Articles, Blog

Savouring The Tears In The Writer

tears in the writer source: claudia dea
Photo: Claudia Dea @Flickr

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

― Robert Frost

This famous quote has pushed many an aspiring writer to improve their work. It is a perennial piece of writing advice, simply because it’s true: you can’t impart on others what you don’t feel yourself. Even a liar must be convinced of his own lie if he is to persuade others to believe it. And what are fiction writers but professional liars?

A convincing story is delightful because it feels real. But that conviction comes at a price – for both the writer and the reader.

Articles, Blog

Plot Pruning

pruning firethorn pyracantha

Last week’s winter storm dealt a lethal blow to our 25-year-old pyracantha. The gale caught and broke off its stems a few inches above the ground. Thus a wall of spikey scrubs landed on the street, narrowly missing several parked cars and ditto insurance claims.

You can’t leave that lying around, so my husband dragged two cubic metre of aggressive plant out of the way. He cursed the air blue, but prevailed. Now this wooden carcass sits in our backyard, entertaining the local birds while awaiting dismantling. And I do mean dismantling: with its two-inch thorns as thick as nails, handling a pyracantha (or ‘firethorn’) feels like a scene straight from Saw II.

The comparison with editing a first draft is so striking, it’s not even funny.

Articles, Blog

Fair Game for Self-Publishing

Little did I know that one business trip would change everything for this shy self-publishing author.

Frank furt Buchmess Book Fair self-publishing

“It’s huge,” my friend warned me before I left. “I’ve been there, and really, you’ll need days to see it all.”  She was, of course, talking about the…

Frankfurt Book Fair

As it turned out, needing days hadn’t been an exaggeration:

Articles, Blog

Humans Are Animals

humans are animals - evolution skulls
Photo: Steve Johnson @ Flickr

We humans love to beat our own drum. We just love to proclaim how smart and resourceful we are. How we’re a unique creation, made in God’s own image. According to Judaism and its derivatives, anyway. Different religions, different opinions, of course.

Philosophies are beautiful, but so are the laws of nature. And those laws state, with irrefutable consistency, that humans are animals. Of the species homo sapiens sapiens, to be precise.

Evolutionary Basics

Homo sapiens sapiens, or “the thinking man”, is the last survivor of the otherwise dead human family tree. The first members of the homo family appeared approx. 1 million years ago, but during the last Ice Age, only we and our cousins homo neanderthalensis still existed. All other humanoids had long gone extinct, and at the end of said Ice Age, so had the Neaderthals.

Compare that to sharks, which have been around in abundant varieties for 420 million years.

So not only are humans animals, from a genealogical point of view we’re not even particularly successful.

Articles, Blog

The Pain Game

Not quite the blogpost I had planned for today, but clear thinking is impossible when you’re repeatedly curled up in foetal position for days on end. However, that little setback did put me in the perfect position to study the mind’s response to pain. Especially excruciating pain…

pain game - excruciating pain and how it affects the mind
Photo: Vincent Bozzo

A bout of enteritis brougth on some terrible and very painful cramps. They were only cramps, I kept telling myself. But even “only cramps” proved sufficient to hotwire my brain.

In short, my body threw a Happy Potter-style Cruciatus Curse on itself. This is what it did.