsheet back out and confront it, and start adding to it, today.
    Thanks Harvey!

    • Yup. It’s all about priorities. For me, writing is important. Not what I write, but that I write. Turns out I might not start any new fiction today. Tune in tomorrow. (grin)

  2. “So instead of lying around whining and waiting for the fog to clear and the stars to line up right and for myself to “feel” better, I’m going to start Novel 5 of the Gap series today and see what happens. Because what’s important is THAT I write, not what I write or how much time I take off or other things I do.”

    You’ve hit on a key truth about human motivation, right here.

    “I can’t write because I don’t feel motivated.”

    That’s got it all backwards. You don’t write because you’re motivated, you’re motivated ’cause you’re writing.

    Good luck Harvey, though I don’t expect you’ll need it. The gods have a way of showing up with a blessing once you’re moving, no matter how hard it looks standing still.

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