Balzac, Coffee, Novels, Stories

Balzac was reputed to have drunk fifty cups of coffee a day. He worked continually, though not quickly, since he was obsessed with revision. He was known to rework particular passages many times as one would a poem, perpetually tinkering with individual words and phrases until he felt he could do no better. I’m sure […]

At Your Peril

Every writer knows that it is unwise to show a first draft to anyone. They often learn this by bitter experience. But at some point you have to show it to someone. I mean, that is the reason for all of this. We want to connect with our readers, and the only way you can do that is by […]

To Scrivener or not to Scrivener?

That is the question. Sure, we are used to Microsoft Word, but is it really all that great? Let’s take organization. If you halfway know what you’re doing you can create a style with chapter headings. Hell, you might even go down the rabbit hole of Microsoft formatting and set your margins, tabs and all […]

The Awful German Language, Or How To Be Funny

In a televised interview, Orson Welles spoke of his friendship with Ernest Hemingway. It was a long association, the two men knowing one another for twenty years. They weren’t especially close, but the times they spent with one another were quite rewarding. One thing that struck me about Welles’ remarks was an observation that Hemingway’s wicked sense […]

Writing About the Good War

World War Two is making a comeback. Look at the movies. Unbroken, The Imitation Game and Fury, all within this last year. Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, The Pacific, not to mention the upcoming Mighty Eighth. Books, too. The Book Thief, Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys, In Harm’s Way. World War Two has long been considered a good war, a just war. Evil was […]

Finishing the Goddamned Thing

You know when you see a movie where the protagonist stops in the middle of a crosswalk and there are few piano notes and the camera does a slow pull-in and the guy starts to smile? And then the music swells and there’s a montage of  typing, printing sheets, biting a pencil, crossing things out, going for […]

More about NaNoWriMo

Great blog post about this by  Karen Rawson   There are two kinds of writers in the world: those that do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and rise to the challenge of producing 50,000 words in November, and writers that spend the month coming up with excuses why this is not sensible, practical, rational or useful. I’ve always been in […]

Writing Crap

It’s November, and all over the world writers have chained themselves to their desks, dining tables, library kiosks, Moleskine notebooks and whatever else with one common goal: to write crap. A lot of crap. Every writer worth a shit syas the same thing: first drafts are awful. You need to push through them, get whatever […]

Pop Goes the Research

I remember a Michael Ondaatje reading where he was asked about his research (for Anil’s Ghost). He said he liked  to immerse himself in a place or a time period and read all the papers and books from that era. Patrick O’Brian told of  spending years at the Admiralty reading the  logs and Gazette articles about […]