Rereading books – the art of change

A couple of nights ago I was sitting on the porch at my friend’s place. The sun was gone, just like the wine we had been drinking. So, with that particular predisposition of the soul that most often comes when the right amount of food and booze and stimulating company all happen together, we started chatting about books and writing. My friend isn’t a writer. And he isn’t planning on becoming one any time soon. Indeed, he is perfectly content with being a voracious reader. And of having the opportunity to chat, as often as possible, about books and the inner mechanics of a story. Now, while we decided whether or not to help ourselves with a last glass of wine–it was a damn fine Rosso di Montalcino we were enjoying–we ended up chatting about books we had reread and found dramatically different from the first time around. For me,…

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The writing life – why I love writing

If you write because you think it’s the quickest way to becoming a millionaire, think better. In particular, you’re making two basic mistakes. The make-a-living myth The first is a simple matter of numbers. To pay the bills and send their kids to school, most writers, even the moderately successful ones, have to balance their precious time between their art and an often mundane day job. Of course, this doesn’t mean there are no authors able to accumulate a fortune with their books. We have all heard of people like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and all the others. However, considering the number of all the authors, those who sell enough to live from their craft really are a minority. This is so even if we don’t take into account the gazillion aspiring writers out there in the wild who write sporadically, read erratically, and rarely invest time…

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Reasons for writing – the story behind the story

I write fiction for many different reasons. About some of them, I’m pretty sure. About some others, less so. But that’s fine. Because writers aren’t books. Writers are made of flesh and blood, and can be fickle creatures. Indeed, they’re more like a perennial work in progress, a messy first draft, than a flawless published book. And rightly so, I would say. Otherwise writers would be doomed to write the same book over and over again.

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Why details are important – not only in literature

This is an idiotic post, going around like a drunkard. Probably I didn’t pay enough attention to details when I wrote it. And now it’s too late. Some days ago a friend of mine told me about a new card he had subscribed to. It was one of those cards that reward your shopping around giving you back a usually very small percentage of the amount you spent. My friend was adamant this card was the best thing since sliced bread. And to make his point perfectly clear he told me that you even got a one percent discount on gas–of course provided you used the right coupons and gassed up your car only in the authorized gas stations. Noticing the glint of fanatism in my friend’s eyes, I kept my mouth metaphorically shut, and limited myself to make only vage, uncommittal remarks. But our conversation got me thinking.

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Why to say no is important, and political correctness is bullshit

Why to say no? Well bred people never say so, right? And values like appropriateness, politeness and inclusiveness…shouldn’t they guide our stylistic choices? After all, we don’t want to make anyone angry, right? Well, not so fast. These days political correctness seems to be a hot issue for everyone. So much so that as someone wrote, we can say with confidence that political correctness has gone mainstream. Now, while I believe it is important to respect everyone, I also believe all this political correctness is in most cases a heap of nonsense. In fact, there’s a fine line between granting people basic and inalienable rights, and instead enforcing such rights with a series of laws and policies. Laws and policies that in most cases force people to act in certain ways, but don’t teach them anything about the underlying principles. Basic and inalienable rights have to do with education, role…

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The importance of challenging the status quo

When I was a toddler I was taught to fit in and do as I was told. Nobody ever told me about challenging the status quo. Rather, on the rare occasions someone mentioned it, the implicit message about the status quo was that it was something desirable. Of course, from a practical point of view this makes sense, at least in part. In fact, if a child begins to question everything she is told she can turn her parent’s life, and her own, into a misery of never ending crises. In fact, a small child, despite her apparent harmlessness, can refuse to do a lot of things and so disrupt the lives of her parents, her parent’s friends, and all the people the above mentioned parents may come in contact with. Challenging the status quo is normal for a child Shoes? Who needs shoes? Even if we’re in the middle…

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How to tell if your writing is improving – 4 easy tips

When it comes to judging our writing talent we can be incredibly biased. We can delude ourselves and believe we are the next big name; we can also be so critical with ourselves we end up believing we only write rubbish. Indeed, even the most balanced aspiring writers can feel discouraged and have the impression that despite their best efforts they’re getting nowhere. In particular, they feel their writing isn’t improving in any significant way. Now, even if it can be difficult to be objective about our own work, this doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task. And indeed, the following suggestions can help us to assess our own writing with at least a certain amount of equanimity.

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