Play, Write, and Learn

“I’m going to go home and sell my guitar.”

This is the standard and appropriate form of reverence when a journeyman guitar player hears someone truly gifted. It is now common to believe that repetition (Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, for example) will bring greatness.  Maybe. But hard to believe when you hear a truly talented person play. 

I have played guitar for many years, probably put in nearly 10,000 hours. I am still a journeyman player – decent, good on my best days. But I’m not selling my guitar … it gives me joy to play.

And I’m not quitting writing, either.

I’ve just finished two books that are so well written that I cringe when I compare them to my writing. Golden State (Ben Winters) is a mystery novel set in a future California that looks a lot like current LA. The descriptive writing and development of the main character is so good that the holes in the plot don’t matter a bit. The Tsar of Love and Techno (Anthony Marra) is entirely different: a book-length series of short stories loosely but masterfully connected. The descriptions, aphorisms and observations are brilliant. The book is not something one reads all at once any more than one eats a whole box of chocolates in one sitting. The words are so carefully chosen that they must be appreciated at slow speed. 

Play, Yes, that’s it … admire and learn. And keep the guitar.

Write, Judge and Learn

I am judging entries into the Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Competition. It’s very well organized and has a fine, clear format for judging. Entries are closed for this year, but if you have a novel, story, poem, non-fiction piece, it’s a good contest that (probably) opens in early February, 2020.  See https://floridawriters.net/competitions-awards/royal-palm-literary-award/. The welcoming memo pointed out that judging would be a form of education for me as a writer, and it was right. Other people’s strengths call out my weaknesses. That probably should have been obvious … it certainly is now.

I have been silent for a month. We traveled from Minnesota to Florida and have been visiting friends and enjoying St. Augustine.  I’ve been finishing rewrite of my third novel, Fail Deadly and am about ready to deliver it to several beta readers.  These folks read a draft copy and tell me where the plot and/or the characters go astray. If you are interested in the Thriller genre and would like to be a beta reader, drop me a line at gotuit5243@gmail.com.