How to Keep Growing as a Writer

Jul 7 19:05 2005 ARTHUR ZULU Print This Article

“Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”— Mahatma Gandhi

Do you feel that since you have “arrived” as a writer,Guest Posting you are now a master-know all? Then hear the American statesman, George Santayana: “The wisest mind has something yet to learn.” The purport of this statement is that you would need to take advantage of other resources to continue growing as a writer. What are they?

Literary Associations

There are so many literary associations around the world. You will find some in your country. Why don’t you join them? Apart from getting to know authors, you will learn new skills that might help you to grow. Many of such associations run contests and organize excursions for members.

You could find out other literary associations on the Internet. For a comprehensive list, go to:
http://www.libraries.psu.edu/gateway/referenceshelf/assocdir.htm

Literary Magazines

Subscribe to literary magazines and learn the latest things about writing. Check these two sites:
http://www.newpages.com/npguides/litmags.htm
http://www.allyoucanread.com/index.asp?idCat=139

Book Clubs

You can read great books at a discount by joining book clubs. Check your favorite genre in these sites and join.
http://www.bestwebbuys.com/books/bookclubs
http://www.booksonline.com

Writing Seminars / Workshops

There can be no better way of honing your skill and meeting published writers than by attending writing seminars and workshops. Visit this web site and book a date with the one of your choice.
http://writing.shawguides.com

Book Conferences

In addition to the above, there are special book conferences. You could for instance decide to attend a conference on story telling. You can find a list of all such past and present conferences here:
http://www.allconferences.com/Arts

Writing Contests / Prizes

You could take advantage of the several literary contests and submit an essay, a short story, or a book for contest. The best place for new writers is: http://www.theparisreview.com.
You can win up to $5,000 here.
Also see the following site:
http://www.newpages.com/literary/contests.htm

Writer’s Resorts

There are writers’ retreat and vacation places all over the world. You can learn something new there and even get a chance to write a new title. Search for the one nearest you. For example if you live in the United States, you can have the best of two worlds—learning and having fun—in Greenville, West Virginia.
http://www.creeksideresort.net/retreats.html

If you however want to take a swing in lands where travel writers have been, visit:
http://www.globaltravelwriters.com/Resorts.html

Writer’s Tools

A lot of research materials—from reference works to translations—are available on the Net. You can find them here:
http://www.writerswrite.com/

You can also get writing software to write on any topic under the sun. Visit this site:
http://www.angelfire.com/ny/writesoftware

The Library

Libraries, termed “one of the pillars of civilization” and called the memory of mankind by the German poet, Goethe, is of immense benefit to the writer. So you, the writer, can’t do without the library—like the lady and her handbag. But do you know where the libraries are?

Likely, you have a local or school library. The United States Information Service and the British Council—rich sources of reading and research materials for the writer—could be available to you. What if none of these is within your reach?

Then you could visit the Internet, where many web sites have become virtual libraries. The Internet Public Library, www.ipl.org, is one of them.
You can even access the world’s largest libraries online. First on the list is the United States’ Library of Congress with its 29 million books, 2.7 million audio and video recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.8 million maps, 57 million manuscripts and a daily inclusion of 7,000 items!

The next is the British Library in London with 18 million books; followed by the Russian State Library in Moscow holding 17 million books, and 632,000 annual collections of daily newspapers; and fourth is the National Library of France where you will find 13 million books.

Because of the present information explosion and the doubling of human knowledge—over 150,000 new books are published each year in the United States alone—how can you then benefit from what the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization termed the “local gateway to knowledge”? It is by knowing how to locate the book that you need in a library.

You could probably get around your local library, but it is another ball game when you find yourself in a state-of-the-art library with its intimidating volumes and complex book search procedures. Don’t panic! The librarian is available for help. But know that you basically need one or both of the following:

The Card Catalog

There are three separate cards for the book you are looking for in the library—the author card, the title card, and the subject card—all bearing information about the book. The most important thing about the card is its “call number”—at the top left hand corner—with which you will locate the book. But how do you know the right number?

Since many libraries use the Dewey Decimal System—invented by Melvil Dewey, a famous American librarian—the answer is in knowing the right Dewey decimal code for your source material. Here are the major groups of the system:

000-099 General
100-199 Philosophy and psychology
200-229 Religion
300-399 Social sciences
400-499 Language
500-599 Natural sciences and mathematics
600-699 Technology (applied sciences)
700-799 The arts
800-899 Literature and rhetoric
900-999 Geography and history

This is further divided into ten subgroups with specific subjects. For instance the Bible is 200, and the “New Testament” or Greek Scriptures is 225. The following added digits are for the book category:

01 Philosophy and theory
02 Miscellany
03 Dictionaries, encyclopedias, concordances
04 Special topics
05 Serial publications
06 Organizations and management
07 Education, research, related topics
08 Collections
09 History of

If you therefore wanted an encyclopedia about the Bible, the number you would be looking for is 220.3, while the number 225.7 would serve your need if you were searching for a commentary on the “New Testament.”

Which number would you need if you wanted the history of William Shakespeare?

Should you visit the Library of Congress; the following classification will help you find the right number:

A General Works
B Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
C-D History and Topography
E-F America
G Geography, Anthropology, Sports and Games
H Social Sciences
J Political Science
K Law
L Education
M Music
N Fine Arts
P Language and Literature
Q Science
R Medicine
S Agriculture, Forestry
T Engineering and Technology
U Military Science
V Naval Science
Z Bibliography

Book Catalog

If you were unable to find what you needed in a library, chances are that you might find it by checking the book catalog. For instance, with the National Union Catalog, you can find books in the Library of Congress and elsewhere.

Learning to narrow your search will keep you from going from one library to the other. For example, Best-seller is not the same thing as, How to Write a Best-seller.

You can visit the above mentioned libraries and others here:

The Library of Congress
http://www.loc.gov

The British Library
http://www.bl.uk

Russian State Library
http://www.rsl.ru/defengl.asp

National Library of France
www.bnf.fr

Libraries of the World
http://www.ifla.org/II/natlibs.htm
http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Libweb

You are now an established writer, having published a best-seller and taken advantage of the above provisions. What next?

(Excerpted from HOW TO WRITE A BEST-SELLER by Arthur Zulu, coming soon!)

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About Article Author

ARTHUR ZULU
ARTHUR ZULU

ARTHUR ZULU is an editor, book reviewer, playwright, and published author. He also writes short stories, scripts, essays, and poems, and ghost writes for others.

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