Writers and Magic

Yesterday's post highlighted the blank page. The picture-quote above continues in the same vein.

Did you ever consider yourself a magician? I certainly didn't. At least, not until I saw this quote. Stop and ponder on the quote. We who write create something out of nothing. Wow! I think that's pretty awesome.

With that blank page before you. you have choices galore. You can opt to write a short story or a personal essay. Perhaps you'll start on a memoir or an article about writing. Maybe you'll pen a poem. Do you have a magic wand in hand? Probably not. You have something even better.

You have a mind and a memory. So much of what we write evolves from memories and experiences we've had over the years. Besides those memories, you have a mind that can create new things, too.

Think about it. That's pretty exciting. A college professor or assistant prof teaches with the aid of a syllabus. Some write their own while others teach from an outline someone else has …

Can't Bank The Blank

Quote by Jodi Picoult

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

I liked the quote by Jodi Picoult, novelist. You cannot edit a blank page. No argument there. You also cannot submit and sell a blank page to an editor which means you cannot have the pleasure of publication and, perhaps, some money to put in the bank. You can't bank the blank!
I think we'd all agree that a page filled with poor writing is better than one with nothing on it. Poor writing can be revised and edited. You can't do something to nothing. 
We've probably all started writing a story or a personal essay, made our way through half a page and thought This is pure drivel! What's your next step? I'd continue writing until I finished the first draft of the short essay or chapter of a novel. Read it if you want to, but put it away for a few days before you look at it again. 
During that time, it's possible your subconscious will be working and come up with new ideas or w…

Ways We Write

If you're a writer, you do a lot of writing without typing (or pushing a pencil across paper). At least, you should be. 
I find that, while doing many tasks that don't require full brain power, I am mentally considering my writing. I've been working on a poem for about a week. The first two lines came to me when I went out early one morning to retrieve our newspaper. I heard a flock of geese but could not see them. I stood on the driveway listening and thinking about the message they brought. Bingo! Two lines but no more. I was writing but not typing.
I went into the house and read the paper, did the usual early morning tasks and then sat down at the computer. I wrote the two lines on a notepad but went on to other things. I had a lunch date and then a meeting to go to later in the day so the two lines were left looking lonely. As I drove home later that day, I started thinking about the poem again. What did I want to convey? And how? How long or short did I want the poem…

The No-Name Sisters--A Family Story

I've posted a great deal about writing your family stories over the years. It's a favorite topic of mine for two reasons. First, I feel family is of great importance. Second, people need to write family stories so they won't get lost over time. Telling them is great. Writing them is essential. 
Today, I'd like to give you an example of how you can write a fictionalized version of a true family story. The list below will help you with things to keep in mind. I would not suggest writing all your family stories this way, but try a few and see how you like writing it and how others like reading it. Stay with the factsDecide if you want to change the names or keep the real ones. There could be good reasons for either way. (I kept the real names)Use the same fiction techniques you would employ in a purely fictional story. Things like: setting the scene for a sense of place, using active verbs, dialogue, start with a hook, keep the reader interested with action, not just tell…

Writers--Try The Back Roads First

Several years ago, after a two-day meeting in St. Louis, Ken and I left the hotel on a quiet Sunday morning to drive to Macomb, IL to visit his brother in Macomb, IL. We started out on an interstate and after crossing the Mississippi River, found ourselves on some back roads. Not four or six-lane highways, but two lanes that wound through the Illinois flatlands, cornfields on both sides of the road. Cornstalks stood at attention like sentries on guard, leaves brown and dry encasing corn cobs waiting to be harvested. Recent rains had kept farmers out of the fields.

We wended our way through one small town after another, admiring the old homes and downtown areas. We pointed out interesting buildings to one another and commented that the trees here had lost more leaves than in our home state of Kansas. The peace and quiet of these back roads and the communities that dotted them were soothing to the soul. No fighting big city traffic here.

Writing can be like that, too. Writers start out…

Write Your Thoughts About March

As an exercise, today, write anything about March. Tell us the feelings that emerge from deep within when you turn your calendar page to this third month of the year.

What memories do you have from your childhood about March? Were there any foods your mother always made something in that month? Did you celebrate any holidays, family birthdays or other important events? What about the kind of clothes you needed during these 31 days?  I feel family stories popping up here.

Try to include many active verbs. Let your reader 'see' what you're writing about. For further triggers to your memories of March, I have included the result of this exercise when I did it several years ago.

Hoping your memories and exercise might produce a brand new piece of writing you can use in a writing project or a stand-alone you can submit to an editor. These exercises are meant as practice but also to aid in coming up with more than the exercise alone.

Musing on March (written about 2014)
By Nanc…

Musing Over Markets For Writers

I'm sorry that there was no post on Friday but illness prevented me from doing much of anything other than hugging my pillow all day. Back on track today.

Yesterday, I spent some time looking through marketing sites and books for places I might send a few finished pieces of writing. We seem to see trends in the types of publishers looking for writers to submit and the kind of writing they are seeking. At one time science fiction was king. Another period, we saw many calls for picture books for kids about same-sex marriage families. Romance took center stage off and on.

A number of the magazines and journals I checked yesterday wanted 'weird stuff.' Huh? After hitting several, I sat back in my chair and had to smile and laugh a bit inwardly. Face it, Nancy, you're showing your age. Yes, a lot of what the publishers today ask for is meant for young writers and geared to young readers. Not child-young, but young adults in their 20's and 30's. A lot seem to go for…