The enemy…..

sylvia-plath-quote-1

Plath was one of the original “confessional poets,” and her poetry, at first, was not well received. Her poetry, however, spoke to many. Much love for the Plath!

Fiction = Lies / Writers = Liars?

gaiman.jpgNeil Gaiman says lies are what fiction is made of. Well, yes, but….

He says, we make up people and places and put them in circumstances which aren’t true. Yes, well, but…

But we tell some sort of universal truth with these lies and that’s what makes it good fiction.

Gaiman is all about honesty, so I’m surprised he calls what we do lies. I don’t consider fiction lies. But I can see how people think it is. But then, do we call writers liars? I would hope not.

There’s a difference, isn’t there?  I, personally, keep my life honest. I appreciate honesty from everyone in my circle and will not continue to be around people who are known to have lied.

Plato believed fiction was dangerous to society. He wrote in “dialogues” to teach philosophy or what he believed philosophical truths.

He was fictionalizing these dialogues. And if fictions, like philosophy, seek truth and honesty, aren’t they important?plato.jpg

Gaiman says the magic of fiction is the big, important truth.

I guess, if the fiction doesn’t tell us a truth, it has been a waste of our time, of our words, and is, therefore, a lie.

 

Critique Partners

critiqueisnotscary.jpgThere’s nothing more helpful than having someone read your work and give you the fresh perspective needed to improve.

Recently, my writing partner found a tiny mistake, despite having others read it, reading it aloud, and checking, rechecking, and re-editing it a thousand times. So helpful! I would have been embarrassed had it gone out with that small spelling errors that even spellcheck didn’t catch.

HOWEVER, there’s one thing that’s troublesome about critique groups or partners. The one who does not actually want the advice. I’ve worked with people who, every time I commented on their work, responded by explaining what they’d planned, meant, thought they wrote. They felt they accomplished what they wanted to do and didn’t plan on changing a thing. In other words, they’re weren’t listening. Why they even brought the story to the group, I have no idea. Perhaps they thought the story would be endlessly praised.

Ladies and gentlemen, some praise is necessary and warranted. You may have heard the sandwich method of response. First, say something positive about the work. Next, suggest and improvement. Finally, end with a positive.

In my classes, I actually students to say at least three positive things about any piece of work before we launch into the “room for improvement.”

Showing others their work is exceptionally hard for some people.And there are always good things to be said about any attempt.

But a good critique is learning to be open to hearing what is being said. Respond not with denial and deflection, but consideration of the comments received.

When I’m reading or editing, I ask the writer’s purpose and hopes for the piece. This helps me focus the response a little better. I also discuss the critique so I can be more specific with their desired outcome. Therefore, I do try hard to take into consideration the writer’s ideas.

After the last group with the writer who spent the whole time denying and explaining rather than listening, I avoided responding to that writer. A good critique is work. Not listing to other’s ideas will not win you friends and improve your work.

 

Defeat Creative Block

wolf.pngGive it physicality.

Give it a personality.

Describe it. Face it. Challenge it. And beat it down.

The Watcher at the Gate by Gail Godwin talks about creative block. One of the assignments I give my class is to draw a picture of what stops them from writing. Some of them draw a picture of an old english professor and some draw pictures of wild beasts. They report, that after giving their block a presence, they are better able to handle it.

 

Photo Credit

Women’s History – Women Writers

le-guin-1

Read

We’ve heard that we should read aloud to ourselves. And we absolutely know this works. We are able to hear our mistakes, rewrite and hear it a different way to see if it sounds better.

Man Writing WEB

But how many of us actually do it?

Back in the day (as my students say), copy-editors and writers read the work aloud with one another or within a group to catch mistakes before publications. Some critique groups do this as well.

When I read aloud, it sounds the way I think I want it to sound. It helps me to have someone else read it to me while I’m reading it on the screen.

This is what I suggest. Microsoft word has a setting that will read the text to you. I’ve found this incredibly helpful.

There are a number of programs if you don’t have microsoft or can’t stand the monotone.

Some writers record themselves reading the story, then listen to it while they reread in order to catch mistakes.

Let’s be honest – we all make mistakes. And to be more honest – it doesn’t look good in publication. Unfortunately, I’ve sent things out with mistakes. Fortunately, I’ve had some great editors (and publishers) who called my attention to these errors.

 

Memoir is Not Revenge – The legality of using real names.

memoir

 

When I started writing memoir, someone said they had no desire for revenge and so they would never write memoir.

But memoir is not about revenge. And you shouldn’t write memoir to get revenge.

Basically, it is believed, a writer can use an actual name of a real person because we all have our points of view and, if they disagree with yours, they can write your own.

 

 

HOWEVER, consider these things:

  1. Why do you feel the need to use that person’s full name? Is it for revenge?
  2. Don’t give enough information so any reader might contact them. All you need these days is a name, city, and google.
  3. Do you feel so strongly about using their real name that you want to face a possible lawsuit; whether or not they will win, they may be granted a day in court.

In the memoir pieces I’ve written, I’ve made minor changes to names. This gives anyone in the piece deniability if they’re ever asked whether or not they are the person in my writing; as well, it doesn’t necessarily point to them, and I am able to defend myself should anyone be looking to sue me. Or, in other words, I have deniability.