Posted in photography, thoughts, travel, writing

There is a mysterious cycle in human events

tree-eveningvia Daily Prompt: Realize I now realize that this is a mysterious shot taken at Sep 12, 2015, 11:35 PM according to the description. But I cannot remember how I could have gone outside to take this photo at such a late hour! When I check other photos taken on the same day I find that they depict daytime and not night. How could I have taken some photos in the morning, paused for a whole day, and went out again just to take this one picture? It does not make sense. Anyway I give up guessing. It does not matter. The story in the picture is nice to ponder: it seems to tell of a mysterious setting for a rendezvous for at least two. The dark trees, the traffic junction, the lamp post, the distant low mounds, and the sun captured in its yellow water-color painted sky backdrop. The setting stirs up a writer’s imagination without boundary.
By the way, because the lamps seem not lit I conclude that this picture was taken in the day and not at night. It did not really matter whether it was day or night. I was alone that day and not meeting anyone.
“There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Posted in photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

her framed life

Frame
frame 1“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree. ”(Michael Crichton) I agree when I now look at this picture taken at a museum. The painting depicts a vintage car with possibly a miner’s family. I was attracted by the splashes of blue color which permeates the whole scene. Somehow the blue blends well with the yellow and brown. I collected a few pictures within pictures by using a simple Samsung Galaxy. The museum is about mining. And an artist has displayed a series of painting of individuals (possibly based on related period records) on the wall. The individuals are framed in time. Each must represent an episode in life in which he or she has existed. Each carries a portion of history within the tiny frame of his or her life. We were mere travelers when we visited this museum. We were there to look at other things. But the paintings become a focus today. Paintings are framed lives. The artist looks at a life or a part thereof and tries to put it into an expression. But it can only remain a mere capture of a moment in life as observed and interpreted by the artist. Did the individual thus captured move on from that position and pose? Or was he or she frozen in that frame? No matter how well an artist tries to portray the reality, it is not reality. It is an image formed in time. Thinking deeper aloud, I suddenly realize I too am living from frame to frame. Don’t we all? Sad, but true.

Posted in photography, thoughts, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

Life’s miniatures in time frame

Frameminiatures in time frameLife is a mixture of miniatures. True. If we can dissect life like a layered cake we shall see layers made of a spectrum of lights, different shades, shapes, depths, measurements, ingredients, colors, textures and flavors. Different in uniqueness yet they bond well into one cohesive and coherent wholeness. The much weathered old paint piece continues to stand well as an existence of its own in a corner now with the sun light on its face. It is an irony that the original flowers have faded and only their images are now embedded in a frame in paints in time. Yet they continue in another form as long as the oil painting lasts.

Daily prompt: Miniature

Weekly photos challenge: Rare

In my previous blog, I posted one tiny flower on the left hand corner and learned from it.
https://pwahpraise.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/learning-to-yield/

Posted in literary magazines and publishing, photography, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

the narrow street in sentences breaking out

Narrow

“So I find words I never thought to speak
In streets I never thought I should revisit
When I left my body on a distant shore.”
― T.S. Eliot
“There’s something about arriving in new cities, wandering empty streets with no destination. I will never lose the love for the arriving, but I’m born to leave.”
― Charlotte Eriksson, Empty Roads & Broken Bottles; in search for The Great Perhaps
~~~~~~~~~~
a poem ‘Homage’ by Rachael Boast
On each visit the waves would follow me down
the narrow street in sentences breaking out
of language to tell me homage means going
back to the same place until it knows you –
and I’d hesitate, listening for the way we came
out of the sea with our hands in a vow of give
and take to its turning page which reads
the narrow street leads to a double key.
(- See more at: http://www.picador.com/blog/july-2014/friday-poem-homage-by-rachael-boast#sthash.Xddyy3OO.dpuf)

I decided to post these quotes together with the two pictures on “narrow”streets I took today at random as the words aptly tell a side of the stories of the streets and their supposed narrowness. As traveler in life we often walk on streets that do not mean a thing to us because the time is short and we have too much to see and experience. The streets themselves become mere tools and conveyors for us to get from one point to another. And yet they become parts of our invisible lives.

I read a book by Orhan Pamuk recently, A Strangeness in my Mind, about a street-food vendor, Mevlut Karatas, who walks Istanbul’s neighborhoods at night calling out: “Booo-zaaaaa. Goooood boozaaaaa.” Boza is an ancient fermented beverage, made in Turkey from wheat. It’s yellowish and thick and often topped with cinnamon and roasted chickpeas.
Here are some quotes from the book:
“In a city, you can be alone in a crowd, and in fact what makes the city a city is that it lets you hide the strangeness in your mind inside its teeming multitudes.”
“You’ll learn it all soon enough . . . You will see everything without being seen. You will hear everything but pretend that you haven’t . . . You will walk for ten hours a day but feel like you haven’t walked at all.”
“The only antidote to the loneliness of the streets was the streets themselves.”
“Mevlut sensed that the light and darkness inside his mind looked like the nighttime landscape of the city. . . . Walking around the city at night made him feel as if he were wandering around inside his own head.”

Does the strangeness in his mind cause the wandering at night in the streets? Or does the wandering in the streets cause the strangeness in this poor man’s mind? Like many findings in medical study, often there are no definitive cause and effect variables. The variables can be a cause and an effect at the same time. Isn’t life this way?

Just my random musing today.
Muse

Posted in photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

one day I met this side lane

Narrow
narrow cafeThis side lane is narrow and does not seem to bring out the actual attraction of the place. The frontage is nice. But if you merely look at this lane you would not know whether you should walk in or not. (I have covered the name in the picture.) The restaurant offers savory Turkish, Greek and Mediterranean Fusion Cuisine*. Actually it is worth trying out. Sometimes it takes a bit more effort to walk round to actually see the whole picture. When digging deeper, I discover that the buildings and narrow side lanes are special. Because of the preservation of the town’s historic downtown area, many examples of architectural styles dating back to the mid-19th century exist. Buildings in Gothic Revival, Pioneer, Italianate, Commercial Italianate, Colonial Revival, and Queen Anne styles can be found within walking distance of each other. I have learned the lesson not to be presumptious  when taking a photo of a place. The history of buildings and lanes is often rich and tells a thousand stories. My superficial photo may not do the place justice. The narrowness is often my own casual handling of a subject and not the subject content itself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*Note:Fusion cuisine is cuisine that combines elements of different culinary traditions. Cuisines of this type are not categorized according to any one particular cuisine style and have played a part in innovations of many contemporary restaurant cuisines since the 1970s.

Posted in blogging, celestial journal, photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

traveler’s time and perspective

Narrow
narrow stairsI was taken to this tiny museum in a little town a few days before I left. Two old ladies took care of the place. Old memories like family photos, wedding and children’s clothes, a master bedroom, dolls, cooking utensils, a music room and other person stuff were well preserved among other more important historical records about the founder of the town. This photograph was a bit blurred as I was in a hurry to leave. When I look at it now I realize a museum like this preserves more than just the memories of a man and his lives and perhaps his official impact on others during his time. It is more than just a book of memoir or biography pieced together by others (including perhaps his loved ones) on a man. It is a place where strangers like me from another continent  may stumble in once in a blue moon like entering a time portal to another world. The periodic presentation of a time in history is valuable as it makes a statement with things rather than with words. The things may not look pretty or impressive in our modern world but the communication of a statement is timeless, like an ever speaking witness of a time which existed on earth in a little town, a tiny narrow space. I perceive the familiarity of the space. I have been here before, with the same message communicated to me through the many tiny narrow spaces I have stepped on during my travel round the world. The contents of the message are often unchanged. The variation of things and names do not make any difference. The message is a message of time itself. Time speaks, regardless of spaces. Yes, narrowness is a matter of perspective.

Posted in books, photography, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

writing about life in crisis

Crisislife in crisis
Lately I realize the more I look at life being lived by others the more I value my own. Writing about others’ lives is not a pleasant task. Often we see the imperfections and the should-have-been scenarios. Before the explosive and swift takeover of the world by digital technology which broke through all geographical barriers and rendered all physical boundaries useless in terms of sharing of instant visual and audio thoughts and perceptions, we read news which were not news. But today we read news as they come into being somewhere faraway and yet real, real suffering, discriminations, and hate crime being perpetrated by evil right in front of our eyes manifesting digitally.

I may ask, who are these people? Why do they hate so much? We read of who they are superficially in the news. What are the factors that drive them to killing out of hatred? We read of the usual socio-economic-racial-religious-class-color-power distribution factors. All these factors cannot answer the question why others under the same categories do not hate or kill others, and why the particular person or group of persons hate and kill innocent people.

The rules of war have been altered as each national boundary has been invaded through borderless ideologies and beliefs. When we read further and ponder the issue deeper we realize that it is the borderless infiltration of the mind that is the culprit. How do we close our mind border? This is the real question today.

This picture was taken in a winter in a foreign land. The bush/grass had lost their life giving green color. The birds continued fishing in the shallow brook. They co-existed. The bush/grass continued to shelter the birds. I just read that a young person stabbed to death 19 people and injured 26 in a stabbing spree at a facility for disabled people. It was reported that the young man who was a former staff considered them unfit to live. They were deemed disqualified to live because they were not as perfect as he wanted them to be. Where did he get the idea who are perfect to live? Where did he see pictures of physically perfect people whom he worshipped as idols/icons?

I remember the book Lord of the Flies, a 1954 novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results.In the midst of a wartime evacuation, a British plane crashes on or near an isolated island in a remote region of the Pacific Ocean. The only survivors are boys in their middle childhood or preadolescence. The book portrays their descent into savagery; left to themselves in a paradisiacal country, far from modern civilization, the well-educated children regress to a primitive state.

This is a prophetic book that tells of a future-today’s world in crisis.

Posted in literary magazines and publishing, photography, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

“All you have to do is write one true sentence”

earnest hemingway“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day. ( acceptance speech at Nobel Prize in Literature 1954)

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”

“In order to write about life first you must live it.”

“The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it.”

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”

“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

“If a writer stops observing he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed.”

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

I decided to share some quotes from Earnest Hemingway at random on writing. Simple yet relevant observations for would-be-writers to ponder and emulate.

Posted in photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

Writing with a passion

Matthew 9 copyWriting is like being in love. There must be an unquenchable passion. My experience is that great writings come with passion. They are no longer mere words being grouped together to form something. They are lives. The lives of real people. The lives that matter to real people.

Writing is passion for life.

When I feel a coldness I cannot write. I just look at the screen and sigh. Then I shut it down.

Where does passion come from? Passion can only come from life. Only by living we can acquire passion. It does not come automatically. It has to be hunted down, discovered or uncovered. It hides in life itself. It comes in many shapes and sizes, colors and sounds. It can be seen or heard or sensed or touched or just perceived in the heart or soul…

A reader can differentiate between whether the writing is alive or dead. The writer can try to fake it. But if he does not have life he cannot give it. His coldness will show. How do I select something to read? I look for the life in it. When there is none, I put it back to its display shelf in the bookstore or on the web page of Amazon or whatever bookstore online. I would leave it alone.

I do the same for blogs too or pictures in the blogs. Leave it alone. Go for the ones with real lives.

Life and goodness require courage and strength to grow and hold fast. Be strong. Be courageous. Hold fast to the Source of goodness. Passion for life is contagious. Be contagious with a life of good words.

Quoted from a dictionary:
The joy of giving life to a child: existence, being, living, animation; sentience, creation, viability.
He is full of life: vivacity, animation, liveliness, vitality, verve, high spirits, exuberance, zest, buoyancy, enthusiasm, energy, vigor, dynamism, elan, gusto, brio, bounce, spirit, fire; movement;

Posted in writing

To name or not to name? written under pseudonyms

agatha-christie-26-cool-hd-wallpaperDoes a male name give an advantage in terms of acceptability and readership? History shows that it does make a difference. Many famous writers used pseudonyms. Women writers used male names in a society that discriminates women writers. Even today this advantage still shows. Here are some examples.

E. Annie Proulx, born August 22, 1935,-E is for Edna, which she never uses, and Proulx rhymes with true. She earned two degrees in history, lived in New York City and the Far East and 13 different towns in Vermont, founded a small-town newspaper “The Vershire Behind the Times”drifted through out-of-the-way places in her pickup truck, learned fly fishing, fiddling, partridge hunting and how to build a house. Once in a while, she wrote a short story. She was past 50 when she found out that what she had become was a novelist. Starting as a journalist, her first published work of fiction is thought to be “The Customs Lounge”, a science fiction story published in the September 1963 issue of If, under the byline “E.A.Proulx”. She pursued, but did not complete, a Ph.D. In 1999, Concordia awarded her an honorary doctorate.
Quote from Proulx
“When I first started writing stories and trying to place them in the outdoor magazines, they insisted that it be E. A. Proulx so the guys who read these magazines wouldn’t think it was a woman writing them. Sexist editors. The ones who suggested it were from a small Vermont publication, and I got back this awful letter, full of bad spelling and clumsy syntax, suggesting that I should change my name to initials. Very tiresome. I went along with it, and then it became E. Annie, and then finally I got sick of writing E so it just got dropped.”

Joanne Rowling (J.K. Rowling) …
The Brontë Sisters (Ellis, Acton, and Currer Bell) …
Alice Bradley Sheldon (James Tiptree, Jr.) …
Nora Roberts (J.D. Robb) …
Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) …
Louisa May Alcott (A.M. …
Ann Rule (Andy Stack)

Louisa May Alcott: Prominent 19th century writer Louisa May Alcott began her career under the male pen name A. M. Barnard. While her most famous work, Little Women, was published under her real name, she gained considerable notoriety as Barnard in the mid 1860s.

Nelle Harper Lee: Writing under the abbreviated name Harper Lee, Lee’s pen name does not necessarily disguise her identity, but does make her authorship fairly androgynous. Harper Lee became wildly famous for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. This novel is on every high school reading list in the United States and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize soon after its publication.

Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin: Born in Paris in 1804, Dupin is known in history almost solely by her male pseudonym George Sand. Her first novel Indiana was published in 1832 under this pen name as well as every subsequent publication that followed.

Charlotte Bronte: As the author of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte is one of the most celebrated female novelists in all of history. Many, however, do not realize that this quintessential English novel was originally written under a male pen name. Charlotte Bronte published her works under the name Currer Bell.

Emily Bronte: Publishing under the male pen name Ellis Bell, Emily Bronte is most widely known for her only novel Wuthering Heights. She and her two sisters chose to write under masculine pseudonyms to deter any bias on the basis of their gender.

On the other hand, Agatha Christie still ranks number two in the list of best selling fiction authors. (William Shakespeare ranks number one.) Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies, and her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world’s most-widely published books,[3] behind only Shakespeare’s works and the Bible. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author – having been translated into at least 103 languages. “And Then There Were None” is Christie’s best-selling novel, with 100 million sales to date, making it the world’s best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time. Christie’s stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run: it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on 25 November 1952 and as of 2015 is still running after more than 25,000 performances.

A male name may get some authors somewhere, but contents do matter.

Posted in blogging, books, creative writing, God's blessing, life of riches and honor, literary magazines and publishing, thoughts, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

writing with an aim

winter and branches
Writing without an aim is like taking this winter picture of bare branches at random while strolling by. Is it essential to have an aim? I believe so. HERE ARE SOME DEFINITIONS of AIM:
Objective, object, goal, end, target, design, desire, desired result, intention, intent, plan, purpose, object of the exercise; ambition, aspiration, wish, dream, hope, raison d’être.

I ask myself, “Why do I write this little note daily? What is my aim?” My answer is, “I need the practice.” Blogging is an effective way to practice writing and keeping your brain working a bit. Reading and writing are still the more tested way of keeping a person’s brain cells exercising a bit and not falling into stupor for too long to the point of eventual incapacity. A point of no return. The more reluctance one feels the more one should try to write and read. One way of learning to write is to copy. Take your favorite book and start copying chapters. Make it a daily habit. Another way is to write a letter to a loved one. You may not get to post the letter but it does keep you going and building a habit. I just read of someone who actually hand writes to many people. Over the years many have received and even collected his handwritten letter and notes. Some frame them up. (You know who the person is as he is in the news right now.) I have not posted a physical letter for years. Even my email has been replaced by short social text or multimedia messages. But I find that the short messages do not take brainwork to compose. It is more like clicking at random and giving automatic pre-programmed short replies.

When I interview some persons I find that they have nothing to say. They are not even capable to think. They have nothing to say about themselves or others. Their minds do not store words. I note that they spend the bulk of the interview time messaging or reading messages on their mobile handheld phone including iPads, iPhones and other smart phones. I find it sad to look at them or think about their lives. Can a man or woman happily leave out a big part of what God has perfectly created and designed for them to have and enjoy? I often wonder. Please do not get me wrong. I am not judging the rightness or wrongness of a lifestyle. I am just lamenting the loss of quality of life that God has given so richly to each of us as human.

Writers ad poets like to dream that one day the whole earth will be filled with readers of books. I am one of such dreamers.

Posted in creative writing, literary magazines and publishing, photography, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

writing without stress

highlights
Writing involves seeing and spotting little things that require spotlights. How can we see better or know where to highlight? My experience is that I see by reading others. I just read three biographies, two are translations from German and Russian. One is in its original language-Chinese. How did I have time to read three books in three days? I read them while I walked on my treadmill or ride on my stationary bike. Instead of watching TV I read while doing my physical exercises. Why do I do exercises? Because I enjoy them. I also unwind and relax my strained muscles from long hours of typing.

By pacing myself in my body and my mind I manage to complete five out of seven parts in the book I am translating and re-writing. Quite a good progress considering my reluctance to write this book.

On top of keeping fit body and soul, I keep fit in my spirit. Being a Christian I enjoy my daily communion with my Lord, reading the Bible, praying and sitting and talking to God before dawn. I receive my day’s supply of spiritual nourishment by actively seeking God. When not reading I pray too while walking (not running). Being refreshed in body, soul and spirit help me to write without stress and burnout.

Posted in copywriter, photography, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

writing memoir for others

truthful memoirWriting memoir is like taking a magnifying spotlight and shine it on certain parts of one’s memories and blow them up for others to see.

It is hard to write a memoir for ourselves not to mention for others. Why? Because we cannot be truthful. Not that we do not want to but we cannot. Our memories tell us things that may not be true and we tend to select the more pleasant or the more politically correct parts and ignore the rest. We do not want to hurt ourselves or others. We put some window dressing like we put on makeup when we go out and do not want to be seen as too colorless. There are many reasons for not being truthful. I personally find it hard to write untruth which is why I do not write my own memoir. I write memoirs for others. They speak and I write. It is different from writing my own. However, even though the onus is on him or her to be truthful I still find it hard when I know it is not her or him at all, this nice person they try to portray. Does this mean I stop writing for them? My answer is no. As long as they put their own names as authors and be accountable for themselves.
I believe the readers know too. Many readers are their friends and relatives. Their colleagues, their bosses, their subordinates, their suppliers and consumers. People who have worked with them and for them. Their church friends and pastors. Their corporate organization and community too. Their husbands, wives and children. So how can anyone think or imagine or fool himself or herself by telling tall tales and believe that the tales will hold water?
When I interviewed someone who was a friend of someone else, I often heard another side of the story. Shall I put them into the book? A question hard to answer.
My advice to young writers and copywriters is be really careful and do research before you agree to write for someone. Always look behind the facade for credibility and integrity of the person concerned. The onus is on you to check before you commit to the writing assignment.

Posted in blogging, books, creative writing, literary magazines and publishing, writer's blog, writing

Do we still need writers?

woman reading Irish copyToo often I write without thinking of what I shall do with the written words. When the words come, perhaps even at midnight I just sit up and write. I am doing a book in another language at the same time but it is based on a book already formed and written in English so the translated work is only a partial writing as I add new information I have since uncovered in my research and interviews. For that book I know the target audience so it is not exactly like writing without a direction.

But when it comes to my thoughts in words at midnight I have no audience except myself. I read yesterday that the traditional publishers of physically printed books have to collaborate with providers of e-technology so that the books can be published online or in other multi-media forms. The increasing spectacular growth in online internet environment and mobile-phone and portable hand-held e-book reading gadgets trend warrants that the traditional publishers change drastically and involve themselves in strategic alliance with paperless technology professionals.

Whilst the technology gadgets are dazzling and convenient for the young users and perhaps readers of books, the contents of books still cannot be replaced by gadgets. Content counts. That is why we still write. There is still hope for a content writer.

Posted in books, creative writing, life of riches and honor, literary magazines and publishing, photography, writer's blog, writing

Some people walk away from you. A few march with you.

jeffrey-archer-mary-archer
Jeffrey and Mary Archer

“Some people standby you in your darkest hour while others walk away; only a select few march towards you and become even closer friends.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Only Time Will Tell
“We all make mistakes but one has to move on.”
“If you make a deal with a fool, don’t be surprised when they act foolishly.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Only Time Will Tell
“I find I don’t learn a lot while I’m talking”
“While there may not be a book in every one of us, there is so often a damned good short story.”
“Are parents always more ambitious for their children than they are for themselves?”
― Jeffrey Archer, A Prisoner of Birth
“There are defining moments in one’s life when you learn about yourself, and you deposit that knowledge in the experience account, so you can draw on it at some later date.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Best Kept Secret
“Making a million legally has always been difficult. Making a million illegally has always been a little easier. Keeping a million when you have made it is perhaps the most difficult of all.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less
“It’s one of the ironies of mountaineering,’ said Young, ‘that grown men are happy to spend months preparing for a climb, weeks rehearsing and honing their skills, and at least a day attempting to reach the summit. And then, having achieved their goal, they spend just a few moments enjoying the experience, along with one or two equally certifiable companions who have little in common other than wanting to do it all again, but a little higher.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Paths of Glory
“The sign of a great man is how you handle defeat. – Old Jack”
― Jeffrey Archer, Best Kept Secret
“No, Mr Redmayne, not my tears. Although I’ve read that letter every day for the past eight months, those tears were not shed by me, but by the man who wrote them. He knew how much I loved him. We would have made a life together even if we could only spend one day a month with each other. I’d have been happy to wait twenty years, more, in the hope that I would eventually be allowed to spend the rest of my life with the only man I’ll ever love. I adored Danny from the day I met him, and no one will ever take his place.”
― Jeffrey Archer, A Prisoner of Birth
“If you have talent and energy, you’re king. If you have only energy and no talent, you’re still a prince. But if you have talent and no energy, you’re a pauper.”
“You can often judge the character of a person by the way he treats his fellow men.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Only Time Will Tell
“only a fool blames the messenger.”
Mary Archer: ‘Jeffrey asked from jail if I wanted a divorce, but I’m not a quitter’
‘Hang on, hang on.” Dame Mary Archer is determined to interrupt her husband Lord Archer in mid-flow as he tells a story about the deal he did with her father to let her carry on with a career as a chemist after their marriage. “If I might be allowed…” she tells him in school-mistressy tones, fixing him with a look from across the drawing room of the Old Vicarage at Grantchester. But the bestselling novelist, entrepreneur, former politician, charity fundraiser and ex-prisoner is taking no notice. “You’ve said enough already,” he barks back, and the couple simultaneously burst out laughing.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician.
He was a Member of Parliament and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His political career, having suffered several controversies, ended after a conviction for perverting the course of justice and his subsequent imprisonment. He is married to Mary Archer, a scientist specialising in solar power. Outside politics, he is a novelist, playwright and short story writer.

Posted in blogging, books, creative writing, words of thoughts and spirit, writer's blog, writing

“If I decided to send this to you, where would I send it? “

alice munro young
Alice Munro 

This is often my own question too. When I decide to write something for someone I really care and even love, I do not know where to send the words of love. I hesitate because it is painful to think of another life where we might have had together and know that it is no longer possible now. Here are some random thoughts from Alice Munro, who looks at ordinary lives and put words to them.

“If I decided to send this to you, where would I send it? When I think of writing the whole address on the envelope I am paralyzed. It’s too painful to think of you in the same place with your life going on in the same way, minus me. And to think of you not there, you somewhere else but I don’t know where that is, is worse.”
― Alice Munro, The Love of a Good Woman

“Always remember that when a man goes out of the room, he leaves everything in it behind… When a woman goes out she carries everything that happened in the room along with her.”
― Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness
Few people, very few, have a treasure, and if you do you must hang onto it. You must not let yourself be waylaid, and have it taken from you.”
― Alice Munro, Runaway
“Love removes the world for you, and just as surely when it’s going well as when it’s going badly.”
― Alice Munro, The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose
“They were all in their early thirties. An age at which it is sometimes hard to admit that what you are living is your life.”
― Alice Munro, The Moons of Jupiter
“She sits in her usual ample armchair, with piles of books and unopened magazines around her. She sips cautiously from the mug of weak herb tea which is now her substitute for coffee. At one time she thought that she could not live without coffee, but it turned out that it is really the warm large mug she wants in her hands, that is the aid to thought or whatever it is she practices through the procession of hours, or of days.”
― Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness

Alice Ann Munro, née Laidlaw, is a Canadian short-story writer who is widely considered one of the world’s premier fiction writers. Munro is a three-time winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Award for fiction. Her stories focus on human relationships looked at through the lens of daily life. She has thus been referred to as “the Canadian Chekhov.”
She is the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Posted in books, creative writing, photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

random quotes on “stories”

CP50289_FDC_CoverV3.indd
Alice Munro -Canada Post

“A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.”
― Alice Munro, Selected Stories, 1968-1994
“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.”
― Terry Pratchett
“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
― Virginia Woolf
“That’s how stories happen — with a turning point, an unexpected twist. There’s only one kind of happiness, but misfortune comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”
― Mitch Albom, For One More Day
“…the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.
That is their mystery and their magic.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“It’s impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because of what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out, there are too many parts, sides, crosscurrents, nuances; too many gestures, which could mean this or that, too many shapes which can never be fully described, too many flavors, in the air or on the tongue, half-colors, too many.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel.
All of them?
Sure, he says. Think about it. There’s escaping from the wolves, fighting the wolves, capturing the wolves, taming the wolves. Being thrown to the wolves, or throwing others to the wolves so the wolves will eat them instead of you. Running with the wolf pack. Turning into a wolf. Best of all, turning into the head wolf. No other decent stories exist.”
― Margaret Atwood
“The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?
Doesn’t that make life a story?”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“Stories–individual stories, family stories, national stories–are what stitch together the disparate elements of human existence into a coherent whole. We are story animals.”
― Yann Martel, Beatrice and Virgil
“Endings to be useful must be inconclusive.”
― Samuel R. Delany

David Crystal
story
People tell stories about their stories at literature festivals. It’s interesting how the meaning of this word has come full circle. Originally, in the 13th century, stories had to be true: the word was a synonym for ‘history’—indeed, it came from Latin historia. But very soon it was applied to stories alleged to be true, and then (by the 16th century) to stories that were definitely not true. Today, the original meaning seems to be reasserting itself: I’ve lost track of the number of historical television programmes called “The story of something-or-other.” Maybe it’s time to resuscitate the verb use too: in the 16th century, there was a splendid usage: to story forth, meaning ‘to proclaim the story of.’ It’s what happens in dictionaries and thesauruses, after all. Which reminds me of the story that Eric Partridge tells, in The Gentle Art of Lexicography, of the old lady who borrowed a dictionary from the town library. She returned it with the comment: “A very unusual book indeed—but the stories are extremely short, aren’t they?”

Posted in creative writing, literary magazines and publishing, writing

10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online

creative_writing
creative writing

For those who aspire to write or want to improve their writing, many schools offer free online courses and materials through OpenCourseWare (OCW) projects. While formal admission isn’t necessary to access lectures and other materials, these courses don’t usually award college credit. Students looking for the same ease of access and the opportunity to apply their study time towards a degree or certificate program might want to consider courses that can lead to an alternative form of credit.

Free Online Non-Credited Writing Courses
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Writing and Reading the Essay
Writing and Reading Short Stories
Through MIT’s OCW program, students can download a variety of undergraduate and graduate-level course materials that cover topics in, among others, essay, expository and technical writing. Course activities and formats include assignments, exams, lecture notes and video presentations.Writing and Reading the Essay focuses on the essay as a popular literary genre. The syllabus indicates two essay anthologies as course texts, which can be purchased online. Course activities include a reader’s journal and a series of personal writing assignments.The course in Writing and Reading Short Stories offers students the opportunity to study character development, plotting and point of view. Featured authors include, among others, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, William Faulkner and John Updike.

New Jersey Institute of Technology
Technical Writing
The New Jersey Institute of Technology is a scientific and technological university that offers OCW courses and materials. The Technical Writing course is geared toward the advanced writer. In this course, which consists of about 40 video-taped lectures, students apply theory to analyze and solve complex communication problems. Course topics include audience awareness, document design, ethics, gender equity and rhetorical theory.

Open University
Start Writing Fiction
Writing What You Know
The Open University is the largest educational establishment in the United Kingdom, as well as the country’s only distance-learning school. The university’s free online classes may not provide access to the same resources used by formally enrolled students, but course formats might include Web- and print-based content as well as the ability to interact with other students through a comments feature.Start Writing Fiction is a 12-hour, introductory course that can provide students with the inspiration and tools they need to put their words on paper. The course emphasis is on developing character and settings within a variety of fiction genres. Writing What You Know is designed to help students improve their descriptive writing skills. This 8-hour, introductory class encourages students to view their everyday lives from a new perspective, demonstrating how an author’s personal life can serve as a source of inspiration.

Purdue University
Professional and Technical Writing
The Writing Process
Through Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), students and teachers around the world can enjoy 24-hour access to a variety of Web-based resources, including handouts, podcasts and PowerPoint presentations. These include topics in grammar and mechanics, professional and technical writing, English as a Second Language (ESL), research and writing style. Professional and Technical Writing provides a list of varied Web-based resources that can show students and professionals how to research and write business letters, memos and other office-related documents. Topics include audience analysis, parallel structures and writing tone. Additional technical writing resources include information on how to write scientific abstracts and white papers. The Writing Process includes a list of mostly text-based resources and exercises that cover everything from overcoming writer’s block to proofreading strategies. Additional topics include pre-writing, thesis statements, outlining and audience analysis, which can be applied to a wide variety of writing tasks.

University of College Falmouth
Introduction to Novel Writing
Writing for Children
The University College Falmouth is a specialized art institution based in the United Kingdom. The non-credit classes offered through the school’s ‘openSpace’ project allow students to work at their own level and pace but don’t provide all the materials from the original course. Although registration isn’t required to access assignments, lectures and other materials, registered students may be able to participate in online chats and peer reviews. Introduction to Novel Writing was designed to provide graduate-level students with the structural skills to organize and develop extended pieces of creative writing. In addition to writing assignments and suggested readings, open course materials include YouTube videos by Joyce Carol Oates, Salmon Rushdie and Amy Tan. Writing for Children introduces students to the genres and styles integral to the market and helps them find the right age group for their story. Open course materials include assignments, background reading, examples of children’s books and an online lecture.

University of Iowa
Flash Fiction
How to Find the Short Story Within Your Novel
The Writing University is a Web-based resource for the school’s literary and writing community, providing direct access to a number of free audio presentations. Recent podcasts have included presentations on the sentence, creative nonfiction and experiential writing. Flash Fiction introduces students to the concept of the super-short story and its emergence as a mainstream literary trend. Listeners can learn how brief experiences or even a life story can be condensed to a paragraph or a couple of written lines.How to Find the Short Story Within Your Novel helps listeners identify the dissimilarities between these two literary forms. Students learn how to extract a quality excerpt from a longer piece of prose and how first-time authors can prepare their work for publication.

University of Massachusetts at Boston
Critical Reading and Writing
Critical Reading and Writing, with some course materials available through the school’s OCW project, is designed to help students achieve college-level reading and writing skills through a critical exploration of U.S. foreign policy. Students have access to the course syllabus, an assignment list and website. Through the course site, students can open and download text documents and PowerPoint presentations on topics like critical analysis strategies, brainstorming and building concepts, as well documents and links to online resources on foreign policy issues.

University of Michigan
Principles of Research and Problem Solving
This university participates as a member of the OpenCourseWare Consortium by providing free access to educational materials and course content through its Open.Michigan website. Principles of Research and Problem Solving is a course directed toward graduate students in pharmacy school. In this class, students develop scientific writing skills as they develop research proposals. OCW materials include ten PowerPoint lecture presentations, handouts and examples of student projects, as well as a syllabus and reading list.

Utah State University (USU)
Intermediate Writing: Research Writing in a Persuasive Mode
Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose
Utah State offers OCW materials in several academic departments. Students may be able to apply the knowledge gained from use of these open materials to pass exams to earn credit. USU may give credit to students who pass subject tests offered by individual departments, the International Baccalaureate Organization or CLEP exams, among other options.Intermediate Writing provides access to 16 weekly lessons, with links to readings and related writing assignments. Students learn how to engage in various components of the writing process while developing critical reading and thinking skills. Topics include writing about controversial topics, argumentation styles, source documentation and how to use multimedia resources. Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose is an online complement to a graduate-level course. The course materials are presented in a similar 16-week format, with links to several online readings and assignment descriptions. The syllabus begins with assignments related to debate and dialogue, cultural myths and visual literacy. Additional writing activities include a family narrative, a school board project and a media analysis.

(above quoted from online sources)

Posted in Bible verses, God's blessing, life of riches and honor, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

a writer’s moral decision: sowing good words

a rich sowing field
a field for Spring sowing

It is difficult to select what to post and what not to post in terms of links and introduction of other writers. We know that the fictions, poems or even essays may not represent the true lives of the one who pens/posts them. As many writers have uttered, their writings are mere imaginations and compilations of stuff they read and research of the works of many others. They do not necessarily live that way. But somehow I still know deep down a part of me comes out no matter how good and deliberate I have been hiding it from my writing or compilations. On this matter, I speak for myself and not others. There is no such thing as being completely neutral in writing/posting. For example, I do not agree with certain traditionally immoral and amoral values and I have thus avoided ‘publicizing’ them. I have also made my lifelong goal as: to protect my little ones from being exposed to them, so that perhaps I can save them from harm and hurt later in their adult lives.

Admittedly, I have read some good writings by some talented and creative writers. I find that the way they present their thoughts, hurts, struggles in their personal lives appeal to my compassion as human being. I can empathize with their struggles and the yearning for freedom to love and be loved, and freedom from hurt and pain. Yet I find that I cannot be honest to my heart and post their writings. Why? I am still a person with my own subjectivity based on my moral and religious belief and priorities. Someone may not understand this adamant adherence on my part to values which some may have discarded as being archaic and not conducive to developing a more creative and perhaps wider zone of liberal experimental and experiential learning through writing like in other forms of art expressions. I can see their points and their motivations and motives in their perspective of the writing paradigm. I do not dispute their perspective. On the other hand, I remain firmly established in my perspective of my world. I believe this peaceful co-existence between two patches of green turfs remains undisturbed as long as both of us are willing to give mutual respect to each other’s world view regardless of the vast and somewhat irreconcilable dichotomies in this world.

Personally as a traditional responsible elder, I shall continue to avoid exposing my own young ones from what I consider as contrary to the moral values I have adhered to with my extended family. Why? I still believe the moral values since creation have sustained our continuing survival as a human race on earth thus far. A further reason beyond physical survival is my belief in spiritual survival in eternity as well. My adherence is not to mere dead letters. My conviction is to a living reality in my spirit. But I am not going to have a long discourse in this blog on spiritual survival and the reality of another realm. So I would just say I cannot post or publish some thoughts, behavior and lifestyle even though they are good creative presentations and writings from really talented writers.

At times, I do sigh as I look at the rich fertile field for sowing of good seeds in spring time . The field is well cleared and plowed. Such a vast land. Such hope for a good harvest. All we need is the sower of good seeds. The same applies to the writing field in life.

Bible verses:2 Corinthians 9:9-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

9 As it is written:

“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”[a]
10 Now may[b] He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

Footnotes:

2 Corinthians 9:9 Psalm 112:9
2 Corinthians 9:10 NU-Text reads Now He who supplies . . . will supply . . . .

Posted in books, literary magazines and publishing, writer's blog, writing

Eloquence in her writing

cynthia ozickReading good writings by others helps us to write better. Reading is enjoyable in itself even when we cannot write. Each reader has his or her particular likes and dislikes. I personally like reading Jewish writing. I decide to post some quotes about writing from Cynthia Ozick (1928-) today as I have just read her short story titled,”Envy; or, Yiddish in America”. She is a writer of fiction and also publishes critical essays, poetry and plays. She is one of the most celebrated Jewish American writers. I marvel at the eloquence she displays in her writing. Where do all those words come from? Perhaps reading some of her quotes we may catch a glimpse of her secret. I fully agree with her: “Read, read, read.”

Her Quotes about writing and novel:
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”
“No one can teach writing, but classes may stimulate the urge to write. If you are born a writer, you will inevitably and helplessly write. A born writer has self-knowledge. Read, read, read. And if you are a fiction writer, don’t confine yourself to reading fiction. Every writer is first a wide reader.

“If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage.”
“A writer is dreamed and transfigured into being by spells, wishes, goldfish, silhouettes of trees, boxes of fairy tales dropped in the mud, uncles’ and cousins’ books, tablets and capsules and powders…and then one day you find yourself leaning here, writing on that round glass table salvaged from the Park View Pharmacy–writing this, an impossibility, a summary of who you came to be where you are now, and where, God knows, is that?”

“To imagine the unimaginable is the highest use of the imagination”
“This is what travelers discover: that when you sever the links of normality and its claims, when you break off from the quotidian, it is the teapots that truly shock.”
“I write in terror…I have to talk myself into bravery with every sentence, sometimes every syllable.”

“What does the novel know? It has no practical or educational aim; yet it knows what ordinary knowledge cannot seize. The novel’s intricate tangle of character-and-incident alights on the senses with a hundred cobwebby knowings fanning their tiny threads, stirring up nuances and disclosures. The arcane designs and driftings of metaphor – what James called the figure in the carpet, what Keats called negative capability, what Kafka called explaining the inexplicable – are that the novel knows.”

“An author’s extraliterary utterance (blunt information), prenovel or postnovel, may infiltrate journalism; it cannot touch the novel itself. Fiction does not invent out of a vacuum, but it invents; and what it invents is, first, the fabric and cadence of language, and then a slant of idea that sails out of these as a fin lifts from the sea. The art of the novel (worn yet opulent phrase) is in the mix of idiosyncratic language – language imprinted in the writer, like the whorl of a fingertip – and an unduplicable design inscribed on the mind by character and image. Invention has little capacity for the true-to-life snapshot. It is true to its own stirrings.”

“On a gray afternoon I sit in a silent room and contemplate din. In the street a single car passes – a rapid bass vowel – and then it is quiet again. So what is this uproar, this hubbub, this heaving rumble of zigzag static I keep hearing? This echo chamber spooling out spirals of chaos? An unmistakable noise as clearly mine as fingerprint or twist of DNA: the thrum of regret, of memory, of defeat, of mutability, of bitter fear, made up of shame and ambition and anger and vanity and wishing. The soundtrack of a movie of the future, an anticipatory ribbon of scenes long dreaded, of daydreams without a prayer of materializing. Or else: the replay of unforgotten conversations, humiliating, awkward, indelible. Mainly it is the buzz of the inescapably mundane, the little daily voice that insists and insists: right now, not now, too late, too soon, why not, better not, turn it on, turn it off, notice this, notice that, be sure to take care of, remember not to. The nonstop chatter that gossips, worries, envies, invokes, yearns, condemns, self-condemns.”
― Cynthia Ozick, The Din in the Head

~~~~~~~~~~~
Definition of eloquence: fluency, articulateness, expressiveness, silver tongue, persuasiveness, forcefulness, power, potency, effectiveness; oratory, rhetoric, grandiloquence, magniloquence; informal gift of (the) gab, way with words.

Posted in copywriter, life of riches and honor, literary magazines and publishing, nerd, thoughts, travel, writer's blog, writing

“WORD NERD” on copywriters’ charges etc.

Wordnerd UK2When we read blogs from other nations we understand how much the writers around the globe are really alike and yet different. I find richness in varieties. Today I post a random link called “WORDNERD” from UK (my former and nostagic abode).

https://www.wordnerd.co.uk/2016-trends/

Here is a sample of what this article shares: How much do copywriters charge?

Let’s start with competition.

Competition is only one element of how I charge. If I really wanted to be price competitive I’d have to charge $5/hour to compete with non-English speakers who live in countries where the cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the UK.

I can’t compete with them on price and they can’t compete with me on quality so I’m not $5 an hour!

If you compete on price it’s a race to the bottom
– said someone insightful
Like lots of freelancers, I don’t see myself as having direct competition not because I’m an arrogant twit but because I’m the person my clients have met and like, I might be local which appeals to them, or they particularly like my work or what I offer, and they choose to work with me rather than anyone else.

Copywriting isn’t competitive in the same way as, say, children’s books. Last week I bought my Godson some books for his 3rd birthday and while I knew they had to be by Julia Donaldson (she wrote ‘The Gruffalo’ – my Godson’s got very good taste) I could shop around to save myself money. Wherever I ordered them from the books would be exactly the same.

Not so with copywriting…If you do work with freelance copywriters who charge by the hour, £35 to £100/hour is the going rate (or £250–£800/day) depending on their experience, location (you’ll pay more in London than elsewhere), specific skills or specialism…– ROI (Return on Investment): this is a funny one. Copywriters at the top of their game can charge £20,000 to write a sales letter, which would translate into a pretty hefty hourly rate. They’re using their competitive advantage – their experience, skills, masses of hard work and understanding of how to convert readers into paying customers to put that letter together – to justify that rate.

They’re also taking the client’s ROI into account.

If the letter is sent out to 500,000 homes and results in an increase in sales of £2m, it’s well worth the £20,000 spent on it.(read on in their website)

HOW LONG SHALL A BLOG BE? Here is another blog from them on 2016 trend:

https://www.wordnerd.co.uk/seo/writing-long-blog-posts/In 2009, the average blog was 250 words, now it’s 900 words and the average length of the results on page one of Google is over 2000 words. The first result has an average 2416 words, the tenth is a bit shorter at 2032…Why are blogs getting longer?1.
SEO
As I’ve mentioned, to get onto page one of Google for popular search terms you need to write longer posts (75% of people searching never go beyond page one and 60% of web traffic goes to the top three results).
Long-tail keywords (which account for 85-90% of searches) have far less competition so you’ve got a good chance of getting onto page one if you focus on them.
2. To rise above the noise
Google has to index billions of pages competing for readers’ attention, there are 4.87 billion pages (Source: World Wide Web Size) on the internet as of this moment and that number increases every day.
3. To build relationships & become a thought leader
But long posts are a lot more work. So how should you approach blogging for your business in 2016?
Think about what’s right for you
Don’t write long posts for the sake of it
be consistent…(read on in above link)
You can read more from the same author here: https://www.wordnerd.co.uk/author/directora/

Posted in creative writing, literary magazines and publishing, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writer's blog, writing

the twin sisters: some thoughts on reading and writing

Derby public libraryI was in a developed Western nation with good English library facilities for about six months recently and borrowed many books and literature periodicals. The library system for online access is good and efficient. I could ask for books from the whole county and even beyond in other States. During those months of research I managed to access to many printed resources. Resources of various media such as audio-books, large prints, DVDs, and e-books etc. The only area where I believe needs improvement is the limited resources in foreign languages.

Any serious writer will agree that reading is essential for writing. To write well we need to read well. There is no short-cut. Personally I became an avid reader at the age of perhaps four. When I was eight I was reading thick books in another language. I could not really understand the depth of the literature but I read them anyway. It became a lifelong habit like breathing. Words breathing. I became selective after I learned to differentiate the good ones and the bad ones. Why bother? Someone asked. It matters a lot when we intend to write. Other good writers become our mentors. In a way they are feeding us so that we grow. We cannot have the wrong food and expect a healthy growth. Although by nature and interest I used to like and engage in reading lots of classical detective stories exhausting nearly all the famous names. However I soon realized that I was not going to write them. So I learned to read the genre I specialized in and the ones I knew I had talent in. Reading taste can be acquired with changes of our lifestyle and belief. For example, I became a born again Christian many years ago and my reading taste changed. My writing too. Admittedly my published written work was confined mainly in another language and genre group, I continue to read English books as my main diet and other languages according to their availability ad accessibility.

What can I gain from reading English books? I find the thoughts, concepts and the varieties of creative materials useful and can be used as generic base for writing. I prefer to read the original English versions. Some translated books are able to reflect nearly the exact thoughts and expressions of the original English books but some are quite far off the mark due to the vast differences in culture, tradition, value system and even religious belief between the English author and the non-English translator. Can a non-English author write well in English if English is his or her second language? My personal experience is that unless you think in the English language you cannot write it as well as those writers who think in it. Can thoughts be conditioned to think in a particular language? My answer is yes. So there is still hope if you are really passionate to read and write in a particular language which is not your mother tongue. It might be a big hurdle but if you persist in reading, thinking and writing in that language you may make it. One word of caution: you cannot become English unless you acquire its socio-economic culture, tradition, intrinsic value system and even religious belief. On the other hand, you may still acquire a small group of niche readers even if you are writing English as a second language if they can identify with your contents.