Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: John Gardner

Writers On Writing ~ A List That Can Inspire


Interested in “writing processes, revision strategies, the business of publishing, and the overall life of a writer”?

I blog about topics like that and I look for other writers who do the same. But, like many things on the Internet, there are good sites and not so good sites

I featured Kate Messner in a post titled, Critique Is Not A Bad Word, because I found her writing style compelling and her way of sharing information honest.

So, naturally, if she offers writing advice, I’m going to pay attention; and, if she lists other authors she likes to read, I’m going to share that list :-)

Check out her page called, Writers, for her top writing tips and her pick of 18 authors worth reading.

Her story about when she learned the importance of finding her own unique voice as a writer is priceless!

And, if you want my pick for best book by a writer about writing, try John Gardner‘s, The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. ( “Young” in that title doesn’t refer to chronological age :-)
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The Dreams of The Writer Lead To The Dreams of The Reader…


The ideas we’ll explore today were inspired by reading certain posts in Haley Whitehall’s blog.

The dreams indicated in the title up there are what have been given the fancy term, “fictive dreams”, more reasonably called “fictional dreams”.

The writer is in a dream-like state when the creative act is flowing and, hopefully, the reader can fall into a similar state. Still, the dream of the reader is rarely just like the dream of the writer. I’ve explored this natural difference between what the writer proposes and what the reader experiences in four other posts: Reading Leads To Writing, Even If All You’re Reading Is Life… and, Rewriting While You Read ~ We All Do It …, which links to two other, related, posts.

I want your help in writing tomorrow’s post :-)

Edit: If you look at the next post you’ll see I don’t continue the idea explored in this post. What I thought was the death of a good friend caused me to write on other topics. I have yet to return to a follow-up for this post though I’m linking to it today, 10 September, in Google Plus and will be working toward a follow-up post, hopefully soon :-)

I’m going to put three quotes about the Fictional Dream below and hope you’ll put your ideas and feelings in the Comments. Then, I’ll continue today’s conversation tomorrow by weaving your comments into my post :-)

From The Literary Lab: “Writer and teacher John Gardner had a concept he called the fictional dream, which was the idea that fiction does its job by creating a dream state for the reader, and as long as the writer is doing a good job of maintaining that dream state, the reader won’t “wake up” from it and will continue to read and believe in the fictional world the writer has created. Gardner argues that this fictional dream first happens in the writer’s head, and the writer’s job is to write it down for the reader:

“In the writing state—the state of inspiration—the fictive dream springs up fully alive: the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it, so that when the dream flags he can reread what he’s written and find the dream starting up again. This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things—sees them clearly—and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.”

From Anatomy of Melancholy: “Writers are often asked: ‘How do you write? With a word processor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand?’ But the essential question is: ‘Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write? Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas–inspiration.’ If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn. When writers talk to each other, what they discuss is always to do with this imaginative space, this other time. ‘Have you found it? Are you holding it fast?’” — Doris Lessing,  Nobel Lecture, 2007

From Star-Crossed Romance: “I’m so glad to know other writers feel the same as me. Ever start writing and not want to come out of that dream state? I have. The obligations of real life take a back seat to story when the fictive dream is flowing strong. My dog Lily will stand beside me in vain, trying to will me to take her outside to play. I tell her she has to wait, like the dishes and laundry and sometimes the cooking. When I’m deep in the flow, it’s difficult for me to find that exact wave again.

“Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes the flow slows to a trickle and strands me on a rocky bed. So getting up and walking away can be a good thing. It can lend perspective, so that next time I dive in, the flow will be stronger.”

O.K., let the Comments Begin :-)
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A Post With The Purpose of Pointing You Toward Another Post…


My most favorite author is C. J. Cherryh.

My other most favorite author is John C. Gardner.

If you read, or write, or publish, this interview with John is worth studying…

Thanks to Simone Benedict for reminding me of John’s importance.
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
Follow the “co-author” of Notes from An Alien, Sena Quaren:
On Twitter
AND, Get A Free Copy of Our Book