Archived Writer's Notebook Messages

From February 19, 1997 to March 4, 1997

Kasin Hunter Tue Mar 4 19:20:31 PST 1997

Britomart said: "Set aside a day for each major character, and get up early and before you do anything else, put your
hands on the keyboard and write a long autobiographical spiel in the character's first-person voice.
They'll tell you things you never imagined possible. Next day, do it with another character. And so
on. Keep all the autobiographies because they'll each have a distinctive voice that you can use in
dialogue. Hope it works for you as well as it did for me. No offence, Kasin, but I've always found
the "compile a list of details" road to be woefully inadequate. If you get them to speak to you in first
person, however, you can "hear" how the dialogue sounds."

Brit, you crack me up. How could I be possibly be offended that a technique doesn't work for you? That's what makes us all individuals. Besides, I also had said first off "You could try writing the story from character's point of view only and see how that sounds. Then revise it with some naration put back in." No, it's not the same as an autobiography, but it is the character's voice just like you had promoted. We get to the same place. We just take different paths.

Philip, I'm impressed with your publications! What a writer. I had no idea you were so prolific. You must write as a full-time job in order to have so much out on the market. I have just enough time to answer email in the mornings. At lunch, I jot down a couple thoughts and do some reading. At night, it's a few new lines, in illustration rough or if I stay up late, maybe a few pages. If I had kids, I don't know what I'd do. I have such little time now.

Ben, Happy, Happy! I rec. your email just fine and will take more time to look over it tomorrow. Thanks for the opportunity, regardless.

Trudy, take whatever time you need for yourself as well as the excerpts I sent. No biggy on that end.

Everyone: I was wondering if anyone of our group has had this happen--you get onto a writer's talk group, and the first thing they want to know is What sex are you? and Do you have any children? That bothers me only because I believe that it doesn't matter either way when it comes to good writing. Personally, I love to read from both genders and especially admire when a male can represent feminine feelings etc. as well as a female, and visa versa. So, lately when I get on a chat and they ask me the same questions, I just say I'm a writer/artist and leave it at that. (Are ovaries phrase-producers? Are testicles plot-enhancers?) So far, I've met with some resistance to my unisex approach. I guess they have to get my sexuality straight in their heads before my phrasing fits. Hummm . . . Curious.

Also, more good news with my artwork. Got a notice from a publisher today, and she is putting another illustration of mine into her magazine this summer. It's a cute one called The Writers' Post. It's interesting how when my writing lags a bit on sales, my illustrations take up some of the slack. I love both expressions, thank goodness.

Well, time to do some research. Health and humor, Kasin.

Lisa Nickles Tue Mar 4 18:45:44 PST 1997

WOW! ban myself from the computer for a block of time and I miss some pretty good discussions!

As far as the subject of good literature vs. bad literature, it kind of falls in the same category as "I might not know art, but I know what I like.' It's ridiculous to argue that genre fiction or any other is trashy just because it doesn't match up to whatever invisible standard someone sets. I can enjoy Hemmingway and Jordan and neither is less because of it. That is the long and short of it, in my opinion.

Now I have a question for the published novelists in our group. Did you find the first book you wrote more difficult a process than the other(s) coming later? I'm REALLY not enjoying this process of revision with my book. (I've put it away for a while because I can't seem to make any headway right now.) I know myself well enough to know that I will eventually write another, and I just hope the process becomes easier with experience.

Oh well, back to the other 8,000 things I need to do before bed... (grumble)

Philip Tue Mar 4 17:44:10 PST 1997

BRITOMART: quick answers to your questions - yes!... I was intimidated, brow beaten and trodden on by nearly everyone concerning the writing of my second book. (I resisted lots of pressure to write a sequel). That impending second effort makes us fragile and vulnerable. I've met a few writers who have had nightmarish stories to tell about this. And not all second books measure up...not surprising. Whitney Otto's was one of those...after the amazing success of "How to make an American Quilt" she was under so much pressure. Her second book "Now you see her" was panned to hell by just about everyone. When I met her even she could not recommend that I read it...preferring that I read her first and wait for her third.

And no you misunderstood...I don't write two books a year but I should be able to so, given my writing rate and available time. This year I will have two books released but each book has taken me about one year to produce. I have them with different publishers - one was contracted, the other not - the timing of their release is not my own.

Back soon- Philip.

Britomart Tue Mar 4 13:27:39 PST 1997

Good mornin' all. And Happy Birthday to Ben! Hurrah!

Phil: I can write around 1500 words in an hour, but I can't do more than about 2 hours at a time or it starts to sound like crap. On a good week (ie. when I have few commitments) I can write for 2 hours for about 4-5 mornings. That's about a chapter and a half a week. But of course, the actual putting words on paper time isn't the biggest chunk of my writing process - planning, researching etc. The Infernal was 130 000 words and it took my nine months to do the first draft.

Here's a question for you - were you intimidated starting your second novel for publication? I've realised the reason I'm having such difficulty with the new book is that I'm terrified. And btw, setting yourself a goal of writing two books a year does seem a wee bit excessive.

Ed: Yeah, people will probably stop reading paper books in the next hundred or so years, but it doesn't matter to us because electronic books still have to be written - and the opportunities for creativity are expanded by the multi-media process. You can design a whole world for your reader to explore when she's tired of reading prose - imagine you have a book set in an old castle, well a virtual castle might come on the CD. Or how about music? If you love listening to the Smashing Pumpkins while you write, you might be able to help the reader repeat the experience. I certainly think there's nothing to be afraid of with the advent of the electronic book - it sounds pretty exciting to me. People say "but anybody can publish in cyberspace" but that's not strictly true. To produce quality work will still involve a cash outlay that only millionaires and publishing companies can afford. It will be sad to see the end of old volumes - particularly that lovely smell of an old book - but let's face it, paperbacks aren't going to make it through the next few centuries unscathed either - hell, they fall apart after two or three good reads. I think we have to stop being afraid of the mythical electronic book. I, for one, welcome it. (Nobody can call me a Luddite).

In response to your other question, I know exactly the feeling, when your characters just aren't coming to life. I have a sure-fire way to combat this (because I did it myself just a few weeks ago). Set aside a day for each major character, and get up early and before you do anything else, put your hands on the keyboard and write a long autobiographical spiel in the character's first-person voice. They'll tell you things you never imagined possible. Next day, do it with another character. And so on. Keep all the autobiographies because they'll each have a distinctive voice that you can use in dialogue. Hope it works for you as well as it did for me. No offence, Kasin, but I've always found the "compile a list of details" road to be woefully inadequate. If you get them to speak to you in first person, however, you can "hear" how the dialogue sounds. Btw, "The Secret History" is my favourite book of all time - now those characters were amazingly written. I can't wait for another book from Tartt, but it seems like it's taking her a while.

And finally, Ed, leaving work wouldn't be the solution - many writers get severe existential angst when faced with all the long days off to write in. The best way is to drop back to part-time hours - tape other people's CDs, don't buy new clothes etc - it makes sure you still have structured time in your life, and that financial security isn't going to intrude on your writing. And you might find, like me, that a year and a half down the track you've got an advance that you can spend on CDs and new frocks and books and that it will run out in under 9 months and... hang on, got side-tracked. Part-time work and writing go well together - that was my point.

Bye all!

Philip Tue Mar 4 12:50:46 PST 1997

ED: I'm not published in the UK or the USA but Penguin (my distributor) seem to have taken it on themselves to stock books overseas - but why?

Onto my fifth book now: "Savage" due for release in late 1998.

"There'll be new dreams..." due for release in Australia in Oct '97.

"The Lightning Mine" due for release here around June '97.

"Scream Black Murder" (HarperCollins - 1995) ISBN 0-7322-5142-7

"Sweet Water - Stolen Land" (University of Queensland Press - 1993) ISBN 0-7022-2551-7

I also see you haven't posted an email address, on work time are we?... well done, wish I could.

Back soon - Philip.

Linda Tue Mar 4 08:41:11 PST 1997

Kitty:- how did the rabbit turned lion behave? Did he stay a lion? Did you survive the class? Was there ever a human presence in either the rabbit or the lion? Wonderful story.

Ben: Happy Birthday- do you get the day off (Ha!Ha!) ? Have a great one and may your muse be especially wise and gracious in the next year.

Kitty Tue Mar 4 06:13:28 PST 1997

Today, Tuesday March 4th, is BEN'S BIRTHDAY! Happy birthday, Ben! Hope you have a good one!

Kasin Hunter Tue Mar 4 06:00:13 PST 1997

So many questions, so little time.

"Ed. Tue Mar 4 04:07:23 PST 1997

ANYONE: I am currently torn between the narators voice and character dialogue. My writing flows
from the narators POV, but I'm unable to bring the characters to life. They seem to be mute."

You could try writing the story from character's point of view only and see how that sounds. Then revise it with some naration put back in. If your characters seem mute, are they saying anything important enough to listen to? What do they want to reveal? What are their likes, dislikes, habits, dreams? Maybe they aren't well-rounded individuals, so their conversation isn't well-rounded. Give them measurements, clothing preferences, sexual orientations, offspring--in short, give them everything you and I have. We seem to think we can talk just fine.

"I have read, primaraly fiction, since I've been old enough to hold books. My favourite authors are Donner Tartt(Secret history), Umberto Eco, Orwell, Asimov, Clive Barker, Stephen King (dark tower) and Crichtons book Travels. I yearn to be able to give up my job to write."

I was disappointed that you didn't leave your email address because I have a Sunday live chat with fiction writers who would love to meet you. Let me know. Our tastes in literature are quite similar. Give up your job and write--don't we all. (sigh) But the electric company keeps sending those pesky bills . . .

"Question: Will poeple ever give up reading books? Will other forms of media take over? Would you write an electronic book?"

THis has been debated for some time. What it came down to in many circles is that there is a part of the population who like to curl up on the sofa, wrapped in a warm blanket with a good book cuddled to their bosom. It's a tactual thing. For that kind of writing, the physical book is still on safe grounds. Yes, I'd write an electronic book in a flash, depending on what the material was. I think it would get to many people who ordinarily wouldn't even know about it, if it was electronically published.

Kasin Hunter.

Ed Tue Mar 4 04:09:29 PST 1997

Philip: Have you anything published in th UK? Any ISBNs?


Ed. Tue Mar 4 04:07:23 PST 1997

ANYONE: I am currently torn between the narators voice and character dialogue. My writing flows from the narators POV, but I'm unable to bring the characters to life. They seem to be mute. Can anyone throw any advice my way.

I apologise for this constant bombardment of what, on the face if it, are the basics.

Also, on looking through the archives I have noticed that there is certian level of etiquette which I have not observed.

If anyone is interested. I'm 25, live in London, no formal qualifications, play rugby, getting married to my fiance Sharon at the end of April (how close?). I work full time as a contract UNIX consultant; currently at IBM UK (how boring!). I have read, primaraly fiction, since I've been old enough to hold books. My favourite authors are Donner Tartt(Secret history), Umberto Eco, Orwell, Asimov, Clive Barker, Stephen King (dark tower) and Crichtons book Travels. I yearn to be able to give up my job to write.

Question: Will poeple ever give up reading books? Will other forms of media take over? Would you write an electronic book?


Kasin Hunter Mon Mar 3 18:25:54 PST 1997

Kitty, your bunny to lion story cracked me up. Humor is a great way to teach. Thank you for sharing.

Philip Mon Mar 3 15:01:51 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: what is literary and what is not?...that is the question, right? A funny thing happened to me on my way to this month that wasn't so funny at the time: I attend a dinner with my wife at which a Booker Prize winner was present with his wife and a prominent English professor with thirty-years tenure (and short story writer) and his wife, this very debate raged for hours until 3:30 a.m.. What was resolved? ... absolutely nothing. Is it subjective? Can literature (once agreed upon and labelled) be all things to all people? Is there good literature and bad literature?... or is literature a standard, a bench mark? Could we reach agreement on these few basic premises? No! Not even close.

The Booker Prize winner represented the literati, his sailor-blushing prose well ensconced in street Glaswegian, filled with rat-cunning cleverness, a social conscience and originality well beyond mere mortals. His arguments, sound, ringing true, like something well rehearsed - Pythagorean.

The negative professor, so swept up in destructive theoretical dastardliness that his own work suffers, struggled to fit his own audacious box of rules, his work failing to be literature and failing to win sales. And now failing to be published at all. A self-confessed, life-long failure - a shocking thing to see and hear.

And me, the somewhat enigmatic, self-educated, high school drop out, popular crime fiction writer, historical thriller writer, national literature prize winner and creator of best sellers. My books have for years been set for tertiary study and are for sale in airports...the latter being the point of argument for at least one hour that night.

My stuff is confrontational, filled with difficult political issues, distressing social ethics and deviant behaviour but somehow I found a voice people like to hear. But is it literature? I know I don't care. I'll leave that answer to those who study the work and apply the theories they invent, that whole industry that live on the creativity of writers - I've called them parasites before now so why hold back here - 'the parasites'.

Good questions... no easy answers... certainly not in one posting here. Try a whole night with some writer friends and an academic or two, with lots of fine food and wine and... oh no, that's right that didn't work either.

Some easy questions: (a) how many first draft words do those among us write in one hour?; ( b) How many hours per week do we write?; and (c) how long should it take you to write the first draft of an average length (80,000 word) novel? Please post your answers here.

Mmmmm... I figure I should be able to complete two books per year, easily, or one great whacking volume, but I'm not. What's wrong with me right now? Lack of discipline... easily side tracked into committees... admin is killing my creativity? Yes... thank you, I needed that. And you?....

Back soon Philip.

Tammi Mon Mar 3 10:31:05 PST 1997

BRIT: Just to add my two cents to the argument... I don't think the elitist attitude applies just to genre fiction. I believe that when a book sells to a broad audience, the author has found a way to speak to a wide spectrum of people. And the author should be applauded for finding that voice. However, the more popular a novel is, the more the literati condemn the work as being beneath them.

The business of creating experimental literature and then presuming that the people who don't get it are just uneducated or uncultured reminds me of the Emperor's New Clothes. I keep waiting for a child to shout, "Wait a minute, this just doesn't make sense."

I wonder if perhaps these writers have spent so much time in their university circles, that they can no longer write in plain English (or whatever their written language originally was). And then they feel the need to lash out at those who apply the KISS principle and achieve monetary success.

Just my thoughts. And, yes, this is just as common in the US.

KITTY: Good job setting the professor straight. No one wants to be the one to point out that the emperor is naked, but someone has to. I'm glad it worked for you.

EVERYONE: I am ashamed to say I haven't written anything for my novel in several days. Ashamed because you all seem so prolific. I will go now and work on my novel.


Linda Mon Mar 3 09:51:16 PST 1997

Hi all but especially Sherri who so kindly enquired about my whereabouts. I've been " lurking" for the past 2 weeks. I have been overwhelmed at work and with church and family stuff. I also have gone deep inside thinking about some major changes in my novel . It has actually separated into 2 novels. One I describe as a dance, a song that I'll just keep on writing. I feel I am called to just "write the thing"- to lay any more planning to rest and let the dance emerge. It's a "joyous tale- of love and hope ". The other novel will go much deeper and deal with parallel issues. The main character is the same ( I think) but the second novel is a deeper exploration of her search for identity both as a woman and as a child of the Father.

The decision to split the projects has given me a great sense of freedom. I will write the song; dance the dance first and in the experience I hope I'll find my voice and learn the craft of writing ( at least minimally). The second project is on the back burner except for periodically adding to my background research.

In this season of Lent- I think I'm being called to recover " the magic and the mystic" . Somewhere over this past year I've lost the joy and hope that my faith is to bring. I belive that in writing this winsome tale I'll recover that joy and hopefully it will at some distant point inspire others.

I am grateful for the Notebook and for the joyful positive support you give to each other.

Sherri: Sorry you were so ill. How frustrating to have all that pain ( equal I understand to the pain of childbirth) with nothing but medical bills to take home at the end. I laughed when you recounted how you're praying for your characters. I'd love to know how your firned responded to this outburst?

Kitty Mon Mar 3 09:06:50 PST 1997

Ben, I agree with your take on Brit's lit/genre question. I would add that there are writers who do sit down with the very concious thought of writing serious fiction. Whether it is pretentiousness or rock solid confidence in their message and talent, I don't know. It seems to me the "good stuff," regardless whether it is catagorized as literature or genre fiction, will endure. For your amusement, here is my Literary Criticism Story from the days when I was a very earnest university student. In my senior year I took a grad level course in Literary Criticism. Rather than reading and reviewing/dissecting books which is what I thought we would be doing, we were required to buy several slim volumes filled with intense essays by prominent literary critics. It was very heavy going since these fellows (and all the critics cited were men--what does that say?!) used very big words and very complicated sentence structure. To add to my misery, the professor lectured with big words and complicated sentence structure. It was impossible to follow him through a lecture without your eyes crossing, your head spinning and a faint sensation of panic and confusion suffusing up your body (and, no, I never did recreational drugs). Anyway, one day he turned from the blackboard where he was scribbling some diagram to illustrate some obscure theory, scanned the benumbed students present then pinned me with his fevered stare, and asked triumphantly "And what do YOU think of that?!" With as much composure as I could muster and a great dollop of audacity I didn't know I possessed I replied, "I think, sir, you are a rabbit." Stunned silence. "Why do you think that?" he asked. "Because you hop from one subject to the next just like a rabbit. It's hard to follow the point you are trying to make. You're here, you're there, but where are you going?" I answered. He was silent a moment and gave me a hard look as if he were seeing me for the first time, then he turned his back to the class and continued the lecture. I left the class that day pretty sure I had blown any hope of passing the course with a decent grade, a good portion of which was based on class participation. I went to the next class resigned but serene. I may not have pleased him, but the professor asked for my opinion and he got it, no B.S. there.
I arrived a bit early and it wasn't long before the classroom was full, waiting for the professor. There was a sort of crackly sense of expectation in the air and more than one sympathetic rather-you-than-me look directed my way. The classroom door slammed open. The professor strode into the room and faced the class. "Today," he announced, "I am a lion!" I aced the course.

Kasin Hunter Mon Mar 3 06:00:04 PST 1997

Ben said: "I've been looking for an
illustrator for my Robin Hood peoms, so if you're interested...?"

Could be. Email me with your expectations, and I'll send you a couple illustration samples. We may or may not be in the same flow. Happy to help if I can. Kasin.

Britomart Mon Mar 3 01:19:51 PST 1997

Sorry to make it all sound like such a mouthful. Basically, who's sick of hearing that genre fiction is badly written crap, and that experimental fiction is the nectar of the gods (even if it's completely obscure and peppered heavily with words that would make a sailor blush)? If it doesn't happen in your part of the world, that's cool. It happens a lot here in Oz. So if anybody has ever been incensed by the lack of respect paid to romance/horror/crime/SF/fantasy etc fiction, and the attention fawned upon books that sound like a hallucinating junkie wrote them, I want to hear about it please.

Farewell all!

Ben Woestenburg Sun Mar 2 23:08:02 PST 1997

Brit: I have to agree with Deb on that one. My lack of edjukashun prevents me from participating in your little forum. However, if opinions are valued I might be able to voice mine. I don't think when anyone writes a story that they can purposely sit down and say to themselves: I'm going to write a piece of literature. I think once it leaves your hands it's out of your control. You may think that what you are writing is just a useless piece of fluff, but the world looks at it and says differently. Do you think Hemmingway was thinking that when he wrote THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA? We write basically to entertain ourselves first, and if people like it, so much the better. Herman Melville wasn't even recognized in his own lifetime, and he gave us MOBY DICK. In a hundred years from now, who can say what will be literature, and what will be neglected? Great writers are always being picked up and dropped. Remember THE THREE MUSKETEERS? Alexandre Dumas wrote formulaic histories that are remembered for great plots and characters, yet he churned them out at a fatser pace than anyone could have imagined. Some of the greatest artists in the history of man were drunks and opium eaters and yet, the world remembers them for what they left behind. We don't control anything we create, and the world makes of it what it will. There's an audience for everything and everybody. I don't care for Picasso, but I'd give my eye-teeth to have an original drawing. He used to give them away. Charles Bukowski was a drunken bum who died and now everyone is just screaming for his work. Literary genius? Or desperate drunk looking for a quick buck to get another drink? I think it's the end result that matters, and that's all. If I can be remembered in my own lifetime for just a single piece of work, I think I'd die a happy man. I know I'm not going to win the Nobel prize, and I don't expect to win the Booker either. Hell, it's going to be hard enough for me just to get myself published. Once I am, then it will be on to the next thing and leave all the rest of it behind. Creativity is what it's all about, and if the world wants to look at it as garbage, they have that right; if they want to call it genius, they can do that too. People read Henry Miller, but sixty and seventy years ago he was banned and labeled as pornographic. The thing about literature is that the values and morals of the world change and the writing eventually fits into the needs of that society for that time. James Jones wrote FROM HERE TO ETERNITY over a span of years, dragging it with him where ever he lived, a modern classic. But what about his other works? Don't they fall into the same catagory? If you wirte a book and it's called a modern classic, does that mean everything else you write falls into the same tight compartment? James Dickie wrote DELIVERANCE, and he didn't write another book for almost fifteen years. I never read his first one, but I read the second one, ALNILAM, and it was one of the most unbelievable reads ever. No chapters, columns of insight seen from the p.o.v. of the blind protagonist. A classic that I'll bet no one even remembers. But that's because the book appealed to me. I've read WAR AND PEACE, but I have to tell you, I thought it was long and drawn out, and to be quite honest, over rated. I preferred Mikhail Sholokov's AND QUIET FLOWS THE DON. Personal taste again. I'm sorry I can't give you the kind of insight you're looking for, and I'm probably way off base with this one, but hey, it's just my own personal obsrvation.

KITTY: I restructured the dragon story by cutting two thousand words and making it a tighter read. I made the narrator into a girl because you were right about that, too. She does sound like a girl. I was going to leave it sexless, a sort of ambiguous voice, but changed my mind. It's out of my hands now, and winging its way to the judges. I haven't made any appointments to get my hair cut yet, so I've decided to plan and write another story for this month. I'm looking at the Templar knights because I like them.

KASIN:I hope you're enjoying THE ALIENIST, and that it's not just me that enjoyed it. I'd like to personally thank you for extending your hand and helping your friend. I've been looking for an illustrator for my Robin Hood peoms, so if you're interested...?

I have to go now because I got up too early and I'm falling asleep here. Keep hitting the keys and don't let anything stop you. Sorry I rambled again, but I figure, hey, you guys ought to be used to me by now.

Kasin Hunter Sun Mar 2 20:33:43 PST 1997

How'd that happen? After four months I suddenly yanked out the manuscript to my book, and voila! the first chapter is now rewritten . . . and better for it. Ooooh, spooky. Everyone stay away; it might be contageous!

Deb Borys Sun Mar 2 13:18:53 PST 1997

TRUDY: I love you! A short story. That's exactly what I'm going to do. I can just picture it now. But I've got to be careful not to get sidetracked now.

KITTY: The conference is the Green River Writers Novels in Progress workshop. I went last year and loved it. The novel is KILLING ME SOFTLY, the first in a suspense series I am trying to market. Actually, the book has been finished for some time now; I even started the second. But after letting it simmer for a year, I've decided it is too long and overwritten--a bad habit I have. I'm trying to pare it down from 100,000 words to at least 80,000. I would like to have a handle on the finished word count so that I can see if I can talk Michael Sedman from Walker Publishing into looking at it again. A couple of years ago, he told me it was way too long--too difficult to maintain suspense for that length. He wants 50 to 60 thousand, so if I can get it anywhere close to that--well, we'll see.

BRIT: "I'm thinking of writing a paper about *the devaluing of popular fiction and the valorisation of "literary" fiction*. I would love to hear what others think of this *binarism* - really personal responses or highly theoretical ones. It might be a good topic for discussion for the notebook too. For a start, it's my opinion that the term *"post-modernism"* is being used too often to
describe bad or lazy writing. Anyone got a view?"

Oh, BRIT, I'm afraid my lack of university training is going to make me zero help on this one. I haven't a clue what you're talking about. There, I've confessed. All you college graduates now know you have an illiterate in your midst. Please be kind.

Back to work now. BYE.

trudy Sun Mar 2 12:06:06 PST 1997

SHERRIE: fresh coffee's always brewin' though right now I can't get to the pot because I just washed the floors, which is why I have a moment to visit the notebook.

I have been insanely busy lately though I don't seem to have much to show for it. Work has been extremely stressful this past week. I have had some very encouraging responses from magazines including some interested in getting submissions from me. None of these ones seem to pay much, if at all, but it is a foot in to some extent. I am trying to be a little selective however to make sure I don't get taken advantage of...don't want to give too much away for free. Plus, I'm terrified I won't be able to deliver.

ED: I work for a daily newspaper and can't write anything for them unless it is on the computer. I have tried to do some longhand writing when not at my desk (like when waiting for an interview to begin) and don't seem to be able to do anything. With my poetry and fiction however I find long hand works best. I was trying to work on my novel on the computer and was getting absolutely nowhere with it, but in the evenings if I picked up pen and paper I found I actually made headway. Do what works best for you, but try may surprise you.

KASIN, interesting theory about Stephn King. I too liked him long ago but have found his more recent books too cookie cutter-like. My theory though was that his wife Tabatha was doing the writing for him. I find she has a very similar writing voice to some of his more recent books; definitely inferior to him. I realize this is probably far fetching, but I guess not any worse then him writing computer generated stuff. Where's the pride in that?

DEB, hold on to that discarded may be another story waiting to happen. And good luck getting the book done in time for presenting!

BRITOMART: someone else mentioned Warrington to me today...will definitely check her out.

In case you can't tell I'm reading through the postings of the past week and responding as I go so sorry for repeating some things and seeming so disjointed. BRITOMART: back to King. sad to hear you say his best writing days are behind him...I keep hoping he will continue his Gunslinger series and keep them at his King-iest. I must admit I did enjoy Rose Madder, of his most recent books.

BEN, keeping my fingers crossed on your short story entry!

KITYY, have to agree with you about writing genre fiction; it's tough. I had a friend working on a romance novel once and she asked for my input and help...I tried adding some stuff to hers with absolute failure - I do not do love and sex very well on paper.

OK have reached the end of the list and will shut up now. I will try to respond a little more frequently to avoid these long, long messages. Happy writing everyone. Trudy

Kitty Sun Mar 2 10:50:43 PST 1997

Bravo, to you Kasin for taking the time to pass on the goodness. For the most part, my experience in the writing field has been one of helpful comraderie. It takes very little effort to do good in this world. We should seize every opportunity.
Tammi, I may be wrong, but I the way I read what Sherrie posted about the man wanting to write genre fiction for the money had less to do with putting bread on the table than making a fast and easy buck. Regardless of the calibre of genre fiction, there is a perception that because it appears to be formalaic, it is easy to write and because, according to Writer's Digect, 48% of all books published in a given year are romances (the leading genre fiction), there must be easy money to be made. It is not as easy as it may appear. Within all genres you have widely varying levels of quality from the sublime to the cringing howlers. Anyone who thinks writing genre ficiton is easy, should sit down and try. Romance, mystery, sci-fi, horror, they all come with reader expectations, but it is naive to say that anyone who can string a noun and a verb together could write a publishable novel. That is not to say there are not writers out there who can produce novels that are publishable and embraced by the reading public, but who are not passionate about their work. Sir A.C. Doyle did not care for Sherlock Holmes. G. Heyer wanted to be known for her mysteries and historicals, but is best remembered for her Regencies.
Deb, how exciting! Which conference are you going to and which manuscript are you trying to finish up? I think the reason they ask for complete manuscripts at these "meet the editors" sessions is that they want to be assured that the writer can go the distance. Three chapters of a compelling read does not a book make. Have you considered taking your detailed story outline with you so that they can see you have thought the project through? And your writing CV, so that they can see that you have some experience? Have fun and do let us know all about it.
Ben, which story went out? And how close is Manni to moving into the new house?
Prolific writing, y'all!

Kasin Hunter Sun Mar 2 07:55:22 PST 1997

In the middle of The Alienist right now (bathroom library), so don't give the ending away!

Sherrie, I once had a friend who lived down from me. She had one entire wall covered with romance novels--paperbacks. The mean the *entire* wall. I asked. She answered. The doctor told her that stimulating her glands (sexual arousal) would help lessen the pain from her arthritis. (I've heard that before.) So, voila, tons of the pulp (and a *very* happy husband, by the by). Too bad it doesn't stimulate the brain cells as well. Not a romance pulp fan, as you can tell. I mean how many "she felt his throbbing" whatzit "and his warm broad chest pressed" etc. etc. ad nauseum. (boredom sigh) I'll take Bradbury for my pleasure-seeking. At least he's original.

Wanted to share something--something about sharing between artists. This week I emailed a publisher to pitch some artwork--not my own. I've had dealings with a young lady named Chris who is talented in computer arts and colored pencil (beautiful botanical sketches). I passed her name and a couple samples of her work to this publisher. And, guess what--she liked them. Chris was extremely excited about it and submitted more of her work that very day. It made me feel good to get her this break. Wouldn't it be nice if all artists, writers and others, could put their egos aside and help other talents as well as their own? I guess the reason I did this is because Chris reaches outside of herself, brings kids into her area, and teaches them to express their talents in computer graphics. She volunteers this time. I thought it needed rewarded. Good for you Chris, my friend and fellow artist. Brava!

Ben Woestenburg Sun Mar 2 00:41:54 PST 1997

Hey there, just put in another long day at the office. I'm thinking it would be nice to get back down onto the water and push logs around again. You get far more time to read and write -- God only knows why I let myself get bugged enough to leave it in the first place -- and it's actually one of the few jobs I like there. Who wouldn't like playing on a boomboat, and getting paid for it too?

Anyway, I see I started a few things with Mr. King. From what I understand he writes constantly, but not by any formula -- although from what I've heard about his last two books that might not be true. Anyway, he keeps everything, and if he gets bored with one thing, he simply goes to another. That's why he can put out one or even two in a year. He must have tow or three going at the same time, all the time. Short stories, novellas, novels. He's just prolific.

As for Diana Gabaldon, I met her once at a conference I went ot. She was doing a class on historical research, and told us that she just sort of fell into the novel thing. She was writing a book for herself more than anyone else -- although we all know what that means. Someone had brought up a point about childbirth, and she put a few pages on the website she was visiting. A publisher, or an agent spotted it, and wanted to know more about it. The rest, as they say, is history.

BRIT: Highly recommend THE ALIENIST. But then, I enjoy history, and the early history of New York city is fantastic. It'll make a great movie someday.I'm like you though. I don't really like non-fiction as a form of entertainment. But I do like what the book has to offer about the beginnings of Christianity. My brother came by for a visit last week, and I told him what I was planning on doing with my story. He's a serious born again, (we used to ask him to bless us and make signs of the cross whenever he would say anything profound, but we've grown out of that since then), but he simply shook his head and told me it wasn't a good idea to change the word of God. I just had to shake my head at that, and asked him how he could be so narrow minded about the whole issue? Just makes me more determined to find the right way through it all and present it in such a way as to make it believeable, or at least understandable.

SHERRIE: I'm glad your up at at it again. Nothing like a good illness to melt away those excess pounds though! Personally, I'm not into that way of doing things. I haven't been sick for quite a while (knocking on wood? You better believe it!), and I can't afford it anyway. Last time I was feeling under the weather, I had to work through it anyway. As long as I can get through the week and crash out on the weekend I'll manage.

Anyways, it's getting late for me because I haven't stayed up like this for a long time. I have to go to sleep so I can get myself geared for the morning shifts again. I know I won't be getting up at 5:00 tomorrow, but I certainly will be on Monday. So I'm shooting for 6:30-7:00 a.m. in the morning.

I sent my story off this morning,2000 words lighter, a lot tighter, and hopefully worth about a dollar for every word I took out -- because that's the first prize! I won't hold my breath, but I wouldn't mind coming up with another short story for this month.

Gotta go now!

Tammi Sat Mar 1 23:50:28 PST 1997

SHERRIE: Have you read the H/S lines? What you suggest about that author does not surprise me. I've only read four books, all by different authors, but I get the impression that they are formulaic. But don't tell them that.

Actually, I think many readers enjoy knowing exactly what to expect from a book before they buy it. Some people read to expand their horizons (I know everyone here does), but others prefer not to have to think so hard. I can't really fault the writers for writing to their market.

Now, about the money making aspects of writing. I can't agree that it's wrong to write for a living. Yes, people should do what they love, in a perfect world. However, many people wind up doing things they hate just to put food on the table. Ask Ben. Ask the women, or men, or children in Taiwan who made the boots I wear, do they love the work they do? Or does it pay the bills?

I have worked on assembly lines. I never met anyone there who loved the work more than the paycheck. Yet, I know I need those folks to keep right on earning that paycheck if I am going to have the things factories provide. And if at the end of the day, those workers want to read mind candy, I'm glad there are drudges out there willing to provide it.

I agree there comes a time when one has enough money. When you have as much money as Stephen King or Bill Gates, what is the point of making more? They wrestle with their own consciences.

Still, I can't help but see the man who called you. He wants to write with a passion. But there is a child, another on the way, and wife who wonders, just what does writing pay?

Those of us who are fortunate to enough to find support in any form while we pursue our art, should not condemn those who must make a living. Just my thoughts, and please don't take offense. I feel I am blessed, not elite.


Britomart Sat Mar 1 22:52:15 PST 1997

Trudy: given that you love Anne Rice, have you come across a British writer named Freda Warrington? I read a great book of hers over the summer called "Dark Cathedral" and now I'm into her vampire series, which starts with "A Taste of Blood Wine". I do declare, she is the best writer of popular fiction I have discovered in years. Highly recommended.

Deb: what a brave girl you are, "murdering your darlings" as they say in the biz. You know you are a true professional when you can do that. But don't forget to save the deleted stuff somewhere, then you can plunder it later. And good luck at the conference - make sure you tell us all about it.

On the whole issue of writing two things at once, I know I could never do it. I have enough trouble reading two books at once, and writing fiction and English papers at the same time. For me, writing is a process of making extended and intimate contact with my characters. If I wrote another book at the same time, I'd feel as though I were cheating on them!

Kasin/Ben et al: What's with this paying Stephen King out? :-( I'm not his greatest fan and sure his best work is all behind him, but there is no way that his books could be written by computer program as you described - they are all very different. I wouldn't have trouble believing that other people take his stories and change the names etc, but I have a great deal of faith in him. Sure he's a prolific freak, but his style is unmistakeable and highly individual - if anyone is a really "human" writer, it's King.

All who are interested: the copy edit was fun - got it done in less than a week. I hope you all have the same experience really soon - reading back over what you've written and thinking "hey, that's not so bad after all". I know that my book is not a work of art, but my original intention was to write a book that I would love to read, and I'm 100% convinced that I have achieved that. Roll on July!

Will: Live burial and incarceration haven't turned up on a major scale in "The Infernal", but the novel I'm currently writing is based very heavily on late 18th century Gothic - it's kind of like a tribute novel to Matthew Lewis etc. I spent all day at the university library today, reading Foucault's "Madness and Civlisation" - excellent stuff. If you like, I can e-mail you the final edited version of chapter one of my book if you really want to do the compare and contrast. Otherwise you'll have to wait until July, and somehow order the book from Australia! Let me know.

Ben: I think I read "Holy Blood etc" ages ago. I don't have the stamina for non-fiction that I used to, but I seem to remember enjoying it a great deal. I also think I have the sequel rattling around here somewhere. I've passed "The Alienist" in the bookstore so many times, picked it up, thought about it and said "nah", so maybe I will go buy it soon. I feel like reading something un-put-downable.

Everybody: I'm interested in input - I'm thinking of writing a paper about the devaluing of popular fiction and the valorisation of "literary" fiction. I would love to hear what others think of this binarism - really personal responses or highly theoretical ones. It might be a good topic for discussion for the notebook too. For a start, it's my opinion that the term "post-modernism" is being used too often to describe bad or lazy writing. Anyone got a view?

Bye all.

Deb Borys Sat Mar 1 20:14:22 PST 1997

Seems like slim pickings here today. Hope that means everybody's pecking away (or scratching away). Nobody here but us chickens.

Just finished cutting three chapters down about 3/4 shorter. Now I came to a chapter I've decided to scrap because of the previous changes I've made. It hurts so bad to do it. It's well written, but it doesn't DO anything. The few scraps of plot it reveals can be written into the next scene. But it's so tense, so much good drama, so evocative. Damn, the sacrifices we make for our art.

I just realized the conference I'm going to is only two weeks away. There's no way I can have this manuscript done by done. Well, there's a way, give up my social life and stay up everynight till midnight. Then, maybe. . .

I think I'll take it with me--borrow my friend's old laptop (takes two floppies--no hard drive!) We get to pitch our books to the editors and agents who come the last day of the conference, but only if we have a finished manuscript to present. Maybe I can get it done while I'm down there. Maybe I should work my butt off. Maybe.

Got to go back to work. Time for some tea and Tchaikovsky. See you all later.

Sherrie Sat Mar 1 19:43:11 PST 1997

Sorry. Let's clarify--that $80,000 for the Harlequin romance writer is PER YEAR! Pretty healthy, huh? I'll give you a clue. I ain't makin' that. Don't think I ever will if I have to sell my integrity to do it.

Sherrie Sat Mar 1 19:38:53 PST 1997

Hi guys! Feeling better. The infection is gone but has left me exhausted. Still can't seem to get enough sleep . . . so I sleep.
KASIN: About Steven King writing by "formula," shall we call it? This area of Idaho is bubbling with published romance writers--Jonnie and I know a half-dozen if we know one--and I talked to a close friend of mine who acted as the real estate agent for one of them. Her report to me was that the woman made $80,000 writing the smaller, softer romances (Harlequin and Silhouette, etc.) and she accomplished it by writing one good story, then changing the names and locations for another five or six, then selling them!!! Of course, I was appalled. I'm afraid I'm rather precious about writing as an art, not an assembly line. AAaarghghg! I get about as warm and cozy about such stories as I did with the man who phoned me about a month ago wanting advice about getting published. He was so curious about how much $$$ I as making. When I told him it wasn't any of his business, he informed me he was in it for the money. And I like THAT about as much as a med student telling me the same thing about medicine. EXCUSE ME, but some things you do for the love of doing them.
*clears throat and steps off soap box*
TAMMI: Yes, some writers write completely out of sequence. I'm not one of them, but you might want to check out DIANA GABALDON's home page. She's a PhD in biology or literature or some such thing who just started writing, sent some stuff off, and talked Dell Publishing into printing her 850 page manuscript. She crawled out of the woodwork and became a bestseller. Her books, a lengthy time travel series that has gone into the fourth or fifth book now, defy classification. Kind of adventure, kind of romance. She'll admit they in the industry don't know where to put her. Anyway, she's a brainy lady who writes in disjointed scenes then finds ways to seque them together. Blows my mind how anyone could do that and keep a thread, but she does. Her page is entertaining because she has a "frequenty asked questions" section that I found both entertaining and enligtening. Check it out!
BRIT & HER FRIENDS: Thanx for the get-well flowers (on-line, of course). So thoughtful of you, and I wanted to say that publicly so everyone else would know you have a kind heart. ;^)
KITTY: Good to hear from you. Your comments about Colin and Emily made me laugh. The poor guy is still in the interrogation room; too many lying down times, today.
See ya later! (I've missed you guys, you know that?)

Kasin Hunter Sat Mar 1 19:06:40 PST 1997

Ben said: "Oh, and CHARLES, I think lots of people have two or three things going on at once, but they can't
really write them the same way you can if you concentrate on just one. That's probably why Stephen
King can come out with so many books so quickly."

Learned last year from the "book lady" at work that every third book King turns out is computer driven--he has the outline on his computer, changes the names, locations, etc. and there she goes. True? Don't know. But maybe that's why his books seem so much the same and why I've lost interest in him years ago.

Kitty Fri Feb 28 21:09:40 PST 1997

Sherrie, I do like you all! I do! I do! I do! If ever I should decide to leave the Notebook forever, I will be very clear and specific in my fare-thee-wells. However, somewhere one archive back I thought I let the 'Book know that things were busy on this end and I probably wouldn't be checking in much (but I always check my e-mail!). I'm still busy, but glad to pop in for a quick visit. I hope you are planning a "sofa" weekend. Your body and mind need to recuperate from the harrowing week you've had. Of course, you can recline and scribble away with legal pad and pencil if Colin must be sprung and Emily enlightened. Most importantly, take care of yourself!
In addition to my very busy life of late, power failures due to the severity of the weather in my neck of the woods this past week has kept me from turning on the computer. We woke up to a world sheathed in ice last Saturday. The sky was blue, the sun brilliant and everything coated with a skin of ice that sparkled like freshly washed crystal. Very beautiful and beauty has a price--in this case, broken branches and fallen hydro lines. The power went off and on all day. We cooked our supper over the fireplace and talked round the kitchen table long into the candle lit evening.
Charles, congrats on those happy stories. You didn't mention whether your book was available in hardcover only or both hardcover and paperback.
Ed, didn't Edgar Allan Poe pack his short stories with suspense and thrills--his poems too? Quill, pencil, pen, typewriter, computer--use the tool with which you are most comfortable. You may find, however, that there are subtle differences between writing something out longhand and letting your fingers fly over a keyboard.
Jack, Rah! Rah! Rah! Work hard, play hard. Have fun at Potlatch.
Hello to everyone and welcome to all newcomers!
Have to go. Hope to be back again soon,

Sherrie Fri Feb 28 19:08:40 PST 1997

EVERYONE: Hi. Sorry I've been gone so long. I had the week from hell. Sudden and very severe pain last Saturday afternoon woke me from a nap and had me at an emergency center by evening. The doc thought it was kidney stones, so sent me to the hospital and ordered an x-ray. Turned out, I've developed an alergy to iodine (a radioactive isotope of which was injected in my veins for the x-ray), and I broke out in hives. If I had a stone, I passed, but mostly I just had a bad kidney infection. They sent me home with some killer codeine, and between that and the benadryl (for the itching) I was out of order for a few days. When I went to the office for a few hours on Tuesday, I learned my corporate counterpart WAS NOT flying in to conduct an 8-hr safety training class in hazardous waste operations that must be administered annually. Guess who got to teach it? Yep. Me. On Thursday. I was working on the final exam until 10:30 the night before. What a zoo. Now it's Friday evening, the class went well, everyone passed their test (except the guy who showed up with the flu--I gave him some sympathy points), I slept 13 hours straight last night (the antibiotic the doc gave me also gave me insomnia all last week), today I asked to be released from my health and safety position on three of the four projects I'm working (too much stress, and my division has hired a guy who's much more qualified--he'll do a better job, and it's people's SAFETY we're talking about here), and the weekend is MINE!

As for AIRWAVES, I'm nearly finished with the first draft and plowing ahead to the final scenes. Poor Colin (= hero) has been arrested for a crime he didn't commit (he was framed), and Emily (= heroine) has given him the slip--even though she loves the guy to distraction. As we speak, the poor man is in the interrogation room, and she's wondering why the police took him away from his microphone (she had to finish his air shift). I better cut the rest of my disertation short so I can go write Colin out of there and get Emily some answers.

CHARLES: Will answer your e-mail as soon I ponder. As for the writing TWO projects at once--not me. My books are so character strong, so REAL (or so they tell me), that I wouldn't dare try to divide myself in that way. Remember me? I felt compelled to pray for Colin (the hero in AIRWAVES, for those who don't know) during morning prayers last week, just because he's so real to me; he'll be real to the reader, too, if I succeed at my endeavor. So, no, can't and won't. To me--just an opinion--I feel each of my stories and characters deserves my undivided attention. Anything less would be cheating someone. Maybe me. As for Noble and Sonja, of NOBLE'S HEALING fame, they are waiting patiently for me. The manuscript must be cut from 107,000 to 90,000 words--as per the contract with my publisher. I'll tackle that bit when Colin and Emily have been moved from my desk to that of my publisher--and not a moment before.

Congrats on your audience applause! You've been singing in an empty room for a long while, friend. Enjoy!

BRIT: Was thinking about your book launch in July, on my way to work this morning. How exciting, the teaching and all. Hooray!

JACK: Congrats on ch. 2. We're so proud of you. Have fun at Potlatch.

Welcome newcomers. The more the merrier. Hey, turn that timer on the bubbler up to 60 minutes before you join us in this tub--then, let's get to know one another. TRUDY, did you make fresh coffee, luv?

LINDA, TRISH, KITTY, JONNIE, AND OTHERS I CAN'T THINK OF RIGHT NOW: Where are you? Don't you like us anymore?

Ed Fri Feb 28 03:57:16 PST 1997

EVERYONE. I have been given a good incentive to start writing. I met up with an old mate last night and after a few beers mentioned that I am trying to write a novel.
It turns out that he has always wanted to write and has had similar problems as myself. With this in mind we both set ourselves a challenge to write a thriller based short story and then get someone to judge our efforts. The prize is dinner. I have already got a synopsis down and I'm having fun.

Can you cram enough suspense into a thriller based short story? How many words/pages is an average short story.

Do you use pen and paper or WP and fingers?

This is a great spot.


Philip Thu Feb 27 23:05:53 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: thank you to all those who sent me email concerning my posting in the Workbook...I am reminded once again of the sharp minds present in our group.

JACK: your last writing effort sounds extra-ordinary... well done! Sorry I can't make it to Potlatch. I promise I will one day. I am well aware of the hot tub circuit in North-west.

WILLIAM: Yes, yes, yes...the genius of Asimov...good call. Another story... another time..another paradox - THE TIME TECHNICIANS!

Back soon- Philip.

Ben Woestenburg Thu Feb 27 21:33:28 PST 1997

JACK: Pretty tough deadline, but at least you made it. I'd like to go to POTLATCH, but I have to work this weekend. I'm still an overtime slut and a slave to the mortgage.

I've been reworking the DREAM DRAGON story, trying to lose a couple of thousand words and tightening it up a bit. I managed to drop 1800 words, but it's not enough. I want to submit it to a contest I found. Nothing special, but my wife's already complaining about the way my hair's looking. She insists I get something out there and fast. I guess it bothers her that her brother owns a shop three blocks away and I haven't been there since before Christmas.

I finished reading THE ALIENIST. I found it was one of those books you just can't put down. Now I have to read THE HOLY BLOOD AND THE HOLY GRAIL. I think it would be a good idea for where I want to take my book. Anyone familiar with this book?

I'm getting antsy because it's getting close to the end of the month. Manni and his wife have to move out of the basement suite they were renting, but the house isn't ready yet. He does non-destructive testing on jets and things like that, got a little tied up at work and burning the candle at both ends. Looks like it won't be ready until the middle of the next month. Oh by the way, not that it matters to me, but just to let you guys know: Tuesday March 4th is MY BIRTHDAY!! At least I'll be able to celebrate it with you guys. Renu's is 9 days later. We're both celebrating because we were pretty sure she was pregnant. She was just late...(whew!) I guess I was poking fun at her and she tried to take me seriously. Sorry I couldn't help myself with that one, some lines just naturally come out.

Anyway, I have to run off -- too many things happening at once. As for dragon names, I like Jack's choice: Welsh. Good Gaelic names are the best because of everything you can vision with them. Too bad Smog's already taken.

Oh, and CHARLES, I think lots of people have two or three things going on at once, but they can't really write them the same way you can if you concentrate on just one. That's probably why Stephen King can come out with so many books so quickly.

Now I really do have to go.

William Thu Feb 27 21:22:09 PST 1997

TAMMI: If you like the idea and you enjoy hard Sci-Fi, try Isaac Asimov's Foundation trillogy. That's one way to look at the idea. I don't enjoy his writing much for some reason, so I didn't get past the second volume (so why am I recomending it?), but it is a "classic" of Science Fiction. I liked A Canticle For Liebowitz (the author's name elude's me for the moment), which deals with the idea in a different way.

PAULA: If nothing in the phone book strikes you as likely, try the catalog from the IKEA furniture stores. They name all their products and some might give the right flavour to your reptiles. When I have to name a creature or character, I try to envision the character from every angle. The best name reflects many aspects of the character.


Jack Beslanwitch Thu Feb 27 19:40:40 PST 1997

Hello all. Finally turned in chapter 2 and got some sleep after going till five this morning and getting up at eight to finish it and it emailed off. Hope I don't have do another one like that, especially the three days late part.

Dragon names: I would look through the Mabinogion. It's an old welsh epic from very early and has a hoste of interesting Celtic names that might work in . Glancing quickly through my copy I came up with Gwawl, Gwyrr, Pwyll. Another approach is to come up with something oriental.

Oh, more important, I was wondering if anyone in the Pacific northwest was planning to go to Potlatch this weekend. It's a little late to suggest this, but if you are post it here and maybe we can get together there. I definitely plan to be there all of Friday and a good portion of Saturday. Take care everyone.

Paula Thu Feb 27 17:13:38 PST 1997

Thanks to everyone who responded to my post! While I already have another bulliten board that I check daily, I might be dropping around from time to time, so keep an eye out for me!

Thu Feb 27 17:12:24 PST 1997

Kasin Hunter Thu Feb 27 11:31:43 PST 1997

Man! You can really tell when I have a day off--I tend to fill up this page.

Anyway, Tammi wrote, "can I write my novel out of
sequence at times? Does anyone else do this?"

Bit and pieces of a novel would lend itself to what you've asked about above--ideas, aspects of scenes, clothing of characters. I've amassed a large file of ideas that come to me as days go by, and I use these bits and pieces as I can in stories or as ideas for story lines. Also, as many writers have done, I've inserted a piece of a dream or two into some of my writing. Then it's my job to make sure the story line flows so it doesn't feel jointed together to the reader. I've found that utilizing this technique can provide a nice twist to the story, some unexpected spice.

Kasin Hunter.

Tammi Thu Feb 27 10:50:12 PST 1997

Hello Everyone,
I am writing my first novel and have enjoyed reading your dialog. I have only read one archive so far, and haven't read the Workbook yet, but will when I have the time.

CHRISTOPHER: Good luck with your writing. My husband wants me to read the Wheel of Time series and I have begun The Eye of the World.

WILLIAM: I had just begun to skim the metaphysical references when I came upon your idea. "But suppose some other civilisation developed a set of beliefs based on just a few disconnected statements." I love the idea.

ED: I tend to have the same problem you decribe, I get so caught up in revising page one that I don't make much progress. I find it helpful to concentrate on what happens next. Even if I won't include this next scene in my final draft, it keeps my story moving forward. You may also try setting limits: number of pages you will complete before editing, amount of time you will spend on editing before you return to writing. Good luck.

ANYONE: I finished chapter one, and then felt I needed an outline to keep scenes straight. Sometimes, I see a later scene so clearly I need to write it. And then I need to remember to include threads related to the later scene in earlier scenes. My question: can I write my novel out of sequence at times? Does anyone else do this?

Kasin Hunter Thu Feb 27 10:29:10 PST 1997

Paula, I'm working on a fantasy/adventure book in which I've whole clans of dragons. I got a few of them by rummaging through phone books (believe it or not), moving letters around, substituting letters inside the name. Try going through a bestiary or two (Dracos has been used to death).

Also think of the characteristics of your dragon and use those in your name. Does the dragon have Japanese dragon traits? For example, does it have an affinity for water? How about Raindrop or Storm or Flash? Or is it more like the English short-bodies dragon (evil)? How about Gasip or Klaw or Gnash (Nash)?

Have fun with it and don't be afraid to change it to better fit your dragon as his/her character develops. He may surprise you (turn from evil to good altogether or show mercy at an unexpected time.)

I have a whole glossary of names for my book--but they are all being used!

Hope these ideas help. Good luck. Kasin.

Kasin Hunter Thu Feb 27 10:20:04 PST 1997

Gary, go to your library and check out Writer's Market. The lists seem endless. Kas.

Ed Thu Feb 27 04:00:31 PST 1997

PAULA. How about Georgina, Borgias, or even Nogard(dragon)?

Deb Borys Wed Feb 26 22:04:41 PST 1997

God, CHARLES, how wonderful! More, more. I want to hear more wonderful stories about making it and being appreciated and being affirmed for the work we do.

In answer to your question, I'm not sure if I'd work on two book-length projects at the same time. It already takes me forever to get one of those done. If I dragged it on much longer, I'd lose track of the story. I have however, put a short story aside because I felt moved to work on another. Sometimes, of course, that first piece never gets picked up again, but that's usually because it was better left that way. But I can easily go from one story to another, particularly if it is a different genre or whatever.

Sorry, PAULA: No dragon name pops to mind right now. I'd tend to go with something like Ralph or Dwayne--that's it, Dwayne the Dragon. Sorry, it's really late. They say the brain starts to fall asleep beginning with the frontal lobes and then working its way back even when you think you're wide awake.

GARY: Try Pirate Writings magazine, P O Box 329, Brightwaters NY 11718-0329. They commented encouragingly on every thing I sent them until finally they sent me my first acceptance letter. They print mystery, sci fi and fantasy.

PHILLIP: In view of the late night and the sleeping brain, I've downloaded your piece to read later. I'm looking forward to it. Talk to you then.

Paula Wed Feb 26 18:51:01 PST 1997

Hi all. I write fantasy, and I was wondering, does anyone know of a good name for a legendary dragon? I mean, not one that's used. Because I was using Marit, but I found out that was being used, and well, gotta be original. :)


Gary Bass Wed Feb 26 16:53:11 PST 1997

Hi all.
It's refreshing to talk to a room full of fellow writers.
I'm still in the process of trying to get some of my work published. I write both fantasy and science fiction. Does anyone know of any small market magazines or publishing companies that are sympathetic to young writers?

Philip Wed Feb 26 14:48:26 PST 1997

CHARLES: two books at the same time?...yes, I'm doing that right now. I am fortunate to be in a local group of writers that includes Thomas Keneally - he told me he writes two books at the same time. In that same week I heard Tim Winton does also....(he is Australia's brightest new star...he is thirty-six years old, has numerous, wordy books published [10 or 11], won every major literary prize in the country and last year was shortlisted for the snobby, international Booker Prize). So I decided I would try it. I'm writing a work of fiction and my first work of non fiction. I find it comfortable indeed... maybe because one set of characters and the story line are researched and real while the other one has its people, places, plots and sub plots all imagined by me.

EVERYONE: I've placed a short piece in the workbook for your consideration, pleasure, critique or other. This work is not plot driven... which is a major departure for me. I heard a while back that, generally, males write plot driven books and females write character driven books. I wanted to write a character driven book... and this is it. I've invented five major characters and several minor ones, all are loosely connected. What I've posted here is only a short piece from my 80,000-word fourth book - I've already completed it and it's due for release later this year, October or November.

The Lightning Mine (a short excerpt posted previously) will be released in the early part of this year... shamefully I am still slogging away at it. They are with different publishers.

Back soon - Philip.

Charles Samuel Wed Feb 26 11:28:50 PST 1997

Three stories happened to me in the last twenty-four hours that I feel will help inspire anyone who is not yet published. Don't think that you have to have BANTAM or PUTNAM or WARNER publish your book and make it into the NY Times Bestseller's list in order to make an impact. There are many serendipities waiting for you around the corner...

As most of you know, THE JERUSALEM CONSPIRACY and MISSILES, MASKS & MIRACLES were published in Israel, in English, and are currently only available in Israel.

Today I received a phone call from the owner of three bookstores in Toronto. He was in town and wanted to get some copies of CONSPIRACY either from me or my distributor (there is none yet)in North America. Apparently his niece had been given a copy as a gift and after reading it she told him he had to carry the book in his stores. Somehow he was able to track me down (I write under a pseudonym and the address of the publisher in Israel is a PO Box). He came over to our home tonight to pick up the books and wants me to come and speak at a conference he is organizing in June in Toronto.

Next, I received a letter today from Pomay California. Here is what it said...
"When we were in Israel last year we bought a few copies of MISSILES, MASKS AND MIRACLES. All our friends want copies too. Can we order about 10 copies at a time? These
copies would be sold through a bookstore. Hoping to hear from you soon. Sincerely..."

Finally, a colleague of mine told me he sent a copy of MISSILES to his ghost-writer in New York last summer. The ghost-writer was working at a summer camp and read MISSILES out loud in installments to the entire camp of 400 boys who sat there in rapt attention the whole time.

The moral of the story is... if you believe in what you have written, then just get it published. Even if you have to publish it yourself and market it locally to start. You'll be amazed at how far and wide that half-inch thick wad of paper will travel!

PATRICK: There is no question that the more you write, the better you get simply because you have written. I'd like to recommend another process that will improve writing... take a good public SPEAKING course. This will improve your storytelling skills and build confidence. It will assist you in relating to your audience in different modalities. Finally it will give you the confidence to go out and promote your book in public once it is written.

QUESTION: In general, do you think it is possible to work on two major writing projects at the same time or do you have to lose yourself in one story and live with those characters before moving on to the next? Anyone had experience in this? Philip? Sherrie? Is NOBLE on hold totally while AIRWAVES is online?.... by the way Sherrie, you must be almost done... we haven't heard from you in a while.

Happy writing,

William Wed Feb 26 08:34:47 PST 1997

BRITOMART: " burial and incarceration in late 18th century fiction??" Now I really want to read THE INFERNAL! Actually what has me most interested in it is that I'll be able to see some of the progress between the snippet you left in the Workbook and the final version; JACK, this place is great.

Ed Wed Feb 26 03:16:47 PST 1997

Hello Deb/Trudy/Charles/Britomart. Thank you guys. It's all great advice that I would not of got without asking someone in the know.


Britomart Wed Feb 26 01:31:28 PST 1997

Just a quickie in response to Ed and the question of being daunted by writing in general. Someone very wise once told me - "All you do is write an ordinary draft, then doing some ordinary editing. Next thing you know, you have a better than ordinary draft. Do some more ordinary editing and so on. Eventually you'll wind up with something extraordinary." I think that all the time when I'm writing. But as you know, I'm also a meticulous planner, and I find that takes the vertigo away a bit too. Best of luck.

PS. Never had so much fun in my life doing the copy editing. I'm really proud of my book - can't wait for the world to see it.

B xx

Britomart Wed Feb 26 01:30:59 PST 1997

Just a quickie in response to Ed and the question of being daunted by writing in general. Someone very wise once told me - "All you do is write an ordinary draft, then doing some ordinary editing. Next thing you know, you have a better than ordinary draft. Do some more ordinary editing and so on. Eventually you'll wind up with something extraordinary." I think that all the time when I'm writing. But as you know, I'm also a meticulous planner, and I find that takes the vertigo away a bit too. Best of luck.

Charles Samuel Tue Feb 25 20:26:27 PST 1997

ED: I agree with DEB and TRUDY. Just start. Make a commitment to finish. If you find it too daunting to start with Chapter One, then start by writing an outline for your novel. Tell over the story like you would to a friend over dinner-don't worry about grammar or style. Before you know it you'll have a five to ten page outline from which you can begin to write. This is just one technique I find helpful.

EVERYONE: Tomorrow morning I begin negotiations with a small publisher for publication and distribution of THE JERUSALEM CONSPIRACY in North America. I'll keep you posted.
BTW I heard from BOB a while back. He still checks email and I forwarded him some of the notebook which he appreciated. Somehow he doesn't have access to the WEB.

I should try to get some writing done now...


Christopher Tue Feb 25 20:03:01 PST 1997

Deb: Thanks for letting me in your head. When I write I go through *exactly* what you described. And while I know that's probably common. It's nice to see that I have company in the boat.

trudy Tue Feb 25 15:59:11 PST 1997

Ed: put pen to paper and write...then don't stop until there's nothing more to come out...then go back a reread, rewrite, rework and what have you. You will find that you will go through a ton of drafts before the end result is a story. The thing to do though is start...that is the beginning of any poem, short story, novel or other piece of writing. I know it can be daunting. I find it a terrifying concept which often keeps me from putting that initial first letter on a page. But it is the only way it can be finished.
Good luck.

Hello everyone else. Congrats on the teaching gig're working hard and deserve all the success. I find it encouraging when any one in the Notebook succeeds because it shows hard work does work. Take care all. Trudy

Philip Tue Feb 25 12:27:19 PST 1997

DEB: ...WOW!

Deb Borys Tue Feb 25 10:39:34 PST 1997

HI, ED: As others respond, I think you will probably find that there is no one way--or even a RIGHT way--to start a novel. Whatever approach works for you, works. Period. I tend to start with an opening that grips my attention. Some people plot extensively before ever typing CHAPTER ONE. There is always a lot of background work that needs to be done, both before you put pen to paper and as the book dev elops. I do think it's imporant not to get bogged down in too much editing the first time through. I do usually try to think carefully as I write each sentence, paragraph, and scene; and I do read over what I've written periodically--a scene or maybe a chapter at a time. Every time I read, of course, I make some changes. But I don't get caught up in it until I reach the end--or maybe if I come to a really stuck point which tells me something is major wrong and needs immediate attention. There are also times when I plow through something even though my brain isn't working right to "think carefully" as I go. At these times, it is difficult because as I write part of me is so appalled--"What is this crap you're writing? Oh, my God, don't say it THAT way!" These are the times when you tell your editorial voice to shut up or else give you better words to use instead. Often you will find upon rereading that these "fields of manure" will appear to have blossomed into waving fields of ripe, golden grain overnight somehow. Like good ole Frankie S., the key here is "doing it your way."

BRITOMART: How flattering to be asked to teach. You've made it now, haven't you? Fancy frock, galleys to read, people flocking to garner bits of wisdom from your expertise. I'm envious, girl. Send a little of the magic my way, please, please, please. As for your spiritual desert, don't you know that people who have reached a spiritaul oasis love those from the desert? What better or more rewarding enterprise can there be than to woo you to the living waters?

Tue Feb 25 08:04:37 PST 1997

Ed Tue Feb 25 07:46:20 PST 1997

I know there is no easy way to write a fiction story/novel. However, I have some ideas that I would like to start writing down. How do I go about doing this? Please don't take this the wrong way. I'm not looking to avoid the necessary hard work. I would just like to know how any of you have gone about, or are going about, writing a novel.
I seem to start writing as I would expect to read; going back on what I've written in order to see how it reads. Therefore spending an age on page one. Should I be writing a draft? What sort of detail is a draft?. Do you use a step by step list.

I know it's a long order but any advice would be most welcome.


Patrick Tue Feb 25 04:31:54 PST 1997

Do you all find that the ACT of writing itself leads to stonger and more viable/dynamic writing ? Any thoughts?

Brit the spiritually empty Tue Feb 25 02:45:39 PST 1997

Dear everyone

Thought you might be interested - I finally got my copy-edited manuscript back from my publishers. This is a really fun edit, because I just have to go through and see if I'm happy with the changes they've made (they're great - make the whole thing a lot tighter) and there are a few post-it notes throughout asking me for clarification here or there. It's sweltering here, but I've been sequestered away at the university library going through it. Now I'm starting to get excited. Hurrah!

Also, I've just been offered some work doing writing workshops at a local high school, and they're paying me a staggering amount (well, if you look at it as an hourly rate), so I'm quite pleased with that, though it will be sporadic. I'm back at uni and settling in to all my new classes, and starting to collect info for my paper on live burial and incarceration in late 18th century fiction. Cool, huh?

Finally, for all those who have been interested in the topic about mysticism and the vast spiritual desert inside yours truly, I fell from a great height of spirituality a couple of years back, and of course that affects my religious view. We are all a product of our influences, and I hope that nobody holds it against me that my cynicism fits me much more comfortably than any leap of faith on offer. I hope we can all still be friends.

B xxx

Christopher Mon Feb 24 21:11:03 PST 1997

My, my I leave for a few days and all of a sudden a swarm of mysticism has taken over the discussion panel.

Britomart: I understand your feelings on mysticism, especially considering your existentialist leanings-- and while I have to admit that I'm drawn to those same philosophies, I wonder if you've ever considered that such thinking might be a contemporary trap. In this modern age, stuck firmly in a paradigm constructed by the scientific method, it is only too easy to dismiss magic, spirituality, mysticism as outdated, foolish, and superstitious; instead looking toward scientific empiricism as the only mature guide to truth. I see this as problematic. Science itself is a kind of house of cards built solely upon human perception-- a device inherently subjective and flawed. Modern man (and woman), in my opinion, has been conditioned (Pavlovian) to react negatively (scoffingly) to anything he/she cannont empirically verify. I think this is a kind of cultural mental shortcut and impedes real understanding. But, I'd better stop. This isn't even directly about writing.

William: Sorry about confusing the SF thing. Like I said, I'm still in a daze trying to put names and facts together. Later, I'll try to give you some more info on my fantasy series. Certainly seems like you're a fan of the genre. I just began Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Series myself.

Chao for Nao

William Mon Feb 24 08:36:52 PST 1997

BRITOMART: Third vs. First person? That's like asking, "Acrylic or Watercolour." Point of view is just one instrument in the toolbox of the writer. POV and its associates, narrative distance, voice and, mood and the like are all ways for the writer to subtly influence the meaning of the story. I try to ignore all this in my first or second draft, though. I used to worry about that sort of thing from the very beginning, but that just hampered my creativity. I just haven't the skill or experience to concentrate on the mechanical aspects of a story until the revision stage.
Maybe learning to write fiction (and we are all learning, I think) is like learning a new language. This past year I worked part-time as a tutor to university students who were learning English in addition to their regular studies. Writing simple academic essays was difficult for most of them until they learned to just write the essay, get the meaning onto paper without worrying about grammar, structure, etc. Once they had that beginning, they had something to work with.
I think my instincts about Point of View are pretty good, but I still put it on my revision checklist beside trickier things like narrative distance and pacing. The great thing about all these writing 'tools' is that one tool can affect the performance of the others. First Person tends to heighten immediacy and can speed up pacing as a result because it often involves the reader more completly. Moving closer to the action of a story can have the effect of increasing suspense/tension, and increaing narrative distance can smooth out sections of a story that seem 'bumpy' or clumsy if the reader is riding on one character's shoulder.
In general, I prefer to read third person, but writers like Robin Hobb are beginning to soften that preference. What does anyone think about mixed POV? It's pretty difficult to switch smoothly from third to first person in a story, although it can work.


Philip Sun Feb 23 13:48:41 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: mysticism... I read recently that at some point in history mysticism had become antiquated. That single line invoked so many emotions in me that I thought, in view of the group's recent metaphysical philosophical theme, it might prove interesting to simply pose the question here.

A lot of Aboriginal groups in Australia still live the traditional way, embracing mysticism as a normal part of their culture. At the National Indigenous Writers Conference in Brisbane last year I met a young black female writer who can 'dream' the past and future and speaks about it in an off-putting, matter-of-fact way - she is greatly revered for her extraordinary abilities. Several weeks previous she dreamed our meeting and, unsolicited, told me about our very near future together... exactly. Her 'antiquated' gift bloody-well put the wind right up me!

To call anything antiquated - except in philosophy - implies unfashionability, staleness, out of favour or use, old. Bringing the philosopher's burden of proof - mathematical logic - to bear on mystical concepts is something I continue to have trouble with.

I write mysticism and place philosophical challenges for my readers in all my work, so my question was neither flippant nor mischievous.

I see you people like to talk dirty sometimes too. Abstract stretching - good for writer's souls.

Back soon - Philip.

Ben Woestenburg Sun Feb 23 11:10:35 PST 1997

CHARLES: I know you probably know more about this subject than anyone of us put together, but just bear with me, because the subject seems to have taken on a theological slant which is right up my alley.

The reason I had stopped writing my Roman saga was that I had come to a point where I was questioning the Godhood itself. Being the good Catholic boy (which means I left the church as soon as I figured out I was missing cartoons on Sunday mornings as well as Saturdays), I didn't want to offend the world with the notion that, hey, maybe it didn't happen that way? Christianity is not the only religion of a Semetic origin that expressed the ressurection ideal. There were the Egyptian cult of Osiris and the Mithrac cult -- which by the way was the most popular cult of the time and would have given Christianity a good run for its money if Constantine had not come along and changed things. Christianity has been bastardized and changed to suit the needs of those people in charge. The stories we have in the Bible are not first hand tales of what happened. The only reference to Christ in any form seems to be Tacitus in his "Annals". So who can say that what happened was really what happened? How do we know that what was written was not written to help persuade the rest of the world into foloowing something these few fanatics wanted to believe? Let's say Christ died, but didn't rise up on the third day. Let's say his body was stolen from the tomb -- or perhaps he didn't die? Maybe when he was on the cross he was given something to drink that made it look as if he died? Maybe he lived for forty days after that and preached from his bedside in delirium? You see what I mean? The gospels were written, at earliest, forty years after His death (maybe thirty), and were one man's interpretation of what he saw. And everything stems from that. But that doesn't help to explain the Pauline epistles does it? And Mysticism stems from this? I think it's more the other way around. Without the mysticism of the old testament prophecies, Christ would have never been able to have been. We would have perhaps been a monotheistic society, but it would not have been Christianity. It might have been Mithrac, or perhaps the Baal of Emessa whom Elagabalus tried to force on the world a hundred years before Constantine ever thought about it.

Now I know I've probably gotten a lot of you shaking your heads and wondering where the hell this all came from, but that's the part I had gotten to in my novel when I told myself, Hey, I better think this one out pretty carefully. I know controversy sells, but do I want to ostracise the entire Christian community based on a conversation one character has with another? What do you think Charles? Should I do it this way, or just stick to the conventional story and let it ride off into obscurity? I mean, who's to say it was even Christ on the cross, right? What if it was someone else? Nothing else is documented to prove otherwise.
Didn't they already prove Josephus was lieing when he said 900 people died at Masada? I thought they did an archeological dig there back in the 60's and only found about 30-40 skulls, total. So you see my point? History is like a pond that people keep throwing stones into; what you see at one point in time is not the same thing you see at a later point in time.

Hope I didn't bore anyone with that, and remember, none of what I just said is right either (nor can it be discounted as wrong).

Kasin Hunter Sun Feb 23 08:20:00 PST 1997

Searching for truth in life is painful sometimes, but well worth it. Writers aren't immune to this responsibility (in my opinion) and certainly aren't immune to the pain involved in discussing it and in bringing those truths of life and death onto the page for others to glean insights. I often have to ask myself if my writing is bringing something better to the world or just an exercise in egotism or mental masturbation. Sometimes the latter two qualify for consideration, so I drop a project or go back and rewrite to find a higher order to address.

Bristomart--philosophical discussion aside of man creating God or visa versa, my personal experience is that God is the power, the entity of Light that permiates the Universe, us included. And this Light is Love and the essence that holds the very fabric of the Universe together. It is our lack of growth in our development that hinders us most of all. Looking at facts that man has created is only a part of our growth process. Try to be open to spiritual growth as well. Ignoring this aspect of yourself limits your development as a person, including your writing. Nothing in life can be as full as it can be without letting the three-part man mature.

Jonnie, yes, Christ the Annointed did die and complete the second covenant for us. But there is also truth to be found in other religions besides Christianity. After reviewing several for an article I was writing on the search for the soul, I realized that there are some fundamentals that are very basic to many religions. We are not that far apart--how can we be? Truths are truths. They run as common threads throughout the fabric of life, of space, of time; and it is often our lack of observation, of research, of openness to new possiblities that hinder our knowing them. But they are always there, just waiting for us to accept and embrace them.

Health and humor, Kasin.

Britomart Sat Feb 22 23:59:27 PST 1997

Sorry if I offended anybody - just my opinion, that's all. Yes, Charles. Let's stick to writing. Anyone got an opinion about third person versus first person?

Charles Samuel Sat Feb 22 21:13:49 PST 1997

PHILIP: Philip? oh Philip??? Where are you? See what I mean? Perhaps we should take up politics next? My vote is we stick to writing.


Jonnie Sat Feb 22 20:16:52 PST 1997

It really wouldn't be so tragic if all we had to worry about was dying and getting eaten by worms for we would have no existence, no feeling, no pain.
What is tragic is that intelligent man has chosen to deny that, yes, God does exist and that Jesus Christ was a man and walked the earth 2000 yrs. ago. If you can believe anything you should believe this, because it is proven by all forms of literature. So if you accept this, then the next thought that should be in your mind is that He-Jesus- was either telling the truth or He was a lunatic. Which is it for you? That is the ultimate question for mankind. For if He is who He says He is, then man is not destined to die and not exist, he is destined to stand at the judgment seat of God and then to go to an eternal hell or a home prepared for him by Jesus.

Britomart Sat Feb 22 17:36:08 PST 1997

Mysticism? I thought that meant trying to reach a oneness with a deity through meditation, prayer and contemplation. It's apparent in all the world's major religions, but I think the modern west is decidedly unmystical in that sense. If we were all a bit more contemplative I think the world would be a better place.

But if you're talking about it in the broader sense - are people still willing to believe mysterious things etc, well it's clear they are. I think this is highly apparent in the modern willingness to subscribe to conspiracy theories. Now that science can reduce most mysteries to the knowable, what's the best way to protect our beliefs? Why, to imagine that the truth is "out there" but is being hidden from us by a ruthless bureaucracy. If it's hidden, it never has to be subjected to critical rigour, and therefore can always be mystical.

My question is why do people still believe in what they believe. It seems to me that we are the most tragic of all species on this planet - we can do almost anything but accept the ultimate futility of our existence. As long as there are mysteries, there is hope that something magical might happen that means we won't die and get eaten by worms while the rest of the universe spins on without us. Man created God, not the other way around.

Aye me. Who'd choose to be an existentialist? I had it thrust upon me by my ruthlessly atheist father. Thanks dad, why couldn't we have been Catholics?

But writing is very similar to magic, and that's why I do it.


Kasin Hunter Sat Feb 22 13:00:15 PST 1997

oooooooh, Patrick! goosebumps! (I like it. More coffee, please.)

Patrick Sat Feb 22 10:16:23 PST 1997

RE: Kasin - It looks like the question has been answered. Mysticism must be alive and well in 1997. Its taken on different forms in our media saturated society. X-Files, Stange Universe, Sitings ect. are all symptoms of our desire to connect to ourselves, each other and the universe... on another level. Sometimes I think the Cave painters, Egyptians, and Greeks had it more figured out than we do. In our highly accelerated information driven society we forget about that precious, singular moment and constantly look to the future instead of enjoying and living in the present. Writing is a wonderful way to connect to our inner spirit and the world around us. I see writing as a spiritual activity that refreshes the mind and soal. Now back to that cyber java.

Patrick Sat Feb 22 10:16:05 PST 1997

RE: Kasin - It looks like the question has been answered. Mysticism must be alive and well in 1997. Its taken on different forms in our media saturated society. X-Files, Stange Universe, Sitings ect. are all symptoms of our desire to connect to ourselves, each other and the universe... on another level. Sometimes I think the Cave painters, Egyptians, and Greeks had it more figured out than we do. In our highly accelerated information driven society we forget about that precious, singular moment and constantly look to the future instead of enjoying and living in the present. Writing is a wonderful way to connect to our inner spirit and the world around us. I see writing as a spiritual activity that refreshes the mind and soal. Now back to that cyber java.

Charles Samuel Sat Feb 22 09:13:10 PST 1997

RE:Philip Fri Feb 21 13:12:49 PST 1997
So, is mysticism antiquated or not?

PHILIP: Some of my best friends are mystics... and they are alive, well and thriving in three-thousand-year-old Jerusalem. ;) Don't get me going on this one guys...


Deb Borys Sat Feb 22 08:30:59 PST 1997

BEN: For not knowing "what the hell you're talking about" you sure the hell do say it well.

I'm enjoying this thread, though have no thoughts to contribute at this time. It's fun just being a mouse in the corner (or a fly on the wall) and hear all these little tidbits.

Got to go. I have work to do.

Ben Woestenburg Sat Feb 22 06:44:16 PST 1997

Hello Phillip.
Now I don't think I can answer this question as easily as I can in my own mind, but I'll give you M.H.O., to quote a phrase going around.

Mysticism is an approach to a belief in the religiosity of Man himself. I believe that religion, not so much the organized mayhem we have today, but the creation of the gods and goddesses of anceint days, was created by Man himself to help explain his world around him because it was something he could not understand. Nature, God, El, are all the same. The years of thought that have transcended time (as far as human thought is concerned), have always been there to prove to Man that he lives for one reason only, and that is that there is a higher plain of being he must ascribe to. There has always been a spiritual quest for the hidden truth or wisdom the goal of which is the ultimate union with the sacred and divine. I think it proves that man is more than one dimensional, and that his progress goes on in various stages -- purification rites, illuminating thought, etc., -- and that he will always strife to understand it, expounding on what he can not explain, hence the philosophical debate. Philosophy, religion, aethetics, mysticism, they are all one and the same in that they are thoughts Mankind will never release, because he knows when he does, all will be lost for him. As long as everyone can think, and do think, there will be the mystic thoughts of others to inspire us.
And that's all I'm going to say on that because I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.

Kasin Hunter Sat Feb 22 06:29:31 PST 1997

"Patrick Sat Feb 22 05:32:31 PST 1997

There is something mystical about cyberspace. There is certainly a mystical dimension to the times
we live in. Sometimes we get so caught up in post post modern society that we don't see all that is
mystical around us."

True enough. The "three-part man" had all but disappeared from so many lips (body, mind, *and* soul--remember Time's header "Is God Dead" several years back?; but now it's been New and Improved! with the psychic hotline and Strange Universe, X-Files, crystal therapy to reach inner healing and balance, etc. etc. Interest wains and surges like ocean waves over the years depending on financial backing or governmental interferences; but curiosity never completely vanishes, I think, perhaps, because the better of us (God and his cohorts) like to keep us on our toes with the occasional "e.t. siting"; Revelation-realized incident spotted in the Middle East, Llords, or the White House; or the fact that despite our basic human cruelties and incompetancies (like bad spelling), we can still make babies and plant the miracle of a seed in the earth. (I'm a gardener,too, so look for more earthy examples in the future.)

As writers, as humans, it amazing to me how some people limit themselves to single-plane thinking when so many fantastic minds in the past and present hollar the opposite--delve, then delve deeper, then use *that* for a jump-off point for your *first* step. Sometimes you can do in your own chair. Sometimes you have to ride on some sf's author's tail. Sometimes it comes to you unasked (the best!)

"I believe there are mystical aspects to all art forms including writing. Art began
over 40,000 years ago as a mystical, ritualistic endeavor for the sake of survival. We live in a highly
fragmented world and a little bit of mysticism just keeps things interesting."

I might work your phrasing a little, in that, *humans* live in a fragmented world and sometimes inflict their short-sitedness on other species as well as themselves. A bear lives exactly as it should, knows his role. It's us who find ourselves without placemats at different times of our lives--maybe we think too much . . . or not enough.

"Oh well...maybe my
coffee was too strong this morning and caused me to go off on a tangent."

I, for one, love your tangents. Send me some of that cyber coffee, okay?

"Connecting to the
unknown and mysterious parts of ourselves and the universe is a goal worth pursuing whether it be in
writing, painting, sculpture or photography."

Amen!! And each to their own perfect goal! Kasin.

Patrick Sat Feb 22 05:32:31 PST 1997

There is something mystical about cyberspace. There is certainly a mystical dimension to the times we live in. Sometimes we get so caught up in post post modern society that we don't see all that is mystical around us. I believe there are mystical aspects to all art forms including writing. Art began over 40,000 years ago as a mystical, ritualistic endeavor for the sake of survival. We live in a highly fragmented world and a little bit of mysticism just keeps things interesting. Oh well...maybe my coffee was too strong this morning and caused me to go off on a tangent. Connecting to the unknown and mysterious parts of ourselves and the universe is a goal worth pursuing whether it be in writing, painting, sculpture or photography.

Kasin Hunter Fri Feb 21 19:07:58 PST 1997

"Philip Fri Feb 21 13:12:49 PST 1997

So, is mysticism antiquated or not? "

I would say no, not if humans are still curious about the unseen, the unknown, and still wonder why they can't control the universe despite their best technology--it's awakens human reflection (sharp jabs included) to suddenly know what we just don't know . . . yet! (I.E.--I know what I lack--I lack that "something" just beyond my fingertips that evades the blank page--a universe of unknowns in my estimation.) Are we talking about muses here?

I think mysticism like manipulation of fantasy takes the place of fear or at least organizes the unavailable (spirtual, happenstance, etc.) so we don't have to keep running away; and as we find ourselves shivering just this side of understanding, we feel somewhat comfortable with our lack of comprehending the truths inside of unknowns through these artifical manipulations (mysticism practices)--if I can't contain a fire (of learning) then I'll chant until it burns itself out and take praise for my footwork--or, at least say destiny is smiling! My crops are still standing! And still, after all the smoke has cleared, we never really know the "whys" in the burning. Science and spiritual revelation are good tools in these circumstances if used (faced) without bias--manipulation of the facts due to personal preferences.

I'm for getting rid of crutches but not imagination.

Okay, I'm done rambling. Time to eat some salsa and chips. Have a great night.

Health and humor, Kasin Hunter.

Jack Beslanwitch Fri Feb 21 15:03:52 PST 1997

Philip: I couldn't let that one pass by. No, definitely not. It may be old, starting with the very first dance around the fire in prehistory or cave painting or mantra, but the upanishads, torah, bible, all have mystical elements that are as vital today as they were when those literary works were first penned. Mysticism is a central thematic issue in many of the best science fiction and fantasy at the very least. Look at the phenomena of the reissue of the Star Wars movies. It may be candy coated and dumbed down considerably, but the mystical thread is paramount and is the glue that binds it together. Other examples that come to mind are Charles De Lint, Tolkien, magic realism in general and a lot more. The trappings of mysticism may change and shift with the culture these elements arise in, but the awe with which I look out at the ocean at Neah Bay or walk among the towering trees of the Ho River Rain Forest take me to a place that is undeniably mystical. Sorry for the babble and the rant and bit of incoherence. Now, let's see, what is the sound of one hand clapping. ;-)

Philip Fri Feb 21 13:12:49 PST 1997

So, is mysticism antiquated or not?

Sherrie Fri Feb 21 07:24:10 PST 1997

JACK: Thanks for tidying up. We miss you. Will be praying for the slick delivery of Ch.2.
WILLIAM: If I recall correctly, it was Jack who read books the way you do--several at a time. I do that sort of, but maybe only two, rather than legion. And the Volkswagen thing and the engineering students. I can guess; I work with engineers. Funny--though they tend to get a little arrogant once they graduate. Must be that Arrogance 414 course they all take that final semester.

I think I'm in trouble. A girlfriend and I rendezvous over the phone every morning for 30 minutes of prayer time. This morning, I got so far as opening my mouth before I caught myself and pulled back from praying for Colin and Emily--my hero and heroine. What do you think? Superb characterization, or should Husband Harry set aside a little of the book advance money for my outpatient therapy??? ;^)
I told Son Erik about it; he said, "Mom, you're scaring me. You write fiction, remember? FIC-TION!"

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Feb 20 23:54:06 PST 1997

Hello to everyone new. This is a little amazing that I had to archive in a little more than 11 days. So, you have a mostly blank slate here with a few holdovers to keep the flavor of the conversation going.

For those using laptops and living in Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. or Corvallis, Oregon, ricochet is a rather nice wireless way to get connected to the internet. It was kind of spooky riding on to I-5 with my laptop on in the seat next to me downloading my email. I'm getting connections rates of 38,800 bps. Not so shabby.

William: Just bought the second book in Hobb's Assassin series. Since I'm woefully behind on Chapter 2 and am due to turn it in on Monday, I think it will be a while before I get a chance to read it. Take care everyone and good writing.

William Thu Feb 20 21:46:17 PST 1997

CHRISTOPHER: I've *almost* finished wading through the archives here, so I know what you mean about remembering names. I should clear up one thing, though; I live _in_ BC (British Columbia) and I _read_ SF (Science Fiction). I've been through San Francisco - nice enough, but love BC too much to move away permanently. Fantasy's great, too. Right now I'm reading Robin Hobb's Royal Assassin, William Gibson's Idoru, Michael Moorcock's The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, and Kim Stanley Robinson's Green Mars. I'm most of the way through all of them, but I pick up and read whichever strikes my fancy when I have time. That probably represents a pretty good cross section of my typical lesiure novel-reading.
I'm interested to hear about your ambitious project! My tendancy has been towards short stories because I stand a better chance of finishing one in a reasonable time. Ha.

PHILLIP: Don't know about suicide at UBC. I've been there a fair bit and it tasted quite pleasant. A little more laid back than SFU. After all, they have the UBC Engineers to laugh at. These guys have a reputation for putting Volkswagen Beetles in the strangest places as pranks.

Christopher Thu Feb 20 19:37:48 PST 1997

Wow, I've only been reading messages for a few days and I have to admit I'm a little dizzy. Geez, it usually takes me an entire semester to remember 4-6 names in my classes. Please bear with me. Thanks for the hearty welcome.

William: Reading that you live outside of SF brings to mind my upcoming move to the bay area. I've visited twice this year and love it. I'll probably be doing tech writing, though, once there, God save me. It all sounds so dull. But I have to make a buck.

Charles: In reading about a foreign country I naturally want to be informed of the people and the physical environment-- in a detail oriented, inciteful manner. More importantly, I want to learn of the "spirit" of the country. Perhaps the best example I can give of this would be a novel by Henry Miller called The Collosus at Maroussi (or something like that, it's in the other room and my mind fails me). As well as being my favorite novel my Miller (I've only read 2), it paints a marvelous, and metaphysical, picture of Greece.

Phillip: The novel is the first of a series of novels that I have roughly outlined in my head and on paper. It is an epic fantasy tale I'm attempting and a rather ambitious one (six books planned). It will tell the tale of two groups of heroes seperated by nearly a century of dark rule: one who tries to prevent the conquest of the world by the evil powers and another that tries to defeat the baddies after they've had control of things for awhile. This is, by the way, a horrible synopsis of my story, but I hope you have some idea what I'm doing.

Jonnie Thu Feb 20 16:14:23 PST 1997

My goodness! I must have been gone for three years instead of three weeks. Look at all the new additions. Welcome. Stick around awhile and you won't be able to not write!!!
Thanks for missing me, Philip. I sure missed you all. Kept wondering what was going on here, in between my study of spanish and verb tenses. (You folks are so much more interesting.)

I can't begin to comment on all I would like to add; It WOULD take me three years.But I do want to say congrats to all the new published works.

And BTW, Trish, IMHO--drinking eight glasses of water a day will take care of your nausea and other gut wrenching activity in four days. Promise, no lie! Just keep drinking even if your stomach acts like a whale fighting a fatal wound. The water flushes out the abundance of hormones and before you know it your body says to your stomach, which in turn whispers to your head, "Hey, I think I should feel better!" Worked for me. (All truth-no fiction, but don't sue me.I don't have the money to pay an attorney right now, and of course I would want to defend myself. Gad, has anyone ever been sued for something they knew good and well they didn't do? I have, and every fiber in your body wants to protest!!!)

Enough of my jabbering. It's great to be home. Got to get this book finished cause another is brewing on the back burner. Also, I'd like to put my short story on the workbook when I get caught up with papers on my desk and laundry. Adios for now, Jonnie

trudy Thu Feb 20 14:47:11 PST 1997

Oops! How'd that happen? Guess I was so excited to get my posting on here forgot to say who I was for the identity line.

PHILIP: That's a story I really look forward to reading.

BTW: I understand now; thanks DEB! Sorry the Anne Rice reference threw you; I'm a big fan like Britimart.

BRITOMART: Nope haven't read any by that author but will definitely check her out. I love vampire stories; let me know what you think if you read them before I get to them.

Later all. Only had a few minutes. I'm waiting for a phone call to do a phone interview for work and tying up the phonelines probably isn't a great idea.


William Thu Feb 20 09:24:31 PST 1997

CHARLES/PHILLIP/BRITOMART: The course I'm taking involves metaphysics incidentally; it's actually a survey of pre-socratic philosophy with Plato's Republic dumped in at the end(haven't got that far yet). It turns out that most of the pre-socratics had quite sophisticated ideas about metaphysics. They decided that the system of anthropomorphical gods the Greeks are so famous for was terribly flawed and then came up with their own ideas. Some explanation about non-physical substance (metaphysical substance) was necessary to their cosmologies. So, while I have some knowledge of Kant, DesCartes, Neiszche, and other 'famous' philosophers, my only *detailed* knowledge of philosophy lies with the likes of Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, and Parmenides.
All very interesting, "But what does it have to do with writing," you ask. Well, it has everything to do with effective characterization. Often in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres I read about 'strange' or 'alien' civilisations where everyone shares the views of the average citizen of a twentieth century metropolis. Studying philosophy allows me to incorporate some of those fragments into individual characters and societies, too. It also leads to some great plot ideas: 'time-travel to meet famous thinkers' has been done to death, but I could play with the fact that the entire remaining texts of Heraclitus fill both sides of four whole pages. What errors could have crept in over the millenia? (Well, that's not entirely valid - in Heraclitus' case it really _is_ the thought that counts. It doesn't matter that the fragments we have left from him are in doubt or incomplete because it's the ideas we're dealing with.)
But suppose some other civilisation developed a set of beliefs based on just a few disconnected statements. What would they be like?
PHILLIP: Maple Ridge is still quite rural. Lots of horses. And it is a fourty-five minute drive to SFU from my house, but already the downtown area is getting that "big city" feel. Not sure if I like that. My favourite thing about living in BC is that I can live in a nice quiet area where it doesn't snow too much or get too hot, but I can take a short drive and see desert or glacier, ocean coast or towering mountains.

Sherrie Thu Feb 20 07:50:25 PST 1997

I give! I give! I stand duly corrected. Now I know TWO souls who chucked it all to write--and succeeded--they being Brit & Philip. I'll tell your tales at the next social gathering when someone tells me--and they will--"I've thought of becoming a writer." Magic does happen to some, I suppose, but me thinks you're the rare--no doubt because you're exceptional--case. (turns to the audience for applause of agrement)
BOB: Really! Where in the heck are you, dude?
BRIT: Gosh, I wish I could come to your launch. And I'd like to check out that pancake place, too. What a sensory input. I wonder how much a flight to Aussie land costs . . .

Philip Thu Feb 20 02:09:32 PST 1997

BRITOMART: can't debate Delleuze or Derrida or logocentricism or any post-structural approach to knowledge and language. Maybe you could guide me through it. So long as infinitesimals, continuity and logic don't get messed up with language too often, I'll spend the time.

I only browsed the usual Dewey, Marx, Nietzche, Shopenhauer, Hegel, Kant, Rousseau, Hume, Locke, Spinoza and the old buggers Pythagorus, Aristotle, Plato etc - don't feel confident debating them either but still enjoying my thirty year long study-journey... and love talking dirty.

So, is mysticism antiquated or not?

I might be able to come to your launch - if I get an official invitation - tell me where, when etc?

BOB: please come back!

Back soon - Philip.

Britomart Thu Feb 20 00:52:47 PST 1997

Hey y'all! Back to uni next week - HURRAH!

Charles/Philip/William: While you speak of metaphysical philosophy, I wonder if any of you have come across much continental philosophy (which is more where my interests lie), particularly such chaps as Derrida and Delleuze. Derrida in particular is fantastic, and he questions the "logocentricism" of the whole metaphysical philosophical tradition (if you are talking about it in the same sense that I understand it). I'm very interested in this post-structuralist approach to knowledge and language, and would be happy to debate it at length some time.

Sherrie: Who has left work to write? Why, me of course! And didn't it pay off grandly. I was working as a secretary fixing up the grammatical errors of a man who got paid three times as much as me, and I tried to cram writing in on the side. I noticed my brother, who was a student, had a lot of holidays, in particular 3 months at the end of every year. Woah, I could write a book in that time! So I quit work and embraced financial ruin (both now and in the future under the user-pays tertiary education system introduced recently in this country), but at least I wrote *the* novel. Money can't buy time - you only get so many hours advanced up front and they *will* eventually run out.

Philip: Now that I have "the frock", I'm getting more and more excited about having a book launch. I'll probably have to organise most of it myself, but you are cordially invited. (Actually, you are all invited, but I doubt that many of you would have the financial means to make it). It should be around the first week of July. I figure that I'll only have one first book, so I may as well do it in grand style. Any tips?

Trudy: Have you ever read anything by Freda Warrington? She's a great writer, British I think. I just read a book of hers called "Dark Cathedral" which was fabulous, and I've happened upon a vampire trilogy she wrote so I've got that to look forward to. I'm not normally into vampires, but she writes so damn well.

Charles: Personally, I'm a bit tired of reading books set in the US (no offence anyone) and I'm hungry to read about other places. The USA isn't the only place that has big cities, interesting weather patterns, global conspiracies boiling or undead crawling out of cemeteries. I have a penchant at the moment for books set in Britain, but I'd certainly be interested in anything set in the Holy City. More than anything, though, I think the story and the characters are far more important than the setting.

Everyone: I had a lovely day - got out of bed late, met a friend downtown and sat in the Pancake Manor (a lovely old renovated church converted into a pancake restaurant) for over three hours, sipping lattes and eating cherries and cream. I feel a little sick, but there's nothing like the company of another silly girl like me to make me feel fine. I hope you are all getting on well - see you all!

Britomart xxx

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