Writing Tips

 

“Bad writing precedes good writing. This is an infallible rule, so don’t waste time trying to avoid bad writing. (That just slows down the process.) Anything committed to paper can be changed. The idea is to start and go from there.” –Janet Hulstrand

 

“Self-doubt, exhaustion, and confusion are part of the process. Embrace them and don’t stop writing to examine what you have. The world is full of people trying to perfect chapter one.” –Kerry Greenwood

 

“If you are struggling with writing a character, write 20 things a reader will never know about your character. These will naturally bleed into your writing and provide a richness even though you don’t share the detail.” –Barbara Poelle

The Writing Is On The Wall

Poetry is a powerful medium especially when combined with music. Add visuals and it becomes exponentially more powerful, enveloping an array of human senses and emotions. Place all that in historical context, combine with current affairs, and it can become timeless.

In 1965 I became part of the United States military. The war in Vietnam was raging and people were dying by the thousands. Destruction, devastation, and despair abounded. I lost an uncle, a number of friends and high school classmates to that despicable endeavor. At home the race riots, peace demonstrations, and a less-than-honorable group of elected officials and military leaders laid bare the most vile elements of human nature.

The previous year, 1964, a nineteen-year-old songwriter named P. F. Sloan was inspired to compose and record a song as relevant today as it was then. That song is “Eve Of Destruction.” It has been covered by many artists, including Bob Dylan and The Turtles, but my favorite version was performed by Barry McGuire. I’ve included links to two video versions in this post—one covers current events, the second the Vietnam War Era.

One final thing. This post deviates in two ways from my normal presentations. First, it departs from my long-standing rule of not discussing politics; and two, you are welcome to comment as always but I may or may not respond and I may or may not allow your comments for this particular post. With those caveats, click here for Barry McGuire in the 2016 video version of “Eve Of Destruction.”

eveofdestruction-trump

2016

For historical context, click here to play the 1965 version.

 

eveofdestruction-barry

Barry McGuire 1965

 

 

Write Something Every Week

It is no secret one of my favorite authors is Ray Bradbury. He penned and published some wonderfully interesting work including ‘Illustrated Man’, ‘Dandelion Wine’, ‘The Martian Chronicles’, ‘Fahrenheit 451’, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, and so many more.

He also left us with some inspiring and often amusing sayings. Here’s one of my favorites:

52storiesRayBradbury

From The World Of I Wish I’d Written That

“It wasn’t the first time he’d died, but it was the first time he’d been murdered.”

That was the winning opening line in the category of ‘Best First Sentence In A Book” at ThrillerFest this month (July 2016) in New York. It was written by Sheila English, a writer of supernatural suspense, science fiction, non-fiction, and young adult.

Congratulations, Sheila!

Classified Ads

Punctuation, grammar, and spelling are all important ingredients in effective communications. When the rules of writing aren’t followed, the risk of being misunderstood increases, often with hilarious results.

Here are some “examples” from newspaper classified ads.

  1. I’m not sure why the person willing to help the uneducated would expect a response:

          “Illiterate? Write today for free help.”

  1. There’s a good possibility this mechanic is no longer in business:

          “Auto Repair Service. Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once, you’ll never go                           anywhere again.”

  1. Is it possible this child day care facility has been closed due to abuse?

         “Our experienced Mom will care for your child. Fenced back yard, meals, and                        smacks included.”

  1. I’m not sure this animal has found a home:

          “Dog for sale. Eats anything and is fond of children.”

  1. This store might want to contact Santa Claus or check a calendar for guidance:

          “Semi-annual after Christmas sale. Ends December 4th.”

  1. How much experience can such a young person have?

         “Three-year-old teacher needed for pre-school. Experience preferred.”

  1. Perhaps the person selling this set probably ran the child day care center mentioned in #3, above:

         “Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient                            beating.”

  1. Not sure if Chester is going to miss his underwear or his dresser:

         “For Sale: Chester’s drawers.”

  1. Does this jewelry store deal in baubles, body parts, or both?

         “Today Only: Have your ears pierced and get an extra pair free.”

  1. I thought this was illegal in most places:

         “Great Dames for sale. Free crate for housing included.”

  1. I’ll bet this maid service gets great tips:

          “Tired of cleaning yourself? Let me do it.”

  1. Sounds like a tiring but pleasurable place to stay, doesn’t it?

         “Our hotel has bowling alleys, tennis courts, comfortable beds, and other fun                      athletic facilities.”

  1. It’s a good bet this laundry lost some clients after placing this ad:

         “We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.”

  1. No telling what this pest control company would do to uncles:

         “Get rid of aunts. Our chemical does the job in 24 hours.”

  1. Finally! An honest used car dealership:

         “Used cars: Why go elsewhere to be cheated. Come here first.”

  1. These crafts people might still be looking for a sale:

        “Christmas tag-sale. Handmade gifts for the hard-to-find person.”

  1. Sounds like she gives good, clean milk:

         “Wanted: Man to take care of cow that doesn’t smoke or drink.”

  1. I already have a swimsuit but I might just stop by this surf shop in Florida:

         “Our bikinis are exciting, better than others. Ours are simply the tops.”

  1. This big-box store might need a new public relations representative:

         “Our Superstore is unequaled in size, unmatched in variety, unrivaled in                                inconvenience.”

  1. This odd-jobs person just might be worth the money:

         “Will oil your sewing machine, unravel your threads and adjust tension in your                    home for $1.00.”

  1. No comment:

         “For Sale: antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.”

Writer’s Block? No Problem. Peddle It Away

 

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I have several ways to overcome that pesky nemesis called writer’s block but my favorite is taking my bicycle out on the trails enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Riding invigorates both mind and body. I always return to writing after a long ride feeling refreshed and creative. (Thank you endorphins!)

Today I made a short ride of it covering a mere 12.75 miles, including a stop by Fayetteville’s beautiful Botanical Gardens to enjoy the scenery.

Now, back to writing.

I Cannot Write Today

I awoke with enthusiasm, anxious for the previous two weeks of solid, constructive writing days to continue. They didn’t.

“Just write something, anything…” is the advice proclaimed to break out of what is referred to as writer’s block. I struggled to comply with said guidance, but soon realized I had jumbled words no one would want to read, a meandering story no one could follow, and characters flatter than…well, you get the idea.

In frustration, and with an eye on a hot cup of coffee and a long nap in my recliner, I typed the final line of a torturous page of useless prose:  I cannot write today.

That’s when this poem came to me, a quick bit of composition, but writing all the same. Irony, too, I suppose. Some may argue it merely confirms “I cannot write today” but I present it anyway.

“I Cannot Write Today” 

I cannot write today.

Procrastination’s forces have their way;

Deferment,

Postponement, and

Delay.

I cannot write today.

Creative abilities once held sway;

Influence,

Mastery, and

Command.

I cannot write today.

Progress corralled, kept at bay;

Captured,

Held, and

Caged.

I cannot write today.

It is with sadness, therefore, I must say:

I’m adjourning until another day.