A Writer's Journal

A Writer's Journal

 

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."

Note to self:
Write to give the reader an experience--of joy or sadness or fear or excitement--instead of merely reading about someone else's experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[First posted: November 27, 2015]

 

 

I usually recommend reading a book before seeing the movie version. But 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 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 murmur. “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.”

 

 

 

[First posted: November 23, 2016]

 



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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[First posted: December 12, 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.

 

 

 

 

 [First posted: July 10, 2015]

 

 

 


Reading Dickens' unfinished novel,
The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

 

Hurrying to see how it doesn't end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[First posted: May 19, 2015]




The shortest book review I ever read was for David Leavitt's 1998 novel, The Page Turner.

"It's not."

 

I admire Leavitt's writing and suggest that one would do better to start with his novel, The Lost Language of Cranes (1986), or his short story collection, Family Dancing (1984).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[First posted: April 12, 2015]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 











I will be making a rare appearance at the next WordFest on Tuesday, March 3, 6:00-8:00 PM, reading my short story, “The Conquest of Mt. St. Helens: A somewhat true account of the harrowing 1999 assault on the treacherous peak.”


Like so many movies now announce at the start, it is "Based on a true story," as in "The Hobbit--Based on a true story."

WordFest meets on second Tuesdays at Cassava Coffeehouse, 1333 Broadway in Longview.

Can't make it? You can also read the story and see photos of the ascent here: The Conquest of Mt. St. Helens

 

 

 [First posted: March 2, 2015]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 








I like this time of day:

The late afternoon and the books in the living room begin to glow, appearing golden,
as if revealing their true value.

The Renaissance humanist Erasmus famously wrote: "When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes."

We all have our priorities.

He also less-famously wrote "Your library is your paradise." 

I have at times turned to my books, whether seeking enlightenment or entertainment, insight or solace, or simply to enjoy the company of great minds, and thought,
"Welcome to Paradise."

 

 

 

[First posted: February 24, 2015 ]

 



 

Bernhard Schlink, author of The Reader
(Der Vorleser):

 

"I write for the same reason others read:

You don't want to live only one life."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[First posted: January 21, 2015]

 

 



As writers, we want to be Scheherazade:

We want to tell stories as if our lives depended on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[First posted: January 20, 2015]