Archive for December, 2014

Seasonal Writing

on December 14, 2014 in Misc 8 Comments »

‘Tis the season when we writers get neurotic.

You know what I mean.  We pause under the mistletoe, or beside the warm embers in the hearth, or while imbibing wine and good cheer and ask ourselves, “What did I write this last year, and why isn’t it enough?”


Sure, there are you disciplined, successful writers who could pull out a list of what you’ve written and what you’ve seen published, to say nothing of the hot irons you’ve got in the literary fire for 2015.

But when I cast my gaze over the previous twelve months, all I can think is, why didn’t I finish polishing my two Charity MacCay novels?  Why didn’t I finish that offbeat scifi novel I started just for fun?  Why haven’t I finished the screenplay, never mind that I just started it in October?

Some of you may remember that a couple Christmas holidays ago I pretty much swore off writing. Well, that resolution fell off the wagon.  But in some ways I did stop writing, because ever since then I haven’t set a single writing deadline.  I have little faith in my writing and especially in my get-it-published ability.  And since I have scant free time I’ve even found myself resenting having to spend it on writing.

But you know how it goes, don’t you?  Just when you think you’ve given up the literary ghost, the urge to finish telling a certain story, to find out what happens to your characters, to get your novel into some kind of print so that a couple friends and maybe a stranger or two will read it—that urge comes over you like an addiction and you find yourself at the keyboard and typing away.


This season, things are a little different for me.  I’m pretty much resolved to finish that screenplay soon.  I’m writing an essay-length non-fiction piece.  I’ve even figured out what to do in the sci-fi story. And Charity will be in print in 2015. And that’s that. If I never write another story, I can live with myself. But I do have to finish what I’ve started or I’ll go crazy.

This will be my last post until January.  I hope to see you back here, and I really hope you have a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season that’s full of love and other good stuff.

Take care. And please tell me about your own writing plans.

Wilde Promotion

on December 8, 2014 in Misc 8 Comments »

oscar ny

This last week I learned a literary fact that surprised the heck out of me.

At the age of 27, Oscar Wilde set out to become a great celebrity.  Not a great writer, not a brilliant playwright and poet and essayist, but simply very, very famous.  So he set sail from England to the United States in 1882 and within days gained access to “America’s best-connected writers, scholars, salonistes and politicians, though he jawed just as jauntily with farmers, miners and cowboys.”

He quickly arranged to sit for a prominent photographer in Manhattan. Why? Because “New Yorkers were obsessed with collecting 4-by-6 cardboard-backed celebrity portraits, the Pokémon cards of the fin de siècle.  The image-conscious Wilde instantly saw the value of the trend:  The right photograph would burnish his image and magnify his mystique.”

(These quotes are from a New York Times review of a new biography, WILDE IN AMERICA, by David M. Friedman)

wilde colored

No one before Wilde had used the press so skillfully to establish a claim to renown,” Friedman argues, ably proving his point by following his subject from interview to interview, state to state, charting the shrewd steps Wilde took to build his brand, “devising a formula for creating fame that other modern celebrities — all of them far more shallow than he — are using today, whether they know it or not.”

Did you hear that?  Oscar Wilde built his brand first.  He first made himself a commodity the press eagerly covered.  He realized that “celebrity could come before accomplishment.”  Then only after he was famous did he sail back to England and launch his literary career.  Of course, unlike most celebrities he really was a genius and produced several literary masterpieces.

Obviously I’ve been going about my literary career (a word I use as a joke) all wrong.  Fame should have come first.  The trouble is, I lack not only Wilde’s literary genius, I completely lack his genius for self-promotion.  And honestly, the idea of promoting myself as opposed to my novels just seems…. weird.  I would feel so fake, so self-conscious, so strange. And yet, there’s something deliciously appealing about Wilde’s plan.

What about you?  I mean, we’ve all read the advice-to-writers about building our “brand” first and so on.  But do you think you could launch a self-promotion campaign the way Wilde did?

Have a great week.

It’s Sunday night.  My long holiday weekend has drawn to a close, and I figured I should write down a few things for which I found myself grateful.

fat cat

Much as I am grateful for my job, I am also grateful that I could sleep in for four days.

I am grateful that I love my cat so much I didn’t kill her when for four days in a row she woke me up early by repeatedly sticking her face in mine and walking around on my bed until I got up and fed her.

I am grateful that I had enough discipline to get in four good workouts in a row.

I am grateful that when I go to work on Monday I won’t have to go down to the building’s workout room because my body will be too sore and tired for more exercise.

I am grateful to my friend Linda for having me to her home where more than a dozen friends and family had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

I am grateful that she only wanted me to bring a loaf of bread from a local bakery so I didn’t have to bake anything.

I am grateful that I didn’t have to clean my place because I didn’t have anyone over.

I am grateful that instead of coming over my friends Ann and Rich invited me to go with them to a comedy club where all of the comedians were excellent.

I am grateful that I didn’t plan to get any writing done but I wrote anyway and am happy with what I scribbled down.

I am grateful for my warm place on these cold days and enough money that I can buy food whenever I want, because too many people aren’t that lucky.

Finally, I am grateful for all of you, my wonderful blog friends.  I hope your own Thanksgiving was a feast of love and joy and wine and turkey meat.  Or soy turkey, if you’re vegan.

Take care.  Love ya.