Monday, December 9, 2013

Writing Tip #14: Audio Books

ADVICE TO YOUNG WRITERS DEPT.

At a certain point in time writing became a calling for me. It wasn't just something I wanted to do because I liked doing it. Rather, there was a sense of divine appointment, a sense in which the meaning of my life was associated with it.

Once I had this understanding I began to do everything in my power to excel at it. I read the writers magazines, attended writers conferences and read as many books about writing as I could find, gleaning insights from each and making them my own. One of these, Sherwood Wirt's You Can Tell the World, made a special point of saying that if we want to write great literature we must be readers of great literature, familiar not only with the names but the works themselves. So it was that I began a crash course on great literature.

Not that I'd never read classic books before. My college years were devoted primarily to philosophy and art. I was simply behind. Audio books enabled me to play catch up.

It was quite surprising to see how many authors had been recorded. The first one that I listened to was a Joseph Conrad story, The Lagoon, recorded by some British actor with a deep resonant voice not unlike our more contemporary James Earl Jones. His rendition of the story moved me. The story is potent and the delivery was up to the task. I immediately became a fan of Conrad.

Next I began taking out sets of cassettes from the library. The short stories of Jack London. The short stories of Ernest Hemingway. The short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. My evenings were full with writing or social obligations, so while painting apartments in Minneapolis I would listen to literature. Multi-tasking, before the word had been coined and adopted as a cultural norm.

The audio cassette market eventually yielded to CDs with millions of books being sold each year. Libraries filled with these, too, in time. With the advent of broadband internet, digital books became as easy to download as videos and movies and now represent more than 60% of the market.

The real message here has to do with commitment and making sacrifices. In his opening chapter Wirt states, "If you have been ordained to write, woe to you if you put everything else first."

When you're young I don't believe it's possible to realize how much time there is in a life, nor how much one can accomplish once you choose to give it focus. Examples abound....

So what are you waiting for? Seize the day!

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