Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Novels, Novellas, and Non-Fiction

Four days ago, on Sept. 25, I completed the novella I've been working on for the past four months. Not a bad time for completing a novella, I think. At that rate, I could write three novellas in a year. Or a pretty-good-sized novel. But you can never be sure. Largish novels can become bogged down, or grow in unexpected ways, and pretty soon three years have passed and it's still not done. My first novel was very-good-sized. I don't think I'll be doing another one of those for a while. There's something a bit more satisfying about a work that doesn't require years to complete. Pretty-good-sized will be just fine with me. Or merely good-sized. At any rate, I have leapt from the recently completed novella directly into something very different for me: non-fiction.

I am writing a book about the artist Robert Craig, who had been kind enough to paint the cover for my first novel. Someone is making a documentary film about him, and a book seemed like a nice thing to complement the film. I don't know how far along the film is, whether in progress, finished, or not yet begun. And I don't really care. The book is coming along nicely so far, and is fun to write. I doubt I'll make a habit of writing non-fiction, but this book I can do. Wonder if I can finish it by year-end. Probably too optimistic. Especially given that I will be dependent on the subject of the book to provide me with biographical data; and his turnaround time is not always as brisk as one might hope. But that's okay. The book will get done sometime over the course of a year. And while I'm waiting for the data I need, I'll just work on my next novel. Just as soon as I decide what it will be about and start writing it.

I may post excerpts from the recently finished novella in the near future, but it may be a bit longer before the entire work will be available; I am entering it into a contest soon that prohibits me from publishing it. But if it wins, they will publish it for me. And give me other good stuff. So I figure it's worth a shot.

And that's what is going on in my literary world.

From the heartland,

D.E. Sievers

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

D.E. Sievers Reads from "The Trees in Winter" - 3 New Lit-Vids

Pull a chair up to the fireside, pour a glass of wine, and let your Uncle Sievers regale you with passages from his novel, "The Trees in Winter." Three new Lit-Vids here for your viewing and listening pleasure. If you like what you hear, maybe you'll even want to buy and read the whole novel? And tell everyone you know to do likewise?

READING #1 (6:52)

READING #2 (5:06)

READING #3 (4:22)

Greetings from the heartland,

D.E. Sievers

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Do You Write or Type (or Keyboard)?

Pondering the mechanics of writing these days. Some find it odd that I write in longhand. To which I respond: doesn't a writer write? If I am typing, am I writing? Sure, many will say. To which I will trot out the old reactionary stance espousing the mystical process by which precious literary treasure travels from the writer's heart/mind/soul down the arm, through the hand, into the pen, and finally, by means of some ineffable brand of alchemy, onto the blank page. When I write on paper with a pen, I feel like a writer; on a keyboard, like a data entry clerk. No offense to those who embrace the clerkly mode.

Writing, it seems to me, is in reality 100% thinking. Dreaming. Pondering. The act of transporting those thoughts to paper (or digital memory), merely a mechanical task necessary to make your thoughts available to others; whether others find them comprehensible is another matter altogether. But the task of transforming your thoughts into a collection of characters on a page is like the task of plugging in an electric guitar. You can play that guitar to your heart's content unplugged, but no one will hear it but you. Like your thoughts. Plugging in the guitar makes your musical virtuosity available for others to experience, for better or worse.

And yet, on second thought, I must ask: is this really true? As I continue to ponder the process of writing, I must acknowledge that a great deal of the sculpting of the written word occurs only after it has been written, once you can sit back and see what you have said. Rarely does unimpeachable writing spring directly from the pen (or keyboard) on its maiden voyage onto paper (or onto a computer monitor). The act of revising is as much or more a part of writing than merely producing a first draft, which is generally found wanting. And so, while the process of writing continues to consist of thinking (it is required no less for revising than for the initial draft; well, actually, maybe somewhat less), it becomes harder for me now to dismiss the act of putting words on paper (or ...) as a mere mechanical task. That mechanical task, in revising, becomes more than merely a mechanical task but in fact becomes an element in that wondrous alchemy which is writing.

And so, which medium--the pen or the keyboard--represents the more effective or more legitimate method--and which method more legitimately entitles one to assume the august designation of Writer?

I must admit that a keyboard may serve just as effectively as a pen. Even more effectively, many would argue. It's so much easier to delete, insert, move words around, spellcheck, etc., they would argue. So much easier to evaluate what you have written when beholding it in crisp clear Times New Roman characters against a white background. And I must concede that the scribblings in my notebook are often not terribly attractive, if not frustratingly illegible. And yet, I can read what I have written; I am lucky enough, most of the time, to be a match for my own handwriting. And I can cross words out, add new ones, even tear out pages if need be. I can draw arrows from one place to another to indicate where a sentence or word or paragraph should be relocated during the transposing stage. Because yes, I do eventually type up what I have written. It is, to me, a necessary evil, but I do it. So why not do it at the very start? one may ask. To which I respond: I can take my notebook and pen with me everywhere I go. I do not require a battery or a power source. I can whip out my notebook inconspicuously in mixed company, whether on a bus or in a department store or even during a boring lecture, and I can instantly transport my thoughts onto the page. Who knows when that flash of inspiration may come? Should I risk losing a valuable line of inspired dialogue because I chose to depend upon a machine, which may prove unreliable or inconvenient, or because I have allowed myself to believe that I can write in no other way than by means of a machine?

No, I say! I will depend upon nothing and no one but myself as I strive to perform this magical and capricious process known as writing. Nothing except my little notebook and my pen. And the machine that is my brain, which I carry with me wherever I go. And when I can no longer depend on that machine ... well, friends, that will be all she wrote.

From the heartland,

D.E. Sievers