So you can read my books

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


{"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. Strong, brave sentiments.

    I'll drink to them :)


  2. Hi Roland .. Faulkner has his points as does Faulkner's ghost .. we are losing our individualism that I agree - everyone follows the crowd.

    Dreams - go write and profess your profession .. don't lose your ideas .. never stop ...

    Thanks Roland - great thoughts here .. cheers Hilary

  3. Wonderful post, Roland. We must never be afraid of draining the well of ideas. We have to trust to it always refilling.

  4. Excellent advice! And I loved your jokes.

    I completely believe that writing can't be taught. Every writer has his or own way of doing it and it works because of who that writer is.

    Thus the only way to learn how to write is to summon the courage and write.


  5. You made me think... "A man is the sum of his misfortunes" I would agree with that, but do you think the conquering of the misfortunes, perhaps, is what makes one really who they are?

    I truly enjoyed the quotes at the end, funny and too true of most people!

  6. Donna :
    Good to see you here. It's comforting to know that ghosts still can have a whisky, isn't it?

    Hilary :
    Like you and Faulkner, I feel that it is in following our dreams we assert our individualism and keep our souls. Have a fine day, Roland

    Margo :
    I agree with your sentiments. I feel that our imagination is just like our muscles -- we develop it by using it!

    Misha :
    Good to see you again. Weren't those quotes great? I especially liked the exchanges between sniping famous writers and dignitaries.

    Like you, I feel if we copy, our work will be lifeless. But if we carve our own path, we have a shot at being truly great, Roland

  7. Heather :
    Like Faulkner, I think our defeats, our sufferings, and our times when all is dark shape our spirits. Like you, I believe we LEARN strength, not grow it, as we manage to take that one step in the storm that we think we cannot.

    Thanks for visiting and chatting. You have a great blog, Roland

  8. Deep thoughts, and oh so true. On that note, I'm off to get a bit of writing done.

  9. I'm so tired, this is what I needed this week.

    Thank you.

  10. Sarah :
    I hope things pick up for you. May the wind be at your back and the seas before smooth sailing, Roland

  11. Man losing his individuality? Hmm, I guess people are able to move through life without actually living, and that's just terrible, but true of many. I started off life as a lone wolf, so the herd was never for me. I love your verbiage, unscrupulous intentions and all. And dreams are very much worth it. :)