I had a meeting yesterday dealing with social networking in our church. Actually, I called the meeting so we could have focus, consistency, clarity, and purpose, because what we have now is pretty hodge-podge. I’m not sure the meeting was a success, but that’s a different story.
In the meeting, a 43-year-old man was shocked that I didn’t do Twitter. He knew I blogged and have a FaceBook presence. I defended myself (needlessly, as always), explaining how I’d gotten aboard the Twitter Train shortly after it left the station, and that I have lots of people who have asked to follow me; plus, I’m aware of the fact that young professionals today use it “all the time.” (I wouldn’t put myself in the young professional category. I was just flaunting off a piece of my excessive knowledge of facts.) I explained how boring a writer’s life is: “Spent four hours writing.” A week later — “Wading through a stack of books and links for research.” Two weeks later — “Writing.” Two months later — “Yea! Finished rough draft.” A month later — “Starting first round of revisions.” Well, you get the picture. Boring. Even I wouldn’t follow me on Twitter.
I remember when webcams first came out, a comic strip showed in the first box the character’s excitement to be able to watch his favorite author, live. The character is glassy-eyed in the second box. In the final box he looks sick , commenting how disillusioning it is to spend six hours staring at someone typing in their underwear.
Sure, there are the up times for a writer. Mountainous, exciting times, like attending conferences, reading fan mail, book signings, school visits, special readings, etc. And there are interesting authors who can write interesting or funny Tweets. But most of writing is plain dull to watch — or Tweet about.
Anyone out there have positive Twitter comments for writers?
We’re in part of the “monster storm” area. Eighteen inches of snow is predicted to fall tonight, over top the six or so we’re to get during the day. Power will be iffy. We are also on a well-system, which means if the power goes out, so does our water pump (i.e., no flushing toilets, no showers, no leaving water dripping through the pipes with single digit tempts outside to keep the pipes from freezing). If we use our fireplace, we must keep the flu open or smoke will fill our house. But if we do use the fireplace, that means more warm house air will escape up our chimney than stays inside, because we don’t have a blower. With single digits in the forecast the day after tomorrow, someone would have to be up all night feeding the fire. We simply don’t have the wood supply for that.
This is exciting.
I am a writer.
Yes, I know there is real-life danger issues with this storm. But as a writer… I’m taking notes, and suggest you do, too. What are my emotions ahead of the storm? During? After? How can I describe the various stages of the storm? What can happen with candles? Then there are always the “what-ifs.” What if this were 1800? (– for those writing historical novels.) What if someone was pregnant and went into labor, but the roads were impassable? What if a child wanted to play outside, alone? What if a tunnel had to be shoveled to the barn to take care of the animals? What if that heavy snow and resulting power outage and … brought people together? How? What? Where? Who?
I’m grabbing my journal and pens and pencils (pencils in case the ink in the pens freeze). Bring it on.
If you read and write in only one gender, one piece of advice given by many writing conference speakers is to go listen to someone outside your box (genre). For example, if you write mysteries, you might learn a lot about characterization and relationships from a romance writer. If you are an author, you may learn a lot about visualizing from an illustrator’s session.
I like music. I’ve tried my hand at writing poetry and songs. That said, there is nothing in that category I would dare put up on a blog. Nonetheless, I took the above advice this past week and attended a Song Writing Workshop with Ken Medema. It was during a 3-day Worship Symposium at Calvin College. Most of the hour-long workshops only got 1/2 to a whole page of notes in my journal. The one presented by Ken got a full three pages in my journal. The man is amazingly talented and gifted, and funny to boot. It was fascinating to watch creation at work. I could easily sit in on a year-long course with Ken and every day learn more things about writing. From his hour-long workshop, I shall abbreviate even further.
A few things I learned from Ken about writing:
1) A Writing Exercise — find a song (or story) and write another one in that style (or voice);
2) Pick a theme to go throughout the song (or story);
3) “Tighten the fence” — an illustration meaning why put a fence around your entire yard when only the garden needs it? In other words, focus the theme. If you want the theme to be hope, pull in the fence to whom the hope is for, where the hope comes from, is it hope in the past, present or future, etc.;
4) Choose every single word with care;
5) Choose every phrase with care;
6) Another (poetry/song) writing exercise — practice speaking in pentameter to your friends, or daily writing them yourself, to make “couplets;”
7) Have fun with words.
Rule #1: Writing is not simple.
Rule #2: Write; Finish what you write; Revise; Have it critiqued; Revise a few more times; Let it sit.
Rule #3: Read. Read. Read — read EVERYTHING you can get your hands on: books in your field/genre; NF research; books for pleasure; books so out of whack from your own writing genre that it would make your fellow writers blink to see you reading them; etc., etc..
Rule #4: Take another look at your story; Revise again.
Rule #5: Research agents and/or editors; submit it.
Rule #6: Start writing another story.
Rule #7: Go out and play. (More grown-up authors might rephrase that to “Go out and live.”)
A little behind on my email catch-up, but too early for epiphany (January 6), I saw this writing reflective article by author-speaker Darcy Pattison, and absolutely had to share it. In it, she gives writing tips from the song, “We Three Kings.” She also lists other writing tips from other Christmas-y subjects. Amazing, fun, and creative woman!
Face to the grind.. Not quite sure what that means, except that it sounds painful. I’ve got my face to the grind, working on NaNoWriMo this month. It’s not painful, actually; it simply requires discipline. Then again, perhaps that is painful in a sense.
From participating last year, I know the NaNoWriMo group gives ideas periodically for what to write about for the day, in order to add to your word count. Just like never getting bored, I never have trouble thinking up things to write. What I have trouble with is the discipline of writing. Therein lies my writing challenge for you — do some raw writing about this photo I took on a trip up north last week. Set the timer for ten minutes… Ready? Set? Go.
I must gather my thoughts (and notes) from this past weekend’s SCBWI-MI writers conference. Lots of great stuff to allow to soak in. I’ll pass on my notes soon. In the meantime… We all hear about how important it is to have tight writing. Here is an excellent example:
A university creative writing class was asked to write a concise essay containing these four elements:
The prize-winning essay read:
“My God,” said the Queen. “I’m pregnant. I wonder who did it?”
We’re having our SCBWI-MI fall conference this weekend. I’ve been to over a dozen live writing conferences in different states. I’ve also been co-chair of four of them. I’ve attended on-line writers conferences as well. After all this time and experience, I rather know what to expect. I should rather say, I ought to know by now what to expect. Here’s what I expect for this weekend.
* That I will greet old friends, and make bunches of new ones – all of us gathered by a shared interest and hope.
* That one of these writer friends will tell me: 1) if I put my sweater on tag-side out; or 2) if my shoes don’t match, from getting dressed in the dark; or 3) that before I slip away for a critique, to be sure I remove the spinach dangling from between my teeth or pumpkin smear on my cheek.
* That I remember to bring extra pens in case my favorite one runs out of ink. I also take a water bottle, a watch, and business cards, and sometimes even remember to hand out the cards.
* That I will have one manuscript (possibly more) polished enough to pitch.
* That when I practice my elevator pitches, I mentally delete each “um” and “well, then…” and “ya know?” and remember to keep such phrases deleted when my mouth lays a patch at the intersection of Conversation Street and Nervous Lane.
* That I take cash-only for book purchases v.s. my credit card, which doesn’t light up when I’ve exceeded our monthly food budget.
* That I don’t pass out when I come face-to-face with an editor or agent. First impressions count.
* That I will take away gobs of information for my personal writing craft improvement.
* That after an attending editor or agent asks for a partial or a full, I’ll be business-like-delighted, but not so elated-ecstatic-happy that I’ve forgotten where I parked my car.
Hey! I just re-read my friend’s (Shutta Crumm) website post about the book give-away of her latest and greatest story for kids, THOMAS AND THE DRAGON QUEEN. It’s a random drawing! How cool is that? So check it out at http://shutta.com/, and good luck to you all.
Since my previous post on traditional v.s. non-traditional publishing, I’ve had several interesting conversations on this subject, as well as listening in on the WriteOnCon chat with two editors and two agents. One of the agents mentioned one of her client’s had a novella e-book published. Uncertain if she had anything to do with that acceptance or not. Somehow, that a professional traditional person would go through, or at least acknowledge in a positive light, non-traditional means of publication, got me thinking. I suppose my view is being expanded.
I am honestly glad for my successful writing friends who self-publish or go the e-book route. It makes me wonder if I am being an old fuddy-duddy by holding out for a traditional publishing house, or not. In other words, should I move my horse and buggy out of the way for the automobile? (I do so like horse and buggies.)
(Sidenote: Writer friends who have gone the successful e-book route, write books for adults. My research is still out about the success of e-books written for children. Any additional facts?)