Tag Archives: nonfiction

Just Write

17 Nov

The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer.

Those words from the late great author Harlan Ellison so aptly sum up what it is to be an author.

Anyone can decide they want to write books, screenplays, the Great American Novel.

The problem is staying the course.

Writing, you see, is not among the lucrative professions out there. Oh. Did I call it a profession?

A profession, at least to me, means a career. You know, one of those jobs you show up for at some office – five, six, even seven days a week – that pay well and provide a decent living.

You see, that’s the crux of the matter. Writers, for the most part folks, don’t make a lot of money. In a world that, let’s face it, revolves so much around chasing the almighty dollar, it can come down to those very words uttered by Ellison.

Let’s repeat those words: The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer.

Ellison knew whereof he spoke. He began writing as a kid, making very little money through the years.

He did it because he couldn’t imagine doing anything else with his life other than being a writer. His climb to success, like many writers, was a slow one.

If you want to be a writer, to put yourself in front of that blank computer screen or scroll of paper each day, without any guarantee of large royalties or even recognition, then do it.

Yes. It can be lonely, frustrating, and the 4 a.m. whispers of “give it up for God sakes you idiot” when the work is going particularly bad will likely hound you.

It’s going at it alone, getting inside your head, and spilling out the words.   

There is an old belief that writers are not made, but born, that those who choose a life of sequestering themselves in a room to pump out their creations, opt for such an existence because they have no other choice. They simply must write, come hell or high water.

It’s probably true. But it’s also likely that those who believe they have no other option than to write will find a way not only to do it, but to find some joy, and dare I say, even fortune from their labors.

What about you?

Mike Reuther is a freelance writer and author. His books can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Reuther/e/B009M5GVUW%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

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Baseball book is a great reference to serious readers of the national pastime

11 Jun

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Ron Kaplan’s “501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die” is an intriguing title, even if it may not mean much to people other than those devoted to the national pastime. A reference book of this kind was sorely needed for us serious baseball readers, and Kaplan has given us one with this nifty little volume. It’s divided into different chapters depending on the type of book. Kaplan summarizes all kind of books – classic novels such as Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural” and biographies of legendary heroes including Sandy Koufax and Babe Ruth. Kapan isn’t terribly critical, if at all, in most of these summaries. But that’s okay. I give the author credit for putting out a volume that includes so many baseball books, which, believe it or not, really only scratches the surface. I’m happy he included some of my favorites – “A False Spring” and “Shoeless Joe. 

I’m a writer, and I just want to scream

30 Apr

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One of the worst things about being a writer is the godawful frustration you find yourself up against with trying to draw attention to the words you’ve put out there before people.

I often write these blogs with the first-time author in mind, but I know there are also loads of you who’ve published one or two books as well.

You know the agony of marketing. You remember how hard it was just placing the fanny into the chair every day and writing. Then, you finished your first book, sent it out to the world hopeful as a young child on Christmas morning.

Alas, you made little if no money for all that hard work and time. You think of all the many things you’ve done in life that bore some type of fruit after so much labor. If it was a job there was at least a paycheck waiting for you.

I often compare the life of a writer to that of an aspiring politician. There’s just no guarantee after all that campaigning that you’ll actually win. In fact, second place brings you nothing.

Yes, it can be tough out there. So what keeps you going as a writer?

Ask yourself why you write. Look for little things every day to keep yourself going. Take pride in the fact that you’ve finished a book and stuck with this writing life as long as you have.

In the meantime, keep marketing your work. There’s plenty of ways to get noticed out there. Maybe you’ve tried all the usual methods – getting reviews from readers, going on blog tours, submitting to interviews, – and perhaps book sales have only trickled in.

Try something different. Be creative. Marketing can take a while to really take off, especially for unknown writers.

The point is, there was a reason you wanted to write books. Sure, if you’ve stuck with it this long perhaps you experience that crushing feeling of what seems to be the utter futility of being a writer.

Maybe you want to give up and concentrate your energies on something else. Then again, think how you’ll feel if you just give up. I mean, is that really an option?

I would love to hear from readers on this one.

Write the book you simply have to write

3 Mar

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Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes is one of my favorite books. This story of a man who dreams of glory but falls way short hits all the right buttons. A Fan’s Notes is about many things – drunkenness, madness, fame, football, love, lust and a few other human emotions and issues that most of us who’ve lived any length of time on this vast Earth have thought about or experienced in one way or another. The protagonist is like a lot of us, even if he seems to have more problems than most of us.
I read the book when I was twenty-two, fresh out of the Air Force, a time when I was at loose ends and trying to figure out what the hell to do with the rest of my life. Naturally, I identified with the main character, who was Exley himself, a man who wanted literary fame, but didn’t seem to know how to go about getting himself together to try and grab the brass ring.
That the book eventually catapulted him into some degree of celebrity is the ironic part of it all. Exley never duplicated that first book. In fact, he only wrote two other books, both of which fell far short of his first effort.
Maybe you too have a book in you waiting to get out, a fictional memoir like Exley wrote. Perhaps you’ve been carrying around this story in your head for years, but you just don’t now how to get started.
Why not try sitting down and letting it all out? Don’t get hung up on the beginning and outlining to death and wondering if it will have some kind of ending. Chances are, if you’ve been carrying the story around in your head for all these years, it will come out. Trust your instincts. Write the darn book, as I like to say. Don’t over-think the thing. Remember, the best stories come from the heart, not the brain.
And always, write fast. Remember a first draft is only a blue print. It can always be edited.
Exley put it all out there in his book. Whether you’re burning to write a fictional memoir, as did Exley, or some other book, letting loose with your heart is a good strategy. Exley wrote a book he simply had to write. How about you? Is there such a story waiting to get out?