Popular Posts

Friday, July 31, 2015

Crucial to 'the life' of society

“In the end, does it really matter if newspapers physically disappear?  Probably not:  the world is always changing.  But does it matter if organizations independent enough and rich enough to employ journalists to do their job disappear?  Yes, that matters hugely; it affects the whole of life and society.” – Andrew Marr

Born this day in 1959, Andrew Marr is a British commentator, broadcaster and journalist who is former editor of The Independent and now political editor of BBC News.

Andrew Marr
He reflects a worry shared by many of us who have started as or continue to serve as journalists – that our newer generation of readers is forgetting about the valuable role that journalists have in our society, and that funding for newspapers as we long have known them is rapidly disappearing.

“The business of funding digging journalists is important to encourage,” he noted.  “It cannot be replaced by bloggers who don’t have access to politicians, who don’t have easy access to official documents, who aren’t able to buttonhole people in power.”  Keeping this thought in the conversation is important for everyone who writes.

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bringing images into view

“Something happens between a novel and its reader which is similar to the process of developing photographs, the way they did it before the digital age.  The photograph, as it was printed in the darkroom, became visible bit by bit.  As you read your way through a novel, the same chemical process takes place.” – Patrick Modiano

French novelist and 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Modiano turns 70 today and his analogy of the development of the novel “before our eyes” is a remarkable one that also gives us a bit of a look into his writing style.  He lets the picture slowly unfold, sometimes leaving us startled, sometimes satisfied, sometimes angry, but always interested in what’s coming next.

His novels delve into the puzzle of identity in ways seldom seen.   And, he tackles a time in France – the German occupation during World War II – that evokes both heroism and shame depending on whose point of view his tale is being told. 

The winner of almost every major European and French writing award, he was honored for his life’s body of work even prior to winning the Nobel and was – up until that award – one of the few international writers whose work had never been translated into English.   Until now, and I highly commend his many works and writer’s moments to all.

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Taking a 'rash' leap

Part of writing a novel is being willing to leap into the blackness. You have very little idea, really, of what's going to happen. You have a broad sense, maybe, but it's this rash leap. – Chang-Rae Lee

Chang-Rae Lee is a Korean American novelist and professor of creative writing at Princeton University where he has headed up that program for many years.  Born in Korea on this date in 1965 he emigrated to the U.S. with his family and has used the Korean immigrant experience as the primary focus for his award-winning writing.  But, while that is HIS primary focus, he stresses with his students that they should be aware of the broad spectrum of writing and writing styles.

“I'll offer them stories from Anton Chekhov to Denis Johnson, from Flannery O'Connor to A.M. Homes, and perhaps investigating all that strange variation of beauty has rubbed off on me. Or perhaps that's why I enjoy teaching literature,” he said.
Lee's first novel in 1995, Native Speaker, jump-started his own career as it won numerous awards, including the prestigious Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. The novel centers around a Korean American industrial spy, and explores themes of alienation and betrayal as felt or perpetrated by immigrants and first-generation citizens, something he’s repeated in other works. 

Often, he said, he isn’t sure where he’s headed when he starts, but that’s not a bad thing.   As for what's the most challenging aspect of teaching, he said it's convincing younger writers of the importance of reading widely and passionately.

Chang-Rae Lee
“I often think that the prime directive for me as a teacher of writing is akin to that for a physician, which is this: do no harm.”

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Putting us in their place

"Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."  -- E.L. Doctorow

We lost one of our greatest crafters of historical fiction this past week with the death of novelist and historian E.L. Doctorow, whose novel Ragtime won every major writing award and was the precursor of many other great works to follow.

Doctorow said that it is the historian's place to tell us about a time in history or an era, but it is the novelist's role to tell us how we would act and feel if we lived in that time or era.

His characters exemplified Hemingway's admonition that when writing a novel, the writer should create living people - "... people, not characters.  A character is a caricature."

I thought about Doctorow and his marvelous work yesterday while talking with a radio interviewer sbout my book And The Wind Whispered.  "You really put us into the time and place," the interviewer said.  "Did you feel an obligation to make that real to us, so that we would know?"

And I used Doctorow's words above as part of my response, saying that it IS the writer's obligation.  It is not acceptable to be "mostly right."  We must be completely right in what we share if we are to remain true to our craft and the great writers like him who have led us along the way.

"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader," Doctorow wrote.  "Not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon."

Share A Writer's Moment with a friend by clicking on the g+1 button below.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Intensifying the experiences

Good fiction reveals feeling, refines events, locates importance and, though its methods are as mysterious as they are varied, intensifies the experience of living our own lives. – Vincent Canby

Born this date in 1924, Vincent Canby had the distinction of being both the chief film critic AND the chief theater critic for the New York Times – the only person to ever do so.  As film critic from 1969-93 he reviewed more than 1,000 films.  He then turned his critical eye to the theater where he did the theater reviews until his death in 2000.
He was such a respected writer and reviewer that Bob Hope requested that Canby be the one to write his obituary, but Canby died first.  However, he still received the byline on Hope’s story since he had crafted most of the story prior to his own death and the Times didn’t think it could be topped. 

Vincent Canby
The career of Vincent Canby is discussed in the film For the Love of Movies:  The Story of American Film Criticism, a wonderful and insightful piece of writing and movie-making that I highly recommend for all who love the silver screen and those who comment upon it.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Filling the spaces in between

“Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.”
                                                                                                            – Aldous Huxley
 Best known for Brave New World, considered by most critics as one of the ten best English language novels of the 20th Century, and for the non-fiction book The Doors of Perception, Huxley was born this day in 1894 in London to a family of writers and educators.  

He was already writing as a young teen and by his early 20s was editing the distinguished magazine Oxford Poetry at a time when others his age were still finishing their studies or interviewing for positions. He had dozens of short stories and poetry pieces published before age 30, then switched to novels, all successful though none so much as Brave New World in 1931.  Following the novel’s immense success, he started traveling the world and writing about that.  His travel books are among the best ever written.  He finished his career as a television and film scriptwriter in the United States, where he lived until his death in 1963.   
His writing was focused on “that space between things known and unknown.  In between are the doors of perception.” 
Aldous Huxley
Huxley was widely acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent intellectuals of his time and was nominated no fewer than seven times for the Nobel Prize in Literature.  Of Brave New World, he said he wrote it out of fear that mankind would lose individual identity in the future and needed to be prepared.  “The most distressing thing that can happen to a prophet is to be proved wrong,” he said.  “The next most distressing thing is to be proved right.”

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wise words from a wise chief

To A Grandchild

Heed the days
when the rain flows freely,
in their greyness
lies the seed of much thought
The sky hangs low
and paints new colors
on the earth.
After the rain
the grass will shed its moisture,
the fog will lift from the trees,
a new light will brighten the sky
and play in the drops
that hang on all things.
Your heart will beat out
a new gladness
- if you let it happen.
In the midst of a land
without silence
you have to make a place for yourself.
Those who have worn out
their shoes many times
know where to step.
It is not their shoes
you can wear
only their footsteps
you may follow,
- if you let it happen.

       - Chief Dan George 

Share A Writer’s Moment with a friend by clicking the g+1 button below.