Notes on Writing and Reading

Notes on Writing and Reading

October 25, 2015

Lazy afternoon,

sprawled on my bed with book and window open,

listening to the syncopated rhythms of the rain,

reading,

                 dozing,

                               dreaming,

                                                     waking,

wandering through mind-drifts of memories...

              of the farm at Barwon Downs,

              of hiking up Mt. Takao in autumn,

              of planting the chestnut with Dad,


while listening to the rain, reading.

 

 

 

 

In a recent Writer's Digest article, David Corbett, author of The Art of Character, writes:

"People don't turn to stories to experience what you, the writer, have experienced--or even what your characters have. They read to have their own experience."

Good to remember: Write in such a way as to give the reader an experience--of joy or sadness or fear or excitement--instead of merely reading about someone else's experience.

 

 

 

 

 

I usually recommend reading a book before seeing the movie version. However, I am re-thinking my position after watching Ron Howard’s film, In the Heart of the Sea. I’d just finished the book by Nathaniel Philbrick and loved it—about the ramming and sinking of the whaleship Essex by an enraged sperm whale in 1820, the inspiration for Melville’s Moby Dick. I was eager to see what Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13) would do with it.

The film was certainly spectacular, with gee-whiz special effects and a taut tension running throughout, but I realized that I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t read the book first. I was continually distracted by the film's departure from historical accuracy. “That’s not right,” I would find myself thinking. “It didn’t happen like that.” “They made that part up.”

To make matters worse, there were all these rude people sitting around me in the theater, going, “Sh!-Sh!-Sh!”

 

 

December 12, 2015

"It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes."


Gustave Flaubert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 10, 2015

 

At WordFest this week, retired physician Dan Roberts read from his novel in progress, a medical thriller titled The VRSA Syndrome.

Dan shared that when he sent out his manuscript, an agent responded with thirty pages of notes for re-working it.

Thirty pages? I'm just happy if the form rejection letter sounds heartfelt.