The View From Hemingway's Attic

Culture, politics, literature

William Hazelgrove

William Hazelgrove
chicago, Illinois, usa
January 27
William Hazelgrove is the best selling author of four novels, Ripples, Tobacco Sticks Mica Highways and Rocket Man. His books have received starred reviews in Publisher Weekly, Book of the Month Selections, ALA Editors Choice Awards and optioned for the movies. He was the Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence where he wrote in the attic of Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace. He has written articles and reviews for USA Today and other publications. His latest novel Rocket Man was chosen Book of the Year by Books and He runs a political cultural blog, The View From Hemingway’s Attic. He lives in Chicago.


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APRIL 24, 2012 12:14AM

The Kamikaze writing the Big Book

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My mother in law asked me what I was working on. Usually I just say something vague, but I told her I was working on a big book and that I was six hundred and sixty pages into it. She paused, then looked at me and said "who the hell wants to read a book that big?" Fair enough. It gets worse because I will probably break a thousand. But when writing the big book you are a bit like a kamikaze where you are not sure you are coming back from this one.

First of all no one wants a really big book anymore. They are expensive to publish. And there is that old thing that peoples attention span is getting shorter not longer. Look at Kindle singles. Look at what is selling. Look at twitter! And there you go, writing an opus along the lines of Gone With the Wind or War and Peace. Talk about insane. Your agent doesn't want you to do it and yet you persist. Why?

Maybe because you can. Maybe because you wont ever do it again. Maybe you just want to see if you can write the big book and take a swipe at the "whats it all about sweepstakes." Why not? You have written everything else. Why not throw in everything but the kitchen sink and go for it. You only live once right? And so you strap yourself in, start the motor, and fly toward your final destination. A human torpedo headed for total destruction or total nirvana.

That's the big book.

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Interesting analogy. Kinda like what us little quickie-book writers are doing only a much larger torpedo. Lately the big successes have been those aimed at "young adults," which, I would hope, includes the older farts with younger hearts. Maybe the real lesson here is accessibility. Steve King still writes behemoths and people still buy them, but that could be simply because they are there.

Good luck with yours.
Hey thanks. I think the market is what it is then you go write