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Friday, June 28, 2013

Guest Post from Boomer Lit Author Claude Nougat

Why Do You Read? The Secret to Writing A Good Yarn

Storytelling is as old as humanity. We all have this vision of cavemen sitting around a fire after the hunt, munching on their grilled meat and telling stories to each other. The Lascaux frescoes comfort us in this vision. But we've moved on, we want more than stories of preying on wild animals and killing. But we still love suspense.

Suspense is the key.

Release from suspense is what we yearn for, in the form of laughter or tears. And herein, you find the very essence of comedy and drama, the two major forms of literature. But there's more. We want to walk away from our reading feeling that we've gained something, that we are a better individual.

What do you get out of your reading? Before you answer in the comments below, let’s take a quick look at why writers write.

For some, writing is a flight of fancy, an escape from oneself or reality. In the case of older, more experienced writers, writing is an exploration, and in the best cases, it results in shedding a new light on reality. That is often the case with Boomer Lit authors: when they write a boomer lit novel, they populate it with mature characters like themselves who have faced many challenges in life. Boomer lit books are informed with the life experience of their authors. That’s what sets this genre apart from others.

Ultimately, a writer is always someone who feels he/she has something special to say... Yes, there is a certain lack of modesty here, but aren't all artists immodest? Besides, when you come across “great literature”, don’t you feel you are learning something? When you close that book, don’t you find yourself looking with new eyes – the author’s eyes – at the reality around you?

Whether a writer has something special to say or not is the litmus test. Nobody is interested in banal tales or cliché characters. Hollywood knows this: to evaluate the success of a film, they measure how many "emotional beats" it has. The more “beats”, the larger the audience.

Like movie goers, readers want suspense, they want to laugh and cry. They are interested in stories. The problem is that writers are interested in themselves or they wouldn't write. This is where you often have a disconnect between readers and writers. And this is why so many books are disappointing: the writer forgot that all the reader wanted was a good yarn.

So I'll let you in on a secret. I am a writer but I also happen to be my own most demanding reader. If I don't get a kick out of my own writing - if my first draft doesn't amuse me as I write it - then I stop writing. You have no idea how many novels and short stories I have abandoned after I was one third of the way through. Why? Because they bored me!

I know, the writing gurus will tell you that you should never give up, there's no "silver bullet" etc. Sure, I agree, there isn’t. But why finish something that bores you silly? Chances are that it will bore your readers even more! Indeed, that is one of the reasons why I never work out complete, detailed outlines prior to writing. I always jump in, hoping to keep my enthusiasm for my characters and plot alive, right down to the closing line. And sometimes, I'm lucky, my characters regale me with their shenanigans and surprise me with an unexpected ending. When that happens, I'm happy, I know the book is worth publishing (once it's been thoroughly gone over and edited of course). Otherwise, forget it! I don't mind, I don't want to see it.

If you're a writer reading this, let me know how you go about writing. And if you're reader, let me know what you seek from your reading, what kind of book makes you really happy? And if you’re a baby boomer, give some thought to reading Boomer Lit, you’ll be pleasantly surprised...

About the Author
Claude Nougat, a graduate of Columbia University, is a writer, economist, painter and poet. She is a prime exponent of Boomer literature and author of nine books of fiction, including two written in Italian and published in Italy. Her boomer novel, A Hook in the Sky, about a retiree-turned-artist has been termed “quintessential boomer lit”. Her most recent work, Forever Young is a ground-breaking sci-fi serial novel that renews with Orwell’s 1984 tradition. She is married and lives in Italy. 

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Friday, June 21, 2013

Guest Post from Boomer Lit Author Marsha Roberts

Who Do We Write For? Ourselves or Others?

The two-fold question I've heard posed over and over again by authors on the web is: why do we write and who are we writing for? Are we writing because we're compelled to, whether anyone ever reads it or not? Or are we focused on an unseen audience of potential readers?

Obviously a question authors have always asked, but now it's different. Now we don't have to go through the gate-keepers of the publishing world and ask permission to play. All you need is a computer with internet access and you can write to your heart's content - write and be published. And that's what makes this question different than it's ever been. It's no longer reserved for the elite few chosen by agents and publishers. Everyone who sits down to post a comment, write an article, compose a blog or author a book is faced with this question - whether they realize it or not.

Why do you write? Who are you writing for?

We all know people who blog regularly that literally don't care if anyone else reads it, they just want to write! On the other hand, tens of thousands of books are given away every day because some authors are so intent on communicating their story to other people that they're happy to get it into a reader's hand even if they don't make a cent from their efforts.

We all have our own answer to the "why and who" question - here's mine.

I wrote my book because a voice was screaming inside of me: WRITE! Once I started, I couldn't stop. What a wonderful (and terrifying!) thing to discover at this phase of my Boomer existence: I'm a writer. As long as I'm allowed to continue breathing on this planet, I'll write. Proof positive? I'm writing this blog right now!

The real question for me is: would I have written my first book if I didn't think anyone else would ever read it? Yes. I had to write it.

So, was I writing it for myself? No. I was writing for others, especially other Boomer women who I thought might benefit from what I had experienced (and enjoy a good read at the same time!). That's what motivated me, what kept me at it day after day.

The fact is, I was writing because I missed touching other people's lives.

We all have a history that brings us to our computers every day with a story to tell. As a professional I went from being an ICU nurse (definitely touching lives there) to a documentary film editor (wild life films - people loved them!) to theatrical producer. That's where I got hooked on reaching out to an audience and seeing my work affect lives. I did that all over the world for fifteen years and when I had to walk away from it, the thing I missed the most was… yeah, there it is… touching other people's lives.

That's true, no doubt about it, but I've grown to understand that there's more to it for me.

Recently I ran into some personal snags, the kind that are always unexpected. I was sitting at my computer, staring out the window at the leaves blowing in the wind, contemplating my situation, emotionally exhausted. Then I saw a reflection in the window of something very comforting: a copy of my book. I opened it to a random spot and started reading. The words on the page instantly connected me to who I am and where I intend to go with my life. My own words touched me. I smiled as the cloud over my head lifted and I realized I was my own audience. I may have written it for others, but I had also written it for myself. And at just the right moment, it was there to remind me who I am.

I'm a writer. God help me!

About the Author

After years of producing Corporate Theatre for clients such as IBM and Coca-Cola, Marsha Roberts developed, produced and marketed Letters From The Front, the only professional theatrical production to tour military bases around the world. This heartfelt show touched hundreds of thousands of lives and toured stateside and abroad for fifteen years. The daunting process of getting this never-been-done-before production off the ground and onto a worldwide stage gave her a keen awareness of what it takes to overcome life’s obstacles and find the miraculous in the commonplace.

Her debut inspirational memoir, Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant, chronicles many of these experiences in what Kirkus Reviews called, "An optimistic look at the magic of life."

Marsha is happy to be known as the Mutinous Boomer and is currently writing her second book in that series.

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