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:

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Difference Between Good Work and Bad Work: Writing Next to the Ditch Digger

"What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." -- Samuel Johnson.

Pity the poor ditch digger, laboring in the dirt, filthy, exhausted and probably broke. Shall we also pity the poor writer, laboring at his desk (or kitchen table)?

I decided that there is good work and there is bad work. Writing is work, but it's good work. We can stop and have coffee or take a nap. We can go for a walk, mow the lawn, chat up a friend, or just stop and stare at that interesting stain on the wall--or even write a blog entry. For your average ditch digger, though, your options for spontaneous bursts of goofing off are limited.

This occurred to me while I was Googling around looking for quotes about writing. The Great Search Engine brought me to a blog entitled, "Quotes About Writing." I don't know this blogger but he and I agree on one thing, so far. That is, writing is work. And unless you work at it, and work at it hard, it will be "read without pleasure," if at all. The odd/ironic thing (we writers love irony) about this guy's blog was that he quit writing it a few years back, saying he was starting to repeat himself and no one seemed to be paying attention anyway. Yep, writing is hard work.

And here I am, pictured above, at work and it was about time I got back to it. I took some time off to drive to New England to fulfill some family obligations and then to travel to Washington D.C. to be a part of the Rally for the Return to Sanity/Keep Fear Alive (scroll down to my earlier blog entries see some great pictures of the that great scene). But now, as the autumn quickly ages toward winter and the weather outside turns windy and cold, I'm making a writerly dash to finish this next novel before we leave for Guam in December.

I thought I was finished, in fact. Thought the book's plot had run its course and had put it aside to let it "cook" as Hemingway used to say. Let it marinate, let it age so that when I go back to it, I can see it with fresh eyes. And that's what happened and my fresh eyes--and the fresh eyes of my wife--said, let's reconsider the ending because it is no longer working for me. It's not there, you're not there. Your characters still have some obligations to attend to.

So, putting on another, well, what looks to be say, 10,000 words--at least. And that will bring the word count up to a respectable 80,000+ and I'm into it and it's working and I'm working. I can see where the ditch of this novel will end and when I'm finished, I'm climbing out of it and I'll buy the other ditch digger a drink and we'll celebrate.

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