Archive for October, 2012

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Kill Your Darlings

October 28, 2012

Skeletons. Shriveled pumpkin vines. Grim reaper masks. Halloween has arrived.

Fall is a time for death. As morbid as it might sound, dying represents a powerful part of life’s natural cycle. The reality is that without death, there would be no change, no regrowth, and no fresh beginnings. How is this related to writing, you ask? Kill your darlings! It’s a long-held phrase in the writing world, and one not to take lightly.

All authors write prolific passages, esoteric phrases, lines of wisdom and earnest meanings. But really? Cut them. A reader wants to be led down a path but not told what to think. As valuable as your words may seem to you, they may not be all that valuable for the reader. Once a writer is able to cut their words, the writing gets better. It opens the possibility of new, better ideas. And if you must, cut and paste the perfect passage to a file. You can open it up and see those little darlings anytime your heart desires.

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Quaint Cottages?

October 18, 2012

In an ideal world, a writer can create delightful prose while living in a quaint cottage by the sea. There, one can write about tulip gardens and sweeping landscapes.

Reality check.

Most of us write at either a desk filled with piles of paper or a kitchen counter crowded with dirty dishes. So, what can we do to find the details we need to make writing real when we don’t have the privilege of living in a bungalow like Hemingway? The Internet, folks.

If you need to visualize a country kitchen, Google it. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that in many such kitchens, people place baskets filled with potpourri and hang them from a shelf that’s been stenciled with wild roses. Your character lives in a metallic world? Research modern kitchens. Who knows? You may find a retro turquoise blender to add to your counter at home. Is your character having a bad hair day? Check out hairstyles.com. Too old to remember what a kid’s birthday might look like? All sorts of ideas will help you find your party nitch.

The effort to research will improve your writing ten-fold.  Everything’s at your fingertips, so take a look. Maybe you’ll end up with a new hairdo.

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Computer H-E-Double Toothpicks

October 8, 2012

Can I say it? H-E-Double Toothpick! Oh what the hell, hopefully you’ll keep following me in spite of a little profanity.

I have been in computer hell. There, I said it again. Hell, hell, hell. Okay, now you really might drop me, but my guess is that you can relate. As writers, computers make our lives easier, until they don’t. And when they don’t, watch out!

For me, computer issues are particularly difficult because I didn’t learn how to use one until late in the game. And just as I get used to one, bam! It malfunctions and I’m at the whim of a computer consultant to help. When my computer finally died this fall, I changed to a Mac, so I could take advantage of their customer service. Yesterday, that didn’t pan out so well. I was put on hold 9 times (forced to listen to really bad music) and spoke with so many different Apple helpers that I lost track of my questions (and my mind). In the end, I was told I’d have to go to the store and have a diagnostic run. Aghh! Another day away from writing to solve a problem that I didn’t create. Or did I?

I believe that we create energy around us and manifest much of what happens in our lives. Does that mean I willed my computer issues? Maybe. Or maybe I’m just a computer idiot. But today was a much brighter day, and I only spoke to one consultant who solved all but one of my issues (the one I need to take to the store). Perhaps the lesson learned was to let go of my writing for a few days. Writers control their characters, their writing habits, and their voice. Maybe what we need is to let go of control and surrender. Hard? Definitely. But here’s the thing; now I’m  motivated to get back to my manuscript when I had been dragging. Energized. As much as I hate to admit it, perhaps the computer glitch was what I needed to get me back on track.

Take time to surrender today. Hopefully, not to your computer or there will be a universal scream of H-E-double toothpicks. But try letting go to one thing and see what happens to your writing. It might surprise you.