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Posts Tagged ‘education’

Inspiration and Craft: Entering the Writer’s Life

March 15, 2015 2 comments

I am curious to know which novels and stories inspired authors and which helped hone their craft. It is part of what I am exploring in myself now as I continue to work on a (long-time-coming) novel of my own. Similarly, my short stories, which I have had more practice at writing, need the same reflection.

In college, I wrote a biography about George Orwell for my capstone. Not only was it immensely interesting to explore one of the authors who has had a profound influence on my own writing (thank you, 1984 and Down and Out in Paris and London, among others), but it made sense to understand his own influences. For the most part, it isn’t a story or a novel or an author that sparks the need/desire to write. At least, it doesn’t appear that way. For Orwell, his life in Burma afforded him the spark under his pants to finally get writing (something he enjoyed, but failed at before he writes Burmese Days).

Now, I don’t have a life experience that truly caused me to write. I have always wanted to write (don’t we all). I remember the desire snagging me in 1st grade when my teacher at the time would ask us to write stories based on prompts. Mine were always fantasy, granted, I was a child. My teacher then really pushed me and encouraged me to write. Ever since then, I have wanted to do it, and failed at it miserably. I like to think that part of it has to do with my influence and craft. I have the influence behind my chosen genre, but I don’t explore craft in a way that makes sense to my writing.

Hell, I have an English degree, yes. I have analyzed and broken down many a novel and story. But what has that done for my writing? In all honesty, I wasn’t paying attention to the analysis in a way to make it inform my own writing. I was paying attention to the analysis in a way to make it inform my mind. You can argue that it is one in the same. I disagree.

My reading tastes are unusual, to say the least. Russian classics, SciFi classics, modern SciFi, and a dash of Fantasy makes up my shelves for the most part. I did not read these types of novels and stories in college. These are not the stories and novels I analyzed. These are the stories that influence me daily, that excite me into considering my own plots. However, I have never looked at them as more than a platform from which to jump myself. Instead, I have missed possibly the most important offering these books have to offer me: craft. If only I had paid attention to them in a more serious, critical way before this point. I believe true craft comes from studying what makes your favorite novels great. What symbols did they use? How did they get to the denouement? Did they begin in media res?

Influence and craft is something I am going to begin exploring more in depth–what do my favorite author’s have to say about it?

I also want to know what other writers in the community think about their own experience. Does the simple act of reading inform our craft or do we need to look at what we read with a more critical lens?

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Why Aren’t Short Stories More Popular?

January 22, 2015 Leave a comment

My writing thought of the day.

Short stories are enjoyable to write. However, good guides on writing short stories are hard to find. I did a quick search online and didn’t find any “how to” or “tip” pages that I found worth sharing. Part of this stems from the seemingly difficult way of explaining how short stories are, in fact, different from novels. (And boy, are they different).

I suppose the best way to figure out “how to” write a short story is to continue to read them. Only recently did I become interested in reading short stories from my preferred fiction genre (science fiction). Previous to that, I read plenty of short stories. I am a strong believer that the best American literature can be found in short story form. I believe it so much that I have more short story collections in my room than American classics in novel form. I even gifted my brother’s foreign girlfriend two short story collections after she told me she did not like American literature.

However, short stories are no longer as popular as novels. At least, it appears that way to me. When I ask people what they are reading, they never tell me they are reading a short story collection or they recently read a great short story by so-and-so. No! It is always about novel-length works.

Why aren’t short stories more popular?

I love them. A short story by Tolstoy is what introduced me to the fantastic world of Russian literature (and now I am addicted to Dostoevsky). A short story by Raymond Carver inspired me to put more into my short story writing during college.

Short stories are excellent, neatly packaged pieces of prose.

Why aren’t they more popular?

Closing Your Eyes = Better Recall?

January 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Interesting article from Daily Science about whether or not closing your eyes helps you recall information.

I have never been one to close my eyes to think and try to remember (except during hard tests!), but I do remember a mentor of mine who did it pretty often. I always wondered why he did it during conversations, but now I understand! He held so much knowledge up there and what better way to recall it than relax, close your eyes, and “see” visuals, be it something you read or something you saw, etc.

Maybe next time I am struggling to recall something “on the tip of my tongue,” I will close my eyes and see what comes of it.

Biosecurity: As Seen from Inside a Plant

January 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Fascinating article about research done to figure out what exactly goes on inside a plant when it is under attack (by bugs, disease, etc.) Yet another example of the wonderful ways genetics shapes our world.

Environment Affects Immunity, Not Genes

January 16, 2015 Leave a comment

Good science read of the day: “Environment, Not Genes, Dictates Human Immune Variation, Study Finds.”

I discussed this with a coworker the other day. When parents overuse hand sanitizer and other sanitizing products around the house, they put their household at risk of getting ill. Think: How would your body react after living in a perfectly sterilized environment for several days and then you are thrown out to school or work, where germs breed like crazy?

It seems perfectly logical to me.

Categories: health, life Tags: , , ,

Electronic Health Records – Congressional Bill

January 15, 2015 Leave a comment

We keep pushing off ICD-10, but Congress is now worried about whether EHRs will be inter-operative. ICD-10 and EHRs should come hand in hand: if providers are trying to transition to ICD-10, the easiest way will to insure they have a competent EHR system.

Last year, the billing office I work for was more than ready for ICD-10 and ready for any billing issues that came from the initial months.

Hopefully, ICD-10 will go through in October and we can see how this will effect healthcare.

Categories: health, Jobs, life Tags: ,

Read What You Want to Write

January 14, 2015 2 comments

Should one read what one wants to write or should one read a variety to further what they want to write?

My initial reaction: variety.

Why? As an English student, I used to be offended by professors who trash talked genre fiction.

I am less offended now.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy genre fiction (a lot), especially science fiction and fantasy. However, I have a weird, loving relationship with literary classics from Nabokov as well as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin, etc. I enjoy an occasional recent “literary” read as well.

It comes down to prose. There are great genre prose writers out there, but most genre fiction is mostly great story writing. In contrast, most literary fiction is made up of damn good prose.

I think I will continue to read a little of everything with the hope that it in some way helps my writing.

Thoughts?