Saturday, June 25, 2016

Art For the Sake of Sanity

Artists have always held a precarious position in society, being seen paradoxically as truth tellers and outright liars. Plato feared the power of poets (writing in The Republic) and most totalitarian regimes target artists and writers exclusively as ‘trouble makers’ and dissidents. In Soviet Russia under Stalin, the arts were ruthlessly manicured by cultural watchdogs so that no artist could apply a single brushstroke or write a single word without looking over his or her shoulder.

Monday, June 20, 2016

FREE for 2 days: The Winged Turban

Please download, share, read, and review my novel, The Winged Turban, which has been floundering on Amazon since September. I'm desperately trying to get some reviews for the book, since without reviews, no one really sees the book--or if they do, they figure it's just some silly self-published book (which it is, but still...) 

Click here for the Amazon page and preview the book, or simply roll the dice and download it for free:

Friday, June 17, 2016

Be Derivative and Find Yourself

Here’s the best writing advice I can offer any writer just starting out: be derivative. Don’t try to “find your own voice.” Don’t think about world building or unique characters or unknown alien races. Don’t develop your own plucky narrative style that announces ‘you’ on every page. And don’t do something shocking to set the world on fire. Instead, do  what your favorite authors do. Mimic their style, their characters, their narrative, even their plots. Don’t steal—and definitely don’t plagiarize. But emulate, copy, pose, ape, and mimic. There will be time to be original and groundbreaking later. However, if you really want to be a writer (rather than someone who just sells books) you have to go through the all-important stage of mimicry necessary to create great art—or just books worth reading. It’s the most important way to “write what you know.” You know? 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

"To Work In Silence and With All One's Heart"

In 1908, one of the world’s great writers hit a creative dead end. Willa Cather, a fledgling short story writer, helmed one of the largest literary magazines in New York, McClure’s, yet she couldn’t write a novel. Even her stories tended to be accomplished, yet derivative imitations of the bestselling novels of the day—tales of high society romances and artists suffering for art. As an editor she knew what sold, and knew—apparently—what people wanted to read. However, when she wrote those very things, tailored to audience expectations and critical approval, the result never caught fire. She had written some excellent short stories (“A Wagner Matinee” being one of the best), but she couldn’t extend the material; the situations and characters were often second-hand, cribbed from Edith Wharton and Henry James, among others. It bored her to even think of it! 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Writers Are Not Heroes

Writers are not heroes. No matter how many works they write, or how many people they inspire, they remain utterly and tragically earthbound. Meet a writer and you’ll see what I mean. Now I’m not talking about your average writer with a dream to write a novel and who blogs about the process every week. I mean the kind who really makes it, whose very lives are seemingly carved out of granite, making them statues to be adored or worshipped. People who go by a single name and who could sell books on their reputation alone (and indeed, sell books even when they no longer care about writing them). The ability to take words, the same words we use every day, and fashion them into something astonishing, remarkable, emotional, and otherworldly...only a modern-day Prometheus could do that.