Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 28 December 2014

All change


changeThis is my last weekly blog for 2014 so I’d just like to wish everyone reading it a Happy New Year when it comes and let’s hope 2015’s a little kinder to the world than 2014’s been. Next year I’m taking a year off. I’ve enough reviews and articles stockpiled (plus a couple I’ve committed to write at the start of the year) to enable me to post one a month for the whole of 2015 and then we’ll see. The rest of the time I’m going to upload my poems, a couple a week probably so you will be kept entertained. Of course I’m not actually taking a year off; it’ll be more of a busman’s holiday. I’ve other stuff I have to do that’s more important and I’ll reassess the situation in a year’s time depending on how successful this experiment is.

So what’s this other stuff, Jim?

Glad you asked. The short answer is: Write. I, of course, write all the time, hundreds of thousands of words. But I mostly don’t write what I want to write. I write what I think I ought to be writing, blogs mostly and comments on blogs (and if you’re familiar with my comments you’ll realise they’re occasionally longer than the blogs I’m commenting on). I like writing. The thing is I don’t write much fiction these days. I don’t have the need. I don’t need to because that urge is being satisfied elsewhere. I’m cheating on my own writing. Off writing other things when I should be putting my effort into my own novels and poems. And that’s not on. Of those few of my friends who still blog most upload something once a week and it probably takes them an hour to rattle off the five- or six-hundred-word post. I can’t do that. I’m not that kind of chatty writer. I simply can’t. But as long as I keep up the schedule I have—which I’ve cut back on and cut back on over the last seven years (there was a point when I was posting a couple of three-and-a-half-thousand-word articles every week)—I’ll never have the space I need to do what matters most to me. Enough is enough.

This is true too: the fun’s gone out of it for me. Blogging (and reading blogs) is becoming less and less popular. I spend maybe three days writing an article and often no one—or his brother, hardly anyone—comments and that’s soul destroying. Readers never mattered to be before I came online. When did they become so damn important? I started blogging because that’s what those who maintained they knew about things said, at the time, you ought to do if you were a writer: set up a static website (check) and a blog (check), post on a regular basis (check) and you will build an audience (which is a euphemism for ‘fan base’ I suppose) who will buy your books and tell all their friends to buy your books. Well that never really happened. Naïve to imagine it would. I developed a few relationships, one or two of which blossomed into bona fide friendships, but that was it. Not that I’m complaining—friends are good. They make good beta readers too.

A lot of writers have moved onto other platforms, so-called microblogging sites like Twitter and, of course, everyone’s favourite, Facebook. I don’t, however, think there’s much useful that can be said in 140 characters or less apart from, “Get up! The bed’s on fire.” And Facebook’s not much better, worse at times since there’s no guarantee that even your friends will get to see what you’ve had to say. Words need space to breathe. They need time spent on them. I recently replied to a friend’s e-mail and my subject line read “9 words a minute” because it’d taken me three hours to write, edit and proofread—yes, I edit and proofread my e-mails—and I’ll let you do the sums yourself if you can be bothered. It was a considered and carefully-written e-mail. And if I’m going to devote three hours to an e-mail just imagine how I feel about my actual writing.

Starting in January I’ll be editing my novel The More Things Change. It took me seven months to edit the short story collection so I can only imagine the work involved in a 90,000-word novel but it needs to be done and there’s no way I can give it the care it deserves whilst trying to maintain two blogs (I’m also putting my McVoices blog on hold for the year). I have a book of poems which was supposed to be out at the end of 2014 but it got delayed for various reasons; mostly my work on Reader (border)that’s done but I still need to keep on top of things. That’ll be out early 2015 and I’ll need to devote time to promoting it too. And then we’ll see if anything else happens. I have ideas—I have ideas all the time—but they get lost in the morass that passes for my mind and half the time even when I write them down I lose them.

I’ve been reading a lot this year—160 books (okay, 160 short books)—and I’ll post something next week talking about that and then the poems’ll start to appear. Some’ve been published before, many are slight and although decent enough poems are not what editors are going to jump at. But they deserve a read and this is a good opportunity to let them see the light of day. I might append the occasional wee note if I can think of something worth adding—where the poem was first published if I can locate the magazine (I was very bad at keeping records when I was young) or where I got the idea from—but nothing that’ll take any real time to write.

Change is inevitable. At times it’s awful—much of the time it’s awful—and we resist it as if we had much choice in the matter. It would be naïve of me to imagine I could go back to being the writer I once was (that guy’s gone and when you read some of the poems next year you might wonder who wrote them but that guy’s gone too) but I would like to be a different writer than the one I’ve become; a better one would be nice but I’d settle for a… for a year off and let nature run its course.


Joseph Hutchison said...

It'll be good to know you're honoring yourself in 2015, Jim. At least your fans will have the illusion once a month of your cyber-presence! And hey, why not keep us posted about your progress? Unless (like me) you consider that an invitation to bad luck....

Jim Murdoch said...

Joe, I don’t even share with my wife what I’m writing or if I do all she know is I’m writing “a book” or something vague like that. The last two I e-mailed her when they were finished and that was the first she knew about either of them. I don’t believe in jinxes as such but I’m always conscious that I’m only half in control of any project and I really can’t make any promises when it comes to my subconscious. Sometimes he pulls his weight; mostly he farts around and takes ages to get his act together but when he does he’s a bloody marvel which is why I put up with him. But I’m not planning any writing, at least not for the first few months. If I get an idea then I’ll go with it, of course. I have a project started which’s been floating around my head for about a year now and every now and then I scribble down a few lines but it might not come to anything so why raise people’s expectations and risk disappointing them? The editing only requires a clear head and as long as I don’t overtax myself (which I’ve been trying not to do this year) I can sit down and do a few hours every day until the job’s complete. The only question is how many runs through the text I’ll need before I’m happy with it. I think it took seventeen read-throughs for the stories. It’s a simple enough process. Start at page one and read until something trips you up; fix it then continue to the end. In theory the next time you start to read it there’ll be nothing to trip you up but that’s never the case. So you go through the entire text from beginning to end again. And then again. And then again and again until you can read the book from beginning to end without anything, not a turn of phrase or a word or a comma giving you pause for thought. Then you bring in the beta readers to see what they notice. And then my wife gets it and puts all our efforts to shame.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

You've put up a lot of interesting work, Jim. It should be readable now and for years. I check my stats and a handful of blog posts, some years old, are the ones that totally overshadow the rest. And they're not, as a group, posts that showcase my writing - a quote from Burroughs' Naked Lunch that was the source for the name of the band Steely Dan, my own attempt to translate the dialect in Wuthering Heights (fail!).

That bit about writing & posting regularly and you will build a readership which you can built into -- a living? -- a laugh! There were stories about people who got books published by conventional publishers after their blogs blew up. But there are stories and then there are stories.

I hope you will manage ways that are satisfying and healthful. Recently my stats jacked upward - I don't know why. But comments did not follow, so who knows? I know a few people read, at least once in a while. But what if I had no evidence whatsoever that anybody read a word? I probably wouldn't post. I don't think what I say is amazing or deserves a readership, but it does take a certain effort to post, even if what I'm posting I may have written anyway.

Jim Murdoch said...

I’m not entirely fatalistic about the future of blogging, Glenn. I just think we all have to rein in our expectations. I think many of us have which is why there are very few blogs out there older than mine and those that are are shadows of their former selves. No one can blog regularly for years on end and stay fresh and interesting. None of us are that interesting. Knowing that I’ve made a point of keeping my life on the sidelines and sticking to blogs about writing of which I knew a little and once that was exhausted then every blog became a research project which was fine and I’ve enjoyed learning and sharing what I’ve learned but I’ve always felt that I was skimming subjects that really deserved weeks or even months of study.

I’m just about to start working on next week’s post looking back on my reading in 2014. I did well, amazingly well, reading and reviewing 160 books but my main goal had been to answer a question: Why do I prefer books written by men? It’s true. When I look at my library shelves the only books by woman are those publishers have sent me over the last few years and virtually none of them are books I would’ve gone out and bought. But why? Am I saying that men are better writers than women? Does a statement like that even make any sense? So this year I read eighty books by women and eighty by men from all over the globe from debut novelists to Nobel Prize winners and although I gave several books written by women glowing five-star reviews I still find if I’m being brutally honest that my favourite books were by males but I still haven’t been able to pinpoint why. I read no books that were especially female (i.e. no chick lit) and no books that were especially male (no action adventures) and I have a Word document packed with notes and links to articles which’ll take me days on end to wade through, order and maybe make some sense of and I may get round to it one day but for now I need to use my brain differently.

You are right though. We tend to forget that people are finding our posts years after they were written and even if they don’t comment we’re still being read. That those readers don’t then think to check out our own writing is just a fact of life. We all have too much to read. I never imagined it would become a burden but it really has. Our audience is made up of hundreds and hundreds of Mr Creosotes who we’re pressing to try to force down a single wafer-thin mint.

Kass said...

Oh good. More poems. Happy New Year, Jim.

Jim Murdoch said...

Well I’m glad you’re pleased, Kass. I’m going to start with some of my older poems so they won’t be as polished as you’re used to but back in the seventies and eighties it felt like hardly a week went by without some magazine taking something so they can’t have been that bad—either that or standards were very low back then—but you know what it’s like when you look back on your old work, often you can’t see any good in it at all and although that often is the case—I have hundreds of truly awful poems from my early teens which you won’t be seeing—there’s usually something there otherwise why would we have written the poems in the first place? Of course there are not a few when I have to wonder what the hell was going on in my head because I can’t remember a damn thing but just because they’re lost to me doesn’t mean others won’t find something worthwhile in them. We’ll see. At the very least you’ll be able to say, “Well, at least he got better … eventually.” Happy New Year.

Kass said...

I love my truly awful teenage poems and as you might recall, you liked one of them too: the one where I'm listening to organ music for the first time. I'm tempted to post my teenage angst on one of my blogs, just for MY amusement...and for posterity.

I think you should reconsider posting some of your really early musings.

Looking forward.

Jim Murdoch said...

We’ll see, Kass, we’ll see. Some magazine a while ago asked for submissions of juvenilia and they took one of mine. As I recall all entries were anonymous. My main reason for not posting them is time. Not mine, yours. Time is precious and the Internet gobbles it up like nothing on earth: Look at these pictures of cute baby mongooses, read this article about celebrities with webbed feet, click on this video of some guy carving willies out of cheese, research why it’s ‘mongooses’ and not ‘mongeese’. What would you gain from reading my bad poetry other that a wee chuckle? And there are far better ways.

Kass said...

Oh, Jim. You made me laugh out loud (I refuse to do the initials). "...willies out of cheese." I've learned to peruse through Facebook and blogs quickly and only land when something really catches my eye.

Wee and large chuckles are always appreciated.

Gwil W said...

I look forward to the poems Jim, and meanwhile wish you all the best for 2015. My favorite read last year was a relatively short book by Peter Townsend called The Girl in the White Ship, a true story of Vietnamese Boat People. How long ago that seems now. In the 1970s it was and yet the news daily brings evidence that the only thing that changes is the location. Sorry I can't be more upbeat but there it is, at least the people on the two abandoned ships off Italy, about 1800 in total were rescued, so that is something good to come out of it.
Once again, all the best Gwilym

Jim Murdoch said...

I’d’ve read that book had it crossed my path, Gwilliam. I really did read very widely last year, very widely for me that is and there really are so many good short novels out there. I’m reading one at the moment, one of the two I’d committed to do at the start of the year, and it is dragging. There’s nothing wrong with it, and you’d certainly never describe it as a tome, but it feels like the first hundred pages is nothing bar exposition. It’s entertaining in its own way but really all the writer’s doing is arranging his pieces and that’s fine but so many of the books I read last year just dived right in and I really appreciated that.

The poems I’m actually a bit nervous about but it was the only way I could think to keep the blog going—not that anyone would worry if I did just disappear completely for an entire year (others have)—but I think it’ll be okay. It’s just not me. I’d be surprised to see a long essay from you. I open your blog every few days and expect a poem, am pleased to see a poem and so I wonder how my readers will feel. Probably some relief I expect: Thank Christ something I read in under a minute!

Happy New Year to you too.

vito pasquale said...

Jim - I've enjoyed your writing with immense pleasure over the years and have looked forward to each week's new posting. I've also enjoyed reading the comments and commentaries and I am thrilled at the prospect of reading more of your poetry in 2015 and equally delighted to be looking forward to your next novel. Best wishes for a great 2015!

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks, Vito. Nice to see a comment from you here. I had a look over the first twenty or so poems I was thinking of using and they weren’t as terrible as I imagined/remembered them. Apart from one called ‘Eight Minutes’ which ticks through the last eight minutes of some poor sod’s life; I think I’ll do the world a favour and forget I wrote it. I do see a very different me in these early pieces but attempting to be objective I can also see the potential there. Trying to remember where my head was when I wrote them is another thing completely. I’m going to start with ‘Stray’, #453, which I’ve written an entire post about before but it’s an important benchmark poem, the first one where I thought I’d finally got it right, where I’d found my voice. I remember getting the idea for the poem as I walked into East Kilbride shopping centre. It’s undated but it was probably late 1976 or early 1977. I seem to recall I was with the girl who ended up becoming my first wife but that puzzles me because of the direction; I can’t think why we’d be coming in that particular entrance. Older poems have been published—I was even paid for one which I’ll dig out—but #453 was the start. I’ve just written #1087, a late addition to Reader Please Supply Meaning. Carrie says it’s “perfect”—usually the best I get is “good”—and I think it serves as a good last poem; you’ll see when you (finally) get your copy. Carrie’s working on the cover just now and I’ll finish my last run through the text this morning.

vito pasquale said...

Well, I certainly like the sound of Carrie's assessment of #1087. A perfect poem is a nice way to start out a new year. Even if it was the last one of last year.

I'm looking forward to reading "Stray" and I see that I won't have to wait long. . . it's up there at the top of the blog.

I'm intrigued by the description of your memory of writing "Stray.' That feeling. . . I got the idea in this exact spot, but I had no business being in that spot, traveling in that direction.

In a few words it describes one of those shortcomings of memory and also one of its wonders in that it allows us to be right and, somewhat, wrong at the same time, and, be perfectly okay with it.

Jim Murdoch said...

Some authors make a big thing about place, Vito, but I’m not one of them. The only place I need is in my head. I long ago gave up trying to understand why ideas came when (and where) they did. The idea was if I understood what specific conditions resulted in poems I could then replicate them. And so I used to go back to places where I’d “been inspired” to see if I could nudge things along a bit but clearly there was more going on and place if it mattered at all was only one factor. It’s the old thing about not being able to step into the same river twice. Of course as far as East Kilbride goes there could be several explanations as to why we were coming in that particular entrance. There was a carpark there which we used to use. We might’ve had to go to Personnel (what tends to get called H.R. these days) to get photos taken for our passes. We might’ve gone to the canteen. Or I’ve got it wrong and my wife-to-be wasn’t there which would make more sense. The point is the poem means something to me that it could never mean to anyone else. It’s a snapshot of my mind and that’s what I find interesting about some of these older poems because I can’t imagine what must’ve been going on in my mind when I wrote them. What was I thinking? I wonder if I still have any notebooks from that time. Must check.

vito pasquale said...

Jim - I've tried, over the years, to keep notebooks but more often than not, I'd read the notes later and not have any clue what I'd meant. I'm much more likely to write if I have both the idea and the time to finish it. . . or at least come up with a good draft. That being said, I have a file of work in progress. It contains about a thousand snippets of things I almost never look at. I just opened one of the files called 'Symbolism' and in it are explanations (in dictionary form) of some of the 'things' in my poems.

For example, here is what the 'rental car' supposedly symbolizes:

The rental car represents life in its totality, its ups
and downs, its direction, the ability to take
passengers with you, the new terrain, the things
in the trunk, the gas that you have to prebuy that
you never use that they sell to you again at the end
of your trip.

I have no reason to think I've ever put a rental car in a poem. Nor do I think I've ever included an 'eggplant,' which also has an entry. Or a 'pipe.'

The pipe when it's lit represents the funeral pyre, when unlit, it is a stand-in for being judged unfairly.

I find myself interested in the poems not written as well as those that were. It might make an interesting post of yours someday. . . entries from your notebooks that seemingly never became a poem.

One of my beliefs, though is that each poem just written is the sum of all previous ideas and time. It's not possible to leave anything out.

Jim Murdoch said...

My oldest notebook dates back to August 1991, Vito. The first poem in it is #734, ‘Grief at Parting’, which is named after a painting by Giorgio de Chirico, ‘The Melancholy of Departure’. It covers that three year period when I couldn’t write but there are a few pieces in it that aren’t intolerable like this one:


      You don’t understand.
      How could you?
      It’s not the seeing
      It’s the not seeing.
      You’ve got it all wrong.
      We don’t need to see anything.
      You’ve all forgotten how to look.

and, a few pages later:

      J—, After all this Time

      She couldn’t not look.
      For old time’s sake or
      to see if the years had been kind.
      It doesn’t matter,
      she looked.
      Knowing I wouldn’t have the words.
      What did she hope to see?
      Answers? If only it was that simple.

      2 March 1996

No idea why they didn’t make it into the big red book. There was clearly something missing although I don’t think the first one’s too bad. Ten years earlier and I’d’ve been pleased with it. I might try to do something with it.

A lot of the stuff's self-indulgent and even downright pretentious. The second poem in the notebook was eventually finished in 1996 so I guess I hauled out the book to see if there was anything salvageable. This, of course, makes me now wonder just when I started writing these notes.

I actually don’t keep a notebook nowadays. I have a folder called ‘Poems’ into which I dump notes and drafts and every now and then I’ll open a few documents to see if any have begun to work. The oldest piece there dates back to 2008 and is two lines long:

      I remember in the dark.
      There are no distractions

vito pasquale said...

Jim - Thank you for the two poems and the snippet from the journal. They share a theme: looking / seeing / the luxury of darkness. It's as if the three are working together across many years on some idea that's bigger than any one of them. 'J---, After All This Time' reminds me of Lot's wife.

My oldest entry from my work in progress folder is from 2010 - save for 'The Half-Life of Linoleum' (the novel) which dates back to 2003-ish.

One of the files in the folder contains nothing but one word poems with one word titles. . . here's one titled 'Bang:'



And another titled 'Graduate:'



I've not reread "The Half-Life of Linoleum' since just after I finished writing it. My wife and a friend read it and I gave two pages away to anyone who asked for them when I had the blog. I then deleted those two pages from the file that I had. . . I think three or four people asked for them. So even this file is 6 or 8 pages short. I just opened a chapter at random (I chose 7) and scanned a few paragraphs. . . and found this line: 'Love blossoms when you have a tolerant chaperon.'

And thank you for the link to the painting. I realized that the painting is in a gallery in the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan and I've been in that room a few times but did not remember seeing it. Picasso's Three Musicians, Fontainebleu is in there as well. Now that I've looked at a few more of de Chirico's paintings, I'm sorry I didn't pay more attention. The recurring tall streets, the color palette and small figures are quite powerful images. The title is so poignant. I've got to get there again before the summer hordes descend.

Jim Murdoch said...

I can’t imagine giving away work, Vito. I couldn’t be a painter. A photographer, yes, because you get to hang onto the negative or the flash drive. And, of course, as writer all you ever give away are copies. Even the copies in my big red folder are copies; the originals, especially nowadays, don’t exist in any tangible form.

A lot of the time when I look at my notebooks—and even the big red folder—I can pinpoint blocks of time where I’ve clearly been preoccupied with certain things. I don’t notice it so much these days but there are definitely flavours. Poems about looking vs. seeing crop up all the time. And, of course, poems about truth and light (frequently written with a capital L). The J— in the poem is an old girlfriend, my second love if you’re counting but the first girl I actually had a relationship with. I wonder what caused me to write that poem. It’s an uncomfortable little thing, isn’t it?

Glad to remind you of the existence of de Chirico. I’m a huge fan of Magritte’s art and he was inspired by de Chirico which is how I learned about him. I used to collect little art books in my early twenties, the Methuen Little Library of Art, and there was one for de Chirico. Wonder what happened to all of them?

vito pasquale said...

So - my wife used to collect those Methuen Little Library of Art books as well. What a coincidence. We still have the Van Gogh book I think. I know I've seen it in the last couple years. . . but I'm not sure if I could put my hands on it in a flash.

I loved the idea giving away the novel. It would have been really neat to me if it were all gone and required 90 people around the earth, each with 2 pages, to put it back together again. (Not that they ever would but they always could.)

At one point I even thought about putting pieces of the novel in blog comments. . . but, you know, some people delete their blogs. Who could believe it?

I'm enjoying your poetry. Enjoying the differently curated work that you're sharing with us.

Jim Murdoch said...

The thing about me and art, Vito, and, considering who I am find this puzzling, is my willingness to accept it for what it is and not try to “understand” it whereas I get annoyed with poems I can’t “understand”; I see that as the end purpose of a poem, to be understood. It’s not that I think art is meaningless—far from it—but words aren’t the answer to everything and often we writers forget that since we try to convert everything into words as if that’s the be all and end all. My favourite artist has long been René Magritte. His art absolutely captivates me but never once have I sat in front of any of his paintings and wondered what he was trying to say. I think we forget how much of communication is nonverbal.

Brent Robison said...

Jim, I relate to your comment about the fun going out of it (blogging). What precious little fun it was when I started has gone away, and sadly, with it has gone the reading of blogs as well. Except that I occasionally do a mass-catchup from my Feedreader.

I wish you success in your editing and look forward to the new novel. It was supposedly DaVinci who said "Art is never finished, only abandoned." Thus we make way for new work (this I am saying to myself).

Twitter - bleh. 9 words a minute is A Good Thing. I like Leonard Cohen's new song, Slow.

Have a great 2015!


Jim Murdoch said...

This site shows interesting stats for Blogger and Wordpress, Brent. Not quite sure I follow it but it does suggest a shift to Wordpress and a steady decline in Blogger sites. According to the Wordpress site itself, “As of 2014, tens of thousands of new WordPress sites are [still being] created every day.” So blogging is not dead, not by a long shot. I would’ve thought that writers of all people would be keeping it alive and yet so many have closed shop since I’ve been on the go and I don’t see anyone stepping in to fill the gap. I can’t believe that people get anything meaningful from Facebook. Yes, sure, it’s great to share the odd link when it comes your way—if you can trust that it reaches all your friends—but that really is it, and to let people know you’re still alive.

I think the real answer is return on investment. Question: What do we get out of it? Answer: Not a lot. It takes me days to research and write my articles. Even the book reviews usually take a couple of days not counting the actual time spent reading and I don’t mind spending the time if the subjects I’m researching and the books I’m reading are of genuine interest to me. This is writing like it should be, for me first and foremost and if anyone else comes along and gets something out of it then good for them. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the role of the audience in writing. Before I began all this Internet malarkey I never gave my readers a second thought. I wrote for me and me alone and I really don’t want to lose that. Selling out—which is a bit of an extreme term for what I’m on about—can only dilute the quality of our writing.

I think another problem with blogging, with the Internet in general actually, is the sheer quantity of material. It’s great in one respect but ask yourself how much you retain of what you read. I suspect a lot less than what you read twenty years ago. None of us spend enough time on individual texts and we skim more than we read; I certainly do. You can get too much of a good thing and with the best will in the world you can only digest so much in a day. Reading is more than looking at words. And for all the above reasons writers have been realising that blogging is a burden, a chore for them to write and a chore for other to read: Not another great blog to read! I’ve twenty other great blogs to read! I don’t have the time to read even five great blogs.

I’ve made a start on the book. It’s been twelve years since I finished the first draft—I know, where does the time fly?—and so it’s like reading the book anew. My wife’s in the States just now and after the first day I spoke to her on the phone and said, “D’you know what? I can write.” I’d forgotten just how good some of the writing is and how little work needs done. Just a thorough copyediting. And then, of course, several people to proofread. That’s heartening. I will send you a copy when it’s done as I suspect you’ll be one of the few people who might appreciate it. It won’t sell but that’s no reason to leave it lying in the proverbial drawer any longer. I could drop dead tomorrow and it would be a shame if no one got to see it although I’m sure my wife wouldn’t allow that to happen.

I bought my wife Cohen’s latest album for Christmas—she’s a huge fan—and so I’ve heard ‘Slow’. I think it’s the best thing he’s produced in a while; would fit right in with the material from I’m You Man which is my favourite album by him.

Brent Robison said...

Thanks for the link. I already know I won't be moving to Wordpress. I'll occasionally post on Blogger, but you are absolutely right about ROI: zero. Same is true for all the social media I jumped into when I brought my book out, following the advice of marketing gurus (BS). Facebook retains some interest for me, but strictly social: connections with long-lost friends etc.

You make one of the most important points about writing that can be made: do it for yourself, not for the audience. And especially not for the "market." That message is increasingly rare in this info-overloaded, ultra-branded, image-mad world.

Yes, please send the novel when it's done and I'll be happy to post a review.

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