Archived Writer's Notebook Messages

From February 8, 1997 to February 19, 1997

Sherrie Wed Feb 19 21:09:55 PST 1997

CHARLES: For me, I like to hear all the little-known tidbits about a place. About the nuances that make one culture different from another. Some don't pay much attention to time. Others don't form lines--automatically--the way we Americans tend to do. Etc. You get the drift. I want to hear the talk over the kitchen table. BE there.
PHILIP: No, AIRWAVES is set in Missoula, Montana, which is a city of about 50,000 people set in a river valley just over a very high pass from Idaho. It's lovely, and basically chosen for the rebellious Montana attitude that still prevails. My hero is running--from himself, of course--but it lessens the speed not a bit. Thanks for asking. See you for lunch another time. Say, I'd take a bite of that cheese, mate.
BTW--I wrote the first rendition of AIRWAVES when I was attending college full-time (calculus, too) and the boys were in grade school and junior high. When I began NOBLE'S HEALING, I was working three part-time jobs (the TV station in the mornings, the newspaper in the afternoon, and a radio shift on Sundays--I was the media maven) and taking 3/4 of a full load in college (night school). I graduated somewhere in there. Shoot, WHO--TELL ME WHO--has ever had the opportunity to quit their day job or shed their regular-life responsibilities to write that novel??? I know not a soul. Not one. Don't we all have a lot of balls in the air? I say again, ya gotta wanna!!!

Philip Wed Feb 19 19:34:31 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: a quick lunch break visit. The writing is going well, tying up the end of The Lightning Mine, the exciting bits. I reckon if I could squeeze fifty hours from next week I'd have it finished. After almost a year on this work I am filled with relief and reluctance.

DEB: you obviously missed the 'anonymous' signature below - it was Trudy.

WILLIAM: Maple Ridge used to be considered out in the sticks when I lived in Vancouver (in the sixties). Metaphysical philosophy! I would ask the question Charles put forward and add one of my own: is it right for metaphysical concepts to be taken on as separate issues and flawed? I am pleased you're here to help us with our ethics and other philosophical problems.

Any theologians in the house?

CHARLES: as our resident lecturer on things philosophical, is it fair I read the metaphysics of Leibniz and Kant with the same mind set as Aristotle and company? (Don't ask me to define fairness). What you've written below describing your American modifications sounds sensible and not at all a significant change to the overall.

CHRISTOPHER: welcome... chapter one, eh? What will your story be about? do you know? or will it flow from fingertips to screen.

PATRICK: you're right about passion being a necessity for writers. Obsession, discipline and endurance are required as well. My lawyer reckons 'intellectual stamina' is what is needed to write novels.

TRUDY: the story of how Roz, my wife, took on the challenge of writing a full length (80,000 word) novel on top of being a working mother should be told by her. If she won't agree to post it, I 'll reveal all soon.

SHERRIE: have you set your book in Idaho? I've never been to Idaho, been all around it. And when is your friend (and now ours) Jonnie coming back from Costa Rica?

JONNIE: we miss you!

That was lunch and now it's back to the 'Mine.

Back soon - Philip.

Deb Borys Wed Feb 19 16:42:34 PST 1997

First of all, that anonymous post below ISN'T me this time, I swear. I assume it's BRITOMART--the reference to Anne Rice gave it away. If that's you, girl, BTW stands for By The Way. Have you come across IMHO yet (In My Humble Opinion). That one took a few sightings before it finally dawned on me.

Secondly, boy it's getting active in here. I checked in this morning from work and there were all kinds os postings, then I check in again this evening and there's even more. This is great. Greetings to all new folks I haven't said hi too yet. (I wasn't raised well mannered, but I have a good heart and good intentions.)

CHARLES: I agree with anonymous about a character needing to grab my attention. Sometimes the "character" can even just be an intriguing narrative voice. Plot is perhaps second most important to me. As far as foreign settings, while I don't like books that go overboard with interrupting the storyline with lengthy descriptions, I enjoy reading a book set in a strange place that leaves me with a small taste of the country in my mouth. Make me long for the luxury of being a world traveler.

BEN: That's how I reply to this list most of the time--flipping up and down. You can usually tell the times I'm going up and back down to the box at the bottom because I get lots more typos in it that way--no spell check. Sometimes I open my wordprocessor (I use Windows 95) and then whenever I see something I want to respond to I click it open from my tool bar and jot my message. This works pretty good, plus I can use Quick Correct which picks up the worst of my gross errors.

BTW (Got that, BRIT?) JACK: my home browser now works just fine sending posts. Remember how it used to cut me off? I don't think I did anything different here, so maybe it's thanks to you. Anywho--I'm glad, because I like Netscape better than the Internet Explorer that came with Win95.

Back to my newsletter. Hope to get the bulk done tonight, so I can finish the fine touches tomorrow and get it out in the mail. I'm like PHILLIP in a way--volunteering my time (too many newsletters for zero $$$ return) but it does look good in the resume, and it's kind of fun sometimes. If I wasn't a writer first and foremost, I think I'd enjoy making desktop publishing my thing.


Wed Feb 19 15:47:01 PST 1997

PHILIP, That is a story I would love to hear sometime; especially how she copes! She has my utmost respect...I know just working full time and trying to get in time writing along with the other daily things I have or like to do is difficult...throw kids into the equation and I hope I don';t go nuts!

CHARLES ..."When reading a contemporary novel that isn’t set in your native country, what is it that grabs your
attention and keeps you going?" you ask...well for me it's the characters and what they're doing...if it's interesting it doesn't matter where it's taking place. And I find reading books set in other countries has taught me so much, and of course given me wander lust. I love novels set in Ireland and have travelled there but want to return someday, and I really must get to New Orleans sometime, mostly becasue of Anne Rice's novels. I do love books set in Canada but must say most are set elsewhere so I guess it has to be the characters and plot that are important...for me at least.

CHRISTOPHER...welcome, along with any other new writers to the group...and good luck. I'm sure you will find this page a great inspiration, and more.

DEB and SHERRIE, I think I will go for it though I'm a little worried since I've been out of the alternative music scene for so long. It should be a learning experience if anything else.

Later all. Trudy

oh can someone tell me what BTW stands for? I see it in postings everywhere but can't figure it out(:

Charles Samuel Wed Feb 19 13:38:09 PST 1997

BEN: I'm here. I've been keeping up with the postings, but I haven't have had time to submit my own. Early mornings I write and in the evenings I spend with the kids. I think I mentioned that a wise friend of mine recently commented, "you only get one chance to raise your kids." If I put off writing a chapter for a week... well no real harm done. But if I put off spending time with a son or daughter... those moments are lost forever.

DE: (and PHILIP) Don’t panic about my ‘Americanizing’ my book. I haven’t sold out. I simply swapped my local Archeologist with a visiting Ivy League Archeologist (we have those in Israel too). Then we killed him off so the CIA would have to investigate the murder (they have to investigate all foreign murders and they show up in the holy land more often than we realize). So it’s all true to life, just some minor changes that will help the Yanks relate. Besides we tied all the loose ends of the plot together much better this way. I think the key is finding a sympathetic person that the reader cares about. Recently my wife picked up a novel about the Russian/Afghanistan War... the author didn’t give us a character immediately who we care about and I wasn’t particularly interested in 400 pages of the Russians and Afghans. I didn’t really care what happened to either of them. So DE, the issue wasn’t the murder and the bad guys, but rather the American character who gets killed and the CIA involvement that I’ve used to gain a more sympathetic American audience.

By the way, I would love to read LOVE TAKES A LICKING. I really enjoy your writing. Congratulations on the story. How can I get a copy this far away?

PATRICK: Welcome. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

KITTY: It would be great if you could have Moot pick up a book. That will help ensure the Tel Aviv shops are maintaining stock. ;) By the way, a belated happy birthday. Ditto to your comments on children. A sage whom I respect says, “Ask a parent what their greatest pleasure in life is and they’ll say their kids. Ask them what their greatest source of pain is in life and they’ll say... their kids.” By the way, a few years back my wife did an informal survey of successful, accomplished women in their sixties and seventies and asked them, “If you had a chance to do it all over again, what would you have changed in your life?” The overwhelming and almost unanimous response she received was, “I really wouldn’t have changed anything, except... I would have tried to squeeze in one more child.”

PHILIP: Welcome back. Good to hear from you. I learn so much about relating to people from you.

WILLIAM: I am interested to hear about your METAPHYSICAL PHILOSOPHY course. What exactly does that mean? Is it body/soul/afterlife? Is it origins of the universe? I teach a fair amount of that in my work and I would love to learn more.

SHERRY: I can just imagine you and Harry in the kitchen working out the plot. Sounds like me and my wife. Keep at it.

GENERAL QUESTION: When reading a contemporary novel that isn’t set in your native country, what is it that grabs your attention and keeps you going? Specifically, in a novel that takes place primarily in Jerusalem, what would you like to read about, what would keep you interested. ( I don’t want to flood the notebook with the specific Jerusalem feedback, so you can please email me directly, however I think the general question about foreign literature might interest us all).


Sherrie Wed Feb 19 09:39:57 PST 1997

Forgot to mention the night had gotten especially cold because the anti-freeze only works for so long. Geologists? They study beer about as vigourously as strata. What a time it was.

Sherrie Wed Feb 19 09:36:09 PST 1997

KASIN: Very touching about Levi. What a story. And don't I wish I could draw. Always have. Guess I'll have to settle for being a singer, dancer, and a fabulous writer. But maybe in heave . . .
PATRICK: Welcome! Photography. Another art I adore. Especially black and whites.
WILLIAM: Very descriptive, the thing about the slush at your back. Men are so amazing--they actually seem to LIKE working out in the weather or the uncomfortable like that. At least, the ones I know don't seem to have nerve endings in the same places or that are quite as sensitive as the ones I have. I was a geology major before I switched to environmental science, and always such a boob on the field trips. Took the motorhome to one of them. They made fun of "The Road Maggot," but later that night, after even the camp fire couldn't hold off the Idaho mountain wind (we were camped at the foot of Idaho's tallest peak; say, around 6-7000 feet), there wasn't an empty seat in the house. They were stacked in the overhead bed--even one on the toilet (lid) with the bathroom door hanging open. Kicked my prof--Ole David Fortsch--my bud--into a sitting position, him in his red long johns, a sleeping bag bundled around his waist, and his silver hairs poking out over his knit collar. Imagine a really skinny Colonel Sanders (Kentucky Fried Chicken); that was Professor David Fortsch. HE didn't mind sleeping in there with me ("Why be miserable for the sake of being miserable?"). What a memory. The day the Road Maggot went searching for horn coral and echinoderms (prehistoric starfish). I still laugh. ;-)
Oops. Didn't mean to go off on a tangent, but it was too fun to erase. See ya later!

Kasin Huner Wed Feb 19 05:39:17 PST 1997

Ben--"KASIN: I'd like to personally extend my congrats. Another published writer on the page...boy I
better get the rag out! Oh, b.t.w., tell me, what type of illustrations you do? "

I've been writing and drawing since junior high, and love both equally. My artwork has dabbled in graphite, pen and ink, crayon, colored pencils, colored inks, acrylics, oils, charcoal, computer graphics, and mixed medias including (believe it or not) headstone granite for one oil painting I did--my favorite medium being what pays the most--black and white, pen and ink or computer graphics. Sometimes, I do work just for myself--a mood reliever/expresser. But, like this last week, I did a piece on demand for publication. I like surreal and moody pieces but mostly I like cartoons--things that make people laugh or in some way get an emotional reaction out of them--like "Yes! I can relate to that!"

The most memorable illustration done so far was a pen and ink I completed of my dalmatian, Levi. I sent it in with a poem about a horse to a mag., and the week I had to put Levi to sleep, his picture shows up in the magazine. Quite a testimonial to his personality and love, I felt. I copied the pic. out of the mag., framed it, and gave it to the vet who gave him the final shot with a note about how much I appreciated the vet's intelligence and gentleness at that moment of Levi's journey. The vet carried it into his office like it was eggs. I still get a little weepy thinking about it.

"Patrick Wed Feb 19 05:08:15 PST 1997

BEN - Automatic writing is when I first get up in the morning, pour a cup of coffee, open my journal
and write whatever comes into my head and out on the paper."

I've heard of this technique before from a writing book--the author called it free expression (I'm sure it goes by many names.) Bradbury calls it vomiting on the typewriter. Either way, it's great for getting out those buried thoughts and giving the piece some startling fresh feels to it. Then I clean up the piece in the afternoon for spelling, punctuation, etc.

Write on! Kasin Hunter.

Patrick Wed Feb 19 05:08:15 PST 1997

BEN - Automatic writing is when I first get up in the morning, pour a cup of coffee, open my journal and write whatever comes into my head and out on the paper. Memories, ideas, goals, objectives random thoughts. The process of writing like this leads me to more focused writing later in the session. Its like a warm-up exercise. Getting some paint on the white canvas so to speak. Writing every morning for 20-30 minutes like this has become an obsession and my day isn't complete if I don't have time or am late for work. I better get moving. I teach photography and have a 9:00 am critique. First I must get my 4 year old Andei to pre-school. Later

Ben Woestenburg Tue Feb 18 23:16:25 PST 1997

Good evening -- hey, wasn't I just here?

Phillip: So good to hear from you again. I love it when you drop by for a chat. Now if we could only get Charles to drop us a line once in a while. As for the Vancouver Sun, I don't know. You guys all seem to think I'm a funny guy or something. I'm not even close to being funny; you should meet my wife -- and the guys I work with. Maybe it's insight, I don't know, but what exactly should I be writing for them? The blue collar slant on life? I like different things, like food. I mean, just looking at the books on the desk here, I have THE HISTORY OF THE PELOPENNESIAN WAR; A HISTORY OF THE GREAT WAR; THE HOLY BLOOD AND THE HOLY GRAIL; and THE ALIENIST. Now there's diversity for you. Oh, and there's THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING underneath a whole pile of papers, as well as an empty wine bottle and a full beer to my left. But, I'm not about to let myself be defeated by my own pessimism, and I'll see if I can actually come up with something concrete enough to send them. It's a challenge I might be able to tackle during my spare time. I just have to come up with an idea, and a different slant on maybe try an Eastern newspaper because everyone on the west coast is resentful of everyone in Toronto just because, well, it's Toronto.
Anyway, onwards and upwards.

PATRICK: Just what do you mean by 'automatic' writing? Because what you have to say about it, and what I associate with that phrase might be two different things. Just curious for curiosity's sake.

WILLIAM: Be glad you're not living in Toronto.

CHRISTOPHER: Welcome aboard. Enjoy the ride because it's great fun. Stick around and you'll quickly see that we all get inspired by everyone else here.

SHERRIE: I'll try and drop by in the morning before you go to work. I got your e-mail, but didn't have the time to respond.

DEB: I'm glad you're out of your brief tail spin. Depression sucks as far as that goes. Renu gets down in the dumps once in a while when it looks as if that mountain of bills at our door is getting so that even I can't see over it. I just laugh at it and try to cheer her up, and then go into the garage and have a smoke as I wonder what the hell I'm going to do if we go on strike, or the mill burns down (it already has once before, and wasn't that a fun thing to come home and tell her on a Tuesday night after the night shift?) I just don't let her see me get down in the dumps about things I can't control, but it doesn't mean I don't think about them as well. Life doesn't really suck, it's just that sometimes it throws you a curve ball or two..or three.

TRUDY: Phillip's right of course, it is your life, and you have to make the final choices ultimately. I'm not saying it will be harder with or without kids, just different. 'nough said.

KASIN: I'd like to personally extend my congrats. Another published writer on the page...boy I better get the rag out! Oh, b.t.w., tell me, what type of illustrations you do?

TRISH: Renu came down with a mild bout of the flu and a lot of symptoms that made me think, hey, what if...naw.

BRIT: Sit by the pool and read a good book, but keep your notebook handy. Have a couple of long, tall cool ones -- God I miss the summer -- I highly recommend Penguins, but like Long Island Iced Teas, nothing to be taken lightly.

And that's it. I've tried to do as much as I can, but it's hard. There's so many of us now. I realy should take notes instead of flipping back and forth and up and down. But I have to go to sleep. The alarm's all set. I should be winding down by Thursday, getting to sleep by 10'ish, or maybe a nap, that would be neat. Only thing about naps, is everytime I try to sneak one in it's Renu that always wakes me up. She says I'm too young to be taking naps after dinner. I don't have the heart to tell her I'm not as young as I once was, because that means she's getting older, and since her birthday's nine days after mine, well, we don't celebrate for the first half of the month anymore.

William Tue Feb 18 21:43:08 PST 1997

PHILLIP: When I'm not studying (Metaphysical Philosophy this semester), reading, or writing, I'm at my "real" job. Friday through Sunday I work thirty to fourty hours at a local towing company (Maple Ridge Towing) as a dispatcher and driver. I read and love the classics, but my pen is stuck in the fantasy/sci-fi zone. I've been seriously studying the short story form for about a year: How it applies to my genres, what can and can't be done with it. I'm still feeling my way on this side of the fence. I'm used to being over yonder in the "reader's point of view" pasture, but this one seems greener, richer.
Well that's the long way around to telling you that the reason I don't notice the weather on the weekend is because towing can be mighty unpleasant when you start noticing how the slush you're lying in is numbing your back. Easier to ignore it while it's happening and save your perception and attention for more worthy tasks.

Christopher Pomeroy Tue Feb 18 21:37:19 PST 1997

Hello everyone

I just sort of stumbled upon this forum while searching for good internet writing resources, and while I certainly haven't had the time to catch up on all the recent conversation, I have to say I'm intrigued by everyone's comments. As for me, I'm a 26-year-old (journalist/pizza driver/dilletante/student/gamer/surfer . . . well you get the point) who's been dreaming of becoming a fiction writer since I was but a wee little lad. To that end I've written many a short story, good and bad, as well as my fair share of poetry. However, I've now set upon the task of writing a novel-- or rather, a series of novels. My first reading love was sword and sorcery, and despite short fictional forays into contemporary fiction, I think that is where my future rests-- successful or not. Perhaps, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to draw strength, and advice and maybe even a little sympathy from this forum of souls in the same predicament. Right now I'm only halfway through Chap. 1. Wish me luck.

Sherrie Tue Feb 18 20:34:36 PST 1997

PHILIP: Your entry was a special bit of wordage, tonight; you say it so well. Thanx!
DEB: Congrats on how well you look in print. Aren't you great?! *she turns and leads all in applause*
TRUDY: Go, girl. Get it any way you can. You're building your own bibliography!
BRIT: Forgot to mention your "frock" (love that word). It sounds like just the thing for you. I'm so excited for you. Now, go back to that bit of mind candy you're reading to give your creative juices a chance to top the reservoir. We'll see you in a chapter or two.
EVERYONE: Wish you were here. *points to the catalog photo of the hot tub and the vacant space on the deck* I'm at the point in this story where the CLIMAX happens. Gotta build up to it in shorter strokes, now, then everything happens at once. BOOM! Husband Harry and I are reduced to drawing diagrams on the white board in the kitchen during lunch to make sure I weave in every detail. Still, I'm just not certain I'm intelligent enough (actually, smarts isn't my problem; I got those; I just tend to be a rattle-head) to keep track of all that's happening. And I'M SUPPOSED TO BE LEADING THIS TRAIN! AAaarrrgggh! It might be a few days before you see me again. If too much time passes, somebody throw me a rope! ;-)

Deb (Anonymous) Borys Tue Feb 18 20:07:58 PST 1997

KITTY: Thank you for recognizing the anonymous post as mine. One the other hand, perhaps it wasn't so hard. I seem to be making a habit of that. I will try to do better this time.

PHILLIP: Very poetic! Thanks. I agree. My blue times have made my writing richer, warmer and more meaningful to myself and (I hope) to those who read it.

PATRICK: SOme of my most enjoyable, most creative writing moments happened while editing.

TRUDY: The music mag sounds like fun, experience and money -- a lot more than I've made yet. Refer to the archives for all the advice given to Charles when he was trying to decide about taking on a project he wasn't sure of. My opinion on that subject still holds.

BRITOMART: By all means, take some time off. We're the only ones standing over ourselves with a black leather vest and whip. The nice thing about self set deadlines is you can always put them off--which is my motto, great procrastinator that I am.

Speaking of which, I came here to clock in. I have a newsletter to get out, which isn't quite the same as working on a story or my book, but I must get that out of the way before I get to the fun stuff.

I just received the issue of Red Herring Mystery Magazine that has my story Love Takes A Licking in it. It looks so good! It sounds so good! I feel so good! It's one of those times when you can say to yourself--damn, I AM good, aren't I?

Patrick Tue Feb 18 18:27:06 PST 1997

Thanks Brit and Philip for the positive feedback. You're both right that the editing stage is also part of the creative process and should be done a little at a time. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all my raw material and thinking about converting it into cohesive, dynamic stories. I do automatic writing every morning before work and attempt to edit and revise in the evening. I've been working on a series of short stories about growing up in New York in the sixties. One things for sure. You gotta be passionate about writing.

Philip Tue Feb 18 16:09:18 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: blink and the numbers in our group double - welcome to the new people.

I'm back to my routines and my precious writing time, great! But then foolishly, yesterday, I accepted to sit on yet another committee: I used to sit on seven committees but reduced that to four and now.... When I say I'm a full time writer people interpret that as "I don't have a 'real' job" making me a viable mark during business hours. I make it worse, I just find it hard to say no. I am now only writing half the time: the rest of my time is taken up with administration, career management and committees.

BRITOMART: rest - writing is our art and must be elevated to a status that we reserved for it. So if you're exhausted for God sake stop, reflect and replenish and come back to it later with renewed vigour. To simply slog away will only show the grind of the process and your lack of passion will be obvious.

Period writing - for myself it is interesting to look back at the Faerie Queenes, Shakespeares, Chaucers et al but I can't allow these to occupy my limited reading time over the literature of my own day. The romantic notion of embracing the olde world does not sit well with me I'm afraid: those unsanitary, brutal times were not too great for the untitled; the underclasses; people who didn't hold property; indigenous people, slaves or women. Never-the-less the works are classical art pieces and give us precious hindsight.

And what's this about a dress? Is this the dress for the book launch that was never to be?

TRUDY: children - it is difficult to advise another about this important lifestyle choice. Do what YOU want. We bring various and individual personalities (I mean this in the true psychological meaning) to bear on the families we create. Some people should never have been parents. So those who choose not to should not be chided, browbeaten or cudgelled by others who are able to cope with this enormous sacrifice and responsibility. As for how kids may effect your writing: physically they will hinder you beyond belief while at the same time providing you with extraordinary insight that will fill your reservoir of experience like nothing else can. Kids plug you into your community faster than any other method known: nursing centres, play groups, kindergartens, schools, universities, hospitals; and because of them you become politicised about twenty years earlier than you might otherwise have done - generalising of course. So do what YOU want, I for one will reinforce you decision. Come what may you must keep writing. I know several mothers with full time jobs who are writers - my wife is one of them - but that is another story.

KASIN: let me add my belated congratulations! Poetry is so difficult to get published. I hope you are inspired and this means you'll become more productive, published, more productive still, more widely published and on...

BEN: the Vancouver Sun is always looking for a chatty columnist or features writer. Collect money for writing as you write. You'd get my vote: the voice of the people, the guy with his finger on the pulse with humour and wit, the champion of the everyday Joe. But don't take your eye off the ball - I want that novel as well mate.

DEB: blue is good; a part of life; a foil for orange. I use it, often writing from a blue base. You can scream past blue with your writing, sometimes too soon.

SHERRIE: you nailed the kids thing. Can't wait to read you new work.

WILLIAM: you live in Vancouver and you don't notice the weather? I guess that means you only notice it when it's not raining :-) I had heard previously that suicide was high at Simon Fraser Uni - how does it compare with the University of British Columbia in the same city. Do demographics point to SFU students coming from less privileged backgrounds. Please tell us more about your writing.

PATRICK: inspiration does not stop in creative writers because they've entered the editing or revision stages of their work. It's not finished until it's finished - to merely do a first draft is not enough. You may be still use all your creative flare and rearrange an entire chapter, verse or line and re-invent lines or plots of great value. I recently trashed 11,000 words from my present novel in favour of a better outcome discovered in revision - the improvement lifts the entire novel. In the same work I've dumped 2,000 words and 3,500 words also in favour of new dynamics discovered in revision. I can't put my creativity on hold - I don't reckon you will either when you get into it.

SLANDER AND LIBEL: you may write what you like as long as it's the truth. That's what they used to say and this was true in the courts, but recently in Australia two states introduced laws that won't allow malicious vilification writings to go unpunished. Yesterday a book was published here to a great outcry "Australian Paedophiles and Sex Offenders" is its title - it lists offenders, their crimes and addresses. Privacy, libel, vilification, malicious, in the public service are words and phrases being used. The writer has self imposed a life sentence on these people after their debts have been paid to the society, their punishment is exacted - others say. Most mainstream publishing contracts have clauses that indemnify the publisher against all claims of libel; I have these re-written to share the cost of defending and paying all damages claims. I think it makes them use their considerable resources - which includes their legal departments - to check the manuscript for flaws. My opinion in short, be brave (not malicious) and write the truth.

Back soon - Philip.

trudy Tue Feb 18 15:21:26 PST 1997

Hi everyone and thanks to all who have responded to the have or not to have question. I am at that age I guess and my husband and I are at the points in our,life when now would be as good a time as any to do it, but, I think naturally, I'm terrified. I am a very selfish person who like my time for me and I understand children can take that precious time away. Anyway it is something I'm tossing around.

By the way a music mag called Chart is interested in me
being their New Brunswick correspondent. They don't pay very
well, however...$25 for a one-page story; $50 for a front cover story of two to three pages and $10 for reviews. I picked up the magazine from a local music store but haven't had a chance to look at it yet so that may tell me
how much work it would be to actually put together a piece. A plus is a free subscription and I might get into some shows free so I am's not like the $1,000 a story mags are banging on my door after all!

I'll keep you all posted. Later, Trudy

Ben Woestenburg Tue Feb 18 06:16:23 PST 1997

Good Morning.
BRITOMART: There's nothing wrong with taking a little bit of time just to get your head back on straight. You might find it difficult not to write however, even if you think you can. I often take a week or two off from writing when I get stuck on something, but I find myself working on something else. Short stories or poems, ideas I threw out before. You don't have to stop writing completely. A change is as good as a rest they say, and in this case it's more than true. If you don't want to work on the book, write stories to entertain yourself. As a writer you will write no matter what -- it's what we do. If you don't want to write, lose yourself in research and beer (but that's a personal preference).
As for children, well, like you said, you're still young, but you're not getting any younger. It's no difficult feat balancing family and writing. Female writers have been doing it for years. You'll just end up doing what I do. You might think you don't have much of a life, but you'll find that you do. You're priorities will simply change. Children are not the bane of your existance, but the completion of it. That's what we're here for. I can say that because I'm the last person I would have expected to become a parent, especially when I look back at everything I've done to myself in the past. I just hope my kids don't make the same mistakes I did -- although when I was doing all that stuff I didn't think I was making a mistake. But they've basically changed me for the better no matter how I look at it.
WILLIAM: I don't have a college education, although I've read parts of Spencer. I'm not so much into him as I was into the Romantics. And I do like Matthew Arnold as well, especially SORAB AND ROSTUM, and ecellent poem. I read it to my kids once in a while because I like the way it sounds. But I love Mallory and his LAMORTE D'ARTHUR. As for THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE, I had that laying about for a while but never got around to reading it for some reason. I find reading books sometimes takes away from my own time to write them. I did start something yesterday though, and couldn't put it down. THE ALIENIST, by Caleb Carr, the story of a serial killer in New York 1896. Fascinating story!
PATRICK: I agree with Brito on this one. A little bit at a time. I'm revising my novel, and take it a day at a time. A chapter a day, sometimes two. I'm up to chapter nine right now, 65,000 words. I'm doing it for many reasons: to refamiliarize myself with the story; get an accurate word count, and correct those little spelling mistakes and passive sentences I let slip by the first couple of times. I'm also enjoying it. The thing about writing is that it's work. You can only do it by actually doing it. But it's work I enjoy, which explains why I'm willing to stay up until 11:00 every night and get up as early as I can. I haven't had to use my alarm clock for months. I'm getting up earlier everyday it seems.A page a day is all it takes remember.
KITTY: It seems St. Valentine was actually two Roman martyrs of the same name. One was a priest and physician who was killed in Rome, and the other was the bishop of Terni. The hearts and flowers and all that other stuff have no realtionship to the saints, but might be connected with the feast of the Lupercalia (Feb.15), or with the mating season of birds. But more than that, right beside them in the Brtiannica is the short history of the Roman emperors Valens and Valentinus. I think I see something in there that's rahter intriguing to me. Thanks.
Now I have to get back to work because it's 6:15 and I can still get another hour in before I have to go to work (?).
Go figure.

Sherrie Mon Feb 17 18:51:57 PST 1997

BRIT: Sounds as if you need a break. By all means, give yourself permission to take one. For me, it's movies, books and, if possible, getting away for a few days with Husband Harry and my boys. Go have fun. You're an empty vessel.
I'm not certain I'm clear about whether or not you liked Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I LOVED it. My lit professor provided so much historical background for the period and the concepts of knighthood and chivalry. "The Quest," I can still hear him say. It was wooonderful.
TRUDY: My children . . . my greatest sorrow and greatest joy. No accomplishment of my own--and I've had a few--equals the heart-bursting pride of watching one of them attempt then distinguish themselves in something. They are our legacy. I look at them and see Harry and me and my mother and my father and Harry's parents and all the way back to grandparents. We instilled in them integrity, honesty--at any cost--and mercy; Mike began an automatic deduction from his paycheck to ToughLove International when he was in Navy boot camp, and Erik has been receiving mail from the National Federation of the Blind since he was in Junior High. Test scores and promotions aside, that's the stuff that makes me proud. They are our duplication and contribution to this orbiting slag heap. They are . . . us.
You'll never regret it. I've never yet heard a parent say they did.
CHARLES: Stay with it, buddy!
EVERYONE: For the skinny on libel and slander, check the section covering same in the Associated Press Style Manual. It's a handy reference no writer's library should be without, since it settles, once and for all, how to write and punctuate the tricky stuff--numbers, dates, locations, political titles, etc.

Kasin Hunter Mon Feb 17 18:03:27 PST 1997

Kitty, Poetry in Motion--soon. Exact date, I don't know. Nadia published every two months, so it can't be long away.
Here is the url for the magazine. You could email for a copy from there.


Britomart the Needy Mon Feb 17 15:20:39 PST 1997

I always seem to be coming to you people with my problems. I'm thinking of taking a month off writing to refresh myself. I know that I've been on holidays for a while, but the whole time I've been thinking/worrying/planning/dreaming of my new book. Now I'm half way through chapter three and I've just run out of steam. I know exactly what I want to write, how it should sound, where it should be leading etc, but I just don't seem to have the creative energy for it. Do you think a self-imposed sabbatical could refresh me and make me come back to it even more interested and excited? I don't want to write tired old prose just because I'm a tired old thing.

Trudy, being a childless person and hoping to stay that way until the very last minute if not forever, my take on children is this: you may as well tie one arm behind your back for all you can do with a baby to look after. I'm far too self-centred for that. My parents had me too early in their relationship, and it was glaringly obvious to me that I was holding them back from making their dreams come true. But at the same time, if you decide to put off children, you have to be 100% committed to making your dream happen - you can't pursue your goals half-heartedly or you might find yourself at 50 with neither kids nor books - after all, they're both creative products. But you don't have to listen to me - I'm just a disaffected twenty-something with no hope for the future of humanity.

Will, you shouldn't have any problems with Spenser if you've studied middle English. I know the first time I tried the Faerie Queene I was completely lost, but after I'd done a couple of semesters of medieval language studies it was a breeze. After reading Gawain and the Green Knight, even Chaucer was a breeze. Three semesters of medieval lit later, however, and I'm a bit tired of it. Show me an Icelandic saga and I'll show you how quickly a girl with no athletic ability can run away.

Patrick, the key to effective revision is to attack it a little bit at a time. In your case, your first priority would seem to be getting your bits and pieces in some kind of order. I think it actually sounds like fun, sorting and synthesising all that material. Like cleaning out a cupboard that hasn't been cleaned for years.

Farewell all! I await your collective sagacity with bated breath.

William Mon Feb 17 08:06:40 PST 1997

BRITOMART: You've almost convinced me I have time to go back and read THE FAERIE QUEENE again. I loved it the first time, despite a lack of experience with Spenser. I enjoy sixteenth century lit., but the early stuff is where my concentration is. I really enjoy the Middle English stuff and the really early christian mystery plays. Oh, I won't miss a Shakespeare production, and some of the weirder (read: non-cannonical) seventeenth century stuff, like Aphra Behn's Oroonoko provide amusement, but I like the old stuff best. I lived in Arizona during my high-school years and I got quite a dose of American lit. there, too.
I'm really intrigued by modern "alternate history" sci-fi that mimicks seventeenth century literature, too. I'm thinking of William Gibson's collaboration with Bruce Sterling: The Difference Engine. You might try it if you haven't; it has a bit of gothic flavour to it.
BEN: I don't notice the weather much on the weekend, as I work Friday through Sunday. I notice the weather even less if it's unpleasant. But this weekend it was nearly spring-like after Friday's showers. If it keeps this up, the snowbells and crocus bulbs will be tricked into sprouting.

Kitty Sun Feb 16 15:30:58 PST 1997

Hey y'all! Just when you think there is no room to maneouvre, you find a little pocket of time. So here I am. Briefly. I think I may have started a chain reaction around here. Despite all the little frustrations heaped upon me lately, I cannot say I have been blue. All those little mishaps were frustrating, but not worth a funk. In truth, I would not want life to be predictable and though the surprises of late have been more vexing than pleasing, they keep me on my toes, alert and alive! As to Valentine's Day, I think Trudy echoes my own sentiments--why celebrate love one day of the year?! And how can anyone seriously believe that roses and chocolate are the barometer of a lover's depth of feeling? However, I am a sentimental soul and spent the week rereading and watching films of Jane Austen's various works--truly romantic. Besides, my birthday is on the 15th. BTW, I think St. Valentine was beheaded for marrying Roman soldiers in defiance of a law that prohibited Roman military men from marrying until they left the service. You could say he selflessly sacrificed himself for love! Ben can confirm or correct that.
Kasin, many congrats! Poet and illustrator! In which publication will the piece appear? How can we obtain a copy?
Trudy, There is no such thing as "being ready" to have children. Having children is THE GREAT ADVENTURE to which every other adventure in the entire universe pales. Your life will change completely and profoundly. Nothing will ever be the same. There are no gaurantees, but many, many responsibilities. If you do your job right--and there is no one right way, your child will leave home and conquer the world (at least their world). Having said that, I would never go back to my childless days. Children are worth every effort and energy they unconciously demand from their parents. You know this to your core when their tiny hand wrap around one of your fingers or when they casually toss off "I love you, Mom," when they're charging off to play.
Charles, I think we have to get "The Jerusalem Conspiracy" into the hands of a respected book reviewer.
Deb, was that last anonymous poste you?
Have to go. There's a line up for the computer and duty calls.

Patrick Keough Sun Feb 16 14:34:33 PST 1997

This is a great site. I just returned from a refreshing long walk along the beach with my 4 year old daughter Andei and our lab Daisy. Sun was low on the horizon as we searched for shells and enjoyed our late afternoon walk towards the setting sun. I'm a writer/photographer and teach at the local community college. I have tons of raw material from over twenty years of keeping journals and now am in the process of converting my entrees into short stories. I much rather do the inspirational part of writing than the nuts and bolts of editing and revision. Any ideas on getting motivated for the revision process.

Sun Feb 16 07:28:15 PST 1997

OK, just to let everybody know I'm back to my wonderful cheery self again. Part of the reason for that is because I talked with my friend and without really having to tell him I was being a jealous jerk, he understood that I was saying that I had a blue Valentine's because he was doing something else; and without really making it sound like he was feeling he needed to explain himself, he let me know that he was with another friend (someone I know about, and not a romantic conenction) because she had done him the favor of writing a letter for him requesting a one year leave of absence from teaching. He has an opportunity to be resident artist/potter at Holden Village in Washington State (ever hear of this, JACK?), but doesn't want to chuck the financial security of teaching art here.

TRUDY: Yeah, you're right. Usually I'm more optimistic about life. But I'm also realisitic. I've had some pretty sucky things happen to me just when I was feeling on top of the world. I think the trick is to realize life is a roller coaster (or a bowl of cherries with pits, or a box of chocolates with some coconut centers--Yech!).

CHARLES: I'm curious what kinds of things you decided to do to book two to "Americanize" it. Is a murder and bad guys one of the ways? If so, isn't that a sad commentary on us that we're not expected to enjoy something unless it contains some negative element like that?

TRUDY: I just came back from my writer's group where we were all bemoaning how difficult it is to raise kids (ours are all teens or older) and if people only knew they wouldn't jump in so quick. Then there are people who love every minute of parenting. If I could be who I am now and know what I know now, yet was younger, I think maybe I'd want to have kids and probably enjoy having them. But the problem is most people don't know what they're doing when they raise kids, they learnb as they go. So much of enjoying parenting is doing a good job, but even then each kid is different--good parents don't always turn out good kis, it just makes the odds better. I think there is too much emphasis on a traditional definition of "family." There's nothing wrong with being single and happy, or being a childless couple and happy, or being a family of 14 and happy. The key is "happy." 'Nuff said.

Ben Woestenburg Nittritz@ Sun Feb 16 00:55:01 PST 1997

Hey there, it's me.
I've just spent twelve hours drywalling with Manni, and I must say, the house is looking pretty good now. I told Zhim I was going to sleep in tomorrow, and he says no problems. I've put more time in during this last week than anyone else has. the thing is: I'm really enjoying it.
TRUDY: About children. My wife and I waited two years before we had our first child, and then it was more or less an accident. We never thought we were going to be ready for kids, and people kept laughing at us and telling us the same thing peaople are probably telling you: You can never be ready for kids. They were all right of course. Because you can't. Once you have them however, you can't imagine what life is like without them. There are so many different things you remember with kids. You remember your own childhood by reliving theirs. You remember you first day of school as you bring them for theirs. Their a blast. You get to live your childhood all over again. I love Hallowe'en and Christmas. I'm not trying to tell you that you should have kids, I'm just saying that they can't disappoint you, no matter what they do.
Uh oh. I'd like to stay up and say more, but I'm falling asleep at the keyboard and that's not a good sign. I gotta go to sleep and hold my wife as close to me as I can.
So Adios, goodnight, and see you in the morning!

Charles Samuel Sat Feb 15 14:14:18 PST 1997

Hi Everybody!

Sorry to hear so many of you are depressed. My father was a florist for thirty years. Don't you realize that Valentine's Day, Mother's Day AND Father's Day were conspiracies invented by FTD (Florists' Telegraph Delivery) to sell flowers?! Those 'holidays'certainly helped keep me and my sister in shoes, but please don't get depressed because someone decided to lay a few guilt trips on the world. :)

Well we got a few more 'passes' on THE JERUSALEM CONSPIRACY. (Many of them worth a chuckle Kitty) One top agent in New York spent about five minutes on the telephone telling me how great the book was...'the descriptions of the city were wonderful... the plot was compelling... etc.' Then he said, "but I don't think Americans would be interested in this story." I felt like saying, "Hey Gary! Wake up... where were you born, Tibet?! You're American and you liked the book, why do you think other Americans won't like it?" But you'll all be proud of me... I held my tongue, smiled into the phone and said, "Hey, thanks Gary, I really appreciate your time and advice. You know the theme in my next novel is much more universal... would you like to see it?" He said, "sure, send it along." The moral of the story... never burn bridges in this business.

So, my wife and I have decided to begin negotiations this week or next with a small publisher who is really interested in distributing THE CONSPIRACY in America. We might be able to have it out by November in the stores if we move now. I'll keep you posted.

Tonight my wife and I also went out to dinner to discuss the next novel and make sure it is "American" enough before I proceed any further (I'm up to twenty chapters). We had a few great brainstorms that can change things dramatically and make it more appealling to American and foreign audiences. Actually I'm quite excited about it. We're adding a murder to the plot and turning one of the minor characters into the major BAD GUY. We should have the plot cleared up in a couple of days and I can start writing again. By the way, for those of you looking for ways to be inspired when you're stuck, I find going out to dinner with my wife to a nice restaurant and playing the role of 'bestselling author' having a working session with 'top agent' works really well.

BRIT: I feel the same way about stepping out of the 'comfortable shoes' of my first novel and now 16,000 words into the next story, I've also grown to feel like I've changed shoes. BUT just as my toes were starting to wriggle comfortably we've decided to do this major revamping of the plot and some of the characters... oh well, we'll get up to speed. Glad to hear you're having so much fun with the business. If you can't enjoy it, it's not worth doing.
By the way, you asked about the down side of using a pseudonym... the only one that I've encountered is that my Dad was a little disappointed by not seeing the family monicker on the spine. And concerning not getting a good spot on the shelves, how about using Kim Ricer, or William Koons or Samantha King... Then you'll be right there next to... :)

RE: Slander and Libel. We had a former publicist for a major publisher over for dinner this weekend (don't ask me how I keep meeting all these people 6,000 miles away from where they're supposed to be). She said, "what makes great books great is that they are 'life affirming.'" Why would someone want to write about something destructive of a real human being? Where is the caring, compassion, and empathy that we love to see in great authors?

Welcome to all the new members and best wishes to all.


Trudy Sat Feb 15 13:41:56 PST 1997

Way to go KASIN! That is so exciting! As for my "only" non-fiction wait til I'm makin' the big bucks; then you'll really be begging for my secrets(: I took it exactly how you meant it; no worry there.

For those singles out there woeing over the lack of Valentine's Day hoopla; remember it is celebrating the day a man was beheaded! My hubby and I don't do anything on this day by agreement...we both figure it means more if we do something special on other days throughout the year. Plus he's not into the overly romantic stuff so this gets rid of the chance for disappointment.

DEB: if you expect your life to suck and it does; kust think what it would be like if you expected it to be wonderful. I really believe that expecting something is nine-tenths of making it happen. Picture happiness and success; it will come.

BRITOMART: that dress sounds knock-down gorgeous! As for my team penning story you captured my feelings in a nutshell. I think it's so exciting they didn't reject it outright and actually said they found it interesting. My husband laughed when I told him and said "I'm interesting" (Wait I was thnking he laughed because I was so cute being so excited; maybe he laughed because he doesn't think I'm interesting...nah can't be that!

BEN, no I don't have children yet and I'm waiting to hear everyone tell me it makes life bearable! I find life very bearable right now and am terrified about the upheaval children would add to it.

So this has nothing to do with writing but could I have a poll on whether kids are a good or bad thing in life? And on the writing side of things; how does this affect everyone's writing schedules? For those of you who do not have kids; have any of you decided this for a reason...and what might that be? I'm really curious.

Anyway, I have guests arriving in an hour so must say see ya! Have a great night all. Trudy

Kasin Hunter Sat Feb 15 08:04:35 PST 1997

Yes! Nadia liked the illustration which accompianied the spider poem. I made a few improvements such as darkening the spider, and she emailed me back saying it was a go! Now . . . when will it come out? I'm still waiting to here on that. Maybe the next issue? We'll see. Ooooooh, I'm excited!

Trudy--I'm so happy to hear about your step forward in your team penning story. Go girl! I've always loved your stuff (even though it's only nonfiction) Ha! I know you know I don't mean that! I'm just "fluffy" about it because Trudy's still teaching me how to write non-fiction. Best to ya, girlfriend!

Deb--it's odd, but this year, I, too, was negatively affected by Valentine's Day. Why? I've chosen to live the lifestyle I have. I have a good male roommate who's there for male insight and movies and dinner company. I've left behind the heartache and financial tragedys. So, why am I feeling blue like you? Well, I decided not to be. I rec. a card from my friend/mentor/writer associate/etc. from California--Larry. He loved the spider poem--says it's the best I've done--and the card was a Valentine's Day card. I bask in its warmth and the knowledge that even though I don't have someone's dirty socks to pick up, I have friends and a family of gold. No room--no time--for the blues. Now, I'm gonna go outside and give my chow-mix a big hug and a milkbone. Then it's off to my nephews for his birthday present. Maybe I'll find time to write up that short article for Grit today--or maybe not. I'm gonna do what feels good for *me* today--so there!! :)

Deb Sat Feb 15 03:52:31 PST 1997

Oh, I'm blue, I'm so blue. It's 5 a.m. and I've been awake since 3:00 or so. To make it worse, I spent the whole evening wasting my time watching REALLY bad tv shows and feeling sorry for myself. No work done, even though I wanted to have something original ready to take to my writer's group tomorrow. Then I log on here and see all these notes about Valentine's Day. Thanks a lot guys.

Actually, it's not that bad. I had a Valentine's evening Thursday night which was really nice. But now it's got me wondering. After two weeks of seeing or talking to each other every day, where is he suddenly on Valentine's Day? No answer on the phone. And who were those flowers for I saw wrapped up in the frig? Obviously they weren't for me. We started out as friends, but it seems to be developing into more. And I've been wanting it to be more for some time.

This is turning into a journalling session, so I won't subject you to further "Woe is me" postings.

BRIT: We need to see that dress. Any way of posting a picture of you wearing it on your web page? Maybe after your big day or something?

BEN: Talk to me about money problems--I hear you, bro. Some months are pretty tight here, too, and I don't even want to think about the debt I'm in. I presently have no car (well, I'm using a beat up junker from work) because the bushings in a rebuilt distributer I paid big bucks for a few months ago was faulty and leaked oil all over everything and gummed the engine up. The good news is the part was still under warranty and NAPA should pay for the replacement part and at least some of the labor. It will take at least a week for the part to come in. Cross your fingers for me. Hooray, Ben, for the seafood binge. Got to be nice to yourself once in a while. (Better than waiting for someone else to be nice to you. Sorry, the woe is me crept back in.)

TRUDY: Is my life what I expect it to be? Lately, yes. Nowadays I expect my life to suck, and it does. Oh, I am so cheerful tonight, aren't I?

TRISH: I'm not sure if the fairy tell will go further or not. That kind of lies in the artist's hands, like the story says, and since he seems to be out with someone else on Valentine's day, that woman might have to find some way to cover her own vulnerability and sulk off to a cottage in the wood all by herself.

All right, enough bumming everyone out for one night. I promise to be more up next time I visit, or at least keep my mouth shut if I'm not. I'm hoping my writer's group will cheer me up tomorrow. Also, I will probably talk this out with the artist in question and feel better afterward, as usual. Developing relationhips have their good moments as well as their bad.

Britomart Sat Feb 15 01:45:31 PST 1997

Good evening all!

Oh my God! Today I bought the dress. I'd been looking around for something for my book launch, and today I was in a Goth shop called Dark Obsession, and there it was - a beautiful creation in red velvet and black lace. I'm so bloody excited about that dress. Also about my book launch, which is only 4 months away! I guess it's a bit like looking forward to a wedding, because I'll probably never have one of those. Only at this event I won't have to share the limelight with a dumb boy. And I get to wear black.

Ben: I actually don't have a problem with taking the competitiveness out of school sports. Being the kind of girl who was not athletically talented, I suffered a great deal of humiliation at those kind of events, given that one was not allowed to opt out. I was so discouraged that I didn't take up any kind of physical activity again until I was about 20 (and only because I was getting a little tubby round the middle). Children are allowed to suffer their academic disappointments in the comfort of their own homes (ie. report cards go to parents), but have to suffer the stigma of being "athletically challenged" in front of a huge crowd of peers and spectators. Well, it sure as hell warped my mind. Besides, valorising competition is just a tacit acceptance of the whole capitalist schemozzle that we unquestioningly measure anything by. Anyhow, sounds like you had a good Valentine's day, which is more that can be said for mine. But the less said about that the better - I'm already sounding a bit bitter and twisted this evening.

Trudy, promising news about your story, and good for you for stating your terms. Even if it does eventually come back, you at least know that it was one step closer. Yahoo.

Linda, I think Anne and Jo had a great deal of influence on a lot of young girls with fond notions of becoming writers. Whenever I find a grown-up one of those girls, I immediately feel I'm with a "kindred spirit". Some things you never grow out of.

Will, what kind of literature are you specialising in or interests you most? I'm very much into Renaissance lit - I wrote a 6000 word paper on sexuality and textuality in Book III of Spenser's Faerie Queene last semester - that's where I get my pseudonym (Britomart) from. She was a well-hard female knight.

Phil, I love NZ. All the relatives on my father's side are Kiwis, and I was over there last year. It's a really dreamy place with a lovely sense of community. Patricia Grace is a great writer - I read a book of hers called "Cousins" which was brilliant. What's your take on Alan Duff? Do you think he does put across a negative spin on Maoris, or do you think he just "tells it like it is"?

I didn't write anything today. How very, very naughty of me. I couldn't get out of bed this morning, but I'll do better tomorrow with my new frock to inspire me. I promise.

Farewell all!


Ben Woestenburg Fri Feb 14 23:35:41 PST 1997

Hello from me!
I trust everyone had a good day and their respected spouses gave them all the love we all deserve so much. For myself, well, everyday's Valentine's, so I don't make a big deal out of it. I usually forget things like that if you can believe it. But it's been rather tight around here lately -- as in broke -- so there aren't any flowers or cards. As long as the kids have everything, I don't care what I get, and niether does the little woman.(I know, I know, I could have at least got a card.) But, hey I didn't.
The kids asked me who Valentine was, so of course I had to tell them what I knew. The thing that amazes me about this day is what they do with it in school now. When I was a kid we gave cards to the friends we liked. My kids get a class list and have to give cards to everyone in their class. I guess this means Valentine's Day has reached the politically correct pinacle. They don't want anyone to be left out. It's like sports day -- another problem I have with school. I went to my kids' sports day, only to discover that it wasn't the sports day I remembered. There were no races or long jumps, no high jumps or three legged races. There was no competetion. The reasoning behind all of this was that the teachers, or the Board, or whoever, didn't think it was fair to only have three winners and everyone else losing. They didn't think it was a positive experience. I didn't know life was supposed to be fair. Without the spirit of competition, how is anybody going to learn, or understand, that not everybody wins? Someone has to lose. I can't wait to see what they do to Easter. It's bad enough they only talk about the Easter Bunny. Look what they did to Christmas. Valentine's day has become commercial. The biggest day of the year for the florists in towns all across North America. A dozen long stemmed roses for a hundred bucks almost, and the feeling that you don't love the one your with unless you buy some. But at least we had a nice dinner.
We were at the bank trying to get money to help us out of this hole, and having gotten some of it, and at the same time lifting that terrible weight of my poor wife's shoulders (she's one of those people who lets money problems bring her down), we went to the local store to pick up some chicken breasts (I've always been a boob man). We came home with mussels, crab meat and prawns. A regular feast. Our Valentine's dinner I guess you could say, because we made it for each other. So I guess instead of a dozen roses we had a dozen prawns, some good laughs because my friend came over, and a nice quiet night with a couple of brews each. A nice night compared to the two huge bottles of wine we had last night.
KITTY: It's so nice to hear from you again. I'm sorry I didn't write anything funny for you tonight, but like you pointed out, life doesn't always go the way you think it will, does it? Hell, if it did, I'd be in Britomart's place -- twentysomething and published. Now I'm almost forty and still struggling. But they say it builds character don't they? If that's the case, I gotta be a real character, because the one thing I've learned about life is that Laughter is the best medicine. I laugh everytime I open up the bills and see what I have to pay out for the month.
TRUDY:Do you have kids right now? If not, what are you waiting for? I'm sure everyone here will agree if I say that they are the only thing that makes life bearable.
TRISH: You'll still be able to find time to write and feed and change diapers and read, and love and laugh, because it all goes by too damn fast. I don't mean to sound philosophical, because I'm not.
WILLIAM:Enjoying the rain?
Now I have to go because it's 11:30 and I still have to get up at five tomorrow, as well as help clean the house, cook breakfast and help Manni with the drywalling. I'm actually getting pretty good at it.

William Fri Feb 14 23:07:24 PST 1997

JACK: Haven't had a chance to do any real research re: the defamation issue, but it seems to me that a there is a question here other than a strictly legal one. In fact, in the same situation I would let practicality decide for me. First, if you are concerned that what you write might make someone angry enough to sue you, you must decide if you want to become entangled in a legal defense. If you have the time and the means and the desire to fight such a defense, _then_ you have to decide what it is worth to you to write the piece. Seems to me most people are not just worried about being sued because it could cost them money; most people probably dread the thought of legal action being brought against them at all. They're not just worried about whether they win or lose. They're worried about being forced to defend themselves. Sure the law says you're innocent 'till proven guilty, but it is easier for someone to prove you guilty if you don't mount a defense. It all comes back to: What is it worth to me to see this in print? balanced against What is it worth to my subjects to be certain this never sees the light of day?
Maybe the easiest thing is to cast the whole thing as fiction (probably more fun, too).

trudy Fri Feb 14 17:21:11 PST 1997

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Wanted to say a quick hello and say I did e-mail Canadian Horseman regarding my team penning story. Thye e-mailed me back saying they read it with great interest (That means they got it! Yippee! I was worried), but had not decided whether to use it or not. I sent them another e-mail saying I was willing to rewrite the story with the upcoming season in mind but was not interested in doing it on spec (basically, I want money for sure this time) so am hoping this will ead into my first national magazine assignment. I'm so excited, even though it could all lead into nothing.

KITTY, poor soul, life is never what we think it will be like when we actually get down to living it...or am I wrong; is there anyone here who says life is what they expected it to be?

TRISH, share those pregnancy experiences a bit too please; my husband and I are in the discussion phase of whether to have a baby or not...I'm still elaning towards not; I mean I don't have time for all my writing projects now! Hope the morning sickness and other bad stuff goes away soon.

Now JACK, I have to ask, did you archive so far back so as not to offend me? I really have not taken that to heart you know?

Everyone...see you later. Trudy

trish Fri Feb 14 16:53:24 PST 1997

Hi!! Just dropping by to say I'm still around. I've been too busy and too sick to stay caught up with what's going on here lately, but with a little luck, maybe I'll get back to it soon.
I have taken another job and now put in 3 days/week. The money will come in handy when I take off after the baby comes, which the doctors say should be around Sept. 27. I just keep telling myself that in a few months I'll feel better and won't even remember all the morning sickness and fatigue. It's harder this time than the last.
Am trying to keep up with my pregnancy journal. Still hope to be able to turn it into a series of articles when it is done. I sure would like to see my name in print.

Phillip: Am awaiting the arrival of "Sweet Water..." at the library. Should be in soon. I can't wait to read it. I tried to get "Scream Black Murder", but they wanted $12.00 to ship it from CA. If I have to pay that for it, I'll buy it somewhere.

Sherry: I haven't forgotten you. Hope to have time to talk to you soon.

I kinda miss you guys. I'll try to be back soon.

Linda Fode Fri Feb 14 11:00:17 PST 1997

Jack: You are allowed to whine, complain, vent etc. at least to me. I wiped out my harddrive in Oct., it took me days to reload everything. Luckily I'd backed up my data files earlier BUT I hadn't saved my e mail addresses OR WORSE my favorities file of internet sites. I urge one and all not to
a) compress thy harddrive ( even if Windows 95 urges you with cute graphics to to so). There comes a point where there's no more room on the disc for a large graphic or multimedia file to operate and everything freezes for ever.
b) Save your favorities to a disk - It's not worth the time or anguish to lose them . (Maybe I need addiction counselling )Jack- you've handled the trauma well- I at least am proud of you.

Deb. : I loved the Artist fairytail and would love to read the rest of it when you've completed it. Don't know that I know the deeper meaning - but it struck a cord with me as to the significance of what we do as writer's. The character's in novels have always been formative for me. Many are as "real" to me as people I know. As a child I lived actively in the worlds of Little Women, or Anne of Green Gables. The initial desire to write in fact came from Jo and Anne . Are we responsible for the lives we create?? Interesting question ! Metaphorically IMHO I think we are responsible to nuture, protect, guard them until like children we release them to the world and set them free. In a discussion on another group we've been dealing with the issue of talking too soon and too much about our stories. It seems to dis-empower the story and the writer. Energy to write disapates, motivation wains. Henri Nouwen talks about "guarding the fire within". I find this true in terms of both my spirituality and my writing.

Well. I've talked far to long this morning. Happy Valentine's Day to all. Let me know when the Notebook Cruise is sailing and I'll be there. .

Kitty Fri Feb 14 07:33:44 PST 1997

Hey y'all! Just popped in for a quick visit. I'm burning the candle at both ends and turning to toast--to mix a metaphor or two. Ted is just back from two weeks buzzing around Asia. During his absence we have had at least a foot more of snow--up to my waist where it is not plowed; my new-in-April van bombed out while I was on my way to hear Roberta Bonda, astronaut, speak; then I lost in the deep snow around the house one of the automatic lock/unlock/panic clickers for said nonfunctioning van; and then to add a little icing to this cake of woes, my fellow coordinator for a fundraiser e-mailed me to let me know her plane had sprung a fuel leak and, quel dommage, she would be stuck in the Bahamas a week or two more but I should have fun doing all the work on my own. Life keeps rolling along, but not quite how I envision it. Oddly, I have kept to my writing throughout all the chaos and fatigue. Could it be I am determined to keep my New Year's resolution or am inspired by y'all?! A bit of both, I think.
Jack, regarding Ruth Kline's query: I thought most publishing houses have legal departments that look over manuscripts with an eye for potential lawsuits (libel is written defamation while slander is verbal defamation, I think). When a writer has a mermoire or autobiography or biography accepted at a publishing house, would it not be part of the prepping-for-publishing process to have it checked out by the legal department right along with line and content editing? Thus, the obvious place to make inquiries, to me, would be a publisher. The writer must write without inhibition, sell the book, and then the editing-for-publishing process begins. I'm sure they don't let a Kitty Kelly bio on the stands without a careful look-see. Also, I'm sure that those disclaimers you can find in the front of some books have something to do with protecting yourself from lawsuits. Another person, she might ask is an agent. Wouldn't a good agent be conversant with publishing law? Just MHO.
Philip, your festival sounds wonderful. I wonder if either author is available in North America? When Ted gets over to Australia, would you be willing to suggest a good bookstore and a list of recommended reading? I met a new Zealander while I was in the Outback on my post-university trip to Australia. We had an instant rapport despite the very different world we came from (I was 21, fresh from university confident of my intellect but woefully inexperienced, while he was a self-made man in his early fifties). He talked a lot about his home and engendered in me a desire to see New Zealand.
Deb and Kasin congratualations on your successes.
Britomart glasd to see you resolved your dilemma.
Welcome tout le newcomers!
I'm booked solid for the next little while so don't know when I'll be back. I do clear my e-mail everyday, so if anyone wishes to contact me, you can do so that way. 'Til I return, prolific writing to you all.
Happy Valentines Day. May you be wrapped in the arms of the one you love. I am expecting a love letter from my true love. (Ben, I hope you are going to give us a little essay on your take on the day and the foibles of men and women--I appreciate a good chuckle.)

Ben Woestenburg Nittritz Thu Feb 13 22:59:46 PST 1997

Hey there guys, it's another wine night, so please excuse wbatever typos you might find.

Wiiliam, firtt of all, hello and welcome. Maybe we can email each other and get to know one another. We can always have a beer together?

Now Jack, for that question. I know I'm just a Canadian, and what applies to us doesn't apply to you guys, but that doesn't mean I can't have an opinion. I asked Renu what she thought, but she said she'd rather be more coherent to answer a question like that. Me? I'm more daring and like to vioce my opinions when I've had a few drinks.
I don't think it's right for a person to be held accountable for their opinions. That's what writing is more than anything. It was this woman's life, and her opinions, so how can anbody say that her interpretation of things is wrong? Whatever she may have done or said has no bearing on anyone else, does it? I'm sure a publisher would be quick to tell an author that what they've written is libelous, so I say: go ahead and write them, and worry about it after.

Okay, time for me to go to sleep. Up too early this morning, and Manni's expecting me to help again tomorrow bright and early. Stiil getting up early and doing my own writing first. It's great I get three or four hours of writing in before I have to go out( about 9:00 a.m.). I get home and actually manage to get a couple more hours at night.

Okay, now it's good night. It's 11:00, and I still want to get up early, but I had to say something.

Jack Beslanwitch Thu Feb 13 19:22:35 PST 1997

Well, I've archived finally and lopped off a share of the remaining messages from last Notebook to keep things going here. I would, however, like to share something and a question that maybe someone here could supply a better answer than I was able to. A writer named Ruth Kline emailed me with the following:

Gosh John, I hope you can help. I've loved your Writer Resources page
for sometime now. It was wonderful inspiration for me while I was on
sabbatical to write. However, I've got a friend (no REALLY.. a writer
friend without internet access) who has a question. I thought maybe you
could point me in the right direction.

She writes nonfiction and has for years. She's led a colorful life and
is a true example of the ups and downs of simply being human. Recently
she's begun to toy with the idea of a book that relates some of those
personal stories that are just sitting in her journals (over twenty years
worth...). Her question is simple enough. If she publishes some of
those stories, and her take on the events 'upsets' one of the people in
the story, is she open to civil suit? I don't think her stories would
qualify as libel or slander since they relate her perspective of the
event as she experienced it. BUT ... some people might be upset by her

I've seen dozens of autobiographies, etc. that relate not-so-nice things
about other people in the past. Do those people get sued???? It seems
to me that some former white house guy did that recently. When they
reveal things about other people that they feel are true, but the
individual would have preferred to keep it quiet, are they sued??? If so,
is the author at risk for losing the suit.

I tried to reseach it online but couldn't figure out where to go. Do you
have any suggestions where I should look, etc.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated


If anyone has any suggestions please leave them here. She has this address and said she will monitor. Or you can email her directly.

William Thu Feb 13 14:32:20 PST 1997

BRITOMART: I'll be back full-time at Simon Fraser University in the fall (right now I'm taking courses at a local college for credit at SFU: a bit of a break without actually taking a vacation). The SFU homepage is at http://www.sfu/ca. No sandstone or shade trees there; Simon Fraser University is set atop Burnaby Mountain and is just beginning to grow out of its clunky, grey and dank architecture. New buildings there are mostly underground - built down into the mountain, but are also more attractive than the older structures. I once heard that SFU has the highest suicide rate of any post-secondary school in Canada. If this is true I'd be willing to blame it entirely on the tomblike buildings. (Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the education I'm pursuing, but not the locale)

BEN: I live in Maple Ridge just across the river from you and have used computers for years (Our first one was a Commodore VIC-20 with no disk drive - audio tape only and 20Kb of RAM. You could literaly fill the memory just by typing in about 17 pages of text). If you are still having e-mail or other sorts of problems, I may be able to give you a pointer or two. Also, I'm quite interested in the Roman piece you have mentioned here.

JACK: This is the place I've been needing to be. I think I've been looking for this sort of forum for a long time without realizing it. I've almost finished reading the contents of the archives (all nine, whew!) and I kept wanting to jump in with my two bits worth all the way along. I'll do up a bio and leave it here before long. Thanks.

Britomart Wed Feb 12 23:44:10 PST 1997

Hi folks. I've made good headway with chapter three, and I'm starting to relax into the swing of it again. Starting a new novel is like buying a new pair of shoes. The old shoes were so comfortable, sometimes you're tempted to put them on instead. But once your new shoes start wearing in, it's exciting to have them on. Anyone else get that feeling?

William, thanks for joining us and thanks for the encouragement via e-mail. I'm sure I can organise something for anybody who wants a copy of my book, even if I send them over myself. I never much got into Lovecraft, but I'm very heavily into 18th century Gothic which is where Anne Rice has her roots. A book that I can recommend thoroughly is "The Monk" by Matthew Lewis, and of course you must read Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" if you are a dark fantasy or SF fan - to see where it all began. Where are you studying lit and I'll check out your uni's home page. I'm at University of Queensland which is - a big old sandstone place with lots of cool trees.

Sherrie, I've never been much of a Koontz fan, but I might have to look at "Intensity". I always admire authors that can really wind up the suspense like that.

Back to uni in a week - HURRAH! I'm getting a bit bored doing nothing but writing. How will I ever be a full-time author?

Bye all.

Jack Beslanwitch Wed Feb 12 22:41:44 PST 1997

Everyone: Sometime tomorrow I will be archiving the Notebook. I'll carry over the last several posts to the new Notebook. So, not to worry. Am just raising my head above water reinstalling every program on my hard drive along with Windows 95 from scratch. Some things are salvagable, but anything that had anything in the Windows directory is toast. Sorry about grousing.

Sherrie: Too right there are enough subjects to discuss and am happy to. This place sort of grows and takes care of itself.

Got to go. Take care all.

Sherrie Wed Feb 12 20:49:16 PST 1997

DEB: Talked to Husband Harry about the way we've been doing our income taxes. He says, as he understands it (gotta get that disclaimer in), the IRS will allow you to claim losses on your "business," be it writing, whatever, for three years. On that fourth year, if you still claim a loss, it's a hobby, and you get to pay all the back taxes--the three years included. So I would only deduct anything equal to your earnings, unless you have some sales. Two years ago, we had an income of a few hundred dollars that we paid taxes on; that got us started in the legitimate writer deduction category. Last year, I bought a computer, so claimed a loss. This year I bought a computer but will actually make money again. Yes! ;-) Hope that answers your question. Oh, and by the way, don't pay any attention to the H&R Block boys; this is the Cream of Wheat of tax/money management. Super conservative.
PHILIP: Let's go sailing, bud! You know, we might just have to catch a gust that goes your direction, just 'cause you seem to have it in your blood. And I'm so proud of your reception--ovation, you called it! Wow! And don't you dare be tempted to be humble. Revel in it, and relive it to us at your heart's content. It's all you'll have to get you through those lonely hours at the keyboard . . . until the next time!
Well, I'm nearly up to 58,000 words and Colin and Emily have been so merciful as to tell me how their story ends. Rather complicated--everything happens at once--gotta draw a timeline just to keep it straight--but it will make for some great reading. Should keep a few people up into the wee hours.
Anybody read "Intensity" by Dean Koontz? That was a gripper. The whole book takes place in 24 hours. It's not a story to talk about over cheesecake and latte, but it's pretty good. My baptism in Koontz; I'll read more.
JACK: I like your book-of-the-month idea, although we seem to have no trouble finding topics to discuss.

William Wed Feb 12 14:29:17 PST 1997

Everyone: For inspiration, I sometimes browse the spines at a nearby bookstore. I try not to buy books by this method, but if I'm feeling particulary empty ideawise, a stroll down the aisles of a quiet bookseller is often enough to stir things up. (I don't usually browse any deeper than the titles or cover blurbs because I run the risk of getting too involved in someone else's work - my ideas cease to be my own). Anyone else find this works?

Britomart: In response to your question awhile back - the dark fiction genre does appeal to me. I am a great fan of Poppy Z. Brite, William F. Wu, Darrell Schweitzer, etc., although I have yet to read any Anne Rice (don't know why that is - maybe she just seems too "pop"). I come to this type of fiction from the fantasy/SF genres by way of H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. I have nearly finished reading the whole "Notebook" section here. Once I have I certainly will have to look at your stuff in the "Workbook." I enjoy the H/DF flavor in short stories, but I'm curious to see how it works in novel-length format. I still read a huge amount of F&SF, but the Dark stuff on my shelf is swelling.

Philip Tue Feb 11 07:23:20 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: she's throwing it down here, a tropical deluge, extremely muggy, everything has a slick damp covering inside and out.

Welcome to the newcomers, please stay with us and contribute your ten cents worth. Please get your bios to Jack for inclusion on the page he's provided for us so we may all know a little about those we chat with here.

NEW ZEALAND: I misunderstood, the festival was not a literary occasion but a major full on indigenous arts event: painting, sculpture, dance, music, as well as literature; traditional and contemporary. There were guests from Canada, the US, Hawaii, Samoa and I was the sole Australian. It was held in Rotorua, a hot-springs and bubbling-mud tourist city on the North Island.

JACK: there was a Native American woman, a traditional weaver, from your backwoods - Bellingham, Washington. She creates amazing objects using soft strips of red cedar (excuse the pun). I had no idea the weavers were so serious about their craft, beautiful art.

Sculpture, mostly carved from wood dominated the receiving halls of the huge convention centre, with paintings and tattoo demonstrations also on display. Apparently the Polynesians were first to decorate their skin with tattoos: sailors took the idea back to Europe.

I was the guest of the Maori Te Ha writers. Our first readings were held in breaks in the performance arts in the concert hall. A crowd of about seven hundred were in attendance. I was the only foreigner on stage that evening and received an ovation usually reserved for celebrity performers which included whistles, yelps and cheers - a real buzzing rush. No wonder rock star's egos are out of control. The Te Ha group included me in everything: their bi-annual meeting, budget discussions, and were generous with their time in discussing our craft. The essence of Maori literature is primarily embodied in short stories - and dominated by humour! There are three prominent Maori novelists, Witi Ihimaera, Patricia Grace and Alan Duff. Witi and Pat were at the festival - Alan Duff is not popular with the indigenous people, they say he continually puts them down in his writings. He commands a massive right wing non-Maori readership among whom his books are selling like hot cakes.

There were several writers at the festival who only write in the Maori language who are writing out of commitment to their people - admirable on the part of the writer and publisher, given their small market.

Too much more to tell - too frustrating.

SHERRIE: some how, sometime down the track, we'll all have to work towards a meeting of the literary minds of the Notebook, and sail on your boat. It's been mentioned here, more than once. I reckon in person, with a good supply of tongue loosener, we'd all mesh well and really talk up the stuff of our craft. Maybe we could agree to crash someone else's festival as Jack suggested - in the northwest.

Back soon - Philip.

Kasin Hunter Mon Feb 10 21:48:57 PST 1997


While working on my book, I've often had the feeling that the world I created in it was real. That is went on even while I was not at the keyboard. I could hear the voices, see the activities in my head. I told my roommate once that I hated to get away from the keyboard because I would be missing the documentation of what the people were doing. He looked at me kinda funny, but that's how it felt.

I've heard this from other writers as well--that the characters dictate what goes on the page, not the writer herself/himself. Bradbury says his typewriter talks to him.

Either we are tremendously imaginative or we are nuts!

(Big smile)

Health and humor, Kasin Hunter.

Kasin Hunter Mon Feb 10 21:40:55 PST 1997

Deb--"anyone from the U.S. have suggestions about claiming writing as a business on your taxes?
I know you don't have to wait until income exceeds expenses, so don't you think it would be better
to start the process now, before I earn that mega-million dollar advance when all my expenses
occurred in the years before the income came in? You know what I'm saying? (It's late and I'm not
making much sense.) Advice appreciated--April 15 will come soon, methinks. "

Just yesterday I contacted a Prime office at H&R Block and asked that very question. He said no, don't do it. And he deals with nothing but corporations and high-faluting businesses. So, that means I'm opening a business for my gourd art, but not for my writing. Help at all?

Jack Beslanwitch Mon Feb 10 16:05:01 PST 1997

Kasin: Congratulations May poetry reign.

My own situation took an interesting turn when Windows NT 4.0 ate the Windows 95 and DOS directories and left Found.000 directories in their place and no way to access the internet. One cautionary note, the emergency boot disk you create with 95 does not include a CD ROM driver. Net result you cannot simply reinstall Windows 95. I'm writing from my wife's computer at the moment and am not amused.

I am hoping to drop something off on the Workbook soon. I'm toying with a fictional treatment with a possessed ergonomic keyboard with a mission in life of giving carpal tunnel syndrome. Haven't worked out the details, but I think it could be painful. Along those lines, has anyone read John Varley's "No Entry". I didn't want to touch my keyboard for days after I read that one. Take care. Hoping my computer gets backto me tomorrow.

Deb Borys Mon Feb 10 12:08:42 PST 1997

Congrats, Kasin--sorry I missed you the first post!!!

Deb Borys Mon Feb 10 11:59:12 PST 1997


I'm not sure what happened. I could have sworn I was on the Workbook page when I hit the send button, but here it is right below--the fairytale I refer to in this message.

Hi everyone. I've posted a short fairy tale (supposedly in the Workbook). Here's what I'm after: This was written all of a piece in about fifteen minutes (during the sermon at church, actually--our pastor is a nice guy, but boring). It's actually just a personal piece, a message to a friend who was sitting beside me as I wrote. He knew exactly what I was saying when he read it, so it was successful on that level. What I'm wondering is, what do you think it means? I'm curious to see if the underlying general message can be understood by anyone without knowing the specific message I wanted my friend to heard. Does this say anything to you at all?

Guess what I go in the mail yesterday? A check for a whole $10!!!! The mini-mystery that was contracted for in 1996 is finally going to appear in Red Herring Mystery Magazine in Volume 3, No. 4. They don't tell me when that's coming out, and they haven't sent me my "complementary copy" yet so I'm going to have to call and ask. Ten bucks isn't much, I know, but the contract actually only guaranteed $5--they're a non-profit publication dependent on grant money. Anyway, combine that with my check from Pirate Writings and I earned a whopping $20.00 U.S. last year. Now, deduct megabucks in postage, and my new computer, and the ink cartridges, etc. and I will have earned, let's see-------- $-1345.23 (that's negative! 1345.23). Somewhere around there. Next question--anyone from the U.S. have suggestions about claiming writing as a business on your taxes? I know you don't have to wait until income exceeds expenses, so don't you think it would be better to start the process now, before I earn that mega-million dollar advance when all my expenses occurred in the years before the income came in? You know what I'm saying? (It's late and I'm not making much sense.) Advice appreciated--April 15 will come soon, methinks.

That finished, I'm officially checking in. I went to a writer's group tonight that I'm starting as a favor to a friend and "for the sake of my art." There's a new Art Center in town and they are trying to generate interest and involvement in all the arts, so my friend (a different one, not the one mentioned above, as if that makes any difference) asked if I would pick a date and then show up to see if anyone else also showed up. The idea is that I should be able to phase out after I get them started. There were six other people there, with two more having called with interest that were not able to make it. It's a hodgepodge of expertise levels and interests, it will be a miracle if they survive long enough for me to phase out. Anyway, I was like the most experienced writer there, which I realize isn't saying much, but did a lot for my ego, you know? Made me feel like maybe I've gotten somewhere with my writing. So I'm going to ride this feeling a while and work on a short story I want to finish by Saturday to take to my other, longstanding and more experienced writers group in Peoria. Course, I don't know how much energy or creativity I have left after this long post, but I promise I'm going to get at least a paragraph or two done before I let myself sleep. Bye all.

Deb Borys Mon Feb 10 11:55:13 PST 1997


Once upon a time, there was an artist with magic hands. The magic was that everything he created came to life. If he painted a cottage in a wood, a forest magically existed where none had been before; and a cottage appeared in that wood, perfect in every detail according to what the artist had painted.

If the artist then painted a family living in that cottage, suddenly there was such a family-- living, breathing, eating. This family would go about their daily lives just as if they had always existed, planting the garden, feeding the animals that the artist had created, sleeping in their wooden beds, preparing meals in their ovens. They did not know that if it were not for the artist, they would not exist. They just thought they had always been there.

Then one day the artist said to himself, "I am tired of painting. I want to try something new." And so he went to the village and bought the most beautiful, most expensive clay he could find and brought it home. That night, he worked the clay. He worked and worked late into the night, forming, molding, experimenting. And when morning finally came, he had produced only one figure--the statue of a woman. However, though he had started working with the most beautiful, the most costly clay, even though he had worked hard and worked long, the woman was not beautiful. She was flawed and lopsided.

Still, no matter what, once again the artist's magic hands had created, and, once again, what he created came to life. She stood there, living and breathing in the artist's studio, naked before him and looking around her with wide eyes.

But this creation of the artist's was different from all the others. For this creation knew that the artist was her creator. She looked at the artist, she looked down at her flawed nakedness, and she said, "And what do you do with me now? You brought me to life and now I must find a way to live with the flaws and the ugliness and the nakedness of myself. My eyes have been opened because of you. You are responsible. What are you going to do now?"

The artist didn't know the answer to her question, and neither does the writer of this tale. So the woman waits--flawed and naked, living and breathing, in the artist's cottage.

THE END (for now)

Sherrie Mon Feb 10 10:21:44 PST 1997

KASIN: CONGRATS!!! Wonderful! Marvelous! Stupendous! Now, back to work! ;-)
BRIT: Thank you, thank you, thank you for a little balance and some wise words. 'Preciate it. And you're absolutely right. After the fine writing of the day's earlier hours, I'm absolutely convinced my publisher, agent, and the whole stinking world are most fortunate to have me. (Mind if I engrave all that on a paper plate and glue it to a prominent spot to the left of my monitor?) Oh, and congrats on the Dean's List. Bit of an over-achiever, are we? (Takes one to know one.)
BEN: Bummer about the word slip. Don't know what else to say, except Brit may be right on this one, too.
PHILIP: You gad-about. Fill your coffee cup, cop a sit, and fill us in.

Kasin Hunter Mon Feb 10 08:12:21 PST 1997

Hurray! Poetry in Motion Magazine has accepted another of my poems for publication and is considering an illustration of mine to go along with it. This will be my second poem and possibly my second illustration published with this lady, Ms. Giordana, but the thrill is never second place. Wanted all you to celebrate with me.

Health and humor. Kasin Hunter.

Britomart Mon Feb 10 04:47:01 PST 1997

Good morning.

Sherrie: I know that feeling, I know that feeling, I know that feeling - "everything I write is crap, why do I bother, a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters could do better, etc etc etc". It's just a lack of perspective. Some days you think you're a genius, some days you think you're a hack. That's what makes writing such a difficult profession - so what if it's got flexible hours, it's fulfilling and exciting and it leads to fame and fortune? At times, it's pure psychological torment and that's what discourages a lot of people (leaving more room on the bookshelves for masochists like us). Keep going - I bet it's fantastic, and I bet it's got plenty of heart, really.

Ben: My experience is that you always write it better the second time, so don't be too upset. In fact, in the pits of despair I have been known to delete thousands of words and start again. (The most I have ever deleted was 8000 words, and I rewrote that section as 20,000 words). Just be confident that it happened for a reason. And btw, your son has excellent taste - the Simpsons must be the best show on television. Oh, also, you wanted to know what a "girlie swot" is - I suppose you know the term "swot" which means to study enthusiastically, well in my world a "girlie swot" is a person of above average eagerness to fulfil academic requirements. Seeing as how I've been dean's listed four times, it describes me quite well. That's why Lisa Simpson is my mascot.

Philip: Oh, you're going to love this. Helen Dementedo was given a fortnightly column in the Courier Mail (the very newspaper that exposed her - irony or a shameless grab for the market dollar?) and her first column was a bit dull, but her second one had me in stitches. I thought "wow, this girl can really write" (it was one of those "20 things I'd do if I were an evil character in a fantasy novel" thingies). Only problem is, she shamelessly copied it from an internet site! Word for word. She was duly sacked. The girl doesn't know the difference between post-modernism and plagiarism. She went to my uni, and I wonder if anyone there is taking a closer look at her honours thesis - I mean if she'll plagiarise for a large circulation newspaper, what's she going to do for a university essay with an audience of three?

Everybody: I'm actually happy with the first two chapters of my new book this morning, and I'll start chapter three any minute now, honest. I promise I won't come back here until I've started it, then I can tell you all how it's going. KEEP WRITING - IT'S THE ONLY WAY YOU'LL STAY SANE!!!


Ben Woestenburg Mon Feb 10 04:25:43 PST 1997

Oh the calamity! The Stupidity! You know, sometimes I wish computers were fool proof -- or maybe I wasn't such a fool. I was up at 5:00 as usual, thinking I could spend most of the morning working on my 14th chapetr, and adding extra pages of dialogue to make it longer, and more meatier. I finished it, bringing it up from 9 pages to 13, and thought, Okay, time for brunch. I went to close it, and when the little box came up that said do you want to save the changes, I clicked it on before I realized what I was doing. I closed it, exited it, and then realized it was the NO button. Too late! All of that work, last night, this morning, everyhting! Gone. Like we always say at work when we screw up: It's not the machine, it's the operator. Now I have to start all over again. I only hope I can remember what I wrote, or close to it. The worst part was that I was editing right from the disk, so it wasn't backing up on the c drive. It was just plain dumb. Live and learn I guess. So I suppose I'll go have a bowl of cornflakes and get right back to it...tomorrow, because now I have to go and help Manni.

Ben Woestenburg Sun Feb 9 12:29:34 PST 1997

Hello from me!
It's nice to see you guys all think I'm so dedicated. I wish I were as much as it seems I am. But there are times when I let myself become distracted by a movie or a hockey game, or I sleep in and just don't have the desire to get out of bed, or I re-write and re-work the same page because I don't like what I've read; or just get so plain frustrated I sit in front of the key board and watch the little stars -- or else fall asleep. I get up early because I need to put in time in order to accomplish something at least, and it's the only time available during the day. Like I say: no one in their right mind is going to get up before you do, or even when you do, just to ask you how you're doing. When I try to do any writing at this time of the night my son always comes over to tell me about the latest episode of THE SIMPSONS, even when he knows I've seen it. I try to pretend I'm interested, but he tries to explain EVERYTHING about the show. Half an hour to bedtime for him though.

I get this week off, but have to help Manni. I'll still be getting up at 5:00 a.m., but instead of getting ready for work at 7:00, I won't have to go out until 9:00 a.m. Four hours of trying to do something!
Gotta go now, Ben.

Philip Sun Feb 9 12:28:34 PST 1997

HELLO EVERYONE: I arrived home from New Zealand late yesterday. What an experience! I'll elaborate when I get a chance. I thought I'd check in and say hi, I'm home and look forward to getting back to my routine of writing and writers' groups, including our very special one here.

BRITOMART: tell me about the latest Demidenko debacle, I know nothing. I remember when her false life was first exposed a wit at the Melbourne Writers' Festival said her first words when she was caught out were: OK NED I'M ED... which is her name backwards!

Back soon - Philip

Sherrie Sun Feb 9 12:01:02 PST 1997

Hi, everybody. I'm better now.
What a vicious week, the last one was. Ugly. I was so discouraged by the time Friday rolled around, I was ready to burn all I'd written and start over with page one, chapter one. I'm off the mark, but not sure where or why. So I left it alone, took the night off, and stewed about it and finally figured out--the story ain't got heart. HEART! That's what's missing. Pathos. Torment. Feeling. Stuff the reader can identify with. Answers to the "So what?" and "Who cares?" questions. Then I met with my "local editor" (high school English teacher and so very savvy) who assured me it was still a page-turner (her kids didn't get breakfast until 11:30) and to keep going; thread the heart in later, when you have a plot, she says.
Okay. I'm better now.
And back writing. In fact, CHARLES, I have 53,305 words! Watch me and see if I don't have the darn thing finished (bones, at least) by . . . oh, say . . . March 10. I might just accomplish it. Good. It's going to need some major transfusions in the rewrite/edit, and I'll need all the time I can get.
BRIT: Glad you made a decision. It seems a good one. "Reserve" usually turns out to be the wiser choice.
BEN: I'm so proud of your discipline. That, my boy, is what seems to separate the dreamers from the do-ers. I fyou don't believe me, go to a party, tell everyone you're a writer, and see how many people crawl out from behind the salsa bowl to tell you they're writers too but waiting until (their oldest graduates, they landscape the yard, finish the boat, retire--you fill in the blank) to start writing their book. Collect a dime from each of them, and you'll make your car payment, you will. ;-)
TRUDY: Glad you're getting guidelines back, but before you give up on some of those prospects, consider what Agent Kathy told me about my publisher when she sent me ITS guidelines (which I'd already satisfied); she said to take them with a grain of salt because they're always more stringent in the asking than what they'll actually accept. I don't know if I'd have sent them anything after what I'd read of their guidelines. Just FYI.
DEB: No more excuses. Mush! Mush!

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Feb 8 22:58:45 PST 1997


Trudy: Vows like that are dangerous indeed. I will refrain from being too nagravating until I am suitably disciplined about doing my own writing. Good luck with yours :-).

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Feb 8 22:50:53 PST 1997

Charles pointed out my mistaken ways in searching If you check the biographies you will notice that you can pick his book up from Amazon. Actually, you can pick it up from here. Many apologies at my own denseness. It also was suggested that we might want to do a Notebook book the month that we all like or recommend to read. It might be something to toss around. Take care.

Trudy Sat Feb 8 17:28:54 PST 1997

Hello everyone. It has been an insane week so have not had time to respond to anything here lately but I have popped in to keep up on what was happening.

Welcome all newcomers. It's so exciting to see new names pop up. This family just keeps growing, adding more interesting input all the time. Hope you all return again and again.

Other than to say hello and welcome, I thought I'd post another address which links to a poetry contest if anyone is interested...deadline's early March though. I'm a member of a provincial writers' oganization and have been put on a rather interesting mailing list so when something appears such as this that may be of interest I'll let you all know. Here's the address:


Am slowly getting writers' guidelines back from some of my e-mail requests. I did decide though to be a little more selective once I started learning about some of these mags. Some were way to specific for me that I wouldn't have a hope of ever publishing in them, but any that I think there's a possibility are hearing from me. Some people are really encouraging and have even given me phone numbers to call with story ideas so it's pretty exciting. Now I'm trying to cement some ideas in my head before querying.

Anyway happy writing all. Trudy

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