Writing Sensory Images

 Literature Blogs

Today may prove to be a record-breaking heat day for this area. I’ve closed all the windows to keep in the early morning coolness, but haven’t yet turned on the air. It just seems too early in the year to do so. Besides, I find a bit of perspiration and being uncomfortable helpful to me as a writer.

Once, I was writing a chapter about kids traveling through a desert. The more I typed, the hotter and more thirsty I became. There I was, typing on the computer, while sweat dripped off of me. I kept thinking, “Wow! I must be one terrific writer to imagine things so vividly that I’m physically getting hotter and hotter.” I’d been typing for a few hours, closed up in the den, when I finally got up to take a break and get a drink of water. It was only then that I realized it was 100 degrees outside, and I hadn’t turned on the air conditioner.

Did I turn on the air conditioner at that moment, you ask? No, I did not. I finished the chapter first, taking note of all my hotness and putting it into words.

Fat v.s. Overweight and Obese Characters

 Literature Blogs

Being a writer out of my home leaves both eating and exercising at both the top and the bottom of my list of things to do when I’m not writing. HOWEVER, good news: I’ve lost 5 pounds in the past 2 weeks, and hope to continue on this downhill trend. For the first time in my life, I’m counting calories and am disciplined with my exercise. Yeah, me.

Times are changing.

This week I heard some disturbing news. It has to do with the amusement park ride, “It’s a Small World” in California. Seems the ride kept breaking down. They finally discovered the reason: the average weight of the visitors has… er… grown over the years since it was first built. This general increase in weight by the riders has caused the bottom of the boats to scrape against the machinery moving it along, causing the ride to malfunction. What a sad, sad, sad state of American affairs we live in these days.

I’ve also noticed a change in vocabulary. Doctors aren’t allowed to say “fat” any more, or they can get sued. We are either “healthy, overweight, or obese.”

This week I watched a show from the 1970’s about a military school, and each of the young men looked about the weight of a fifth grader of today.

So what does all this mean? Can we or should we write about children or adults who are… um… abundant in figure? If we don’t write about children or adults who have “more” to them, then are we writing about the real world today? Or should we remain in our fictional dream of thin? Now-a-days, actors and actresses who want to maintain a “healthy” look must go to the gym for 2-4 hours a day. Whatever did we do back then, when we were thin and didn’t go to the gym all those hours?

I hate worrying and wondering about this. But what about the characters in my stories?


A Famous Writer

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I was outside watering a few dry plants this evening when a kid rode up onto our lawn heading straight at me, with two runners in tow.

“Ain’t you that famous writer?” the bike rider said.

I laughed lightly. I remembered the 6th grade boy. He was selling candy a couple of months ago to help defray the costs from when his house burned down. I got to talking (back then) to his friend and him about a story I wrote a story about a 6th grade boy whose house burnt down.  Ironic, I thought. Since I wasn’t sure they believed me, I ran back into the house and brought out the manuscript. (Writers sure can get desperate sometimes.) We read together the first paragraph, and their eyes got wide. See? I was telling the truth! My writerly spirit encouraged, I bought some candy bars from him, wondering deep down  if it was really a hoax, but always liking to have friendly contact with neighborhood kids for several reasons. When that incident happened, I didn’t think I’d ever see the kid again. And here he was, riding on my lawn, showing off to his friends the famous writer he knew.

“I’m not famous,” I admitted. “But I do write. And at the moment, the story you just mentioned is out with an editor.” I wasn’t sure if they even knew what an editor did, but didn’t want to confuse them, or sound like a teacher.

“I want to read it,” said the Candy Bar Boy. The other two nodded.

“It takes time,” I told them. “Once the editor accepts the final copy of the story, it normally takes two or three years before it gets published into a book you can read.” This would be going through a traditional publishing house, of course, but again, I didn’t want to flood them with too much information, nor the fact that it could very well be rejected by several editors first.

“I’ll be in 10th grade by then,” said the older boy, counting on his fingers.

Again, I didn’t want to add other publishing housing rejections to the mix, but thinking about rejection slips, my pessimism escaped. “Yeah,” I said. “By then you probably won’t even remember me.”

“Oh, yes, we will,” they all three assured me. Maybe they knew what long waits and being sad was all about.

“We sure are thirsty,” hinted the one runner.

“I’ll get you some water,” I offered my potential future readers.

They quickly chugged down the glasses of water and were off to play basketball while it was still light. As they rode away, I heard the Candy Bar Boy say to his friends, “See? I told you I knew a famous writer!”

March Writing Submission Goal

 Literature Blogs

Today I revisited my March Writing Goals to realize I hadn’t submitted anything for this month yet. Actually, since I’ve been in revision mode, I’ve only subbed 3 ms over the past year. So today I dug out my old flash drive and opened 3 PB stories I knew I had ready to go. I intended merely to print them out and zip those babies out… as in,  getting them in the postal or emaild today. Then I read them, each of them. Did you hear my forehead ka-thunk onto my keyboard? First in embarrassment at such poor writing, then in realization that I had hours to go before any one of them would be submission-ready. I know they are good story ideas, but anyone can come up with good story ideas. The good news in this stinky process is that my writing craft must be improving — right? — if I am able to recognize need of improvement all by my lonesome. Although, there are some days when I wish I had an editor like Hemingway did, and only have to write about 2/3 of any story.

For now, I think I’ll focus on a couple of my other writing goals for this month — like my write three raw/new chapters by the end of the month (got one done), or like my thinking up 10 things I’m thankful for each of 10 days without repeating anything. Then there is my Personal April Challenge to tackle the whole-novel critiques from my critique group and rewrite that little baby, too. Maybe I’ll have things ready by May to get back out there into the slush piles.

Now, wouldn’t you agree that the writing life is never dull?

As the Recession Dips, Creativity Soars

 Literature Blogs

It’s not just me. Several of my writer friends have been given a shot of creative enthusiasm lately. People are not getting acceptances like before, but maybe we are realizing that we can no longer send out just any old thing we slapped down from our keyboards. In my opinion, writers are becoming smarter and deeper and certainly more craft-conscious. Perhaps it actually goes hand-in-hand with the recession. Maybe it is because there are not the acceptances, that more time is spent on revisions and rewrites v.s. submissions. I say, Yeah for the literary world.

Happy Creative New Year, Everyone.

Never Know When You’ll Meet an Editor

 Literature Blogs

My husband just returned from a funeral. I’d chosen to stay home instead of go. He ate lunch afterwards with the granddaughter of the deceased, the granddaughter who happens to be a managing editor at Random House in NYC.

“What was her name?” He gave me two posibilities for her first name.

“Last name?” He didn’t know.

“It’s a pretty big house. What area or genre does she manage?” He couldn’t tell me that, either, but he was very excited about meeting her. Then, before I could act, or worse yet, overreact, he wisely and quickly left the house to get a hair cut.