Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: C. J. Cherryh

Blog Conversation about Choosing What to Read . . .


Choosing what to read Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; but, tune in on the other days of the week for re-blogs from valuable sources I’ve found…

Our last conversation—“What Should I Write?”—ended on June 22nd, because there were no comments; though it did have a run of 4 posts…

So, to begin our discussion about Choosing What to Read, I’ll throw out some thoughts and provocations and hope they elicit a few comments from some of you…

In a related Conversation, back in April—Reading like a Writer—I said (with tongue partially in cheek):

“Not all writers who balance reading and writing take care to read books recommended by ‘Net-Gurus.

“Many very serious writers actually make their own decisions about what they read; and, often, it’s exactly what they most like reading—the stuff that gets them thinking like a writer—the books that inspire their own personal brand of creativity…”

Then, I said:

“My all-time favorite fiction writer is C. J. Cherryh and I’m in process with a reading marathon of her work—many I’ve read before, some I’ve never touched—around 20 books…”

I did have a series of poetry books lined up, too; but; my Muse as since stopped me from reading those…

So

I chose to read a bunch of fiction books to prepare for writing a poetry book—weird, eh?

I will now boldly state, There Are No Rules for Choosing What to Read! { notwithstanding what various Internet “Gurus” may say; except, the rules you impose on yourself… }

That said, you may have various paradigms or plans or schemes or patterns or methods you use to choose what to read—it’s just those “rules” that should bother you :-)

I’m not going to banter around with my ideas of how to choose the books you read; but, I will give you 30 Reasons to Read from the Serious Reading site (I’m leaving out their descriptions for each reason…).

You may or may not incorporate some of them into your reading paradigms or plans or whatever…

You may notice that some of them strongly support reading physical books, though I love digital…

And, even though the list is Reasons to Read, it’s real easy to make them be

Reasons to Choose What to Read

Gives knowledge
Improves your brain
Reduces stress
Improves memory
Improves imagination
Develops critical thinking skills
Builds vocabulary
Improves writing skills
Improves communication skills
Improves focus and concentration
A fruitful hobby
Cheap entertainment
Motivation
Improves health
Makes you more empathetic
Improves Skills
Build self-esteem
Portable entertainment
Helps you sleep better
Learn about another world
Socialization
Improves creativity
Learn at your own pace
Lots of choices to choose from
Improves morals
Learn about your history
Save money
No side effects of the digital world
Makes you smarter
Books are better than movies

Still

I’m sure some of you have ways you choose what to read that are not at all about anything I’ve included in this post…

Care to Share in the Comments?

Naturally, your comment can absolutely be about some of the things I’ve already said

It only takes one comment to keep this conversation going  ( or, to share topics from the realms of Reading, Writing, and Publishing that you’d rather discuss :-)
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A Blog Conversation about Grammar . . .


Blog Conversation about Grammar Our last discussion here—A Blog Conversation about Book Promotion—had a very short life due to a lack of reader comments; but, having exercised my blogging muscles for seven years; and, to avoid talking to myself, I’ll begin a new conversation about “Grammar”…

Plus, I’ll start by going full-on Writing-Geek; then, I’ll calm down and share my own thoughts and feelings…

Here’s the complete word history of the term “grammar”:

late 14c., “Latin grammar, rules of Latin,” from Old French gramaire “grammar; learning,” especially Latin and philology, also “(magic) incantation, spells, mumbo-jumbo” (12c., Modern French grammaire), an “irregular semi-popular adoption” [OED] of Latin grammatica “grammar, philology,” perhaps via an unrecorded Medieval Latin form *grammaria. The classical Latin word is from Greek grammatike (tekhne) “(art) of letters,” referring both to philology and to literature in the broadest sense, fem. of grammatikos (adj.) “pertaining to or versed in letters or learning,” from gramma“letter” (see -gram). An Old English gloss of it was stæfcræft (see staff (n.)).

A much broader word in Latin and Greek; restriction of the meaning to “systematic account of the rules and usages of language” is a post-classical development. Until 16c. limited to Latin; in reference to English usage by late 16c., thence “rules of a language to which speakers and writers must conform” (1580s). Meaning “a treatise on grammar” is from 1520s. For the “magic” sense, compare gramary. The sense evolution is characteristic of the Dark Ages: “learning in general, knowledge peculiar to the learned classes,” which included astrology and magic; hence the secondary meaning of “occult knowledge” (late 15c. in English), which evolved in Scottish into glamour (q.v.).

grammar-school (late 14c.) originally was a school for learning Latin, which was begun by memorizing the grammar. In U.S. (1842) the term was put to use in the graded system for a school between primary and secondary where English grammar is one of the subjects taught. The word is attested earlier in surnames (late 12c.) such as Robertus Gramaticus, Richard le Gramarie, whence the modern surname Grammer.

My English teacher in college told us that what’s handed down as “English grammar” is actually Latin grammar desperately trying to grapple itself to English; and, until about five minutes ago, I never did research on her comment…

There were many articles to choose from; but, perhaps, an excerpt from Most of What You Think You Know About Grammar Is Wrong, in the Smithsonian magazine, will suffice:

“As bloggers at Grammarphobia.com and former New York Times editors, we’ve seen otherwise reasonable, highly educated people turn their writing upside down to sidestep imaginary errors. There’s a simple test that usually exposes a phony rule of grammar: If it makes your English stilted and unnatural, it’s probably a fraud.”

If you read that full article, you’ll find a number of specific “proofs” that most “grammar” that’s forced on eager young learners isn’t “faithful” to actual English grammar.

{{ …the writer of this post is now wondering what a person using the translation widget (up there on the left) is thinking about that last statement… }}

So, where is “actual” English grammar…?

I, personally, find I learn the best grammar by reading the best novels I can find; and, I can only imagine; but, feel it’s more than likely true, that folks using other languages can learn their own grammars the same way…

However, being a life-long maverick, I have been known to use whatever feels right in certain situations…

How does someone choose which novels to read to help their mind easily absorb some grammar…?

Well…

Whatever appeals to you…

If you’ve chosen the wrong books, someone, eventually, will let you know…

Whose books have I used to help me constrain the wilder aspects of my maverickness?

C. J. Cherryh

So…

All it takes for this conversation to continue is a comment from You :-)
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OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message

Continuing the Conversation ~ Reading like a Writer . . .


Reading like a writer And so, we continue from last Wednesday’s post, A Conversation about Reading like a Writer . . .

You may want to see what was said in that post, since two well-seasoned writers are quoted…

But, to continue…

Here’s what a reader said in a comment to that post; and, what I responded with:

“I read anything. I always have, so I read a lot of rubbish along with good writing. It is only occasionally I stop following the story to notice the way the author uses language. That is when I learn how to improve my own writing. I review almost every book I read but I forget them almost immediately after I have read them, with the exception of works by Stephen King. Maybe I should read a book more than once?”

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“Well…the books I’ve read more than once are, to me, quite like the ones I’ve read once—I remember certain scenes and the overall “feel” of the book; but, certainly not the whole thing—that would probably take me 10 readings :-)”

So…

That reader and I are both writers…

We both stop only occasionally to notice specifically what the author’s doing…

Is that a trait of folks who read like a writer?

Do other writers stop and notice more often?

And, is forgetting most of a book something writers have in common with most readers…?

I feel I should share a bit from the post preceding this one—from the book, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.), by Francine Prose:

Concerning writers reading to learn how to write—“…the connection has to do with whatever mysterious promptings make you want to write. It’s like watching someone dance and then secretly, in your own room, trying out a few steps.”

“You will do yourself a disservice if you confine your reading to the rising star whose six-figure, two-book contract might seem to indicate where your own work should be heading.”

“The only time my passion for reading steered me in the wrong direction was when I let it persuade me to go to graduate school….I left graduate school and became a writer.”

So…

The commenter from last Wednesday and Francine Prose say at least one thing similarly:

“…I read a lot of rubbish along with good writing.”

“You will do yourself a disservice if you confine your reading to the rising star whose six-figure, two-book contract might seem to indicate where your own work should be heading.”

Those are similar statements if you can link “rubbish”reading with “rising star six-figure, two-book contract”reading…

Yet our commenter reads a lot of it and Francine merely recommends not confining oneself to it…

Now, I’ll interject a bit more of my own feeling…

Of course, it’s feeling from a man who is officially old and who began writing seriously late in life…

And, it only relates to my current reading-like-a-writer activity…

I’m in the middle of reading at least 20 books (some re-reads, some not…) by my absolutely most-favorite fiction author, C. J. Cherryh

Ms. Cherryh happens to be a Risen Star and morethantwobookcontract author who has never written rubbish…

Plus, I’m only confining myself to her books until I read six books of poetry by various authors…

All that reading because I’m a seasoned old man who loves writing and listens, carefully, to his Muse when he must read like a writer…

Two ideas in closing:

1.) If you share a comment on this post, you’ll help this particular topic continue on Wednesday…
2.) But, you could share a comment about some other topic(s) you’d like to discuss…

Number two should be in the realms of Reading, Writing, or Publishing; or any combination of those realms :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Visit The Story Bazaar
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Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

A Conversation about Reading like a Writer . . .


Reading like a Writer There were no comments on this past Monday’s post—Our Blog Conversation Stays Focused on Truth in Fiction—so, I get to venture in my own direction… :-)

And, my personal directional focus for the current long-haul is what many writers spend much of their time doing—Reading

Not all writers write every day, contrary to what the ‘Net-Gurus keep screaming.

Not all writers who balance reading and writing take care to read books recommended by ‘Net-Gurus.

Many very serious writers actually make their own decisions about what they read; and, often, it’s exactly what they most like reading—the stuff that gets them thinking like a writer—the books that inspire their own personal brand of creativity…

My all-time favorite fiction writer is C. J. Cherryh and I’m in process with a reading marathon of her work—many I’ve read before, some I’ve never touched—around 20 books…

And, there are about 5 books I’ll read after those—various works of poetry…

I’m preparing to go from writing my series of shorts—The Story Bazaar—to writing a second poetry book; and, contrary to those pesky ‘Net-Gurus, I’m doing only what my Muse urges me to do…

I’ll share a bit from a writer I often re-blog here, Roz Morris, from a post she wrote for Writers Helping WritersRead More Fiction (a note for non-fiction writers—you can easily “translate” what she says...):

“…we’re all story lovers. But I mentor a lot of authors and you wouldn’t believe the number who tell me they make a deliberate point of not reading other fiction. I ask their reasons, and the answers have a certain logic:

  • They don’t want to be influenced by other writers or inadvertently copy an idea, character, or plot situation.
  • They need to spend the time writing because they’re struggling to fit enough hours in.

“But when I’m critiquing their work, I frequently see problems that could be solved by studying the fiction of others. Here’s the short list of the usual suspects:

Boring Exposition
Failing to Give Readers What They Want
Dialogue Issues
Writing that Falls Flat

And, here comes another attempt to give you a reason to comment on this post and keep the Conversation going:

My past post, How To Read Like A Writer, that considers the book, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.), by Francine Prose.

Here are just a few statements from that book:

Concerning writers reading to learn how to write—“…the connection has to do with whatever mysterious promptings make you want to write. It’s like watching someone dance and then secretly, in your own room, trying out a few steps.”

“You will do yourself a disservice if you confine your reading to the rising star whose six-figure, two-book contract might seem to indicate where your own work should be heading.”

“The only time my passion for reading steered me in the wrong direction was when I let it persuade me to go to graduate school….I left graduate school and became a writer.”

So…

I hope I’ve given you enough to ponder so you can share your thoughts and/or feelings in the Comments to continue this particular topic…

And, if you’d rather, share a comment with your own suggestion for a Conversation here…

All suggestions need to be in the realms of Reading or Writing or Publishing; or, any two at a time; or, all three at once :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

More on Reading for Healing


The Lord of the Rings I did a post on Reading for Healing back on the 21st of January—in that post, I also linked to other posts that alerted readers to my radically sudden backing away from my normal schedule on this blog…

I’m still reading for healing though I’ve moved on from reading and re-reading 7 of C. J. Cherryh’s works to re-reading The Lord of the Rings <— that link leads to the 50th Anniversary Edition, which is the most faithful reproduction of the author’s intentions…

To see why I mentioned the author’s intentions, check out my past post, The Publishing (And Editorial) History of Some Extremely Famous Fiction

I spoke about healing, specifically with 5 of the 7 Cherryh books, in the January 21st post…

My reasons for healing with The Lord of the Rings is a bit more complex…

I should first mention that both Cherryh’s and Tolkien’s books are re-reads after many years—I feel the number of years between re-readings could be a gauge of the “value” of the 2nd (or, 3rd or more) reading; especially if the re-reads are years apart—you are older, your mind and heart have (hopefully) expanded—other books have amplified the Reading Space—it feels “comfortable” yet is still a “fresh” read…

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So, reading for healing…

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Cherryh’s Fortress Series (the 5 books in the January 21st post) are books of High Fantasy…

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has been called Epic High Fantasy…

To me, the difference is that Cherryh shook my mind and heart in ways that opened improperly sealed doors and chased the spooks away, relieving heart and soul…

However, Tolkien, who I’m still reading, is going deeper—not just opening doors but helping me re-shape whole Habitations in my mind and heart—not just relieving but reconstituting heart and soul…

I feel the difference is that Cherryh can tap into the Personal Unconscious treasuries of meaning but, due to the extremely “ancient” feel of the Rings story, Tolkien can tap into the Collective Unconscious

So, I’m still healing… And, I should mention that I firmly believe that both Cherryh and Tolkien were aided in their writing by a Higher Power

So…

Still Healing

But, I’m nearly ready to begin a regular schedule of blogging again…

Monday and Wednesday will be original blog posts, Fridays will be Story Bazaar Tales, and the rest of the week will be valuable re-blogs…

However, there will only be 19 more Tales in the Friday Story Bazaar—have any idea what I should do differently on Fridays…?

This resumption of my normal routine will begin February 9th…

In closing, I’ll share a hearty recommendation that you consider re-reading some of your former favorite books—some will be like visiting an old friend, some will have not remained favorites, some will seem comfortable as well as completely new, since you have attained new vistas of personal growth………
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Even though it may say “Fee”, it Really is FREE :-)

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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com