Monday, December 29, 2014

On Writing

I never read enough.  I'll admit it.  I'm a pretty slow reader too, but I still enjoy books and some reading.  I admire those that are book worms and writers.  Echoing E. B. White, who famously scoffed that "a writer that waits for the right inspiration, will never put a word down on paper," and like Chuck Close, who declared that "inspiration is for amateurs--the rest of us just show up and get to work," and like Tchaikovsky, who admonished that "a self-respecting artist must not fold his hand on the pretext that he's just not in the mood," Neil Gaiman argues that the true muse of writing lies not in divine inspiration but in unrelenting persistence of effort and force of will.

My brother had a saying, which he kept on his desk around him for many years.  I'm not sure who said it, I may have to try and look it up later:  "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." This is not only good advice for artist, but for life in general. 

One of the better books I've read on writing, is Stephen King's book, On Writing.  It's one part memoir, and the other part, his advice--the nuts and bolts on writing.  Overall I found it very entertaining.  He's one of my favorite authors, so there's that too.  I don't have everything he's ever written, somewhere along the way, I stopped picking up his books, but I think when I run across them at a library or books sale cheap enough I'll continue to pick them up.  I'm a nerd that way.

I recently caught this interview and discussion with Stephen King on Youtube, which I though was interesting as well.  It's fairly recent evidently as he talks about his accident where he was hit by a car while walking, and I believe writing the fictional book surrounding JFK, among other topics.


At 1:04 PM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

The advice is reminiscent of Woody Allen's "80% of success is showing up."

King's book sounds fun. Mark Twain's "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" still holds up too of course, since he necessarily tells us what literary offenses are.

At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Drew said...

King is one of my favorite writers and his book On Writing is excellent. I took it to heart after I read it several years ago and I've tried to use his advice to better my own writing. Simply through reading a ton and doing a lot of writing, as he advises, I've seen the improvements in my writing.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Rich--yeah, I like Woody Allen movies, and his humor, and I'd say he's right. As they say, there's nothing to it, but to do it. Sometimes you are in the mood to write something, but I would assume for a writer that does it for a living, it's more a matter of, just get it started--you may not be in the "right" mood.

Yes, On Writing, is a great book, and one I'd recommend to anyone interested in writing or for a Stephen King fan. I really enjoyed the first part (memoir) when he talked about growing up and getting his first novel published and that stuff.

You're right, Drew, practice makes perfect (or close to it).

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

"On Writing" is a really great read, and one I reach for when I need a bit of a charge to get my writing back on track. His memoir section is very interesting as well, and gives you a nice idea of where he is coming from. I have a few books I turn to when I'm feeling the writing doldrums, but that is the main one.

At 7:32 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I agree Roman, On Writing is a great one I'd recommend as well.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger SFF said...

Enjoyed those first two paragraphs and couldn't agree more. It's definitely up to persistence and force of will.

Great post.

At 11:13 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

You know it SFF. No pain, no gain, and at least if you try and fail, at least you tried.


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