Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Lucky lucky luck - or as I call it ' Pluck'

It's another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Go to the link to see who has posted this month or to sign up yourself!

The Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

This month the optional question is:  Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

Okay, let me elaborate - I have one ritual that I use in order to start writing. That ritual is to say to myself 

No one asked you to be a writer and there is only one activity that makes you one. Sit down and write.

Sure, sometimes it is tough to follow my own dictate, but I have found no magic formula for doing so. I wear whatever clothes I grabbed in the morning. Sometimes I have coffee with me, but it depends on what time of day I sat down to write. I don't drink coffee in the afternoon. I don't listen to music, because I'm one of those people who likes to listen to music when I listen to music. I don't understand background music. I never have. And I LOVE music. The other day I listened to a two and a half hour concert of Stephen Sondheim music (his 90th birthday tribute). I only listened and moaned and cried and laughed.

I don't have any specific writing amulets, though my writing room is full of tchotchkes ranging from little lead cows, to feathers, stones, bits of wood, a bed doll and various crooked knives and an ulu - but these are always here. Okay, okay...I did put the crooked knives on the window ledge so they would be particularly present, as the book I'm writing is called Crooked Knife, but truly that is not because I'm superstitious.

I am actually. Quite. But not about writing. The only voice I invoke is that of my father - who says 'bum glue' and 'pitter patter let's fly atter' and 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going.' Yes, he's been gone for nine years, but his voice carries.

Okay, now it is back to work I go. Only ten more days until this baby has to be delivered. Yikes!

Here is a very good luck rabbit that was on my front lawn this morning. He had four (FOUR!) lucky rabbit's feet.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Z is for Zephyr in the A to Z of revising

Sometimes we must let the cool breeze of a Zephyr wind blow over us  - we need to be refreshed in our Zealous journey to create a novel, we need to put aside our Zest for the word, Zip our mouths and understand that there is Zilch that we need to do. We need  to steal some much needed ZZZZZs - stand back from our manuscript and with a cool Zinger, tell ourselves that there is no need for us to become Zowerswopped!*  

* grumpy or ill-natured, from old English.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Y is for Yoked to the Story in the A to Z of revising

Yoked to the story - when we hear the word yoked, we usually hear it as a bad thing. It is to be enslaved, to be bound tight with a force you do not want. But sometimes we pick up the yoke and put its harness on our own shoulders. If I want to turn the mill to grind the flour and my poor mule has died, well then, I may freely choose to put the yoke's harness upon myself and do the work.

Sometimes, during the arduous process of revising, I want someone else to wear the yoke - but it is mine and it is best if I fully acknowledge that. No one needs my story - there are plenty of them out there - it was my choice to begin this venture and if I want others to be able to read this story (and I do) then I must yoke myself to it until it is finished. In this case, I surrender to its needs, not my own. How to make this story live? Not by abandoning it before it breathes.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

X marks the spot in the A to Z of revising

X marks the spot and it is marked on the chair in front of your desk, and it is where your bum goes. Do not wait for the muse. Mark an x on your chair and sit down. If you sit there every day - your revision will get done, if only through pure boredom. Make it so!

Here is my 2016 version of X in revising:

X is for using your x-ray vision

Oh! Remember Superman and how he wouldn't use his x-ray vision for most of the things we would? Well now I want you to use yours. I know you have it  -  at least with your own manuscripts. I want you to remember to look below your words. Our words are like a skin on the body of the work. Like our own skin - our outer organ - it is often mistaken for the whole thing.

What? If my novel isn't words what is it?

It is what the words are protecting and transporting. And that my friend is emotion, insight, and intention. It has to be there or your words won't ring authentic. If we write at all we write to move others - to get them to understand what we understand, to feel what we feel, to see what we see.

When we think of our loved ones, our babies, our lovers, our friends, our family - do we think 'my oh my they have such lovely exteriors that I don't care if they are empty inside!' ? No - or not at least when we are over 14 years old (or reluctant adults holding on to a view of the world that isn't of interest to most of us).

If I feel my interest starting to flag, my eyes drooping, when I'm reading or listening to someone tell a story, I know there is a lie in there. It has ceased to be authentic. That is my x-ray vision at work. If I'm with a client (I'm a psychotherapist) I will jerk myself awake and say to the client 'hey what are you telling me? Something isn't right."  Nine times out of ten I am right. We locate the truth (usually hidden behind fear) and get it out. You must use your x-ray vision on your manuscript. When you feel bored or duped - stop and fix or at least mark it for a later fix (but if not now- when?)

So fire up your super powers of observation and x-ray your ms.  Here is Bella for no reason!

Monday, April 27, 2020

W is for Word Choice in the A to Z of revising

WORD CHOICE seems like an odd thing to focus on, unless you are a writer and you are revising. What else do writers do but choose words?  When we are writing our first hot run through we may throw any word down - just to hold the place. We might call a sunset beautiful. It may be beautiful, but it is unlikely we'll leave it like that in revision. We choose our words carefully during revision. Every word should be hauling its weight and more. We should look at a word as if we were planning a dinner party - each guest must have something to add or no invite.  In a novel you might have around 80 thousand words so there is quite a bit of choosing to do. You might think, that unlike poetry, you can afford some bumf, but you'd be wrong. For instance, I just chose the word bumf (which can also be spelled bumph). It means extra paper - documents etc... so isn't exactly the correct word - but it is the right word. Why? Because readers will understand the meaning as I've intended it, and they will like the sound of it. It has a satisfying mouth feel and it isn't cliche.

If you are a writer you'd best like words. Shakespeare invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives and putting different words together in new ways. You can invent words (I did it all the time as a child) and you don't have to be a genius to get away with it. Perhaps you do. Hard to say. But why not leap into it? The point is to make your words work. If they won't pick up the shovel, then give them the old heave-ho. Heave-hoify them - see what I did there?

Now I must get to my own revising. I'm a few days away from getting this draft done and then I'll have two weeks to shine it up. See you on the flip side!