Iron-Clad Rules and Guacamole

I was eating my lunch … or was it Second Breakfast … the other day with the gang from PRI’s The World and I caught part of a story about Hans Fallada, a bestselling German novelist arrested by the Gestapo back in the day because he wouldn’t join the Nazi Party.

Personally I can’t blame him. I hear they never even served guacamole at those parties.

Anyway, I found out two incredibly inspiring things about this amazing man.

First, Goebbels ordered Fallada to write an anti-Semitic novel. “He pretended to write the assignment for Goebbels, while actually composing three encrypted books””including his tour de force novel The Drinker””in such dense code that they were not deciphered until long after his death.”

Knowing how hard it is to write a novel, can you imagine writing ENCRYPTED novels?! Three of them?! While imprisoned by the Nazis?! With no guacamole in sight?!

He survived his ordeal and was freed after the war. His publisher wanted to help him recover and get him back to writing so he gave Fallada the Gestapo file of a couple who worked in the Resistance. Their story inspired him and he wrote Every Man Dies Alone in twenty-four days.

Read that sentence again. Twenty-four days.

Fallada’s son said that Hans Fallada had an iron-clad rule: “No day will you write less than yesterday.”

Sounds simple, eh? I thought it a mighty fine mantra for a writer, but I wondered how I might wiggle out of it before I even started. I mean, c’mon! Rules ”” even iron-clad ones … especially iron-clad ones ”” are meant to be broken, right?

So I thought I’d write just one word. Then tomorrow, just two. The day after, three.

But then I slapped myself metaphorically with a real slimy trout. “Becky, you silly goose. You’re doing MATH! Stop that!!”

And then I got worried. “No day will you write less than yesterday.”  It’s kinda vague, isn’t it? Does it include comments on my critique partners’ manuscripts? Emails? Letters to my Navyfied son? Facebook status updates? Grocery lists?


Uh oh.

How many words did you write today?

2 thoughts on “Iron-Clad Rules and Guacamole”

  1. The task of writing under those scary conditions seems impossible to wrap my head around, but I suppose one’s mind needs to keep going, only to put one over on his captors, a little game while being entertained by barbarians?
    I’ll look for this book Becky. Twenty -Four days!!! Talk about deadlines! Geeeez…. anyone have any Exedrine?

    1. Gotta agree, Michael. Hans Fallada was clearly a remarkable man who chose to survive the best way he knew how … AND jerked around his captors at the same time. Probably without any aspirin, too!

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