Monday, December 28, 2020

Rules for Writing

Today's edition (#of Authors Publish magazine (which I recommend to all writers for its market updates and mini-articles) has "43 different sets of "top 10 rules for writers" from various famous writers. I put the article aside to read later, because I'm sure that will be amusing, but here's the thing--I don't need to read those to know 95% won't apply to me--or to you.

If one interviews successful authors, they all say the same thing: there is only one possible way to manage the writing process and to be productive. The slightest variation from the routine/formula described, and they come up dry: blocked creatively, their work left undone or rejected as substandard.

Unfortunately, they then all go on to describe completely different, highly idiosyncratic approaches. This one says she can only write with a brandy in hand, the next that abstinence is the key. This one requires large blocks of uninterrupted time to make any progress; this other maintains that the key is to write at every opportunity, finding five minutes here, stealing ten there. This one can only write in the mornings before lunch, the next only at night. Many insist on the discipline of writing every day, regardless of life’s distractions; but others are equally vehement about the importance of work/life balance and trusting inspiration to show up in the muse’s own sweet time. This one requires a detailed outline and copious, detailed notes; the next says spontaneity and free association are the key. This one can only begin to write when the house is cleaned and the dishes washed; this one only when surrounded by a messy house that affirms that writing comes first. Each insists that their routine is absolutely critical and that any writer must adopt exactly that habit if they are serious about writing—except those who argue routine makes one stale and rely on trying something completely different each time.

The only slight commonality between them is that they all agree that any method taught to them in schools was rubbish. So, sorry, but the secret formula for writing turns to be that there is no secret formula; or at least, no universal one. Everybody has to work out what works for them. How-To books likely won’t help much because the author is only going to tell you what works for the author who wrote that How-To book.

But...rule lists are often thought-provoking/entertaining, and sometimes this or that 'rule' may resonate with the reader, such that it might be one worth trying out. So...have fun with the current issue of Authors Publish. (Its a free.--they make their money from advertizers.)

The dog meme is one that did the rounds a couple or three years ago (I don't know the original creator). There may be something to that one, but even here, there comes a point of diminishing returns if one stays TOO long.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Story

My Christmas story, "Ransom and the Christmas Tree" is up and available free to read at Abyss and Apex magazine:

Pleased to have any connection to Abyss and Apex. Great to deal with.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

C.P. Hoff Book Included as a Kirkus Reviews Books of the Year

C.P. Hoff, a former author, is included in this year's "Kirkus Reviews Books of the Year" list:

for West of Ireland

Hoff's first novel, A Town Called Forget was edited by both Elizabeth McLachlan and Robert Runté and was accepted by Five Rivers Publishing and edited there by Lorina Stephens. A Town Called Forget went on to be longlisted for the Leacock Medal for Humour, and is still available as an independant publication following Five Rivers closure earlier this year.

West of Ireland was edited by legendary editor Adrienne Kerr.