Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why other writers are NOT the enemy....

I'd like to think that I don't often create blog posts out of some reactionary impulse, but I guess I should own up to the fact that this one was sparked directly by the article at this link. Why? Because I disagree.

There is a huge misconception that one author's success somehow damages another's potential. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth and all it takes is a simple exercise in maths to bash this myth to smithereens.

After a bit of prowling around on google, I came up with the following output averages for a few better known writers: Isaac Asimov wrote 1700 words per day on average. Hemingway wrote 500 a day. Stephen King writes 10 pages a day. It took J K Rowling five years to complete the first Harry Potter book. Amanda Hocking writes between 5000 to 8000 words per day. Terry Pratchett wrote Dodger in 9 months. Lee Child works at a rate of between 600 and 2500, stating that the most he ever did in a single day was 4000. In fact, the fastest writer I've ever heard of, was Michael Moorcock, who allegedly finished off a trilogy in nine days, working at a rate of 15,000 words a day.

Now let's look at the consumption rate of readers, particularly those who would class themselves as word addicts. I can shed a little light on their habits, having been one myself for many years. A serious reader used to be someone who chose a handbag, based on whether you could fit at least one or possibly more books inside. A serious reader's absolute worst nightmare is being stuck on a two hour train journey without something to read, because they have become addicted to taking mini holidays from the physical reality, whenever they can get away with it. I'm fairly slow, though. Here are a few claims from readers, also taken off the internet. One person states that she read the whole Twilight series in half a week. Another person claims to read a 600 word book in 3-4 hours. Yet another reader claims to have read the last four Harry Potter books in a few hours, on the day they came out. A somewhat slower reader claims to read 2-3 books or around 400 pages in a week.

My point, as is often stated in independent writer circles, is that no single author, even an inhumanly prolific one, can write fast enough to satisfy the appetite of one serious reader. This is why we need each other. We all grow in the same forest. We are all part of the same eco-system. If one writer encourages more people to read, we ALL benefit. Writers are not in competition with each other.

Even if the so-called Big Five publishers are restricting their output to the surest bets, there are so many other paths to follow. It has been argued, that small presses in fact have more to offer, as far as individual development of writers. And, every day more and more established writers are beginning to dabble in self-publishing, raising its profile and respectability. Towards the end of last year, Amazon announced that over 150 of their KDP authors sold more than 100,000 copies.

So, keep reading. Keep writing. And stay inspired.

(Link to my smashwords page)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Revisiting To Kill a Mockingbird (searching for the worlds of Scout, Jem and Atticus.....*SPOILER*)

I suppose I have to start by saying that this blog post is a bit of a departure from the usual weirdness I post at this location. It began, when I found a link on a forum to the video below.

The clip is an amateur film taken documenting smalltime life in Groveport & Canal Winchester, Ohio. About halfway through, I realized, this is probably what town life looked like in the time of Harper Lee's classic book, 'To Kill a Mockingbird', which was based on an incident in 1936. Given, it is another state, but would the internet allow me to take a closer look at this world of almost 80 years ago?

I did 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee in high school as a prescribed book. It was a bit of a mystery to me, even then, that the Apartheid era South Africa of the early 1980s would include a book examining racial prejudice in its curriculum. I read the book again, several times as an adult and even speculated with a friend about the author, Harper Lee. It is a well-known literary legend that 'To kill a Mockingbird' was produced when Harper Lee was given a year's wages to take time off to do some writing. The book won various awards, but its author has yet to produce a follow-up. Her silence remains an enigma to this day.

The above video prompted me to search for more windows into the world of Scout Finch and her family. Here's what I found...

This is the Alabama of 1937. You won't see Mobile, but the video does includes a glimpse of the Confederate White House in Montgomery, footage of Selma and Auburn. It even features the dog who, unlike Pavlov's, rings his own bell. The clip is on the youtube channel of buyout footage, a website that sells a large variety of archived historical footage - at a price, of course.

Then I found it.

Yep, this is the Mobile, Alabama of 1935. You could almost imagine Miss Maudie Atkinson, Miss Stephanie Crawford and Aunt Alexandra walking amongst those azalea gardens or shy Boo Radley lurking in the shadows of one of those porches. While a large section of the video focuses on the harbour and the national parks, there is also footage from a prison farm near Atmore - perhaps the sort of establishment where Tom Robinson was shot and killed for attempting to escape?

In closing, here's a short slide show of historical Mobile...

... and a look at the Mobile of today...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bodies and Souls

Do we fall in love with bodies or with souls?
What if a beautiful body came to you and there was nothing inside?
Would you keep it around anyway, because it looked good?
What if a soul came to you without a body?
Would you pretend not to see it?
Or would you open up a door to madness without a moment's hesitation?
Do we fall in love with bodies or with souls?