Tag Archives: writers

a vagabond musician . soko

.

No more home

Much more worries

It was fun just for a second

To be a vagabond musician

But I could use some security now

.

.

– Soko

‘No More Home, No More Love’

from the album I Thought I Was An Alien


be extraordinary…

It is better to try to be extraordinary and fail than to try to be ordinary and succeed.

– dan holloway

danholloway.wordpress.com


… because i have not eaten except to feed the great famines …

 

from ‘pelt yuh stones nuh…’

     leroy clarke


alan moore : my life as a writer

“Quitting my day job and starting my life as a writer was a tremendous risk; it was a fool’s leap, a shot in the dark. But anything of any value in our lives—whether that be a career, a work of art, a relationship—will always start with a such a leap. And in order to make it you have to put aside the fear of failing and the desire of succeeding. You have to do these things completely purely, without fear, without desire. Because things that we do without lust or result are the purest actions that we shall ever take.”

 

– alan moore


Requested Story #2 – Just One Ride In A Donkey Cart

superb narrative from a richly talented writer!

youaskiwrite

I can honestly say this story took more than I thought it would, in many ways. I won’t say anything other than: Please read on…

~~REQUEST

Good stuff (wo)meng! Here’s a challenge for you; Come up with a piece that starts off with someone (male or female, doesn’t matter) tied to a chair and having no memory of how they got there. As their grogginess clears, a vaguely familiar man/ woman standing by with a pair of pliers asks them if they are ready. Additionally, somewhere in the story the person bound to the chair must ride a donkey cart. This action must be somehow pivotal to the plot.

~~

~Just One Ride In A Donkey Cart~

1

Awareness is sudden. Strictly sensory. Like being born.

Consciousness seeps in more slowly, nudging the knowledge of self as separate from everything. Pain accelerates the process. Then I am me, fully sentient…

View original post 5,299 more words


for art dance literature music…

to change your language you must change your life.

.

.

Derek Walcott,

from Collected Poems 1948-1984


status seekers and storytellers . donald maass

STATUS SEEKERS AND STORYTELLERS

 

Why do some novels by published writers go wrong? To start to answer that question, I think we must first go back to the beginning and examine the two primary reasons why people write fiction.

For thirty years I have observed fiction careers. I’ve seen them succeed and fail. The more I see, the more I feel that novelists fall into two broad categories: those whose desire is to be published, and those whose passion is to spin stories. I think of these as status seekers and storytellers.

It can be tough to tell the difference, at least at first. Before their first contract, most fiction writers will urgently tell me what they believe I want to hear: I am totally committed to making it, to being the best writer I can be, no matter what it takes. I want to achieve excellence.

I believe such sentiments are sincere but I have learned to take them with a grain of salt. It is over time that I discover an author’s true motivation for writing. Authors themselves may not know, and all have a mixture of motives. Still, their primary reasons for writing will ultimately emerge.

You can begin to see the difference as fiction writers try to break in. The majority of writers seek representation or publication years too soon. Rejection slips quickly set them straight. How do they respond? Some cleave to the timeless advice get it in the mail, keep it in the mail. The more thoughtful pull their manuscripts and go back to work.

Here’s another clue: once in a while an unready but promising manuscript will cross my desk. Wanting to be encouraging, I send a detailed e-mail or letter explaining my reasons for rejecting it. What do you suppose is the most common response? It’s the immediate offer of a trunk manuscript; a shame, since what is needed is not something else but something better.

Serious fiction writers sooner or later reach a point where their command of craft seems good enough for them finally to break in. Their supporters agree. Critique groups proclaim the latest manuscript the best ever. Mentors say this should be published and introduce the no-longer-newcomer to New York agents at the next regional writers conference. Interest is expressed. The big break seems imminent.

Still, rejections arrive, often glib brush-offs like I didn’t love this enough or this would be difficult to place in the current market. In response, status seekers grow frustrated. They decide that landing an agent is a matter of timing or luck. Storytellers may be understandably bewildered at this stage but recognize that something is missing from their writing. They resolve to do something about it.

At my Writing the Breakout Novel workshops I again notice the difference between these two types of writer. Some want to know how to make their manuscripts acceptable. If I do this and I do that, will I be okay? When I hear that question my heart sinks a little. That is a status seeker talking.

A storyteller, by contrast, is more concerned with making his story the best story that it can be, with discovering the levels and elements that are missing, and with understanding the techniques needed to make it all happen. Status seekers rush me fifty pages and an outline a few months after the workshop. Storytellers won’t show me their novels again for a year or more, probably after several new drafts.

You would think that at long last finding an agent who says yes, it’s time to show your novel to publishers would relax the status seeker’s anxiety for validation, but that isn’t true. Generally speaking, authors are never more work than during the submission process. It is normal to want updates on how submissions are going, but with status seekers the process can get nutty. If declines keep coming, I hear unhelpful suggestions. What about Viking? Didn’t they launch Stephen King? Should we submit my comic vampire novel there? There also are impossible questions: What does it mean when an editor doesn’t respond after six weeks?

As you can see, questions like that don’t really need an answer. What the status seeker wants is a contract. He wants to know that his years of effort will pay off.

The first contract is a watershed that finally divides the status seekers from the storytellers. Once in the hands of an editor, a status seeker will focus on what he is getting (or not) by way of cover, copy, blurbs, and “support” like advertising and promotion. It certainly is okay to want the best for one’s novel. It is also normal for publishers to put only modest effort into launching debut fiction.

Why? Because two-thirds of fiction sales are branded—fans buying new titles by authors whose work they already love. For unknown authors, ad and promo dollars produce few unit sales. That drives status seekers crazy. Why throw money at authors who are already bestsellers? How am I supposed to grow if my publisher doesn’t spend some bucks pushing me?

Storytellers have a more realistic grasp of retail realities. They may promote, but locally and not for long. They’ll put up a website, maybe, then it’s back to work on the next book. That’s smart. The truth, for newer authors anyway, is that the best promotion is between the covers of the last book.

What about later stages of career? Do status seekers correct course and grasp the fundamentals of success? I wish. Typically, in mid-career, status seekers go full time too soon. They grow to rely on advances for their living. Revisions become perfunctory. Frustration grows. A friend gets a film deal and panic sets in. In-store placement, posters, and shelf talkers become the keys to salvation. After six or seven books, advance size becomes critical. I am working too hard to keep getting paid fifteen thousand per book!

Storytellers ignore the ephemera. Their mid-career focus is hitting deadlines and delivering powerful stories for their readers. The issues that come up are about developing their series or what to write as their next stand-alone.

In advanced stages of their career, status seekers will grumble about publishers, spend on self-promotion (or spend nothing at all), and expound as experts on getting ahead. They change agents, obsess over trunk projects, write screenplays. They wind up at small presses. A typical request from a status seeker at this terminal stage is, I whipped off a graphic novel last weekend; can you find me a publisher for it?

Storytellers are different. Storytellers look not to publishers to make them successful, but to themselves. They wonder how to top themselves with each new novel. Their grumbles are not about getting toured but about getting more time to deliver. Storytellers take calculated risks with their fiction. Mostly they try to make their stories bigger.

Therein lies the essence of why storytellers succeed where status seekers fail: Storytellers may seem anointed, but they are anointed by readers. Give readers stories that blow them away every time and they will become the loyal generators of the sales that make career success appear effortless.

Storytellers are oriented the right way; consequently, their stories almost never go wrong. Which type of fiction writer are you? Really? I believe you, but the proof is in your passion and whether or not it gets on the page.

 

 

from the fire in fiction .  donald maass


MAHADEVIYAKKA . poet-saint . defying conventions in search of Divine Love

MAHADEVI, a younger contemporary of Basavanna and Allama in the twelfth century, was born in Udutadi, a village in Sivamogga, near the birthplace of Allama. At ten, she was initiated to Siva-worship by an unknown guru. She considered that moment the moment of her real birth. Apparently, the form of Siva at the Udutadi temple was Mallikarjuna, translated either as ‘the Lord White as Jasmine’ or as ‘Arjuna, Lord of goddess Mallika’. ‘Cenna’ means ‘lovely, beautiful’. She fell in love with Cennamallikarjuna and took his name for a ‘signature’ (ankita) in all her vacanas [poems].

She betrothed herself to Siva and none other, but human lovers pressed their suit. The rivalry between the Divine Lover and all human loves was dramatized by the incidents of her own life. Kausika, the king (or chieftain) of the land, saw her one day and fell in love with her. He sent word to her parents, asking for her hand. In addition to being only human, he disqualified himself further by being a bhavi, an unbeliever. Yet he persuaded her, or rather her parents, partly by show of force, and partly by his protestations of love. It is quite likely that she married him and lived with him, though some scholars dispute the tainting fact. Anyhow it must have been a trying marriage for both. Kausika, the wordling, full of desire for her as a mortal, was the archetype of sensual man; Mahadevi, a spirit married already to the Lord White as Jasmine, scorning all human carnal love as corrupt and illegitimate, wife to no man, exile bound to the world’s wheeling lives, archetypal sister of all souls. Significantly she is known as Akka ‘elder sister’. Many of Mahadevi’s most moving vacanas speak of this conflict. Sometimes, the Lord is her illicit lover, sometimes her only legitimate husband. This ambiguous alternation of attitudes regarding the legitimacy of living in the world is a fascinating aspect of Mahadevi’s poetry.

At one point, Kausika appears to have tried to force his will on her and so she leaves him, cutting clean her relations with the whole world of men. Like many another saint, enacting…true homelessness by…wanderings, she left birthplace and parents. She appears to have thrown away even modesty and clothing, those last concessions to the male world, in a gesture of ultimate social defiance, and wandered about covered in her tresses.

Through a world of molesting male attentions she wandered, defiant and wary, asserting the legitimacy of her illicit love for the Lord, searching for him and his devotees. She walked towards Kalyana, the centre of Virasaiva saints, the ‘halls of Experience’ where Allama and Basavanna ran a school for kindred spirits.

Allama did not accept her at once. A remarkable conversation ensued, a dialogue between skeptic and love-child which turned into a catechism between guru and disciple. Many of Mahadevi’s vacanas are placed by legend in this famous dialogue. When Allama asked the wild-looking woman for her husband’s identity, she replied she was married forever to Cennamallikarjuna. He asked her then the obvious question: ‘Why take off clothes, as if by that gesture you could peel off illusions? And yet robe yourself in tresses of hair? If so free and pure in heart, why replace a sari with a covering of tresses?’ Her reply is honest:

Till the fruit is ripe inside

the skin will not fall off.

I’d a feeling it would hurt you

If I displayed the body’s seals of love.

O brother, don’t tease me

needlessly. I’m given entire

into the hands of my lord

white as jasmine.

 

MAHADEVIYAKKA 183

           

At the end of this ordeal by dialogue she was accepted into the company of saints. From then begins the second lap of her journey to her Lord. She wandered wild and god-intoxicated, in love with him, yet not finding him. Restless, she left Kalyana and wandered off again towards Srisaila, the Holy Mountain, where she found him and lost herself. Her search is recorded in her vacanas as a search for her love, following all the phases of human love as set forth by the conventions of Indian, especially Sanskrit, poetry. The three chief forms of love, love forbidden, love in separation and love in union are all expressed in her poems, often one attitude informing and complicating another in the same poem.

She was recognized by her fellow-saints as the most poetic of them all, with a single symbolic action unifying all her poetry. She enlists the traditional imagery of pan-Indian secular love-poetry for personal expression. In her, the phases of human love are metaphors for the phases of mystic ascent. In this search, unlike the other saints, she involves all of nature, a sister to bird, beast and tree. Appropriately, she chose for adoration an aesthetic aspect of Siva, Siva as Cennamallikarjuna, or the Lovely Lord White as Jasmine.

Like other bhaktas, her struggle was with her condition, as body, as woman, as social being tyrannized by social roles, as a human confined to a place and a time. Through these shackles she bums, defiant in her quest for ecstasy.

According to legend, she died into ‘oneness with Siva’ when she was hardly in her twenties—a  brief bright burning.

from speaking of siva, a k ramanujan


stephen king . ‘financially, we were just keeping our heads above water’

One day in 1972, I came home from work and found my wife sitting at the kitchen table with a pair of gardening shears in front of her. She was smiling, which suggested I wasn’t in too much trouble; on the other hand, she said she wanted my wallet. That didn’t sound good.

Nevertheless, I handed it over. She rummaged out my Texaco gasoline credit card—such things were routinely sent to young marrieds then—and proceeded to cut it into three large pieces. When I protested that the card had been very handy, and we always made at least the minimum payment at the end of the month (sometimes more), she only shook her head and told me that the interest charges were more than our fragile household economy could bear.

“Better to remove the temptation,” she said. “I already cut up mine.”

And that was that. Neither of us carried a credit card for the next two years.

She was right to do it, smart to do it, because at the time we were in our early twenties and had two kids to take care of; financially, we were just keeping our heads above water. I was teaching high school English and working at an industrial laundry during the summer, washing motel sheets and occasionally driving a delivery truck around to those same motels. Tabby was taking care of the kids during her days, writing poems when they took their naps, and working a full shift at Dunkin’ Donuts after I came home from school. Our combined income was enough to pay the rent, buy groceries, and keep diapers on our infant son, but not enough to manage a phone; we let that go the way of the Texaco card. Too much temptation to call someone long distance. There was enough left over to occasionally buy books—neither of us could live without those—and to pay for my bad habits (beer and cigarettes), but very little beyond that. Certainly there wasn’t money to pay finance charges for the privilege of carrying that convenient but ultimately dangerous rectangle of plastic.

What left-over income we did have usually went for things like car repairs, doctor bills, or what Tabby and I called “kidshit”: toys, a second-hand playpen, a few of those maddening Richard Scarry books. And that little bit of extra often came from the short stories I was able to sell to men’s magazines like Cavalier, Dude, and Adam. In those days it was never about writing literature, and any discussion of my fiction’s “lasting value” would have been as much a luxury as that Texaco card. The stories, when they sold (they didn’t always), were simply a welcome bit of found money. I viewed them as a series of piñatas I banged on, not with a stick but my imagination. Sometimes they broke and showered down a few hundred bucks. Other times, they didn’t.

Luckily for me—and believe me when I say that I have led an extremely lucky life, in more ways than this one—my work was also my joy. I was knocking myself out with most of those stories, having a blast. They came one after another, like the hits from the AM rock radio station that was always playing in the combination study-and-laundry-room where I wrote them.

I wrote them fast and hard, rarely looking back after the second rewrite…

 

.

stephen king, from introduction to just after sunset: stories


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