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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Character Study for Readers and Writers

We love the bigger-than-life characters in our books, movies, and sports. We want to bask in their glorious personalities, touch a hem. Genuflect. Dream ourselves into their shoes. Some of us manage to realize our wildest dreams, but it can be a perilous, difficult journey and along the way we can lose our lives or our souls.

Take for example, Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. I recently downloaded samples of two new books about him: Cycle of Lies by Juliet Macur and Wheelmen by Albergotti and O'Connell. I decided to download the full version of Wheelmen first. Wheelmen focuses on the cycling sport from it's humble beginnings and its evolution as determined sportsmen like Lance brought the sport into the lime light. While Cycle of Lies seems to focus on the analysis of Armstrong's personality and his many shortcomings as a human being (I haven't downloaded the full version yet), Wheelmen focuses on the business of cycling and how Armstrong rose to phenomenal success as the product of our celebrity-worshiping world and the corruption of the sport with money and drugs. It does not skimp on the details of his participation in the corruption, but it does not dwell on understanding his personality. We live in the age of fraud and the big lie due to the ease and vastness of communication. Those with access to money and power, lead not only themselves astray, but the rest of us too. Of course, we are often overly eager to worship and unwilling to question and look at the facts. The public persona of the hero/heroine is carefully crafted and we buy into it. When the truth about doping in the cycling world was brought to light, no one wanted to believe it and the liars happily persisted. There was too much money to be made and too much ego-feeding glory and celebrity to stop the roller coaster ride. We aid and abet characters like Armstrong and so do corporations. They sell us shoes, clothing, books, movies, lies, anything to feed our hunger for hero worship, a touch of the divine.

As a bigger-than-life character, Armstrong clearly has good qualities:  determination to succeed and survive, business savvy, physical gifts that made it possible to succeed in his sport. He also has great deficiencies as a human being. That's the stuff of life and storytelling. As a writer, I always want to include fallen angels. They provide the fabric of the story. There can be no sword-wielding St. Michael, if there is not a dark angel to call out and defeat. We do not evolve as human beings if we do not learn to separate truth from lies.

I think these two books have much to teach us about ourselves and the world we live in as well as the sport of cycling.

1 comment:

  1. Well many people say you couldn't possibly fly up and down those high-altitude mountains without the help of something. There's certainly a lot to admire about Lance Armstrong, but also a lot to question. There are so many temptations the closer to the top you rise I guess. A thoughtful post, LInda.