Reading and Writing
Reading is hard work
Writing is not as hard as reading, or at least to me. Am not sure why it takes me so long to read a book, but I’m the classic slow reader.
Writing, on the other hand, comes more naturally, and perhaps is the reason I chose journalism as a career early on. At one point, for four straight years, I wrote a weekly column for a newspaper that I founded. There is nothing more humbling, and instructive, than composing something in print every single week.
But after writing and editing for publications, it’s been a great release to write novels.
The subject of war has always been an interest. The closest I came to wearing a military uniform was in the Australian Cadet Corps in high school. Jolly good fun it was marching around the boarding school in full slouch-hat regalia. To this day I cannot believe they let our small unit fire dud, WWII-era mortar rounds across the school’s playing fields, and then toil to dig them out of the ground afterwards so that we could fire them off again. Mercifully neither schoolmates nor suburban families were injured in this important military activity.
But war, the scourge of humans for millennia, has been a family specialty, though by accident and, mercifully, not a calling. My great-great grandfather (mother’s side) fought at Waterloo for the Duke of Wellington and was rewarded with a head wound and a silver plate in his skull. My great-grandfather (father’s side) fought for the North during the U.S. Civil War, and was captured at the Battle of Gettysburg. My grandfather (mother’s side) fought both at Gallipoli and later the Battle of the Somme during WWI, where he was gravely crippled by a gas shell. (You can read his story here. My father was a submariner in WWII and my mother was an Australian Army nurse. The Yocums derive from a happenstance meeting of these two in an Australian hospital in 1944.
Later, my father served as a civilian contractor in Vietnam during the early days of the war there, and my older brother did a tour there in the Army. Many, many others of my generation served or were affected one way or another by the Vietnam War.
So two of my novels – Daniel and Titus – involve mysteries set during war. My other novel – Color of Blood – centers around another favorite subject: Australia. This is also the first novel that Amazon’s Kindle Press published.
Currently I’m writing a follow-up to Color of Blood and hope to have that ready for release this summer.
Writing is a solitary craft, and requires the facility to invent and fabricate on the fly, which, in other circumstances, are grounds for being forcefully hospitalized. But not for writers; we have dispensation. Or so we think.
My hero in this realm is David John Moore Cornwell, who at 85 will publish perhaps his 19th book soon. They are nearly all well-researched and well-written novels that I find interesting and compelling.
His pen name is John Le Carré and his constant theme is deception, which to writers, is a sublime subject.
Writers on writing:
"Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person."
F. Scott Fitzgerald
"The first draft of anything is shit."
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
“Do you realize that all great literature is all about what a bummer it is to be a human being? Isn't it such a relief to have someone say that?”