Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Advice to My Writing Self: Take Your Time

Note to self: Listen to the words of the songs--Slow down, you move too fast. Take it easy. Don't let the wheels of your mind drive you crazy.

Here I am with no day job other than writing (and being a good househusband) and still I feel pressured to produce, to get out the daily thousand words. And when a writer feels he has to work to a word deadline, the prose suffers. Pounding willy-nilly on a keyboard often equals garbage in, garbage out. It's the sort of "I don't know where I'm going, but I'm making good time," approach to writing.

After nearly thirty years of scribbling, I know all this, but I still find myself re-discovering it every so often and it is always a relief. I don't have to actually write every day. It is sufficient to just be thinking about my writing every day and write only when you get it together. The research necessary to develop this next book on traditional navigation, the finding my way through the jungle of ideas/possible plot twists and turns, takes time and I am very fortunate to have plenty of it.

One day last week, for example, I was pounding away on the keys with "no direction known" as Bob Dylan would say, when I thought, you really need to think about this before you go any further. I stopped. I put my head back and closed my eyes. Finding nothing back in there in the dark recesses of my brain except a beckoning nap, I opened my eyes and looked around my writing room and saw the books crammed into the bookshelves. Didn't I have another book on traditional navigation in Micronesia? I got up and looked. A few minutes later, I was pulling down The Last Navigator by Steve Thomas (of This Old House fame). I had bought it years ago, read part of it, and put it on the shelf.

Now as I leafed through it, dipping in here and there, I realized I had found the answer to not only one of my plotting difficulties, but also had uncovered a rich source of details of island life. I put the laptop aside and began reading. Three days and many yellow sticky notes later, I'm about to finish it. Flooded with new ideas, I should be ready to get back to pounding the keys tomorrow or the next day. No rush, really.

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