The Writing Process (Part Seven)
This weekend I have been receiving a lot of requests to review my peers’ writing on Figment. I’m starting to feel like the go to guy for story and book reviews. Most of the aspiring authors on Figment are young people. I am gratified to know how many youth are getting involved in the art and craft of writing. It is a pleasure to read and review their work and I am learning a great deal in the process.
What Have I Been Up To?
I appear to have disappeared from some of my blog sites, especially Blogster. I have not given up on blogging. During the last six months I have been doing a lot of reading and a lot of listening to audio books. I have been reading several books on the art of writing fiction. Writing fiction is the latest hobby that I have taken up. I enjoy writing for the most part but have learned that it is not easy. It is hard work. Some of the fiction writing resources that I have been using include On Writing by Stephen King, Stein on Writing by Sol Stein, The Successful Novelist by David Morrell, Writing Fiction for Dummies and How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey. I have found all of these books to be great resources for the beginning writer.
I have started reading two classic novels from the sixties, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe and Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey. I have found it interesting to re-read these books forty years later.
Since January 2012 I have been working as a substitute teacher. I had a good year and had a lot of fun. My favorite grade to teach is grade eight.
I have been trying to get some physical exercise in this summer. I have been taking my dogs to the dog park just about every day as well as going for my daily ride on my mountain bike. I have also been trying to get to Shapes whenever I can to get in a work out. It has been a great summer so far.
The Weekend Warrior
I’ve been doing a considerable amount of reading and writing this weekend. I have a very unorthodox writing routine. At present I am working on two stories at once. I have actually started a third as well. This weekend I’ve been feeling more “heat” form the first two of my stories. I use the term, “heat” to mean inspiration and urgency to write. In other words, The Muse seems to have arrived for the two stories and has indicated a desire to take an active part in my writing sessions.
My first story centers around a tragic accident that takes place at a rehabilitation facility. The second one involved a summer rock festival from the nineteen sixties.
When I take a break from my writing I will often stop to listen to an audiobook. Once again I listen to more than one at a time. Yesterday, I listened to Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir. I highly recommend this autobiography if you can tolerate Dave’s frequent use of the F bomb. Dave discusses in depth his relationship with his former band, Metallica. He also describes how he came to be a Christian and the choices he has had to make playing in a heavy metal band. Dave talks about the decisions he has had to make as to whether or not to play with “satanic” bands at rock festivals. Dave Mustaine does an excellent job of explaining how he deals with these situations.
Community Mental Health in Canada
This week I have been reading a book called Community Mental Health in Canada by Simon Davis. As a former mental health worker I can relate to a lot of the information that he is presenting. Mr. Davis focuses upon those who have serious and persistent mental conditions. These are among the people who are the most disenfranchised in society. Although I have been out of the mental health field for several months now, there are still many things that bother me. In my opinion Canada is not doing enough for those who have serious psychiatric disorders. Simon Davis talks about the policy, theory and practice of community mental health in Canada. In my experience the practice leaves a lot to be desired. Those people with serious and persistent mental disorders face enormous obstacles in our society. They are often in poor physical health, live in substandard housing, are often unemployed and live in poverty. On top of all this they face a tremendous stigma associated their mental illness. The general public is not very knowledgeable about diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In his book Mr. Davis discusses various reasons why the Canadian mental health system is having trouble meeting the needs of mental health consumers. This book talks about recovery, treatment and rehabilitation. There is not a general agreement on what treatment recovery and rehabilitation actually are. Much thought needs to go into what exactly constitutes the best treatment for serious psychiatric disorders. They’re all still needs to be clarification on what recovery is and what it means to mental health consumers. What is possible in psychiatric rehabilitation needs to be discovered. My opinion is that the government will need to invest a lot more money in providing adequate treatment and rehabilitation programs for persons with serious mental illness.
Biographies and Autobiographies
One of my favorite activities is reading. This year I have read or am in the process of reading several biographies and autobiographies. I have enjoyed this genre of non fiction writing since high school. I will give you a list of some of my favorite biographies and autobiographies. I have listened to many of these titles in their audio book format. Here is my list:
1) Life by Keith Richards
2) When Giants Walked the Earth the biography of Led Zeppelin by Mick Wall.
3) Decision Points by George W. Bush
4) The Last Boy the biography of Mickey Mantle by Jane Leavy
5) Mustaine by Dave Mustaine
6) I am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne
7) High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips
8) Robert Kennedy His Life by Evan Thomas
9) The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer
I will review some of these titles in future posts.
Happy reading and rock on,
Ken David Stewart
Under the Dome
I have often said that there is much more to the writings of Stephen King than an attempt to scare the reader out of his or her wits. I have no doubt that Mr. King enjoys terrifying people but there is much more to this artist than a flare for horror. Stephen King understands people and their individual pathologies better than most professional therapists. Stephen King’s major talent is to make his fictional characters seem so real that you can imagine them walking down the street in front of your house.
The master of characterization is in top form once again in his novel, Under the Dome. After you have read a chapter or two it will be hard to get Big Jim Rennie out of your head, Talk about a larger than life character. Big Jim reminds me of JR from the Dallas television show. In other words he is the consummate villain. Third Selcctman Rennie is tall, overweight, mean and devious and craves total power over the residents of Chester Mills. The strange part is that I have some admiration for this character. He is one of those rare individuals who is eager and willing to take charge of a situation when no one else is. Big Jim Rennie is also supremely confident of his own abilities. He believes that it is God’s will for him to save Chester’s Mill from its terrible crisis.