A WRITERS CIRCLE OF GUILT

As I write this sentence I feel guilty because I should be working on my next novel, creating character profiles and expanding chapter one.

But I know if I shift to that project I will feel guilty because I should be researching events of spring 1928 that occurred in and around Hood Canal as well as Washington State, and America as well.

But if I shift to researching I will feel guilty as I must edit two chapters before sending to a prospective publisher, rewrite my query letter, and sent my email to them.

But if I do that I will feel guilty as I should do more social media, blogging, tweeting, liking your blogs, uploading new photos to Instagram, going to Pinterest, as well as other undiscovered sites where I can increase my guilt.

But if I to that I will feel guilt for not pulling weeds. If I put on my gardening gloves, grab my clippers and pullers, I will feel guilt before I hit the backyard because I hate pulling weeds.

Sometimes guilt is welcome. See above paragraph. So I put down my tools, pull off my gloves, happy to feel guilt (for once) and start the process all over again. As I write this I am currently in the social media phase. It is going to be in the 90’s today so the weeds can flourish.

That means skipping weed pulling to work on my next novel. But this is Sunday and I only do that Monday thru Friday. So that is out until tomorrow. I could research, but I must send that email to a prospective publisher, so more important to edit the two chapters and query letter.

Or, since it will be in the 90’s I could head to the beach where I can feel guilty about everything. That is a plan. A writer’s life is not easy.

put down the book

 

How to Write when You are SICK!

You know the feeling. First you clear your throat, then a cough, but you feel fine. But the cough becomes more frequent, you feel tired you lose your appetite as the cough gets worse. Forgive me for using the V word, as in vomit, but we must. So you cough, you blech, cough and blech, and you can’t write because you no longer care.

I am sure you know the feeling when your body is about to blech, up chuck, throw up, puke, vomit, toss your Oreo cookies. Anyway that is the feeling I would get, but instead of the aforementioned I had a rasping, hacking cough coming from the pit of my soul.

I stayed in bed waiting for death. It never came.

Naturally in this condition I could not write. I had little to no energy. I lost five pounds in four days. Sadly I gained it back through vanilla ice cream, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, potato chips, and other healthy foods.

Once the body shuddering cough subsided a bit, downgraded to merely coughing without gut wrenching pain I could write. But not much.

I was able one day to finish a short story. I had only to write less than 700 words to finish. And I started another a couple days later, only about 500 words. A couple days later I start a novel, but only a couple hundred words.

That was all I could do. I still wasn’t eating and I was still tired, languishing in laziness, sickness, a foggy head, and a lack of ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup.

The problem as a writer with sickness that goes on for three weeks, an illness that saps your energy, your thought processes, and your creativity, is that you get out of the habit of writing and when you get out of your habit, stray from your discipline, it takes some time for you to get back into the swing.

So the best you can do when this befalls you is wait until you feel something resembling your previous humanness and then  write a blog about your sickness. Like I have just done. Now I know I am back into writing. And just as soon I down a huge bowl of vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup, I will get back to my unfinished short story.

Thanks for reading and good health to you.

 

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Fun Quotes About Writing

Posterity-what you write for after being turned down by publishers-George Ade.

If I had to give young writers advice about writing, I’d say don’t listen to writers talking about writing-Lillian Hellman

What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working even when he is staring out the window-Burton Rascoe

Literature is an occupation in which you keep having to prove your talent to people who have noneJules Renard

An essayist is a lucky person who has found a way to discourse without being interrupted-Charles Poore

No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft-H.G. Wells

Read over your compositions and when you meet a passage that you think is particular fine, strike it out-Samuel Johnson

No One can write decently who is distrustful of the readers intelligence, or whose attitude is patronizing-E. B. White.

Words are but pictures of our thoughtsJohn Dryden

Words are used to express meaning; when you understand the meaning, you can forget the words-Chuang-Tzu

Asking a writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs-John Osborne

Reading reviews of your book is a . . . no win game. It the review is flattering one tends to feel and vain and uneasy. If it is bad, one tends to feel exposed, found out. neither feeling does you any good-Walker Percy

During WW2 the Civil Defense authorities had posters which read “illumination must be extinguished when  premises are vacated.” When President Franklin Roosevelt saw the signs he exclaimed, “Damn, why can’t they just say ‘Put out the lights when you leave?’-President Franklin Roosevelt

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Ancestry.com links me to Sherlock Holmes

According to Ancestry.com to whom I sent my DNA-not all of it, just a sample-I am a direct descendant of Sherlock Holmes. I know, I know, you are going to tell me Holmes is a fictional character; I understand all that. But I too am a fictional character. It does not make me any less real.

There are thousands like me, perhaps millions, and we have lives; we experience fear, love, and some of us are mistrusted, many for good reason, and many of us are heroic in different ways.

The problem we fictional characters face is that our lives, no matter how exciting our lives seem to you, get boring at the redundancy of our existence. I have been told that readers face similar fates, but with a difference. You get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, go to work or school, eat lunch, go home, eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed and if you are one of the lucky ones, you do not sleep alone. One difference between you and us, is we rarely go the bathroom. When did Sherlock Holmes ever relieve himself, or sit on a toilet and ponder clues.

So perhaps your life seems redundant at times and you to escape into our world and read some fictional lives. But look at it from our point of view. Take Sherlock Holmes in Hound of the Baskervilles. You can read the story a hundred times and Sherlock does the same things a hundred times. Let me tell you folks, that gets boring for us. Do you have any idea how it feels to be a character who is killed off. Do you want to get shot thousands of times. It’s not fun, but that is not my problem for I have not died off yet. But I can imagine.

Speaking of imagination try to imagine life from our point of view. Would you like to eat in the same restaurant, eating the same food, wearing the same clothes, dining with the same people. Trust me, it gets boring. You can change things up a bit. We are trapped.

The good thing about Sherlock Holmes was he had adventures other than the Hound story. Like him and all my other ancestors-Phillip Marlowe, Perry Mason, Nick and Nora Charles, Hercule Poirot, Lew Archer, Travis McGee, and Nero Wolfe to name a few, they do have different stories to tell. As a result they have different ways to get bored, but still it is better than having one story to tell.

Just as God created humans-so I am told-someone created me and I am thankful for that. In fact, I feel a stirring in my soul-yes we have one- and I sense a sequel coming on so I must get back to work. So I will see you in the bookstore or perhaps that Kindle thing.

But first I will go the bathroom.

“Peanuts” Character Reveals Writing Secret

A classic Peanuts cartoon strip by Charles Schulz appeared in a recent Sunday newspaper and the punchline exemplifies what some writing gurus have advised.

Linus is at his school desk writing on the theme of returning to school after summer vacation. Over three captions we see he has written this: ” No one can deny the joys of a summer vacation with its days of warmth and freedom. It must be admitted, however, that the true joy lies in returning to our halls of learning. Is not life itself a learning process? Do we not mature according to our learning. Do not each of us desire that he…”

And there it stops.

The next three panels show him taking the paper to the teacher’s desk, handing in the paper, and returning to his desk.

Then you see him saying “Yes, Ma’am? Oh . . Why, thank you . . I’m glad you liked it . . ”

The final panel shows him sitting sideways, one elbow on the desk behind him where Charlie Brown is sitting. Linus says, “As the years go by, you learn what sells!”

Linus knew his audience; it was the teacher. And he also knew what she wanted, in essence, to hear, so he wrote what she wanted, hoping to ingratiate himself, of course, and get a good grade.

If there is a hot market that readers are feasting on, you can jump on that bandwagon and if the bandwagon is not crowded and the market has yet to be devoured, you have a shot of finding an audience. But what is hot now can soon fade away.

Or you can write what you want to write and hope you find an audience. If you write in the genre that most appeals to you, I belive your writing will be better.

Each approach has its drawbacks, nothing is guaranteed, but you must chart your writing course through tricky waters no matter which direction you go. Write well, edit even better, and write a little everyday. And be cool like Linus.

I turned in my e-books to Amazon

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Are you beautiful or lovely-the difference

The definitions I am using from the 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary come from a blog I subscribe to by CS Perryess. On should give credit where credit is due. He loves words and old dictionaries. These definitions are great for writers because writers need to be specific; the right word for the right reason.

I will compare words from the 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary that Perryess cited to my 2000 American Heritage Dictionary.

Beautiful: 59 Webster says, “applied to that which gives the highest degree of pleasure to the senses or to the mind and suggests to the object of delight one’s conception of an ideal.” My 2000 Heritage says, “having beauty.” I think Webster wins here, though the Heritage definition of ‘beauty’ closely resembles the 59 Webster definition of ‘beautiful,’, but not with the succinct clarity of Webster.

Lovely: 59 Webster says, “applies to that which delights by inspiring affection or warm admiration.” My 2000 Heritage says, “Having pleasing or attractive qualities; beautiful.” Once again Webster has a more beautiful definition.

I pause here to say that I have the American Heritage Dictionary because-and I forget who-recommended this dictionary for writers. I am having second thoughts.

Moving on to . . .

Pretty: “implies a dainty, delicate or graceful quality in that which pleases and carries connotations of femininity or diminutiveness.” My 2000 heritage says, “Delightfully pretty or dainty.” Webster now up 3-0.

Comely: “applies to persons only and suggests a wholesome attractiveness of form and features rather than a high degree of beauty.” My Heritage says, “Pleasing in appearance; attractive.” I must say here is where Heritage, to be blunt, really sucks. Their definition is generic, non-specific, lacking any ‘definition’ in the definition. It is is blah. 4-0.

Fair: “suggests beauty that is fresh, bright or flawless and, when applied to persons, is used especially of complexion and features.” My Heritage says, “beautiful; lovely.”  Really? That’s it. That’s all you’ve got? Webster’s 5-0.

Yuck to American Heritage. I looked up ‘yuck’ in my Heritage Dictionary. It says, ” Used to express rejection or strong disgust.” Well they got one right.

What I find in the 59 Webster’s is clarity in language, a defined definition. What I find in my 200 Heritage is blandness, unimaginative language, lack of clarity.

I used my Heritage from time to time on my e-novels on Amazon.

But I will be buying a new dictionary today.

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Adam and Eve, the truth of the matter

In the beginning Adam and Eve had the Garden all to themselves and frolicked with squirrels and all the other cute critters. Life was blissful.

Women don’t like to hear this, but I did not write the story; it was written by a male many centuries ago. In fact, according to linguists, Genesis was written by at least seven people, including one woman. Though I doubt she was the author of this part of the story.

The point is that Eve strayed. I don’t know where Adam was, perhaps sleeping, reading the sports page, or playing with squirrels. Maybe Eve was concerned about Adam’s performance issues. We simply don’t know, but she did approach the Tree of Knowledge, inching closer and closer to temptation. Then the serpent appeared and he began to hit on Eve, no doubt using the best pickup lines learned from his eating of the forbidden fruit. It was not an apple, that piece of fruit was added to the story centuries later. I once read an archeologist suggested it was a pomegranate, but that is another story.

Well what woman does not like the bad boy and the serpent was all of that. By the way, it was not a snake. That image, again, came centuries later. There are many types of serpents and there also could be a translation problem. But the point is that Eve did what the serpent suggested and ate of the fruit.

Bad Girl.

And what boy does not like the bad girl.

Now keep in mind Adam was loyal, loving, and honest. Not the bad boy; kind of dull, but a good man. Being a good man and desiring of an equal partnership he did not dominate, but strove for compromise. And he trusted Eve, the love of his life. Of course there were no other women around, so any port in the storm.

Anyway we know how the story ends. Adam was convinced by Eve to eat of the fruit. After they both ate they saw each other in a new light. It was an aha moment. The downside was they were evicted from the Garden. They were now party people and they disturbed the squirrels and other fun critters. So for the sake of the neighborhood, for it to remain a quiet place of peace and solitude, they had to leave.

I mention this because the story of Adam and Eve is the first story, one in which we have two characters; a man and woman. There is suspense. Will she listen to the bad guy? Will she give in to temptation or stay loyal to Adam? Two innocent people, a villain, and the results of being corrupted. And Eve the first femme fatale. Everything you need for a compelling story.

And look at what happened after they left the Garden. Millions of sequels.

My e-books can be found on Amazon

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Why Bookworms Need An Advocacy Group

People who read and study a great deal are called bookworms. If you love books and reading as I do, one should think it a compliment, but it is considered to be derogatory. So try not to belt someone in their sour puss if they call you a BW (bookworm).

Dictinary.com defines bookworms as “insects or maggots; there is no single species known by this name, which is applied to the anolium beetle, silverfishes, and book lice. See book (n.) + worm (n.)” You see what I am talking about. We are considered lice and maggots.

Merriam-Webster dictionary mentions synonyms for bookworms as  nerd, dink, dork, geek, grind, weenie, wonk, and swot (British). It is also mentioned that bookworm was first used around 1580, but it does not cite by whom, not what context, nor if the term was for the lice/maggots/silverfish/ beetle that wormed their way through pages and bindings eating everything up, or if they meant it was used in derision of people who read a lot.

I don’t want to be referred to as a dork, but dink doesn’t sound so bad. The only time I have heard the word is in a Jimmy Durante song called I believe inka-dinka-doo” and that is another matter.

Back to worms, I just finished a novel Chatterton by Peter Ackroyd in which one of the characters, Charles Wychwood, a poet, does in fact eat pages of Dickens’ Great Expectations. Charles had other problems, writing block being one, or perhaps like Bartelby, he preferred not to. But Charles was a bookworm in the truest sense. Bon appetite!

I don’t know who first used the term in derogatory, mean-spirited, insulting, demeaning, bullying way, towards, I am sure, wonderful people, but it goes back a long time. We need not put up with this any longer. It is time to step out of the bookcase and announce to the world we are bookworms and proud of it.

We can have march to the Library of Congress to make the nation aware of us. We can form advocacy groups across the country. We should form support groups to not only discuss the slurs directed at us, but eat pages of books like Charles. Also a yearly Book Worm conference with guest speakers. We can write pamphlets about the joy of reading and create lists of good books to eat.

“When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.”Virginia Woolf

My e-novels and short stories listed below you can not eat, but reading does bring it’s own reward. In the meantime I have a Heinrich Von Kleist short story to munch on.

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CAN YOU FETCH A FETCHING

This post was posted from a previous incarnation of my writing blog.

Of late, since I seem to have nothing better to do, I became immersed  in the odd relationship between fetch and fetching.

I associate the word ‘fetch’ with dogs. When playing catch with a dog and a stick or ball is thrown the owner yells, “Go fetch!” I have heard this phrase many times, though in truth the dog knows to go fetch; he or she does not have to be told. They love to fetch.

I am also aware that ‘fetch’ can imply what something costs, though this is a somewhat archaic usage. I have not heard, “It fetched a good price” in a long time. So let us stick to ‘fetch’ defined as retrieving, to grab, seize, catch, and so on.

Okay, now we come to the word fetching. It means charming, enchanting, alluring, captivating, and is most used in describing a woman, or at least it once was, as in “She has a fetching appearance.” It was once a way of saying, “Man she’s hot!” And that phrase once meant something else. But anyway, how do we get from a dog fetching to a comely woman? How do we associate a dog with a cute woman? 

I know chauvinistic men would like a woman to fetch them a beer on demand, but that is not me. I can fetch my own thank you.

Was there something sinister behind the similarity of the two words, some wordsmith conspiracy to layer an insult to women, that they were dogs?  I had to uncover the truth.

I went to a well known establishment that provides  haircuts, or styling if you will, to men; the establishment, a national one that has fetching young ladies that cut your hair, a cut that fetch’s a good price mind you. I posed the question to the young woman cutting my hair about fetch and fetching. Leave it to a woman to figure it out.

She cut to the heart of the matter with the quickness of the snip of a scissor. “Fetch means the woman is worth fetching.”

I had to laugh, though I felt like a dog for thinking there was some conspiracy. I must refrain from saying a terrible pun like offering a beautiful diamond ring will fetch the woman.  That would be improper. Because you see, it is the woman tossing the ball or stick and the man, the dog that he is, will fetch it. And that is because the woman is so fetching the man can not resist.

If you would like to fetch on of my e-books, you can grab one here.

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