Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Website Launches

Tom's freelance writing business kicked into high gear today with the launch of his new website. Feel free to check it out and keep him in mind the next time you have content that needs to be written, revised, or looked over.

Kudos to Jeff Spaulding for a great job with the site design! We'd recommend his services to anyone who has need of a designer in the future.

See you at tgunnwriter.com!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blue-Collar Writing for Dummies

In watching a recent documentary about Ernest Hemingway I came to some interesting conclusions about the art of writing generally, and Hemingway’s practiced hand in that art.

First what stood out to me was how infrequent and few Hemingway’s novels were. I counted only five of any significance and one of those was a critical flop. All those were written in a career that spanned nearly forty years. That roughly comes to only one good novel for each decade. To be sure, those novels counted. Each of the four (The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom The Bell Tolls, and The Old Man And The Sea) are taught in high schools all over the country and stand to be a part of the American cannon for decades to come.

Contrast this with the career of F. Scott Fitzgerald, my favorite author. Fitzgerald wrote far more succesful books in only fifteen years or so, not to mention a huge collection of short stories. However, only two of his books are remembered to the same degree four of the five Hemingway books are.

Fitzgerald was touched with a special genius and was blessed not only with an ivy league education, but also a natural sensitivity. The result of these elements is fiction that’s heart-breaking, timeless, and haunting.

What was the difference? Fitzgerald and Hemingway both worked hard. Hemingway worked a hell of a lot harder. Hemingway rose at a normal time and worked at his writing six or eight hours a day. There were times when Fitzgerald put in only a few hundred words a day and still managed to fuel his high living, hard drinking, late nights, and late mornings. Hemingway partied too, but he did it at night having worked through the day.

The only thing that made his writing great was his work ethic. I’ve read some of Hemingway’s earliest writing and believe me, he was worse than mediocre. I worship the ability he developed day after day, year after year, in spite of that early weakness. I take it as a challenge to work harder.

So, what makes a failed writer? Well, first and foremost a failed writer quits writing. A bad writer suffers from two primary ailments: a faulty shit detector (especially when reading his own work), and an inability to realize that his talent isn’t sufficient to compensate for his poor work ethic.

Fitzgerald couldn’t have been a bad writer. He was just too naturally gifted. He could have written anything, doing it whenever he felt like it and it would have been brilliant. For Hemingway, this wasn’t so. I think that’s what I like about him.

So, I say to myself; “Self, more work. Less naval-gazing.”

Oh, one more thing: Thank you, Papa Hemingway – patron saint of the blue collar writer.

- Tom

Monday, March 2, 2009

NaNoEdMo 2009

Many of you may have heard of NoNoWriMo. Tom and I talked enough about it last fall, and of course the book I reviewed last week, "No Plot? No Problem!" was written by the founder of this annual month of writer's insanity. Even if you're a long time participant in NaNoWriMo, however, you may not have heard of NaNoEdMo. NaNoEdMo was created by a NaNoWriMo participant who realized that once the initial rush of creating a 50,000 word draft faded, it was difficult to dive into editing the novel.

After letting your fingers fly across the keyboard for a month with little direction from your logical mind, you find yourself suddenly having to turn your inner editor back on. You feel let down and overwhelmed at the prospect of turning the disorganized mess you created in November into something you wouldn't be completely ashamed of if somebody happened upon a copy of your story. NaNoEdMo - held in March every year - can be a good way to help break yourself out of this rut. This community's sole purpose is to help you take the ragged pile of scenes you whipped out in November and start organizing it into a real novel.

The main rules:

1. You have to log 50 hours of verified editing on the NaNoEdmo.net website during the month of March.

2. Editing is defined as changing previously written material. Editing does not include writing a completely new novel. It does not include planning or researching. It does include anything from correcting the grammar and spelling to substantial rewriting of the novel.

So pull out your red pen and register on the NaNoEdMo website, and log in your daily editing time. There's no better time than the present!