Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I do not claim to be a great writer. I don't suck at it, but I do have work to do. One can always improve as a writer. At the least, I have written a lot of stuff. Much of it is garbage, especially the stuff I wrote in the years before 2001-2002, my last years in college. (I still write some garbage nowadays, too.) It was then, as a failed graduate student of history, that I went back as an undergraduate, and did one of the wisest things I ever did in my life: I took two semesters of fiction writing at the University of Southern Mississippi, under the instruction of Steven Barthelme.
Classes amounted to routine evisceration. My work was read by the whole class, and mercilessly critiqued by both them and S.B. I had known before I took the class that I needed to improve; I had no idea how much. But I soon found out, and was shown what to read -- much John Gardner, among other things. (On Becoming a Novelist is probably the only "self-help" book for writers one needs to bother with. It's still in print and inexpensive.) Even more than that, the classes changed the way I look at the world. I am more cynical now than before, more wary of the tricks novelists and screenwriters play, so it's sometimes harder for me to be entertained than others. I come across as an insufferable snob sometimes, I know, but I cannot help it and do not worry too much about impressions anymore.
So take a writing class or two. Read Gardner. Read and critique other writers, and let them read and critique for you, if they will. (But don't count on that. Most self-styled writers are too self-centered to return the favor, in my experience.) Then write, write write. The latter, I've found, is the hardest to do on a day to day basis, but it must happen; otherwise, one is not a writer, and will never be an author -- just a daydreamer.
Next post, I want to talk about The Map.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Unfortunately, to my great dismay I have found that a sizable part of the story was lost when our laptop crashed earlier this year. I had only recently transferred the files from it to our desktop PC, deeming them intact; but apparently all the work I did in "Safe Mode" on the laptop was not properly saved, which amounted to the bulk of the meager amount of writing I have done this year. So I am pretty much back to where I was in January/February, with Mar and the thanes leaving their ship, the Gnod, beached near the mouth of the dead river. I tire of this re-writing and re-membering rubbish. Not exactly how I wanted to "ease" back into the writing mode of life.
Now I have a two-day long meeting to go to tomorrow and Tuesday, for my regular job, the one that helps pay the bills. Rubbing elbows with Company people. It's like pulling fingernails for me. And it's my birthday. Jeez, I hope I can make it through the meetings without zoning out completely.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Friday, September 7, 2007
We hurry by some fair abode;
The garden bright amidst the hay,
The yellow wain upon the way,
The dining men, the wind that sweeps
Light locks from off the sun-sweet heaps --
The gable grey, the hoary roof,
Here now -- and now so far aloof.
How sorely then we long to stay
And midst its sweetness wear the day,
And 'neath its changing shadows sit,
And feel ourselves a part of it.
Such rest, such stay, I strove to win
With these same leaves that lie herein.
-- William Morris, from
"The Roots of the Mountains"