Godweed: the possibilities still abound. Look at Cold Mountain and its meteoric rise to success and awards. It was a first novel. Neuromancer, Bill Gibson's opus won the Hugo, a Nebula and more and was a blistering success as a first novel. However, the danger does exist that if the first or second book does not click with the public or the trend does not follow a slow steady upward slope, the danger exists of being dropped. In a workshop done by Dean Wesley Smith and K.K.Rush their solution was to submit under a pseudonum. Robin Hobbs is a popular fantasy writer. However, the now not so well kept secret is that Robin Hobbs is a pseudonym for Megan Lindholme. She was having a difficult time because her books were being pigeonholed and were being market as midlist. She submitted as a new author with a new name and generated a bidding war, at least this is the story I heard. Details may need further verification. Anyway, she is doing nicely thank you very much. However, the rules of the games are changing. Doors may close, but there are ways to scramble in under the door, through an open window or even the dog door and get where we want.
Still, it is always good that we discuss and work out how best to navigate through the land mines. One sobering statistic is that for short fiction in many magazines, the price paid now is very little changed from the price paid twenty and thirty years ago.
I am rambling on a bit, but I felt that a back and forty about the nature of the current publishing industry was appropriate. How to work it to our advantage and recognize the hazards is probably useful for all of us.
Happy Holidays All
All I am qualified to say on this weeks topic "part two" is;
Please, say it ain't so.
I want to be published in the worst way. I have skill and determination. I am not the greatest auhor in the world, but I've worked hard enough, and studied hard enough to be past the "slouch" stage.
I'm tired of busting my tail for a dream, just to have it shot down once more by the money loving society in which we live.
I will not give up without a fight!!!
I don't need to be filthy rich, or even moderately rich. I just don't want others stepping on those of us who put forth honest effort in this field, as they do in almost every other field. Our nation is becoming so polarized with the haves and the have-nots that something has to break soon. Not many people realize it, but this country came dangerously close to accepting comunist government in the 1920's. Working conditions were so bad that people were desperate to find relief. There were real people who received debilitating injuries because of dangerous working conditions and were subsequently fired for those disabilities. Things were worse then than they are now, at least for most of us. However, our society is becoming very scarry.
Well, I've got a day-job to go to in the morning, so it's bed time.
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Wow. I can't believe I was writing the wrong email address down. Sure hope no one's been trying desperately to get hold of me. Sorry if you have.
School, or no School? I must say, I agree with GoodWeed on this one; it depends on things you won't know until its over - if then. As some others have mentioned, pursuing a career that involves writing will hone your skills everyday (as long as you don't burn out).
Our other Topic: The publishing industry and what to do about it? Yes, we do seem to be caught in a situation where anything that is written by certain authors will be promoted, movied, and merchandised into millions of dollars, while the everyone else is fighting to get more than one printing and enough promotion not suffer the death of a thousand remainders.
A Mr. McCollum has given self publishing on the internet a try, and he is trying to make money at it. I don't know how well he is doing with it, but his site has been around for over a year now. He was a published author who started having a hard time making money from the publishing houses. Self publishing on the web is his attempt at a solution.
His site is at: http://scifi-az.com Oh, guess I can put it in the thing up top.
If anyone has the nerve to ask how he is doing in terms of $$$ let me know - I am very curious.
Thanks everyone for your input--several of you mentioned "detours" which I found particularly interesting as I am actually returning to school and the planet after 10 years of partying and 5 years in a 12-step program. I know this is a personal decision but your input was extremely helpful. I am writing daily and have for years, and at this point I'm going to suspend the decision a little longer and take several classes in several areas and see if the choice won't make itself.
Would love to thank each of you individually, but my boss is peering over my shoulder so I think a little work might be in order.
Hello everyone: I would like to say that my degree in Psychology with some sixty credits in everything from Tibetan Buddhism to Lakota Sioux Mysticism and beyond was not a bad grounding for writing. The actual writing was drunk into my veins almost from before I was able to walk when my grandmother read to me and read to me and read to me and inculcated an absolute adoration for the written word.
Ben: Glad you were able to get your manuscript printed up
Anyway, it's time for a new set of discussion topics, so I have added one old, already being used and another that got reported in a local science fiction club zine and sparked a question that effects us all as writers.
I may not have got this precisely paraphrased, but I think I captured the spirit of what he was trying to articulate. I know of at least one well liked writer here in the northwest that is finding himself unable to be published after publishing many books over several decades. This is sad, because I spent many enjoyable evenings reading and re-reading his stories. Because above all else he was a consummate story teller. Take care everyone.
Britomart, please don't take offense at the phrase "Great American Novel". It's merely a common phrase used here in the States to describe any writing goal. Sometimes, as humans, we forget that there are others out there beyond our circle. I have had the great fortune of traveling to Perth and enjoying the companionship of good people. Most sailors never got that chance. I got past the tourist areas because of my religeon (some members of our church invited us to stay in their homes and become a part of their families for the two weeks we were in port). I found that Aussies are much like Americans, are much like Canadians (I live on the Canadian border), are much like people from every country I've visited.
Jennifer; The question of education is tricky. If used properly, it can indeed broaden ones horizons. It can also be used to push a particular proffesors ideology or beliefs. As students, we tend to trust our mentors and expect them to be honest and above the petty weaknesses of humankind. Unfortunately, as in all aspects of life, there are great instructors, and there are terrible instructors. You don't always have the option of choosing who you would like to teach you.
It is true that many find creative writing classes to be worthless. Others I have spoken to find them invaluable. The truth is that there are just no answers which fit everyone. The only true option you have is to go after goals you hope to achieve. I let a navy recruiter talk me into a career in advanced electronics. I have a bachelor's in electrical engineering technology. My passions though are writing, cooking, creative arts, and most importantly, my wife and children. Writing came easy to me while math came hard. I ended up with two writing courses which I breezed through and five math courses in which I fought for every grade point. Couple the math with physics and electronics (both math intensive), throw in some calculus and what do you get? Burned out!
One summer I took three humanities classes simultaneously. People told me I was nuts. They said I wouldn't be able to seperate one from another, that I would get them mixed up. Well I got two A's and a B. Those courses were sooooo easy compared to my core courses. And yet, I took the ones I didn't like because I thought that was all i could do, all I was trained for. Never let someone else decide what is right for you. You may allow suggestions, or gather information from others. But the final decision must be your own. Think about your choices. If you are religeous, try prayer. It has worked for me many times when I needed answers. Above all, you must be mature enough to recognize that the choices are yours alone to make. When you make them, you must accept the consequences of your choices.
I agree with Bill. Learn from others. I too have sen both sides of the tracks. I was fortunate enough to stay away from alcohol and drugs. The former makes me physically ill while the latter seems to me foolishness. I watched too many people destroy their lives with both. I want no part of that world. Besides, when you are sober, you downhill ski much better. (Life should be a fast downhill slope, challenging and exciting). The other things I enjoy such as martial arts, canoeing, archery, scuba, etc. require a clear head. Life is so much more enjoyable when you can remember why the night before was great.
Anyway, when you see others in trouble, focus on what caused their problems and avoid those behaviors. On the other hand, when you see someone you respect and admire, emulate their behaviors. Keep your own goals and aspirations intact. Only let those you admire influence you positively, and then with caution.
Sorry I can't tell you which is the best course for you. You have to choose that yourself.
Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Joan: No, my book is only available in Australia/NZ. If you're reallly keen you can order it through the Australian online bookshop. The link is on my webpage.
Jennifer: I study English lit. I went back to university as a grown-up, and decided to do what I loved the most, and what I thought would help my writing. I certainly do not regret it, but I don't think it's necessary to being a good writer. My academic advice to you is to choose the subjects that you are most enthusiastic and interested about, because then you'll do well at them. You can e-mail me if you want to discuss it further. Going back to uni to study lit was the best thing I ever did in my life.
J. Dishner: Strangely, not all of us want to write great American novels. Not the least reason being that we live in other countries.
Ben: Lovely to hear from you as always.
Hello to one and all!
It's been a long time since I've been able to post a message, so I think I'd like to catch up on a few things here, but as usual, time is a factor.
My brother-in-law asked me to help paint the house last week, so I lost a lot of time there. I managed to get the memory back on my computer, and even managed to get 500 pages printed up on the computer at work. What a printer! 17 pages a minute! It only took about half an hour or more, whereas my sister-in-law's takes half an hour for ten or more pages. But it's better than nothing.
And now it's Christmas time again. I love this time of the year. I love the singing, and eating and drinking (okay maybe too much of that), and the parties, and friends and relatives...I just like everything. I don't even mind the commercialism anymore. Christmas used to be a big religious festival when I was a kid, but now that I've delved into the history of it all, and seen the things I've seen, I don't know what to believe anymore. So now I just believe in the Spirit of Christmas. My daughter still believes in S.Claus because I do things with her head to make her think it just might be possible. She's been writing letters to Santa since August if you can believe that. She's as much into Christmas as I am. She loves helping to bake cookies -- okay, she eats them as quickly as they come out of the oven -- she has the Christmas C.D.'s on all day long, and wants nothing more than to drive around and look at the lights on the houses. Of course, I'm on the night shift this week, so we'll have to wait another week for that. She's asking me if I'm going to read A CHRISTMAS CAROL for them again this year. I want to give them happy memories of Christmas even if I have to go without. (And I think this year with all the speculation as to whether I'll be working the next week or laid off because everything's running on a week to week basis pretty well settles it as far as getting carried away is concerned.) Everything is for them, and the little woman and I will have each other I guess. Maybe a bottle of perfume and some cologne each. The Spirit of Christmas lives inside of us all, and once we have kids, it blossoms, because it certainly didn't mean as much to me before the kids came along...in fact it was depressing then.
Jennifer: Education is just as important as living and life experience. I personally believe they go hand in hand. Life experience is the tough one though. Some one once told me you had to live life to be able to write about it and I got totally carried away, fell in with the wrong sort of crowds and 'looked at life from both sides now'. Sure, looking back on it I can say it was quite the life experience, but I can also say that I'm amazed I didn't kill myself, or even get killed by some of the riff-raff I hung out with. Never got into any fights or arguements, just went through about ten years of my life happily stoned and pissing into the wind. HAd absolutely nothing to do with the story I eventaully found myself involved in; had nothing to do with anything except finding out that maybe it was a mistake. Given a second chance, I would have opted for the educational life. But we all have to go our own ways and find ourselves, only to discover that we were here all along. The person I am today isn't because of the person I was when I was getting high all the time. On the contrary. I think I've always been a nice guy. The drugs didn't mask it, or hinder it, or even help it. If a person's an asshole, he's an asshole plain and simple. You don't have to go through life and try different jobs and travel the world to realize that. Simply picturing all those traits that you find detestable will pretty well hit the nail right on the head. All of the character traits that you dislike, are supposedly hidden within yourself, and are a reflection of the person you could have been. Seeing those same traits mirrored in someone else's personality is frightening to you because you realize it's true. I just take the traits of people I don't like, exaggerate them, embellish them, and voila, Life happening. Of course it took me twenty years to find it out.
But like Bob said, everyone else will have a different opinion on this one, and everything I just said might be way off base...but it works for me. I think now, looking back at it all, when they said go out and experience life, they meant as a witness, not an active participant (or so much so that you'd get sucked into the vortex yourself). You have to look at peole. You have to listen to the way they speak,(or talk), ennunciate their words and accents; their characteristics, flaws, faults and foibles, (but of course that's all personal opinion as to what you believe a person's faults might be. The second thing you discover is that you have no right to pass judgement on anyone, no matter how much of a dickhead or losed you might think he is.) Everybody has a story, and every story has a reason.
So by all means, education first, life second. Education will open doors to the window of your soul, expand your imagination, and let you analyse things from different perspectives. When you live the life you choose, you be better able to understand what motivates a person, instead of having to learn it the hard way like the rest of us uneducated people out there. Don't get me wrong, a limited education is alright as far as opening your eyes to what you're missing, but it sure would have been different if I had taken some psyche courses and all that other stuff.
And that's it for now. I'm not even going to check this for typos and stuff because I'm hungry and my bro-in-law wants to do the lunch thing with me. If I don't eat now, I won't be eating until about 8:30 tonight, and considering it's just about one o'clock and I haven't had breakfast -- or is a mouthful of egg-nog considered a healthy meal?
Anyway, I gotta go. The dryer's broken too, and I'm supposed to be trying to fix it -- like I know how to do that!? But I'm a guy, and my wife thinks that because you're a guy, you automatically know how to fix cars, fix the plumbing, you're an expert carpenter, and being an electrician comes naturally to you. Never had these sort of expectations when we were renting.
I don't think there's any final answer to your question. Some people might advise you to major in English and take creative writing classes. And that would work for some people. For others, including me, it wouldn't. Because I already knew, long before I got to college, that I was going to be a writer, I deliberately chose a major as far away from writing as I could get. I took only one English course (a required one) in the whole four years. I also took a creative writing course--big mistake. I would *not* advise anyone who wants to be a writer to do that. College professors who teach creative writing are often marginal or failed writers themselves, who are teaching not because they have a vocation but because it's the only way they can make a living; and people in their late teens and early twenties, as most college students are, are far too insecure to be able to critique others' work constructively. If you do nothing else, stay away from college creative writing courses.
I think you should major in whatever interests you, and pursue your writing as something entirely separate. Writing isn't like law or medicine: editors don't look at your educational background when they're deciding whether or not to buy your work. As for your college major giving you background for your writing, I think that whatever major you choose, it will probably wind up having relevance to your writing, simply because it will add to your store of knowledge. My major was Comparative Religion, and I find that many of the interests I formed there creep into my work. And I don't regret not taking those English courses!
Jennifer: You will receive many different responses to your question. Mine is, major in psych, travel, spend a whole day standing next to an oak tree, spend a weekend on the streets, listen to children, listen to absolutely everyone, don't talk unless you're asking questions, be a truckdriver, a waitress, a foster parent, dress for one weekend like an eighty year old, hard of hearing, disabled grandmother - spend that weekend in town, in stores and restaurants, etc.
What you don't get from formal English and Lit classes is the detail and the emotion. Yes, you can write, you can even write well but J. Disher's "great American novel" will only come from experience and details and emotions.
We've had this discussion before and there are those who disagree vehemently with me which is great. That's what this forum is for. But, in my opinion, education other than that which promotes a greater understanding of this complex species called Homo Sapiens, is much less important than experience.
Best of luck in your most difficult decision.
I think writing fiction not only takes hard work, a long time to master, and sheer determination, but also it takes a decent educational background in formal writing of some sort or another, whether that is journalism, English or even Literature.
Many people say they one day would like to write the "great American novel" or whatever you want to call it, but only the person who takes the time to learn the rules of the written language can write well enough to be able to break those rules and develop a unique style. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to go to college to learn it; there are other means, and of course, there are the exceptions.
I've always known I was a writer and decided early in life I would earn a college degree in journalism, which I did. While my formal education has given me a great background in writing non-fiction and being able to use quotes properly, I think the extra English classes I took and just reading an absolute ton of literature has added an even greater dimension to my writing in general (read the past few weeks of entries to find out what other writers have had to say about reading and their writing).
The only way to be able to tell if you can succeed as a writer or not is to watch how you progress through the years. Do you write every day, or close to it? If not, start now--even if that means jotting down an entry or two in a journal. Sometimes it is helpful to keep a tape recorder with you to record your thoughts throughout the day. By writing whatever comes to mind (and re-writing) and reading everything you can get your hands on, you'll come up with some great ideas. Before you know it, you will have completed your "great American novel".
If you want to write but think you cannot quit your day job, then a major in journalism would allow you to write for a living while developing your writing style at the same time. This way, one day you will be able to quit your day job and focus on writing fiction, but you could still use your "day job" experience to freelance for cash when you need it.
Good luck with your decision, Jennifer, but I'm sure you'll make the right one for you if you listen to your heart. You can't go wrong then, because only from the heart comes the passion, and only good writing is written with passion.
Have a productive day!
In your oppinion, how important is an educational foundation to writing? Are any of you English or Journalism grads? Knowing that writing fiction is my dream, I also know it's not something I can quit my day job to pursue at the moment, but I really need to choose a major and am almost down to coin flipping. Any pearls of wisdom out there?
Thanks for taking time to look at my workbook entry!
Reading your poem, I got great visuals and could nearly feel the crackly cold breath and snow and crystal clear starry night. Crisp and beautiful imagery!
- - -
For style, I feel I have a few different voices in my writing.
One is for my wild skating adventures and other autobiographical stories.
Another is for my Thunder Rabbit stories; particularly his voice in my mind as he speaks.
A third is my science fiction futuristic weirdness combo platter of comedy, graphic blood, and emotionless humans and androids..
(http://www.geocities.com/baja/2175 "The Past Is Now")
I do love Douglas Adams' style of writing in his Hitchhiker's Guide series. I often wonder how he would write a particular passage, tossing a surprising verb or adjective in the mix.
"Greetings & Salutations!"
That's a line from the musical, "Funny Girl". Mrs. Strakosh says it to the crowd in Mrs. Brice's bar just before she finds out Fanny Brice is going to meet the high and mighty Mr. Ziegfeld and possibly perform with his Follies. Now it's Mrs. Brice's turn to be haughty, and with good reason--her daughter is going to be a star!
And so was mine this past weekend. My daughter played the lead role in her high school production of "Funny Girl", and I just had to brag. It was such a good show, and I was so proud--my children are my biggest inspiration for writing. Anyway, her success put me in such a good mood. For the past few months, since she got cast, I have been so highly motivated to write more and more. It would appear one success in the family breeds another. What do you think?
How is everyone else's writing out there progressing?
I am afraid I am one of those who has gone shopping. I spent the whole day Saturday at the mall and at Sam's Club. I have been trying to get all the gifts that need to be sent cross country. There were only two or three to be gotten, but it took a long time. As far as my husband and kids, I've had theirs finishished a long time. I cooked all day Friday for our Sunday School Christmas party. It was a lot of fun. Wedensday, I was sick with stomach flu.
It is a good question, and one we have dealt with here before on a couple of occassions.
I really have to say that where plot is concerned that in a particular genre, there are only a handfull of plots. In regencies, for expample, there is the young girl going to London to be launched for her first season type of plot. There is the ever-popular marriage-of-convience plot. There is the widow launched into London society after being married several years to some man who was old enough to be her grandfather, but who made her very rich by his demise type of plot. There is the gently-bred girl whose wastrel father or brother gambled away the family fortune forcing the poor woman to either earn a living as a governess or companion. There might be half a dozen more that I haven't mentioned. So forget about being worried about copying someone's plot line. I honestly have to say that where plot is concerned there are so many variables and sub-plots possible that make several books with similar plots enjoyable and unique.
Style is a tricky subject. I do not honestly know how one can really copy style. I have never found myself doing it. Style is indicative of not only what we have read, but how we talk and converse, and even what movies we have seen. I am far more likely to let some great line from one of my favorite movies creep into my writing than I am to put in something I have read.
This style we are talking about is what editors and agents refer to as "voice." Every writer has a unique voice. I've never written a book and said to myself, "This writer writes like Phyllis A. Whitney, Joan Wolf, or Heather Graham. They might use characters and plots that are similar, but they don't write with the same voice or style.
I've read almost every book Victoria Holt has ever written whether as Victoria Holt, Phillipa Carr, or Jean Plaidy--I'm talking about over fifty books by this one author over twenty-five years. If I set out to consciously copy her style, I wouldn't know how to do it. I couldn't possibly do it if I wanted to. However, I could probably read a book she has written, and not being told who wrote it, I would probably know it was hers.
I can only say that reading helps our writing. As Britomart and some others have pointed out in the past, we can see how an author was able to pull-off things that might be difficult for us. If someone has a problem with point-of-view, the best way to learn it is to see how other authors deal with it--nothing wrong with that. If you've been told you have weak characters, read a lot of work by authors whose characters really move you.
I think we get too hung up on the question of copying style. Writing comes from within. If there was nothing within ourselves to express, we wouldn't be writers at all. Who would do this lonely, frustrating work unless they had an internal motivation? Keep reading, watching, studying, and experiencing life. These things stimulate creativity and add depth to our lives. What adds to our lives adds to our writing.
Good morning (or whatever it is in your part of the world)--
Jennifer--thanks for the comment on the poem!
Sandra--About your query re whether writers copy other writers and the old masters. I can only speak for myself and for what it seems to me that others have done, juding by their writing. But yes, I think it happens all the time, sometimes unconsciously. You read, admire (or not) the style, and then incorporate it (or try not to--if you didn't admire it) into your own writing. I don't think most people copy actual storylines---in fact, if I notice that I'm so admiring of someone'se storyline that I'm plotting a similar story, I immediately dump it. But style, I think, is something you at first copy from others, then eventually hodgepodge the many styles you've observed and meld them into something that is uniquely yours. At least, that's the hoped-for end.
One of my rather inebriated clients told me recently at the Frankfurt Book Fair that I must no longer say: I want to be a writer, but rather I am a writer, and just damned well get on with it. His were wise words, for he had failed in this objective himself, and was resigned to being a medical bookseller, albeit a very good one.
My chief occupation is as a sales representative for a publishing company, based in Brussels, and covering Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, Cyprus and Northern France. Much food for a literary appetite, not to mention a necessary means to funding it. And I was interested to see the various contributions on the value of reading. This I do much of, and there is not the problem, for if you read about the old masters of the painting world, they would even copy the work of artists. This was and still is a legitimate means of learning techniques, improving and developing one's own style. Do writers do that, at all?
It's been a while since I last checked in here and I'm happy to see the place is alive with holiday cheer. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I only wish my Midi file extension helper application was installed properly so I could hear the music. Looks like a task to do soon...
As to the ritual topic... I think holiday rituals give a sense of depth to a work. We are, by nature, creatures of habit, and any ritual that a character performs will only make a character seem more alive. Especially in the holiday seasons when families come together (a ritual in it self). Such times are loaded with joyous memories, and such things inspire us to do them again and again to build more. What way could a character from a novel seem more real if he/she does that?
One of my rituals for the Christmas season (besides seeing family and such) is to read "When the Dark Comes Rising" by Susan Cooper. The imagery in the book is fabulous and it brings to mind the "perfect Christmas" contrasted with some strange things that happen to a boy.
Anyone else ever read the book?
Well, guess that's it for now. Finals next week (aauugh) and then up to my parents for the holidays. Have a great holiday everyone!
Happy December! (only a few days late)
Wow, it's getting quiet here. Everyone shopping???
Britomart, I forgot to tell you CONGRATS on your aurelius(sp?) award shortlisting. What a great thing! Are your books available here in the states? I've not seen them in Montana bookstores---but of course Montana does tend to be 10 years behind the rest of the states.
More later - TTFN
I continue to check others that write and it is great to see that someone has given us all a chance to let our feelings show to others. With the music sounds adds to this
special season and to think of giving rather than receiving. Take care and Happy Holidays to all those who have pen in hand.
As ever, Sandy
Jack--I cannot tell you how much I love checking this page daily. It goes with the cup 'o joe to get me going. I can't hear the tunes at work (I have the chitty-chitty-bang-bang computer here)--will have to get you bookmarked at home too.
Joan--Loved your poem! It's beautiful.
No news from here just consistant and persistant scribbling. Have a great one!
Quick hello to all (have to get ready for work)--
I left a short Christmas poem on the Workbook. If anyone would be kind enough to take a look I'd appreciate it!
See ya later. (Britomart---I didn't get to look at your web page yet, but will today.
Rob---I need to take a good look at your workbook entry--I started to, and it looks promising. More later.
I just added a new page to my web-site, listing my top 20 favourite books with pictures and synopses etc. Please feel free to go have a look and tell me what you think. It's the link that says "my all-time favourite books" (of course).
Also, my novel has been shortlisted for two Aurealis awards, which are the Australian speculative fiction awards presented annually. I've been shortlisted in both the horror and the fantasy categories - dark fantasy being the operative term here, I think.
Bob---Yes, I read Hegi's book "Stones" not too long ago. You're right; she's amazing. At first, I couldn't get into it. By the time I was done, I was convinced she really was a dwarf. And what a view from inside Germany during that terrible time. I used to work with a German woman who lived there as a child during that time. Her explanations about some things during Hitler's reich were remarkably similar in viewpoint to Hegi's.
Jack--haven't had any trouble posting here, but yesterday the workbook wouldn't take my post. I probably screwed something up--will try again tonight.
Thanks to you all for being here---and welcome to all the newcomers.
I am hearing the wonderful music. Oh Come Oh Come, Emanuel. My favorite!
I loaded Netscape 3.01 today. I will keep both this and the Communicator awhile. If I live well without Communicator for a few days, I will simply dump the thing.
Thank you Bill and Jack for your advice. You've both been with me through every step of the way with my Netscape problems. Hopefully Netscape 3.01 will turn out to be what the doctor ordered.
Now I can better concentrate on the business of writing. You have no idea how much time I have wasted trying to hear MIDI files on the Internet.
Enjoy the holiday season. I'll check back later.
Have any of you read Ursula Hegi's Stones From The River?
I feel like a child just starting school. She is an amazing writer.
Britomart reported to me that she had some difficulty posting to the Notebook because of the addition of the music. If others are experiencing any difficulty, please email me and I will either delete the music or if you forward your post to me I will post it separately. I am hoping that we can continue with the multimedia aspects. I rather like them and hope that improvements in technology will make this forum to be ever broader in scope as time goes along. Take care everyone.
We're talking about monsters and humans as if they are two distinct entities. All monsters are human - fictional monsters are just metaphors. We're all trying to come to terms with the dark places inside ourselves, so we can convince ourselves that we are more than just "cunning casts in clay" as Tennyson said.
I was a bit nervous being the first to begin what will become part of Writers' Workbook Archive Five...
I found this site today, and from what I've read, people are pretty happily friendly here.
I look forward to reading, writing, sharing with you all.
I love what you have done with the page!!!! I'm just starting to get into the spirit of things and this will help. Thanks. It sounds GREAT!!!!
Hey Jack--Thanks heaps for whatever you did to the sound system---it now comes up as soon as I access the notebook and is just magical.
I said I'd be back to add something about monsters. Writing fantasy, of course I run into them and must write about them. I've found that what's bad about them hits me where it hurts---i.e., the main monster in my book Moon of Blue is a serious threat to the heroine's 3-year-old child. That unexpected development (the story just went there--I didn't plan it) almost stopped me in my tracks, because I can't STAND the thought of something happening to a kid. Accordingly, the little girl ended up being a threat to the monster, because she sees through him to the fact that the hate and rage that drive him also hurt him terribly. The fact that she isn't afraid of him disarms him, and the feeling of powerlessness is terrifying. Therefore, he is the one who is afraid---of her. Has anyone else caught themselves subtly undermining themselves in this way---basically sabotaging their own monsters? I'm not sure that it's a bad thing--I think it added to this particular story, but it's a struggle to make the monster seem as monstrous as he should.
Monsters---gotta love em.
Rhoda: I wrote you via email about potential solutions, but for everyone else I wanted to indicate that my own experience with Communicator has shown that an uninstall prior to an installation can solve many problems and potentially create new ones if you don't backup your bookmark.htm file and your email preference files if you are NS 4.0 for your email client. Also, be very careful about uninstalling IE 4.0. It can cause sufficient instabilities to force a complete reformat of the root hard drive to solve the problems and a reinstallation of Windows at the very least. This was my experience also. So, IE can be an equally hazardous experience.
Joan: The way I have done it seems to work with IE 4.0, but I have added something that should force a play on IE 2.0 and 3.0. Unfortunately, this also incapacitates the controls so IE users will have to turn the sound down by hand.
Everyone Else: Feliz Navidad!!! and hope that my little attempts to interject seasonal cheer to the Notebook do not put off people from leaving comments. I have a zinger for discussion that I will wait to announce next Sunday that should make things lively. For now, welcome all new visitors and feel free to leave comments or requests. Also, if anyone wants to leave something on the Workbook, it is tabula rasa just waiting for someone to leave something there. Take care everyone and happy story telling :-).
Have been checking the notebook on and off, and so glad it is continuing!
Jack---how do you listen to the music on this page? Is it just supposed to come on by itself? I use Internet Explorer, if that helps. Wonderful graphic, by the way!!
I'd have to say Christmas inspires me each year---or maybe I should say "motivates" me. I write one of those stock Christmas letters (groan, I know! but it's better than sending a card with just a signature and not letting anyone know what's going on in our lives). Last year I wrote about being a red neck! It was pretty funny, I'm told, but there was a dead silence about it from my sisters in California, 1000 miles away. I think it embarrassed them. (As in, do you REALLY have to tell people you live in a single wide trailer, use bark to prop open the windows because they won't stay open by themselves and keep all your cars and old trucks in a corral so the horses don't eat them???) Oh, well. Occupational hazard, I guess.
More about monsters later---Stay warm!
Jack and friends,
Hope all my friends from the States had a great Thanksgiving. I hope my friends not from the States had a wonderful week-end anyway.
It is funny that Jack put up a MIDI file on the notebook. I would love to hear the music, but I can't. Not here or anywhere else on the web. I've been fighting with this problem off and on since I acquired Netscape communicator. I downloaded Crescendo and never could get it to work. I believe there is some type of default MIDI system with this Netscape that gets in the way of the Crescendo plug-in. If netscape does have a MIDI plug-in, I can't get it to work either. I don't know if I have all the parts to it.
I can tolerate not hearing music, but if I can do it, I would like to. Is there anyone here who might have any ideas?
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that I ought to ditch Netscape Communicator. I have had so many problems with this thing.
As far as today's topic, I am still thinking about it, so I will have some more to add later.
Everyone have a great day and inspired writing for the holiday season.
Folks, I have to apologize that I have not been checking on the growth factor for the Writers Workbook. It came as something of a shock to realize that the Workbook had reached 203 k. So, in case you have not noticed, I have archived it. There is a completely blank slate in the Writers Workbook. All of that said, please do check on the Workbook Archives inasmuch as several manuscripts have been dropped off quite recently and deserve criticque and examination. Thank you all for your forebearance on the Workbook.
Each day I check the notebook. I love the spirit that you show in the music for the holidays. I have received some letters from your site. Thank you for a great way to read about other writers, and it makes for interestiing reading.
I don't give up and still have hope and confidence that some good will come from just staying in touch.
As ever, Sandy
I've missed ya'll! This was the first Thanksgiving we didn't go to Aunt Marthella and Uncle Ed's house (and yes, in case you are wondering there really IS a Cousin T-bone!) If you can't find a story in just that information, you're missing out! (Truth is stranger than fiction, especially if you have red-neck roots!) I often include bits and peices of relatives in my stories, most recently my grandmother who thinks you'd have to be a lesbian to be unmarried at thirty. (Cable has really educated grandma!) The scenario is fictitious, but using the voice and ideals of someone known and loved is far easier than starting from scratch. The real drama takes place at the holiday table during the passing of the potatoes and fruit salad. Gotta love it!
Happy holidays and as always, happy scribbling!
Re Kay'c comments.
Monsters and men...Which ARE more interesting?
I wonder if the empathy with monsters is the monstrous side of our own nature manifest. In the monster/heroes we wish to read about, is it the dark side of nature in confllict with itself, or is it a soiled heart within us remembering the creatures of the darkness that our ancestors hunted/lived with/fought against etc.
Are sins so entertaining that we need to drag them close and look them in the eyes, feel their breath on our faces? Is the monster becoming loved, and the evil that lurks in our societies being granted honor status?
If I was a religious man, i would be growing garlic in my window boxes, and sprinkling holywater around my pillow. Being a victim has its ritualistic fervour. But since I am not a religious man, I think I'll find out what's scratching on the door, and then have a cup of nice cocoa.
This time of year, newspapers and magazines like to print essays or articles on family traditions. Some of our members might find a chance for publication in that.
My own major family tradition was that each Thanksgiving, my mother cooked, with help from her sister-in-laws and, later, daughters, and we ate off the "special" china, with the sterling silver that only came out of the box maybe twice a year, and then the men all either took naps, or later, post-tv-advent, watched football while the females cleaned up. NOT a particularly appealing tradition, but, come to think of it, it pretty well sums up a particular era and mindset. If anyone wants to place a reader firmly in the post-world-war II middle America, lower-middle-class, rural midwest, welcome to it. Details on demand.
Re monsters, the thing I find fascinating, being of a certain age, is how they have changed, or how our view of them has changed. Once, a monster was a monster, in a sort of existential way, and the story was in how humans responded to it. Now we have sympathetic monsters, pathetic, sexy, regretful, vain, whatever, and the story is about the monster more than the humans around it. Can anyone name, or describe, a human out of 'Interview with a Vampire"? Yes, the interviewer, although he does turn up undead later, likewise David. See, mere humans just aren't all that interesting.........
Love the tune, I'm crazy about the holidays!
Cute! You never cease to amaze us. hehe.
I hope everyone enjoys the animation and the music. In the next several weeks I will try to intersperse a variety of music if this is not too averse to everyone. Most of these were designed by Martha Decker to work especially well on an AWE32. I happen to have an AWE64 and they sound particularly well.
On another note about possible topics, I will repeat my proposals here as always:
When speaking of the same experiences are you referring to the act of writing everyday or what you have experienced in life to write about. I have written daily for a short time and then I stop for a while. I wish I'd continued for years I think it is a way to see how much you've grown as a writer as well having a great source of personal history. I'm just to darn lazy...
I am still looking for some help in finding others that have had a same experence that I had. It is 11 years and still today I continue to write about daily events of life. Would like to hear about others who have had similar experience.
Researching is a very vital, important (get the hint?) piece of the writing process, whether or not you're writing about fiction or non-fiction. I myself am writing about a fiction -based novel that involves some characters from another book. The research was incredible, but it was fun! And trying to get the facts of Chemisrty, another vital element in my book- was pretty tedious, but once I get the book out, it woould have been worth it! Good luck to all the writers lout there! : )
J.Disher. I wasn't looking for a full-time job either until they offered me the position. I have to say it's been quite a learning experience working at a daily paper and I think when I finally decide to branch out on my own, it will make me much more saleable. However, I have halfheartedly been trying to break into the magazne market here in Canada and blame myself for it not happening...I'm not hounding anyone enough. I agree with Bob...sedn stuff and lots of it. Someone will like what they see and you'll be in. I really can't say enough about persistence!
Everyone...doing pretty well of late. The Christmas rush is on at the paper and I'm pumping out on average three stories a day. Of course I've been working quite a few extra hours and that's meant lack of sleep. I'm hoping to catch up on that front this weekend and hopefully nip a cold in the bud before it begins. Oh yes and the editor is after me for my book review so hopefully I'll finish the latest one. Will try to check in again soon. Take care all and happy writing.
J. Dishner: Got the column the old fashioned way. Wrote, submitted, wrote, submitted, wrote, submitted. Will do the exact same thing with the Baltimore Sun. My angle, my perspective has to be different than is available to the paper. It also has to be constant; I need the voice to stay the same so I am predictable as Royko was always predictable. So will send six to ten columns to Baltimore. And will keep doing that.
No, didn't know anyone on staff.
When I write freelance articles, I always retune them and sell them again and again. One article I've resold five times; my goal for that one is twenty-one (just for the fun of it). Believe me, it is fun getting paid five times for the same article. But don't limit yourself to your area. The whole world is your playground now with the net. In fact, I may try for column in other countries. I've sold in Canada and England. Think I'll try Russia and why not?
All magazines love "evergreens", articles that are not dated, that work well any time of the year, any year. They keep a file of them in case a writer doesn't finish an article on time for publication. Evergreens are much easier to resell once they've been published.
Be more than happy to answer any more questions you have or help you in any way I can.
The graphic I just deposited on the Notebook really says it all. However, to reinforce it for all those of us in the states, Happy Thanksgiving.
Also, just a note about a potential topic we might consider. Philip who is absent from these pages but sometimes drops me a suggestion or two, noted that the end of this month will be the centenary of the publication of Bram Stoker's Dracula. I thought we might like to discuss the impact that our favorite creatures of the night that we love and hate have had in literature whether as monster, anti-hero or transmuted as they have become in The Highlander. I will hold my powder dry and let others bite into this one as they feel like.
To Bob, it was a joy walking the same path as Steinbeck. When ever I need peace I close my eyes and invision sitting by the water.
I've been busy doing interviews for stories, thank goodness, so I haven't had much time to post a message. I just wanted to let you all know that this is the greatest place to hang out for a while and get acquainted with other writers. It's the best inspiration! I peek in about four times a week to see what's new.
To Trudy: Thanks for your reply, but I'm not looking for a full-time "job". I've been offered "jobs" from a few magazines I've solicited for contract work, but I turned them down. What I'm looking for is how to get more freelance work. How do I sell myself as a freelance writer to the businesses in my area. I have accumulated about 15 clients in the past year, but only three are regular. What are some specific techniques that have worked for you?
To Bob Hanford: Thanks for your reply also. I do get Writer's Market and Writer's Digest. That's a different process then what I'm talking about. How did you get your column? Did you know someone on staff? I know that doesn't hurt, and so I'm beginning to join associations to meet other writers and editors. What about when you sell an article or column, do you try to find other markets to sell it to as well? Do you rewrite it in different ways so you can sell it to more than one market? I have not yet tried this method but understand it is the best way to create more earning power on a project.
And as far as reading goes...in college, my Critique Writing professor told me if I wanted to be a writer, I should be reading at least 40 books a year and anything else I can get my hands on. I took him up on that advice, although I do not read 40 novels a year. I read more like 20 of various genres and subscribe to about five different magazines. I also read every "free" publication I can get my hands on, as well as the daily newspaper--especially the editorial page. There is so much out there to digest, it would be impossible to ever keep up, but it makes sense to know what's out there, to know what people are reading so you'll have some idea of what will sell. Besides, reading gives you ideas and inspiration and keeps the creative juices flowing. So, read and then read some more, and the writing will follow.
Jennifer: Any of the oldies in the group will tell you that I am also a die hard Steinbeck fan. Envy you your trip to Cannery Row.
Just wanted to wish everyone in the group a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving.
reading a good story nurtures the mind,sows creative seeds.
I'm a die-hard Steinbeck fan. His ability to bring characters to life is stimulating. His characters as well as his historical descriptive writing compelled me to travel to Cannery Row. I visited Ed Rickett's lab, the flophouses and Dora Floods bordello. What I procured from Cannery Row was a fresh prospective.
I feel if a writer is inclined to borrow material that the daily newspapers hold a wealth of information and stories. There we can find violence above and beyond a horror writers imagination. Drama plays regularly, comedy is hard to miss.
Children who have been read to learn to love books and display increased intellect and creativity so do adults.
I don't believe there is a place for pilfering an author's hard work,however, I do believe it is appropriate even fattering to gain inspiration from a dexterous story.
Flat out, I love reading, but it gets harder and harder to sit down and do it with the grunts and groans of every day life.
Reading does inspire my writing. It helps me see what other writers are thinking, and how they say it. One of the down sides is that I start incorporating the styles I read when I write. I usually have one very messed up chapter down before I realize I'm sounding like Hemingway, or even worse, Tom Clancy.
I have not had a problem with stealing or incoparating ideas in my work. If I do steal stuff, it's only on an unconscious level.
Hi I've really missed you folks. I moved to Las Vegas a few months ago. I've peeked in on the notebook etc. from time to time and it seems everyone is working hard and producing the good writing. I'm finishing a play I started about six month ago and plan to submitt it to Jade publishing here in town. They have offered to read it and publish it if it works. Who knows, doesn't matter either way since the joy of writing it is and has been enjoyable.Well I just want to say have a great holiday and I really miss you all.
When asked what am I studying to be, I quickly reply that I'm working on being a cartoonist and writer. While the cartooning gets delightful response, upon hearing about the writing, some people say,
"Oh. That's...nice." or,
"I think I'd like to write one of these days. Maybe on weekends, when I have nothing better to do."
What they don't realize is that writing is a full time business like everything else. Writing anything, especially novels, consumes your every thought. The characters can be pesky too. Inside or outside your head, telling you what they want to do with YOUR story.
I occasionally write essays and short stories, but my main craft is science fiction and fantasy. Here's what I found works for me: Read fantasy while writing sf. Read sf while writing fantasy. If you're like me and must read while writing, read a book or topic that is the opposite of your writing.
Amem to Brit's and Jack's comments re influence. If you don't read widely, how can you know what to throw away? My roomie at Goddard College, an artist who had already sold more than 3000 paintings in his career, was there to study color(in art). When he'd finished his study, he didn't change anything about his style but at least he knew now what he didn't want - what he was throwing away.
Trudy: Miss you and agree on your advice to J. Dishner.
J. Dishner: I freelance articles for mags and have had an ongoing column for the past five years. Now am trying to become syndicated. Toward that end, I will be applying all my efforts to get into the Baltimore Sun so I have national exposure. If my column is good enough and unique enough, a syndicator will call me. If it is not, he/she won't. Do you get the Writer's Market? The 1998 issue is out and they are also on the net.
BTW to everyone: TaiMing and I are doing just fine.
Well, I'd like to start off on the topic of reading, and how
it affects our writing. imho, if I don't read, my growth as
a writer is stunted. Reading diversely, especially in your
chosen genre, exposes you to new things and old things. It
gives you an idea of what's been done before, and maybe even
something that hasn't been explored enough yet. Looking back
on my own work, I see how my style has evolved, and I daresay it's gotten better the more I read. Specifically, I
dream of breaking into the SF field. Since the 5th grade then, I've read everything I could get my hands on, everything from Asimov to Heinlein, Niven to Feintuch, etc. ad infinitum. As well, I read out of the genre whenever I can. Many times I'll find that a certain story will give me a splinter of an idea that will combine with something from my own personal experience, and result in something creative, and hopefully, "new".
Hey everyone and welcome all newcomers. I don't have a lot of time to go through the archives but one did catch my attention.
J. Dishner writes "Does anyone out there write anything besides fiction? Do any of you freelance with magazines or have a newspaper column, for example? I write for a few publications but cannot seem to attract more work and could use some advice on how to better market myself. I send out letters, resumes, fliers, brochures, business cards, etc., but marketing is really not my cup of tea, and I so dislike cold calling. Do any of you have a method that actually works?"
My advice is "drive them crazy". Well, in a nice way. I presently work full-time for a daily provincial newspaper in Canada and the way I got there was by sending I don't know how many resumes. Finally one got to the right person and I was hired to do freelance articles for them...then I drove the assignment editor insane by asking for "more, more, more!" I got so thay were paying me for so many articles they offered me a freelance weekly salary that remained the same no matter how much I wrote, then that developed into a full-time position which I've now been in for three years. Persistence pays off. Good luck.
And, Jason, never lose that enthusiasm! If picturing something truly is ninety per cent of getting you there then go; you are well on your way to publication at an early age. Hope you keep us posted and join in some of the lively discussions on this page...you'll lern a lot here as well.
Everyone, hope all is well. Things have been very hectic for me of late both at work and personally, but I have thought of you often. Hope to catch up real soon.
In sixth grade, I wrote a fantasy story called 'The Lorcain Spirit.' I improved on it and received many compliments so I continued the story into a long series. Now, I am 13 and in the eigth grade and looking for publication while I complete this series. I do not wish to boast, but I am very impressed with myself that I can write this well at my age. I have studied the market carefully and am learning fast.
I truly hope I make it as a writer at this young age. The main reason I wish for this is because I believe it would be so amazing and such a wonderful experience to publish a book or number of books at just 13!
I am and have been working hard. Each day, ideas fill my head and I am inspired. I have many plans and ambitions for the future that I am certain will be fulfilled.
Re: the anxiety of influence. It always strikes me as particularly arrogant for an author to say that they don't read so that they don't get unduly influenced. Meanwhile, they are exposed to thousands and thousands of narratives in their lifetime - tv, movies, news stories, conversations with friends. There is nothing new under the sun as far as narratives go, BUT if an author reads a lot, he or she will pick up the important stuff - how to colour a phrase, how to use dialogue effectively, how to jam words together and make them sing, how to spot a cliche so as to know not to use it...
In other news, I have been on holidays from uni for only two weeks, and I've already written 25000 words. It must have all been backed up in my head, waiting for me to give it permission to pass. I have a seminar to attend in Sydney this weekend, so I'll get to have real-time, live chat with other authors. What fun.
I had been noting some discouraging words about Commonwealth from several people who sent me email. When I emailed Commonwealth and got no reply, I deleted them from mention as potential Professional Markets.
I am making this post as a warning to anyone who has or is dealing with Commonwealth Publications Inc. in Canada. I am not in any respect saying anything derogatory about them, but I do want to point out the below links which suggests serious problems.
I submitted a manuscript to Commonwealth and have had difficulty getting them to respond to my queries about its progress. At one point, several weeks back, I made a query and the acquisitions person stated that he would check on my novel's progress and get back to me. I waited. Nothing.
Recently, I received a note from someone else saying that they have taken over for the other acquisitions person. I again reiterated my request and included the dates of my queries and all other pertinent information. I waited. Still nothing. Meanwhile, I decided to do further research about the company. Some of my findings are the below links.
http://www.dejanews.com/ Bring up Deja News and search for "Commonwealth Publications Inc.
This next site is very interesting. It even includes court transcripts.
I hope that this information will be useful to anyone who is considering sending a manuscript to Commonwealth.
OK, as you can probably tell, I have archived. Just so there is some continuity I have adopted the discussion that was beginning to develop at the close of the previous Notebook. This page will give a nice blank slate on which to develop your thoughts and drop off your perspectives.
The new proposed topics for discussion for the next week or until we get tired of them are the following: