Category Archives: Writing

To the despairing writer

John C. Wright“If you only write one book in your whole life, and only sell 600 copies or less, nonetheless, I assure you, I solemnly assure you, that this book will be someone’s absolutely favorite book of all time, and it will come to him on some dark day and give him sunlight, and open his eyes and fill his heart and make him see things in life even you never suspected, and will be his most precious tale, and it will live in his heart like the Book of Gold. …

I write for that one reader I will never see, the one who needs just such a tale as I can pen, in just such a time and place, some rainy afternoon or dark hour, when providence will bring my book into his hands.

And he will open it, and it will not be a book, but a casement, from which he will glimpse the needed vision his soul requires of a world larger than our own, or a star in a heaven wider and higher than ours, a star aflame with magic more majestic than any star mortal astronomers can name.”John C. Wright

Advertisements

Learning to see

Cavern

Ursula Le Guin once told a class of aspiring writers, “We are the raw nerve of the universe. Our job is to go out and feel things for people, then to come back and tell them how it feels to be alive. Because they are numb. Because we have forgotten. We have forgotten our rituals. Our tribal practices. There is no more tribe. We don’t know how to tell our elders our dreams around the morning fire. There is no morning fire. We can’t receive insight from the mothers.”

That is the writer’s goal, to reawaken others to what it means to be human in an age that’s severed us from nature, memory, and connections. If we’re to tell others how it feels to be alive, we must first feel it ourselves. No doubt writers, like other artists, pursue their craft because they naturally notice details and patterns their friends often miss, and want to express their insights to others. But just as we constantly improve our craft, we must also hone our senses.

I’ve found that physical exercise, especially martial arts, is an effective way to sharpen the senses and unify mind and body. But if you’re unable to make it to the gym or dojo, there are alternatives. In 10 Tests, Exercises, and Games to Heighten Your Senses and Situational Awareness, Brett and Kate McKay offer some excellent resources to boost your powers of perception.

I was especially impressed by the McKays’ comments about the different roles of the senses in experiencing the world around us. Writers should be aware of how our senses inform us about our surroundings and arouse certain emotions. For example, while sight is vital, our sense of hearing is wired more directly to the primal areas of the brain, and therefore trigger emotional responses more directly and profoundly. Smell and taste stir both emotions and long-term memories — Marcel Proust’s madeleine episode from Swann’s Way is one famous literary example.

So when we translate our impressions of the world in our writing, we should take advantage of as many senses as possible to make our stories more realistic, believable, and enjoyable.

Quote of the day

Picture by David Shankbone

“In order to be clear it is necessary to at least consider the possibility that we actually may not be. It requires stepping outside of one’s self, reading a sentence as if we were another person (not us) who didn’t understand, and even sort of admire the newly minted gold on the screen or the page. It requires a kind of humility, an ability not to take everything personally and to separate ourselves from our work. Clarity is not only a literary quality but a spiritual one, involving, as it does, compassion for the reader.” Francine Prose

For more thoughts on the social value of literature, see here and here.

Best fiction and writing blogs

Laura Ingalls Wilder

The best fiction and writing blog posts from around the ‘net, all guaranteed to make you a literary pioneer. Compiled by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

K. M. WeilandWriting as the Art of Thinking Clearly: 6 Steps
Hamilton PerezHow to Give Up Writing and Other Bad Habits
Tamara DrazicOutlining
D. Wallace PeachMy Bossy Muse
Nicola AlterKnocking People Out: Easier in Fiction Than In Real Life
Didi OviattThe Why #amwriting
Jacqui MurraySeries or Not a Series–How do You know?
J. C. Wolfe3 Pieces of Advice No Writer Should Ever Forget

… and a special bonus!

Adam RoweScience Fiction And Fantasy Book Sales Have Doubled Since 2010

Patience Is A Virtue

Patience is indeed a mindset you MUST develop if you’re going to write. Love the Rousseau quote, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

Evie Gaughan

IMG_20180316_160150

There are many skills that an author needs to learn in this business of pub, patience being the most important.  Patience with yourself, as the magical story in your head makes its way stumbling and lurching onto the page with all the grace and skill of a toddler.  Patience with the world when it doesn’t immediately recognise your brilliance.  Patience with agents and publishers while you await their response to your submission.  And now, for me, a new kind of patience while I wait for my book to be released.

IMG_20180410_093419

The advance reader copies have been sent out and happily, joyously, wondrously, the feedback is good 🙂  Editors and publications have been contacted, copy sent in.  The blog tour has been arranged.  And as we speak, my book (along with those of my fellow Urbanites) are being showcased at The London Book Fair.  THE LONDON BOOK FAIR!

lbf2lbf

As Jean-Jacques Rousseau…

View original post 261 more words

Best Fiction and Writing Blogs

Jack London

The best fiction and writing blog posts from around the ‘net, all guaranteed to make you a literary swashbuckler. Inspired by jack.

Jean M. CogdellWrite like a professional – get the chapters right
Sarah A. HoytWriting About Death
James Harrington Character Creation
Brenda Davis HarshamTop Ten Blogging Rules
D. E. HaggertyHow to get the writing done despite distractions
Cristian MihaiBuilding a personal brand as an artist
M. L. S. WeechWhy some covers just don’t look right
Nic Schuck Getting testimonials