Dangerous Adventure for the Timid

7-20-09 Capilano Suspension Bridge and Stanley Park 009

I’ve been re-learning how to read faster than a snail with sore eyes, using a fairly amazing thing called, “7 Speed Reading.” In the software, you get to choose yer own poison, so I selected some old self-help book that keeps saying a “timid” person does this but a person with some pixie dust called “poise” does just the opposite.

Needless to say, I can relate to the timid person. Fortunately my comprehension at the slightly above average reading speeds demanded by the software is sufficiently low to protect me from any serious damage to my self-worth. Or any chance of self-improvement, I guess.

But faster reading may be my only hope, Obi-Wan.

If I don’t start reading more fiction, I’m cooked. There’s no way anyone can ever write decent fiction without reading a small truckload of it, and, as I’ve confessed before, I haven’t read much. (I’ve read a lot of non-fiction books about writing fiction, though. That’s how come I’m an infallible hack. That plus the fact that I’m a man – you know, one of those creatures with generic infallibility wasted upon him.)

Don’t be like me. Read the kind of stuff you’re trying to write. Otherwise…

You might end up joining www.thenextbigwriter.com and posting your work to thunderous avoidance, as I’ve done recently. Very painful. The other night I almost decided to quit writing fiction forever, and switch to non-fiction. Don’t anybody say, Amen, please. This is not the time.

Yeah, I was lying there in bed feeling kind of timid and remorseful because the chapter I posted has had about 15 views but no reviews. Other members who can actually write fiction have posted their work and gotten several reviews since I posted mine. This can only mean…

The potential reviewers look at my work, read a few lines, decide is sucks, decide they don’t want to write a negative review (thanks for that) and move on to something else they can read, enjoy, and review without sounding cruel.

But it’s cool… almost. It’s a great way to get the negative feedback you need without actually having someone write it down in horrifying detail and rub you nose in it. If you’re easily discouraged, lack poise, and are basically as timid as a clam, this kind of implied negative feedback is good.

Another good thing about posting my work on that site is that a little objectivity about my writing suddenly came to me. At least, I think it was objectivity…

Whatever it was, shortly after I’d posted my fine prose and noticed a few drive-bys with no shootings, I read the thing again and thought it sounded kind of weak. Then I read it a day later and found it frightfully awful. Last time I tried to read it I couldn’t get more than a third of the way through before the repulsion was too much.

At that point it seemed so bad that I knew for sure I could do better. I think that’s what’s keeping me from quitting my fiction writing career before it starts.

I enjoy writing fiction so much. If I liked reading it as much as I like writing it, I’d be a decent writer by now… I bet.

OK, maybe the word “decent,” is pushing the envelope. But I can dream!

Point is, don’t you stop dreaming. Especially if you’re in the talent class with this one writer, Violet, whose work I found the other day. Just a sec, I’ll go find her web address. Here it is: http://inkonskin.wordpress.com/. If you write as well as she does, it would be a crime for you to get discouraged or become too busy to enrich the world with your gift.

Update: 6-11-14… It turned out that my submission was passed over because it was so freaking long. On that site you earn points by reading and reviewing, and you spend your points when you post your work. It seems you can earn points quicker by reading shorter things. After I cut my first chapter from 5,000 to under 1,000 words, I got positive feedback right away.

And you thought it was appendicitis.

I’d like to thank my father-in-law for mentioning how short the chapters are in some of the books he’s been reading lately. That made a light come on, and led to my cutting the chapter size.

M. Talmage Moorehead

My current in-progress version of Johanna’s novel is not merely character driven, it’s written by a girl from a parallel universe. If you’re interested in intelligent design, weird artifacts, genetics and psychology from the perspective of a nineteen-year-old “Hapa Girl,” it may be a fun read. The protagonist, Johanna, is a genius geneticist with a younger brother who struggles with depression, though you wouldn’t know it to meet him. Her evolving story starts here.

It’s an experiment called, Hapa Girl DNA, and is a hybrid itself – a tightrope crossing of fiction and non-fiction. “Hapa” is the Hawaiian term for “half.” Johanna is half Japanese and half Jewish. In writing her novel, she and I ignore some important fiction-writing rules, partly because we like to test dogmas, and partly because it’s fun to try new things.

But the “rules” are essential knowledge to anyone crazy enough to either break them or follow them mindlessly.

So you could download my e-book on fiction writing, the second to last chapter of which gives my current opinions on many of the dogmatic rules of fiction writing. Downloading that 10,000 word file will place you on my short list of people who will be politely notified when my traditional novel is done – possibly before the next ice age. (No spam or sharing of your info. I haven’t sent an email to my list yet. It’s been over a year.)

Next time you’re writing emails, if you think of it, please tell your best and hopefully weirdest friend about my blog (www.storiform.com). Thanks. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.