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mscelina
05-26-2010, 06:57 AM
When I was at the RT convention, I had the very great pleasure of meeting author James Scott Bell. He gave me a copy of his book The Art of War for Writers (modeled off Sun Tzu's The Art of War), which I've been reading off and on and have really enjoyed for a couple of reasons.

First off, this isn't just your run of the mill how to write guide. It's clever and entertaining and offers a lot of insight into the process, as well as a practical guide on ordering your life for your writing. But second off, James is unrelenting about the writer's role in the process and the realities of the business. THis little gem I thought was particularly helpful and thought I'd share it with you guys and see what you thought:



If you want to be a writer, know this:

A hero knows it takes hard work and a long time to get published; a fool thinks it should happen immediately, because he thinks he's a hero already.

A hero learns the crafts; a fool doesn't think there's much to learn.

A hero keeps growing all his writing life; a fool thinks he's fully grown already.

A hero fights to make his writing worthy, even when no one's noticing; a fool demands to be noticed all the time,, even if his writing stinks.

A hero is persistent and professional; a fool is insistent and annoying.

A hero gets knocked down and quietly regroups to write again; a fool gets knocked down and whines about it ever after.

A hero makes his luck; a fool cries about how unlucky he is.

A hero recognizes the worth in others; a fool can't believe others are worth more than he.

A hero keeps writing, no matter what, knowing effort is its own reward; a fool eventually quits and complains that the world is unfair.

Be a hero...
--The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell (Writer's Digest Books, 2009)


I printed this out and hung it over my desk, right in between my WIP plotlines and the Wall of Shame where my rejection letters offer up a constant reminder of my failures. It's been pretty helpful in that spot, especially since I have to look at it before I hit send on that whiny blog post or snarky email. So--what do you think?

alleycat
05-26-2010, 07:02 AM
You might also like The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

thothguard51
05-26-2010, 07:05 AM
I like Bell very much...

cllorentson
05-26-2010, 07:06 AM
Mscelina,

Love this. This is great advice.

I especially like this one, "A hero makes his luck; a fool cries about how unlucky he is."

That is so true. I really believe we make our own opportunities in life.

Thanks for sharing that with us. :)

mario_c
05-26-2010, 07:09 AM
You might also like The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.That's a great book.

Hip-Hop-a-potamus
05-26-2010, 07:16 AM
I love this book!! I bought it a few months ago, and then it up and disappeared. I'm quite annoyed. I think it must have fallen behind a bedside table. But I don't have enough room in here to change my mind, let alone anything else.

When we get properly moved out of the in-laws place, I'm going to make a thorough search for it.

slcboston
05-26-2010, 07:46 AM
I just have The Art of War on my shelf... I like Sun Tzu's original

:Shrug:

blacbird
05-26-2010, 08:13 AM
This is great advice, but only pertinent if your work doesn't suck.

In my case, alas . . .

caw

NeuroFizz
05-26-2010, 08:32 AM
Sound advice top to bottom. It's possible to substitute for writing any creative activity that requires hard work and constant learning, and every passage still hits the mark.

Becky Black
05-26-2010, 12:58 PM
This book is going on my To Read list right now. I like his other writing books and this one sounds great.

Sheryl Nantus
05-26-2010, 04:10 PM
An excellent book - right by my laptop for a fast reading break.

:)

Bubastes
05-26-2010, 04:18 PM
I'll have to hunt down that book. Very sound advice! And I agree with Fizzy: the advice applies to more than just writing. I know some musicians IRL that could use this advice as well.

shaldna
05-26-2010, 07:49 PM
Love it.

BenPanced
05-26-2010, 07:55 PM
I know I promised myself "no more craft/inspiration books" because I have enough that I haven't read to stun an ox, but I'll probably track this one down. I'm also going to circulate the passage amongst my writing group; we have people in various stages of publication attempts from querying to "oohing" and "ahhing" over cover art.

Phaeal
05-26-2010, 08:23 PM
I am a master of regrouping, and I have the butt-bruises to prove it. ;)

mscelina
05-26-2010, 08:25 PM
I was really struck by the practical aspects of this book--that and James is such a cool guy. :) We had several long conversations about writing (in the bar, of course) and I found his advice practical, inspiring and very clever.

And it's not so cut and dried that anyone would think "this is how I have to write" either. There's something there for a lot of writers at various levels. Or, at least, that's what I think.

Jamesaritchie
05-26-2010, 08:59 PM
Love them all except the first. A hero knows it takes hard work and a long time to get published; a fool thinks it should happen immediately, because he thinks he's a hero already.

It isn't about knowing or thinking, it's about what actually happens and what doesn't. I've known far too many writers who didn't have to work hard, or take a long time, to get published.

Shadow_Ferret
05-26-2010, 09:08 PM
How comes I seem to fall on the fool side for all those questions?

scarletpeaches
05-26-2010, 09:21 PM
Love them all except the first. A hero knows it takes hard work and a long time to get published; a fool thinks it should happen immediately, because he thinks he's a hero already.

It isn't about knowing or thinking, it's about what actually happens and what doesn't. I've known far too many writers who didn't have to work hard, or take a long time, to get published.I'm in two minds about your post, JAR.

One one hand, I could say - truthfully - that I sold my first book to the first publisher I sent it to.

Then again...it took me 33 years to write that book after numerous false starts/trunked projects.

It was like I crossed the line or flipped a switch and ding! I was good enough to be published, so...once I was 'good enough', then great. It just took me a while to get my arse in gear, really.

Jamesaritchie
05-27-2010, 12:24 AM
I'm in two minds about your post, JAR.

One one hand, I could say - truthfully - that I sold my first book to the first publisher I sent it to.

Then again...it took me 33 years to write that book after numerous false starts/trunked projects.

It was like I crossed the line or flipped a switch and ding! I was good enough to be published, so...once I was 'good enough', then great. It just took me a while to get my arse in gear, really.

It's different for every writer. I can't help but suspect there really is a switch, and when it clicks determines everything.

I'm all for hard work, I believe in hard work, when necessary, and just because something comes easy and fast doesn't mean you don't still put in the hours and the effort after you're published.

But what is hard work? Before becoming a writer, I sometimes held down three jobs, all physical labor jobs, and worked up to eighteen hours per day for months on end. That was hard work.

I wrote my first novel in three weeks, my agent sent it to an editor immediately, and the editor bought it within a week or so. I worked very long hours for those twenty-one days, but it wasn't hard work.

Now, thanks to my own seeming inability to say no, I sometimes get under several tight deadlines, and again I have to put in very long hours when this happens. But it's not hard work. Most often, I'm not under really tight deadline, and I write only five hours per day While I try to get better each time out, while I try to practice something new with each session, these sessions are still pretty leisurely.

It's just not difficult to write 2,500 words in five hours, but this is still a bunch of words each year. Where else could I work five hours per day, get a two hour lunch, and still earn a living, all without breaking a sweat?

I suspect many who say it's really hard work are talking about a cumulative amount of work. They already work a full time job, or have a busy family, etc., and have to find some way to squeeze in writing time after they're already physically and/or emotionally drained. Or it takes them years and years to get published. Or both.

But the act of sitting down and writing for five hours per day, especially when you break up those five hours with an easy lunch and a long walk, and all your time is your own, isn't hard work. It just isn't.

scarletpeaches
05-27-2010, 12:44 AM
It's fun. Not always easy, but always fun. To me at least. But then I like a challenge.

And tt42 and I are always saying to each other on MSN - "I LOVE THIS JOB!"

Doesn't even feel like a job a lot of the time. It's play.

Gravity
05-27-2010, 12:48 AM
Jimbo's a buddy of mine, and this is one of his best. Buy it.

AceTachyon
05-28-2010, 07:13 PM
Excellent stuff. I need to track down a copy and stick it in the pile next to my computer, right next to Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing.

JimmyB27
06-01-2010, 04:31 PM
Love them all except the first. A hero knows it takes hard work and a long time to get published; a fool thinks it should happen immediately, because he thinks he's a hero already.

It isn't about knowing or thinking, it's about what actually happens and what doesn't. I've known far too many writers who didn't have to work hard, or take a long time, to get published.
I think the point is that you shouldn't just *expect* everything to be laid out for you on a plate.

Robin Bayne
06-01-2010, 09:17 PM
Loved this book too, and keep the middle section bookmarked for re-reading (the craft section.)