John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

I thought I would dedicate this blog to writing

Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for. Ray Bradbury 

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) It was established in 1999 with the belief that stories matter. More than 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been published, including best-sellers "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen, "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell and "Cinder" by Marissa Meyer. Signing up on nanowrimo.org allows writers to track their progress, receive pep talks and support and meet fellow writers online and in person. More than 325,142 novelists participated in activities last year.

In the state of inspiration…the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms. John Gardner, “The Art of Fiction”

Saudi Arabia is our ally and we’re allowing them to whip a writer? 

Thousands of our young people have been killed or wounded defending these lunatics.

 This just ain’t right.

 Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was convicted of "insulting Islam" and other charges in 2014 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.
The other charges include violating the kingdom's information technology law, and, "blasphemous phrases on his Facebook page and disobedience to his father."
He was already received the first 50 lashes in January, and, says his wife, the Saudi’s are set to resume whipping him again very soon. The 1,000 lashes are to be carried out 50 lashes at a time, 20 weeks in a row.
Badawi has actually been in jail since 2012 for running a blog called "Saudi Arabian Liberals," where he hosted political and religious debate and advocated secularism in a highly religious society. The forum was an effort to encourage discussion about faith.
Badawi wife, Haidar, has been granted political asylum in Canada along with the couple's three children.
Badawi was originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years and 600 lashes, but the punishment was increased upon appeal in 2014.

And then of course, there's the Iranians............  

 Iranian poets to be lashed for behavior deemed radical

Two Iranian poets, Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi, jailed for their work and sentenced to 99 lashes apiece for shaking hands with members of the opposite sex are the latest targets in a crackdown that analysts say pits hard-liners against those offering new glimpses of life in the Islamic Republic. They were first arrested in December 2013, months after Rouhani took office. Iran always has restricted the arts, but both writers previously had published books of poetry with the permission of government censors.
Karin Deutsch Karlekar, the director of Free Expression Programs at PEN America, said the judiciary was waiting for a case where it could "make a demonstration and send a message by giving a very, very harsh sentence." Neither Iranian officials nor state media have commented on the poets' sentences, the latest in a series of similar cases.
The role of the journalist is to gather information, including those related to public officials. What they are trying in Iran is to blur that line.
Sherif Mansour, the Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists
The sentences follow a pattern of arrests and convictions targeting activists, journalists and artists that has served as a grim backdrop to President Hassan Rouhani's efforts to soften the country's image and improve relations with the West, including the landmark nuclear agreement reached last summer. Hard-liners in the police, judiciary and military view any rapprochement with the West as a threat to the Islamic Republic and a sign of moral decay.

ON TO SOMETHING LIGHTER....................

Creative Writing Professor Takes Time To Give Every Student Personalized False Hope

From The Onion

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—In an effort to help his students develop inaccurate perceptions of their talents, University of Virginia creative writing professor Alan Erickson told reporters Monday that he takes the time to provide each and every one of them with personalized false hope.
“Every student is different, and even though there may be 30 of them per class, I feel it’s important that I make enough time to sit down with them individually to let them know they have a unique voice worth pursuing,” said Erickson, explaining that he frequently extends his office hours and often stays after class to meet with students one-on-one to ensure they hear individualized, unfounded optimism about their writing and their prospects within the publishing industry.
“It certainly adds a bit to my workload, but providing specific feedback and encouragement really has a huge impact on their confidence. Going that extra mile for your students is what inspires them to follow their dreams.”
The professor added that his efforts have yielded some notable results, asserting that a number of his most deluded former students have gone on to humiliating, short-lived attempts at writing careers.

Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book; a personality which by birth and quality is pledged to the doctrines there set forth and which exists to see and state things so and not otherwise. Emerson 

Frederick Childe Hassam - At the Writing Desk

Unless a writer is extremely old when he dies, in which case he has probably become a neglected institution, his death must always be seen as untimely. This is because a real writer is always shifting and changing and searching. The world has many labels for him, of which the most treacherous is the label of Success. James Baldwin

 15 Cruelest Author-To-Author Insults

 Vladimir Nabokov on Joseph Conrad
“I cannot abide Conrad’s souvenir shop style and bottled ships and shell necklaces of romanticist clichés.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Jane Austen
“Miss Austen’s novels… seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in the wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow. The one problem in the mind of the writer… is marriageableness.”

Mark Twain on Jane Austen
“I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

Oscar Wilde on Alexander Pope
“There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.”

W. H. Auden on Robert Browning
“I don’t think Robert Browning was very good in bed. His wife probably didn’t care for him very much. He snored and had fantasies about twelve-year-old girls.”

Martin Amis on Miguel Cervantes
“Reading Don Quixote can be compared to an indefinite visit from your most impossible senior relative, with all his pranks, dirty habits, unstoppable reminiscences, and terrible cronies. When the experience is over, and the old boy checks out at last, you will shed tears all right; not tears of relief or regret but tears of pride. You made it, despite all that Don Quixote could do.”

D.H. Lawrence on Herman Melville (1923)
“Nobody can be more clownish, more clumsy and sententiously in bad taste, than Herman Melville, even in a great book like Moby Dick… One wearies of the grand serieux. There’s something false about it. And that’s Melville. Oh dear, when the solemn ass brays! brays! brays!”

 Ayn Rand on C.S. Lewis
“The lousy bastard who is a pickpocket of concepts, not a thief, which is too big a word for him…This monstrosity is not opposed to science — oh no! — not to pure science, only to applied science, only to anything that improves man’s life on earth!”

Henry James on Edgar Allan Poe
“An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.”

Samuel Butler on Goethe
“I have been reading a translation of Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister. Is it good? To me it seems perhaps the very worst book I ever read. No Englishman could have written such a book. I cannot remember a single good page or idea… I am glad I have never taken the trouble to learn German.”

Virginia Woolf to James Joyce

“I dislike Ulysses more and more — that is, I think it more and more unimportant; and don’t even trouble conscientiously to make out its meanings. Thank God, I need not write about it.”

On writing

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – Shakespeare

 “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” - Thomas Mann

 “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” – Franz Kafka

“Yes, it takes longer to write a shorter sentence, but it’s worth it.” – Scott Gillum

“Not everything has to have a point. Some things just are. ” – Judy Blume

“The true enemy of man is generalization.” - Czesław Miłosz in Testimony to the Invisible: Essays on Swedenborg

 “You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

 “Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.” – Hunter S. Thompson

 “An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.” – J.D. Salinger

 “To write is human, to edit is divine.” – Stephen King

“It takes a heap of sense to write good nonsense” – Mark Twain

 “If you wind up boring yourself, you can pretty much bank on the fact that you’re going to bore your reader.” – Ann Patchett

The Daily Rituals of Famous Writers

Jane Austen rose early, before the other women were up, and played the piano. At 9:00 she organised the family breakfast, her one major piece of household work. Then she settled down to write in the sitting room, often with her mother and sister sewing quietly nearby. If visitors showed up, she would hide her papers and join in the sewing. Dinner, the main meal of the day, was served between 3:00 and 4:00. Afterward there was conversation, card games, and tea. The evening was spent reading aloud from novels, and during this time Austen would read her work-in-progress to her family.

First, Charles Dickens  needed absolute quiet; at one of his houses, an extra door had to be installed to his study to block out noise. And his study had to be precisely arranged, with his writing desk placed in front of a window and, on the desk itself, his writing materials - goose-quill pens and blue ink – laid out alongside several ornaments: a small vase of fresh flowers, a large paper knife, a gilt leaf with a rabbit perched upon it, and two bronze statuettes (one depicting a pair of fat toads duelling, the other a gentleman swarmed with puppies).

Victor Hugo wrote each morning, standing at a small desk in front of a mirror. He rose at dawn, awakened by the daily gunshot from a nearby fort, and received a pot of freshly brewed coffee and his morning letter from Juliette Drouet, his mistress, who he had installed on Guernsey just nine doors down. After reading the passionate words of “Juju” to her “beloved Christ,” Hugo swallowed two raw eggs, enclosed himself in his lookout, and then wrote until 11:00 A.M.

Although Simon DeBeauvoir’s work came first, her daily schedule also revolved around her relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre, which lasted from 1929 until his death in 1980. (Theirs was an intellectual partnership with a somewhat creepy sexual component; according to a pact proposed by Sartre at the outset of their relationship, both partners could take lovers, but they were required to tell each other everything.) Generally, Beauvoir worked by herself in the morning, then joined Sartre for lunch. In the afternoon they worked together in silence at Sartre’s apartment. In the evening, they went to whatever political or social event was on Sartre’s schedule, or else went to the movies or drank Scotch and listened to the radio at Beauvoir’s apartment.

George Orwell.The post at Booklovers’ Corner [a London second-hand bookshop where he was a part-time assistant] proved an ideal fit for the thirty-one-year-old bachelor. Waking at 7:00, Orwell went to open the shop at 8.45 and stayed there for an hour. Then he had free time until 2:00, when he would return to the shop and work until 6.30. This left him almost four and a half hours of writing time in the morning and early afternoon, which conveniently, were the times that he was most mentally alert.

Mark Twains routine was simple: he would go to the study in the morning after a hearty breakfast and stat there until dinner at about 5:00. Since he skipped lunch, and since his family would not venture near the study – they would blow a horn if they needed him – he could usually work uninterruptedly for several hours. “On hot days” he wrote to a friend, “I spread the study wide open, anchor my papers down with brickbats, and write in the midst of the hurricane, clothed in the same linen we make shirts of.”
 Salman Rushdie advice to Aspiring Writers

“I want to talk about falling in love with stories and books, because I believe that the books and stories we fall in love with make us who we are. Or, not to claim too much, that the act of falling in love with a book or story changes us in some way, and the beloved tale becomes a part of our picture of the world, a part of the way in which we understand things and make judgments and choices in our daily lives.”
“I think also what’s happening in America now is censorship being driven by political correctness, a desire to limit what can be said about a whole range of subjects — sexuality, and everything else. That’s becoming quite difficult: the idea of putting trigger warnings on books and that kind of thing. Hearing people say what you don’t want to hear is one of the great joys of an open society, it’s the thing that makes you think.”
“This is the beauty of the wonder tale and its descendant, fiction: that one can simultaneously know that the story is a work of imagination — that is to say, untrue — and believe it to contain profound truth. The boundary between the magical and the real in such moments ceases to exist,”

“Many young writers today start with the mantra ‘write what you know’ pinned to the wall behind their writing tables and as a result, as can testify anyone who’s taught a writing class, there’s a lot of stuff about adolescent suburban angst.”

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