Maybe I should have named my blog Potpourri or Pastiche or simply a Savory Stew because I aim to throw a lot of different things into the pot, mostly about reading, writing and art, but many other things, too, because I’ve lived a long time and have a lot of interests. I also will include here thoughts of others I come upon who share my loves. Including those of you who care to share your thoughts and impressions.

Archive - February, 2013

Story Length and Rewriting
posted by Ed Farber on February 25, 2013

I wrote a detective story once. It ran over 5,000 words. I sent it to numerous publications and got turned down.  A couple of editors took the time to write and say they liked it, but it was too long. Most other magazines limited story length to under 3,000 words.  I tried to edit it down (rewrites) but when I did it lost its punch. Maybe Hemingway could have done it, but I couldn’t. The story languished in my files unpublished.

I like the story. You might say, “of course you would like it, you wrote it.”

It ain’t necessarily so. I’ve written a lot of stories that I didn’t like and never sought to publish for one reason or another. Most were tossed into the big round file. This one, however, I liked.

I’m going to include it in my Clara Avenue collection. Editors and word limits be damned!

This is not to say that you shouldn’t try to make your stories as tight as possible. I believe you should. Never accept your first draft as the end-all. Rewriting is what really strengthens a story. In my files are stories that have as many as 8 to 10 rewrites, some even much more. I keep them all so that I can compare my “final” rewrite with the other efforts.

I have to leave this blog now…to do a rewrite of a story!


Book Titles are Not Copyrighted
posted by Ed Farber on February 15, 2013

My Ebook, Looking Back with a Smile, was originally entitled Looking Back Laughing, much stronger, I think. When I googled that title I found that it had been used by others. Mistakenly, I thought it couldn’t be used for my book. I learned subsequently that book titles are not copyrighted. You can use the same title as a previously published book, but I would avoid doing so if your book and the other were contemporaries and covered the same subject matter. In my case the title was not for a book but for a song, and I could have used it. I should have discovered that sooner.

If you have a title in mind for a book, do the research. Remember, when people search for a book by title and there is another bearing that same title, yours may not be the one that comes up in the search. It’s always best to use a title that hasn’t been used before.

But if you want it nevertheless, go for it!


On Short Stories
posted by Ed Farber on February 3, 2013

When I began to write fiction in earnest (I’d written some that were printed in The Harris Quarterly, a literary journal produced by my junior college) I chose to write short stories. A novel just seemed way beyond me at that time. This was at a time when zombies and vampires were not the most popular book characters around (although they have always been around ever since Count Dracula and Frankenstein became famous and probably way before that.)

Anyhow, I was influenced by a professor at the University of Missouri, Professor William H. Peden who taught a course in the writing of short stories. While pulp fiction was plentiful in the magazines of the 1930s, 40’s and 50s, and I was an avid reader, Peden was an advocate of what he called literary short stories, insisting correctly that the best short stories were on a par with the best novels. He made us read Chekov, Guy de Maupassant, Poe (of course), Hemingway, Katherine Anne Porter, Katherine Mansfield, and William Faulkner, among others. This was in place of the plot-driven westerns, detective stories and romance tales so prevalent in the pulp mags of the day which I also read without discrimination (well, not the romance mags.)

After college, writing became a function of my career and non-fiction replaced fiction. I came back to it when I retired (much too late I now know) and began to write short stories once again. A pile of rejection slips attested to my learning period and I did learn. And when my first story was accepted by a literary magazine, I was elated, even though no money was exchanged. I was a published author!!

That first story, Sins of the Fathers, will appear in my collection of short stories which I intend to publish soon, called Echoes of Clara Avenue. (See some info in my Book and Stories section on this site.

More about that to come.