In spite of what your parents or professors told you, anybody can be a writer.
And you don’t need a college degree to indulge your passion.
Because writing is a passion, a drug, an urge that must be satisfied.
This labor of love might never come to fruition, but this is beside the point. You write for the sheer pleasure of camping words on a canvas, just like positioning little lead soldiers on an imaginary battlefield.
In writing, or in any artistic endeavor for that matter, there are no rules.
Rules went out the window a long time ago, even before Picasso started his lucrative scam.
On the high seas of literature, a writer is a filibuster who flies his own flag and doesn’t owe allegiance to anyone.
He can tackle any subject, but above all his stories have to be captivating.
And a touch of humor is never out of place because humor is to writing what spice is to cooking
While everybody can write, few scribblers will ever see fame and fortune. But this should not stop anybody from indulging his or her passion.
The cardinal sin of a writer is to stray from the core of his story and bore readers with unnecessary drivel.
In “Au Bonheur” the author tells the story of Octave Mouret, a maverick department store owner whose audacity and business acumen stuns and eventually ruins his old-fashioned competitors.
The novel is 442 pages long and Zola devotes entire chapters to describing the layout of the store, the type of merchandise they are selling, the colors of the garments…
Who care? Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn about silk or Kurdistan rugs!
Most readers don’t care much about descriptive prose; they want to be told a story devoid of “fillers”. They don’t care if a woman’s skirt is red or yellow; what matters is what she thinks, how she feels and what she will do.
In “Le Bonheur” our main concern is Denise Baudu.
The poor thing is desperately poor, lives in a garret, doesn’t have any decent clothes, is starving and has to take care of two brothers.
Could it be any more pathetic? We naturally root for her and want to know how she will get out of the gutter.
But Zola persists in describing the innovations of the store and the avant-garde sales techniques of its employees.
To this I say: rubbish!
He also talks about the miserable working conditions of the employees and this is relevant because it is a reflection of the mores of that time.
But misery is like dessert; it is only palatable in small doses. In large quantity it sickens you.
And unfortunately, Emile pours it on. For about three hundred pages Denise goes through hell to eke a living and survive.
I don’t pretend to be a Zola, but I could probably produce a more succinct and more stimulating version of this story. Hello Hollywood, are you listening?
And you won’t hear me talking about the thousands of items sold in the store.
I would probably spice up the story with a little sex and all these forbidden pleasures that god-fearing citizens secretly love to hear about.
But all in all, Zola was a decent, talented guy, concerned with the miserable working conditions of the proletariat, and above all for having the courage to take on the military establishment and write his famous “J’accuse” pamphlet.
Emile, you are a little verbose but I am still one of your admirers, and spurred by your intellect I will persevere in writing my humble little stories (with fewer words).
What else could a retired guy do for kicks?