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Well Hello Again!

I’m shy and embarrassed to be writing a post after so much time has passed.  Gee, I wonder how many thousands of bloggers have written the same thing…?  It’s almost a comforting thought that I’m surely not alone in being a blogger who has dropped out, lost consistency, lost some of the earlier passion for posting!

I also take comfort in the fact that while I haven’t been posting online, I definitely have been working on my writing.  The reasoning (ahem, rationalization) for not updating my blogs has been that most of my writing work has been editing…You know, adding a sentence here and there in the middle of a paragraph already posted.  Changing tenses and verbage…So how on earth am I supposed to be posting new material when it’s really just re-posting slightly altered material?  Of course, that logic doesn’t work for this specific blog about the process of writing….

I met a guy who works as a publisher of a small magazine, and I introduced myself as a writer!  It was fun to talk about having submissions match the theme of the publication, style and tone, and the thrill of giving fledgling writers a shot at getting their voice heard.

And then again, a friend of mine who just graduated with an MFA told me that anything put online is considered self published (As I look at the button “Publish Post”)  Interesting!

A few random thoughts today, as I try to work out a good way for me to keep my blogs updated alongside my personal writing efforts.

Keep writing, friends!

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Sorting through some old computer files the other day, I found some laughs in several different author’s lists of writing rules.  They were all different.  Some were the same, but mostly, different.  It’s such a relief to me that there aren’t ten hard and fast rules to being a good writer.  I can pick and choose my ten rules from the hundreds that are out there.  Grammar rules?  If I want.  Tenses matching voices?  Optional.  A coherent storyline?  Maybe.  What fun.  Now, that’s not to say that I will get a large number of readers if I follow some wacky rules.  If I follow Margaret Atwood’s list, will I attain her exact same readership?  Maybe if I take half Dostoevsky and half David Sedaris I’ll get a style I like and the readers I want too.

This links to a fun and at times insightful ten writing rules.  May it inspire you to keep on truckin’.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/books/review/colson-whiteheads-rules-for-writing.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1&ref=general&src=me

 

Publish, Shmublish?

I’m reading a non-fiction book about writing by Madeline L’Engle (the author of A Wrinkle in Time).  While she comes off as a little pretentious at times, it’s wonderful to read about an author’s experience as a writer!  The hazards, the joys, the self-pity when another publisher rejects a manuscript.  She was turned down again and again for the book that became an award-winning classic.  And she was still getting turned down after that.  Makes me wonder how many fabulous, amazing, and valuable books are out there being written and rejected?  What are the publishing houses screening out of our world?  I chatted with a friend who wants to start a publishing co-op.  A place where writers can get published maybe based on what the community of readers likes, rather than just on a few editors who are totally swamped with manuscripts.  I wonder if I’ll ever get published, or be like the many people (I presume they are out there) that write and write, never get recognized, and then abandon their book.  But even if that were to happen, I think about the idea that “writers don’t choose to write; they have to.”  That’s genuinely how I feel- Every day I am compiling phrases and themes and plots in my head.  It looks like it’s going to be a life long habit.  And one, I can see already, that will bring me some good personal development and growth.  I guess the mark of a writer isn’t how many times they are on the bestseller list; but oh, wouldn’t it be fun?

Yesterday I was asked by a friend of mine to edit her thesis.  She’s finishing a master of fine arts in non-fiction writing.  Before I could mutter a comment about how I’m not a professional editor and how I myself don’t have an MFA so I couldn’t possibly be of any help, I found in my hands 80 shiny clean pages of her hard work in my hands.  I sat at my desk, turned on the lamp, gathered a highlighter and pen (no red ink, too cliche and scary), washed my hands and turned to the first page. I read it and then had to stop myself and go back and read it again with the eyes of an editor.  Look for mistakes, I told myself.  The first culprit, I wasn’t even sure of.  The age old question of commas.  When do they go before an ‘and’ when do they go after?  Is the clause after this comma independent enough to require a semicolon?  I tried to find an answer in the dictionary.  No help.  I wracked my brain for memories of 8th grade english class.  Too fuzzy.  I concluded by circling the possible error and wrote a question mark.  Maybe I could just draw her attention to the possibilities of errors, problems, awkward phrases.  She can fix them how she likes.  Tell me: was this the wrong approach?  As an editor, was it my job to fix her problems or just point them out and let her correct them? Either way, what a fun way to prompt me to do some more of my own writing.  It’s so great seeing others pursing writing in a strong and purposeful way.

In that line of thought, I am looking forward to a conversation with another friend who self published a young adult book.  What a wonderful and brave way to put herself out into the world!  I’m often too nervous and shy to let even my mother look over my shoulder and read my writing, let alone selling it to strangers on ebay!  Today, let’s take a moment to celebrate the people we know who write and are courageous enough to share it with the rest of us.

Adoption or Mimicry?

Do  you ever read something and then sit down to write and find that your voice seems to parallel the most recent thing you have read?  For example, I read Kurt Vonnegut and suddenly all my writing is terse, comedic, blunt and ironic.  I envision my characters as odd and kooky and uniquely strange.  And then I read Thoreau and my writing takes on a meditative and quiet prose.  My characters end up theorizing and delving into deep questions and wonders.

The question is: will this help my writing?  Will it lend depth and variety to the overall tone?  Will it help different perspectives create a sense of separation from one another?  Or.  Will it develop an erratic and schizophrenic style?  Will it read like “Oh, this person wishes they were Kurt Vonnegut but can’t pull it off completely?”

Do you experience this phenomenon?  How do you use it?  Or, if you think it hurts your writing- how do you avoid it?

 

The leap!

I have officially, for the first time ever in my life, submitted my writing to be published.  A scary experience, ’twas.  All these submission rules and requirements, an endless number of literary magazines, blogs, journals, e-zines to choose from.  Sweating it out over if my style fits their style and am I doing this right?  Reading other contestant entries and winners and published writers and thinking both “I am SO much better than this” simultaneously with “Wow, that is such good writing.  I can’t compare!”  I am glad I have jumped into that world, though.  I have a feeling I am going to learn a little bit from it. Crossing fingers and toes as they say!

Paragraph Improvement

It’s funny how a word, a phrase, a conversation, an ad in the paper can change your perception about something.  Lately, my ears have been perking up at any mention of writing, writers, books, literature.  And I have found some perception-changing things.  A friend of mine just self published a book!  We are in the process of having a great conversation about writing and publishing, which inspires me to keep it up. Spokane is hosting a two week literature conference called Get Lit!  Many writers, poets, and readers will be gathering for numerous readings and workshops and goofy events- all in the name of words, glorious words.  And in the beginning stages of researching literary magazines, I have read some great works by other new aspiring authors.  Which makes me think about my writing style, challenges me to do better, makes me want to write more and better.  Onward and upward, I say!