So you can read my books

Saturday, August 21, 2010


{"Read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.

Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master.

Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window and start again wiser."

-William Faulkner.}

William Faulkner, ghost, here :

Don't be 'a writer'. Be writing :

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

And to work well you must write with the embers of truth stinging your eyes.

You can have 13 people looking at a black bird and none of them will get it right. No one individual can look at truth.

Even simple truth. Look deep enough, and the simplicity disappears in the murky depths.

Truth blinds you. It is too much for one set of perceptions to take in. To a man with rose-tinted glasses, the whole world is rose.

And so it is with the writer looking at Man.

We call ourselves Homo Sapien, the reasoning animal. But Man is not made of reason.

A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you'd think misfortune would get tired, but then time is its own misfortune as well.

And so all human behavior is unpredictable. Considering Man's fragility and the ramshackle universe he functions in, how could it be otherwise?

So how does that affect you as a writer?

1) The writer must not set himself up as judge :

He must focus on action, the character's behavior. Maybe your protagonist, like so many people, has no concept of morality,

only an integrity to hold always to what he believes to be facts and truths of the human condition.

2) The character does what his nature dictates.

He acts not as the writer would, not as a man should do, but what he will do -- maybe what he can't help but do. Which leads me to my greatest fear :

3) I fear that Man is losing his individualism, his sense of self, in doing what the herd does in order to stay safe.

Which is why I do not belong to anything besides the Human Race, and I try to be a first rate member of that.

4) You are first rate as a human being and a writer if :

you do the best you can with what talents you have to make something positive that wasn't there yesterday.

How do you do that you ask :

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. And he makes his home of the stones of his efforts.

How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home until I realized that home to a writer is where his mind, his heart is.

5) Most men are a little better than their circumstances give them a chance to be. Strive to thrive where you are. "How?" you ask again. And I will tell you :

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything good.

You have to have courage. Courage is not so hard to have in writing if you remember that :

All of us have failed to match our dream of perfection.

6) I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible. If I could write all my work again, I'm convinced I could do it better.

This is the healthiest condition for an artist. That's why he keeps working, trying again: he believes each time that this time he will do it, bring it off.

Of course he won't. Which leads us to the next point.

7) The phenomenon of writing is its hermaphroditism:

the principles of victory and of defeat inhabit the same body

and the necessary opponent, the blank page, is merely the bed he self-exhausts on.

8) You can learn writing, but you cannot teach it. A paradox but true despite that.

And what have I learned from my novels?

I learned how to approach language, words:

not with seriousness so much as an essayist does,

but with a kind of alert respect, as you approach dynamite;

even with joy, as you approach women: perhaps with the same secretly unscrupulous intentions.

Are you a writer? Really? Then, what are you doing about it? Go, write. And remember :

Dreams have only one owner at a time. That's why dreamers are lonely.

And that's why a dream is not a very safe thing to be near...

I know; I had one once.

It's like a loaded pistol with a hair trigger: if it stays alive long enough,

somebody is going to be hurt. But if it's a good dream, it's worth it.
A little humor icing on this literary cake :



  1. I loved the blurbs in the video-ouch! This post was so full of wisdom that I'm going to print it and stick it in my bulletin board.

    You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

    until I realized that home to a writer is where his mind, his heart is.

    A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you'd think misfortune would get tired, but then time is its own misfortune as well.

    Just these three will keep me busy for a while. Hope you're having a great weekend....

  2. This was a good post. The act of doing can sometimes provoke the muse to react, this was inspiring. thanks for posting

  3. you must have a lot of time on your hands at the "blood bank" to post every day and reply to all your female fans... lol.
    i have read your posts and you sound like a preacher/writer in disguise and you show this same "movement" in the way you jump between characters in your posts.

  4. Word Crafter : Weren't those blurbs in the video fun? I tried to blend William Faulkner's actual teaching on writing with what I've learned. I'm glad you liked this post well enough to want to pin it up.

    Summer : You're right, and psychologists would agree with you, that the act of doing can spark the mood you don't presently feel. As in forcing a smile and a spring to your step will actually make you feel in a somewhat lighter mood than if you did not do those things.

    Letters : Oh, if it were only true that I have a lot of free time at my blood center. I just use my two 15 minute breaks per day to some good use.

    Besides daily posting, like daily exercise, is mainly a matter of discipline.

    And statistically, there are more female bloggers (as well as female readers of books) than male -- so that's why you see so many ladies as my friends. So Brad Pitt need have no worries. LOL.

    And you are perceptive : I started out my working career as a teacher, became a counselor, so part of me will always be a teacher and a counselor -- not unlike one of my writing heroes -- Robert B. Parker, who was a university professor, his dissertation was on the work of Raymond Chandler, by the way.

  5. you are disciplined and well organized to maneuver between several characters, I must say one thing though, you do have a gift, a special one indeed. And as for Brad Pitt, you are far better than he, all the best and take care.

  6. Thanks, Letters. And this is my day to rest and just heal from all that blood running. You have a great weekend, too.

  7. Hi Roland, you impressed me again. Very witty.

  8. Great post! I had to check it out when I saw the title. :-)

    Stopped by to let you know, I just posted an interview with literary agent Laurie McLean on my blog:

    She provided awesome info, the most substantive answers I've received from a literary agent. Hope you can check it out!

  9. Hi Roland - Thanks for the inspiration. So smart and right on. I appreciate it. Your words and his were excellent. =D

  10. You would think the rules he speaks of would be common knowledge to anyone who writes long enough. I have no one statement I agree with, but all here.

    Myself, I treat my characters as if they are my clients, not as friends. Friends judge even when they try not to and a therapist isn't afraid to terminate a case.

  11. "How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home until I realized that home to a writer is where his mind, his heart is."

    Your words or William's? Either way, it struck a chord.

    I loved this post, it felt like Mr. Faulkner was speaking to me. Please tell him I said thanks.

    ~ that rebel, Olivia