Posts Tagged ‘communication’

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Walk Writing Tips

October 5, 2015

Last month, I spoke at a Walk out of Darkness event, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. When first asked, I said no way- I’m a writer, not a speaker, and standing in front of 300 people is not my cup of tea. However, a few passionate volunteers convinced me otherwise.

Our community was hit hard by suicide this year, and I wrote an article for the local paper that went viral, mostly because it struck a cord with so many people. This led to my talk at the walk. When I spoke, I offered three takeaways: encouragement, education, and listening.

After the event, I thought about how these three subjects can be used to help a writer.

Encouragement: writing is a lonely endeavor. Those who don’t write will often mistake the profession with fantastical grandeur- sipping lattes in fancy coffee houses while writing words that will be shared, making millions of dollars in the process. Not hardly. It’s tough, it’s frustrating, it’s rejection-filled work. You must love it, live for it, and endure. From time to time it’s wise to take yourself out for a treat—buy an expensive flavored coffee instead of basic drip, buy a new pen, or pat yourself on the back while indulging in a bottle of wine.

Education: writers must study. Not only do we need to research the things we write about, but also, we must read, read, read. We must take workshops and listen to other writers. It is the only way to improve our craft.

Listen: writers must observe, listen to those around them. Conversations at coffeehouses can provide rich material. Listening to your family, your friends, your community—everyone has a story. Observe body language—it is a type of language! Paying attention is key to the writing process.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the actual writing, but self-encouragement, education, and listening are key components to improving one’s craft.

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A Slumdog Do

March 3, 2009

Knowing is not enough, you must apply: willing is not enough, you must do.

-Bruce Lee

Am I the only person on the planet who almost walked out of Slumdog Millionaire? I’ve been stewing about the film ever since it won Best Picture.

Feel good movie of the year? Hmmmm. Was it the part where we watched a girl kidnapped and taken in as a sex slave? Or was it when a boy’s eye was dug out with a spoon, and others were mutilated so they could an earn bonus money begging? The scene where the mother was bludgeoned to death in a pool of mud might have made some sicko smile.

Maybe it’s the Mom in me, but give me a box of chocolates and Forest Gump any day. It’s not just the violence and child terror that bothered me in Slumdog, but the stark reality that children live those lives every single day.

I’ve been to India. Intolerable conditions exist. And what do we do about it? Watch a movie and celebrate its awards? Hundreds of thousands of people will sing Slumdog’s praise, but in the end, do nothing.

As a movie actor and martial arts genius, Bruce Lee offered valuable wisdom when he said that knowing is not enough. And I agree, it’s not. We must heed Lee’s words and take action. We must do.

But how? We live half a world away. We have our own problems. Still, great groups of children in our neighborhoods are not being raped and mutilated or living in massive squalor. So, what can we do? For starters, we can send contributions to relief agencies. Google sex slavery and protest. Call legislators and demand action. Write letters to the newspaper. We can do something.

Then, it would get my vote for movie of the year.

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Anne Morrow Lindbergh Texts

February 22, 2009

Good communication is stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Does good communication include texting? Because if it does, my soon-to-be teenage daughter will win the communicator-of-the-year award.

Last month’s total? Eighteen hundred. It’s true. You read that right. Eighteen hundred texts…in one month. No more allowance for her. She’ll be shoveling the drive for a long time to come.

To her credit, it was her first month of texting, and she had no idea the phone company charged for both in-coming and out-going texts. Neither did her parents. Feel free to slap us around, but we knew nothing about texting and naively assumed neither did she. We gave her a phone strictly to be used for communication with her parents. Right. Slap me again.

So what does a pre-teen text 1800 times? I checked.

“hi”

“hi”

“what’s up”

“nothing”

“how RU”

“good. U?”

“good”

“what chairlift RU on”

“merc”

“number?”

“57”

“where’s Pete”

“who cares”

“M likes him”

“omg”

“g2g”

This stimulating conversation racked up 16 texts, not one for free.

Why not just call and talk? “Because then people hear you,” she answers.

In the world of cyber space, we’ve become a growing society of no talk. We can email. We can facebook. We can text. We can blog. We can do everything but talk. It’s easier, says the cyber generation.

A friend of mine told me her high schooler texts so he doesn’t have to have a conversation with a girl. Makes sense. Who wants to be told, OMG to his face?

While texting may eliminate a stutter and sweaty palms, where will it lead us? Will we live in voiceless relationships? While it might be nice not to hear my husband ask me where the car keys are, do I really want a relationship of silence? Well okay, maybe some days.

Not only is the texting price tag absurd, but 1800 texts a month takes time. It eliminates the opportunity to talk. It causes carpel tunnel. Texting while driving? Don’t get me started.

A good conversation for me, is indeed, a lot like black coffee. It makes me think. It makes me laugh and sometimes cry. Conversations teach and probe and make us reflect. I realize teenagers are a breed of their own, but I hope texting is a short-lived phase for our kids.

Even if she falls on her face, I hope my daughter can learn to talk to a boy. Or a girl. Or her parents. OMG.