Archive | April 2014

Lucky that writers have different perspectives and ideas!

Books would never come to be if it were not for the imagination of writers to see ordinary things in an extraordinary way

Books would never come to be if it were not for the imagination of writers to see ordinary things in an extraordinary way

One thing that always amazes me is how many different ways there are to look at something. When the same writing assignment is given to many writers, the variety of results will boggle the mind.

Ideas are what differentiate one person from another and even when ideas start to coincide, perspectives add another dimension to the similar thoughts that are there in beginning.

We are so lucky that every person thinks in a unique way or what would writers write about? We have been told that there are only so many plots or themes out there, yet writers continue to amaze and startle us with their interpretation of those themes. From the depths of souls and escaping from often warped minds, come a wealth of material and stories that cause us to face them with shock and awe. We are in disbelief at the turn this story took or the basis for that writing. Unbelievable concepts and unlikely character pairings bring us some of the best writing possible.

How boring the literary world would be without people who could see beyond the norm and capture moments and ideas that make no sense when first conceived. The writer that plods on to explore worlds that only exist in their minds is fearless. They are travelers never thwarted by barriers the less timid of us could not break down.

Our world is only made worth living by those giant intellects and imaginative brave souls that can traverse unseen worlds and bring to life exotic creatures and impossible characters of note.

Thank God for writers and their fantastic gift he provided them.

What books should be on everyone’s reading list?

I enjoy checking out recommended reading lists to see what I should be reading. The problem is every list is rather subjective. It includes the books someone deems vital to be read as part of a well-rounded education, but are they relevant to you?

Recommended reading lists usually include many of the classics we were forced to read in school. That’s okay with me since I love the classics and want my reading to encompass as many tomes as possible in a variety of genres. Any self-imposed list I create is one with a variety of classics. I still think timeless books offer so many opportunities to learn about excellent writing. They also usually have stories and plots that have not been rivaled in centuries.

Reading lists make a great guideline to help you have a program that includes many authors and important works to consider. Reading lists can only be followed in regards to your available time to read and study. Though we would love to read it all, we must choose from the many suggested offerings since most of us don’t have unlimited time. Such a shame!

In order to truly study an author requires you to read most everything they have ever written. With some prolific authors that idea can be overwhelming. First you need to choose an author from those suggested. You can begin with a sampling of their work, say three or four volumes. If you enjoy them, it means another choice. Will you begin a more sophisticated study and read many more titles they write. If you feel your sampling has indicated you don’t enjoy them or wish to continue with their works, then you must once again choose a different author. Most lists offer several authors with their most important works, but I think life is too short to waste time reading what you do not love unless it is a part of a class or course of study.

When I look at lists I usually find I have read many of the recommended books, but it was so long ago, even from my school days that I may not even remember what the title was about now. I am of a firm belief that sometimes we read books at the wrong time of our lives and they are much less relevant then they would be at a different time for us. Often, where you are in life determines what you get out of a book. I regularly wish to revisit those books that left a lasting impression upon me. If they seemed important at the time and still hold a place in my heart, memory or soul, they should be reread.

So what would be the first three ‘must read books’ you would recommend to others?

Do writer’s minds work differently than other peoples?

When a thought comes to my mind that makes no sense, seems impossible, why does my mind refuse to accept that assessment of that thought? Instead of being rational, practical or even smart about this silly intrusion into normalcy, I say yes, why not?

The writer’s mind must have different components or dimensions or some other necessity that makes our thinking perverse and strange, but never out of the question. We see the crooked path it reveals as something slightly challenging to straighten, but are ready to proceed down that road. We see no reason why it cannot be traveled.

Flying upside down may just be normal to writers!

Flying upside down may just be normal to writers!

When the perfect crime insists on being part of the knowledge we possess, though we don’t actually go out and rob that bank or murder that individual, we know deep in our secret hearts, it is possible. It would work.

The image of a character comes into our thoughts almost complete with ‘warts and all’ and we can worry that image until it breathes. Our minds do not stop to say, that isn‘t right, that can’t be but, instead accepts those characters in their entire splendor and if it were possible would invite them to dinner that very evening even though we ‘just met.’

It makes no difference whether or not the world we create in our troubled minds contains any element of truth or reality. We really don’t care, but we want others to care. We want readers to find our craziness plausible. We crave acceptance from many people who don’t think like us. We search out those who will believe the world we created exists and are already buying their tickets for the next tour there.

So writer’s minds are different, they are unusual in their manner of thinking. But isn’t that so with every artist?

If our thought processes were like every other persons, who would be intrigued by we writers? Who would actually read what we have written? Just a thought!

 

Painting pictures with your words

Words are the tools of writers and writers are artists as I believe, then sentences can be the brushstrokes that paint a picture. Finding the special words that help the reader visualize all you say is the answer to good writing.

When you think of a special book you loved something in it made you feel and something helped you relate to the theme or message. Words of course are responsible but, especially those that help you to see what you are reading.

If you can see it, no matter how crazy the idea, you will give it some credence. You find it much easier to believe what you see so those words that paint the scene enable you to completely take it in. You can smell the newly mown grass, you can feel the pebbles under bare feet and you can see the entire place where these people relay the story.

When you visualize her gown, you must have word details. Is it silk, or velvet, gauzy stuff or satin? Does it follow her shape and compliment every curve or is it one of those pieces of attire meant to cover up and not even suggest a woman’s shape? Is it there to romanticize the moment, seduce the most eligible male, or help her remain cool and aloof? Does her garment serve to protect her as some broken, teen girls use the over-sized, dark clothing to hide any sense of sexuality and keep them safe that way?

Painting word pictures when introducing characters is vital if the reader is to relate at all to the character, to even know who they are and what they look like. The reader’s interpretation may differ slightly from what you intend but, it still is their starting point before the reader’s imagination completes the photo. How well you paint that picture is how close the reader will see the person you wished them to envision. If they recognize the same person as you have written, that should be a coup for the writer.

Artists paint in bold strokes or sometimes it is a meld of colors arranged in ways that express a feeling more than a picture. Writers can do the same thing. They can ‘state a picture’ boldly and simply with strong exact words or add nuances to the colors and shapes by many words. Softening and highlighting, creating the chiaroscuro the balance and contrast of dark and light are all part of an artist’s creating process. Why can’t it be with a writer as well?

Personal Reflections: Easter brings hope to a broken world

Some days when the cruelty of man to man or people to beasts of any kind gets me down, I try to take comfort of a sort in the fact that nothing is new under the sun. This has been with us from eternity. Nothing can be said to have never been done before. It has always been part of our lives, unfortunately, forever.

The King James Version, Ecclesiastes 1:9 confirms this is the case. The statement means that these terrible acts have always been with us. It says, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” That should scare us.

Christians have a much better understanding of what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ went through when being judged and crucified. Thanks to good preachers and authentic, but horrifying movies. We know the madness that precipitated this. We know the real truth about how horrid this time was for our Lord.

We read often, in the papers or see on the news casts or online that people are continuing in this cruel and unfeeling way. They do not value life in many cases. They feel whatever they want to do that pleases them is okay and so hurt and harm, maim and kill without a moments’ hesitation.

People should be horrified by the news and frightened to even venture from their homes but, somehow we are stronger than that and have minds that overcome the madness and feelings of hope for the world and humanity. That strength and hope comes from our faith, but also from other people- the good ones. These are the folks who care for others well-being more than their own. Who carry on despite great odds and succeed or at least survive what others feared they never would be able to do.

At this Easter season, we must have hope. We must renew our spirit and look ahead to what we can look forward to and how we can make success happen. We must remember all the good in the world and the love that people share with us and be grateful for it. We must thank God he gave his son to die for our sins and rise again to complete our salvation and offer us hope in a broken world. We must be able to look beyond the cruelty and misery and know there is something better in store for us and accept it. We must remember God has a plan for each one of us and embrace it. Trust him to know what is best and let him lead us. Pray for guidance since God said ask and it shall be received.

Don’t doubt, even when the world wishes you to believe God, Jesus the resurrection and heaven are myths. Refuse to succumb to this false idea as born again Christians know our God is a real God. They know Jesus died for our sins and rose again from the dead to give us everlasting life.

Tomorrow as Easter sunrise occurs, make sure you can truthfully say, “He is raised. He is risen indeed.” God bless us all.

Messy desk or orderly one?

I confess. I’m a messy person! Yes, messy is common on my desk most of all. While admitting I am messy, I must qualify it with my most pathetic excuses- I am interested in too many things, always have several projects going on at once and usually have 2 or 3 animals with me at all times. These things explain, but don’t excuse the problem.

First let’s consider the room. My Creation room is rather small, less than 8×10. It currently houses many items, since it is here that I try to be creative. This of course means writing, but it also holds craft supplies. Add to this my newest project which is attempting to start seeds indoors under lights, also on a large metal folding table. Hey, I told you it’s a creation room and gardening certainly applies to that category.

It also houses two small collections, very small, thank God, since there really is no room; one of musical carousel horses and one of cats. We are true animal lovers, had myself worried sick when my favorite all black squirrel was shivering in the wind on a leafless tree.no I didn’t bring it inside, mainly because I have no room.My husband has the dog collection, mainly Labs in his small man cave. He also collects anything airplane, so far mainly artwork and models. Our house is small and cozy, but rapidly getting crowded. I have actually got rid of some collections and packed others away. But I digress.

My desk which keeps changing to accommodate each new idea is currently a rather nice, small wooden kitchen table. It contains a laptop and printer, a lamp, assorted writing utensils and a darling birdcage( with cats on top to go with my cat collection) planter waiting for the right size plant. But in addition, is the large pile of papers waiting to be organized or filed or thrown.I will, since returning to writing, need file cabinets. I have had many different types in the past, but my last ones were stacked plastic affairs (they worked fine) but, now they hold fabric in anticipation of ever having time to learn to quilt.

So the room is crowded and at any given time, I have 2 or more pets that must be with me . When you add a desk chair, a stuffed chair which I rarely get to sit on since a pet usually claims it and a couple bookcases; you can see adding an additional 175 pounds of animal can create a crowded environment. This is a very long, convoluted, about way of saying, space is scare and so mess is likely in these conditions. Thank goodness for walls as they hold more craft supplies, planters and photos of our three grandsons so I can stare at  their wonderful faces as I try to think. Don’t see any of them nearly enough.But yes, the desk!

Getting back to my desk it has files and piles of paperwork, writing notes, booster club agendas, many interview notes and photo and descriptions of rescue pets in need of fostering or adopting.

Not sure whether I should designate certain days to do certain things or continue on in my chaotic style schedule and do something from each category every day. When writing a book, you must be much more disciplined, but doing more casual projects requires working with less deadlines and allows a more relaxed attitude.

But back to the desk, every day I start out with the best of intentions to organize and tackle the paper pagoda, but then something comes up, distraction occurs and the pile remains. I am called away, lured away by other computer activities or with 5 pets someone almost always needs to go outside or come in. Then there are those pesky, mundane events like showering, eating, preparing meals and feeding the pack. They are slightly more important than cleaning a disorganized desk so it still is messy. The important thing is I can almost always find anything in the house, even in My Creation room.

So how important is a clean desk anyway? Do you think it matters? Does a neat desk make you more prolific when writing? Do you write better? Does neatness bring serenity? Do you feel more comfortable with everything in its place?

What does the state of your desk need to be for you or do you even care because when I am in the throes of writing, nothing else matters?

 

Words-love them, hate them, but do we truly understand them?

 

 Words are wonderful, but can also be terrible. They can be simple or complex, but they are not easy for most people to understand. We may love words, but picking the exact right one still plagues writers, poets.

Loving words, I know how lacking in variety and depth my personal vocabulary is most of the time. Occasionally, a word comes to me while writing and I am happy I made its acquaintance before and can put it to use. More often the discovery of actually understanding a word comes while reading. Still I am amazed when I have rightly guessed or actually known a less than popular word.

Words can be so confusing when they mean so many different variants of the same thought such as the word ‘intellectual.’ I always thought I understood that word perfectly but gave it some twists of my own which are not necessarily correct. An intellectual, to me, has always been someone who excelled at using their mind. They were in possession of an extremely rare gift of understanding the most difficult concepts and being able to use their intellect in superior ways. I thought they were on a pedestal far above the best students and at the very top of the hierarchy of smart.

While checking the word for definitions, it mentioned anyone using their intellect such as a writer or teacher is considered an intellectual. Well, there goes my long held theory blown to bits. I will shyly call myself a writer because I actually do write. No room to explore whether it is worthwhile or not or read and valued by others, just the fact that I write makes me an intellectual according to this dictionary.

Not only the fact that a writer or teacher can be considered an intellectual; according to this same dictionary, anyone who highly values a good mind is also considered an intellectual. Now, how does that differentiate between us common folk and the advanced student who excels and understands almost everything they learn? It doesn’t, but the same word expresses so many different things that confusion abounds when trying to decipher many words. How then can a writer convey the exact message they wish to send the reader? How can we paint the exact picture we wish someone else to see upon hearing our words? If one word means so many different things, it seems to me that the writer has a challenging problem to say what they mean.

Another misconception for me of an intellect is someone who uses long, uncommon words and uses them so well. When we are told that on the Internet, the average reading level can be at a fourth grade level and that is what we should write to, how can we be an intellectual and still accomplish that goal? When I write online and use a word that is not usual, I immediately think I am not making my writing clear for the ‘unwashed masses.’ Not every person has a great vocabulary. I often find myself, changing a word and making it less interesting but more easily understood by others. In order for readers to grow and improve, they must learn new words, we all should, but then can that force a reader to stop reading your writing, thinking it too hard a challenge?

Poets are the brave ones when it comes to being able to write at a higher level and still goading us on to understand the word that they used because it was just right, not because it was easy.

I also find myself if not wholly disregarding the chosen words to be replaced for clarity, then limiting myself in how many high sounding words I pepper into a single piece of writing. This sounds even stranger when I write this down, but yet I think it is the truth and I’m always hungering after the truth.

The beauty of words is that there are so many and if we strive to learn a great amount of them, we may find that perfect word that adds the right touch to our writing, but we will always still be stuck with words that mean too many things like ‘intellectual.’

Random thoughts- I needed to vent today-some days the cruelty in the world is overwhelming

Does anyone else get overwrought and ill from the cruelty in the world? Some days it hurts my heart to see the disregard for human life. The horrible way people treat their children and their pets. The abuse of the innocent is horrid such as that perpetrated on children, the elderly, pets and those disabled individuals who have enough to overcome.

It makes me feel so sad to understand that to many people human life means nothing. They are so selfish as to put their desires, no matter how warped, above the basic common caring of their fellow life travelers. Those need not be humans but can be any living thing that requires our kindness to act humanely.

Growing up, we were taught to respect everyone’s feelings and treat them as we would like to be treated. We learned the Ten Commandments as well as the Golden Rule and tried very hard to live by it. Even those less religious among us had a sense of what decency meant and it became an inherent part of our being and our code. Yes, I know, there is nothing new under the sun, but it is splashed across every news outlet and even social media, where many of us first get our news, has no holds barred.

I watch, read and listen to story after story of school shootings and now stabbings. I get a full to overflowing meal of the most unsavory stories about what one person has done to another person. We hear about even parents killing and abusing their own kids. Many women thinking it is okay to abort a baby, not even considering it to be a person as I do.

The world is full of despair and tragedy, both personal and worldwide. We are constantly trying to right wrongs with our often less than adequate justice system. We imprison people who probably would benefit more from therapy than being jailed with the worse examples of humanity you could find. They learn more about crime and hate in prison than anywhere else. To counteract this, we let free some of the worse people in society or just tell them they were naughty and to not do it again, when they need to be looked away from society forever and lose all privileges or worse.

Fortunately, when I feel this way and get on my rant about the bad in life, I also cannot help to remember those good people who do wonderful deeds for others. The pay-it- forward kind of folk who are doing acts of random kindness.

There are people in tiny churches feeding the poor from congregations that barely exist in their own right. There are prayers going out for all those in need and charities to fight abuse and victimization of every living thing. We have people who share their homes, their meals and their lives with those less fortunate as they foster children, handicapped individuals and pets. There are folks whose main mission is to bring up someone’s self-esteem or help them fight a dreadful addiction. Organizations that grant wishes to dying children and people who shave their heads to support cancer victims are good and our heroes. God is truly good and he is not responsible for all the evil. That would be a fallen angel and all of us who do not use our free will correctly, compassionately or completely to help our fellow man.

The pain is there as we view the world in its entirety and the pain brings overwhelming sadness. Before it engulfs you take a moment to consider the good in the world and it will help lessen that pain.

 

Social media keeps writers connected to the real world

Writing can be a very lonely profession, but it almost needs to be in order to provide the correct environment for sustainable production. When you shut yourself away from people, even those you love to be close to, it helps your writing at that moment in time, but is it good for us to become so solitary? Don’t we need human connection to stimulate us and help us feel like we belong to the real world?

For me the best solution is to be active on social media networks like Facebook. In real life, I feel I have very few friends that are close enough to connect with daily. In my online life, I feel surrounded by people who care about me and also want to be part of my current situation. When people comment on your status it feels like they care. When they ask questions of you, it feels like real conversation and they are taking part in an event of some importance to you. Sometimes the advice they offer is golden. Other times a simple ‘like’ indicates a person who has thoughts much as you do or maybe just appreciates the thing you said and that makes us feel awesome.

Getting the news from social media at least alerts me to check more reliable sources and lets me know something important deserves my attention. If everyone is talking about it, I should also know about what happened.

When we post something it opens ourselves up to praise as well as criticism and forms yet another connection with your virtual friends. We feel like we have made a connection with like minds so it is okay to let yourself be vulnerable when this is what could result.
Even when we don’t connect with conversation, but enjoy a photo or joke it tends to produce some kind of emotion in us. We love or hate it, it makes us feel sad or angry; but, whatever it does it is possible to be helpful to us or at least make us feel alive and less alone. Social media is a valuable connection for those who spend solitary hours alone. We need to fell part of the bigger picture. We need to feel like we are with others without taking so much time away from our passion to actually be with others.

I in no way advocate never spending time with family and friends in real life. You must share your life with your loved ones, but those writing in earnest or trying to make a living from it or attempting a book need the type of dedication that eliminates many social encounters. Try to keep involved a little with social media so as to let you feel less lonely and deprived and more in tune with the world.

Every experience should enrich you

Every experience you have in life should enrich you in some way. Even the bad experiences will leave you something- a feeling, an effect on you or maybe a new turn in life. Because of an experience, your life could change, your goals could be reset and your direction re-calculated.

Musicians have always used the everyday experiences both good and bad to draw from for material for their music. Poets and writers tend to do the same, if not, why not?

When an experience is so significant as to make you feel something intensely it is grist for your mill. This type of event leaves its mark which in turn can have you re-examining your whole life. It might make you see that your priorities are wrong. It could result in the knowledge that you have been wasting your life due to past events and this acceptance of that fact could help you move forward.

Experiences such as death of a friend or loved one produce grief and often a re-evaluation of your own mortal life. The grief you may experience can be all encompassing and enrich you even though the feeling is not pleasant.

On the other hand, the joy of a new baby or special holiday celebration will enrich you in quite another way. It will increase your feeling of valuing what you have and all the blessings currently being bestowed upon you. The significance of how lucky you are could produce feeling of euphoria that will enrich your mood and thought process. It seems to me that the happy times result in an appreciation which extends itself to your writing.

Of course, there are many other experiences that do not fall into the sad or happy category, but result in other emotions. An experience such as being angry might help you examine your too quick temper or help you explore ways to slow down the explosion when the fuse is too short.

A learning experience can be very enriching for obvious reasons, but many more subtle changes may result. Besides gaining knowledge, it could help with skills dealing with people and be a lesson in human nature as you work in groups to achieve a goal or create a project.

Worry is another less than pleasant experience which teaches and enriches as you see the complexity of life and try to find ways to solve problems or meet challenges.

Each and every experience creates something that can be used to enrich and teach you more about life. These can be valuable experiences for a writer. When they take the time to really understand what is happening to them, they are the better for it.