I’m Gonna Write Till I Die

This extract does not do this Kate Colby post full justice. However, an extract of hers rarely does. Click over: she always makes us think, so it is worth reading in its entirety:

…I’ve spent several sleepless nights reading and re-reading the perfectly poetic prose of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. I’ve spent many an afternoon curled up in my windowsill with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. I’ve spent countless evenings imagining myself a faceless extra, one of the glamorous flappers dancing in a party from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

…What if that one book is all I get from that author? What if the next is an utter disappointment, undeniable proof that my beloved novel is a fluke? What if I read a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence only to discover that the author I thought understood me at the deepest level is a hack, a con artist, who knows nothing of human nature?

And what if, when I am a published author, this happens to one of my readers?…

Of those authors, I know Fitzgerald best. The Great Gatsby is, by consensus of opinion nowadays, his “masterpiece.” Although his output over his career is uneven, he’s written much else that is satisfying.

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We’ve All Had “Our First Post”

I’m still “in the zone.” Yesterday was the best example in this recent “burst” of creativity. I got through an entire chapter, start to finish, and added several other pages here and there.

With that, I’ve got almost 25,000 words now. Parts (of this in-progress third novel) are starting to read much more like a coherent manuscript and not nearly so much as a disjointed series of episodes in and among the outline.

As my uncle wrote me the other day, “Just keep going.” Indeed, I intend to do so. And I love days of accomplishment like that.

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“Just keep going”

I’ve had various jobs over the years in academia and in business. I’ve never been especially “fragile.” I’ve always been confident about my skills and what I bring to the table.

But throw that out the window the instant you take up something creative, such as fiction writing. No matter what you’ve done before, what degrees you have, and what you may have accomplished in other life realms, suddenly you’re returned to about age 14. Others’ approval matters to you a lot more.

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“Just write that Austria lost”

Long-time singer/ performer Madonna has readily admitted she’s interested in “being provocative and pushing people’s buttons.” Presumably this rates as another effort at being so. The Guardian:

….Speaking to French radio station Europe 1 in an interview … Madonna said “antisemitism is at an all-time high” in France and elsewhere in Europe, and likened the atmosphere to the period when German fascism was on the ascent.

“We’re living in crazy times,” the 56-year-old singer said, calling the situation “scary,”….

….“It was a country that embraced everyone and encouraged freedom in every way, shape or form – artistic expression of freedom,” Madonna said. “Now that’s completely gone.

“France was once a country that accepted people of colour, and was a place artists escaped to, whether it was Josephine Baker or Charlie Parker.”….

That commentary has unsurprisingly attracted attention in France. If you click on the picture below, or here, it will take you to the interview. Her words are translated into French, but one can hear her speaking English:

Europe 1 screen grab.
Europe 1 screen grab.

Obviously she has read and heard various things over the years, and knows just enoughdinner party” banter to sound informed. Listening to her throughout her career one has never been able to suppress a feeling that she is the proverbial “mile wide and an inch deep.” You never quite believe she knows nearly as much as she appears to position herself as knowing.

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Canary Surprise

My wife received an email yesterday from a former neighbo(u)r of ours. She’s flying to the Canary Islands today. She and her husband are selling a holiday flat they’ve owned there for several decades.

The Canary Islands. Wikipedia. [Screen capture by me, 2015.]
The Canary Islands. Wikipedia. [Screen capture by me, 2015.]

In the message she explained to Mrs. Nello that she’s taking Frontiers (the paperback) along. (She doesn’t do Kindle.) She wrote she hadn’t read it yet and is looking forward to it for the airport wait and plane journey. She wanted Mrs. Nello to let me know.

Hmm, I wonder…. what she’ll…. think of it?:

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“Time for a (no added sugar) Ribena”

I noted the other day that I felt I had been “in the zone” while writing. It was flowing pretty easily, and I hoped it would continue. And it has. I’m back on my daily treadmill pace of 3 to 5 decent pages minimum.

If you can keep that up within about “100 days” you’ve almost got yourself a book. (Proofing, editing, etc., follow of course.) I tend also to write in spurts of about 30 minutes to an hour, and recently read we’re most work productive generally in bursts like those. So I can now say that, yes, that does seem to apply to me.

From Psychology Today,  "Best Rest Practices for Optimal Productivity and Creativity," April 30, 2012 [Screen capture by me.]
From Psychology Today, “Best Rest Practices for Optimal Productivity and Creativity,” April 30, 2012 [Screen capture by me.]
I’m sometimes so focused I’m returned to the present day from my fictionalized mid-1990s only when I realize…. “Ouch, I haven’t moved in over half an hour and my right leg is now asleep from sitting on it.”

Then I think, what’s up on the iPad in social media world? I’ll take just a second and have a look….

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Novelist Uncle Is In The Building

Well, I had an email exchange with my uncle last night. He knows now about my books completely – including my pen name and what underscores the stories.

The mask is off.

Wires everywhere! Part of my desk. [Photo by me, this morning.]
Wires everywhere! Part of my desk. [Photo by me, this morning.]

I can’t reproduce much of his note back to me. Lots of it is family stuff. But these extracts should give you the gist:

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Creating Mayhem As Midnight Approaches

After several days of thinking hard about it, I took the HUGE decision at last: yes, I would finally tell my novelist uncle in America that I’ve written (and I’m still writing) novels under a pen name.

What pushed me over the edge was asking myself, “Suppose he were to pass away and I never told him? How would I feel?”

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Reviewing The Reviewers

As any author knows, reader reviews can’t be ignored nowadays. Amazon is central in that change. Readers may praise, but authors now also need a skin as tough as iron too.

Authors aren’t alone. A business owner we know got an appalling review a few months ago on a non-Amazon site from a customer who’d – we were told – had a personal ax to grind. It was “1 star” followed by a single, vitriolic sentence. (How classy.)

I recall a B&B owner where we stayed some years ago in Canada telling us of a recent guest (and she said she suspected who it was) who’d given her a poor review on TripAdvisor because he didn’t like the breakfast. She told us that he got exactly what everyone else got (which was exactly what was promised), and never complained to her in person which, she said, would have at least allowed her to have addressed what he didn’t like. Instead he left having said nothing and scribbled something negative online, which she thought was unfair and even nasty of him.

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Sneak Peek: “Are you a Parisian?”

Happy Friday! Good Morning!:

[Photo by me, 2015.]
[Photo by me, 2015.]

I’ve been writing lots in recent days. There are just those times it “flows” and you find you just keep “going with it.” It’s sorta like being on a “winning streak” in sports. (Thus decidedly unlike England’s current World Cup cricket team’s experience.)

When you find yourself “in the zone” you don’t want to do anything to mess it up. You pray it keeps going for quite a while. Given that, after the first “sneak peek” last month into the new novel’s manuscript, I figured I’d share a second here.

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