Sunday, June 07, 2009

Road Trip

Would you like to participate in the
2009 KINDNESS of STRANGERS TOUR?
Visit the Tour Page to sign up or check progress.
Latest: 08 Jun 2009 - Cornwall - Wright Story



Me and my book, "Postcards From Across the Pond," are going on tour. Virtually.

With a limited marketing budget, I've decided to travel the world using the blogs of people I don't know. I'm calling it "The Kindness of Strangers Tour" and the idea is to visit as many places as I can. Just to see where it leads me.

Now that I'm actually starting out on this journey, it's difficult to remember how the original idea came about, but it has culminated in this:

I am asking anyone who follows me, or knows of me, or my book to allow me to guest post on their blog. Wherever they happen to live, I will count as having visited and will update The Tour Page with links to their blog. Never mind that actual, earthly locations mean nothing in the blog-world; that's sort of the point.

The reason I'm relying on people to volunteer is because I briefly flirted with the idea of actually seeking out blogs and approaching likely ones with my proposal. After surfing through approximately 87,283,834 blogs, however, I discovered that most are:
A. Abandoned
B. About knitting
C. Filled with photos of the above, so many that it's a wonder the World Wide Web has not collapsed under its own weight.

So, given that, and the fact the most of the remaining blogs are, in a word, dire, and the authors of the few actual good ones (like yours, dear reader) probably don't want some stranger poking his head in and asking if he can camp there for a while, I decided it might be better to rely on spontaneous benevolence. At the very least it won't take up as much time.

My first port of call is in Cornwall; my next one could be anywhere. I'm looking forward to travelling through cyber space, meeting new people, exploring new locations—-in a virtual sense—-and posting about my adventures.

It should be fun, and I'm hoping people will catch the spirit of the adventure and join in so I don't have to quietly take down a bunch of empty pages in two months time.

Oh, and most importantly, I will continue my regular posts here. That's also the good thing about the blog-world; you can travel, and still stay home.

Hope to see you in Cornwall soon, and back here for my next post, and wherever I happen to end up after that.

Thanks for your support.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Breaking the Rules For Fun

I’m still having fun playing with my new toy, but mostly that involves reading the book and admiring the pretty colors. I’m hoping to make some progress soon but I just started yet another project (more on that in a future post) and it’s taking longer than I thought to get it off the ground. Once that’s out of the way, well, something else will come along.

I am enjoying the book, however. James V. Smith’s “You Can Write a Novel” has a different approach than any other how-to-write book I’ve seen. He doesn’t advise you, or say, “well, there are many ways X could be done, and some people like to do this, others like to do that, but you need to find what works best for you.” No, he say: “Do it this way.” Granted, that may not work for everyone, but I like the concept.

Many of the rules he puts down deserve to be set in stone like that, such as don’t litter your prose with adjectives and adverbs, don’t use three good words when one excellent word will do, don’t use obscure language; rules like that—the rules I break every day.

Despite having delusions of genre, I mostly write humor, and a lot of that humor is in creative or unorthodox use of the language. When I write, I’m not aiming for a short, pity sentence with a strong verb; that certainly would add intensity and drama to my humorous anecdote about falling down the escalator at Reading Station, but it wouldn’t make it very funny. Revision, to me, often involves hunting up the most sublimely obscure adjectives I can find (there, I did it again) so the sentence doesn’t read smoothly.

This isn’t a problem, it’s just an observation. Despite my sporadic fiction output these days, when I do write a short story of work on a novel, I don’t find it difficult at all to change gears. I just find it interesting how the carefully crafted language of the humorous personal essay would ruin something like The Hunt for Red October or The Da Vinci Code.

It’s also interesting that you can improve almost any piece of dramatic fiction (especially from a beginner) by simply going through and taking out the adverbs, but you can’t punch up a humor piece by randomly sprinkling it with modifiers. Humor doesn’t really follow a set of rules, which, if followed, will produce hilarious results. The only rule in humor writing is it has to be funny.

So I’ll keep on breaking the rules when I write my essays, but when I finally get to the novel, I’ll have to start behaving myself.