The Writer’s Craft

You don’t wake up one morning and decide to be a writer.

The need to communicate is in every creature’s genes.  Its physical attributes dictate the way it can communicate.  All creatures communicate if only to ensure or extend survival.

Social media has expanded the technology that enables humans to communicate.  Positives and negatives abound on both sides of the equation.

A writer takes the need to communicate a step beyond that which drives all humans to express themselves.  A writer writes because he has something to say, is driven to share it, and is compelled to say it with words.

I write every day.  I have several book-length manuscripts in some stage of development – one, nonfiction and a handful of stories, two are sequels to previously published works.  I do not anticipate completing any of these manuscripts in 2021.  I write, edit and manage four websites – two of my own, a friend’s business website, and another friend’s non-profit website.  I contribute articles to one other website.  I advise two businesses and this mandates weekly reports and annual reports.

I write every day.

Stephen King advises writers…

“Read and write four to six hours a day. If you cannot find the time for that, you can’t expect to become a good writer.”

In my words, if you don’t read, you can’t write.  The two activities go hand in hand.  You can read and elect not to write, but if you want to write well, you must read.

I’ve told you what I am writing.  Here’s a taste of what I’m reading…

  • In the last several years, I’ve read seven of Wendell Berry’s ‘Port William’ novels. I will read the final two – That Distant Land and Andy Catlett – this year.
  • I am currently reading Stephen E Ambrose’s 1975 dual biography Crazy Horse and Custer, The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors.
  • I read two quarterly magazines: Parabola and Plough.
  • I am looking forward to Steven Pressfield’s new novel in March, A Man at Arms: A Novel, described by the publisher as “an epic saga about a reluctant hero, the Roman Empire, and the rise of a new faith.”
  • I am reading the World Wildlife 2020 report “The Living Planet.”
  • I am reading Pope Francis’s 2015 ecological encyclical Laudato Si!
  • I am reading Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1938 and am halfway through Alabama.
  • I am reading the archaeological record “Petroglyphs of the Picacho Mountains, South Central Arizona.”

My extended ‘to read’ list includes…

  • Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi
  • May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy
  • House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
  • The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
  • The Man Who Walked Through Time: The Story of the First Trip Afoot Through the Grand Canyon by Colin Fletcher

I read slowly, and that list will ensure I lack nothing to read in 2021.

Whether you are a published author or a frequent media participant, I encourage you to continue writing and to improve your skills with a strong dose of good literature each and every day.  It’s as essential as eating an apple.

 

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