Passing Don’s wisdom on to writers

I continued my reading of Don Quixote this morning and stumbled across a passage that could easily apply to writers in today’s world.

In the passage, Sancho Panza asks Quixote why he continues to wander around doing great deeds that nobody will ever see or hear about. Why doesn’t Quixote go into the service of a great king somewhere, a king who can fund his journey with money and the best weapons and supplies?

This made me think of a modern-day writer who might think it isn’t worth writing anything that can’t get published by a big publishing house.

Here is Quixote’s answer:

“There is something in what you say, Sancho, but before one reaches that stage one must wander about the world on probation as it were, in search of adventures, so that, by bringing some of them to a happy conclusion, one gains such fame and renown that when one does go to some great monarch’s court one is known as a knight by one’s deeds; and as soon as all the boys in the street see one riding through the city gates, they follow one and come swarming around one and shouting: ‘This is the Knight of the Sun’ or of the Serpent or whatever device it is under which one has performed great exploits.”

So, a writer should write and write and write all over the internet and make a name for him or her self. If the writing is worth reading, people will read it and someday the big publishing houses will come chasing after the writer, instead of the other way around.

Write every day

One of the biggest lessons I learned in my journalistic days was that sometimes people like the dumbest stories. No, what I mean is, you never can tell what people are going to like. I would turn in stories I loved and hear nothing from anyone and I would turn in stories I hated and have compliments tossed my way. Point being, there were a bunch of stories I never would have written if it weren’t for a deadline and those stories brought a smile to somebody’s face, sometimes. So, that’s why I am rambling on late at night. I was about to go to bed with nothing on my mind to write about, but here I am.

If you have a crazy book idea, write it up and publish it. You never know, somebody might enjoy it. If nobody enjoys it, so what. Most of us are glad Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations, but have you ever tried to wade through the Pickwick Papers? Then again, somebody out there probably loved the Pickwick Papers.

Shavasana is my favorite yoga pose

There is no better feeling than reaching the end of a yoga practice and hearing the instructor tell you to go into relaxation pose, or Shavasana.
That feeling of splaying your arms and legs out on the ground and letting your body relax after a challenging session. Of course, Shavasana wouldn’t feel so good if it weren’t for it directly following the practice.
If Shavasana came first, it wouldn’t be the same. If it lasted 30 minutes, it wouldn’t be the same either. The wisdom in Shavasana is that relaxation is an important part of life, but it has its place.
At the end of a long day of work, a good meal and an alcoholic beverage is Shavasana. At the end of a long week, sleeping in an extra hour on Saturday is Shavasana.
Work hard at something each day, even a hobby, and Shavasana will be there waiting for you.

McMurtry prose sings

In my journalist days I used to hear a phrase tossed around that was unique to the office. Someone would turn in a story to the editor and the editor would say, “Does it sing?”

I suppose it’s obvious what that phrase means, but in reading Larry McMurtry’s novel When the Light Goes, I have gained a better knowledge of the three-word question. When the words flow by in a thought-provoking manner that doesn’t feel like reading, it sings.

McMurtry is well known for his western tales like Lonesome Dove, which was made into a TV miniseries decades ago. Though I had seen Lonesome Dove and heard McMurtry’s name, it took me decades to actually read one of his books.

I found it randomly on Oyster and I’ll admit I was hooked by his reference to a woman’s nipples on the first page. The story has its share of pornographic moments, but isn’t a dirty story. It has it’s share of romance, but isn’t a simple love story. The reason to read the book isn’t the plot, it’s the writing. McMurtry uses simple, poetic language that doesn’t sound like it’s trying too hard.

Upon finishing When the Light Goes, I vowed to read more McMurtry and started with the first chapter of the first book in the Lonesome Dove series, a novel titled Dead Man’s Walk. If my old editor asked me about that first chapter, I’d say, “Indeed it does.”

Would Mark Twain have been a blogger?

Mark Twain wasn’t always a writer. He wrote professionally as a young man, but pursued other careers, only returning to writing when those other professions failed him.

So, if Mark Twain wrote primarily for money, it’s fair to ask whether he would have wasted time blogging.

Supposedly, some bloggers make money, but few do right away. I suppose there might be some big magazine paying a writer to keep a blog, but that doesn’t count. When I say blogger, I mean random folks typing away for a handful of readers.

A better question might be: if Mark Twain was a blogger, would anyone read his ramblings? Anyone who has read Mark Twain knows he was a gifted writer, but that doesn’t mean the blogging community would find him.

Maybe Twain would have been a master marketer and spread his name on the internet, but maybe not. Maybe he would have written a few blog posts and gave up to pursue something that actually produced a paycheck.