Have You Finished That Book Yet?

Portrait of a Woman (Portrait de femme)

  • Have you heard of the Hawking Index?

It’s an attempt at an estimate of how far into bestsellers people read, and it’s named after A Brief History of Time, apparently one of the least-finished books ever written.

I’ve recently read suffered through a book by an acclaimed contemporary author, whose earlier novel I found very interesting. The experience got me thinking, and I’m not alone.

“…you should stop reading when…you aren’t impressed, lulled, entertained, lightened, depressed, remoulded, whatever you go to books for.”

— Tom Lamont, Observer writer

When I started the book I’m referring to I felt it was not my kind of read pretty much from the very beginning: it was doing nothing for me. I didn’t want to quit, though, and kept thinking, what if the next page, chapter…brings some kind of revelation?

“…if you give up on a book the minute you don’t like a character, twig a plot development, see quite where the author’s going with it all, have a sudden yen for a game of Candy Crush – then you’re going to miss out.”

— Alex Clark, writer and literary critic

The revelation never happened. I finished the book, and I felt two things: relief, because I was finally done with it, and regret, because I could have spent my time differently. Not once since I closed the book have I thought about the story, the characters…

Should all books be read from cover to cover? What say you?

Image: Paul Cézanne. Portrait of a Woman (Portrait de femme), c. 1898. Oil on canvas, Overall: 36 3/4 x 28 7/8 in. (93.3 x 73.3 cm). BF164. Public Domain.

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Poetry Periodical & December Contests

Mont Sainte-Victoire (La Montagne Sainte-Victoire)

  • New Poetry Periodical!

Ugly Duckling Presse is starting a new poetry periodical.

UDP will accept up to 5 pages of poetry by December 31, for possible inclusion in the first issue, to be released in early 2019.

Submissions from new writers, translators, and people living outside the US are especially encouraged.

Read the guidelines carefully, and submit.

  • December is a great month for writing contests!

Plenty of FREE writing contests to choose from.

Again, read the guidelines carefully, and submit your work. Good luck!

Image: Paul Cézanne. Mont Sainte-Victoire (La Montagne Sainte-Victoire), c. 1900. Watercolor and graphite on laid paper, Overall: 12 3/8 x 19 1/8 in. (31.5 x 48.5 cm). BF652. Public Domain.

Ouch! The Real Cost of Poetry Book Contests

Young Man and Skull (Jeune homme à la tête de mort)

“Everyone, including aspiring poets, including even those stuck in the MFA system, would be better off if the contest system were abolished, and publishers once again took responsibility for promoting individual strong aesthetics, rather than outsourcing the decision at every stage, and supporting safe conformist meeting-room-style outcomes.”

“Numerous contest finals and wins validated my work. Indeed, I ultimately found my agent and publisher through contests.” — Kristin Bartley Lenz

So, how do you feel about contests? Share in the comments.

  • In case you feel like entering a free poetry contest, try the rhupunt challenge for a chance to get published in Writer’s Digest.

If you like this post, press the “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.

 

Image credit: Paul Cézanne. Young Man and Skull (Jeune homme à la tête de mort), 1896–1898. Oil on canvas, Overall: 51 3/16 x 38 3/8 in. (130 x 97.5 cm). BF929. Public Domain.

 

 

 

 

 

The Battle of Two Annes, or Real Life in Memoir and Fiction

The Card Players (Les Joueurs de cartes)

Do “you own everything that happened to you”? What if you were not nice to them without realizing it? Is there such a thing as an objective memoir?

Is it okay if your “fiction is taken from real life”? Do writers have a right to appropriate somebody else’s life stories? Do writers “own everything that happened to other people”?

What do you think? Feel free to share your views in the comments.

Image credit: Paul Cézanne. The Card Players (Les Joueurs de cartes), 1890–1892. Oil on canvas, Overall: 53 1/4 x 71 5/8 in. (135.3 x 181.9 cm). BF564. Public Domain.