George Pelecanos was at Powell’s the other night, talking about his new book The Way Home, and I managed to overcome my Wirehead fangirlitude to ask him if, and how, writing for television has affected his approach to writing prose. From my hastily scribbled notes, it appears that he said something like this:
I’d never taken a writing class, I didn’t want to get in a room with people critiquing my work, but when it became business, it was all right — The Wire became my writing class. David was always very concerned about avoiding clichés and staying true to life, so I feel like I got better because of that. I used to solve plot problems by having the protagonist shoot everyone, and now I’m not so likely to do that. Someone will shoot, but it’s not the protagonist.
Someone else asked him how he dealt with writer’s block:
Treat it like any other job — go to work every day.
There were some other questions, and then:
I don’t know what I’m doing next, that’s my block, figuring that out, what I’m gonna get jacked up about enough to write about.
I really liked his use of “jacked up” in that context.