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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Mark Twain: EDIT YOURSELF A BESTSELLER!

{courtesy Brian Wasko}

" A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere."
-Mark Twain.


Samuel Clemens, ghost here, to help Roland out a mite.

Seems the saw-bones has told the boy he is suffering from exhaustion and the flu, and he needs to sleep more and write less.

Now, me being a ghost and all, I have slept more than I want and need to write to feel alive again.


What you modern folks call a win/win situation, don't you know?


My quote next to my picture seems a bit self-evident, don't it?

Well, I just taken and read 2 books from Roland's shelves, THE PASSAGE and THE TONGUES OF SERPENTS.
 

Both meander worse than a sluggish Mississippi at ebb tide.

But they got published you wail. 


I was wailing, too ... after I read them.
 

Sure they got published ... after a string of good writing by said authors.

But Cronin pushed his readers at a distance with page after page after page of narrative summary. Leave the lecturing for the classroom, Justin.

Naomi Novak, poor girl, just seemed to lose her fire, having no danger, no crisis breathing down the neck of her heroes. She managed the impossible:

She made a book on dragons boring.

I struggled like you pilgrims to get published. I learned my craft in the newspapers at which I worked one after another clear across this nation.

And I learned a few rules:

1.) The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.

Ever hear two people tell the same joke? Both tell it differently. One always tells it better.

One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. Talk to the heart of your listener, and you will never go wrong.

2.) Told or unfold?

Histories belong in the classroom. Novels are the place for scenes.

A scene takes place before the reader's eyes. He sees the mysterious stranger being feared, not being told what a hoodoo he is. Your hero runs down the alley, ducking zinging bullets.

The reader sees it happen. He isn't told about it after the fact.

3.) What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.

I've read a good bit of what passes for novels these days. They're leaner and meaner. No more Norman Rockwell, exact details down to the slightest freckle.

Novels today are impressionistic like the paintings or a film by that Hitchcock fellow. 


Why, the most horrific story I ever heard centered on a monster only hinted at, never seen clear ... and the more fearsome because of that.

4.) Less is more when it comes to writing.
 

If you hit the poor reader over the head with your point, you'll blunt your point and won't do much for the reader either.

5.) The best words are actions.
 

What did that Anton Chekhov fellow write?

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
 

Actions pulls your reader into the flow of the story. Preambling just shoves him back to being a distant observer, not a participant.

Give the reader the taste of the wind, the feel of the grit in the badly cooked food, and the ache of a broken heart.

For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain and the noise of the battle.

No second-hand prose. Draw the reader into the sound and feel of the actions. He will forget he is reading. He will become a part of the world you have created.

6.) The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Franklin D. Roosevelt originally wrote in his famous speech of December 8, 1941 "a date that will live in history." Later the President scratched out "history" and instead wrote "infamy."

And that line still rings down the corridors of time.

The amateur writer draws attention to himself ...

why, isn't that a beautiful description I've just pounded you over the head with for five pages?

The professional author knows that to draw the reader's attention to himself with mechanics is to draw it away from the story.

You want the reader to be so absorbed in your world that they're not even aware you, the writer, exists.

7.) Writing is not apart from living.

In fact, writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice.

Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.
And remember:

The novel you finish ain't necessarily the one you started.



Monday, January 20, 2020

Have you seen HILDAGO?


An American cowboy. 
A stallion that refuses to quit. 
 A deadly Arabian race, 
the Ocean of Fire

A man and horse proving 
heart trumps over
 treachery and Nature.



Check it out.

If you like adventure, horses, and 
triumph of the spirit, 
you will enjoy this movie.

Roger Ebert did:
"Hidalgo is the kind of movie Hollywood has almost become too jaundiced to make anymore. 

Bold, exuberant and swashbuckling, 

it has the purity and simplicity of something Douglas Fairbanks or Errol Flynn might have bounded through."

Sunday, January 19, 2020

YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN



“No one can build you the bridge
 on which you, 
and only you,
 must cross the river of life.”
-  Nietzsche



 “The true and durable path
 into and through experience
 involves being true … 
to your own solitude,
 true to your own secret knowledge.”
- Nobel-winning poet Seamus Heaney 


We live in a Pavlovian culture of 
constant feedback, 
in which the easiest and commonest opinions
 are most readily rewarded, 
and dissenting voices 
are most readily punished by the unthinking mob. 

So when we write we must ask 

if we wish to be popular when read or to be true to what we feel is best in the human condition ...

to be a pioneer or to be one of the herd.



To be a writer is to feel authentically

for that is the only way to write prose that touches the inner person of the reader.

 Why? 

Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, 

you're a lot of other people: 

but the moment you feel, you're nobody-but-yourself.

 To be nobody-but-yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, 

to make you everybody else - 

means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.




As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, 

that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn't an author can possibly imagine.

 Why?

Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. 

We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time - 

and whenever we do it, we are not authors but cookie cutters.


“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. 

 So bleed that one true sentence, and go on from there."
- Hemingway


We are modern Argonauts -- 

The Argonauts 
(Ancient Greek: Ἀργοναῦται Argonautai) 
were a band of heroes in Greek mythology, 

who in the years before the Trojan War accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. 

Our Golden Fleece is to write the best prose of which we are capable. 

So good fortune, 
my fellow Argonauts,
the prevailing winds 
are against us.  

But as authors, we know that it is the struggle that makes the adventure.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

FAR BEYOND THE FIELDS WE KNOW


COMING SOON


There are portals opening to realms far beyond the fields we know.

Not since the Black Plague has Death taken so many lives across so much of the known world as has World War II.


There is a Cosmic Balance,

and such an ocean of shed blood and thunder of anguished screams 

have opened Doors behind which Beings have impatiently waited to be released.


Veterans from WWII have returned to New Orleans thinking they had seen the last of Hell.

They were wrong.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

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A reviewer once wrote of my audiobooks:


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that stretches from the mysterious forests found bordering civilization to the coldest reaches of alien dimensions. 


Yet all his work is united by one common thread: 

A vivid and profound understanding of the vast sea of emotions that bring strength and mythic resonance to our frail species."


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Sometimes the Darkness Wins.
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" A beautiful blend of Old Hollywood, 
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" One of the best books I have read in a long time."
.



Tuesday, January 7, 2020

WRITER'S BLOCK_What to Do About It_IWSG post


“Neurotic inhibitions of productivity.” 

That was what Dr. Edmund Bergler called it in the 1940's.  Who the heck is Edmund Bergler anyway, you ask?

He was the man who first coined the term: 

Writer's Block.

After conducting multiple interviews and spending years with writers suffering from creative problems, 

he discarded some of the theories that were popular at the time.

They hadn't drained themselves dry. They were not victim of a lack of external motivation: pay the landlord.

Nor did they lack talent nor possessed by laziness nor were they simply bored. 

In a 1950 paper called “Does Writer’s Block Exist?,” published in American Imago

a journal founded by Freud in 1939, Bergler argued that a writer is like a psychoanalyst.

 He “unconsciously tries to solve his inner problems via the sublimatory medium of writing.” 

A blocked writer is actually blocked psychologically—

and the way to “unblock” that writer is through therapy. 

Psychiatrists all over America are now rubbing their hands 

in eager anticipation of hordes of anguished writers.

Not so fast there, Doc!


In the nineteen-seventies and eighties, the Yale University psychologists Jerome Singer and Michael Barrios 

tried to gain a more empirically grounded understanding of what it meant to be creatively blocked. 

To give you the Cliff Notes version of their findings:

 Blocked writers did, indeed, suffer from 

flagging motivation, felt less joy in writing, daydreamed less, and could not recall their dreams.

Ah, Ha!


The famous prolific writer, Graham Greene, fell victim to the dreaded Writer's Block 

and stumbled onto a solution that worked for him.

In his fifties, he faced a creative “blockage,” as he called it, 

that prevented him from seeing the development of a story or even, at times, its start. 

In his youth, he had kept a dream journal.

The dream journal proved to be his savior.

 Dream journaling was a very special type of writing, Greene believed. 

No one but you sees your dreams. No one can sue you for libel for writing them down. No one can fact-check you or object to a fanciful turn of events.

He once told a friend:

 “If one can remember an entire dream, the result is a sense of entertainment sufficiently marked to give one the illusion of being catapulted into a different world . . . .

 One finds oneself remote from one’s conscious preoccupations.”

 In that freedom from conscious anxiety, Greene found the freedom to do what he otherwise couldn’t: 

Write.

 Such escapes allow writers to find comfort in the face of uncertainty;

 they give writers’ minds the freedom to imagine, 

even if the things they imagine seem ludicrous, unimportant, and unrelated to any writing project.

Greene once had the following dream:

"I was working one day for a poetry competition and had written one line

‘Beauty makes crime noble’

when I was interrupted by a criticism flung at me from behind by T.S. Eliot. 

‘What does that mean? How can crime be noble?’ He had, I noticed, grown a moustache."

Suffering from Writer's Block?  

Why not try putting down your last dream into prose?  

As Louis L'Amour wrote: "The water does not flow until you turn on the faucet." 

Go ahead: explore your inner self.  You might be surprised what you find.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

PEACE IN A WORLD WITHOUT IT

"If you want peace, stop fighting.  If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts."
 -Elu

"Nothing can bring you peace of mind but yourself."
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder." 
- St. Augustine


As I sat down at my laptop tonight, mulling over what to write for tomorrow's post,

Anything I could write seemed trivial against a backdrop of  

death, hate, and the madness resulting from becoming ensnared in Middle Eastern blood-feuds.

I heard one word murmur within my mind: "Peace."

I wasn't thinking of inner peace.  

I was thinking of what my writing friends might be interested in.

Perhaps the Great Mystery answered my question for me.

Don't expect any great wisdom here though.  

I am not the Great Mystery.  I don't have the job qualifications.

But I know that, like happiness, you cannot find peace by looking for it.  

Like happiness, peace of mind is a by-product of living not its goal.


Be true to you:

When we practice congruency, we behave similarly to the way we feel and think. 

When the way we see ourselves and the way the world sees us is the same, we are practicing congruency. 

Problems arise when we see ourselves one way 

(for example, as a loving mother) 

but behave in ways that are at odds with how we would like to see ourselves 

(for example, neglect our children because we are too busy)

Finding ways to keep our inner ideals and the way we behave similar is one of the keys to peace of mind.


Peace on the battlefield:

It is easier to be at peace when we listen to beautiful music, play with our pets, 

walk through undisturbed nature, and step away from the world.

But Life is a harsh  mistress.  

She draws you back into the chaos of conflicts with bosses, spouses, children, bills, ill health ... 

the number of enemy troops you face sometimes appear endless.

Each battlefield we find ourselves on contains a lesson that will keep us from worse ones 

if we but learn it correctly.


Look for that lesson.  

Perhaps it is only to take ourselves not so seriously, to learn to laugh at ourselves 

(we will never run out of material!)

to learn that some battles are not worth the collateral damage, 

or to find we should not fail to plan unless we plan to fail.

 Failure has negative connotations, but actually, everyone fails. 

 How can you improve or learn anything if you never fail? 

A healthy attitude towards failure encourages bravery. 

It’s not you that is the failure, instead it is what you tried that failed. There is a big difference.


Listen to the Wake-Up Call of Loss

 To lose something we had taken blithely for granted is jarring.  

It should alert us to look for all the other blessings in our lives that really are so precious.


Forgive:

Those who hurt us have taken enough of our time.  Why invite them along in your thoughts for the rest of the day?  

They have to live in the world they make for themselves with their thoughtless natures.  

Forgive them, release them from the obligation they owe you, and you will find you have released yourself.  

Hate is like drinking rat poison, hoping the rat will die of it.


Think Outside of Yourself

Each person you pass or meet is fighting a battle no one knows anything about.  

Be kinder than you might be inclined to be for that reason.


Learn the Power of a Smile

 Whenever you are laughing or smiling, something interesting happens.

 Not only does something happen on a chemical level to make you feel better, 

but it also stops all stress and negativity from entering your psyche. 

 A simple smile can make such a difference.


 ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’
 ~Victor Frankl