National Novel Writing Month

The bulk of Hawser was written in about twenty days last November. The goal of the National Novel Writing Month is to give us slack-yokel writers our own built-in USMC Drill Instructor so we can stop screwing around and churn out a draft. It’s not really a contest, though they have winners (the way the Special […]

Kill Your Darlings?

Whew. I knew there was a reason you hire people to do this. It’s almost impossible to edit your own work.  There’s too much “love” involved.  “Kill your darlings”  is the tired old advice. The earliest known example comes from  Arthur Quiller-Couch, who spread it in his widely reprinted 1913-1914 Cambridge lectures “On the Art of Writing.” In his […]

Devil in the details

I have always been a stickler for period accuracy. I almost dismissed The Godfather  because there was somebody wearing 1970s glasses  in the party scene. It gets ridiculous. When Roger Sterling did his blackface song and dance on Mad Men, I was furious that they showed the drummer playing an 80s K Zildjian cymbal (though in later […]

POW camps were nothing to laugh at.

  Like many other young American kids, I grew up watching Hogan’s Heroes. It was about WWII, featured a charismatic protagonist in a great costume (Hogan made the A-4 jacket cool long before Indiana Jones made his debut) and was pretty funny. We used to play POW when I was a kid. The game mostly consisted of […]

Revision almost complete

Any owner of an old car will tell you that if you change one part of it, you may be upsetting the balance. My old BMW convertible recently had an A/C  recharge, and the hoses blew as a result. If you own an old house, the same is true but even more so– pry up […]

Researching WWII

Ken Burns famously remarked that his principal motivation for making The War was reading somewhere that a thousand veterans of WWII a day were dying. I believe this was around 2001 or so–the rate has fallen off sharply because there just aren’t that many of them left. If you were 18 on June 6th, 1944, that […]