Laurance O’Brian, author of The Istanbul Puzzle, was nice enough to feature me with a guest post on his blog the other day. Thanks Laurence!
One of the unexpected benefits of my first few months as an author has been this rich community of fellow authors. People like Laurence who open up their blog to new strivers like me and freely give advice on social media. I’ve gotten excellent advice from Suzanna Nelson (http://www.suzannaenelson.com/) and randomly connected with a fellow author from my hometown, Kathy Fish (http://kathy-fish.com/) who introduced me to flash fiction. Then there’s Twitter which is lousy with authors both great and small.
Thanks Laurence and all you fellow authors. I’m proud to be one of you.
I just posted this review of Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue at Goodreads:
Michael Chabon is one of my favorite authors. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is my favorite of his novels and The Yiddish Policeman’s Union is second. In Telegraph Avenue Chabon displays his talent in nearly every sentence. As a new writer towards the beginning of his learning curve, it amazes me to observe a master word-picker at work. I wonder how long he spends on each one of his sentences. His vocabulary and dexterity are just off the charts. He deserves to be considered one of the most talented novelists at work today.
That said, this novel wasn’t in my top seven or so of his works. While impressed with his words and sentences, the story itself didn’t fully hold my interest. I found myself skipping paragraphs. And the single-sentence chapter, while novel, was skipped as well. I liked the characters, their relationships, and the setting being centered on a Berkley record store. I also liked the blimp. But, if you haven’t read Chabon (and please do) start with some of his other novels first and read this one down the road.
This is really just such a good, practical article that I needed to capture it here in the hopes I can find it again someday.
To manage your stories, there are essentially six steps. One, lower your standards. Get something down. Swallow the bile that rises in your throat when you write a first draft. Because the fact of the matter is, as you learn, that it contains the promise of the final one. Print out early. One of the downsides of the computer is we don’t hit the print button. Print out early. Read aloud. People don’t read aloud. Better yet, have someone else read it to you. If they’re stumbling, it’s probably because it’s not clear enough. It took me a long time to accept the fact, “I’m bored reading this.” Think about all the stories that have been published that if you read them aloud, you’d say, “God, this is boring. Who the hell would read this? I’m only reading it because I’m being paid to.” You have to be honest.