J. Robert Lennon: the ass-in-the-chair canard

Ever since I read his astonishing collection of flash fiction, ‘Pieces for the Left Hand‘, J. Robert Lennon has been my favourite not-dead writer. I say ‘not-dead’ because it saves me having to choose between him and Roberto Bolano, who is dead.

J. Robert Lennon has just written a great debunk of the classic advice on how to write: that you simply sit down and write. He punctures this myth with all the contempt it deserves, and states the truth with his customary humanity: that all writers are different, and that writing is a different experience for everyone, and that merely slogging away at your work is no guarantee of its quality:

“…ass-chair-contact hours engaged in this mess do not necessarily result in anything good. This varies from one writer to the next, and, for any given writer, from one hour to the next. You can spend six months on twenty shitty pages and six hours on twenty brilliant ones. None of it makes any sense.”

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