Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world?
Not much gives me more pleasure than a well-crafted sentence. Finding just the right words to express an idea or capture a moment brings me great joy. My latest book is a biography, which brings a sense of mission to the craft: without American Daredevil, Lev Gleason's story might never have been told. By sharing it with my readers, and pointing to the relevance of his battles to our struggles today, I ensure that his legacy endures.
What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block?
I treat the blank screen as an enemy to be vanquished, so I don't allow it to remain blank for long. I try to populate the screen with words right away, then hack away at them until I have something of value. The original manuscript for American Daredevil was nearly twice the length of the published book. Good riddance!
What is your favorite time to write?
I actually prefer to write on "deadline," leading up to an event like a conference call or a meal with family. It forces me to get something finished before I'm required to take a break. Then I can return to what I've written with fresh eyes--ready to tear it apart.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers?
Be ruthless about your own writing. Not a single word is precious. It really does take more work to use fewer words, but it's worth it.
What excites you most about being a writer in today's age?
Writing a book in 2020 is practically an act of resistance. "No one buys books anymore!" we are told. "I just don't have time to read," our friends lament. In fact, folks are reading more now than ever. We are awash in information, an endless stream of words. In this climate, the importance of books is only heightened. They require time to produce, and time to consume: dedicated hours spent apart from the relentless flow of the everyday. It is asking a lot of my reader, drowning in a torrent of Tweets, to take that time and to engage with a fully developed narrative or argument. But when it happens, it is all the more satisfying--for both of us.
Brett Dakin's American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and the Battles of Lev Gleason is out now with Chapterhouse Publishing.