The Larsson Approach

by Francisco Stork on March 8, 2012

Here’s the story of how the Larsson Approach was conceived. You’re at the Gardens Mall in West Palm Beach three months ago. You volunteer to stroll baby Charlotte around while your wife and daughter and daughter-in-law make their way from Abercrombie to Zappos. They’ll meet you by the Starbucks in an hour and a half. Baby Charlotte falls asleep the first five minutes after they leave and there you are with 85 minutes left. You find a padded bench and sit. In back of the stroller you see your daughter-in-law’s book: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. You’re a bit of a snob and don’t ordinarily read any book that has sold more than the Bible, but you’re desperate. After a few pages you discover that the boy can write. He’s no Marcel Proust, but still he has something. A certain honesty. You can feel the fire behind his words.

Three months later you’ve read his three books. You have found out that he died of a heart attack soon after he submitted the three books to a publisher. You are intrigued about his life and pick up a biography by his life-long partner, Eva Gabrielsson. Here’s how she answers a question about how much planning went into the books: “Well, the books weren’t planned out at all. Everything started out with Stieg’s boredom during our summer vacation in 2002. He began writing the project that would turn into The Millennium Trilogy just to pass the time when he had nothing else to do, but he kept going because his newfound enthusiasm kept growing.”

You’re hopelessly stuck in a deadly funk. The revisions you need to make are albatrossian. There are no words to describe how you feel so you make up new ones. At your lowest point, help comes. It always does. You just wish it didn’t take so long to get there. And you sure as hell don’t expect it to come from Sweden. So the Larsson Approach is conceived during one of these bleak nights. It goes like this. You have been practicing law for thirty years. You say: I’m a lawyer not a writer. What if I write a book to pass the time, for fun. Other people do puzzles. So you write for an hour or so after you come home from your legal job, after dinner. You write on weekends. When new found enthusiasm comes, you wake up a couple of hours before you go to work and write. There are no expectations. No need to be better than your last book. No need to sell more books than someone else. No need to read reviews. No need for that nothing-pleases-him-inner-editor. You’re a lawyer not a writer. This is not your whole life, it’s a hobby. But, you write with honesty. You write with your life and from your llife’s joys and aches, just like Larsson. You take that lump in your throat and try to give it words. Just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it can’t be serious. A hobby can still be essential, a matter of life and death. How you pass the time is important. It counts. Larsson had a fire burning inside of him. You’ve read his books, you know what mattered to him, what consumed him. You say: What fire burns inside of me? I’m going to make it burn bright, with beauty and passion, just to pass the time.

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