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:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Writing, Rewriting, and Rewriting Again....and Again...and Again....

 Me, the author of an essay on the manly--and, in certain famous cases, womanly--glories of cigar smoking standing at a cigar shop in Key West.

"There is no such thing as writing--just rewriting." This is a famous quote that thousands of writers and writing teachers would like to take credit for, from Somerset Maugham to Doris Lessing to the adjunct community college evening-course writing instructor. 

Who knows who was the very first to realize this bitter truth, but it must go back to the authors of the cuneiform etchings of ancient Persia. Any writer worth his laptop quickly learns this or turns his laptop in and takes up something less demanding--like rocket science or teaching preschoolers.

I love the Philip Roth novel in which the young writer protagonist makes a pilgimage up to the snowy Berkshire hills in Massachusetts to pay homage his god, an older, famous writer. He spends the day with this guy and watches and wonders. The old genius's writing day? He spent three hours putting a comma in and the next three hours taking it out.

And the fact is, after the first five drafts of the novel are finished and the editor has had her expensive ways with the manuscript, then the rewriting begins. Oh, the glories of the rewrite! Why did I use that word? What was I thinking? This word is absolutely perfect. And this entire scene that I thought was so powerful, so in keeping with the protagonist's motivations? No, no, no. I would be so much better this way.....

And it goes on and on until finally you know you have to just give it up and submit the piece/novel/poem and be done with it or you'll be sitting there growing moss and cobwebs, your great-grand children will be going off to college, and your wife/partner will be using you for a coat rack.

It is, of course, all part of the joy of writing, of creativity, of self-actualizing. Here's a link to an essay of mine that was published in The Prague Revue. I must have rewritten it a hundred time over the course the month I give myself to write essays. Let me know if  you find any typos, clumsy sentences, daft reasoning, or misplaced commas. I know they are lurking in there, waiting to leap out and cause great consternation and blushing.



Monday, July 6, 2015

This Writing Life: Tis a pity the writer's a whore.

This is reputed to be Shakespeare's death mask. It may be or it may not be the Bard, but at least in one respect, it gets the message across: This man is dead, drained of life, and so drained of his creativity. Shakespeare didn't have to deal with the roaring cacophony that is our outrageous world of the Internet and social media. He wrote with a quill pen on coarse paper and sent letters by horse carriage. There were not millions of voices out there warning him that if he didn't join this group or that one there, he'd never make it as a writer.

So my message to myself today is that if I am going to create, I need to guard my creative energies and there is precious little of that energy left after I've spent hours every day sitting at a computer hooked up to the Internet thinking up clever ways to get noticed--whoring for attention, as it were. It all makes my head ache, my stomach knot up, and my spirit long for the quiet and solitude necessary to daydream. And I must always remember that daydreaming, simple daydreaming, is the genesis of creativity.

So, as a writer, my first obligation is to my creative self, to my daydreaming. That requires time, long, uninterrupted expanses of time that is quiet, reflective and free of the bloodthirsty killers called distractions. Close the windows, lock the doors, read something wonderful to prime the mind, and have the courage to daydream. Then, for at least four or five hours a day, have to courage to not whore yourself out.