So you can read my books

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


{"I don’t want realism. I want magic!"
- Tennessee Williams.}

Ghost of Tennessee here. And if you have to ask "Tennessee" who, shame on you.

The ghost of Samuel Clemens, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty (she smiles so sweetly when she deals off the bottom,)

and I were playing poker last night.

Bill mentioned the two articles he wrote on Roland's blog at Sammy's behest. (Yes, I have on occasion visited him and his mysterious, mischievous cat, Gypsy.)

Bill's words positively fascinated me. You see, we ghosts are much like caged birds.

We yearn to roam, but are trapped by the chains of the consequences of our lives. Like caged birds, we ghosts accept each other.

But flight is what we long for.

To reach out and teach unknown strugglers how to better their craft would be a form of flight.

To write again.

I felt almost light-headed. I had forgotten the old passion.

Sammy was all too happy to let me try my hand at teaching. So here I am.

At the age of fourteen I discovered writing as an escape from a world of reality in which I felt acutely uncomfortable.

I didn't want reality. I wanted magic!

And magic is what I could have by entering the worlds I created for myself.

You want to know, of course, how to make that magic.

Oh, to be able to tell you. Good writing is like life, and life is an unanswered question.

But let us believe in the importance of the question itself and seek the answer together.

Writing, like life, is partly what we make it,

and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.

The strongest influences in my life and my work are always whomever I love.

Whomever I love and am with most of the time,

or whomever I remember most vividly. Isn't that true of you?

Quality in our writing does not come cheaply.

It is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.

You cannot expose a weakness in your novel unless you know it through having it yourself.

After all, every one of us are but guinea pigs in the laboratory of God. Humanity is only a work in progress.

You must make the characters in your novel alive -- as alive as if they lived with you, which in a sense they do.

The color, the grace and levitation, the structural pattern in motion,

the quick interplay of live beings, suspended like fitful lightning in a cloud, these things are the novel,

not flat words on paper, nor thoughts and ideas of an author, those shabby things snatched off crowded counters at Wal-Mart.

You must make your characters alive in the minds of your readers. You must make the reader believe in the the reality of your story.

How do you do that?

Some mystery should be left in the revelation of character in a novel,

just as a great deal of mystery is always left in the revelation of character in life,

even in one's own character to himself.

The second key is honesty.

If the writing is honest, it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. And to be honest, you have to know the human heart.

To be honest of the human heart you must not be straight.

A line can be straight,

or a street,

but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains.

And so the storylines of your novel must equally be as winding and as intricate.

To be honest about life is to know it is a literal dead-end street.

We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out,

just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.

How your characters face that fate determines whether your prose has depth of heart or the shallowness of

Each novel is the "Twilight Of The Gods" in some form or aspect. You choose the colors of that twilight. Be honest. Be true to the truth inside you.

Only you know what that truth is.


  1. I don't know why blogger wants to mess with me when I'm up at 3am feeling yucky, grrrrrr! I have no idea what I wrote before...but I do remember I loved the part where the heart is like a curved road through the mountains. And I agree that if you try too much to write from someplace you aren't familiar with, it's going to come off fake or shallow-Dean Koontz wrote me and said 'write what you know'...and I think that's a lot of what he was saying...

    I hope this works this time and that you have a great Tuesday. A rested Tuesday...

  2. Word Crafter : A friend in a dark place has kept up on the telephone so I got to read your comment now. Blogger is certainly maddening at times and that's for sure.

    Tuesday will be another day at work for me sadly. No two days off for me. I have to bull through three more days, then I will have three days off in a row. My body may go into shock!

    So Dean Koontz wrote you? Wow, that is great. I had his book on how to write all forms of genre. I even managed to save it from my house after the fire. But now I have managed to lose it! There are times too foul even for profanity! Have a great tomorrow yourself. I hate that Blogger made your night worse than it had to be.

  3. Beautiful post Roland/Tennessee. It seems that people are in too much of a hurry these days. They want to dash of a novel in 30 days and think they're through. How can our characters be sculpted in only a month?

  4. wonderful stuff. Your blog would be so useful if I were still teaching HS English... imaginative use of the personalities of famous writers. I love it--keep it up! :o)

  5. Bro, I'm enjoying your ghost-interviews. What else would a Cajun blood-man write, I suppose.

    - Eric

  6. I believe in magic too, and honesty in writing. Love this post!

    And the part at the end about only you know your own truth. Thanks for more heartfelt advice:)

    And thank you for the Williams bio video. Sounds as if writing kept him sane. It may do that for us all.

  7. Fantastic post. I am so delighted that you left a comment over at my blog as that led me to your blog and to this post. Quality of writing takes commitment, time, love and magic. Clearly you have all of the above.

  8. Beautiful.

    "You cannot expose a weakness in your novel unless you know it through having it yourself."

    Yup. Yet another bonus of writing---puts those flaws to good use.

  9. Hey Roland. Came by to say hi. I wish there were more hours in the day. Your blog always seems to be magic. Thanks for the post. ;D

  10. I think that I am not yet ready to be completely honest about the hates and loves in my heart so I tell of them through my characters. It's a shame that images of ink are braver than me.