Generally speaking, when artists or writers or musicians talk about the creative process, I run away as if pursued by a monster. Not only do I find such talk nonsensical, but many of the hundreds of writers I worked with as a teacher and editor were made to feel like failures by authors of famous writing books, and famous authors pontificating in various venues, all of them preaching the necessity of writing for many hours a day and adhering to arbitrary rules guaranteeing failure for just about anybody who tried to tie themselves into such knots to please the people who, I guarantee you, did not walk their own talk.

Dogmatizing creative expression is always done by people taking advantage of aspiring artists longing for easy-to-follow recipes for creating marvelous things. There is only one such recipe. I will give you the secret for free. Try to create something and keep trying whenever you are so moved to try.


Long ago when I published novels with mainstream publishers and had enough success to land lucrative gigs appearing at writers’ conferences and speaking to writing groups, I was forever being asked about my creative process. More often than not, I would feign going into a trance and say in a somewhat robotic voice I am a channel for Kavon Knarf speaking from Dimension Gazornen Nine. Or something like that. Depending on the group I was addressing, this got big laughs or big uncomfortable silences.

This was in the early days of personal computers, and many of the people listening to me wanted to know whether I used Word or Word Perfect or another of the many writing programs vying for supremacy in those days.

When I said I wrote my first and second drafts with pen and paper, many of the attendees were terribly disappointed. They were hoping the kind of writing software I used would be the key to unlocking their creative treasure troves. And then came the inevitable follow-up questions: What kind of pen do you use? Lined paper or unlined?

If that seems silly to you, it is. Yet I have heard famous authors say, “You must write for at least three hours a day,” and “Never use the word suddenly,” and “Always write on an empty stomach,” and “Never write in First Person,” and “Always write in First Person,” and lots of other insulting unhelpful poo poo. 


Why am I going on about this? Because I want to tell you something about my creative process. Tee hee. Not a rule or anything, just something that happened.

So for the last few months I have been writing and rewriting, at least a dozen drafts so far, the novel I’m creating from the Healing Weintraub stories some of you may recall from my blog in the second half of 2022.

For my last run through, before turning all those pages over to Marcia to proof before we embark on publishing the book, I read the twenty-six chapters in reverse order (out loud), starting with Chapter 26 and working my way through to Chapter One. This proved helpful and revelatory. For reasons no doubt neurological, my brain/imagination loved doing this.

Suddenly everything fell into place. Not really.

Suddenly I understood who I really am. Not really.

I had a wonderful time. Really.


When Marcia has done her work and we begin the process of publishing the book, I will embark on the making-of-the-audio-book adventure. To that end I’ve been acting out all the dialogue with gusto and in character, and having big fun honing the many accents required for a neato narration: British (various), American (various), Jewish (various) Irish, German, French, Polish, Norwegian, and Spanish (various).

I’m beginning to feel there may be a sequel on the way.


Max a modern jazz piece from Through the Fire.

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