It Hurts!

yogaWriting hurts – no, seriously, sitting for long periods of time makes my back ache.

Now, we have standing desks, but studies show that’s only moving the pain around, not really as good for you as first thought.

My trainer recommends getting up every fifteen minutes to stretch and walk around. But, when I’m in the flow, three or four hours have gone by and I’ve even forgotten to eat!

Longfellow may have been the first yoga3to use a standing desk; he alternated between sitting and standing, which I think is a good idea.

Charles Dickens described his writing as “prowling rooms, sitting down, getting up….”; It’s purported he owned “all manner of comfortable easy chairs.”

It’s more about the way we sit and stand that is hurting us. Our shoulders coming forward and our heads hung puts far too much pressure on the back of our necks and can cause permanent damage.

Laptops don’t help. When we hadyoga4 our desktop computers, it was all about raising the screen to eye level, sitting in an ergonomic chair, with our arms at a comfortable angle. With laptops, either our head is tilted down or our forearms at a strange angle.

ChildsPoseNoBackground-300x165Yoga to the rescue! In order to keep our backs and legs healthy, there’s a few simple yoga poses (you could even do some of them at your desk!).

Spinx pose will help with those rounded shoulders and neck pressure.

Child’s pose and/or downward dog will also relieve some of the yoga2pressure.

Thread the Needle Pose is one of the best.

These are the easiest, but writers can benefit from a regular yoga class or a yoga routine.

 

 

Readers make the best….

518680-book-1362931097-972-640x480Readers make the best writers….   I think almost every professional writer I know, heard, and read has repeated this.

People who read understand voice because they’ve heard a number of different writers use it.

Readers internalize pacing. The pacing of a story or poem is of the utmost importance.

People who read know more vocabulary. The thesaurus helps, but there’s nothing like knowing the perfect word in the necessary place.

Readers are not affected by others’ style but can recognize a need for individual style.

It’s important to read extensively in your own genre. In academia, we refer to it by “adding our voice to the conversation.” One must know what is being done in order to respond, in any number of ways, to it.

People who read are aware of the benefits that serve their writing.

Review Power

BUFA-Time-for-Review.jpgOne writer wrote recently that they’d received some really nice reviews, but one reader sent an email blasting him for some part of his novel. He took this to heart and let it destroy his mood and his confidence in his writing.

One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch of readers.

The cold, hard fact is – writers need reviews. But I’m not sold that a bad one is actually a bad thing to have. It shows that people, other than family, friends, and hardcore fans have taken the chance. Critical readers will look at the review closely to see what the person took issue with. Reviews that just say, “terrible,” just like reviews that say, “it was great,” doesn’t tell the readers anything and they’re likely to overlook these. If the reviewer said something more specific, “weak characters,” yet others have said the opposite, they’re likely to judge for themselves.

There’s another cold, hard fact – most readers don’t leave reviews. I know I’ve sold far index.jpgmore books than the few reviews that I have. It’s not write, or even ethical, to pay for reviews, although such services exist.

So – readers – review the novel, book, ebook, story, etc in an honest and fair way. If you didn’t enjoy it, but it wasn’t terrible, be gentle in your criticism. The writers behind these books are human and did put a lot of work into them.

Writers – don’t get upset by a bad review. Not everyone is going to like your work. That’s the value of diversity in our society. Everyone has different tastes. Focus on the good reviews, but do read the not so favorable ones.

Fear of …?

istock_000012625357xsmall1There’s a theory that we don’t fear failure, we fear success.

A researcher gave graduating students an impromptu essay prompt: “After finding out Joe/Jane aced their medical exams for graduation, he/she …..”

It’s reported that the vast majority of students set up a scenario in which Joe or Jane went out and partied, got in some sort of trouble, an accident, arrested, or in some cases just gave up and “decided to do something else with their lives.”

The researchers decided this was not an indication of the fear of failure, because they’d set up a scenario in which the person(Joe/Jane) had already succeeded, yet the students then wrecked the plan. Therefore, they surmised it a fear of success.fear

This possible fear of success comes from anxiety, which is rampant in society today. People stay where they are comfortable, where they are familiar, and their habits serve them. Moving on to the next level, success, will bring about different challenges, and the fear of the unknown wins out.

It occurs to me that this happens to writers. People write, and write, and write, but then don’t submit. Is it really the rejection they fear? or is it the success?  Think of all the anxiety that comes with the next level of publishing. You’ll be expected to do well, to do it again. And, what else might change?

What do you think? What do you fear?

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The Comma Coma – a deadly disease

Do you go into a coma when someone starts talking about commas?

Don’t get bit by the deadly comma coma bug! Figure out how to make the comma work for you, not against you!

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The purpose of all punctuation is to clarify your thoughts and ideas so readers can enjoy and understand the book!

Did you have a teacher that told you, “whenever you feel the need to pause, insert a comma”?

WORST ADVICE EVER!

When we are writing, we naturally pause to think. That is not necessarily where a legal-grammar-rules-keep-calm-and-use-commas-e1490740001283comma needs to be.

Commas have a number of rules. My favorite site to use – and to introduce to my students – is the Owl at Purdue. Their comma usage explanations are clear and detailed.

One of my editor-friends believes the comma used for introductory words, phrases, and clauses is “going the way of the dinosaur.” While I agree that some people and publications seem to think so, I think it’s still a valid and needed use. [I’ve used introductory commas in this blog – one was in the previous sentence, “While I agree…]

The Fanboys rules is the easiest to remember; however, because of the number of teachers giving the pause advice, I get sentences that look like this:

The Rams won but, not everyone was happy.

We sometimes punctuate our speech this way for emphasis, but you can’t hear tone in these words, and it’s just wrong.  < this sentence contains correct use of the fanboys rule.

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My students often ask me to explain the whole “Oxford Comma” disagreement. Well, it goes like this: There are people who use the oxford comma and then there are monsters!

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Commas are confusing, but they’re not impossible to learn. Any editor is going to appreciate the correct use of commas regardless of how much they appreciate or introductory comma. 🙂

 

 

Reader Response

Some authors are unhappy when readers see something in their story, novel, or poem that was not intended.

I subscribe to the theory of reader response. Our work is going to touch different people in different ways; readers are going to get out of it something related to what they bring to it, so if they don’t see what we originally intended, they are not wrong, nor did they read it wrong, they are merely giving the writer an insight.front-cover-small

I, personally, am thrilled when readers see something I hadn’t intended. For my novella, West End, one reader said the melancholy of the main character haunted her. Other readers believed some of the characters might have actually been spirits or ghosts. One of the characters, I left open. His questionable appearances deepened the story and the effects on the main character who is dealing with depression.

However, when another reader felt that the son might have been a ghost – it made me go back and reread my own work!

Once the story, novel, or poem is out there, readers are going to take away or put into it whatever is in their own toolbox and we can not control it. We may not like it – I had one person mistake me for one of my characters – but we do have to accept it. I usually thank the reader for their insights, regardless of what I feel about the response.

All readings are good readings!

If you’re interested in reading West End – it’ll be on sale Saturday and Sunday. And – then let me know what you think!