a weblog for readers and writers

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

John Irving & Me


John Irving rarely does book signings, or so I'm told. Early in my writing career, I hauled a couple of his hardcovers to the National Book Festival only to find out that he was exclusively signing his newest book. So I went to the Book Fest tent to buy it, then got in line.

Irving says his writing is often painful. "But you don't not write something because it makes you feel uncomfortable. As a writer, you don't get to choose your obsessions."

"I use details from my own life," Irving said at the book fest. "It, like anything of mine, will have more imagination than autobiography to it. But there are always elements from my own life. Childhood is the basis of a character."

In person, Irving did not appear to be in the pain his books suggest. He came across calm, cool, comfortable, in his casual shirt and jeans, with his gum-chewing smile, basking in a long line of dedicated readers. He greeted me with a smile and signed my book.

Having met Wolfe and Irving in the same day, I can see why their books naturally gravitated to opposite ends on my bookshelf. Still, I wish I'd convinced Irving and Wolfe to join me for a drink after the festival.

As a reader, you don't always get to choose your obsessions either.

John Irving – Official Author Website (john-irving.com)

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Run, Goose, Run!

I’ve been writing fiction since I was in grade school, reading children’s books myself. I handwrote my first novel in the sixth grade, completed my first typed novel in the ninth grade, and sent out my first submission letters when I was just finishing college.

The first book I managed to find a publisher for was in large part due to my wife’s lovely illustrations.

Flightless Goose is a hardcover storybook for children about a goose who is injured and unable to fly south with the other geese. He is left behind, but perseveres and ends up being accepted by the geese when they return.

It’s been described as a book that effectively tackles subjects like disability, bullying, being different, coping with change, and treating others with dignity and respect. But on the surface, and to children, it’s just a fun story.

A story based on a real goose in a waterside neighborhood where we once lived.

Gregory B. Gallagher, one of the original writers for Sesame Street, called it a “wonderful story.” Towson Times wrote “Your child can be entertained as they learn lessons about overcoming challenges, accepting different people, and focusing on positive strengths.” The Baltimore Examiner observed, “Grounded Goose walks away a winner.”   GottaWrite Girl called it a “warm and wonderful fable.” Abilities Magazine made it a “Kid’s Pick!” and called it “A wise tale about a goose that becomes unable to fly and must learn to cope with the challenges of being different.”

A review in The Potomac said “Flightless Goose is appropriately simple without being simplistic, and its lessons—that challenges can be overcome, that being different doesn’t’ mean being less of a person, and that everyone has something they are good at—are important ones.”

Would you believe that after twelve years, Flightless Goose is still available as a hardcover and an ebook?




Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Go Ahead, Let Them Change Your Ending


Some years ago, I was asked by the San Francisco Book Review to write about an aspect of my experience with my first novel for their “Back Page” feature.

The article I wrote tackled a question newer writers often struggle with: “what do I do if my agent or publisher likes my work, but wants me to make changes. Or, more drastically, wants me to … change my ending?”

It’s not a simple answer, unless you have a good sense of your novel and your characters as well as a good agent and publisher who understands what you’re intent is.

In my case, my agent loved Tracks, but offered some advice. The advice to make some modifications to the ending didn’t just change the book—it improved it.

The dreaded editorial changes are easy to embrace if you can truthfully examine them and come to the conclusion that the changes being made remain true to your story and your characters.

As I say in the article, “When I cut old stories, wrote new ones, and came up with an entirely new conclusion to the book, I saw that my agent understood the truth of my book even better than I did.”

Besides which, your agent and publisher know the business. They’re trying to help, not create a conflict. As long as their suggestions don’t go against your core intention, let them help you cut your darlings.

Go ahead and let them change your ending.

Here’s what happened when I did.



Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Who is this Writeful Good Man?


One of the first things I did here fifteen years ago was to introduce myself. Back then, I was an aspiring writer hoping to become an established novelist. My bio is a little different now, having had five books published by small and university presses with a sixth one on the way, and with more than a hundred published short stories, articles, and travel stories published in various journals, magazines, and blogs.

Here is my short bio, found in my most recent novel:

Eric D. Goodman lives and writes in Maryland. He is author of The Color of Jadeite (Loyola University’s Apprentice House Press, 2020), Setting the Family Free (Apprentice House, 2019), Womb: a novel in utero, (Merge Publishing, 2017) Tracks: A Novel in Stories, (Atticus Books, 2011), and Flightless Goose. (Writer’s Lair Books, 2008). More than a hundred of his short stories, travel stories, and articles about writing have been published in literary journals and periodicals. Eric is co-founder and curator of Baltimore’s popular Lit & Art Reading Series. When he’s not writing, Eric loves traveling. 

Learn more about Eric and his writing at www.EricDGoodman.com.