I’ve written before about how feminine stories focus on relationships and connection, while masculine stories focus on identity and alienation. American culture in particular tends to be masculine, and to devalue feminine concerns—the kind of struggles we find in romance and women’s fiction.
Romance novels are about people who want opposite things, yet manage to come together and resolve their differences in a way that leaves them both satisfied, happy, and on the path to lasting love.
The world needs more stories like that.
The events in Paris last week are more proof that there isn’t enough love in the world. The masculine value of competition, where one person wins and another loses, has a place in business and sports. But when it comes to people, whether on an individual or international level, we need more understanding. We need to work harder to build relationships and resolve our differences amicably.
The best time to stop terrorism is before young people become radicalized, before they become so disaffected that they believe violence is the best answer. That means listening to ideas that differ from our own and incorporating them into our world view. It means tolerating things we disagree with. It means working together to find solutions that create a bigger pie, rather than trying to grab the biggest piece for ourselves.
Life isn’t a competition. We’re all in it together, and no one gets out alive. We’re happier when we celebrate and enjoy each other’s differences rather than letting them divide us.
I’ve quoted this saying before, but it bears repeating: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”
What are you doing to create more love in the world?
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No, author, you’re displaying the folly of youth. People in their fifties don’t think they’re old. They think, what the hell happened? How is Steven Tyler almost 70? How could Back to the Future have come out 30 years ago? And if Madonna still looks that good in a leotard, then I couldn’t possibly be older than 29, right?
The older you get, the faster time moves, until finally you don’t feel it moving at all. You think you’ve got time for all the things you’ve planned for today, but then you blink and it’s next week.
I’m finding that I really need to be careful about time, because it gets away from me too easily otherwise. I have to schedule things (especially time to write), or I won’t get to it until it becomes an emergency. I hate schedules, but I don’t have a choice.
I didn’t used to be like this. From the time I was in college, I felt that days were too short, but I managed to get things done. Now, hours pass like minutes. All too often, I want those hours back.
Maybe it’s getting older, or maybe it’s the time sucking properties of the Internet. It’s probably a combination of the two. The older I get, the more I realize that I need to be cognizant of time. Because there’s not as much left as there used to be.
Do you find that time moves faster as you get older? What time management tricks work best for you?
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Most artists start out as art lovers. The beauty they see in the work of others inspires them to try their own. Their first attempts are likely to fall short of their vision. This is normal. To master any art form—painting, music, literature—requires education, skill, and practice.
It can be discouraging, this apprenticeship of the artist. The image in the mind is so perfect, so beautiful, yet we can’t bring it to life. This is where many artists stop. They abandon their dream, because they think of art as self-expression, not hard work. They want to bleed their creation into life, and watch it turn to gold.
This alchemy does not exist.
Artists are craftspeople first. It’s only when they’ve mastered the craft that they can hope to create art.
Dilettantes think their creations are marvelous, because they lack discernment—true artists have good judgment, and with work, they can improve. Apprentices who recognize their limitations have the potential to become masters.
Perfectionism has no place in a classroom. When you’re learning, you’re supposed to make mistakes. It’s okay if your work isn’t good enough. It’s just an experiment, to see what works and what doesn’t.
But no matter how skilled the artist becomes, their work will never feel good enough, never feel complete. That’s the nature of art. Mathematics has the luxury of certainty, while art is always subjective. Another brushstroke there, another comma here, might make it better, or maybe worse. It will never be perfect.
But isn’t art ultimately about human failing? How we manage to make a go of things against the odds in an imperfect world?
Great art isn’t perfect. It’s real. It captures what it means to be human.
To achieve that is as much as any artist can hope for.
Are you a perfectionist? Do you get frustrated when your work doesn’t come out as well as you’d hoped? How do you respond?
In the past few weeks, there’s been a bit of a stir in social media about how many books an author should publish in a year. An author on Bowker suggested that four books was a good number if you wanted to earn a decent living writing fiction. Another on Huffington Post balked at that idea, fearing that quality would suffer. (The art! she lamented. What will happen to the art!)
This satirical article from Bad Advice for Writers should perhaps have the last word. It’s frankly silly for authors to debate the ideal number of books to write in a year, because it depends entirely on the author: their goals, their writing process, the time they have to write.
Prolific authors existed long before indie publishing revolutionized the industry. Often they wrote under different pen names to hide the fact that they were writing so much. Also, traditional publishing is slow, so even if you write four books a year, your publishing house may not be able to keep up with you. That’s a consideration indie authors don’t have to worry about.
I know bestselling authors who release a novel every month. That’s right, twelve books a year. And their fans love them.
Readers read for a variety of reasons. It’s not always about the art. They want to be entertained. They deserve a well-crafted, well-edited story that delivers the reading experience that they’re looking for and that they’ve come to expect from a particular author. As long as the author is able to deliver that consistently, it doesn’t matter how many books a year they publish. What matters is keeping their audience happy.
As a reader, I look forward to new books from my favorite authors. Some are writing so fast that I can’t keep up with them. But at no point have I ever thought, I wish she’d slow down and think more about the art! Instead, I think, I need to make more time to read!
How about you? When you see authors producing four or more books a year, do you worry that they’re not paying enough attention to quality? Or are you just excited that they’ve got another book out?
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