Rules of Writing?

I came across this list from Margaret Atwood and had to share. It’s quite humorous.

Margaret Atwoodphoto of margaret atwoods book covers.jpg

1 Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.

2 If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.

3 Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

4 If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.

5 Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.

6 Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

7 You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

8 You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.

9 Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.

10 Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

Ode to Silence

cover to here in the silence.jpg

Do you love this cover? I do. I’m fascinated with the place.

I also love the title – which is what this blog used to be called.

It’s a quote by Pete Townshend from his song, I Am an Animal:

“I was always here in the silence
But I was never under your eye”

We’ve all felt that way at some point, haven’t we? Unnoticed? Unwatched. Even though we were there the whole time.

I guess that’s what inspired this book of short stories.

One of my favorite stories in this book of short fiction is “The Places Between.” A story of a couple. I want to say it’s a sad story – he’s always thinking of someone else; she needs a change.

Is that another place we’ve all been? Hopefully, not for long.

 

Inspiration

black and white of women talking over a fence

 

I love old photos.

 

 

 

 

black and white of unhappy children

 

 

They spark the imagination

 

nuns smoking

 

 

 

 

 

Make me want to ask questions.

 

 

 

 

And answer them.

 

 

 

black and white of women walking over a bridge

 

 

In a story.

 

 

 

 

I used to collect old photos I’d found at second hand stores and antique shops for the expressed purpose of telling their stories – giving them life once again.

Find an old photo – at a shop, or the internet, or grandma’s attic,  and tell that story.

 

Family Myths

grandmas last secret coverFamily myths are the richest to mine for stories. Family myths are things that a great aunt or uncle might have done, where they may have worked, lives they may – or may not – have lived.

It is rumored that one of my great grandmothers was Hoffa’s ex-girlfriend. Although when we tried to match up the timeline, it didn’t quite match; however, given a few corrections here and there – who knows?! It’s fun to think about.

Another family myth involves my grandfather – even telling the story here feels like I’m giving away secrets about my family, but my grandmother swore to her dying day that the tale was myth.

My grandfather was shot in the back by a police officer. A number of different stories are told as to why he was shot, but the officer stated he was aiming for his legs.

My grandfather was over 6 feet tall. The cop must have been the worst shot in the world if he was aiming at his legs.

My grandmother lived with people creating myths as to why he was shot. She would tell us stories about aunts and cousins who came to her asking for the truth, asking for money, asking for what they believed my grandmother had which caused his death. I was present for one such argument before my grandmother passed of a cousin asking her for the truth before she died. Grandma’s Last Secret is about one of those myths.

I love family myths so much, that I’m planning to write more stories about them. Maybe I’ll write “Hoffa’s Runaway Bride” someday.

newspaper about hoffa.jpg

Book Group Problems Solved

We’ve all been in book groups. And there is no perfect one. The novels are chosen in different ways, by vote or by the leader or by a different person each time. Sometimes people don’t have time to finish the novel or find it’s too boring to go on.

My friends and I wanted to read and share our thoughts on literature, but none of us had time for a full novel and we didn’t have the freedom to choose one night all of us would be free every month, so we did something a little different.

We created a short story group. We each took turns choosing the story and would email it or bring copies. We didn’t have a specific day or date, but it would be “next time we get together.” This was lunch or dinner or a walk through the park for the following week, two weeks, or occasionally a month.

This became such a wonderful part of our activities. We’d have lunch and then discuss the story, or we’d walk around the pond in our regular conversations before we moved on to talk about the reading.

It was a pleasurable, no pressure way to get our lit fix. WomenWalking.jpg

The Conspiracy of Theories

eyes on a coded screen.jpg

I read friend’s blog about Conspiracy Theories; it inspired me to write this blog. 

I published a story about conspiracy theories in which a few of the characters believe that the microchip is a government tracking device. I believe it appeared in the first issue of Delphinium.

I don’t believe these theories, but I do find some of them interesting. I wonder how they begin. Who is the person that starts them? For example, how did the flat earth conspiracy begin? I was speaking to someone who believes wholeheartedly the world is flat and scientists have been covering for the government for centuries!

We had a rather long discussion of proof wherein he finally said, “Are you only going to believe credentialed sources?”

Uhm. Yes. Sorry. (one of the problems with our country is that people are believing any old damn thing they read on social media or the internet without checking where it comes from. – and another reason why my credentials are published for all to see).

I stumped him with – what is the purpose of hiding the “truth” that the earth is flat? What could be gained by our earth not being round?

I don’t want to tell you his answer.

What does this have to do with writing? EVERYTHING! These conspiracy theories may begin by word of mouth, but someone writes them down and shares them – especially today when everyone and his brother has a website.

This can affect your character – do they believe in any of these? Is your MC an otherwise educated person who is concerned about the identification chips in his dog? Or do they question – maybe not believe – but question the validity of fluoride in our water as a means to mind control?

Or – write a story about one of the theories. There’s a full list on Wiki.

Or – make up your own!

Enjoy – because, you know, because the powers that be want you to laugh at the list.