The Writer Block


Recently I've been reading and rereading books by Dick Francis, Rex Stout, and Lawrence Block to prepare for my next book.

On a recent trip I read an electronic version of a book I'd read by Block years ago where the main character is a hit man. I thought the book ended a bit abruptly. I was sure I remembered a few more scenes.

I remembered the scenes vividly. I remembered the setting, the dialog, and being introduced to a character we hadn't met yet in the book.

Well, I figured, this must have been an incomplete download of the book.

I deleted the book from my iPad and downloaded it again.

No luck. The book still ended where it did before.

The thing about memory is, you can clearly remember something that didn't happen. Every time you access your memory you are rewriting the memory. This was one of my favorite small moments in Inside Out, by the way. That when sadness touched a memory, the memory became sad.

In this case I was sure enough that I sent the author an email asking if maybe the eBook was incomplete as I remembered subsequent scenes.

I was already a fan of Lawrence Block but him taking a moment to connect with a reader cemented this one way relationship.

People who write software or build products often talk about the opportunity to engage when a customer takes to comment or complain. Those of us who use words for a living often forget this.

When I managed websites on Java I found that my daily blog posts and my quick response to reader email helped readers understand that there was a real person behind the site and that changed their relationship with it.

People read what you write. When they take time to write to you, read what they write.

What had happened was that Block had done what I advised a few days ago. He had led us to the point where we could finish the book. I had finished the book for him. When I went back to reread it I'd expected those pages to be there.

Last night I finished a Dick Francis book that ended before I remembered it ending. It turns out I've been writing longer than I thought.