Happy 90th birthday, The Great Gatsby

The Los Angeles Times posted an op-ed piece by Meg Waite Clayton* today commemorating the 90th anniversary of The Great Gatsby. The history of the book and its interest to readers when it was first published is fascinating. It wasn’t well-received or reviewed. I reread The Great Gatsby a couple of years ago as an assignment for the novel revision workshop I attended. That it’s still taught in schools and still beloved in the film industry – three actors have played Gatsby (Alan Ladd, Robert Redford, and Leonardo DiCaprio) – is definitely contrary to its early reception. I loved rereading it. I loved the last film. I can never get enough of the “old sport.” So, I’ve decided to publish Ms. Clayton’s op-ed piece verbatim (fully acknowledging the Los Angeles Times and Meg Waite Clayton). I hope you find it as interesting as I did. Goes to show even famous authors have their ups and downs – and perhaps their so-called duds. Gatsby, literature's party animal, turns 90 By Meg Waite … [Read more...]

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So how was the writing workshop?

Back from four long days at the UCLA Extension Writers Program's Novel Revision Techniques workshop. And when all is said and done, I must say I got a lot out of it. The instructor, Mark Sarvas, was well prepared and he enthusiastically imparted his knowledge of novel revision. It was hard to tell that this was the first time he had ever taught this workshop. As a result I’m very tempted to sign up for his Novel IV class that starts in April. His best advice is: Read Like a Writer He also encouraged us to keep reading novels all the time. The class was really grueling. It included lectures on these subjects: The Many Drafts of the First Draft Revision Tools Structure Scene Character Language The Essential Revision Questions Mark used The Great Gatsby over and over again to illustrate his points, and believe me, he is an expert on The Great Gatsby. He reads it at the start of every year. As much as I like the book – and I like it even better now that I know some of … [Read more...]

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My UCLA workshop starts tomorrow

I’m scheduled to start a novel revision workshop through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program tomorrow, taught by Mark Sarvas. (He looks like he could be my grandson.) I just hope I’m doing the right thing by taking it. Not that I don’t think my work is any good, it’s just that it might be premature for the stage I’m in on my novel. But I know one thing for sure; it will jump start my work on the novel – something that has been too much on the back burner lately. So to prepare for this class I had to pick a portion of the novel that others could read and critique. I chose chapters three and four. That took up the allotted page count – 15 pages double-spaced. We were also required to turn our selections in by January 22 with a one-page synopsis and what specifically we want help with going forward. On January 23 I received a compilation of the entire classes’ work – or so I thought – and began reading. At the outset we were told that if our material wasn’t received by the 22 … [Read more...]

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