Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: reading

Continuing the Blog Conversation About “What Should I Write?” . . .


 Prologue to this Post:

It’s Official… Our Blog Conversations are now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays! Leaving the rest of the week for valuable re-blogs from other folks and, from time to time, extra special surprise posts :-)

The Muse O.K., on with the discussion…

Last Wednesday, we began, a Blog Conversation Concerning “What Should I Write?” . . .

You may want to check that post out first to ponder what was said about having a Muse

I will, however, bring over a few questions I asked that could be easily answered in many if not most cases by integrating a Muse into the WritingLife:

Is it conceivable to you that writers “should” write certain things?

That a particular sentence “should” follow that one you just wrote?

That a precise gem of a word “must” precede a particularly important other word…?

Those questions may seem to be situations where the writer’s rational mind needs to be applied in the revision phases; yet, if the function of the Muse is active, they may be surprisingly dealt with right in the first draft…

Now…

Here’s the rather surprising comment from last Wednesday that permitted this particular conversation to continue—surprising because it comes from a consummate writer:

“Sometimes a concept can be right under your nose and yet you do not fully appreciate it until you see it explained in more eloquent detail, which this post just did for me. I know about the ‘Muse’ that many writers or painters refer to—I confess I just took her (or him) for granted—a metaphor perhaps for the writer’s inspiration but suddenly when I read this: ‘Offloading your sense of responsibility for creative work onto another self is like flipping a switch. It instantly removes that pressure and lets you breathe again…’; and, a switch flipped for me internally. Why had I not used a Muse for this? Where was my Muse and why wasn’t she doing this for me? Perhaps because I’d locked her in a cupboard a long time ago to keep the room tidy? Please forgive me Muse. I have the key and I will let you out. And I’m very much looking forward to watching Elizabeth Gilbert talking about this concept :-)

Naturally, there are other methods for deciding “What Should I Write?”, whether that question applies to a complete work or the next scene in a story or the next word in a sentence: and, I do hope a few of you will bring up some of those methods in the comments

But, before we leave this part of our discussion, I’ll share just a bit more about the Muse; and, it comes from Stephen King :-)

“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the mid-night oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.”

O.K….

The ground rules for our conversations here are that at least one reader has to leave a comment (short though it may be ) so the conversation can continue; otherwise, I get to start a whole new discussion :-) { … and, you can always leave a comment about other conversations you’d like to have … }
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message
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Yet More Conversation about Genre . . .


The previous posts in this conversation are Here and Here… Genre Conversation

Those posts had comments that reflected various shades of discomfort with putting books in genre-boxes…

One of the comments, though, stood out by saying:

“A work’s genre is nothing more than a convenient handle to help the reader find his next read. I think of the genre as something useful, not confining at all.”

And, while I respect that viewpoint ( like I must, as a seasoned writer, respect readers’ oh, so various perspectives on books... ), for the sake of this discussion, I’ll share a few excerpts from a post at Literary Hub:

“The entire publishing ecosystem, from authors to publishers to bookstores to readers, frequently have blind spots that separate stories out in ways that exclude readers.”

“For readers who want their personal library to show a healthy variety, finding books outside of your preferred genre is how you can broaden your tastes and discover terrific new talent.”

“By staying in the box an industry creates, a reader will see similar approaches and similar tropes, explore similar experiences and similar results. The hope and aim of reading, drilled into us as students, is that it broadens horizons, but that aspiration then gets undercut as soon as we start reading for fun. Our literary diets narrow, then ossify. By tuning out books from other genres, we cut ourselves off from important parts of the literary conversation.”

“Really, anything that feels a few towns over from where your reading life lives will gift you a new perspective. Because so much of the process before a book reaches your hands is designed to build that box, by simply venturing to another section of the bookstore, you’ll get to experience worlds you otherwise would never have known existed.”

So, we’ve come from comments that blast genre as a ploy of the traditional publishing houses to sell more books, to the idea that “…genre [is] something useful, not confining at all.”, to a caution about the genre mode of classification that encourages swimming in multiple genre-pools…

But, now, I’ll introduce a Marvelous comment on genre, from one of those previous posts, that shatters the mold of the standard idea of a blog comment, while it swims in a meta-pool of meanings…

The Rainbow

Always impressive, the rainbow’s view
Its shades spread across the spectrum
Colors blending from one to the other
Each band’s width wider to some

But no one can say where one band begins
And the next color has altered its hue
For changes in the view of a spectrum
Is altered how it’s perceived by you

~~~ Barbara Blackcinder

All it takes to continue this conversation about genre is a comment from you :-)

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If you don’t see a way to comment, try at the upper right of this post :-)
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message

More Conversation About “Genre” . . .


Genre My new “mode” of blogging isn’t all that old, so I’m very grateful the last post had as many comments as it did—when taking baby steps, a few more than none are to be treasured…

Plus, I recommend reading that first post in this particular conversation—Blog Conversation About “Genre” Writing . . .

What I’ll do this time is bring each comment into this post and follow it with my own ideas and feelings…

First one:

“I think ‘genre’ is a term fostered in modern times by publishers who found it easier to market their books to readers by putting them into recognisable categories. This way the publishers can develop a marketing approach for a wide number of folks who are placed in one huge niche. But if an author has their own individual niche and if there are too many of these individual niches the publisher will have to promote each one of these separately in a more individual way…the publishers often imagine that readers want to be told which blanket ’niche’ a book fits into – not that the book is unique and different and exciting in a new and indescribable way, that sounds unmarketable, because they don’t know how to present it. But which book, as a reader, would you go for?”

This comment is most interesting to me since it comes from an author who’s been traditionally published. The idea of “genre” is so ingrained in the book world’s culture it seems like a “given”—perhaps like thinking cappuccino is a “given” in the order of nature…

One reason I recommended reading that first post in this conversation is because I’d shared the etymology of “genre”, which included this: “Used especially in French for ‘independent style.'”

If it’s truly independent, it could hardly be something that mobs of other people slavishly copy…

One important note: When you self-publish, you can afford to avoid cramming a unique work into predetermined “genres”.

Next, a long but engaging comment:

“Genre is definitely a funny thing.
I myself find that I prefer stories that, at first glance, feel very different from the world I live in.
Whether it’s fantasy, sci-fi, suspense/horror, or comedy/romance, I prefer stories that take me to far away places.
And yet, underneath those cosmetic differences, the characters struggle with the same issues, and often come to the same conclusions.
I think there’s a way in which genre is often what initially draws us to and keeps us reading or watching a story, but whether we are satisfied afterwards speaks to the underlying patterns that are common to all stories.
I’m of the opinion that any strong story could be adapted to any genre, if you understand that underlying pattern of character identities, primary conflicts, and universal meaning(s).
The classic, to me, is how many of Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted to countless frames; ranging from high school to outer space.

“I think a lot of it is in response to how many stories are out there, and audience’s need to quickly and easily narrow down the range of possibilities.
My unconscious wants to see two characters clash in a brilliant display of swordsmanship, while my conscious mind wants to find complex meaning in that simple sword fight.

“I’ve definitely heard some authors discuss how they have to choose whether they want to thoroughly play to the horror genre or the “slice of life” “everyday relationship” genre. There’s that way in which artists first have to win the trust of the fans with conventional storytelling, and then, once they have a name, they can, if they feel comfortable taking a risk, step out of their prior patterns and try something new.”

I’m glad they said genre is funny…

To consider that the “story” of a work isn’t part of its “genre” is brave thinking…

As far as the reason for genre existing so folks can “quickly and easily narrow down” what they intend to read… Perhaps this is a result of genre being instituted by traditional publishers, then readers becoming used to it, with it then changing the way they choose books—culture shaping people instead of people shaping culture…

Next:

“I always have to put ‘General’ for my novels as they contain romance, crime, elements of a thriller, humour, and read like mini-sagas. The nearest explanation I have had from reviewers is that they read like ‘soaps.’ What genre would you call that?”

I told that reader that I’d call it “YOU:-)

Finally:

“Best expression I’ve found for my first novel is mythopoetic. The adventurous story unfolds as an odyssey, containing universal conflicts every reader can relate to, but mythopoetic is not a recognized genre. I had to use ‘fantasy’ as the nearest fitting genre, though the story evolved from deep roots of the imagination. Fantasy and imagination are not the same thing. Ib’n Arabi pointed this out centuries ago.”

I told this author that they could consider using “N/A” for the genre; but, then, I’m sure they chose an existing “category” because of “marketing” considerations…

I believe that self-publishing will more than likely supplant traditional publishing as the most common way to deliver a book to readers; and, readers are way more intelligent and adept than traditional publishers seem to believe—way more able to think outside any boxes the Big 5 impose…

Sure, there are plenty of folks who obediently read whatever the Big Brother publishers tell them they should read; but, addictions can be cured; and, self-publishing is re-educating readers so that they can be their own gatekeepers—choose they own particular brand of reading, satisfy their unique needs, take charge of what they use to fire their imaginations…

Also, Independent publishers would be more nimble and able to adapt to self-publishing’s tendencies toward infinite genres…

If each person expresses their own unique “kind” of personality, why can’t each book do the same?

My favorite fiction author is successful in a genre-world; but, to me, her books are all brilliant independent works of literature…

And then, there’s my best friend’s first novel, shoved into “Detective and mystery stories” by her home country’s National Library; when, in my review of it, I found it to be, “…a quilt of meanings that evoke many levels of feeling—moving in space and time to mine yet more meaning… pulling one’s heart into the events, attracting the mind to fresh thoughts about sadly well-worn topics…”.

Perhaps a book can be “categorized” by what it does to the reader rather than what the publishers use as a “hook” to lure profit for their stuffy conglomerates…

Care to comment and move the conversation forward…?
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try at the upper right of the post :-)
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Visit The Story Bazaar
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Great Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
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~ My Bio
Google Author Page

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send Me a short Voice Message :-)

Blog Conversation ~ “Serious Writing”


Our last discussion—Continuing the Conversation ~ Reading like a Writer—ended this past Monday since no comments were made… Serious Writing

So…

I get to start a different conversation :-)

And, you’ll notice I wrote it with quotes—“Serious Writing”…

What’s your conception of serious writing?

Writing done with focus and determination?

Writing done for reasons you deem significant or weighty?

Writing aimed toward instilling memorable ideas in your reader’s mind?

Some other type of writing…?

And, there’s the central factor of the conversation—a consideration of what you regard as “serious”…

World Peace?

Proper Governance?

Reducing Crime?

Comprehensive education?

Neighborhood cohesion?

Family unity?

What to do with your free time?

What to do to get more free time?

Other topics?

I just can’t help showing you the word history for “serious”:

mid-15c., “expressing earnest purpose or thought” (of persons), from Middle French sérieux “grave, earnest” (14c.), from Late Latin seriosus, from Latin serius “weighty, important, grave,” probably from a PIE root *sehro- “slow, heavy” (source also of Lithuanian sveriu, sverti “to weigh, lift,” svarus“heavy, weighty;” Old English swær “heavy,” German schwer “heavy,” Gothic swers “honored, esteemed,” literally “weighty”). As opposite of jesting, from 1712; as opposite of light (of music, theater, etc.), from 1762. Meaning “attended with danger” is from 1800.

Another aspect of a discussion about being serious is those folks who just can’t seem to get it together to get serious; or, the people who can get serious but for only a short time or with limited topics…

There are many writers who feel their craft should be used to help others escape from all the serious concerns of our age—there are many readers who want to find those writers…

If most of the writers wrote escapist literature and most of the readers consumed the same, what would be the chances the rest of humanity could effectively deal with or resolve all those serious concerns of our age?

You may have noticed that I’m purposely asking questions and proposing ideas to spark thought, feeling, and conversation…

If you have something you could share about this topic, do, please, leave a comment… :-)
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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

Our Blog Conversation Takes a Delightful Turn . . .


pop-up book

Image courtesy of Thuwirawat @ Wikimedia Commons

Since most of the visitors to this blog come from Google searches, I ask my regular readers to bear with me while I explain, briefly, to new readers that Mondays and Wednesdays are Conversation days (in about 10 weeks, Fridays will also be for the Conversations…).

And, on the other days of the week, I do informative re-blogs; or, sometimes, special-topic posts…

So…

On Monday we wrapped up our dialogue with the post, Extending the Conversation about Traditional vs Self Publishing, which has the links to the three previous posts in that discussion…

And, the way these conversations work is that folks can leave comments on a post and those comments are the bridge to the next post where I respond by extending the conversation…

Unless…

…the comments take us in a different direction :-)

So…

Here’s the image from that last post: traditional-vs-self-publishing

And, here’s the conversation that happened in the comments:

HA: I like your picture. I miss pop-up books. <3

AMZ: Well, now that you mention it, I do, too :-)

HA: It’s nice to have something lift off the page a bit. Pop-up books are so rare now with machines doing all the printing for books. Every August or September, I learn how to make pop-ups and make them for Christmas cards. I’m not too good at it yet but if you want, I can make one for you someday. :)

AMZ: Lovely offer — are you able to make a video of you making one?

HA: I’m a bit shy because I’m not very good at making pop-ups. If you want, I’ll try. :)

AMZ: Go ahead and try; then, we can decide if you want me to do a post about it :-)

HA: A Christmas card? I’ll keep this in mind. Will do it when I have the time and I’ll let you know then. :)

AMZ: Doesn’t have to be Christmas—actually, sooner is better—maybe a pop-up of an author at work; or, a pen and paper; or, a pop-up of a pop-up book… Something like that? :-)

HA: I’ll figure something out and let you know soon. :)

AMZ: Very Cool ! When you have it, send it to my email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com …

HA: I do have to let you know that this couple of weeks are going to be pretty busy ones but I’ll let you know as soon a I have it. :)

AMZ: Wonderful ! :-)

So…

Instead of:  Post > Comments > Post > Comments

We had:  Post >>> Conversation :-)

And, here’s a request for your comments about experiences with pop-up books—or, any type of books that are rarely created these days…

Plus, we can all look forward to HA’s video of the making of a pop-up………
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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