Authors: Listen to Paul Simon Before You Write

I was talking with someone the other day about their manuscript. I told them I was partial to both brevity and poetry in creative writing. So today, as I was getting ready to work on The Dying Art of Conjugation, I decided to listen to Paul Simon. I’m not writing anything related to his songs. But one of the many things about his music and words that struck me today was how he compared the Mississippi Delta to a National guitar. That song came out when I was a teenager, and I didn’t know what a National guitar was back then, even though I’d seen one. But today this simile seemed so obvious, like why hadn’t anyone though of it before?

My point is that in just a few words in a great song, Simon paints a picture the listener can wrap their mind around for several minutes. And as he goes through the lyrics of this song, the listener can appreciate a journey he took, whether literally or imaginary.

Fiction should aim to do something like that, too, in my opinion.

So it doesn’t have to be Paul Simon. But listen to the musical poetry of Lyle Lovett or The Indigo Girls, Dan Fogelberg, Gordon Lightfoot or some other storyteller you like.

Get inspired.

Write something inspirational.

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Seeking Reviews for Fugue in C Minor & Virtual Silence

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog! I am trying to get my books into a new place called eBookSoda, but I need more reviews at Amazon.com in order to do this. If you are willing to read either of my novels and give an honest review, please let me know. I would be happy to provide you with a Kindle copy I just happen to have available.

My books are rated R, although my wife tells me some of the stuff she reads gets much more graphic than my books.

Thank you in advance!

The Spiritual Nature of Writing Novels

I believe a well-written novel does something to the reader. The reader and the writer must share a spiritual moment of clarity with a book, even if their two experiences of it differ in material ways. A reader closes the last page of a great novel not begging for more, but satisfied that the story ended the way it did, that it took the reader on a journey they won’t forget, and that some small part of their life makes a little more sense than it did the day before they first opened that book.

I expect I am in the minority on this subject, as it is clear that a great number of novel writers and their readers are satisfied with bed time stories in book form. They have a beginning, a middle and an end that sets up the sequel.

But I can’t write novels like that. My books have to have a purpose beyond just entertaining or distracting the reader from real life problems. 

I have been working on The Dying Art of Conjugation for a while now and have recently been struggling to stay focused. The story follows the Three-Act structure. It has good characters and good dialogue. But it has been missing something. A month ago I decided to insert a motif, a recurring image that each character experiences, like an Easter Egg for readers to notice or not notice. But this wasn’t enough. All of my novels have a spiritual  something, usually a narrative twist with a gotcha moment that allows a very different second reading of the book.

Today I realized what that special narrative twist needs to be. And who else would I get my inspiration from than my favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut?

Ready to get back to it now. Have a great day!

The Terrorism of Politics

We create what we think is order against the backdrop of chaos, because we want to believe that our lives have meaning. We want to believe in Legacy.

We create government, whether national or state or local, because we believe that a predetermined, inherently encumbered process will allow our many voices to be heard, and an equitable solution to be forged.

But I believe that any time a group of people come together to form any kind of order, whether it is a government, a corporation, a church, a union or a club; that either you will have compromise that waters down the intended purpose and leads back to chaos, or you will have power concentrated in too few hands, and only those few voices screaming at each other will be heard.

You can only have one or the other: Compromise or Calamity. Our current Congress in the US has chosen the latter over the former. By sound biting each other’s throats, and painting wicked mustaches on each other’s portraits, the political parties have energized the basest aspects of human being. Our politics are not about balancing budgets, caring for the less fortunate, or regulating business in order to provide a level playing field. Our politics are about making the voters as angry as possible at the other side.

I wonder if representative democracy is a failed experiment. I think any form of government has the potential to benefit its people. They just don’t get around to it most of the time.

This isn’t some new tactic or talking point one side or the other has created. Something has always been wrong; in any time, in any country, in any political environment. For someone to suggest that we once lived in a country where everyone did the right thing, where all politicians and preachers led by example, where all businesses made an honest buck by delivering a quality product or service, where all employees worked hard for their companies and then went home and played hard, where all governments had the purist intentions and promoted freedom, where all religions were touching the Hand of God, and where all financial institutions fostered success with all of the people, is ludicrous. 

You cannot create a government, a corporation, a church, a union or a club that satisfies. You will always see corruption, obfuscation, prestidigitation. You will never live in a city of angels.

You can think globally all you want. But you can only act locally. You can imagine a bright future all you want, but you can only choose to do the right thing right now.

There has never been and never will be a golden age of anything.