Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Ray Bradbury

Authors As Fans of Other Authors


I’m a fan of C. J. Cherryh, when it comes to famous authors.

When it comes to authors I know, it’s Jane Watson

I’ve learned how to write by reading other authors.

In my previous post, The “Self”-Education of Writers . . ., I said:

“Many are the writers whose education—beyond that which is learned from living fully and authentically—comes from reading other writers—their creative fiction, not books about how to write.”

And, in the post, How To Read Like A Writer, I quoted Francine Prose, saying:

“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, it may be rather obvious that authors become fans of other authors and there is evidence in a post over at Flavorwire called, 10 Illuminating Fan Letters From Famous Authors, To Famous Authors.

Here are just a few snippets:

From Norman Mailer to William Styron, 1953:

“I have only one humble criticism. I wonder if you realize how good you are. That tendency in you to invert your story and manner your prose just slightly, struck me—forgive the presumption—as coming possibly from a certain covert doubt of your strengths as a writer, and you’re too good to doubt yourself.”

From Ray Bradbury to Robert Heinlein, 1976:

“…I REMEMBER, WARMLY, YOUR MANY KINDNESSES TO ME WHEN I WAS 19–20–21 YEARS OLD.”
Yes, apparently, Bradbury wrote that in all Caps :-)

From Charles Dickens to George Eliot, 1858:

“I have been so strongly affected by the two first tales in the book you have had the kindness to send me through Messrs. Blackwood, that I hope you will excuse my writing to you to express my admiration of their extraordinary merit.”

From Virginia Woolf to Olaf Stapledon, 1937:

“…sometimes it seems to me that you are grasping ideas that I have tried to express, much more fumblingly, in fiction.”

From James Joyce to Henrik Ibsen, 1901:

“I can hardly tell you how moved I was by your message. I am a young, a very young man, and perhaps the telling of such tricks of the nerves will make you smile. But I am sure if you go back along your own life to the time when you were an undergraduate at the University as I am, and if you think what it would have meant to you to have earned a word from one who held so high a place in your esteem as you hold in mine, you will understand my feeling.”

an anti-fan letter from William S. Burroughs to Truman Capote, 1970:

“You have betrayed and sold out the talent that was granted you by this department. That talent is now officially withdrawn. Enjoy your dirty money. You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished. Over and out. Are you tracking me? Know who I am? You know me, Truman. You have known me for a long time. This is my last visit.”

If you go to Flavorwire to read the complete letters, be sure to note the [via] link after each letter, to be led to more information
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* Google Author Page

So, How Much Writing Does An Author Have To Do Before They’re “Good”?


I hear a few of my readers shouting, “It depends on the Author!!

Some of you may be thinking the word “author” up there “should” be “writer”

Why?

Well, some folks think “writers” are still trying to be “authors” and “authors” have “made it”.

And, for more thoughts on whether you must be published before you can call yourself an author check out my past post, This Is The Way It Must Be Done!

OK, so Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours (833.33 12-hour days) to master a skill

Ray Bradbury talked about needing to write a million words to get to the “good ones”

And, Suw Charman-Anderson, in the Forbes article, Gladwell’s 10,000 Hours: A Useless Goal For Fledgeling Writers, talks about both claims

A few excerpts from that article:

“…there are other things that go into being a good writer than writing. Reading, for example. And not just letting yourself get absorbed by a good book on a regular basis, but reading with one part of your brain watching what the writer is doing and how you are reacting to it.”

“There’s also the research, the observation, the film critiques….There’s mulling over ideas as you fall asleep and plotting scenes in the shower.”

“If you want a simple rule to help you along your path to authorial excellence, I’m afraid there isn’t one. Sitting down and writing regularly, daily if possible, is a good idea, but by itself it won’t get you where you need to be.”

What are some of the “other things” that make a “good” writer/author?

Suw also says “…I rather like it that writing requires so many different skills.”

What are some of those skills?

Then, there’s Jared Sandman, linked to from Suw’s article, in his post, 10,000 hours, saying:

“Personally I’d place that benchmark at about 500,000 words.  I spent my first 250K learning the technical basics of writing and storytelling, the nuts-n-bolts of sentence-by-sentence composition.  After that my stories reached a minimum level of publishability and I began to start selling.  Not with regularity, mind you, but any early sale should be feted as a win, especially after a long period of self-imposed isolation.

“It took another 250K of experimentation to properly utilize those tools I’d acquired in my writers’ toolkit.  Style, voice, format, plotting, and the balance of creativity versus productivity were issues I tackled at that stage.  I challenged myself with different projects and forced myself outside my comfort zone.  I tried a lot of things (many of which failed) before finally settling on my default voice and style.  During this period I focused primarily on short stories, but I also broached screenwriting and even wrote my first novel.

“In 2005, after seven years of steady writing, I felt like I’d paid my dues — or at least didn’t consider myself a fraud compared to ‘real’ authors.”

I know many writers/authors read this blog

Perhaps they’ll go read the whole of Suw’s and Jared’s pieces and come back here and share their own experience………
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* Google Author Page

What Writers Tell Other Writers . . .


I’ve written before about Writing “Advice”—how it can help and how it can block one’s efforts

Perhaps, How To Write A Story? is good to read because it shows John Steinbeck writing a letter to his former writing instructor; plus, it will lead you to other posts about Writing Advice

Perhaps, this video of Neil Gaiman addressing a graduating class is good to watch since he stresses writing as Adventure not Work.

I’ve never read Neil’s work but have watched a couple movies he helped create

Then, comes the advice of a man who’s just passed from his adventure in a writing life, Ray Bradbury.

I’ve read a number of works by Mr. Bradbury and just downloaded one of his stories, The Playground, to my Kindle.

An excerpt from the introduction to that story gives insight into Ray’s writing life:

“He was unable to sell his early science fiction stories to the leading market of the 1940s, John W. Campbell’s Astounding. Bradbury had to publish his short stories in the second-line magazines like Planet Stories and Thrilling Wonder. After the War, however, Bradbury’s fantastic and surrealistic fiction began to find a steady market in mainstream magazines like Mademoiselle, Collier’s and Harper’s Bazaar and he became the first science fiction writer to place work in Martha Foley’s Best American Short Stories. The novel, Fahrenheit 451, later the basis for a notable film of François Truffaut, secured his reputation. In 2000, Bradbury was awarded a medal for the body of his literary achievement by the National Institute of Arts and Letters.”

Not being accepted in the most respected publication because he was already beyond their “standards”

Continuing to write because, to him, it was an adventure

Eleven years before he shufflel’d off this mortall coile, he gave a talk that is warm and cozy—a summation of his journey up to that point—a self-celebration full of writerly wisdom and advice


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Book Banning (Open & Secret) and The Politics of Publishing


This blog’s visitor numbers, by country, show the United States taking an oscillating percentage between 50 and 70%.

I’m happy, living in the U.S., that there are that many folks from other countries visiting and hope their number increases

Still, many people see the U.S. as leading the way in democratic freedoms.

Sad to say, politics and corporate agendas are swiftly eroding true liberty in the U.S. and it becomes particularly painful when I see its action in the publishing industry.

But, publishing houses are corporations and are, in turn, owned by larger corporations

And, corporations and politicians are the current “masters” of humanity.

My novel treats of this phenomenon but goes further and has the corporations completely absorbing politics—no more parties or candidates, just The Corporation…

Perhaps my book will be banned one day………

Yet, even though freedom to publish is aided by all the initiatives in self-publishing, the political climate is darkening and the pall of population control is widening.

What of the non-fiction world, where authors attempt to uncover plots against freedom and clear the murk of political obfuscation?

It’s becoming somewhat like the novel, Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

In case you’re of the mind to ignore the dangers from crushing oppression of humanity’s freedom, I dare you to watch this video:


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