“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug”
to a wordsmith are like paint to an artist. A skilled author can transport us
to another time, make us see what the hero sees, hear what the villain
hears, smell what the chef has conjured up. This is not a matter of stringing a
bunch of words together; it is selecting the one word, the only word, that
will do the job. The truly great wordsmiths accomplish all of this while making
it look simple. When I read Mark Twain, it makes me want to sit down and
write. It is only then that I come to appreciate what a truly magnificent
craftsman he was.
have just completed a book, YOGA AND PARKINSON’SDISEASE, filled with 200 pages of words. My tome is about to hit the
stands or more accurately be available on Amazon, Therefore,
bring out the bubbly; it’s time to celebrate. The simple act
of having a book published in 2013 is a genuine event, some would say a
miracle. Being an author has always taken a great deal of fortitude. It
requires working long hours with little (or even no) pay; it entails
endless periods of loneliness, of staring into space while trying to find the
of the authors I work with write in spite of the difficulty and frustration
because they have some important idea they need to convey and know that
they must do this in a beautiful, well-crafted way. They obey the basic rules
and pay their literary dues. When they complete a chef d’oeuvre they
re-write it many times. They show this work to a tried-and-true writers group
for analysis and to chosen literate friends for approval. When the final
hurdle has been surmounted, they find an agent who agrees to relay their
carefully polished tome to an editor at some prestigious Manhattan
publishing house. This was, at one time, the way the noble profession of
writing was conducted.
today’s bizarre book market, being an author is either a valiant act of courage
or an absurd act of lunacy. It’s a brave new world when
Amazon buys The Washington Post. Journalism and the book trade
are forever changed and we are not in Kansas anymore.
anyone who can pound a computer key is an author. Today if you have written one
blog, then voila, you are a writer. It’s a little disconcerting for those
of us who were trained in journalism. In today’s market which is far too
equalitarian, anyone can be a writer and everyone is. The new motto is: “I
blog; therefore, I am.”
an insightful article in The New Yorker (March 18, 2013), Adam Gropnik discusses today’s market and income for contemporary authors:
future of writing in America—or, at least, the future of making a living by
writing—seems in doubt as rarely before. Thanks to the Internet, the
disproportion between writerly supply and demand, always tricky, has tipped:
anyone can write, and everyone does, and beginners are expected to be the
last pure philanthropists....... It has never been easier to be a writer; and
it has never been harder to be a professional writer.
used to be a craft; now it’s a tweet!
saw signs of this computer-dominated New World Order when I taught writing classes
at writers conferences. The questions that beginning writing students
asked demanded a universe of “instant gratification,” lots of luck,
and not too much work. Here are the questions I always got
from wannabe authors, along with my answers:
Do you write only when you are in the mood?
I‘m usually in the mood. I dislike so much of the promotion, the business, the
nonsense, of the writing business, but I love the actual act of writing.
I keep writing
because writing saves my life each and every day. It’s the purest therapy
available. I think writing has been my greatest medicine in my battle
against Parkinson’s disease. My first neurologist, Dr.
Paul Gordon, thinks a great passion can perform
miracles. During a Skype interview for the book I am about to
celebrate, he told me that “some of my PD patients have an unbridled passion
that over-rides everything. It makes a big difference! It helps
if there is a goal tied in with this passion."
I felt privileged to
be cited as one of Paul’s examples. “You’re a good example of how this works
--with your books, speeches, and deadlines. Your mind is in good
You are very funny. How many classes do I have to take before you teach me to
If I could teach people to be funny, my name would be Jehovah and I would be
booking acts for “The Daily Show.” Honey, I hate to tell you, but you are
either funny or you are not. You can dye your hair but not your personality.
How do you choose a publisher? Do you just call up Random House and tell them
you want a minimum of $50,000 for your tome?
Wait a minute. You are funny. This bit is hilarious.
Did you start writing because you realized it would be a good way
to build a website?
I started writing as soon as I could hold a pen! I loved the physical act of
putting words together on a page and how they would interact with other
words. Words are my tools and paintbrushes. I love the way words
dance, glide, shimmer across the page.
Making a living as a
writer is a constant struggle, but the actual act of writing is a pure joy. It
always astonishes me how putting the right words in the perfect sequence
can bring so much satisfaction. Words are the music of your soul and your
completed opus becomes your symphony!
words of admired writers are always bouncing around in my head---Sentences that
pop to make the book come alive for me.The ‘ah-ha moment of reading.
F. Scott Fitzgerald says of Daisy and her husband in “The Great Gatsby:
were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and
then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or
whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess
they had made.”
Ernest Hemingway's perfect line to describe the cynicism of the Lost Generation
in “The Sun Also Rises:”
Jake," Brett said, "We could have had such a damned good time
... ......... Yes," I said. "Isn't it pretty to
a small expression Harper Lee uses in “To Kill a Mockingbird” to describe the
deep respect for a man who defies an entire town to do what he feels is
right -- Atticus Finch, the last good lawyer in fiction:
Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'.”
a humor writer, I appreciate the crisp, clear zing of the master, Mark Twain:
'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it
and the writing will be just as it should be.”
nobody can make me smile more than one of the great wits
all time, Oscar Wilde
has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.”
love hearing my relations abused. It is the only thing that makes me put up
with them at all. Relations are simply a tedious pack of people,
who haven't got the remotest knowledge of how to live nor the smallest
instinct about when to die.”
also admire the patter rhymes in Gilbert and Sullivan, the cleverness of a Cole
Porter tune, the inventiveness of a brand new language in J.K. Rowling’s
Harry Potter books.
am constantly searching for the show-stopping sentence that takes my breath away!
I like to read them, but I prefer to write them.
let’s hear it for words, sentences, for paragraphs galore. Let’s celebrate
writers and readers, independent book store owners and
librarians. I revere books so I’m thankful for
both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I applaud quality paperback and
E-books. (My book is both)
point is I've got a new book coming out and I’m
Peggy's book: Yoga and Parkinson's Disease is being released today, 8/28/13. You can purchase her book on Amazon.com or Collected Works Bookstore.
You can reach Peggy on Facebook or on Twitter at @PeggyvanH