Friday, August 8, 2014

FRESH ON FRIDAY: The Best Buck a Writer Can Spend

MANY THANKS TO everyone who downloaded my free ebook earlier this week. I'm looking forward to hearing what you thought of it. And now I'd like to recommend that you spend 99 cents to purchase another ebook.
   No; it's not one of mine. It is The Complete Works of Mark Twain.
   Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the man who wrote under the Mark Twain pen name, was easily one of the more extraordinary individuals of his time. In a period when most Americans never traveled more than 200 miles from the place where they were born, Clemens participated in the California gold rush, visited Hawaii, took part in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land by way of Europe, married a wealthy woman and had four children with her, spent many years in Europe, made a trip around the world, and built and lived in two fabulous mansions. 
   He also lived with great tragedy, losing virtually everyone he loved. He convinced his younger brother to join him in the riverboat trade, and the younger Clemens was killed when a boiler exploded. His wife and all of his children except one preceded him in death, and the one who survived him did not particularly care for him. 
   But it is writing, and not his life, that makes him essential reading for aspiring novelists. In an era in which American novelists were expected to write like Englishmen, Twain wrote about American characters, using the American vernacular, from an American point of view. Kurt Vonnegut believed him to be the only saint of American writing, and William Dean Howells called him "the Lincoln of our literature." And whether you are reading this right now in America, or Australia, or Germany or Paraguay, there is a lesson here; readers love a fresh voice that shapes and echoes their perspective.
   So ... no plans for the weekend? Read Twain. Be transported. And be inspired.

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