Stake Your Claim

Robert’s Rules of Writing

A new novel just came out, and it happens to take place on the campus of my alma mater—and in the very club of which I was a member. And what’s most interesting about it to me is the way the authors (two guys collaborated on the book) have written about my old stomping grounds.  They’ve managed to bring it all back to me but at the same time show it to me in a new light. On the one hand, I’m impressed, and on the other, I’m annoyed. Strangely, it’s a common writer’s afflcition to believe that everyplace he’s been, everything he’s encountered, is territory that belongs to him, whether he’s using it or not, forever. Once in a while, it had occurred to me to set something on that college campus, but of course I’d never gotten around to it. Still, how dare these whippersnappers do it first? Have they no respect for their elders?

Stake your claim now. If something has been nagging at you, something that tells you to write about it, write about it now. Refresher courses are fine, but nothing beats a fresh eye.

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