Friday, March 24, 2017

Not Every Writer Pens Books

Ever have anyone ask you Is your book finished? Or What books have you written? Repeatedly? I once told a man who asked me what I was working on that I had a juvenile novel and several other short pieces. Every time I saw him, he'd ask Is the book published? I had to give a negative answer because I was still writing, still revising, still editing it. But I had been writing and publishing shorter works. He didn't care a twit about that. In his mind, if you're a writer, you write a book.

Of course, many writers do write books but a great many writers spend years writing and never write a book, not even a first draft. They concentrate on other kinds of writing including short stories, personal essays, critical essays, factual articles for magazines and newspapers, tv writing, screenwriting, poetry, short stories for kids, nonfiction for kids in the form of articles in children's magazines, technical writing, writing manuals for manufacturers and more. They are still writers and can be proud of their accomplishments. You do not have to write books to be a writer.

Don't ever feel less of a writer because you do not write 500 page novels. I'm willing to bet, however, that a good many writers of shorter works have an inner desire to write a book someday. That's fine. Maybe down the road, you'll do it. But if you never write that novel, only publish other kinds of writing, don't have one twinge of regret. If you are meant to write a novel, it will happen. If you need to let go and stay with your special kind of writing, be satisfied. 

Many freelance writers make a steady income writing short pieces. They work just as hard as a novelist--maybe harder in some instances. They have to come up with new ideas on a constant basis. They often have short deadlines to meet. They deal with myriad editors, not just one.

We each choose the kind of writing that appeals to us and where we have had some success; perhaps it is the kind of writing in which we excel. I hope we can all reach a point where we can accept our writing and stop worrying about those people who keep asking if your book has been published yet. Face it--they have no clue what it takes to write a book and many of them never consider that all those short stories and articles are actually written by a human being. 

Feel comfortable with your writing but remember that you can always look forward to trying something new at some time. Maybe you do have a book hiding deep inside you. All those short stories you wrote are practice for a longer project. And maybe someday, I will decide my novel has been edited enough that it is time to try marketing or epublishing it. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

One Space Or Two?

I shared an article on facebook regarding the argument over whether to use one or two spaces after a period (or question mark or exclamation mark). And yes, there does seem to be an argument over this.

There are numerous people who claim it was the way they were taught and that's what they will do. Even some English teachers who learned to use two spaces years ago insist upon teaching it that way to students of today. One person on my facebook page commented Who cares? I think those in the writing world do care. Or should.

Take a look at the article giving reasons for using one space. And yet another. If you google the topic, you'll find a slew of articles addressing the one space or two subject.

We humans don't like change but change we must or the world will move on without us. Back in 1997, I was still writing on an electric typewriter. I decided that it was time to get a computer and join the technology movement. I knew nothing at all about using a computer but I learned through trial and error.

Later, I read an article an editor had written begging writers who submitted to use only one space after the end of a sentence. What? That was my response because my typing teacher had drilled the two spaces rule into her students. Face it, we are definitely creatures of habit and it's not easy to break a long-instilled one.

Because I didn't want my submissions to be cast aside by not following the guidelines, I broke the habit. Yes, I had to think consciously each time I came to the end of a sentence for awhile. Finally, using one space became my new habit.

I will honestly say that I have not read guidelines for submission that threaten writers who use two spaces but I have seen guidelines that recommend using a certain style that is used in something like the Chicago Manual or another one.

It may seem a small thing but sometimes it's the little things that count in life. Are you willing to put your submissions in jeopardy because you stubbornly cling to your preferred method?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ever Hear of Joe Beernink?

I like what Joe Beernink, author, says here. His name was not familiar to me so I googled and found his facebook author page. Guess what? He was an unpublished author until very recently but that doesn't make a bit of difference in the substance of his quote.

If you look at his author page, you'll find that Mr. Beernink has listed his unpublished novels. Good for him. I think few others would do this for all the world to see. The good news is that one of them has been published a few months ago. Read a review of Nowhere Wild written for older kids. The author writes YA and science fiction. Reading the review made me think I'd like to read his book.

But he is not a full time writer. He works in software development by day and writes novels and short stories in his spare time. The fact that he has a full-time job and still has been able to write and get a novel published should be, at the least, encouraging for other part-time writers and motivational for us, as well.

It appears that Mr. Beernink did not set out to write for fame and money. Instead, his love of writing led him on a path that has allowed him to sell a book and perhaps let him wrap himself in a cape of fame, or at least the beginning of fame. It usually takes more than one novel to become what we term 'famous.' Even so, he is the envy of every writer who has unpublished work sitting in files and in their hearts.

This author has given us some good advice. Passion for writing is key to finding your way to published works. Pursue what you love and good things wait along your writing journey even though it may take a lot longer than you'd like.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I Tried Something New, How About You?

Image result for Look of a Sign Clip Art

Blogger nudged me to try a new theme for Writer Granny's World, so I experimented by previewing several. I found two that I liked and that seemed very spring-like. Back and forth. Which one should I choose. I finally settled on the one you see here today. A new look. Let me know if you like it.

In our writing life, we could sometimes use a new look, too. It's all too easy to stay in a comfortable spot, to keep on with the routine that has worked for you. Maybe it becomes a wee bit too comfortable, so much so that you begin to fear trying other ways to write, to submit, to edit, to market and more.

Trying new ways means you are going to have to expend some effort. You're not going to be able to slip into your favored mode which feels so right, so good, so--you. You're probably thinking If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Or maybe I'm too old to change my ways now.  Or What if I make changes and I get nowhere?

All those thoughts have some validity but they also say that you would rather stay right where you are. We talk about our Writing Journey and our Writing Path. Both of those terms indicate that we move, that we don't land in one spot and stay there. The only way you will advance on that trip is to try new things occasionally.

Note that I said occasionally. I wouldn't suggest that you go back to the beginning and change everything about your writing life. That's fodder for a nervous breakdown! Start with one thing, even something very small. Stay with it until you decide if it was a good change or one that you want to scratch. Trial and error comes into play when we change our ways. Some work and some do not.

Changing something in your writing routine can give you a real lift in spirit and even be motivation to keep writing. Even this small change I made today, with the different theme for the blog, has made me feel good.

Consider what you might change and give it a try. If you hate it, you can slide right back into that comfort zone again.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Thoughts About Spring For Writers

Image result for free image on writing and springtime

It's the first day of spring in this year of 2017. Here in Kansas, it's a glorious sunny day with afternoon temps to be in the low 70's. Couldn't ask for better. When seasons change, our thoughts turn to writing about what the new season brings to mind. Some from our childhood days.

The poster above is lovely but it has nothing written on it. Maybe today is the day for you to write something about spring that might be put on that that blank piece of flower-decorated paper. Below are a few triggers to help you get started.

  • kites
  • baseball and softball
  • spring flowers
  • grass turning green
  • buds, flowers and leaves on trees
  • different kind of clothing to be worn
  • rain showers
  • thunderstorms
  • tornadoes (where I live, they are a huge part of spring)
  • Easter
  • Passover
  • foods we eat in spring
  • games we played as children
  • Mother's Day
  • graduation

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Visit To Blarney Castle

Image result for free picture blarney castle
Blarney Castle

Today is St. Patrick's Day so here is a repeat performance of our visit to Blarney Castle where the Blarney Stone is a huge tourist attraction.

Bussing The Blarney Stone
     On a visit to Ireland, my husband, two good friends, and I passed several euros apiece across a counter to visit the famed Blarney Castle. We strolled up a long, tree-lined path, keeping the castle’s stone walls in view on a chilly, summer morning.
     Four young women approached and asked if we’d take their picture. They posed carefully, and Ken snapped the photo. “You next!” one of them said. And so, we four struck a pose for our picture. As we exchanged cameras, one of the girls said, “You’ll love seeing the Blarney Stone at the top of the tower.”
     Top of the tower?  I hadn’t counted on climbing to the top to see the famous stone. The legend says that anyone who kisses the stone will always have the gift of gab—like the Irish are known for. It seemed foolish to come this far, pay to see the famous spot, and then not do so. So, through the iron gate and on to the stone stairs that spiraled upward farther than I could see.
     We climbed and climbed the narrow steps, steadying hands on walls that appeared to close in more at each new level. Halfway to the top, my knees began to ache and my legs started to tremble a bit. I pictured those four young women bounding up these stone stairs with an energy I’d not had for more years than I’d like to mention. Mere determination kept one foot in front of the other until I finally reached the walkway on top of the castle, where I found myself at the end of a line of tourists. Breathing hard, I looked down into a courtyard, miles below, then inched along with the crowd.
     And then I stopped cold. There was the Blarney Stone, below the walkway, and a woman was lying on her back, hands above her head, grasping two iron bars, a man on his knees supporting her. She wiggled a bit more, tipped her head back and bussed the stone as she appeared to be suspended in air.

     I have never made a decision so quickly in my life. There was no way this grandmother of four would perform that feat. I watched as one person after another became an acrobat only to be able to say they’d kissed the Blarney Stone. A few passed on by.
     My husband laid his hand on my shoulder. “Are you going to do it?” he asked.
     I calmly explained to him that there was no need for me to kiss the stone to receive the gift of gab. I was born with the blessing of being able to talk my way into or out of most anything, thanks to my being half-Irish in heritage. And before he could push me into it, I slid right by the attendant waiting for the next victim—or participant.
     I started the return trip down the many steps thinking the reverse direction would be easier. Instead, it proved almost more difficult. My legs were mere jelly by the time I reached the final step, and I sank onto a stone bench to recover.
     As I looked up at the top of the castle tower, satisfaction settled into my bones. I’d climbed the killer stairway, I’d seen the Blarney Stone, and I stuck to my decision. Besides all that, I’d made one more memory to savor again and again.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What Writers Should Skip

You probably smiled, snickered, or even laughed aloud when you read the poster above. Take a second look and you might take it more seriously. What parts of a fiction story or perhaps some creative nonfiction do readers skip?

In a nutshell, it's the boring parts, the ones that don't move the story along. And what parts are those?

Lengthy description:  No one wants to read a three paragraph description of a tree. Usually, one sentence can take care of it. If a character is in a terrible situation, don't take time to describe some inanimate object. Take care of that character's problem instead. Exception would be if the tree has a huge significance in what has happened, or will later in the story. We've all read books where the author takes pages to describe the setting. Sense of place is important but less is better in that technique, too.

Too much technical stuff:  The only people who lap this up are those who live or work in a technical world themselves. Most other people will do no more than scan long sections involving some technical aspect. How much does the storyline depend on knowing the small details of how something works? If it does, then include it. If it is only what the author considers an interesting aside, consider either skipping or condensing.

Dialogue:  Keep it short and snappy rather than long and tiresome. We get information to our reader through the use of dialogue between characters. Make it too long and the reader will skip on to the next part of the story. We often hear that more dialogue would bring the story to life but perhaps too much of it could drag a story down.

Unimportant parts:  How can your story have unimportant parts? If your characters do something that has no connection to the story, something you toss in as what you think is a nice aside, then your reader may skip right on by. Two people having a picnic with the author describing the setting and what they ate and drank in detail is only of merit if there is important dialogue that pertains to the story itself or if the author is showing character traits through this means. But to just toss it in because you want a filler for some reason is not beneficial.

When you edit and revise your work, ask yourself if each section is important to the plot, the theme and the characters. Check to see if your descriptions go on and on and are too detailed. When we are doing an edit, we should try to look with a reader's eyes. So, yes, do try to leave out those parts that people skip. We don't mean to bore our readers, but sometimes we do.