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Why I Listen To Music While I Write


I used to go around saying, “I write to Be-Bop Jazz, but do all my editing listening to Baroque.” I guess the sentiment was that the free-flowing jazz was intended to inspire my originality, while the rules and formulas of Baroque music should help me edit properly. To tell you the truth, I listen to Jazz plus a whole lot of other things when I write. And for the most part, I don’t listen to any kind of music while I’m editing. You can do what you want, just as long as it suits you. But I would recommend that all Creative Writers listen to music while they write.

Creative Juices

Listening to music is fun. It helps us relax. just this alone helps Creative Writing. But the brain goes through the same creative process as the composer when listening to music. That means we who are authors put our creative brains on steroids when we listen to music. And science has further found that this takes place latently, which means if you listen to music but don’t concentrate on the piece, you brain still is effected with more creative capacity.

Sorry, No Lyrics

This is a preference, and not a rule. And I’ll admit, I break it sometimes. But it’s best to listen to music that has no lyrics. To be honest, I greatly enjoy music with lyrics. But it is not preferable when writing. Now for the reasons music works so well in embellish our creativity is because it blocks out our logical side of the brain just as it enhances the creative side of our brain. Add lyrics and it creates confusion in the brain. I don’t want the lyrics to interfere with the words I’m trying to put down on the page. The last thing I want is to build to a great climax and look back and see that I typed, I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. The only words I want in my brain are the ones in my story.

Block The Block

Writer’s Block often occurs when the logical side of the brain interferes and chokes out the creative side. Music works the creative side and shuts off the rational side, so there is no bossy side of the brain cutting of our magnificent story telling. Let’s face it, we all know that Writer’s Block comes from thinking too much. And quite often it comes from striving for perfection. Music allows us to let our stories flow and we can worry about perfection when he get to editing.

I love music and I love good stories. How lucky am I that both can work together? And in addition to everything already mentioned, if we are writing in a public place and people see the ear buds going to our ear, they’ll leave us alone. That help our writing as much as anything else.


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In Defense of the Classics


I hear a lot people these days bag against the writers of what are considered the classics as a bunch of dead, white men. I’m sick and tired of that. Not everything considered classic is written by a man or a white person. But I’m no dummy, a majority are. So does that mean there’s something wrong with them? When I hear someone wail on the classics as dead white men’s work, I reply with a quote by (I think) Twain, who said, “Given the choice between Proust and the Pau-Paus, I’ll read Proust.”

Why would Twain not read anything written by the Pau-Paus? Simply put, they have not produced a writer on the par of these dead white men, like Proust, for example. Any culture or society could have developed a great writer. Most leading civilizations in the world have had a Golden Age at some time in their past. But have all of them developed a culture that accentuated storytelling and laid such an emphasis on language? Very few, in fact, mostly none.

The First Classics

One ancient society not only developed a storytelling culture but excelled in it. They influenced cultures and nations for centuries to come. These are the Greeks. The highlights of thinking and writing were picked up by the Romans, so much that many speak of the Greek and Roman times as the development of Classical culture. Europe fell into a millennium of ignorance called the Dark Ages. There were some writers, but they were all Classically educated. The end of the Dark Ages saw a flourish of writing known as the Romances, which were popular in the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries. Examinations of different manuscripts lead to comparative reading of literature and the Renaissance and the Enlightenment fell out from that. It began and ended with reading and emulating the Greeks and the Romans.

This lead to a whelm of literature to come out of Europe, the best of which are considered cannon for great writing, the much maligned classics. Any culture had the same chance to create great writers. The fact that they hadn’t is not the fault of the champions of great literature to come out of Europe. So when I write, I carry with me the weight of everything I’ve read, and I personally like well-written books. No teenaged wizards or shiny vampires in my stacks. I read the classics and I think the classics will shape my writing. I know you cannot write better than what you read. So if all a person reads is pop-lit, they should not expect to write like Faulkner.

Non-White Males

While I like a lot, my favorites are Russian and Modern American literature. The best of these, dudes like Chekhov and Hemingway, write with a style known as Minimalism. That doesn’t mean the writing is bare, but that only those details necessary for the story are used. Extra details just get in the way. I like that and I think I write that way, and to the degree I do not, I’d like to develop that quality.

I want to be clear – there are plenty of greats who are neither white nor male. I never want it to sound as if I am defending dead white men, but the idea that the canon should be ignored because it supposedly is only dead white men is piffle. Flannery O’Conner is one of my all-time favorites and Catherine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I like the Harlem Renaissance and the more recent African-Americans such as Walker, Angelou, and Morrison. Additionally, Marquez is awesome. I totally love his Love in the Time of Cholera. I would consider all of these classics as much as Proust, Beotheus, or Virgil.


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An Analysis of Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” from a Storytelling Perspective


Ernest Hemingway once said that a story is like an iceberg. The ice you see are the words on the page and rest of the ice that remains underwater is the rest of the story. As we know, most of the iceberg is underwater. In other words, Hemingway is saying that most of the story is not written on the page.

The Title

Hemingway was a master of the writing principle of saying it without saying it. His short story “Hills Like White Elephants” is a perfect example. Let’s begin with the title. A white elephant is rare. In southeast Asian culture, a king would give a white elephant as a gift to another king. But you couldn’t put an elephant like this to work, so it sat about, idle, and eating everything. The term “white elephant gift” has come to refer to a gift that the receiver doesn’t want. So from the title alone we know someone is going to offer to give something to someone and they don’t want it.

The Simple Operation

The setting is a man and a woman having a drink at a train station waiting for the train to arrive and take them to Madrid. They day is very hot, which tells us that the discussion is heated. They are not yelling or fighting, but they are feeling the heat, at least, the woman is. The man is trying to convince the woman to have an operation, one which he calls “a simple operation” and “not even an operation at all.”

The operation involves letting air in, but where he does not say. He insists that afterward they will be happy just like before, but one gets the sense they were not too happy before at all. They woman states that she knows some people who had this simple operation who were not so happy afterwards, despite what the man insists.

The man says he doesn’t want her to go through with it if she doesn’t want to, but the manner in which he continually tries to persuade her says otherwise. She is willing, but only because she does not care for herself, only him, and making him happy.

The man tells her that afterward they can have anything they want, but she disagrees. Clearly, whatever this simple operation does, it removes something she wants, but he doesn’t get it, because, like the woman, he only cares for himself and has no regard for her.

Use Of Imagery

So what is this operation. The text tells us that the side of the tracks that contain the white hills, the unwanted gift, is dry and barren. She looks to the other side of the tracks and sees the opposite. Hemingway writes, “Across, on the other side, were fields of grain and trees along the Ebro. Far away, beyond the river, were mountains. The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain and she saw the river through the trees.”

In contrast to the lifeless side of the tracks with the hills, the other side shows signs of life, prosperity, even fertility. Clouds and rivers, trees and grain, all this lie in contrast to the dreary countryside. The woman is drawn to this side, as if she prefers it. she is at a stretch of train tracks, which symbolize a choice, this side or the other side.

Her choice is between fertility and barrenness and whether or not to have a simple operation. It seems clearly that man wants her to have an abortion, but she doesn’t want it. still, she is willing to make him happy. Sadly, she accepts his white elephant gift.

As an author, notice how Hemingway uses dialogue, setting, imagery, and even the title to help tell his story. Keep in mind there is still plenty of ice below the water. Try to develop the skills and work them into your overall creative writing craft. Great writers are always great readers first. They don’t knock off other writers, but they always learn from them.

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Entanglement Promotion Extended Through the Month


A little while back I made an offer to promote the launch of my book, Entanglement, which officially was put out into the world on Tuesday of last week. The promotion was that I would give anyone a novel of their choice from my catalog if they posted a review of Entanglement on Amazon by the launch day. I’ve decided to extend this offer throughout the remainder of June. Anyone who posts an Amazon review review of Entanglement before the end of June 30th can pick one of my other books and I’ll give it to them for free, and I’ll even pick up the shipping. I hope this encourages anyone who might have been half-way finished by last Tuesday to go ahead and finish and post a review. Or if you haven’t even started reading it yet, now is your chance to get  in on a good deal.




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Today is the Official Release Date for Entanglement


June 7th is the launch date for my 12th book, Entanglement. It is available on Amazon and Kindle. It’s a good, old-fashioned cautionary tale about Rex Monday, a man who ruins his life with his selfish choices.

Entanglement is a throwback to the writing style of a different era. The plot is full of twists and turns that will leave you stunned and once the pages start turning, you’ll know what it means to be truly entangled!” (Amazon 5 star Review)

To purchase your copy now, click here.

Pick your release date copy now of Entanglement before the price goes up, and it will soon.

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Guest Post In Support of the Release of Entanglement


I invite everyone to go and see the guest post I had yesterday with Quid Pro Quills. Here is the link to the article – https://quidproquills.com/2016/06/01/guest-blogger-a-different-kind-of-conflict/

I want to thank Robin for for hosting this article and promoting my launch. Look around the site, and I hope you enjoy it.

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Press Release For The Launch Of Entanglement


FOR IMMIDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                               April 27, 2016 | Lubbock, TX

Entanglement To Be Launched Soon

A Retelling of the Superfluous Man

a quantum tale of caution

Entanglement is set during the Great Depression following Pietas and Bloodhound, which looked at the lives of the average struggling folk of Mississippi and Oklahoma, respectively. But Entanglement is a little different. It’s set in Florida and moves to Cuba and covers a decade beginning in the late 1930s and finishing shortly after World War II. Also, the main character, Rex Monday, is quite well off, even though the times are economically strained. He is old money and part of the idle rich. He wastes his life with gambling and chasing women. But even he avoids love because it would ask too much of him.

Rex Monday takes no regard for how his actions might affect the well-being of those around him. What Rex fails to notice is that all of his self-serving deeds ruin his own life. He never realizes that all of our lives, indeed all things, are connected. When his selfishness destroys the lives of other people, he destroys his own since everything is caught up in a Universal system of Entanglement.

Neal Abbott has previously published eleven books, four non-fiction, five novels, a novella, and a children’s book. He is the Content Editor for the Creative Writing blog, A Word Fitly Spoken. Neal is working on the first draft of his next novel about a 1st century Jewish freedom fighter who hates the Romans. It’s entitles Sedition. Later this year or beginning next year Neal plans on starting a political thriller where Ayn Rand meets Norse mythology, and it’s called Ragnarok.

Neal Abbott

2706 Genoa D4

Lubbock, TX



Link to Neal’s Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/neal-abbott/e/B009T36LWK/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Link to A Word Fitly Spoken: https://nealabbott.wordpress.com

Link to Entanglement: http://www.amazon.com/Entanglement-neal-abbott/dp/1512103837?ie=UTF8&redirect=true&ref_=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0


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German Writers We Should Love: Part III – ETA Hoffmann


read part one

read part two

ETA Hoffman is not the most famous of writers, but he certainly was a great influence on these we honor as famous. From Poe to Dickens, from Gogol to Dostoyevsky, Hoffmann has left his mark on the best writers. And to influence the great one must himself be great, and he was. Besides being a terrific writer, Hoffmann was a composer, art critic, draftsman, caricaturist, and jurist. He wrote the story which inspired The Nutcracker ballet by Tchaikovsky. His stories were the basis for Offenbach’s opera, The Tales of Hoffmann. And it was a display of his art after his death and compelled Mussorgsky to compose Pictures at an Exhibition. This is just a snapshot of his reach. And his writing catalog is so extensive, I will only be able to skip a rock over the deep waters that is the fiction of ETA Hoffmann.

  • The Nutcracker and the Mouse King – We’ve all seen the ballet, but have we read the book? Give this a quick study before you see the ballet again and new magic will appear before you on the stage.
  • The Woman from Scuderi – This is the first detective story and bears great impress on Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
  • The Life and Opinions of Tomcat Murr – The aesthete in me cherishes this work for many of the same reasons I love Goethe’s The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. It is Hoffmann’s masterpiece novel and deals with true artistry, and how the artist must transcend beyond himself to create something permanent and truly wonderful.
  • The Sandman – One of three stories that inspired The Tales of Hoffmann. It is a tale of love and insanity, and it is often difficult to distinguish between the two.
  • Counsillor Krespel – This is the second story to go into The Tales of Hoffmann. Krespel was an unconventional eccentric who did everything from make his own clothes to build his own house in the most unusual of methods, but it worked out well for him. It didn’t hurt at all that he could afford all of this exuberance because it was all paid for by a prince.
  • The Lost Reflection – And the last of story found in The Tales of Hoffmann. It walks the blurriness between the real world and fantasy. It explores a conventional German fantasy motif, the one of a shadow or a reflection that seems independent of its reality form.

I encourage everyone to read as much Hoffmann as you can. But don’t neglect your Schiller and your Goethe. The Germans may be principally known for her composers and her philosophers, but her authors rival the best in the world. Read for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

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German Writers We Should Love: Part II – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Click here to read Part One

While Schiller was the idealistic poet of freedom, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was an artist, scientist, and politician who was just as interested in publishing works on the “Metamorphosis of Plants” and the “Theory of Colours” as he was writing novels and plays. He was good friends with Schiller, and the two of them began the Neo-Classical movement of literature in Germany, also known as the Weimar School. Goethe is so prolific, I only listed a few of his works, mostly the ones l have enjoyed the greatest.

  • The Sorrows of Young Werther – Werther is a tragic tale of unrequited love that ends in suicide. Fans of Goethe should appreciate this novel because of the personal demons Goethe was working out in writing it. In truth he killed Wether so that he would not have to kill himself. This novel was extremely popular and the first that could ever truly be considered a “best seller.”
  • Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship – To call this novel a “coming of age” tale sells it short in a vain attempt to pigeonhole this book. Wilhelm leaves his unsatisfied life as a businessman, dallies in the theatre, and eventually runs with the aristocratic crowd who sneak off to secret society meetings.
  • Iphigenie auf Tauris – This drama is a retelling of a play by Euripides about the Greek gods’ curse of the Tantalid bloodline, and how it is broken by family love, loyalty, and mercy.
  • Egmont – Count Egmont is a Dutch noble arrested by the invading Spanish, and the Duke of Alba. As he is taken to be shot at the end of the play, he cries out for revolution and liberty. Even though he dies, he is seen as a victorious martyr who accepts his fate without complaining.
  • Faust – This is by far the most familiar of Goethe’s works. It teaches the always valuable lesson that if you want to dance, you have to pay the piper.
  • The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily – I’ve included this charming little fairy tale written for adults because, well, I like it so much. The conflict of the story centers around crossing a river, which symbolizes crossing the barrier between the outward physical life in the realm of the senses into the world of aspirations of freedom and liberty within each human soul. By learning how to cross the river, principally through the exercise of our mind through the senses by means of art, the outer life we live can be joined to a soul that is complete.

I am tempted to make this a three part series and include E.T.A. Hoffman. We’ll all find out together on my next post. Suffice it to say he is great. I also felt like I am leaving something out by discussing Schiller and Goethe and not Beaumarchais. To me he seems to be so indelibly tied to these men’s ideas, but he’s French, so his article will have to wait. There is enough in this series of posts to put a dent in most people’s 2016 reading list.

If there are other writers you would like for me to survey, let me know in the Comment section below.

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German Writers We Should Love: Part I – Freidrich Schiller


Writers are readers, and readers have a world-wide selection of great authors to choose from. Simply to name a few, we have Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner here in America. England has Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton. In France there is Hugo and Dumas, while in Russia they have Tolstoy and Chekhov. Spain gave us Cervantes and Italy provided Dante. And Germany has, … well, who has Germany given us?

Most German writers that are known are philosophers. Still, Germany has provided some of the greatest fiction writers to ever come about. But for some reason, they never seem to be listed amongst the greatest. This and my next two posts will review some of my favorite works by Germans. These men were contemporaries and good friends, and leaders in the German neo-Classical literary movement, also known as the Weimar school.


Friedrich Schiller was a poet and a playwright, as well as an essayist regarding matters or art. His plays are masterpieces, earning the reputation as the German Shakespeare.

  • The Robbers – Two brothers separated, one becomes a royal and the other a highwayman. It demonstrates the sin of class warfare and the despotism of the monarchy.
  • Intrigue & Love – This play was the basis for the Verdi opera, Lisa Miller. An aristocrat wishes to marry a music teacher’s daughter, but politics and petty scheming create disaster.
  • Don Carlos – This is my personal favorite of Schiller, and it also is the basis for a Verdi opera. What begins as a love triangle ends as a loyalty triangle.
  • The Wallenstein trilogy – These three plays tell of the cruelty of a commander during the Thirty Years war.
  • The Maid of Orleans – As some of you may have guessed, this is the story about Joan of Arc.
  • The Bride of Messina – This may be the play that caused Schiller the most trouble. It is set in ancient Sicily and demonstrates the clash of old paganism with the emerging Christian expansion.
  • William Tell – Everyone has heard the name and knows about the apple, but few know the story. It is a revolutionary tale again demonstrating the moral emptiness of the medieval monarchies of Europe.

As I mentioned earlier, Schiller was also a poet. I will allow you the room to study these on your own. It’s worth noting that the poem that served as the basis for Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy,” his Ninth Symphony, comes from a Schiller poem. Schiller also wrote some of the more interesting and influential essays on art, and are worth reading. In particular, his twenty-seven “Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man” are must reads in my opinion by any true Aesthete.

Put some of these on your reading list for 2016, but make room for Goethe. He’s coming up in Part II. Leave a Comment if you have read Schiller before and what your reactions were to his writings.


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