Credit: Photo Iris Paris
“That may be right from your point of view, Barber, but I see it differently!”
So, what IS this Point Of View then? For a writer, it is the voice of the character, what the character sees, hears, smells, tastes, feels and touches in his imagination. He creates the Point of View of the character but often it is part of his own, made up from his own experiences, or pure imagination. For the reader, it is how that Point of View opens up his own imagination. When I read a book I see skies, people, shapes, hear noises, smell a restaurant, taste the wine the character drinks, feel the knock-out or the kiss, or the touch of a compassionate hand, as if I had created the images myself.
Point of View and imagination are inseparably linked, for the writer as well as for the reader. Do they see it with the same images? That’s a mystery. We all know bad smell, awful taste, false sounds, horror sights, hard blows. The film maker interprets the story as he or she sees it, the director stages it how he or she imagines it.
It is one of the most remarkable features of the human being. Each of us lives with a view in our mind that is totally our own, though we can commonly see, hear or feel the same images transmitted onto our Cinerama-visional brain. Cameras, film screens, bill-boards are attempting to broaden their fields, but they seem incapable of matching the almost infinite size of the images our brain can produce at will.
When I get up, I see this Cinerama around me, and millions of other human beings do the same at the same time. Collectively we see the world around us wherever we are, as one of the some 7.000.000.000.000 people on earth. I am just a little spot on earth, seen from space. My goodness, I completely disappear in that sea of people! All those people! How do you feel walking in New York, London, Paris, Rome, Lagos, Johannesburg, New Delhi, Calcutta, Dhaka, Bangkok, Hongkong, Manilla, or Tokyo and Rio?
All those people! To use a cliché, we are like ants in a huge ants heap. It’s true. But the strange fact is that we don’t feel it that way (well, unless you have to live with 7 in a one bedroom apartment). We feel that the world we live in is our own that only we see the way we see it. It is our own from OUR vantage point, how it was shaped through birth, location, education, religion and social environment.
However, our point of view is by no means homogeneous. We think it is because that’s how we are. Then we discover that not all of us have the same point of view. Migration of peoples from one region to another has had a great impact on mixing up point of view. Religion and social background, inluding race, are major influencing factors. If a writer writes a book from his point of view, there will be those who can identify with it and those who cannot. We do not see things the same way, even though as human beings we have the same brain facility. In many ways we are very different, and when we move to totally different areas this poses serious assimilation problems: peoples of the same cultural background group together because of language, customs, religion and social values, and become enclaves of disengagement from the country they fled to, to survive, or were taken to as slaves or contracted as indentured labor.
Common laws may force us to adhere to a system of rules drawn up by a collective legislature over time, but does our current point of view, influenced by so many more recent events and group pronouncements, still identify with these rules and their origin? How do we interpret them? These questions are, for example, at the core of current divisions about the configuration of the Supreme Court of the USA. But they also arise in recent racial controversies where opposing views have become so apparent over the last decade. They play a role in juries, jury selection, and judgments; in school councils, student councils and rotary clubs; in labor issues and work places.
How does a writer deal with this? A writer writes for an audience. There are as many different audiences as there are genres (thriller, mystery, romance, etc.). But due to the influx of new societies, these audiences are constantly changing with new influences, new mores, new social values. I am still finding out where mine are. In my job it was pretty clear (almost) how different people are in the Middle East, East and West Africa, India and the Far East compared to Europe or the USA, and how to approach these differences. And this is even measured with a very broad brush. People who have never set foot in these places to understand them or don’t have a mix in their families that gives them a natural enhancement of their point of view will have a hard time to understand these differences. Lesson: broaden your point of view from an early age on and learn from those who did!
To Cecil: You are my biggest regret. When you drove me in your yellow BMW to the Alps near Geneva I knew I loved you dearly. When you slapped me softly on my cheek because I said I wanted to stay with you, you hurt me badly, even though you were right: you were engaged to marry. I had an on-and-off girlfriend but when I met you – and your sweet and funny sister – I knew you were the one. Then you said your father was only a train conductor. So what? For me you were just the most beautiful girl I ever met, and you had this great stamina and presence. OK, my dad was a beer brewer and my mother from nobility. But who cares? You were IT, and it would have been beautiful.
That’s why I wrote Ingrid the Magnificent Viking. Of course, it’s imagination of what could have been. But you are still in my mind. When I met you again at the coffee bar down at your Embassy in Geneva, you seemed less happy than I would have thought, after your marriage. Well, I hope you had a beautiful life with lovely children, as you were the most beautiful girl I ever saw.
You will remember that tape with the Beach Boys, Good Vibrations. You loved that tune so much that I left it in your car.
I was at a diplomatic party in Geneva and they said, “We hear you are going to marry a Norwegian girl. Who is she?” I don’t know who spread the rumor. Maybe my boss did, because he was Norwegian too. He naughtily told you I was “in love” with his secretary, but I was not. We liked each other, but not for life.
I wish I could have said ” Yes, I am going to marry Cecil.” I would have learned to speak Norwegian. It can’t be more difficult than Dutch.
But you were already taken and I had to leave you behind.
Kiss-kiss, my dear: my greatest wish is to see you again before I die.
This is Frank, the young inventive, entrepreneurial banker on a year-long assignment in Geneva. He wants to practice piano. His boss, Olivier, invites him home to play on their baby grand. Olivier’s young and charming wife, Chantal, about his age, develops a crush on Frank, but does so with a specific purpose in mind.
This juicy story is told in “A Naughty Romance” available on Amazon.com under Kindle Books!
Here is Frank’s bank, the building with the red roof:
situated at the beginning of the Rhone River that flows into France from Lake Geneva. Across the bridge, the rive droite, are the great hotels and luxury apartments overlooking the lake.
And Frank is dreaming of Chantal, playing for her when hubby Olivier goes skiing and she stays home because she hurt her ankle in a ski fall.
Well, it is not exactly happening the way Frank dreams, but maybe it was like this?
And this is how it became
Read the story on Amazon.com under Kindle books: ONLY 99 CENTS! Can’t go wrong with that!
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Bye for now, John
Back from “leave of absence!” ENCHANTÉ has been off the wires for a while because of overwhelming demands from other forces in our universe.
With winter temperatures in the Washington D.C. area falling way below freezing point, just after we experienced our worst snowfall in one hundred years, Valentines day hugs together with Presidents Day. Thank God we (well most of us) have Monday off.
During the past few weeks that ENCHANTÉ was dark, a number of things happened in our writers world: both Some Women I Have Known and Enchanting The Swan were crowned with video trailers. Happy Valentine.
Some Women https://youtu.be/CehtAV55QpU
We were also asked to review other writers’ books. This is a timeconsuming and serious undertaking if you want to do it well and give the author due credit for the time spent on crafting a book, whether fiction or non-fiction. More about that another time.
And we wrote a short story “A Naughty Romance” that will soon be available on Amazon.com.
One critical element all writers face is the famous “audience.” Some books do better than others because they are written better, belong to a more popular genre (be it romance, thriller, mystery, fantasy or science fiction), or are penned by an already successful author. Wise pundits say, “Write the best book you can.” There is some truth in that, but your “audience” will determine what is the best book and how many will buy it. Apart from advertising and social media campaigns, much depends how large that audience is and how you “catch” it.
If you depict a large sports arena, with twenty-five thousand people, the audience for your book is spread around in little patches of 4 or 5 people, running from 100 to 200 or 2,000 or more if you are lucky. Before electronic publishing, writers only had access to agents and publishers, and many saw their work rejected. Even now with electronic publishing available to almost everyone who wants to take up the pen, many want to write, but few make it alive through the grind. Comparisons with “Powerball” and “American Idol” are almost “cliché.” Amazon counts 12 million books in its clouds, but who reads them?
Take Romance for example. Romance features many sub-genres and styles (formulaic romance, “Harlequin” romance, Inspirational romance, Romantic suspense, Erotica, you name it). Each has its own “audience.” They also say that most readers are female; some stats go as high as 80%.
In some romance publishing and writers organizations, it is women that write for other women. Ever seen a male name on one of these books? And if it is a male author he may well use a female name! I attended once a Romance Writers conference and I was the ONLY male! A thousand participants sat on the hotel floor waiting their turn to get a book signed by Nora Roberts, their “Queen!”
Nonetheless, I feel inclined to write romantic stories and from time to time a thriller. That’s the way I am wired. I just don’t write romance the way that female authors do. And I have a different vantage point because of my different life, background, experience and environment.
Other friends write fantasy, science-fiction, or mysteries. Each of us faces the “audience” issue: where to find it or how will it find YOU! Well, if you manage to get published traditionally, the publishers may have access to that audience through their established channels. If you, after many rejections, finally decide to self-publish, you will have to do that all yourself. Soon you will notice that hordes of “marketing experts” besiege your wallet to help you reach your audience.
Apart from a few bona fide organizations and entrepeneurs, you face a racket of profiteers. My first offer came from a publicist asking $14,000 for one year, then reduced it to $8,000, and then to $4,500. Can you imagine? Did I take it? Of course not. How much royalty from your book would you have to earn before you make a positive Rate of Return? Assuming the marketing advice helps?
So what do we do then? Remain “undiscovered?” Stand in the line of American Idol, till our legs give up? Keep plugging on Twitter, Facebook, and whatever, in the hope to catch a fish? Go to fairs and farmers markets with your trunk full of books, and a sign hoisted up, “Buy My Book?” Do booksignings and sell 3 books an hour (if you are lucky)?
My experience so far is: attend a few writers conferences and learn the craft (lots of good books around, e.g. Writers Digest), write what you like and feel engaged in, submit drafts to your writing group, finish it with a good editor, who also helps develop your story, self-publish it with a small publisher or Amazon’s Create Space if no agent takes you after some 60 to 100 query letters, and then do all the marketing yourself, while trying to get some positive reviews. It’s a nuisance, but it’s a necessary evil if you want some recognition for your effort.
Some writers support groups like AuthorU.com (for daily advice) and BooksGoSocial.com (for affordable marketing and trailers) would be good sources to work with. There are others, but watch out for the “swindlers!” Because they are there on the look out as real predators to get your money.
Bye for now!
Bye for now