Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Labyrinth - Fiction Writing

As I wrestle with my last chapter of Laughing Hawk, I remember the first and this long trip I've been on. Fiction writing is a different kind of trip. It's like entering a labyrinth. There is no clearly marked, guaranteed path to success. The only thing that can save you is your words and the degree of mastery with which you wield them. It's a lonely and fathomless universe in which the writer toils to reveal the truth by spinning tales--fine spider webs of treachery, love, inspiration, desperation, beauty, comedy and tears that capture souls and the distilled droplets of morning dew, manna.

It's easy to get lost in the labyrinth. Even the most skilled can lose their way. To tell a story and tell the truth, that is the question. The labyrinth is an obstacle course, a riddle that each writer must solve for himself. Be wary of those who sell roadmaps. Keep your eyes and ears open. Learn all that you can. Most important of all discard your ego by the roadside like a dirty shirt. Ego only subverts a writer's instincts. You need all your wits about you.

That in a nutshell is my philosophy about fiction writing. It's my way of edging up to the dilemma of writers who devote countless hours to classes, workshops, and critique groups and to courting those that they believe can help them navigate the labyrinth. All those things necessarily comprise the trial by fire that forges, but in the end it is the words and the story they tell that matters.

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