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Friday, August 12, 2022

A Writer's Moment: Saluting 'The Reluctant Writer'

A Writer's Moment: Saluting 'The Reluctant Writer':   “One way an author dies a little each day is when his books go out of print.” – William Goldman Goldman, born in Illinois on this da...

Saluting 'The Reluctant Writer'

 

“One way an author dies a little each day is when his books go out of print.” – William Goldman

Goldman, born in Illinois on this date in 1931, wrote Academy Award-winning screenplays for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men, just two of many highly successful works that he either wrote, or for which he served as a consultant.

Goldman first came to prominence for his novels before turning to film. His most notable works were the thriller Marathon Man, the comedy-fantasy The Princess Bride – both of which he adapted into very successful films – and Tinsel, one of the first “insider” tales about the treatment of women in the movie-making industry.   He also wrote a number of mysteries, winning two Edgar Awards for his efforts.

Described by fellow author Sean Egan as "one of the 20th century’s most popular storytellers," Goldman grew up in Chicago, earned a writing degree from Oberlin College and started writing as a poet.                                                                                
While writing many of his other top selling works he did research on Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid for nearly 10 years and said it was one of his favorites.

Often referred to as “a reluctant writer,” Goldman, who died in 2018, said, “The easiest thing to do on earth is not write.   But this is life on earth, you can't have everything.”

 

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Thursday, August 11, 2022

A Writer's Moment: It's All About Observation

A Writer's Moment: It's All About Observation:   “To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” – Marilyn vos Savant Born this day in 1946, vos Savan...

It's All About Observation

 

“To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” – Marilyn vos Savant

Born this day in 1946, vos Savant is a magazine columnist, author, lecturer, and playwright.   Since 1986 she has written "Ask Marilyn," a Parade magazine Sunday column where she solves puzzles and answers questions on various subjects.  The record holder for the Guinness Book of Records highest IQ – a category retired by Guinness while she still held the title – she started writing about puzzles as a teenager and full time in her current role in her mid-30s after moving full time to New York city.  Since then she has written thousands of articles, essays, many books and her column for 35 years.

 Prior to starting “Ask Marilyn,” she wrote the Omni I.Q. Quiz Contest for Omni magazine, which included IQ quizzes and expositions on intelligence and its testing.

Married and divorced twice before age 35 (the first marriage at age 16), she now has been wed to Robert Jarvik, creator of the Jarvik artificial heart, since 1987 and has served as the Jarvik company’s chief financial officer since that time.

Author of the best-selling The Power of Logical Thinking: Easy Lessons in the Art of Reasoning…and Hard Facts about Its Absence in Our Lives, she offers the following advice when it comes to decision-making.  If your head tells you one thing, and your heart tells you another, before you do anything, you should first decide whether you have a better head or a better heart.”
 
 
 

 

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'An outsider passing through'

A Writer's Moment: 'An outsider passing through': “ I like the condition of being an outsider in writing, just passing through.” – Barry Unsworth   Unsworth was an English writer known f...

'An outsider passing through'

I like the condition of being an outsider in writing, just passing through.” – Barry Unsworth

 
Unsworth was an English writer known for his historical fiction. He published 17 novels, and was shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize three times, winning once for Sacred Hunger. Born on this date in 1930, Unsworth did not start to write historical fiction until his sixth novel, Pascali's Island, the first of his Booker Prize nominees. 

While he told great yarns, he was sometimes criticized for taking "poetic license," but he said it was all about the story and not the actual history he was choosing for his focus.  “I’m not a biographer,” he said.  “I’m a novelist.”

One of his best was Sacred Hunger, a wrenching tale about the 1770s slave trade.  An equally dynamic sequel, The Quality of Mercy, was his last book, published shortly before his death in 2012.                                       .

“Writers of historical fiction are not under the same obligation as historians to find evidence for the statements they make,” Unsworth said.   “I believe, for us it is sufficient if what we say can't be disproved or shown to be false.”

 

 

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'It's definitely NOT for the money'

A Writer's Moment: 'It's definitely NOT for the money':     “Writers don't make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don't work ...

'It's definitely NOT for the money'

 

 “Writers don't make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don't work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon, then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck's book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man's stupid words. And for this, as I said, we are paid a dollar." – Donald Miller

 

Miller, born in August 1971, is an author, public speaker and CEO of StoryBrand, a marketing company. Best known for his personal essays and reflections he also authored the bestselling book Blue Like Jazz and a series of business/marketing books, the latest (in 2021) being Business Made Simple.  A native of Texas, he now makes his home in Tennessee.

 

“I think understanding your life as a story is a really terrific way of kind of knowing where you are and knowing who you are,” Miller said.  “I love writing books - I really do. If I could just quit everything and work on a book every day, I would love that most.”

 

 

 

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Sunday, August 7, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'A Comfortable Voice'

A Writer's Moment: 'A Comfortable Voice':   “The most important thing when starting out with essay writing is to find a voice with which you're comfortable. You need to find a p...

'A Comfortable Voice'

 

“The most important thing when starting out with essay writing is to find a voice with which you're comfortable. You need to find a persona that is very much like you, but slightly caricatured.” – Anne Fadiman

The daughter of renowned literary, radio, and television personality Clifton Fadimam and World War II correspondent and author Annalee Jacoby Fadiman, Anne Fadiman has been comfortable around celebrity since she was a child.  A Radcliffe grad, she roomed with novelist Wendy Lesser and in the same dorm with Benazir Bhutto and Kathleen Kennedy – all great fodder for her terrific essays.

Fadiman, born this date in 1953, was a founding editor of the Library of Congress magazine Civilization, and has had a great career as a writer, editor and teacher of essays.  But it was her award-winning book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down that brought her the most acclaim (and many awards). Researched in a small county hospital in California, it examines a Hmong immigrant family and their cultural, linguistic, and medical struggles in seeking treatment for their epileptic child.

 

She said she is grateful for modern electronics and e-books but prefers a text copy in her hands.

“There is something about holding a book - the smell and the world of association,” she said. “Even when e-books are perfected, as they surely will be, I think it will be like being in bed with a very well-made robot rather than a warm, soft, human being whom you love.”

 

 

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Saturday, August 6, 2022

A Writer's Moment: Fostering the Earth's renewal

A Writer's Moment: Fostering the Earth's renewal:   “The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it...

Fostering the Earth's renewal

 

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” – Wendell Berry

A native Kentuckian, born Aug. 5, 1934 he grew up on a farm and continues to farm yet today, although writing and speaking are important and busy parts of his life.     A prolific author, he has written many novels, short stories, poems, and essays, and is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.                              
  Elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2013, he also is a recipient of The National Humanities Medal.  

Berry's lyric poetry often appears as a contemporary eclogue, pastoral, or elegy; but he also composes dramatic and historical narratives, and I encourage you to look up his works "Bringer of Water" and "July, 1773."   Or for a wonderful view of his view of farm life and nature, read his book Clearing.  For Berry, poetry exists "at the center of a complex reminding.”  Here, for Saturday’s Poem, is Berry’s:
Water
I was born in a drought year. That summer
my mother waited in the house, enclosed
in the sun and the dry ceaseless wind,
for the men to come back in the evenings,
bringing water from a distant spring.

Veins of leaves ran dry, roots shrank.
And all my life I have dreaded the return
of that year, sure that it still is
somewhere, like a dead enemy’s soul.
Fear of dust in my mouth is always with me,
and I am the faithful husband of the rain,
I love the water of wells and springs
and the taste of roofs in the water of cisterns.

I am a dry man whose thirst is praise
of clouds, and whose mind is something of a cup.
My sweetness is to wake in the night
after days of dry heat, hearing the rain.
 
 
 
  
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Friday, August 5, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'A place to be anyone'

A Writer's Moment: 'A place to be anyone':   “I read, because one life is not enough, and in the page of a book I can be anyone.”   – Richard Peck And, as prolific as he was as...

'A place to be anyone'

 

“I read, because one life is not enough, and in the page of a book I can be anyone.”
 – Richard Peck

And, as prolific as he was as a reader, Peck - born in Illinois in 1934 - was equally prolific as a writer of Young Adult literature.   He won dozens of awards, picking up both a Newbery Medal  (for his novel A Year Down Yonder) and the Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for his cumulative contributions to the genre’. 

Peck’s career as a writer started when he was sidetracked from what he thought was going to be a career as a high school teacher.  He was happily teaching high school in the 1950s when he was transferred to a junior high to teach English.  Upset about the move, he decided to take time away from teaching to try writing, focusing on his observations about the junior high school students he didn’t want to teach.  "Ironically,” he said,  “it was my students who taught me to be a writer, though I was hired to teach them."

While his highest accolades come for his Newbery winner, I highly recommend his book Amanda/Miranda, a twist on both the old Prince and the Pauper story and the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic. 
 
  
Richard Peck
Peck, who died in 2018, said he believed each book should be a question, not an answer and that before anything else could happen a book needed to be entertaining. “A young adult novel ends not with happily ever after, but at a new beginning,” he said, “with the sense of a lot of life yet to be lived.”
 
 

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'It's all about relationsships'

A Writer's Moment: 'It's all about relationsships':   “Writing, basically breaks down to relationships between people and that is what you write about.” – Leon Uris Born this day in 1924,...

'It's all about relationsships'

 

“Writing, basically breaks down to relationships between people and that is what you write about.” – Leon Uris

Born this day in 1924, Uris started reading at age 3, writing by 4 and writing creatively by age 8.  But it wasn’t until after he came out of World War II (he enlisted at age 17 and spent 4 years in the service) that he started his successful career, first writing for newspapers and then doing short stories before writing Battle Cry in 1951.  Known for his historical fiction and the deep research that went into his novels, he wrote 20 novels and many nonfiction works.
 
 
Leon Uris


Both Exodus and Trinity (the first work that really helped me understand what was going on in Northern Ireland) were mega-bestsellers, and many, many more were on the New York Times Bestsellers List.   Also a screenwriter, he had three of his books – Battle Cry, Exodus and The Haj – made into successful movies.

Uris wrote continuously for 50 years until he was struck down by kidney failure in 2003.  He said he always was proud that the work he wrote in 1950 was just as much read as that written 30 or 40 years later.   “You can try to reach an audience, but you just write what comes out of you and hope that it is accepted,” he said.   “You do not – and should not – write specifically to a generation.”  
 
 

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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

A Writer's Moment: 'Excavating Experiences'

A Writer's Moment: 'Excavating Experiences':   “ The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him.” – James Baldwin Writer and playwright...