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For aspiring writers

Amen, brother!

George Wier

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Here’s a little post for aspiring writers—just a few tips that I hope will speed you on your way:

You should treat your writing project as though it’s so much clay, there to be shaped and molded at your whim. That is to say that in order to achieve the desired final result, you sometimes have to add things, embellish a bit here and there, and you sometimes have to lop things off wholesale; those things that don’t contribute to the overall project in a meaningful way, must be scrapped. The most direct way of stating this is that you must be perfectly willing to waste words. Words are your stock-in-trade. No book is ever written except that it’s done One Word At A Time. After the first draft stage, you may have a few dozen, possibly hundreds, and even thousands of words that don’t add anything to the story…

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The Dates are Set!

IMG_9293-1024x682The Cuenca International Writers Conference   May 28-June1, 2018   This  year’s conference promises to be even bigger and better.  I plan to be there.  Join us for an exciting week of learning, sharing, networking, and exploring in one of the loveliest cities imaginable!

For further information:  http://cuencawritersconference.com/home-en/

Parracide—a special punishment named Poena Cullei.

Interesting article on a form of punishment I have heard about over the years, but knew little about.  Frankly, I can’t imagine how one would get all these into a sack, not a job I would want to take on.

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Ancient Romans had a penchant for doling out punishments in rather theatrical fashion, with one pertinent example relating to the noxii, the criminals who were mainly accused of robbery, murder and rape. At times, the noxii were simply used as living props who were unarmored (or sometimes dressed in ‘show’ armor), and then declared as…

via Poena cullei: The bizarre ancient Roman punishment reserved for parricide — Realm of History

We’re in! New desk! New Front yard! Same incredible wife!

We are official Louisiana residents once again!  Whether we are Ponchatoula or Hammond residents depends on what agency or service you talk to.  Same goes for the street– Halbert Lane or Halbert Road.  The post office says road, the legal description on our Title says Lane.  They agree on Hammond, but trash, internet, direct tv, and water services, etc, are about equally divided.   90% of boxes unpacked (down to the ones that we’ll get to “some day” , and now I have a place to work where I have that front yard view.  No more excuses, it’s back to work time. Still lots of fixing and painting to do, so, if you’re just missing the joys of having a project, drop on by.

Should have seen me driving the 26 foot truck from St. Augustine to Thomasville to here! But we made it, furniture and people intact.  Had the help of Austin Ridley in Thomasville, which was not only a godsend but a pleasurable catch-up time with him and update on his first year at Wabash.

Writing Groups

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I belong to a writer’s group.  We meet on Wednesdays in Cuenca, Ecuador from 12:00 to 3:00 at a local restaurant.  Most of us arrive early to eat lunch before we begin.  Now, I’ve belonged to quite a few groups, starting way back in my early college days…Groups where the individuals were so focused on showing how much they know about writing, groups where they are so ready not only to tell you how to write, but what you should write about.  Most of these groups were pretty useless to me, but I did pick up some valuable things from them.  The problem was I didn’t stay long,  the sessions were a grueling exercise of slash and burn critique, clashing egos, and, in the end, dispiriting.

This group works!  We bring material…no more than 1500 words, must bring copies, double spaced, readable font, which we pass out to everyone.  After the writer reads his/her selection we go around the table and comment.  Comments are the personal opinion of the speaker and for the most part stated as such.  Very few “must, should, can’t” statements. More “I would like more…I wonder…I don’t understand…statements.”

The hard part for me when I first joined was that the writer is not allowed to speak, no explanations…just sit there and listen.  That now is my favorite thing about the group, that and getting the copies back with everyone’s notes on them.  Not being able to respond, defend, explain, what I was doing forces me to listen and hear what the reader is reading in my work, not what I meant to write.  It’s good for me.  It works. I am writing more and I am writing better.

Try it, join a group, one that actually gets together in person, or online.  Find one that works for you.

Editing: Process, Form and Heart

by Esther Elizabeth Suson Editing is its own kind of high. As the supposed final voice on the manuscript, a bit of smugness might creep in. If the motion has become too mechanical, we stop reading in breathless anticipation of skillful wording and hard-hitting sentences. Instead, we live for that casual flick of the pen […]

via Editing: Discovering the Heart of the Writer — The Disinterested Interpreter

Naked and Afraid

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“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”  Michelangelo

I am in the throes of editing my most recent novel.  I have taken my last stab at it myself and sent it out naked and afraid into the hands of other readers to be picked over and marked up.  It is a terrible time.  The copies will come back to me with heart-breaking slashes, corrections, ideas and warnings…but as painful as some of those will be that is precisely what I want, what is best for me and for my novel.  My writing group gives me the input along the way and for me that is a great boon, but this sending my baby out whole to be judged in the harsh light of “Here it is, it’s done,” is  nerve wracking.  These critiques I prefer to get whole, not a running commentary in bits and  pieces over the days.  Drop the whole ten ton package on me at once; I will accept the sudden crushing weight and slowly…days, weeks…will begin to sort through it all.  I will launch happily into the punctuation corrections, because I suck at it.  I will look hard at the grammar, because sometimes they’re right.  The toughest parts are the suggestions on story line, character, dialogue, plot movement…my darling quips torn to shreds, that perfect scene devasted, etc.  Hard to swallow, hard to bear…but in the end I do swallow it, not whole by any means.  Some comments and suggestions are easily discarded…not my story, not what I’m doing.  It’s the ones that hit home…that “Oh, my god, they’re right.  How do I fix it?”  Those are the real prizes received from this stage.  Those are the jewels that I receive from this scariest part of my process.

I love my final edit readers, love and fear them.  So bring it on!