In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* What’s the Point?
* Voices of the West Podcast
* Something That Might Have Happened
* Did You Know…
* Of Interest
Quotes of the Day
“Even if it turns out that time travel is impossible, it is important that we understand why it is impossible.” Professor Stephen Hawking
I believe time travel is impossible because there is only Now. Time is a human construct, something invented by our consciousness to compare and contrast our experiences. That said, I look forward to writing my next time-travel novel.
“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action.” Ray Bradbury
“Scott (Fitzgerald) took LITERATURE so solemnly. He never understood it was just writing as well as you can and finishing what you start.” Ernest Hemingway
“Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” E. B. White
What’s the Point?
Just a thought that occurred to me—
The point of writing to the best of your ability is to write so the reader gets exactly what you want him to get and so he gets it in exactly the way you want him to get it. Otherwise there is no reason to write at all, much less to the best of your ability.
This is why it makes my eyes water and my eyelids twitch when some would-be writer slaps something on the page—for example, about how something caught the character’s “eye” instead of her attention—and then dismisses any concern over clarity or even responsibility with a wag of her hand. The wag is usually accompanied by an inanity: “Ah, the reader will know what I mean.”
This doesn’t annoy me because the typical reader is so stupid that s/he won’t know what you mean. She definitely isn’t. It annoys me because the writer shouldn’t be so lazy as to shift responsibility for clarity from the writer’s self to the reader. It is not the reader’s job to decipher what you’ve written.
The reader’s only job is to be entertained. The writer’s job is to write so well and so thoroughly that the reader has no choice but to see, hear, smell, taste and feel, physically and emotionally, exactly what the writer is passing out.
Voices of the West Podcast
I wasn’t going to share this, but my wife said she didn’t think it was all that bad. Of course, believing at least most of the things I do “aren’t all that bad” is her job, and she performs it admirably.
My voice is scratchy and sounds parched. It’s also a little extra twangy because of the subject matter and the “aw-shucks” tone of the main interviewer. As I spoke with him, I was more a sidekick of Wes Crowley than the guy who wrote the stories.
Basically, at the interviewer’s prompting, I told the origin story of the Wes Crowley series, though I went into a little more depth than I have here at the Journal. We also went off-topic a bit and talked about other genres, writing in general, etc.
So if you want to risk your sense of hearing shutting down forever to protest this unnecessary abuse, you can listen to the podcast at https://voicesofthewest.net/tombstone-book-festival-3-4-23/. My stuff starts at 35:05 and runs on for about 12 minutes.
Enjoy, if that’s the right word.
Something That Might Have Happened
In yesterday’s post I talked about deconstructionism and about how planning and writing fiction from the conscious, critical mind is the standard taught in most classrooms. I’ve addressed creatives in university classes before, but none of those real encounters rose quite to the level of teaching opportunity as the fictional one below does.
Also, I’ve always wanted to write a story titled “Something That Might Have Happened.” Someday I will, but for now the following will suffice:
When I was invited to talk with a creative writing class at a university awhile back, the young professor talked briefly with the class about the “dedication and sacrifice” that’s required of a novelist. Then she gestured toward me. “For example,” she said, “about how long does it take you to outline a novel?”
I smiled and shook my head. “I don’t outline.”
I nodded. “I prefer to race through the trenches of the story with the characters. I record what happens and what the characters say and do as the story unfolds in real time around us.”
“Ah,” she said, then offered a tight-lipped smile and wagged one hand in my direction. “Oh, but surely you outline first.” Then, without leaving space for a response, she addressed the class. “Students, here’s Mr. Stanbrough.”
Fortunately, the students were interested in my response to the instructor and followed up on that. Thus, it was a productive day for me and a good day of learning for the students.
But afterward, even now, years later, I ruminate on that experience. At first I thought how odd it was that the instructor would dimiss my assertion that I don’t outline with a wave of the hand and “Surely you do.”
Then I realized that’s how deeply ingrained all this stuff is. And that was only for outlining. Deconstructionists, critics, and the teachers and others who’ve bought into the lie teach that you must outline, plan, and plot, and then write accordingly.
Yet long-term professional writers (at least those who aren’t also selling self-serving how-to books) agree with Ray Bradbury: “Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action.”
So there. It’s difficult for me to understand how anyone can not see the simple truth of that statement.
Did You Know…
Splitting an infinitive isn’t actually grammatically incorrect at all?
For an excellent article that taught me a few things, see “9 famous quotes that are (technically) grammatically incorrect” at https://theweek.com/articles/465231/9-famous-quotes-that-are-technically-grammatically-incorrect.
For example, “The ‘rule’ against split infinitives is just a grammatical superstition. It was invented in the 1700s by a grammarian who wanted to ‘improve’ the language along Latin lines. English, however, is not Latin, and the option of putting words between to and the verb root has always existed and has often been made use of by respected authors.”
Turns out a lot of the “rules” concerning what is or is not grammatically incorrect were actually misinformation passed along by unwitting teachers. You know, like the myths of writing.
I especially enjoyed examples 1, 2, and 4 and 9 (especially when writing dialogue).
Talk with you again soon.
See “Time travel might be possible …” at https://interestingengineering.com/science/time-machine-using-lasers.
See “Microsoft Bing a ‘train wreck’” at https://interestingengineering.com/innovation/engineer-google-warns-bing-ai-train-wreck.
See “Bundling Your Ebooks” at https://killzoneblog.com/2023/03/such-a-dealbundling-your-ebooks.html. The meat starts about 1/3 of the way down.
See “Difference Between ‘Quote’ and ‘Quotation'” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/difference-between-quote-and-quotation-what-is-the-right-word/.
The Journal…………………………………… 1150 words
Writing of Wes Crowley: Deputy US Marshal 2 (WCG9SF4)
Day 1…… 3231 words. Total words to date…… 3231
Day 2…… 2990 words. Total words to date…… 6221
Day 3…… 1805 words. Total words to date…… 8026
Day 4…… 2025 words. Total words to date…… 10051
Total fiction words for March……… XXXX
Total fiction words for 2023………… 52824
Total nonfiction words for March… 5360
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 46690
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 99514
Calendar Year 2023 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2023 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2023 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 72
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: Because It Makes Sense, I preach trusting your characters to tell the story that they, not you, are living. See My Best Advice for Fiction Writers at https://hestanbrough.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/My-Best-Advice-for-Fiction-Writers.pdf.