I won’t be near my LifeDrive til tomorrow morning. Meanwhile I’ve come across an intriguing solution for iPod hard drive woes I’ll try on my LifeDrive tomorrow. If any of you get to try it first, drop me an email.
Simply put, one of the only ways to get better at writing is to read. Sure, you can practice your writing with blogs and journals and what not, but if you don’t read good writing, you’ll have no idea how to write well.
What is the best advice you would give to people who want to be writers?
Finish the things you start and keep reading-and read widely, lots of different things. It always makes me bristle when somebody says they want to be a writer but then says “I don’t read mysteries,” or “I never read science fiction,” “or mainstream fiction.” I think you should read as much as you can; see how successful books work. By successful I mean books that you read and get lost in. Then try to emulate that. Keep writing no matter what.
I started out reading SF (before that, comic books) — mostly of the space opera sub-genre.
Today I can hardly read SF at all because most of it is simply so badly written. I’ve come to the point where I can see the difference.
As for my own writing here, it’s mostly shit. I don’t yet have the time to sit back and do the lengthy, thoughtful kind of pieces I’d like to do. All I have time for right now is hit-and-run — and, when necessary, bitch.
Out for three months but still new to me: The Seventeen Traditions
Prior relevant coverage on this blog:
Our President’s An Ass, But I’d Defend Him Against This!
Ralph Nader In New York City
And I’ll Vote For Him In 2008 Too, Dammit!
Political Change? Prove it!
“Winning the lottery isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be,” says Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey lottery not just once but twice (1985, 1986) to the tune of $5.4 million. Today, the money is gone and Adams lives in a trailer.
Emphasis added by me.
It’s true, though. This is another subject I’ve read up on over the years. It makes my jaw drop how people can be lucky enough to have a huge wad of cash drop in their laps only to have it waste away in a few years.
The Secret just smells like something I’m going to hear about far more than I want to.
But let me impart the thing that makes this dangerous and evil. It’s from a Newsweek interview with the author, Rhonda Byrne:
“The law of attraction is that each one of us is determining the frequency that we’re on by what we’re thinking and feeling.”
Ok, so far so good.
“If we are in fear, if we’re feeling in our lives that we’re victims and feeling powerless, then we are on a frequency of attracting those things to us … totally unconsciously, totally innocently, totally all of those words that are so important.”
Again, this doesn’t sound bad. Here’s the thing: Rhonda Byrne said this in response to a question about how villagers could have avoided being massacred in Rwanda.
Let me add this right now…
I first came across mention of the primary-source book in a recent book called You’ve GOT to Read This Book!: 55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their Life. I happened upon that book as I usually do: trawling the shelves of the New York Public Library. I was intrigued. I used Google to find The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles. I found a PDF copy somewhere. Right now, for anyone eager to read this seminal work, I suggest using this web browser version at wikisource.
From what I understand, many of the people who are included in You’ve GOT to Read This Book!: 55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their Life, are also featured in the film, The Secret. I don’t believe this is at all accidental or coincidental. In the Self-Help Actualization Movement (SHAM), there is a lot of mutual-reinforcement that takes place. Colloquially, You Scratch My Back And I’ll Scratch Yours. I’d go so far as to call this group the Self-Help Actualization Mafia. Most of it can be classified as simply bullshit designed to separate suckers from their money. Some of it — a very small seed buried beneath the shit — is worthwhile. But those who are suffering hard times and go on to explore this melange of assertions and bullshit are the least qualified to discern the small good from the mostly bad. And it will wind up doing them much more harm than any possible good.
I’ve read this subject since I first encountered it in the 1970s (again, courtesy of the NYPL!). In my readings, I actually came across some books that lacked bullshit and offered true value. I cannot disclose what they are right now for these simple reasons: 1) They are out of print, 2) They are only available through used book vendors on the internet, and 3) I don’t want to see that supply dry up before I’ve gotten sufficient copies of my own. The author of these books, by the way, has since passed away (God damn you, Death!), so there is no chance of more books of this kind (unless someone else discovers them and simply plagiarizes them — and I’ve come across a few suspects too!). (And dig this: the writer did not go onto try to become a guru or try to offer expensive courses. He wrote the books and stopped there!) Once my own cache is stocked, I’ll post the book titles and the rest of you can go buy up the remaining copies. Maybe a publisher will be interested and re-issue them. I hope so. They are damned good books. And I’d especially like them in electronic form.
Believe me when I say there is indeed a “secret” — a series of real-world non-mystical practical steps that can increase one’s chances for success and even what is termed “luck” — but the current crop of gurus, hypemeisters, and slicksters aren’t the ones offering it. It’d put them all out of business because it’d make those who (are able to!) follow those steps independent.
I highly recommend reading deeply into SHAMblog to save your money and especially to save your sanity. And take a trip to your local public library to see if they have a copy of Steve Salerno’s book, SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless. Even though the book doesn’t go into the farthest reaches of the subject’s history (incredibly — and I didn’t know this before about six months ago — it goes back to the late 1800s!), it’s worthwhile in dealing with today’s manifestation of the subject.
Prior coverage on this blog:
Overdosing on Oprah: The side effects of empowerment.
I’m not a mathematician, but I do have a calculator, and just for kicks I decided to see if I had $300 to loan out how many times I would have to roll it to make $1 million, which, in my mind is the price of a one-way ticket to fishing Mecca in Cabo San Lucas.
The answer is 37 times. If I could just turn that initial $300 investment over 37 times I’d have $1,155,557. Just think what a savvy businessman like me could do with $600 … or $900 … or $1,200.
You bloodsucking bastards.
Related earlier post:
We Get Poorer And Poorer… And Now Dumber Too!
If I want to manufacture biological weapons with my copy of iTunes, I will, fascists.
Goddam! Is there a wiki for that?
See the rest of the Junkiness blog too.
Sometimes I screw up HTML tags. But today WordPress has been having a go at me. I’ve had headline bits disappear, post text disappear, and closing tags disappear.
I own up to my mistakes. Weird stuff today I’m blaming on WordPress, dammit.
Writer John Scalzi slays me in that he’s a writer who also finds time to not just blog, but to build and engage in a blog community. He must be one of those damned blithe insomniacs who are plotting the takeover of the world while we sleep. (Shades of Beggars from Spain by Nancy Kress!)
Anyway, he bloody takes my breath away with his hyper-ant-like activity. I really should read his blog much more than I do. And to guarantee that, it gets added to the Blogroll.
Hey, Scalzi. I don’t give out No Prizes. This is as good as it gets. You may weep now.
Edit: Added his name to the headline. I need to learn to be more