Friday, June 23, 2017

Write About COLOR


I have a new writing exercise for you to try today and over the weekend. It has to do with color. Artists show color with their crayons and paints but writers must give a picture of color by painting with words. 

Color is a big part of life. We love it or we can't stand it. We try to add color to our wardrobe, our home decor, our party tables and more. We care about the color car we drive. We consider color when planning a menu. 

For each color below, write one or more paragraphs that will show the color. Try not to use the name of the color but show the color itself in the words you write. In our writing, we want the reader to see a hue like orange rather than be told something was orange.








You can share parts of what you wrote in the Comments section. I don't think it will take large amounts of writing, so keep it to a paragraph if you would like to share.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Today's poster made me think of professional athletes. A basketball player shoots thousands of baskets in a career and doing so is as natural as taking a breath to stay alive. Not having a ball in hand and aiming at the little round hoop ahead would make a basketball player very anxious if he went days without doing so. 

We're no different. If we want to become a pro at this writing game, the first thing we must do is to write and write and write. Every single day, or almost every day. We do have to take time out for emergencies, major events, illness and a few other monumental moments. If we aim at writing something every day, it becomes a habit. I believe that the more we write, the more we want to write. 

If you write only occasionally, it's easier to let inspiration slide on by. What if you're out on the beach and a family nearby creates a situation that makes you want to write a story? If you don't act on it soon, the idea pushes itself farther and farther back into the recesses of your mind. You might pluck it out someday, or you could leave it there, buried under several other 'put aside' ideas. 

If you have a regular writing habit, you're more likely to act on the inspiration of the beach scene early the next day, or day it occurred. If you happened to have a notepad in your beach bag, you could jot down thoughts to be used in your next writing session. 

I've found that, after every writing conference I attend, my muse strikes up the band and I want to get home so I can start writing. I've written in airports and on planes because the ideas from the conference are swirling in my mind and begging to be acted upon. And yes, in this kind of situation, I do get anxious if I can't write. 

I also get anxious if something prevents me from writing for a few days when I'm home and not all that far from my keyboard. Writing something every day is like taking that daily vitamin pill. I do it because I know it's good for me. (And also because I love it!) Writing every day gives me writing energy. Once begun, never done! 

If you are away from writing for a lengthy period of time--say weeks, or (gasp!) months, it might be harder to get back in the groove again. Or, it could work the opposite and you'll want to dive in headfirst and write in every spare minute. 

I do know, firsthand, that if you skip a couple days, it's pretty easy to pass by on that third and fourth day. Discipline yourself to write something every day. It doesn't have to be 1000 words. It can be a journal entry, or those Morning Pages we've talked about before, or a short poem. Maybe a paragraph or two doing a writing exercise. 

Write until you can't stand it if you don't write. Breathe in, breathe out and keep writing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Writer's List

A burning question today. If not now, when?

1.  When will you join a critique group?

2.  When will you finish your partially done works?

3.  When will you read a book about writing?

4.  When will you go to a writer's conference?

5.  When will you start a new writing project?

6.  When will you do some writing exercises?

7.  When will you submit your work to a publication?

8.  When will you stop whining about not enough time to write?

9.  When will you encourage another writer?

10.  When will you act as soon as inspiration hits?

11.  When will you study markets and guidelines?

12.  When will you write your family stories?

Now is the perfect time to begin!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Our Wedding Day--June 20, 1964

Wedding Bells #clipart #wedding

Today is our 53rd wedding anniversary. I'm in our office at the computer and Ken is on the golf course. But this evening, we will go out for dinner to celebrate. I feel quite blessed that, in this day of many marriages not lasting, ours is into the fifth decade. Blessed yes, but I know that it takes some effort to keep love in a marriage for so long. Was it all champagne and roses? Not by a long shot. We weathered the tough times together and rejoiced in the many happy moments. 

Our wedding day with Ken's mother, his dad is next to me but got cut off somehow

We were married in Oak Park, IL on a hot, hot, humid day with no A/C in my parents' home or the church. Very few had anything to cool other than a fan. My dress was waltz length and I wore the in-fashion Jackie Kennedy pillbox veil. Ken didn't want a big wedding and I agreed, knowing it was easier on my parents. Even so, we both wanted a church wedding.

Our wedding was so small--only 20 guests--that we had no rehearsal dinner. Ken spent the night at his brother's. On Saturday, his parents and grandfather came to my parents' home for lunch--the first time the parents had met. I'm sure my mother fretted over that lunch. After we ate, I changed into my wedding dress and we all went to the church a few blocks away. I hadn't talked to Ken for a few days but I didn't doubt that he'd show up. 

We each had only one attendant, no flower girl or ring bearer. The ceremony was short and performed by a pastor who had been a boyhood friend of my dad's. My dad was raised Catholic and Mom was Methodist. I married a Lutheran and became one. How much more ecumenical can you get? Growing up, I always feared my dad would not give me away in a protestant church but he was there escorting me down the aisle with a big smile. 

After the ceremony, everyone went back to my parents' home for champagne and we opened our few gifts. We moved on to a place called Richard's Supper Club where we had a private room for dinner. It was the coolest place we'd been all day! Our wedding cake was a gift to us from Mom and Dad's next door neighbor who owned the neighborhood bakery. Instead of the traditional bride and groom to top the cake, I selected pink spun sugar wedding bells. 

There was no photographer but one of Ken's brothers took some pictures with his new Polaroid camera--all the rage then. The picture popped out of the camera in nothing flat, no waiting for days to have the film developed. Sadly, they are the only photos we have and over the years they have faded. Better the photos than a marriage! 

Ken had just started a new job so he didn't ask for any time off for a honeymoon. Married on Saturday and he went back to work on Monday! I didn't start my new teaching position until the fall. We did have a delayed honeymoon in Glacier National Park 2 years later. We stayed at the historic main lodge where people 'dressed' for dinner. Maybe it was even better to be there on our second anniversary rather than immediately after the wedding. 

After we'd been married a week, I talked to my mom and asked her if she'd saved the top of the wedding cake in the freezer so we could have it on our first anniversary, as tradition states. She was not aware of any such tradition. She said, "Save it? Your brothers ate it all that night after everyone had left!" Well, what can you expect with brothers who were then 21, 17, and 9? 

Wedding memories are meaningful to each couple and to their families. Everyone should write about their wedding, the good and the bad. There are always little glitches in weddings, some pretty funny--after the fact! Your children and grandchildren will thank you someday.

Just a few weeks ago, Ken and I appeared in an online article about keeping love in a relationship. What fun it was to be interviewed and to see us along with 7 other couples who work at keeping romance alive. Read it here.  The longer we've been together, the stronger our love. 

Here we are after 53 years together

Monday, June 19, 2017

Writers As Individuals

It's probably not news to writers that this is also true of them. We're individuals and what we write is unique. Maybe not the basic content, as ten writers could write on the same topic and come up with ten different stories written in ten different voices and ten different angles. It's the way we each write that sets us apart from one another.

You are you from top of your head right down to your toes. Even identical twins differ in some ways but we singles are a copy of one. In our family, everyone comments about how much our grandson and my husband are like--in looks, the way they walk, stubbornness and more. Yet, they are very different in many ways, as well. 

When the writer dips his 'pen' into his own soul, he paints his  nature into the words he writes. We are merely artists who paint with words--ones that come from deep inside of us. Why are we all unique in this world of writers?

Writers are of different ages, or stages of life. We come from various backgrounds--rural or urban, small families or large, religious or not, political or not and so much more. We're introverts or extroverts. We smile a lot or frown much of the time. All these things make us the people we are and helps form the writing voice we each have. 

How boring if we were all the same and wrote exactly the same way or if all artists painted in the same style. The variety writers offer readers is what makes those people return to the libraries and bookstores over and over again. It's why screen writers have the power to bring people into the theater to see a story they wrote brought to life by producers, directors and actors. No two screen writers are alike either.

Many times, a writer strives to emulate a writer he/she admires. Instead, he/she should cultivate his/her own style and be thankful for being a one-of-a-kind person, and writer. 

So dip into your soul and write from your heart. Relish being a unique individual. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Who Will Tell Your Story?

Goldilocks and the Three Bears - Mary Engelbreit's Nursery Tales: A Treasury of Children's Classics

I had a conversation this week with a writer about a story she'd written. I liked the story a lot but it occurred to me that telling the story from a different point of view might make it even more effective. 

Before we begin writing a story, we usually know whose point of view will be used. Our hero--or heroine--is usually the one whose eyes we look through. But what if the villain in the tale is the POV person? Or an outsider? There is no one correct way. It's good to experiment a little and then choose the character you feel most comfortable with. 

What if the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears  was written four times from four different points of view? There is a quartet of characters in the beloved story we all were told and then read as children. Wouldn't Papa Bear see the story in a different manner that Goldilocks or Mama or Baby Bear? He's the man of the house, ready to protect his family. 

Mama Bear might have mixed emotions. Here is this girl invading her home but who seems to be hungry and tired. Mama's nurturing nature might lead her to scold Goldilocks all the while making sure she had something to eat and a place to rest. 

And Baby Bear? He might look at this girl who came to his house as a new playmate, not as someone to fear.

The twists and turns in a story will change depending on who you choose to use as your POV person. An interesting experiment for you to try is to take a story you've already written, maybe one published, and rewrite it using a different POV person. How does the story change? How is it going to affect the reader's outlook? You might be surprised at how your story appears with this second writing. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Scratch That Itch

I haven't written any new stories or essays for longer than I'd like to admit but that itch of literature cited in today's poster arrived this morning. 

All of a sudden, I had ideas for two different personal essays swirling in my head like a whirlpool in a rushing brook. I'd been pondering about writing something for a Chicken Soup for the Soul book for several weeks but hadn't been able to come up with a credible topic. As I was reading an essay in a newsletter earlier today, a flash went off, or maybe it was my muse kicking me in the head saying Wake up, Honey! The subject was mine if I wanted to pursue it. And I do!

A few days ago, a younger cousin passed away after a difficult battle with numerous health issues. Something I read in her obituary notice triggered thoughts that would be worth pursuing in a personal essay. A couple of sentences that I might use flitted through the video screen in my mind. I knew I needed to write them down somewhere or they'd be lost. I didn't do it and now, I'm struggling to find them. I think, once I begin writing, that they will come back to me. 

Triggers of this kind create that itch of literature, just as the quote above tells us, the only cure is to write. I do love the phrase nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen. Obviously, we don't write as much with a pen now, although some writers still swear they write better in longhand than typing on a keyboard. The majority of us tap, tap away instead of writing with a pen. Even now, the pen is ballpoint and doesn't scratch like those old 'dip in the inkwell' kind. 

That just triggered a memory of grade school desks with inkwells in them where a bottle of ink was placed so that students could easily dip their pens and write with them. We usually wrote with a lead pencil in grade school but occasionally we were given the pens and ink bottles to write something special. I don't think it was often but I do remember the 'scratching' of the pen. A nice sound.

That itch of literature comes over us when we least expect it. When it does, we'd best pay attention and act upon it as soon as possible. Wait a day or two, or more, and it's gone. Sounds so easy but you and I know that life gets in the way of our best intentions. It's up to us to figure out how to work it in. You can do it if you're passionate about your writing. Go ahead and scratch that itch!