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Member Spotlight: Larry Lockridge

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world?

In the Phaedrus we find the argument that writing is secondary to speaking and acts as a mere mnemonic that in fact detracts from the full presence of speech. But we’d not know of this famed argument had Plato not written it down. As someone who spoke words for decades as a college teacher, I know that virtually all my words have long vanished, whatever concepts might survive as a residue in the minds of some students. What survives intact are my books. Written words can be as fallacious and pernicious as spoken, of course, but they have a stability–Derrida notwithstanding–that can confront the promiscuous rant that dominates contemporary oral media.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block?

I’ve never subscribed to the notion of writer’s block as a special pathology that prevents the flow of all those abundant words the writer has in reserve, just waiting to be tapped. I think, rather, that it’ more commonly a sign that, at least for the nonce, writers have little to nothing to say, and have exhausted their word hoard. What is needed is not a “cure” but a replenishment.

What is your favorite time to write? I’ve known a couple of writers who write from 4:00 a.m. to noon and call it a day, whether or not on a family vacation. My impression is that more writers pick up their quill around 9:00 a.m. after a strong cup of coffee. But my father wrote the 1,060-page novel Raintree County for the most part after dinner, a glass of milk, and a day of wall-to-wall teaching. This required a degree of inspiration that I lack. I myself write only when I’m alert, in the mood, and feel I have something to say–in other words, I’m not prolific.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? When asked to write something more serious and epic than Don Juan, Lord Byron replied, “I hate tasks!” Ideally, writing should not feel like an assignment given us by others or by ourselves. It should partake of what the Greeks called “eunoia”–intellectual pleasure.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Today’s age presents an unnerving challenge to a satirist like me. I’ve written the four satirical novels of The Enigma Quartet while carrying on an imaginary dialogue with the PC patrols, who take umbrage with the venerable tools of satire–caricature, slapstick, farce, ethnic buffoonery, and word play. These patrols I’ve tried to send packing, but it’s not always been easy.

Larry Lockridge’s The Great Cyprus Think Tank is out now with Iguana Books.