Yardsticking Your Writing/Literacy Necessity

Measuring UpI am one of those writers that holds his writing to impossible standards. And why would I do such a thing? Quite simply, to keep it fresh, to keep striving to be better, and ultimately, for the challenge. For this, I use my own version of The Litmus Test.

OK, so the Litmus Test actual is a measurement for pH-a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. How, you may ask, does that apply to writing? Well, the term Litmus Test has been used not just for its intended purpose, but also as a general term for benchmark of sorts. For example, does what you are doing ‘cut the mustard’ or, pass the Litmus Test. See?

My version is the Holy Shitmus test, or the HST. (I came up with it first, you government types can just back off). If my writing doesn’t elicit a ‘holy shit’ type of response, or, at the very least, a ‘wow’, I haven’t done my job. I know a book can’t be filled with holy shits for one, because I don’t write religious history. Secondly, because it would be smelly and hard to sell. I’m not even considering the collection process. And finally C, because it would, quite frankly, get old fast. No, what I’m saying is that the book, as a whole, should elicit that response, not every scene.

Does that make me a perfectionist? Maybe. Does it make me perfect or better than any other writer? No, not by a long shot. If I ever considered myself better, then I have no place left to go, right? Time for a new challenge. But, I will never reach that mark. Not because I can’t, but because I won’t let myself. I am one of those annoying types. Tell me I can’t do something or that a challenge is too hard, and I will do my very best to prove that wrong.

To my detriment, I succeed more times than I fail. That is not good for keeping the ego in check. Luckily for me I have an inner editor more fearsome than my loud ego.

Ultimately, my goal is for you, the reader, to come away from one of my books with images or dialogue stuck in your head. I want you to feel what the characters feel and I want those characters to feel real, not just in the literary sense, but really real. Believe me, if they feel real to you, it is because they are real to me.

I want you to want to re-read the book. That is the best compliment I can ask for. It is the reason I write. That and to get the voices out of my head.

No I don’t want to kill them… No I won’t threaten them with violence if they won’t buy my book…

Wait, was that out loud?

Nothing to see here, move along.

Oh, one more thing before you call the police. While on the topic of measuring my writing…


By now, you may have seen a number of blogs popping up under the heading The Muskoka Novel Marathon. Well, I’m here to tell you, again, if you haven’t already seen my Author Facebook page,  I am also throwing my hat into the ring for this.

It wasn’t without much trepidation and considerable badgering from my fellow writers. My writing process is… well, there isn’t really a process. I write when my muse decides it is time. And I can’t force the little imp to give up its secrets any faster. But I have to. I know for me to move on in my writing, I have to find a regiment that works.

Enter MNM 2014. 40 writers writing for 72hours in Huntsville.

What am I writing, you ask? It is my plan to write my third Christmas book. A continuation, of sorts, of The Good King, titled Three Ships for Three Kings. It is my interpretation, with creative license of course, of two Christmas carols and the history of the Cologne Cathedral. A fictional story about the beginnings of our Christmas traditions.

A book I hope to have fleshed out in those 72 hours and a third collaboration with my ubber talented cousin, and illustrator of The Good King, Meg Simmons.

Now I know you may be thinking that writing for illiteracy is in my own best interest, and on the surface, yes, I suppose one could see it that way and they wouldn’t be wrong… technically. But that isn’t why I am doing it. Trust me, even people that can’t read can find a way to enjoy a good book. To me, it’s about the freedom of being able to do something for oneself. The ability to read to ones children, to know what the label on the medications say, to read the ingredients on the food labels or even to read a recipe. It is self reliance and independence. It is also something too many people don’t have the luxury of. We are trying to give that to those that need it. It is a good cause.

So please consider a donation. Every little bit helps, whether it is $1 or $10 or even $100. Donations over $5 are eligible for a tax receipt. Online donations can be made here, through Canadahelps

I thank you in advance.

Again, this is not for me, but for those that don’t have the luxury capacity to read this blog.





About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
This entry was posted in Writing News and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Yardsticking Your Writing/Literacy Necessity

  1. Dave Jones says:

    OK… good blog. Holy Shit! (I am definitely stealing this test)
    Looking forward to your Three Ships book!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s