Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Catcher in the Rye”

A Moment of Appreciation

Wade Mayer, who manages an excellent blog called Inviting Conversations: Intelligent Dialog Connecting Thoughtful People, posted a question on our LinkedIn Writer’s group. He asked whether we put our family events on our business calenders. In sharing my response, I realized how strongly I feel about the challenges facing achieving excellence in my work, my writing and my parenting.

My response:
Always! The challenge of maintaining a work:life balance is the most difficult juggling act I face. I love my job and my writing life, both hopefully impact others to create a better world. Raising two young boys that they might become a positive force for change and sharing quality time with a life-partner who makes me a better person, demands just as much attention.

I am learning to live with the fact that I cannot promote my novels that are already published, edit the current completed manuscript, and write the next novel. All this while holding down a full-time (and wonderful) job, and being a meaningful influence as my children develop, as well as being a supportive life-partner.

But it’s hard. I’ve been struggling with the usual winter coughs and colds for too long. No time to slow down and let the body recuperate. In the words of Jack Kerouac:

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes ahh…”
On the Road, Jack Kerouac

And I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Final word: I am speaking at the Californian Writer’s Club on Sunday (March 21), at 2.15 p.m. in the West Auditorium of the Oakland Main Library at 125 14th Street near the Lake Merritt BART station. Enter directly from Madison Street between 13th & 14th Streets.

Love to see you there.

Alon
http://www.alonshalev.com/

With Respect to the Classics

I have just read A Catcher in the Rye, and finished listening to the third Lord of the Rings on audio book during my daily commute. At the same time, I am editing Unwanted Heroes and making some changes for the next printing of Oilspill dotcom. To help me with the latter, I am consulting various guides to self-editing, receiving invaluable feedback from the Berkeley Writer’s Group, and drinking a lot of wine (when someone tells me that a passage is lucid and flowing, I silently thank the Grape Goddess).

But reading my own work and trying to fit it in to the rules: plot-driven, show-don’t-tell, no repeating words, no adverbs etc. etc… I can’t help wondering what were the rules for Salinger, Tolkien, Dickens, or Hardy?

Let’s face it. These guys have made it. They are the immortals, the literary gods, forever a part of history. We admire and envy them.

Most authors want to write bestsellers and make lots of money (okay, at least I’m being honest) and we all want our books to be read after our deaths and in centuries to come, enabling us to join the immortals. The question thus stands: do we write for today or forever? Do we sacrifice quality (if indeed that’s what it is) to become a hit today?

Kill your babies! Another golden rule of self-editing. But I love my babies. I see their worth, a rich tapestry woven of detail, a clear memory engraved forever. What fantasy reader doesn’t have a clear succinct picture of Middle Earth engraved in his/her mind? That comes from reading (and sometimes toiling) through pages of rich description. Some die-hard fantasy followers have even written Elven as a second language on their resumes .

Still, I am no Tolkien, but every time I press on the delete button, I feel I have left behind a friend, a painful step forward of a yet unfulfilled journey.

Good Writing,
Alon

http://www.alonshalev.com/

iWhatever

It’s out. I drove past the Mascone Center in the heart of San Francisco the morning that Apple held their launch. During my lunch break, I surfed for a video about it. I have been waiting as have many.

Barnes & Noble brought out their Nook earlier than planned to get a head start. Amazon, home of the Kindle, announced that they are sweetening the pot for authors who publish with Kindle. Those authors, myself included, who have their ebooks published in multi-formats have been licking our lips in anticipation – well, drooling to be absolutely honest.

It’s no secret that the book-reading world is divided between those who see the Star Trek future, saving trees and waste, and those who still enjoy the feel, touch and smell of the printed page. Or as one woman in my LinkedIn group said: if I can’t take it into the bath, I’m not interested. Truth is, I’ve dropped a couple of books into my bathwater in my time and they don’t fare too well. Still they don’t cost $200-400 to replace either.

As previously mentioned, I’m on the fence. I love the new technology, but enjoy the sensual experience of the book. I also love my bookcases and feel they are a reflection of me and a statement to my children.

Still, I certainly desired a handheld instrument when it took me 28 hours to fly from New Orleans to San Francisco last weekend having just finished reading two great books.

Back to Apple. You just knew that they would raise the bar. The Nooks, Kindles and about a dozen other ebook pads are all very similar. The iPad, however, is more of a tablet computer, offering movie, photos and music options. Its touch screen is also a plus and there is an ergonomic touch keyboard. One negative comment that I have heard, thus far, is that the screen has a high resolution, necessary for movies, but possibly not so comfortable for book reading.

One last comment. J.D. Salinger passed away this week at age 91. I have to confess, I’ve never read ‘A Catcher in the Rye’ (it was never big in the UK where I grew up) but have read various articles about the author and the book. Over the last few days I have been asking friends if this was a coming-of-age novel for them. While the answers are varied, the fact is that people clearly remember reading the book, its story and where they were when they read it. I can think of no greater compliment for an author.

I’ve read that Salinger, though initially hungry for success as an author, had great difficulty dealing with the success and publicity that ensued. So many of us writers dream about achieving the level of fame that he reached. I doubt that many have given much thought to how we would cope with it.

If I had an iPad, Kindle or Nook, I could just download Catcher in the Rye and read it. As it is, I have ordered it from the library…electronically!

Good Writing,
Alon

http://www.alonshalev.com/

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