Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What a writer needs along with time to write, redraft and edit:

  • sufficient daily exercise to keep muscle mass and tone up to snuff
  • relaxed meals which don't require a person to determine if ten minutes is enough time to eat adequately
  • time with the people he/she loves, making sure they know they are loved
  • a chance to read a book for fun
  • opportunity to get well
  • some off time with friends, and no time limit
  • less guilt 
  • more sleep
  • a computer that behaves itself and will print when required
  • space on the desktop (one with wooden legs and drawers)
  • a pen that is not running out of ink
  • ideas sooner than just when sitting down to write a post
  • not having to schedule in a chance to brush the dog
  • more than a few minutes to play with his/her child
  • a clean house
  • writer friends
  • readers
  • less work to do after work
  • win a little lottery (a lot would just create new problems)
  • a chance to visit mom and dad
  • not feeling like one must multitask at all times (sleeping and cleaning just don't mix)
What would you add?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday prompt: #49 2012

Write in a gender different from your own and an age past your own (add or subtract about 20 years).  In this voice write about some thing of particular concern: global warming, retirement income, home loans, pet care, hair dye.  Keep it in first person and work on creating a distinct voice for your character.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Advice: A Writer Needs Feedback

Every writer knows that the only way to get that book, story, poem, etc., done is to write. We also know that the only way to improve is to get feedback, honest, no holds barred feedback.  I teach creative writing, and I tell my new students every year that I will be considerate but honest.  They will know what the strengths were in the piece as much as where growth is occurring and where it is needed.  Every writer needs this and for some, like myself, it is hard to come by.

I am a teacher, and since I want my students focusing on what I am teaching them and not on me, I don't advertise that I am a indie writer.  I have told only a couple people in my family and just one friend.  I know they'll keep my writing activities secret.  But where does that leave me for feedback: well in a very limited space.  I have become friends with several writers, and those connections has been helpful because they know what I mean when I say tell me everything so I can get better.  They want honest feedback from me, and I want the same from them.  And it has been worth any uncomfortable feeling I might get from seeing the flaws pointed out in what I thought was a pretty thorough job (repeated numerous times)at line and context editing.  I grow as a writer each time they supply feedback and each time I give feedback.  It would have taken me years of personal distance to be able to give that kind of critique myself.  I don't want to imagine waiting five years to be able to look at my own work with the necessary distance and increased knowledge in editing, drafting, plotting, etc. needed to actually see what needs to be improved.  That's five years of embarrassment of having my work out there that I would get all in one fell swoop that could have been avoided by getting straight feedback from another writer or a professional editor when the work was "finished."

So sure a writer writes, but a WRITER GETS FEEDBACK is even more important.  I published my first book with minimal feedback (those two family members).  It wasn't long before I had a nagging feeling that perhaps I had overlooked aspects of the story or not edited as well as I thought (even an English teacher needs an editor, nobody can look at their own work without bias, certainly not after reading it one hundred times).  So I took it off publication, sent it to a writer friend (she sent me hers as well) and we traded feedback.  I am still working on it and hope by Christmas to have it back published again.

All this post really is saying is writers need feedback.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday prompt: #47 2012

Write about appreciation.  Not just appreciating any old thing, but about appreciating the people in your life. Imagine what it would be like to go through tomorrow without them.

This evening I was driving into town along dark roads, tightened by a serious case of forever road construction, to pick up my daughter at school.  We hadn't been sure when she would be done with her practice, so we had waited for her call telling us she would be hanging out in the parking lot of the school. So as I drove I thought for just a moment what I would do if I arrived and she wasn't there.  I wasn't really worried as I knew she was waiting with friends who lived close by the school, but all the same, for a moment I thought about her and how much I do appreciate her giggly hello, the way she jumps into the passenger seat as though we were off to some wild, long-awaited adventure, and the habitual slamming of the door, eliciting my usual rebuke about killing our old car.  My daughter has a habit of starting off her tales of the day with, "Guess what?"  I can never guess, but I usually supply her with some sort of outrageous, impossible event:  giant ants carried off Coach Fisher or Mindy has dyed her hair florescent pink, again, by accident.  She gives me her usual rolled eye glance, slowly shaking head of exasperation, followed by the true life events that colored her evening.  Yes, I want tomorrow to contain the giggle, the bounce, slam, "Guess what?, rolling eyes, shaking head and a new set of teenage angst stories, and the day after, too.  I would appreciate that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blogger Award: The Liebster!

I have been named for the Liebster Award (liebster is German for favorite) which goes to bloggers with less than 200 followers. Well, I certainly qualify for that.

First, I must name who named me:  Katherine Amabel of Beyond the Hourglass.  Thank you for nominating me.

Second, I must answer the eleven questions she posted on her blog.

1. Can you tongue roll, cross eye, ear wiggle or perform any other feats of physics?  (And you can’t say getting motion sick at the slightest provocation, because I call dibs on that).
I do a really prime Spock-like raised left eyebrow.
2. Would you rather watch that video from The Ring, or start up a nice, family-friendly game of Jumanji?
Jumanji, however that would require I purchase the game, and the choice shows just how much I don’t like scary movies because I don’t much like games either.

3. If you could be any book character, who would you be and why?  
Most any dragon rider in Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern series.  So I could ride a dragon, of course.

 4. What fantasy invention do you most wish was real? e.g. Light sabres… invisibility cloaks… or those completely innocent and in no way drug riddled potions from Alice In Wonderland…   
Friendly dragons that can go between and time it.  If I can't have that, then I want a flying car that takes verbal instructions.
5. Name one habit you’re trying to break.
Asking my daughter if she has done her homework.  I don’t ever remember my parents asking me.  It was my responsibility.  It should be hers.

6. What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? (Because I feel like sleeping with the light on for a month).
But I don’t read scary books.

7. What was the first job you ever wanted?
Being the tour guide on a bus that traveled though downtown San Diego and telling interesting stories about the sights.  I drove the wrong way on a one-way street, got lost on the way to the interview, arrived late and was utterly unimpressive.  Did not get the job.

8. What was the first job you ever had? (Sorry!)
Summer job as an inventory clerk at an engineering company.  I literally counted widgets, and circuits, nuts and screws.

9. If you had to live in any time period, past or present, other than now, what would you choose?  

The future is a little too unknown for me (Ha, I’m a science fiction writer), so if I can go back in time and still have the knowledge I have now, I’ll take the 1950s.

10. What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever been?
Tijuana, Mexico, or Victoria, Canada.  I got to get out more.

11. Finally, if you could apparate, where in the world would be your favourite spot to take your lunch breaks?
The Lifeline CafĂ© in La Grande, Oregon.  Razzle Dazzle, I hear you calling for me.  And the wraps, scrumpscious. 

I am also required to name 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers.  I am still working on this.  So here are the first three that came to mind.
Here goes:

Quick list of the books I have recommended on my blog

I have posted about many of the books I consider useful.  So this post is sort of a gathering of those posts in one place.  Now you don't have to search about for them.

Grammar and revision:
Eats, Shoots and Leaves

A Writer's Reference
Spell Friendly Dictionaries

Creative inspiration:
A Writer's Book of Days
Lu Chi's Wen Fu
Lu Chi's Wen Fu 2
The Worst Case Scenario 

Good books to read:
The Catcher in the Rye
Tale of Two Cities
You've Got to Read This

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday prompt: #46 2012

What's upstairs?  Take your reader up those stairs, barefoot.  Let them feel every creak, rough edge, small nail poking up.  Make each step an adventure in itself.  Then show them what is on the second floor (or third floor, or in the attic).  But make is a slow trip where every word is ultimately connected to the object or place you will take them to. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sometimes the liars reveal the most truth: Holden Caulfield, Salinger's Monster

I recently started rereading Salinger's Catcher in the Rye.  Even though I know where Holden Caulfield is in his journey of self-deception and punishment, I still get caught up with the slow reveal of his anger.  Salinger in the first three sentences tells the reader exactly where Caulfield is and how he has yet to find balance. Still, I find myself walking along beside this struggling character, listening to what he hates in his effort to avoid what he loves.  That ongoing chatter the first person narrative provides that begins so truly as teenage angst before it begins its slow, slick slide into, well read and see for yourself.

Every writer should read it for the lesson alone of how to create a character that tells all while he thinks he has hidden all his best secrets, the quintessential unreliable narrator.  Every reader over the age of 15 should read this book.  It's makes one grin at first hearing him say all the things every polite individual wishes he could belt out so unconsciously and honestly.  Somewhere along the line, the reader comes to a realization: Holden is not chatting at length for every teenager who wishes he could speak his mind so easily, but for his own salvation, his own need to divorce himself from his shortcomings, his desire for forgiveness, presumably from the reader, but in reality from himself.  Reader or writer, read it, read it more than once.