What makes good literature?

An extremely good conversation in my literature class about intelligence (Inspired by Ted Chiang’s The Great Silence). We talked about other species that fall under the definition of intelligence, which is “the ability to understand and apply knowledge.” parrot.jpgConsidering Alex the Parrot and Koko the Gorilla, and other species: crows are problem solvers and remember faces. We discussed dogs, cats, and others. Is love, as an abstract idea, understood and applied by animals? And then – is intelligence found in showing love?

This is what good literature should do. Teach, delight, and create wonder.

Read The Great Silence here

What’s So Scary?

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“Don’t be afraid of failure.  The reality is that most people successes rise out of the ashes of their previous failures.”

From a new documentary on Netflix titled Creativity. The narrator is talking to the creator of Game of Thrones. The creator is talking about how many times he’s failed.

I started this to say – what are you afraid of?

Then I wanted to ask – what if there was no such thing as fear? What would you do? What could you do?

I want you to think about that. What if fear was not in the human range of emotion or thought?

 

Write Lightening

How did the three blind mice meet?

Why were they chasing the farmer’s wife?

Go – Write it!

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Fear of …?

istock_000012625357xsmall1There’s a theory that we don’t fear failure, we fear success.

A researcher gave graduating students an impromptu essay prompt: “After finding out Joe/Jane aced their medical exams for graduation, he/she …..”

It’s reported that the vast majority of students set up a scenario in which Joe or Jane went out and partied, got in some sort of trouble, an accident, arrested, or in some cases just gave up and “decided to do something else with their lives.”

The researchers decided this was not an indication of the fear of failure, because they’d set up a scenario in which the person(Joe/Jane) had already succeeded, yet the students then wrecked the plan. Therefore, they surmised it a fear of success.fear

This possible fear of success comes from anxiety, which is rampant in society today. People stay where they are comfortable, where they are familiar, and their habits serve them. Moving on to the next level, success, will bring about different challenges, and the fear of the unknown wins out.

It occurs to me that this happens to writers. People write, and write, and write, but then don’t submit. Is it really the rejection they fear? or is it the success?  Think of all the anxiety that comes with the next level of publishing. You’ll be expected to do well, to do it again. And, what else might change?

What do you think? What do you fear?

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The Mystery of Semicolons

indexMany people are confused by semicolons; some people just hate them.

Kurt Vonnegut hated them. Even Malcom Gladwell seems adverse to them. He said, he doesn’t see their point. So, Mr. Gladwell, this blog is dedicated to you.

I, personally, LOVE semicolons; it’s like I don’t have to stop my thought! LARGE-HEARTbeat.jpgHowever, some of my editors have asked me to cut them down. One editor-friend said, “they do not appear in popular fiction.”

BUT THEY SHOULD!

Whether you like, hate, are confused, or don’t give a damn about them, every writer should know how to use them correctly.

The secret to the semicolon is simple. Two complete sentences which are closely related in thought or idea. Other writers believe a comma and conjunction (fanboys) or a period is just as good, but I think of it this way:

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Did this help anyone?

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Writing Exercise

malcolm-gladwell.jpgI’m a big fan of Malcom Gladwell, writer for the New Yorker and author of The Turning Point, Outliers, and many others.

A writing exercise from Malcom Gladwell:

Begin a correspondence with another writer. Each of you take turns sending and responding – and respond immediately with something interesting or intriguing.

It’s a good way to practice intelligent conversations so you can learn to chat with just about anyone.

 

Writer Services – Required or Rip-off?

ripoffMany companies (and writers) offer services to writers. Having someone edit your story is a good idea. Having an agent or company help you with setting up a strong structure might be helpful.

However, what is there to protect writers from poor service, someone setting up shop without valid prior experience? I’ve heard many, many stories of poor editors, promised services left undelivered, etc.

I don’t think writers should have to pay for interviews or reviews – yet some writers have found themselves suckered into these “services” with the promise of sales.

The writer needs to do some background research, ask for credentials and satisfied (perhaps even unsatisfied) customers to chat with before purchasing services. Don’t go by the reviews the company or person promotes on their own website, unless you can reach out to those people personally. Too bad there’s not a yelp for writer’s service.

Recently, I did my own research on a few companies. I googled the “authors” they’d used as their positive reviews. The first author/service reviewer I couldn’t find at all – not on amazon, no website. It well could be she uses a pseudonym, but why would she not use a name people could find? Another reviewer claimed to have gone from no sales to 100,000 sales in a month’s time span. When I googled this author, they had one ebook available for purchase. It did not rank very high according to the sales figures I have access too; I found the claim to be overstated. While he may have doubled or tripled his sales, I don’t see any evidence that he has become a best seller on any available websites or lists. Consider the reason authors might make these claims: to be featured on the website in order to garner more readers and sales.

Do your research, writers. If a writer or service, company, or agent won’t or can’t supply you with references or a tax id # or a business license #, what’s your evidence they can do the promised job?