From Ray Bradbury, a Magician of Words

“To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.

You must write every single day of your life.

You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.

You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.

I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.

I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.

May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories—science fiction or otherwise.

Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”



Why Do Many Writers Live Overseas?

It’s not a requirement for writing, but take your favorite writers and look at how many have lived overseas. You might find a majority have lived outside their country of origin at some point in their life. Hemingway(US) had a long and extraordinary expat history, having had a home in Cuba and France, Spain and Canada. Graham Greene(British) was in Vietnam when he thought up The Quiet American, in Cuba for his development of Our Man in Havana and Mexico before writing The Power and the Glory. James Clavell(Australian) moved to the US to write his Asian sagas.

Of course, it’s clear the type of writing is influenced by the lifestyle. And it’s helpful to live in a place to build a novel about that place. So, what about some writers who weren’t making stories based on country? Arthur C. Clark(British), known for his space odysseys, lived the later part of his life on the island of Sri Lanka. Sci-fi and fantasy writer, Sarah A. Hoyt (Portuguese), lives in the US. And Mary Higgins Clark(US), a master of suspense, lived in Europe while working for Pan Am.

Is it the new ideas that can be gleaned from living in a foreign culture, the unstructured learning, the avalanche of new experiences, sights, smells, sounds, tastes that inspire? Or is there a freedom from our fixed concepts that allows us to express new and creative ideas?

Who are your favorite writers and where did they live?

Novel Writing For the Nervous

photo credit: miguelavg via photopin cc

photo credit: miguelavg via photopin cc

Thinking about writing a novel makes me sweat. And not in a good way. The idea of writing 100,000 words that never see the light of day fills me with fear. I worry that the disappointment of reaping no reward for those hours and hours of effort will put me off writing another word of fiction forever. But this thread at the writers’ website Absolute Write has got me questioning my attitude.

Some posters say it’s easier to sell a novel than to place a short story with a professional publication, and that novel writing is more financially viable as a career. While I enjoy my freelance writing more than any other job I’ve ever had, writing fiction for a living is cherished dream.

Two unfinished novels lurk in the forgotten corners of my computer’s hard drive. Can I go the final mile and actually finish one? I’ve decided to find out. I’ve set myself the goal of writing 1,000 words a day. Three months’ work should give me enough material for a novel, and another three months’ work should see it to polished completion.

That’s the plan. I’m starting to sweat, and I don’t think it’s due to Taiwan’s sultry weather.

My Favorite Books On Writing So Far

1) On Writing by Stephen King.

This was the first book on writing I read, and because of it, I finally made the decision to take writing seriously. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

2) Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

Finishing the first draft of my first novel was a breeze. I’d been writing scenes of it and thinking about it for literally a decade. Turning it into an actual novel, however, was another story entirely. This book is one of the reasons I’m still a writer today.

3) Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

One of the first books I read from my graduate program’s recommended reading list, this book taught me that I’m not crazy the way my brain works as a writer is normal.

4) Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

Another first read from my program’s recommended list, this book was the beginning of a major change in my reading habits. Now reading is not just for recharging my writing batteries, but for research as well. I believe this new habit more than anything has helped to improve my writing this past year.