There’s Nothing There & Professor Hamilton’s Advice To Writers

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Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer

What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?

When it comes to travel I’m of the opinion that half the fun is getting there and that leaves the other half for there and getting back home. I can drive any place and have more fun with the travel rather than the destination.

A few years ago some friends from Ohio visited us (in Idaho). “How can you stand it? There’s nothing here! There’s miles of nothing upon nothing.”

Six months later another friend visited, took the same route. “That was one of the best drives I’ve ever had. You could see forever.”

I’ve been to a few places and less than impressed once I got there, but the best part of the trip is being able to share it with someone. My travels are time well- spent with my favorite traveling companion, my wife. I love looking next to me in the car as I drive and seeing nothing or gorgeous scenery stream by, but it mean nothing without seeing my wife in the foreground.

Today’s short story is about writing advice. I hope you enjoy it.

Professor Hamilton’s Advice To Writers

Professor Hamilton stood before his last class of the semester.

Hamilton himself was moderately successful as a writer. While a professor he’d slowed down his production, but wrote three novels in the last ten years and a nonfiction work on writing.

Professor Hamilton smiled at his class. “Fifty-two students this semester, some serious, some not, most who are serious show promise. And those who don’t show promise, don’t give up. If you don’t you will likely succeed where those who show the most promise don’t?”

“This is the last day of class,” Hamilton said. “What is it you want to hear? Any questions?”

“How long did you write before you published your first novel?”

Hamilton grinned. “Forever, or so it seemed. I wrote for ten years. Finally I wrote something good. Than I wrote a couple of things good. And then I was able to sell all my bad stuff.” He chuckled. “Somebody had to pay for all those years. I had people to pay back.”

The class laughed.

“Another question,” Hamilton said delighting at the opportunity.

“What was the best writing advice you ever received?”

“It was all good,” Hamilton said seriously. “Of course, you can’t use all of it, because some of it is conflicting. So here it is: find your own voice, write your own story, write it honestly, if not sure about grammar make it a quote, bad spelling justifies the existence of proof readers and now days we have spell-checks, and don’t try to be fancy; write simple.”

“Another question,” Hamilton beckoned.

“How much do you take the advice of editors?”

“Listen to them,” Hamilton said. “Then listen to yourself. You are the author. That word eventually becomes authority. Think of it this way; if you write 500 pages and edit it yourself to 400, the editor will edit it down to 300. If you started with 300 hundred they will whittle it down to 200. If you hand them something less than 200 they’ll say that’s not enough. Write your best. Keep a little in there for the editor to feel good about himself, but if you are sure of something stick to your guns. Remember, editors are jealous of your ideas.”

“Any more questions,” Hamilton said.

That seemed to be all the class had.

“Write good stuff,” Hamilton said. He waved and winked.

The class stood and applauded.

Hamilton stopped and held his hands up to quiet the students.

“There’s one more thing,” Hamilton said. “Some of you will write and sell. Likely my words will go unheeded. Careful what you write. Your writing may awaken demons in people or make goodness arise. When I was young my mother had me read nothing but good. That’s why I always tell my students to write good stuff. Don’t allow your minds to wander into the perverse and call it creativity. Write a story that is good rather than one that will titillate. Write about virtue, character, principle, and goodness. Your work influences people. If you have that special gift to write well, write about good.”

Hamilton nodded politely and exited the side door.

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18 comments

  1. I like the paragraph about the editors, having fantasized that I’d make a good editor! Cutting to the point they tell you you need more words. Funny. Overall godd advice!

  2. […] Wanderer | Sabethville How to Get a Green Card: A Lesson in Planning and Letting Go | Kosher Adobo There’s Nothing There & Professor Hamilton’s Advice To Writers | The Jittery Goat I’m a Writer, Yes I Am love-hate | yi-ching lin photography Daily Prompt: The Happy […]

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