Would You Rather
|photo credit to Nancy Santos|
Would you rather write an entire book with your feet or with your tongue?
Feet, with a great pedicure. I like to be able to see what I’m doing.
Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?
I’m in it for the long haul, and moderate sales are better than poor sales.
Would you rather be a well known author now or be considered a literary genius after you’re dead?
I’d like the world to know I was here after I’m gone.
Would you rather write a book without using conjunctions or have every sentence of your book begin with one?
Both could be fun Oulipo-style experiments, but I’ll choose to forego conjunctions—just not in this sentence.
Would you rather have every word of your favorite novel tattooed on your skin or always playing as an audio in the background for the rest of your life?
Inscribe me, please.
Would you rather write a book you truly believe in and have no one read it or write a crappy book that comprises everything you believe in and have it become an overnight success?
If the crappy overnight success allows me to write books I believe in for the rest of my life, I pick that. Otherwise, I’d rather go unread if I have to. It’s important to love the work while you are doing it. There are easier and more honorable ways to make money.
Would you rather write a plot twist you hated or write a character you hated?
If I hate the character because s/he is unlikable, that’s fabulous. But if I hate the character because s/he is a thin and unrealized character, then I would try to have fun with the dreadful plot twist.
Would you rather use your skin as paper or your blood as ink?
As romantic as anthropodermic bibliopegy has always sounded to me, I would rather loose blood than skin.
Would you rather become a character in your novel or have your characters escape the page and reenact the novel in real life?
Depends on which novel. With the new one, I’d rather be a character in the novel, in part because it would mean I was living in my favorite city.
Would you rather write without using punctuation and capitalization or without using words that contained the letter E?
I need all the vowels, and punctuation can be implied by syntax and cadence. Plus the no-E lipogram has already been done.
Would you rather have schools teach your book or ban your book?
Teach. I would like to live in a world in which books are not banned.
Would you rather be forced to listen to Ayn Rand bloviate for an hour or be hit on by an angry Dylan Thomas?
Bring on Dylan Thomas!
Would you rather be reduced to speaking only in haiku or be capable of only writing in haiku?
Speaking. It would probably stop me from talking when I shouldn’t.
Would you rather be stuck on an island with only the 50 Shades Series or a series in a language you couldn’t read?
The foreign-language series. I think I’d figure some of it out. If not, I would make up my own translations—a different one every time through.
Would you rather critics rip your book apart publicly or never talk about it at all?
Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?
If everything I thought appeared on my Twitter feed, I would be down to zero followers pretty fast, so it wouldn’t matter. Like a lot of writers, I already have a self-narrator that I try to quell as much as possible.
Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?
Computer, as long as I can have pencils instead of pens.
Would you rather write an entire novel standing on your tippy-toes or laying down flat on your back?
Tippy toes. I need to be vertical.
Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?
In the buff. I’ve done the other a time or two, and the clothes don’t help much.
Would you rather read a book that is written poorly but has an excellent story, or read one with weak content but is written well?
Door number two, please. I love a great story, but I will read for language alone and bad sentences make me cringe.
Elise Blackwell is the author of five novels, most recently The Lower Quarter. Her stories and essays have been published widely, and her work has been translated into several languages, named to numerous best-of-the-year lists, adapted for the stage, and served as the inspiration for a song by The Decemberists. Originally from southern Louisiana, she is on the creative writing faculty of the University of South Carolina, where she also organizes and hosts the popular literary series The Open Book. Her website is http://eliseblackwell.com/.