George Orwell’s writings have left a lasting imprint on American thought and culture…
George Orwell’s writings have left a lasting imprint on American thought and culture. ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images Mark Satta, Wayne State University Seventy-five years ago, in August 1946, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” was published in the United States. It was a huge success, with over a half-million copies sold in its first year. […]
Before the Coronavirus struck, I used to love to go to coffee shops or diners and write with a decent pen into a spiral notebook. I have a few dozens of these on my library shelves, where I would come up with an idea while out running errands and then go buy a notebook (I always carried a pen with me to jot ideas down on napkins, etc.) and then head to a coffee shop. As for my beverage of choice at moments like this, I normally imbibe basic American coffee, black, or unsweet iced tea. Even when I go to Starbuck’s (or went to Starbucks during the pre-coronavirus days), I would often order just their café Americano, black. Occasionally, I might order a vanilla latte. If I felt like living a bit of a life of luxury, I would order an Irish cream breve. All of these would usually be in the (euphemistically termed) tall or grande sizes.
I put this ambience video on to listen to while I work this afternoon. It is supposed to be the Double R diner from the 80’s TV series Twin Peaks. Looking at this, I became nostalgic and wished I could find a place like this again. This diner is straight from the 80’s and is a place I would love to sit with a notebook and spend an afternoon, and maybe even into the evening, scribbling down ideas as fast they come. Usually, when I am writing a scene, it’s like a movie is playing in my head and I am just noting down everything I see as fast as I can. I can even envision the dialogue between people and what is going on inside their heads to make them say what they say. It’s a very enjoyable process. I can become totally immersed in it for a while and therefore it is great for relieving stress, tension, anxiety, what have you. Just being in a place like this once again would be a bit of paradise for me again.
Just look at the place in detail. It has the old-style, Naugahyde bench seats. On the table closest is a slice of cherry pie, which Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle McLachlan) used to eat at the end of an episode. There is also an old style tape recorder with a cassette in it and an old style hotel key, which was used before key cards made their debut. In the front booth and to the reader’s right are the traditional mustard and ketchup bottles, a sugar dispenser, salt and pepper shakers, and a worn menu. In the very back under the plate glass window and to the left is an actual jukebox. The slow, soft jazz playing is perfect for a setting like this. I have been in many, many places like this across the US. In the back of the front booth and on a shelf is an ash tray with a burning cigarette in it. Although a lot of people hate tobacco smoke, I would love to smell it in restaurants and bars again.
Hopefully, before long, this pandemic will be over and we can once again pack places such as this and not even wear a mask.
I just now reached 40, 246 words on Lycanthrope. According to my scan of publishers on Duotrope, 40,000 words is the minimal word count that almost all publishers will consider a novel.
My best estimate currently is that I will need another 20,000 words to complete Lycanthrope. I have been working on this since the end of December. I stopped work on Shadows and Stars to pursue Lycanthrope because the ideas for it were coming fast and furious. They still are. I work on this almost every night.
I have recently come up with a couple of really good plot twists that should make this interesting. These will bring a supernatural element into the story.
Once I have the first draft finished, which should not be long now, I will do some editing, but I expect to do minimal revision. Of course, that could change. I am coming up with new ideas and I like subtle plot twists. I also like to leave some subtle clues hinting at a denouement, but these could be a red herring too.
This work is being increasingly intriguing for me.
For me, I see the events unfolding in my head and I just write down a description of what I am visualizing. Sometimes the characters take control and I just watch and record.
I have been watching some YouTube videos today about how to sell books on Amazon. The speaker showed the Amazon pages of authors who sell lots of books. While he talked about keywords (which are important) I looked at the page layout, colors, and number of books listed, which were a lot for each other. Long story short, I started thinking about how I can change some things on the website to sell more books. Rethinking keywords is just a part of the overall plan.
The obvious thing hit me a few minutes ago. I should check out the websites of famous authors and learn from them instead of assorted unknown hacks on YouTube. Don’t get me wrong. I love YouTube and watch it way more than any other channel and there are a lot of pros and artists on there, but I have been paying more attention to the hacks lately.
Each author’s works fall into a genre, a theme, or a certain atmosphere. In effect, each author builds his/her own universe. The websites, intentionally or not, draw the reader into that universe. For example, Stephen King’s universe is one of horror while J.K. Rowling’s is one of magic and youth. Dan Brown’s universe is one of mysterious symbols. Authors exist in parallel universes.
Therefore I need to do some literary navel-gazing and decide what my universe is and draw the reader into that. Each of my works is a doorway into that universe.
Anyway, those are my revelations for the night. I must go to bed. I know this is all very obvious, but sometimes the answer is in front of you all along and you have to bang your head into it accidentally in order to realize it’s there.
More to come. I will be revamping the website soon.
I came across this gem of UCLA professor Richard Walter talking about how does someone know that he/she is good enough to be a writer. Even though he is talking specifically about screenwriting, I can relate to a lot of what he says.
I am up late tonight. I don’t have insomnia per se at the moment, but I am only now starting to feel sleepy–and it’s 4:00 a.m.
I am, of course, surfing YouTube. I came across this gem of UCLA professor Richard Walter talking about how does someone know that he/she is good enough to be a writer. Even though he is talking specifically about screenwriting, I can relate to a lot of what he says.
As I finish up Shadows and Stars, my sci-fi/adventure/horror novel/work in progress, the wisdom of Steinbeck’s advice becomes increasingly powerful. I have been going through the exact same processes he describes here. Hearing these again for the umpteenth time (I am seen them before in various magazine articles and videos) but with having the experience of finishing a novel, the truth of these has hit me harder than ever before. Before, they were one of those things that you and say, “wow, that makes sense”. But having lived these now, the wisdom of these hits me like a hammer. Take them to heart. They will help in your writing adventure.
I saw this earlier tonight. The thing I found most interesting was that Jack Kerouac wrote a book called The Portable Jack Kerouac in which he discusses how to write. I would like to find a copy of that somewhere. I have read On the Road of course, and now I am reading Desolation Angels. I love his writing style. It is so action-filled and thought-provoking while keeping a free flowing, frenetic pace that is never boring.
I don’t think the guy who made this video will ever come close to writing anything as moving or exciting as Kerouac did. He just seems too much like a “square” to use a Beat Generation term. I think this guy has a hard time comprehending what Kerouac’s writing was about much less understanding Kerouac himself. He just seems to look at the words and not get the meaning behind them. That’s just a subjective opinion of mine though.
I have written lately about reading Desolation Angels and I believe it deserves to be better known than it is. It is a beautiful work in many ways. Sometimes Kerouac will be describing an event or a scene then, at the very end, he wraps it up with a breathtaking denouement of profound depth. To really comprehand Kerouac’s work, at least in Desolation Angels, one must have a feel for the spiritual and spirituality that he is trying to get across. If you have this, then you will see words, per se, as just superficial representations of the spiritual world that Kerouac is portraying. So help me, I cannot think of this YouTuber’s name, but I think his problem with Kerouac is that he sees just the words, the superficial representations, and not the spiritual universe behind them.