a thought for what’s going on in the world

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        I was just thinking about what’s happening in the world  and these thoughts came to mind ….

If there has to be anger, let’s turn it against ALL political & religious extremists – Christians, Jews and Muslims …

 

An Elegy to Extremists: Whoever You Are

 

If there was no Israel who would you hate;
Whoever stands in the way of your Caliphate? rabi Menachem Froman
Is all you want just a small strip of land?
Or is it all our souls in your bloody hands?

If there’s no Jews would Christians be the target?

Their churches to be burned and their lives all forfeit?

And you’d respect their human rights and their freedoms?

Allow them their values, their ideals and their reasons?

Is love for all God’s children anywhere in your tomes?

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Or is it that  infidels are to be beheaded or stoned?
Should your cynical tactics and propaganda cause fear
As they turn the minds of so many kind people who care?
We’ve seen in the thirties how facism took hold
History’s lessons forgotten; people believing what their told?
Should we be grateful for those opposing your dreams;
Your self-interested theories, religous extremes?

Having resisted the call of older and more caring creeds;

Not now to align myself with fanatics wanting only to breed
Hatred and fear clothed in feigned love of your brothers.
You don’t want peace; you profit from the pain of others.©

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Word waterboarding! Less may be more

Why is it that some people seem to have the idea that the more words they write the better.  What do you think? I don’t think it is necessarily better for them or for the reading public. Indeed, it may be positively unhealthy as there even seems to be writers worrying about word count addiction and word count obsession.

A few days ago, I got involved in a discussion in a thread on LinkedIn where someone was asking how many words each day people write, and this was followed by a swathe of comments, some seemingly bragging about daily word count as if somehow “stream of consciousness” writing ten hours each day spewing out thousands of words was the “way to go”.   Other commentators on the LinkedIn discussion thread even wanted to include in their writing tally, their blogs and how many letters and memos they write at work and their shopping lists (no, I think I’m exaggerating there).  There are also these daily word count writing contests on twitter which I can understand help to motivate people to “put pen to paper” (so to speak) and the NaMoWriMo competitions which seem to encourage people to write a novel in a month.

I can understand that in this era where most authors earn very little from each book, most can only make a living from writing if they have lots of books out.  So the more you have out there the better: the more likely readers are going to buy one or more of your books and the better known you become.  Also I agree that to learn how to write, you need to write, but I do have serious reservations about  these various arrangements, competitions and schemes as they seem to me to be saying that word count is the main thing in writing.  Of course, if someone can write five thousand words each day and barely have to edit or correct them and it’s brilliant writing then I take my hat off to them. But I don’t believe that most writers can do this.

Even though I’ve only written one and a half novels and a few one-act plays, I did have the dubious good fortune of writing a PhD thesis many years ago and since then I’ve supervised and examined varous theses.  I’ve also written twenty or so academic and professional text books (in law), and to me, one of the basic rules learned from the writing of theses, is that about one third of the time is spent researching and developing the works, the second third in writing and the last third in polishing (revising, editing etc etc).  Of course academic writing isn’t the same as writing good literature.   But it seems to me that this sort of division of time is at least what is required in writing fiction and non-fiction as often writers don’t even start with a solid knowledge of the topic they are writing about (unlike a doctoral candidate) and have to acquire much of that along the way.

I’ve always thought that great writing should be a bit like poetry: each word being considered, carefully chosen and carrying a wealth of meaning.  Quality not quantity:  in an earlier post, I’ve already tried to come to grips with what “great writing” is.

So I would rather know how much time a writer is spending in editing and revising than how many words he or she is writing each day.

…..some other blogs (there are lots more):

http://mltrefry.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/oh-word-count-why-do-you-mock-me-so-a-slight-ramble/

http://edraby.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/rabyd-writer-writing-for-word-count/

http://concerningwriting.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/weekly-writing-wrap-up-september-20-26/

http://writepush.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/revisions-revisions-revisions/

Unsure What Historical Fiction Is?

What do you think?  Lately I’ve been looking at the works of writers of historical fiction and what I mainly saw was authors like Elisabeth Storrs who sets her novels in the Etruscan era  and Alison Stuart whose novels are set in the 17th and 18th century England and started to worry that my novel “Where a Life Begins” wasn’t really “historical fiction” because it jumps back and forth between the wartime and post-war 1940’s and 1950’s and several different eras in Spain: Upper Paleolithic; Phoenician-early iron Age, Carthaginian, post-Roman-Visigoth, Christian-Crusades-Inquisition.  So it didn’t focus on just one era of history.  Was this a ‘no-no’? Could I be accused on being an ‘history  dilettante’? Its such a difficult genre to succeed in and avoid criticism.

Thankfully, I started to feel better when I came upon other sources that suggested that historical fiction could be divided into as many as 13 sub-genres (and there are others).  There was the “traditional” one, as mentioned above (though those authors might not agree); the “multi-period epics” that show how a specific place changes over the centuries; the “sagas” that follow families or groups of people over generations; the “western (US) historical novels”; the historical mysteries; romantic historical novels; historical adventure novels; historical thriller; literary historical novels; “time-slip novels” where characters shuttle between eras; “alternative history” novels where history happens differently such as where Hitler’s destiny is altered at an early age; and even “historical fantasy novels“.

I certainly breathed a sigh of relief as I’d been referring to “Where A Life Begins” as historical fiction.  But it still doesn’t seem to fit into any of these categories and so I’ve been “cross-genring”  (I know that’s not a real word) it, as historical/criminological/political/adventure fiction … though some people might even see some science-fiction or fantasy in it – and even history from a woman’s perspective, but I suppose such sub-genres don’t exist in the “real world”.  But does it matter?

What is great writing?

I’m bothered about the difference between “good” and “great” writing. Of course, there are lots of little rules for “good writing” and they are important, but what is “great writing? Is it just something we know when we see it; or at least we hope we do?  Or can we set out some criteria for “great writing”.  I don’t want to think that “great writing” is something intangible and simply unable to be defined. Maybe it is, but I don’t want to think that.  I need to know what I’m aiming for!

I don’t think any author can look at their own writing and say “this is great”.  Maybe for a moment and for a sentence or a paragraph, but usually the “high” subsides – at least for me. Equally I don’t think we can rely on what other people, like our readers, say.  Some people just love hyperbole – “this is brillant and hilarious!” and others are naturally reserved: “really good book. I thoroughly enjoyed it” (if you’re lucky)!

Equally I suspect that the “marketing professional’s take” on the writing process is just that.  Everyone thinks that “marketing” is critical and who am I to disagree. Recently I read that there are 12 rules for “irresistible content”  (if I understood them properly and I apologize if I’m doing them an injustice) : intriguing title; powerful opener, short sentences and paragraphs,  show your personality, use images, quotes, statistics, lists, effective stories and give the reader something to apply. The only thing omitted was the need for a “brilliant and attractive cover”.  Now all these may be useful tips for honing the writer’s craft and doing a good marketing job.  But to my mind, except for showing the reader your personality, they don’t have very much to do with “great writing”.

All I can say is: great writing has to make a connection with its readers; involve them; touch their hearts; make them laugh; make them cry; feel anxious and relieved. Make them feel they know the characters: care for them, identify with them, love them or hate them.  Make them want to read on and not put your book down. Make them want to know what happens next.   Help them discover something new or many things new or inspiring.  Leave them with  a feeling of enjoyment, satisfaction, pleasure and even elation (if you’re lucky).  Maybe that’s not all!

But don’t ask me how to do all that – maybe that’s the mystery .  If I could do even half of it, I’d be happy ….. at least for the moment.