6 Books Every Writer Should Read

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Oscar Wilde once said that, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

Writing as an art can’t be taught, and even though Creative Writing courses and workshops undoubtedly help writers grow, writing is a solitary process, and it’s up to each individual to reach within the confines of his mind for answers.

Writers are unique to the extent that even if someone would try to replicate the same career a fellow writer had, he would most likely fail to achieve the same success. A lot of factors come to play in this, including luck, and blindly following a writer’s advice is not the most suitable of actions. What worked for him might not work for you. Instead, you should absorb the rules others have used before you and change them according to your own style and needs.

There are no maps to guide you in this journey. All you get are some folks who are more than happy to help you find your way from time to time.

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How the Art You Consume Determines the Quality of Your Work

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In 2009, during an interview, radio host Ira Glass shared rare insights into what it means to be a creative. The kind of insights that are just at the edge of our mind’s peripheral vision; he managed to pull into focus an often overlooked element about the act of creation.

What drives us to create in the first place is not a desire to play god, but rather our hunger for art.

“Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean?” — Ira Glass

He later goes on to make his most valuable contribution: the most important thing that you can do as a creative is to produce a huge volume of work until you become good enough to create work of the same quality as the art you consume.

You bridge the gap between the art you produce and the art you admire by producing as much work as possible.

It is true, and this particular insight has become almost myth, being written about over and over again by countless creatives.

Yes, the advice to do more work applies to almost all areas of life, but there’s something that we often take for granted: killer taste is not so easy to develop.

Continue reading “How the Art You Consume Determines the Quality of Your Work”

To All The Books I’ll Never Read

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In my younger, more vulnerable years, I used to keep a list of all the books I read. I took pride in this, took pride in counting how many books I read in any given year.

I was one of the few who liked to read. It was a secret pleasure of mine, but as soon as I hit the thousand books milestone, it’s lost its charm to me forever.

Maybe I’ve read twice as many books so far, maybe I’m not that good at counting anymore.

In any case, there are billions of words I’ll never get to read. Millions of books, stories, poems, plays, and essays that I’ll never even know about.

I do my best to read two books a week, and if I were to keep this up until I turn 75, I will have read an additional 4, 700 books. Give or take a few, because I’ve stopped being good at math in sixth grade, when I decided that all I wanted out of life was to write stories.

Maybe it sounds like a lot, but it’s not. It really isn’t.

Continue reading “To All The Books I’ll Never Read”

Book Review: Ancient Book of Sex and Science

In this second volume in the critically acclaimed Ancient Book series, indulge yourself as you explore the strange frontiers of sex and science. From instruments of innovation and the Atomic Age to analysis of the mind, body, and seduction of the human form. Featuring broad color, shapely design, supple lines, and evocative commentary, The Ancient Book of Sex and Science is a fine art hardcover collection of images produced by some of the most highly sophisticated animation designers and low-brow artists in the industry.

This is a phenomenal book for all art aficionados. A must-have.  Continue reading “Book Review: Ancient Book of Sex and Science”

How to Improve Your Writing… Right Now

Many of you would love to write better short stories or poems, more compelling blog posts, more intriguing articles. And you’ve probably heard all the old advice by now. Practice makes perfect. Get your 10,000 hours in. Just show up and write.

And of course, these are all great ideas, but implementing them takes a lot of time. It’s not like you can write for 10,000 hours in a week or so. It’s not physically possible.

Or as they say…

What if I were to tell you there are a couple of ways you can improve your writing right now? No years and years of practice required.

What would you say?

Well, you’d be glad you decided to read this post. 

Continue reading “How to Improve Your Writing… Right Now”

Four Dystopian Novels That Are Eerily Close to Becoming True

Dystopia literally means “not-good place” and is a term used to describe a community or society that is undesirable or frightening. Dystopian novels were all the rage back when during the Cold War, possibly as a way to warn people of the perils of such a totalitarian regime as the Communist one. As a fictional genre, dystopias have the uncanny characteristic of painting a rather hopeless future for society.

Here are four dystopian novels that are eerily close to becoming true:

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Book Review: The Woman with the Bouquet by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

In his new collection of stories, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, author of The Most Beautiful Book in the World, probes the paradox that the events that shape our lives are often the stuff of dreams, yet nonetheless true. Humor, tenderness, irony, and exquisite writing have always been the hallmarks of Schmitt’s work. Here, he adds a pinch of philosophy.

In one story, a lovelorn writer seeks refuge in Ostende, a remote and charming town on the North Sea. His host is a solitary and eccentric octogenarian. The fairy-tale setting starts to work its magic and the old woman begins to tell her tale—an extraordinary story of passion. Bewitched by what he hears, the writer can no longer distinguish what is real from what is not, and in the woman’s account he will finally find a response to his own deep-seated grief. Here, as in the other stories in this collection, Schmitt displays the combination of stylishness and insight into the human condition that prompted Kirkus Reviews to write of his tales that they “echo Maupassant’s with their lean narratives, surprise endings, mordant humor and psychological acuity.”

It is said that there’s no creature that does not try to escape reality. There isn’t a living thing endowed with a central nervous system that does not dream. The brain is what is called an exclusion system: its purpose is to decide what information is important and what is not. There is so much information in the world that we’d go mad if we tried to understand it all.

What does this have to do with this collection of short stories?

Well, because the characters in each of the stories have this in common: they want to escape reality, they are looking for a shelter against it. If you ever felt this gnawing sense of fear at the thought that you are simply waiting for life to happen to you, if you daydreamed to the point of it becoming an obsession, then this is the book for you.

Reality cannot be negotiated with, but our imagination can be bargained with; our dreams can show us a world that will never come true.

But that never stopped us from dreaming and wishing our dreams would, somehow, come true.

The Woman with the Bouquet is one of the most intriguing compilations of short stories I have ever read.