Professor Guerrero's Blog

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Co-author of East of Tiffany's, 13 short stories of a Latino immigrant's success in USA; a journey from West Harlem to Sutton Place and Park Avenue. Check out the reviews in Amazon.com and in Barnes and Noble.

on KINDLE on NOOK

My best seller as of now is

Titanes de la Filosofia

Professor Guerrero's Blog: Becoming a Writer: Raymond Carver's Essay on Writing Professor Guerrero's Blog: Book Reviews, Human Interest Articles, Accounting Lessons, and Writing Techniques

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Sentence Openers Book: FREE Lessons

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Boethius: Consolation of Philosophy

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All my books are now in NOOK

Ideas About the Novel is a prophetic book that all writers must own.

Ideas About the Novel by Ortega y Gasset - my translation $0.99


Next to Cervantes, Benito Perez Galdos is the most beloved Spanish writer of all times.

Torquemada at the Stake by Perez Galdos- my translation $0.99

Lazarillo of Tormes - my translation $0.99
Read it in contemporary English -- No Thous, Thees, or King James' Bible language. Transliterated into easy language for enjoyable reading pleasure. Because The Lazarillo of Tormes pointed a new direction, European and American literature benefited with titles that today are considered classics: Cervantes’ Rinconete and Cortadillo; Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones and Joseph Andrews; Tobias Smollett’s Roderick Random, and Peregrine Pickle; Voltaire’s Candide; Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. And many others to include American works ranging from Mark Twain to Saul Bellow.

Dehumanization of Art by Ortega y Gasset - my translation $0.99
The Dehumanization of Art— is now a constant in music, literature, aesthetics, and philosophy, having come to mean that in post-modern times human-shaped mimesis (representation of the human) is irrelevant to art. According to Ortega, the arts don't have to tell a human story; art should deal with its own forms—and not with the human form.

Sentence Openers
How writers open their sentences makes prose agile, interesting, and athletic. This e-book teaches how to break the pattern Subject-verb-object--and discard openings that begin with nouns, articles, and pronouns.

East of Tiffany's - bestseller $5
With the city as its backdrop "East of Tiffany's" is filled with earnest tales of love, loss, faith, success and morality. While business terminology is interwoven throughout these short stories, it's not business lessons that I take away with me, but life lessons. The circumstances and the characters' profound humanity are relatable despite their zip code . "Luke, Postmodern Man" offers a new vista into faith, suffering, and love of neighbor. Way after you read this book you'll find yourself thinking about the various characters throughout the series of stories and will find solace in their unwavering faith. The narrators' ability to reflect on their hardships with such serenity is inspiring.



My writing was as flat as a sidewalk. And then I downloaded ...

Mary Duffy's Toolbox for Writers
After I purchased Mary's e-book I started to get 'A's in my essays and term papers! Every page is filled with great writing tips, training lessons, and wonderful useful writing skills! Not only do I write essays for college, but also short stories!
--IVONNIE Indrawan
College student
Sentence Openers on KINDLE

Sentence Openers on NOOK













All my books are now in KINDLE


Ideas About the Novel by Ortega y Gasset - my translation $0.99
Torquemada at the Stake by Perez Galdos- my translation $0.99
Lazarillo of Tormes - my translation $0.99
Dehumanization of Art by Ortega y Gasset - my translation $0.99
Sentence Openers
East of Tiffany's - bestseller $5


The most beloved short story from Spanish literature
All my books are in NOOK $0.99 or in Amazon KINDLE $0.99








All my books are now in NOOK

Ideas About the Novel is a prophetic book that all writers must own.
Ideas About the Novel by Ortega y Gasset - my translation $0.99

Next to Cervantes, Benito Perez Galdos is the most beloved Spanish writer of all times.

Torquemada at the Stake by Perez Galdos- my translation $0.99

Lazarillo of Tormes - my translation $0.99
Read it in contemporary English -- No Thous, Thees, or King James' Bible language.

Dehumanization of Art by Ortega y Gasset - my translation $0.99
The Dehumanization of Art— is now a constant in music, literature, aesthetics, and philosophy, having come to mean that in post-modern times human-shaped mimesis (representation of the human) is irrelevant to art.

Sentence Openers
How writers open their sentences makes prose agile, interesting, and athletic.

East of Tiffany's - bestseller $5
With the city as its backdrop "East of Tiffany's" is filled with earnest tales of love, loss, faith, success and morality.



My writing was as flat as a sidewalk. And then I downloaded ...

Mary Duffy's Toolbox for Writers
After I purchased Mary's e-book I started to get 'A's in my essays and term papers!
--Ivonnie Indrawan
College student
Sentence Openers on KINDLE

Sentence Openers on NOOK





Available in KINDLE $0.99


Available in KINDLE $0.99

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Becoming a Writer: Raymond Carver's Essay on Writing

Vintage Contemporaries Editions by Raymond CarverImage by life serial via Flickr

RAYMOND CARVER (1938-1988) "ON WRITING"
Back in the mid-1960s, I found I was having trouble concen­trating my attention on long narrative fiction. For a time I expe­rienced difficulty in trying to read it as well as in attempting to write it. My attention span had gone out on me; I no longer had the patience to try to write novels. It's an involved story, too tedious to talk about here. But I know it has much to do now with why I write poems and short stories. Get in, get out. Don't linger. Go on. It could be that I lost any great ambitions at about the same time, in my late twenties. If I did, I think it was good it happened. Ambition and a little luck are good things for a writer to have going for him. Too much ambition and bad luck, or no luck at all, can be killing. There has to be talent.

Some writers have a bunch of talent; I don't know any writers who are without it. But a unique and exact way of looking at things, and finding the right context for expressing that way of looking, that's something else. The World According to Carp is, of course, the marvelous world according to John Irving. There is another
world according to Flannery O'Connor, and others according to William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. There are worlds according to Cheever, Updike, Singer, Stanley Elkin, Ann Beattie, Cynthia Ozick, Donald Barthelme, Mary Robison, William Kittredge, Barry Hannah, Ursula K. LeGuin. Every great or even every very good writer makes the world over according to his own specifications.

It's akin to style, what I'm talking about, but it isn't style alone.

It is the writer's particular and unmistakable signature on every­thing he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There's plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.

Isak Dinesen said that she wrote a little every day, without hope and without despair. Someday I'll put that on a three-by­ five card and tape it to the wall beside my desk. I have some three-by-five cards on the wall now. "Fundamental accuracy of statement is the ONE sole morality of writing." Ezra Pound. It is not everything by ANY means, but if a writer has "fundamental accuracy of statement” going for him, he’s at least on the right track.
I have a three-by-five up there with this fragment of a sentence from a story by Chekov: “… and suddenly everything became clear to him.” I find these words filled with wonder and possibility. I love their simple clarity, and the hint of revelation that’s implied. There is mystery, too. What has been unclear before? Why is just now becoming clear? What’s happened? Most of all—what now? There are consequences as a result of such sudden awakenings. I feel a sharp sense of relief-and anticipation.

I overheard the writer Geoffrey Wolff say "No cheap tricks" to a group of writing students. That should go on a three-by-five card. I'd amend it a little to "No tricks." Period. I hate tricks. At the first sign of a trick or a gimmick in a piece of fiction, a cheap trick or even an elaborate trick, I tend to look for cover. Tricks are ultimately boring, and I get bored easily, which may go along with my not having much of an attention span. But extremely clever chi-chi writing, or just plain tomfoolery writing, puts me to sleep. Writers don't need tricks or gimmicks or even neces­sarily need to be the smartest fellows on the block. At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing—a sunset or an old shoe­ in absolute and simple amazement.

Some months back, in the New York Times Book Review, John Barth said that ten years ago most of the students in his fic­tion writing seminar were interested in "formal innovation," and this no longer seems to be the case. He's a little worried that writers are going to start writing mom and pop novels in the 1980s. He worries that experimentation may be on the way out, along with liberalism. I get a little nervous if I find myself with­in earshot of somber discussions about "formal innovation" in fiction writing. Too often "experimentation" is a license to be careless, silly or imitative in the writing. Even worse, a license to try to brutalize or alienate the reader. Too often such writing gives us no news of the world, or else describes a desert land­scape and that's all—a few dunes and lizards here and there, but no people; a place uninhabited by anything recognizably human, a place of interest only to a few scientific specialists.

It should be noted that real experiment in fiction is original, hard-earned and cause for rejoicing. But someone else's way of looking at things—Barthelme's, for instance—should not be chased after by other writers. It won't work. There is only one Barthelme, and for another writer to try to appropriate Barthelme's peculiar sensibility or mise en scene under the rubric of innovation is for that writer to mess around with chaos and disaster and, worse, self-deception. The real experimenters have to Make It New, as Pound urged, and in the process have to find things out for themselves. But if writers haven't taken leave of their senses, they also want to stay in touch with us, they want to carry news from their world to ours.

It's possible, in a poem or a short story, to write about com­monplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman's earring-with immense, even startling power. It is possible to write a line of seemingly innocuous dia­logue and have it send a chill along the reader's spine-the source of artistic delight, as Nabokov would have it. That's the kind of writing that most interests me. I hate sloppy or haphaz­ard writing whether it flies under the banner of experimentation or else is just clumsily rendered realism. In Isaac Babel's won­derful short story, "Guy de Maupassant," the narrator has this to say about the writing of fiction: "No iron can pierce the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place." This too ought to go on a three-by-five.

Evan Connell said once that he knew he was finished with a short story when he found himself going through it and taking out commas and then going through the story again and putting commas back in the same places. I like that way of working on something. I respect that kind of care for what is being done. That's all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones, with the punctuation in the right places so that they can best say what they are meant to say. If the words are heavy with the writer's own unbridled emotions, or if they are impre­cise and inaccurate for some other reason-if the words are in any way blurred-the reader's eyes will slide right over them and nothing will be achieved. The reader's own artistic sense will simply not be engaged. Henry James called this sort of hap­less writing "weak specification."

I have friends who've told me they had to hurry a book because they needed the money, their editor or their wife was leaning on them or leaving them-something, some apology for the writing not being very good. "It would have been better if I'd taken the time." I was dumbfounded when I heard a novelist friend say this. I still am, if I think about it, which I don't. It's none of my business. But if the writing can't be made as good as it is within us to make it, then why do it? In the end, the satis­faction of having done our best, and the proof of that labor, is the one thing we can take into the grave. I wanted to say to my friend, for heaven's sake go do something else. There have to be easier and maybe more honest ways to try and earn a living. Or else just do it to the best of your abilities, your talents, and then don't justify or make excuses. Don't complain, don't explain.

In an essay called, simply enough, "Writing Short Stories," Flannery O'Connor talks about writing as an act of discovery. O'Connor says she most often did not know where she was going when she sat down to work on a short story. She says she doubts that many writers know where they are going when they begin something. She uses "Good Country People" as an exam­ple of how she put together a short story whose ending she could not even guess at until she was nearly there:

When I started writing that story, I didn't know there was going to be a Ph.D. with a wooden leg in it. I merely found myself one morning writing a description of two women I knew something about, and before I realized it, I had equipped one of them with a daughter with a wooden leg. I brought in the Bible salesman, but I had no idea what I was going to do with him. I didn't know he was going to steal that wooden leg until ten or twelve lines before he did it, but when I found out that this was what was going to happen, I realized it was inevitable.

When I read this some years ago it came as a shock that she, or anyone for that matter, wrote stories in this fashion. I thought this was my uncomfortable secret, and I was a little uneasy with it. For sure I thought this way of working on a short story some­how revealed my own shortcomings. I remember being tremen­dously heartened by reading what she had to say on the subject.

I once sat down to write what turned out to be a pretty good story, though only the first sentence of the story had offered itself to me when I began it. For several days I'd been going around with this sentence in my head: "He was running the vac­uum cleaner when the telephone rang." I knew a story was there and that it wanted telling. I felt it in my bones, that a story belonged with that beginning, if I could just have the time to write it. I found the time, an entire day—twelve, fifteen hours even—if I wanted to make use of it. I did, and I sat down in the morning and wrote the first sentence, and other sentences promptly began to attach themselves. I made the story just as I'd make a poem; one line and then the next, and the next. Pretty soon I could see a story, and I knew it was my story, the one I'd been wanting to write.

I like it when there is some feeling of threat or sense of men­ace in short stories. I think a little menace is fine to have in a story. For one thing, it's good for the circulation. There has to be tension, a sense that something is imminent, that certain things are in relentless motion, or else, most often, there simply won't be a story. What creates tension in a piece of fiction is partly the way the concrete words are linked together to make up the vis­ible action of the story. But it's also the things that are left out, that are implied, the landscape just under the smooth (but sometimes broken and unsettled) surface of things.

V.S. Pritchett's definition of a short story is "something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing." Notice the "glimpse" part of this. First the glimpse. Then the glimpse given life, turned into something that illuminates the moment and may, if we're lucky—that word again—have even further­ ranging consequences and meaning. The short story writer's task is to invest the glimpse with all that is in his power. He'll bring his intelligence and literary skill to bear (his talent), his sense of proportion and sense of the fitness of things: of how things out there really are and how he sees those things-like no one else sees them. And this is done through the use of clear and specific language, language used so as to bring to life the details that will light up the story for the reader. For the details to be concrete and convey meaning, the language must be accurate and precisely given. The words can be so precise they may even sound flat, but they can still carry; if used right, they can hit all the notes.
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Professor Guerrero's Blog

Co-author of East of Tiffany's, 13 short stories that will warm your heart - See 101 reviews in Amazon.com and 37 in Barnes and Noble.

on KINDLE on NOOK

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