Friday, April 30, 2010

Writers Write

“So,” I said, “You sit down and write, but you don’t know what’s going to come.”
“Five pages a day,” he said.
Pearl looked up at him, put her paw on his leg, and whined.
He patted her on the head. “Be patient, girl. We’ll take a walk in a few minutes.”
“I don’t want to intrude on Pearl’s time, but just five pages?”
“Sometimes it takes me five hours.”
“You’re kidding?”
“Look at me. Would I kid you?”
Robert B. Parker did not look like the kidding kind, except in the eyes. “Probably,” I said.
“At least you’re honest. What else do you want to know?”
“You’re not going to string me along.”
“Come on. You have to figure that out for yourself.”
“All right. Wide open here.”
He grinned. “Ahhh. A free range. I might shoot you.”
“I don’t think so. I’m not one of the bad guys. Not even Spenser or Hawk would shoot me.” I paused. “At least on purpose.”
“Enough. What do you want to know?”
“Some advice for a writer. Any advice.”
The amusement in his gaze vanished. He said, “If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it.”
“Thanks,” I said. “I’ll do that.”

Here’s the link to my web page: .
Until next time, that’s it from The Storyman ….

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meeting the Mystery Master

I trudged on through the dank cavern. The tunnel led up a gradual slope now. Emily had pointed me this direction and I’d met one writer. Not what I expected and my brief conversation with John, had been a bit cryptic. Although he’d given me something to think about, there’d been no advice on which path to follow. I wanted to talk with another writer. Let me revise that. Many more writers.
If I gleaned a bit of knowledge from each one, it could serve as a decent education in my learning of word craft.
A brighter light ahead encouraged me to increase my pace. In a small alcove I found him sitting in a burgundy leather club chair. Over recent years I’d read many of his books. He appeared much like the pictures on the jackets of his many books, sans coat. His hair still mostly brown and cut short, a rounded face of serious mein. At his side sat a black dog.
“Hello,” I said. May I have a moment of your time?”
“Why not? No more deadlines from my publisher now.”
“I’m curious.”
“Is that Pearl?”
“None other. And who might you be?”
I introduced myself and although I wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed, and learned from, what he wrote, I restrained myself. Too mawkish, I thought. “I’m looking for a little advice from writers.”
“And you picked me?”
“You were the first I’ve found since I left Mr. Steinbeck.”
He grinned. “A bit formal, there.”
“Respectful,” I said.
“So, I suppose when you leave here you’ll refer to me as Mr. Parker?”
I nodded.
“What advice do you want?”
“Tell me how you begin a story,” I said.
He rubbed his chin for a moment and gave me a squinty stare. “I have reached the point where I know that as long as I sit down to write, the ideas will come. What they will be I don’t know.”
Here’s the link to my web page: .
Until next time, that’s it from The Storyman ….

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What in the heck am I doing?

My mind filled with images of rabbits running helter-skelter. My lack of a sufficient muse wasn’t for lack of ideas. I had more than a dozen. My problem revolved around the task of managing them. Damn rabbits. It felt like herding cats. I looked back to Mr. Steinbeck. “Could I trouble you with another question?”
“If you must.” He set his pen aside. Resignation, or was it irritation, clouded his features.
“I don’t think...”
“You don’t think? How can you possibly write?” He sounded so much like Doc on Cannery Row.
“That’s not what I meant. I’m not sure if I know how to handle the rabbits. They fly all over my mind.”
“Flying rabbits, huh? It’s not easy. Imagination and writing takes discipline. Focus on one idea. See where it goes. Watch it blossom into characters and a plot as they interact with each other.”
“That sounds like a lot of work.”
“It is. It is.” The lamp on his table began to flicker and he stopped to adjust the wick. The faint smell of burnt kerosene wafted in the air as he turned it too high. “Sorry about that. Let’s see where was I? I spend an hour or two every day dreaming while I’m awake. Then it’s pen to paper.”
That sounded a lot like what I did. Maybe I needed a little more discipline to stick to one story, one plot, one central character. “I think...”
“Ah now you’ve switched to thinking. That’s an improvement.” A grin creased his face.
“Yes. I think I need to narrow my focus. You’ve helped. Thanks.” I turned to go.
“One last thought,” he said, “the profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.” Then he laughed.
Here’s the link to my web page: .
Until next time, that’s it from The Storyman ….