Gettin' Cranky With Harlan Ellison and Making Big Writing Decisions

I'm learning a thing or two from Harlan Ellison. No, not how to become a cranky old Jew...but hey, if the kippah fits, right? He's teaching me not only about who he is as a writer; an enormously gifted man who takes no bullshit from no one; he's also taught me that it's ok to write about what I want...anything I want.

Currently, I'm reading his No Doors, No Windows, and loving it so much I'm reading it slowly to make it last longer. His writing is indeed 'musical' as Neil Gaiman so eloquently puts it. The words themselves have a particular way of sounding in your mind which create a melodic flow.

This is just the first book I've read by Harlan, and I hope to get my grubby mitts on a good many more of them. The stories are decidedly less Science Fiction than I was expecting, which is just fine. No wonder he gets miffed when people call him a Sci Fi writer, he's so much more than that. Harlan's books are not easy to find, but I was lucky enough to find this title at my local thrift shop in stellar condition. Lucky me!

Next up, I just finished watching Dreams With Sharp Teeth for the second time. Rent or buy the DVD if you can, the extra features are totally worth it. Who wouldn't want to listen in on an intimate pizza dinner with Neil Gaiman as guest? The director just lets the camera roll on them, and hilarity ensues.

But what I found most fascinating, were the old interview  clips of Harlan as a much younger (but no less spirited) man with many important things to say about culture, politics, commercialism and calling your own shots as a writer in contemporary society. I have enormous respect for that, as well as for someone who doesn't beat around the to speak.

This leads me to my 'big writing decision'. As I've said before, I've had a feeling that I should be writing something more important. Not important by way of content necessarily, but important for me. Which means more time must be spent writing said important pieces, and not lesser works, such as what I publish on HubPages and within the Apprenticeship Program.

Now, I realize it is a privilege (I think) to be chosen for this program, and I am grateful. However, it's becoming increasingly clear that the program isn't designed to make you a better writer per se, it's to make you a better web writer with 'Evergreen' quality articles (which means they will age well and continue to grow traffic/potential earnings for you and for HP). Well, I didn't set out to become a web writer, and I'm getting enough professional experience through the freelancing work I do through CopyPress. Thankyouverymuch.

Sigh. So with all of that being said, I think I may drop out of the HPAP to pursue the kind of writing I want to do. I want to write short stories. I want to work on a novel. And I even think I may try my hand at a collection of personal essays. For the first time since launching my writing career, I can honestly see the path leading to that successful writing career. I finally understand what I need to do in order to make that happen, and that's really, really exciting.

Which now leads me to this here book: The Writer's Market for Novels and Short Stories. I have been wanting this book for awhile now, and finally made the executive decision to buy it a few days ago. One reviewer called it "a wise and necessary investment", and I'm inclined to agree even though I haven't yet received it. Until I do, now is the time to remove the clutter, cut off the extraneous and settle down to some serious writing. Wish me luck!