For The Love Of Reading And Writing

Hi everyone. I needed that few weeks’ break. It is time to return here and to that which we love: BOOKS!

“So what was the first novel that made you fall in love with reading?”:

These weeks, I have not been “inactive” on other social media. I have been on Instagram and on Twitter. To “restart” on here, I thought the best place to shake out the blogging cobwebs is by having a look at Twitter’s writers.

I think I remember how to blog. 🙂

Right now, only me.

And you – whatever I post here. Like this from my new manuscript – part of a 1792 letter from an American in increasingly chaotic revolutionary Paris to his parents in Charleston, South Carolina:

[Sneak peek from the as of yet untitled follow up to Tomorrow The Grace. Click to expand.]

It is not nearly complete enough to share with anyone else as a manuscript… because it is not anywhere near being a full draft book yet. When I finally get there, pre-publication the only ones who see it before you do are my wife, my “editor,” and one or two trusted others who proofread it. That is all.

A reminder: My novels are written by me. Period. Only my name is on their covers, so I am fully responsible – for good or for bad – for them. I do not incorporate suggestions made by random people I have found via the internet.

Every novel is dedicated to my wife – who has put up with my insane hobby/occupation for nearly a decade now.

No need. I tend to talk to myself out loud as I am writing. (“Yes, I hate you…”)

Which is why I need private space to write.

In order: 1) No. 2.) Yes (I have degrees coming out of my you-know-what, in history and political science). 3) See #2.

Before ever seeing that tweet, I addressed that here on Twitter:

…in a “Twitter thread” (if you are interested).

I. Me. Mine.

I just finished The Moon’s a Balloon, by David Niven. I will now return to War and Remembrance, by Herman Wouk.

That is not what you should worry about. Most people have not read most writers. What you should be pleased about are the many people who DO read your books.

And all that you go through mentally in writing books, will likely REDUCE your life expectancy. LOL!

If that includes collected works one after another in compilation volumes, I suppose Washington Irving.

Another reminder everyone: I don’t use Goodreads. Yes, I do have an account there, but it is “dead.” I pay no attention to it. Why? Because I dislike Goodreads (and this man explains why, and I agree with him).

I think chapter titles are helpful to readers psychologically – particularly in the Kindle versions – and also in chronological terms so they know where they “are.” I use them also as a “hint” or perhaps as a “double-meaning” of some kind.

Here’s the first few chapter titles from my most recent novel:

[Kindle Table of Contents for the first chapters from Tomorrow The Grace, Copyright 2019. Photo by me, 2020.]

Seeing them, I think, leads a reader’s mind to be “alerted.” That causes the person subconsciously to wonder “What is this next?” The aim is that they feel gently urged forward to want to find out. 🙂

I don’t know how it can be anything else, to be honest. Why would you read something you don’t want to write yourself? Or vice-versa?

No writer is perfect. I’m certainly not. I always want to be better.

Having been on the receiving end, I must say it is unhelpful to speak in generalities. If you feel the need to critique someone – particularly a friend – it is best to make positive suggestions rather than harp on negatives.

Typos can be fixed. (No one likes those.)

“Clunkier” grammar, etc., is tougher to point out and even tougher for a writer to correct, so it is best to cite specifics, perhaps observing, “That’s a great idea. Have you considered ___________?”

Frankly, if a writer does not try to improve they will not be doing this for very long and you will not be able to help them regardless of how nicely you phrase a critique.

I don’t know about the first and last there, but as for the second point, for the 15,305th time: You do NOT require a degree in creative writing to write a novel and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I hold two MA degrees and state here bluntly that a reasonable education (high school) and loving to read and write is all you need to write fiction. Remember, one Jane Austen barely even set a foot inside what we would today call a school. A post-graduate degree in creative writing is a professional qualification that is necessary ONLY if you wish to try to TEACH creative writing on a university level. It is not a “license” conferring upon one the title: “Author.”

The overall obsession with unnecessary and often EXPENSIVE official qualifications – in the US in particular – is actually now a serious class and economic empowerment matter. US employers now routinely wanting university degrees even for what are essentially entry-level jobs for which a high school diploma is more than sufficient is a scandal that needs addressing. Few disagree with a requirement for doctors, lawyers, pilots, and under-18 teachers to be licensed, but some places go as far as to state mandate a license for the likes of shampooing hair in a salon, which is nothing but the state stunting efforts of people simply to earn money.

Frankly I’m shocked mowing lawns or snow clearing do not yet require passing a state exam and a license. But I should be careful here. I don’t want some dimwit state legislator in New York suddenly thinking: “You meant we don’t already? How did we miss those? Why don’t we demand courses on approved mowing and snow shoveling and annual $500 state permits?”

Bottom line: You do not need a post-graduate degree in anything to write fiction.

In my historical ones (set in the 1700s and 1800s), he is the son of a New York merchant and may become a lawyer.

In my “current” day tale (set in the 1990s), he is a New York construction worker and may become a high school teacher.

Born there, as you know, I know a few things about New York. 😉

Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂

3 thoughts on “For The Love Of Reading And Writing

  1. Brilliant, entertaining post, dear Robert, that made me think. Degree in writing? Are they serious? Writing is a natural talent. Thank you for a funny compilation of Twitter & blogging. It looks interesting! And happy writing year! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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