January was a useful month. That’s arguably a sad adjective to lay on top of an entire month, but think about how many of your months had no remarkable happenings and ponder once again if useful is really too bad. That’s what I’ve done, anyway.
I did manage to put together a writing schedule, which amounts to at least 6000 words per week. Mondays and Wednesdays are tough, for having German classes until 21:30 after an eight hours work journey isn’t the easiest of worlds; on these days I aim for 500 words. In all the other the goal is 1000. The motivating part is to think that back in December, the 400 words per day appeared to be the greatest of challenges. I wouldn’t say they are trivial yet, however, they do feel more instinctive to shoot on paper (or screen?) every day.
It does happen, however; it really does. You may not bleed, as Hemingway suggested, but you may feel like there is a thread to the story, you found it, you can uncover it from the sand and dust, and keep pulling it, following to wherever it leads. That happens, yes.
Mostly, it happens if one is on track with one’s reading. So this is my exercise to wrap up what I thought about the four titles of January.
On Writing – Stephen King
This man is a genius and there’s not much to argue about it. Not to me, anyway. And if you can take a peek in the way a genius think about his craft, you ought to do it, don’t you?
There’s a whole lot of do’s and don’ts here. Some may work for you, some may be rubbish. What I can say is the following: On Writing is as the same time a practical guide to the aspiring author and a mentoring guide to adopting a mindset that will help you to get stuff done. So, if you reckon that nine euros is a fair price for about eight hours of Stephen King’s advice, you’re down to this one.
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
This is Neil Gaiman drinking from pretty much all the mythology he could put his hands on and weaving all together in a storyline full of allegories, ancient references, and exotic characters. To me, there are two ways to read this book: you flip the pages and follow closely the story (that’s the fast one. Reading a book, you know?), or you stop at every new character that jumps in to Google which god or mythological figure it refers to (this path will take a lot a lot of time, but it pays off).
American Gods is a wonderful reading. Shadow is an odd protagonist, which allows all sort of strange things to happen around his story. And for a number of reasons, you got to agree with the prologue when it says this is a very long story with something wrong in it.
If you’re reading this, Neil, those are your words, not mine.
I love you. Peace.
Night Shift – Stephen King
In my humble opinion, if you’re willing to write great short fiction this book is a master class. Which makes me think that I had two master classes from Stephen King during the month of January for less than 15 bucks. It’s really a bargain, isn’t it? Here you’ll find short stories written throughout the 70s, and If you pair it up with On Writing in the same month It’s pretty much like having mind-blowing theoretical and practical masterclasses. Above all, it’s liberating to see story after story how free you can experiment with your ideas. Apart from being, of course, Stephen-King-well-written, these stories feature men turning into a fermented mash, people with alien micro-eyes in their fingertips, dudes surfing on the eve of the apocalypse and trucks that gain life trying to conquer the planet – so, yes you can pull up a story from a lot of places. It feels encouraging, doesn’t it?
The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury
The last book I finished in January. The character that named this book is a sort of Arnold Schwarznegger covered in strange tattoos that gain life during the night and tell stories of every sort. However, the book has less to do with the Illustrated Man (who actually only appears twice, maybe three times across the pages) and more with a branded, very recognizable dystopian sci-fi idea from the early 50s, that Bradbury mastered, or I should say, really helped to build and consolidate. It’s a collection of fifteen or eighteen short stories, mostly reflections over human behavior in face of typical situations brought by strange (now retro)futuristic issues. Every single story is amazing. I only missed more about the Illustrated Man himself.
That’s all for now.
I’ll be back next month, most likely late again.
Stay warm folks.