Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Some people are resistant to changes. Let's face it--some people really hate change. That's too bad because they tend to stay stuck in a time warp. The world changes rapidly today, and I strongly believe we need to be able to make our own changes to stay in the loop.
Fourteen years ago, I did all my writing on an electric typewriter. I submitted my work by writing a cover letter and enclosing both in an envelope, then mailed to an editor. Computers were not new by any means, but not everyone had a personal computer. I told my husband I wanted one. "I don't want to stay back in the twentieth century. I want to keep up with what's happening." He grumbled a bit but we went to a Gateway store in Kansas City, and after discussing many things with the salesman, we ordered one.
It wasn't an easy change for me. There I was, nearly sixty, and attempting to learn something brand new. I didn't understand the vocabulary, I was terrified of clicking on the wrong thing and losing all I'd typed. I didn't have a clue as to what they meant by ram or what files were and more. But doggone it, I was determined to learn, and I did so through trial and error. Well, lots of errors! But I did learn and it has been one of the best changes I've ever made.
I have friends who say they don't need to have a computer. Never had one, don't need one, don't want one. The one thing they aren't saying is that they're scared to death of something they don't understand. So, they won't make a change.
What if I had resisted making the change from submitting my writing by snail mail to email? Some publications now accept only electronic submissions. Look at the addition of e-books. A huge change in the publishing industry. One that some embrace wholeheartedly while others are still resisting. Had I not made the change to a computer, I'd have no idea about the e-book world.
If you make no other resolution for the coming new year, decide to be open to change. It might be a rocky road at first, but in the end, it will probably make your life easier and fuller. I need to consider an Ipad for my next change. Even now, I'm way behind in that world.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Remember Pollyanna, the girl who put a positive spin on just about everything in life? No matter what misery came along, she smiled her way through it. She's obviously not a real person. Eleanor Porter, the woman who created Pollyanna must have wanted to send a strong message to her readers about facing life with the right attitude. Her character carried it to extremes at times, but she definitely made a point.
The problem is that very few of us can look at every part of our life with a smile as big as the girl in the book and movie. I'm one who tries hard to keep a positive outlook as much as possible, but there are times when you just cannot do it, times when the sadness in your life overshadows all else.
There are periods in your writing life when you write about sadness, tragedy, and the downside of life. It's perfectly alright to do that. I think it serves a purpose for both the reader and the writer. The reader can take comfort in the fact that others also meet adversity in everyday life. They see a kindred spirit, and perhaps they can find a positive message somewhere within the sadness of the story. The writer finds a release in writing about a dark spot in life and can offer solace in some way to the reader.
Let's face it. LIfe isn't always great. Yesterday, I read two poems written by a woman who had never submitted her work anywhere. They were well written but both centered on an abused woman. She managed to bring forth some outstanding emotion in her poems. Any other woman who had lived with a controlling individual could readily relate. I read a Christmas letter about a tragic time in a friend's 2011, but she managed to find a scripture verse that fit perfectly.
Death is a subject some writers avoid at all costs, while others embrace the subject in their writing. Death is a part of life, and I think we need to address it in our writing, too. I've stood at the graves of two of my children and both my parents with myriad thoughts swirling through my mind. And I've written about it. Comments from readers let me know it was alright to share my grief with others. Doing so may have helped some who read my story, and I know it eased my sadness.
Writers face all the joys and sorrows of everyday, ordinary people. Who better to write about both the happy and sad times of life? My hope is that they manage to incorporate a thread of hope that the reader can grasp and hold onto. You see, the Pollyanna in me wants it.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
I'm posting a Christmas story that was published several years ago in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Chocolate Lovers book. The next Christmas book Chicken Soup will publish comes out late fall of 2012, so you've got plenty of time to get Christmas stories written and submitted.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Let's face it. Writers get discouraged when they submit their work over and over and get nothing but rejections. Even those who get published sometimes feel depressed when the rejections outnumber the acceptances. Hey, we're human! Seems natural to feel down when we're striving to reach our goals and the climb is incredibly slow.
I found the quote above when putting together a program on Christmas Hope. I read it over a few times and it occurred to me that the quote fits a writer's personna quite well. If you have it, you can keep it close by, pull it out when times are tough. Look at it, stroke it like a soft kitten, and keep it close to you when needed.
If a story keeps getting rejected, hang onto hope while you make revisions. There's usually a reason a story doesn't make it. It simply needs more work.
If you're selling your work but it's going far more slowly than you'd once dreamed, hang onto the hope that eventually it will get better. Your publication list will grow longer as your writing grows stronger.
The easy way out is to give up. If you care about your writing, you won't do that.
Look at the quote again. A four letter word--HOPE--will give you the power to reach for those goals you've set in your writing life.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
There are so many facets to grammar. We could explore them for days and days--dangling participles, active and passive verbs, subjects and predicates, adjectives and adverbs. Then, there is the entire world of punctuation. That, alone, might be material for an entire week of posting.
But, day after day of grammar might definitely become tedious. You'd feel like you were back in school again, worrying more about a new zit than what words are prepositions.
Think back to the various English teachers you had. Which one made learning proper grammar the most painless? Which ones made it sheet torture? Which ones didn't teach you much at all? This might be good information to put in your memory book.
I have to say that, in high school, I learned more about English grammar in my three years of French classes. Sounds weird, I know, but it's true. I had two different teachers in those three years of French, but both of them opened a window onto grammar in both languages.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
If all you do is report what happened, your story may end up being passed around your family but it's doubtful that it will see publication. People don't watn to read a list of what your childhood was like. They want to live it with you.They waant to see it, feel it, smell, hear and taste the time you are writing about. They want the sensory details.
When you write about visiting Grandma and Grandpa on their Minnesota farm, you remember what the barn smelled like when you trotted alongside Grandpa when he did the milking. You know what the old wooden table in Grandma's kitchen felt like when you rubbed a small hand across it. You still delight in the memory of the guinea hens that woke you each morning from outside the bedroom window.
But your reader doesn't experience those things unless you add them to your story. If you say that the guinea hens woke you each morning, you're reporting. If you say, "Each morning, guinea hens screeched outside my bedroom window until I pulled the covers over my head and clapped my hands over my ears to muffle the annoying wake-up call." Now, the reader can hear the guinea hens and see you reacting.
When bringing old memories to mind, pay attention to the five senses. Think back to what you saw, heard, felt, tasted and smelled--whether it was at the farm, in your classroom, or on a picnic at the beach. Show those details in your writing. Note that I said show. Telling isn't enough.
If necessary, write your memoir story as it happened, then go back and add the sensory details. Do this until you start writing them into your story automatically. Your readers will thank you.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I staggered down the hall to the kitchen at 7 a.m., still not fully awake. Strange, since I'd been lying in bed since 5:30 wondering why I couldn't sleep. Too many things on my mind. The day before Thanksgiving is cooking day and I have a list of things that needed my attention. I decided to make the Sour Cream Muffins right away. We could each have one with our cereal later in the morning. Brilliant idea? Maybe not.
I gathered the ingredients on the counter, except for the cinnamon/sugar topping I'd need. The half-pint jar was on the top shelf of the lazy susan in an upper cabinet. I reached up and behind a few other items. The sleeve of my robe caught on a bottle of soy sauce. It started to tumble and I caught it with my free hand, still holding onto the sugar jar. All was fine until the worcestershire sauce bottle got into the act. It did a flip, knocking over all the flavoring bottles next to it, and as I reached to grab it, the sugar jar slipped out of my hand, hit the granite countertop and broke into a gazillion pieces. Cinnamon-laced sugar landed on the counter and floor.
I didn't say a word, possibly because of my still groggy condition. Instead, I looked at the mess on counter and floor. Glass everywhere and most of the sugar on the floor. I decided I'd sweep up the glass with a broom and dustpan, then vacuum the rest. To get the broom, I had to walk across the sugar. Trust me, you do not ever want to walk on sugar! Crunch, slippery, nasty stuff.
I swept up the glass and part of the sugar, dumped it in the trash and then vacuumed the entire kitchen floor to make sure no errant piece of glass had been missed.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Today I'm going to flip the Thankfulness switch to On for writers. What blessings are there in your writing world? What parts of your writing life are you truly thankful for? Or have you ever thought about it? Do you keep your personal life and writing life separated by a six foot wide moat or do you blend the two together?
Take a few minutes sometime this week to think about gratitude for what your writing life has given you. Make a list. You can do it. You're a writer! Post your list somewhere visible and keep it there as a reminder when your writing life is slow or seems hopelessly stuck. What started out as a thankful list could turn into encouragement to soldier on.
My Writing World Thankfulness List
I am thankful for:
1. doing something that I enjoy to the fullest extent
2. having the opportunity to share my thoughts with others through publication
3. the many good friends I've made
4. the opportunity to learn to be more patient
5. the joy that writing a good story/essay/poem brings
6. being able to be creative
7. the growth I've seen in my writing over the years
8. rejections which make me take a harder look at my work
9. the mental exercise writing affords me
10. a way to offer encouragement or entertainment to others
This is only a beginning. I'm sure I'll think of others as the week goes on. I hope you will, also.