Sunday, February 3, 2013



Writing a blog is one thing. Writing one, day after day for months, is entirely another. In the past, I have failed to be consistent. Now, I seem to have overcome that issue—and I am deeply pleased.

On occasions, there will be gaps in my blogging—because of illness, travel, or because I am just plain too busy—but this time around I am committed to fill in any gaps, even if in arrears, and to blog every day. I’m learning that it is really good practice to sit down at my computer and not know what I’m going to write about. When I start the writing day with book-writing –which is my normal routine—I almost always know the next sentence I will write to move the book along—if only because I will rehearse it when still in bed. In contrast, my blog is quite deliberately more of a battle of wits—a mental exercise, if you will.

Will a subject come to mind, or will I stare blankly at the screen without any idea what to write?

As good fortune will have it, so far so good. Does that mean I have never hesitated before hitting the keyboard? I’m not going to answer that on the grounds that every author needs a few secrets. But, in truth, the words have—generally speaking—flowed.

So far I haven’t tried to market this blog in any way, but have focused entirely on the writing of it. That will change in the months ahead because a primary purpose of an author’s blog is to communicate with readers and help sell books. That said, I don’t write it as a sales document—and doubt I could, even if I wanted to. Instead, it is a very personal communication—particularly because I know it is read, not only by readers, but also by members of my family—extended and otherwise—and by friends. Enemies too? I wouldn’t be at all surprised, though I hope I don’t have too many.

I know it doesn’t give a detailed picture of my life—a writer’s life—and that decision is quite deliberate. On a day to day basis, I do little more than research, think and write—and I doubt a description of that would make for compelling reading. Today, I thought about this and that, wrote 1,728 words, and cleaned my keyboard with compressed air. On the other hand, I live in hopes that this blog will, over time, give you considerable insight into how I think and work,, the issues that concern me, and—perhaps—the people I really care about. I also hope that you will learn something about the circumstances that made it inevitable that I become a writer. I really had very little choice in the matter. Although I have deviated from my calling on several occasions—primarily because of the need to put bread on the table—in the final analysis I was, and am, compelled to do what I do. As far as I am concerned, writing is an imperative and a sustained joy. It has exceeded my every expectation except, perhaps, on the financial front—and even there I have been more fortunate than many.

From time to time, I try and write about writing itself—if only to share my enthusiasm. I find that more difficult than one might think because I find writing—like sex—is more conducive to doing than talking about. Also, I don’t really understand the process of writing. I can theorize about how words and phrases pop into one’s mind, but I don’t really know how the whole exercise works—or why some people write entertainingly and others do not. Style is a very strange thing. So is perspective.

I just know that I have had a most unusual upbringing, have read many thousands of books, and have had considerable experience of life—s0 have a vast reservoir to draw upon. But quite how I think of words the way I do is something of a mystery to me.

I suspect that is no small part of the attraction. If writing is your passion, you may not secure fame and fortune—in fact the odds are decidedly against you—but you will rarely be bored.

I confess that I am largely a self-taught author. I read other things at university—such as Economics—and was actually worst at English. For some strange reason, I wanted to learn how to write a book on my own. If  had known how hard the task was, I might have sought help. I’m still not sure. Technique is highly desirable to know—though it tends towards the formulaic—but good writing isn’t just technique. It comes from deep within you, takes a long time to mature—and, at its best, adds a whole new dimension to the human experience.

Ray Bradbury, an author I respect, seems to have agreed with me. This is what he said in 2010.

"You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices."

I find it hard to disagree. Unfortunately, the downside of that is a long and lonely walk into the future while you wrestle with mastering your craft in your own particular way. But are all those frustrations, rejections, failures, and years of effort worth it?

I can reply to that question without hesitation: Yes.


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