Writing the great American novel is the dream of many writers. There are many writers (myself included) who would give their right arm to become the next F. Scott Fitzgerald, Philip Roth or Sylvia Plath.
Writing is more than sitting in front of a computer with a blank word document open or having a pad and pen in hand. Good writing, especially the kind the keeps readers coming back again and again is a mix of talent, skill and sheer hard work.
Donald Maass’s 2002 book, “Writing The Breakout Novel” breaks down the writing process in a practical, easy to read format. Having published books and worked on other side of the desk as a literary agent, Mr. Maass understands the writing process and the qualities that make a book stand out among the untold number of competitors that are published yearly.
What I like about this book is that the information he provided was just not for new writers. The advice can also be applied to veteran writers who even though they have a few published novels under their belt, could use a little help for their next novel.
About a dozen years ago, MTV was airing a reality show where young men were pledging a fraternity. One of the senior members of the fraternity issued the following warning to the recruits: if you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, don’t bother showing up at all.
We are all late once in a while. Alarms don’t go off, meetings go over the allotted time, there is traffic, etc. That’s life. But constant lateness, I believe, is a sign of a lack of respect.
If an employee is constantly late to their job, it is likely that their job will soon go to someone else.
So why is it, that you, Mr. Mayor that you have been significantly late to several events since you took office? I’m at least one of your people carries a watch or at least consults their phone for the time every now and then.
If constant lateness is a sign of how you treat the city of New York and it’s citizens who elected you to your current position, then maybe they will be late come the next election? Or they may just vote for a mayor who arrives on time.
In the mind of the modern person, the pirates of the 18th century who roamed the Caribbean seas are viewed through PG, Disneyfied rose colored glasses.
The reality of that world and the people who inhabited it is far from what we think it is to be.
The television series Black Sails brings together fictional pirates and real life pirates who once inhabited the Caribbean seas. While characters like John Silver (Luke Arnold) and Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) come from the world of literature, Captain Charles Vane (Zach McGowan), Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz) and Anne Bonny (Clara Padget) lived and breathed the life of an 18th century Caribbean pirate. Adding to the story is a prostitute, Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), the daughter of a kingpin who operates a semi-legitimate business.
What I liked about this series is that the rose colored glasses are knocked off the face of the viewer immediately. This is a warts and all story of men and women who chose to forge an independent and often times dangerous life as pirates. This life is dangerous, dirty, bloody and not for the faint of heart.