Runaways: A Writer's Dilemma

Michael Seidlinger. Future Tense, $11.99 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-892061-89-8
A writer attempts to finish the first draft of a novel while distractedly chasing an endorphin rush on social media in the witty latest from Seidlinger (after Dreams of Being), a PW contributor. The protagonist, described only as “a writer,” spends their weeks in an unspecified office job, their nights drinking with friends or alone in a bar, and their weekends gradually eking out a draft while feeling guilty over not meeting their daily 1,000-word quota. It’s tougher with the temptation of social media, which the writer frequently succumbs to. Their posts run the gamut from bona fide viral (“Your first name + your last name = your struggling writer name”) to convoluted bombs that cost them followers, such as, “The secret to being productive is being too poor to do much of anything else.” After an undetermined amount of weeks, the writer finally gets down to work. It’s a relatively happy ending, though it cannily shows how the struggle continues for pretty much any writer who’s not at the level of, say, Stephen King, whom Seidlinger’s protagonist imagines “wakes up with an ironclad ego... points to the typewriter and says, ‘I will use you, I will write you, and I will finish you.’ ” This smart story ought to prompt readers to second-guess the impulse to write—or to tweet. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/12/2021
Genre: Fiction
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