Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blog Blah Blues

I counted them yesterday. There were 4,357,987.36 blogs circulating on the net. Took me all day.

Naaahh. I made that up. There are more than that.

I don't know about you, but after a half hour or so pursuing these little gems across the ether my eyes start to cross. There are good blogs, bad blogs, pretty blogs, ugly blogs, dumb blogs, super smart blogs. Perhaps you have a blog. Perhaps you have thought to yourself, "Good grief! It's time for another post. WHAT am I going to write about that is interesting to anyone but myself?"

I started this blog partly from self interest (I want folks like you to buy my books) and partly from a desire to help all us independent writers polish our craft.

Okay, so far so good. Write about writing. Okay. Let's see...I could write about editing (yawn). I could write about sentence structure and plot (double yawn, triple yawn).  Kind of boring. In fact, really boring. In terms of writing a blog about writing, I'd just hit a stone wall. Thus, the title of today's post. Thus, the question: WHAT am I going to write about?

Well, good question. I asked my wife, Gayle. In the best tradition of psychotherapy (and wives), she responded to my question with one of her own: "What do you like to write about?"

I thought about it. An obvious question (it wasn't to me). The answer appeared from the mysterious alternate reality where the inspirational muse hangs out. Here's what she (the muse) told me: Write about the authors you love and why you think they're so good at what they do.

Stephen King says if you don't have time to read, you can't be a good writer. Something like that. He's right. We have to read. We love to read. If we didn't love to read, why would we want to write? You can't write unless you love it. It's too much work.


I think reading the best authors is the best way to learn how to write well. Not to copy the style. God forbid. But to absorb the sense of how something so good comes together. What makes a book memorable, for good or ill? Why do we have favorite authors and authors we hate? What can we learn from their work to improve our own, just by reading them and then thinking about what we've read?

I like thrillers and mysteries. I like thoughtful books. I like books with deeply drawn relationships, inner and outer. I like action books. I like accurate books. I like authors like Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker and Shakespeare. I like Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Herman Hesse and John Steinbeck. I like Michael Connelly, Raymond Chandler, Larry Block, Nelson DeMille, Robert Crais, Stephen Hunter, Stephen King, Lee Child and Diana Gabaldon. Not to mention the new voices of the self publishing revolution.

I'm going to blog about how reading my favorite authors has helped my writing. I think I'll start with Michael Connelly next time.

By the way, who are your favorite authors? Why? Let me know. Maybe I'll learn something.


  1. wow...I came for some Blog Chat and this is some intelligent stuff...I love to read, and each genre makes me love different authors. I am
    choosey in some and not so in others...Is that funny or not?????

  2. Terrific post, Alex!
    My favorite authors ...
    Like you, I'm eclectic in my reading. But ... Dennis McKiernan, author of the Mithgar series. Very Tolkienesque, but McKiernan had more elves as main characters ...
    Kim Harrison, because she writes urban fantasy.
    Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels - romances with fun, smart heroines and solid stories.
    Isaac Asimov - whose science essays taught me more about the subject than I ever learned in classrooms.
    Dozens more - my very favorite author tends to be the one whose book I'm enjoying at the moment (regardless of what book that is ...)

  3. Stephen King is my all time favorite. He probably made me want to be a writer (unless it's inborn). But Stephen King set the bar.

    I love Lisa Unger, Nancy Pickard, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Linwood Barclay, Jennifer Egan, Chris Bohjalian, Louise Penny, Dennis Lehane, David Zeltzerman--the list is too long as you know.

    Classics: Doris Miles Disney, William Peter Blatty, Frank de Felitta, Ira Levin, David Seltzer...

    OK, I must stop.


Comments are always welcome. Tell me what you think! I've had some difficulty getting comments to show publicly on this blog, but I'll get back to you, even so...