|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
1. I am a believer in the never ending process of learning. In that cause I would like to put out an invitation to poets living in the Ventura, California area. Wednesday nights, for the next four weeks, at 7 PM in Ventura at the Vita Art Center, 432 North Ventura Avenue, there will be an ongoing poetry workshop. This is a great opportunity to sharpen your craft and gather with other writers in the pursuit of excellence.
AM I A BOOK SNOB?
WHY I DON'T THINK IT'S ALL ABOUT THE NEW YORK TIMES TOP ONE HUNDRED.
I have harped a bit about the necessity of reading for a writer. Let's agree on one point, if you don't read, you can't write much that would be worth the time and effort for someone else to read. If you're honest with yourself and the readers you want to attract, then reading, especially in the genre you hope to publish in, is more than important. It is mandatory.
I don't care if you're writing children's books, a lot of money has been made in that field and, if we want to have future readers, it's a great idea. If you expect to do the kind of standout repeat business to make a living in that genre, you better understand what has already sold well and why.
It's the same in any other category. You can read an example or two of something you enjoy and proceed to do a hack job of copying style, voice, and plot lines. This will probably earn you a review as something highly derivative at best and as a, well, HACK! This will not be the greatest day of your life, believe me. After all, you named the characters. You invented the place names. You wrote the dialogue. What more do these snob bastards want?
A little originality for starters. Reading a couple of stories and then attempting to duplicate a success by altering the paint job is just plain lazy. Come on, get off your ass! Any writer out there worth their salt (and paychecks) is a ravenous reader. Do they read the classics? Some do. I own all the works of Shakespeare, most of Hemingway, William Butler Yeats, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, and Charlie Bukowski. At the moment I'm reading a wonderful novel, "THIS MAGNIFICENT DESOLATION" by Thomas O'Malley, and a self-help book on the creative process, "MAKING YOUR CREATIVE MARK" by Eric Maisel.
Why, if I'm a writer, don't I just get on with the writing? Because I want to know what has been said before. Why? So that I can find a different way to say it. Also, so that I can try to avoid or, at a minimum, recognize the inevitable redundant moments. Notice, I didn't say, "So I can find something TRULY original and unthought of to write down." Why not? Because, regrettably, everything I seem to have ever thought of on the grander scales has been written about by incredibly agile, astute thinkers. I only hope to find my personal spin and tell a story that, when read, can be recognized as mine.
Am I being too picky in these respects? Well, why don't you check out these two links, Five Myths About Reading & How To Put Them To Death, by Jeff Goins, and Putting A Book Down, by Kathy J. Cohen. Both offer refreshing takes on why reading and learning how to write are as important as the writing itself.
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis