i hope i fail this well

Before you click play, get a glass or cup of your favorite beverage. Rowling’s address is around 20 minutes long, but well worth listening to every word.

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

Thanks for reading,


Comments { 0 }

storytelling takes courage

I loathe to knock other writers. However, I’m going to do just that.

But not for their writing. Oh no. I would never presume to tell another writer that they suck. Perhaps I didn’t care for their story, the structure of the story, or the words with which they chose to tell their story. To me, it’s enough that they wrote a story and courageously shared that story with the world.

Critical colleagues, however, don’t see it as I do. They seem to take extra delight in knocking successful writers, Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer among them.

One self proclaimed how-to-write-a-story expert said, in so many words, that M. Night Shyamalan is a storytelling hack who doesn’t know structure and the expert also called The Sixth Sense a bad story. Seriously? Consumers/movie goers/story lovers clearly disagreed and said so with cold hard cash.

And that’s what counts, right? Does the public enjoy your work so much that they’re willing to pay you for it?

Recent indie sensation, Amanda Hocking, has developed quite a fan base. And she has also gotten a good share of colleague venom – especially from other self-published novelists. I felt bad for her until I recently learned that Ms. Hocking herself knocked the House of Night series claiming that it was “worse than mine”. So, Ms. Hocking, you think your story sucks but not as bad as that other story so that makes yours more worthy of being published? Wait. What?*

Tsk, tsk, storytellers.With colleagues ripping colleagues, who needs professional critics? If anyone knows that writing is hard work, it’s YOU. If anyone should realize that art is always subjective, it should be YOU.

Mr. how-to-write Expert saw a bad story in Sixth Sense. I see a fantastic story with a shocking twist that, at their first viewing, no one saw coming. And the second viewing is even better, because you pick up a web of details you missed the first time. I got the theme: you don’t always know what you think you know. (Yes, the irony isn’t lost on me, but I bet it is on Mr. Expert.) 

And anyway how ballsy is it to make up structure rules, and then maintain that every story has to follow your made up rules, or it isn’t any good? Again, seriously? Shyamalan has a half-dozen Oscar nominations under his belt. How many you got, Mr. Structure Expert?

Grrrrr. Now I’m even more certain that the so called rules are BS, made up by folks who want to dictate their preferences to the rest of the world.

Do I think I’m a good storyteller? Well, of course! (If I didn’t think my work was any good, I’d be doing something else.) That doesn’t give me – or anyone else – Carte Blanche to take a jackhammer to another storyteller’s creative babies. If you’ve been bashed as a writer, look at the list of successful “hacks” and take heart. The proof is in your readership and Oscar nominations.

Actually, you’ll win if you just keep writing.

Thanks for reading,


*Disclaimer here before Hocking fans jump me: I’ve read the Trylle series and love it. Hope the movie gets made, because I can’t wait to see it.

Comments { 0 }