Seeing Stories

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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.

The Ever Popular Tortured Artist…

Is it true, Ms Lace, that all writers are alcoholics?

No.

But they all drink, right?

No.

My blah, blah, blah said that he gets his best ideas and does his best writing when he drinks.

 

Well, I guess I have heard you should write drunk and edit sober.

Maybe he does that.

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I’m not a fan of the stereotype of the tortured artist. Some artists have experienced hardships. There is no need to go seeking hardship in order to be a writer.

It is a waste of time to emulate other successful authors’ negative habits. It’s my understanding it takes a lot of time and effort to build up a tolerance to become an alcoholic or drug addict and still be able to function. Sounds like a waste of valuable writing time and meaningful brain cells – which one needs in order to write well.

Skip torturing yourself, creating drama, hurting others – life is hard enough. Just write.

You Muse Me

Many people have an abstract idea about the muse – or more to the point, the muses, minor goddesses who were often found in Apollo’s company. They represented the arts with each being assigned a specialty.

The Muses:

  • Calliopemuse
  • Clio
  • Erato
  • Euterpe
  • Melpomene
  • Polyhymnia
  • Terpsichore
  • Thalia
  • Urania

 

Choose one – and write a story about her, maybe you run into her at your local coffee bar, or shopping. What does she do, say, need?

Alone, in the dark, write

Turn off as many lights as you can bear. Except, of course, a little book light or candle so you can write.

As your eyes adjust, you’ll be able to see things, outlines, shapes; write about the darkness surrounding you, what you can see, what you can’t see, and what you wish you could see.

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Dreamcatcher Poem

dreamcatcherThe dreamcatcher is supposed to catch bad dreams and let the good dreams through.

Write down an image remembered from a dream, a word, a sound, a thought, into each space.

Then put them together – or leave them as is.

A dreamcatcher is random. Your poem might be as well. Yet, at some point, some place, in some way, it’ll all come together.

Friday Motivation

poe.jpgIn the morning, when I’m writing, I have a cup of tea sitting next to the computer as I write. It starts steaming hot and I sip. I set it down and if I get moving on my writing, it slowly grows cold.

My cup sees me in the morning the way no one else does, hair up, sweats on, staring at the screen with the cup pressed between my hands, sometimes next to my lips. What else does my coffee cup see?

What would your coffee cup say about you?

Imagine a story about you or your family from your coffee cup’s point of view.