Archived Writer's Notebook Messages

From August 26 to September 22, 1996


Writers' Haven- Member Sue jglantz@int1.mhrcc.org Sun Sep 22 06:08:33 PDT 1996

In regards to my previous post, I would like to apologize for any misunderstandings. Nowhere in this posting did I mention any fees whatsoever because this is a free mailing group.

I am a member of Critters and I critique people’s projects _after_ they’ve finished with a chapter or short story. This does not assist people who are stuck in the middle of their writing, however. So Writers’ Haven is different in that aspect.

I truly wish Jack had posted my response to his query as it answers your concerns regarding spamming.

As for the tone, I want people to realize that there is a mailing group out there that is SERIOUS about helping writers through out the process and discussing matters related to craft.

If this had been a spam there would probably be some mention of a fee and, if this post had been truly mean spirited, there would have been no email address.

I apologize if posting to your group was inappropriate. You say that "Writer's Notebook” is a place for writers and aspiring
writers to share with each other. That is why I posted in the first place, as this is a goal for Writers’ Haven.

Here is my return post in its entirety for all of those who were concerned about whether this was spamming or had questions about Writers’ Haven:

Jack Beslanwitch wrote:
>
> Writer's Haven,
>
> I would be interested in hearing more, but the way you hype it it
> sound perilously close to a for pay situation or a spam. If it is a
> for pay situation, it does not belong on the Writer's Notebook. In any
> case, if you have a web site for Writer's Haven, I would be more than
> happy to link to it from the regular Writer Resources page. Writer's
> Notebook, is a place for writers and aspiring writers to share with
> each other. If this is a for pay arrangement I will have to delete
> your posting to Writer's Notebook. It also helps to leave the name of
> an actual human being. Hope to hear from you soon.

I'm sorry if my writing skills are making it sound as if this is a pay only venture. Writers' Haven is exactly as it is described. People who wish to talk to one another via email about their writing and writing related topics will hopefully enjoy our group.

An explanation:
After spending my summer cruising the internet and its various forms of writing groups (ie.chat groups, list serve groups, bulletin boards, newsgroups), I grew frustrated with how much garbage passes as "serious writing groups". I noticed several other posts on various bulletin boards that described people who felt the same way. I talked to a friend of mine that I met in a mailing group, which we both dumped because of none related material, and we drafted what I have posted on your board.

You say that "Writer's Notebook, is a place for writers and aspiring writers to share with each other.", and I like this idea. However it is limited. For example, if I decided to share a chapter of my novel with my group, I could get feedback without as great a risk as plagiarism and someone denying me publication because they felt the piece had been exposed to the general public.

>As an English teacher I like working one-on-one with people. I >believe any critiquing of value comes from people looking at your >work in progress and addressing its weaknesses, not some unrelated >exercise.

I am a certified English teacher in upstate New York, and I found that
many people would like help with grammar and punctuation, as well as
their ideas. If you have the name of a mailing list that concentrates
on grammar and punctuation, I'd appreciate it. One of our members was
searching for one and I volunteered to help her with the mechanics of
her novel. That is why she joined.

>1snip< describes a problem with a lot of groups. See #5
>
> 2. An advice session where other writers listen to you and help you when you're suffering from writer's block, no matter what stage of your writing.

My friend, the one I mentioned previously, and I started out discussing
suggestions to help one another out of writer's block. Someone in a
group she belonged to actually had the nerve to tell her that she was to
far along in the process to suffer from this!

> 3. We don't think people want to spend their time submitting exercises that are unnatural and aren't necessarily addressing their weaknesses. By unnatural we mean a 200 word limit that focuses on 1 or 2 aspects of writing without consideration of other elements. If this traditional school approach hasn't worked so far, why will it work now? Exercises can be wonderful, but only as you need them. If you're concentrating on getting admitted to something else, like the next group, then you're probably not concentrating on what you are writing!
> If you can't focus on the whole aspect of writing, why bother?

Again, many of our members have belonged to these types of groups
without much success and personal attention to their long term projects,
such as my fantasy novel that I'm 12 chapters into. One such writing
group wants me to complete their exercises, regardless if I need them or
not, before anyone will critique my chapters. At the rate of allowed
submission, my novel won't be looked at until mid-January and I don't
have that long to wait!

> 4. This is a serious writing group that doesn't treat you like a kid, i.e. you get out of it what you put in voluntarily. If you're serious about your writing, you'll be spending time with your writing.

Unlike groups similar to the one I just described to you, I hope ours will enable people to concentrate on their writing projects and help them out when they need it.

>This group functions as a motivator, a place to brainstorm ideas, >help one another with the craft, recommend books on the craft of >writing & in our particular genres, etc. Personal chit-chat is done >via personal email.

I think this is pretty self-explanatory.

> 5. Once you become comfortable with the people in the group, you can
> choose a partner and share work back and forth like we do. That way, you can scout for the right critique partner for you. We crit, because we know each other, not just the particular genre we write. We share ideas, giving the added push to write. Not only is this helpful now, in building style and creating an invaluable network, but we've also established a friendship that will grow throughout our writing careers.

This describes how my friend's and my friendship evolved.

>To beyond that day when we can proudly say "See ya at the next book >signing!"

So we're optimistic, so what!


> When answering questions relating to tools of the trade please be sure to give plausible answers, research your answers to make sure they are not misleading someone. Use thorough citations & when recommending or unrecommending a source, please explain why.

This was added because we're frustrated with people's inability to read things correctly, cite things correctly, and manipulate things.

We do not have a web site, but thank you for the offer. I'll keep it in mind.

Again, there is no fee, that is why it is not mentioned anywhere in the post. "As for It also helps to leave the name of an actual human being.", as with the mentioning of my English degree, I wanted to make sure this group was taken seriously. Rather than complain about the existing groups with their lack of serious craft discussion, I took someone's sarcastic flame message seriously and decided to do something about it.

If you have any more questions, let me know. I appreciate your writing me first and not just yanking our good-intentioned post off.
Sue- One of many hot chocolate swigging folks at Writers' Haven.


Sun Sep 22 05:41:08 PDT 1996


Ben Woestenburg nittritz@netcom.ca Sun Sep 22 00:16:12 PDT 1996

I'm so glad to be here before midnight. I got home last night and the page was empty, which was understandable, because I know we all have lives out there in the real world -- except me of course, stuck on afternoon shift for God only knows how long now. But I don't mind it really. I'd rather stay up until 4:00 a.m. than get up at 4:00. I just hope someone's still up now.
KITTY: You seem to have a lot of consequential interests. Now, I don't have a university education or any higher learning at all, just a curiosity that has taken me to all the corners of the world. As for Cornelius being the first GENTILE convert, that much is true. You are correct in your assessment that the apostles were the first Christian converts, but they were all Jews of course, as was Christ. Cornelius was a Roman soldier, and as such, not of the Judaic faith. Anyone who is not of the Jewish Faith is a gentile. I picked up an interesting blurb of one of those ancient history pages about Paul and Thecla not too long ago and printed it out because I hadn't seen anything about them in almost ten or fifteen years -- or anything that I didn't all ready know. There is a book out, I can't recall the title of it at the moment, but it has all the apocryphal gospels of the Bible, and is interesting reading. It's not hard to find in the library. St. Thomas had an interesting Gospel. He was martyred in India, on an X shaped cross. I was alway fascinated with those stories because Peter was crucified upside down on Vatican Hill, which explains why the Vatican is where it is of course.
I don't have very many regrets in my life except for the fact that I don't have the education I wish I had. I always used to say, anything I want to know I can learn myself. I know this is incorrect now, and now it is too late. Too many bills and a heavy mortgage make it impossible for me to take the time off and actually persue an education. Hell, I'm still typing with two fingers! I might be faster than I was when I first started, but it would be nice to actually know how to type. I guess I'm just lazy right now. Or maybe it's just apathy. I seem to do well enough with what I have.
JACK: I love the idea of writing something with everyone. I think it would be a challenge to have to follow whatever guidelines you want to set. Elvis tapping me on the shoulder...I just love that one!
TRISH: I'm sorry I can't email anything to anyone right now. This isn't my computer, and if there's another way of doing it, I haven't found it yet. Be assured, when I get things up an running I'll send you one right away. I promise.
Ben....Please, I hope someone's still awake? (That doesn't sound too pathetic does it?)


Jack Beslanwitch Sat Sep 21 23:42:40 PDT 1996

Quick update on Writer's Haven. They emailed back and indicate that they are not a for pay service, but rather a volunteer run internet based writers group exchanging manuscripts via email and critiques as well. Reminds me a bit of Critters in a way. So, I'll leave the post in place. However, I still think it was slightly inappropriate to the spirit of what I see the Notebook to be. Also, the tone of the posting lent itself to a misunderstanding of its intent. At least on my part. Take care all and I'll try to get the Workbook up sometime tomorrow.


Jack Beslanwitch top@webwitch.com Sat Sep 21 17:12:01 PDT 1996

Kitty,

  The Writer's Haven "smells" an awful lot like a spam to me as well. They definitely were not invited. I've emailed them with a request for further information, in particular whether this is a commercial enterprise. If so, I hope other do not mind if I delete the post. I offered, if they are, to link to their website if they have one from the main Writer's Resources page, but I do not want that sort of thing here. "Please leave messages relating to the wonder, frustration, pain and joy, of this wonderful art form that we have been forced by our own muse to enter into" does not really include spams or commercial advertisements. At least in my view. However, I will wait a bit and see what they send back to me in response to my email. That they failed to leave a real person's name bothers me a bit. As to my participating in the discussion. Never fear, I will be here. I look forward to active participation in Writer's Workbook when I get that up. Take care all.


Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech.net Sat Sep 21 16:49:12 PDT 1996

Kitty: You are still batting one thousand. It was the Bosphorus. I was there 1966 and 67. Literally got down on my knees begging to be extended from 18 month tour to 2 year tour. In Air Force Intelligence, Karamursel AFB was known to be the best. Memories of Istanbul, sitting by the Galata Bridge that connects old Istanbul to new Istanbul will last me forever. Have written about it often. The steam baths, the covered mosque. Ah...
Ben's name had to be computer glitch. Honest.
Though I understand your comments about guilt and accept them intellectually, I remember the vine in the woods and the swimming holes and the one-room schoolhouses and, and...
Jack: Second Kitty's wish that you would drop in more often. Perhaps Writers' Workbook could include marketing ideas for individual short pieces(if requested). I always have pieces that are hard to place and would welcome the help.
Peace. Bob


Kitty Dwyer edwyer@spherent.com Sat Sep 21 16:05:55 PDT 1996

Hey y'all! It has been a pretty busy, hectic week for me, but October is beckoning with cool crisp days at a measured pace. Looks like it has been pretty busy here, too.
Bob, I'm curious... The shore you were standing on, was it the Bosphorus, the meeting place of eastern and western civilization? Isn't this where the crusaders crossed over on their way to the holy lands? When were you there? I'm an Air Force brat and spent the first four years of my life in Ankara. Also, you should never feel guilty for the blessings you've received (your happy childhood), without them, and without adversity, we would not be the people we are today. I believe we should accept our blessings with humble thanks and pass the goodness on.
Ben, I'm going to have to look up the story of Paul and Thecla 'cause it is not ringing any bells--New Testiment, I assume? As to Cornelius, the "the first Gentile convert," I'm confused, what did he convert from and to? Were not the disciples the first converts to Christianity? At any rate, have you read The Birth of the Messiah or the Death of the Messiah by Raymond Brown? He compares the texts of various gospels to determine their concurrences and divergences, probable truth and embellishment. Fascinating reading. And I assume you have seen Scorcese's (I think) The Temptation of Christ, very provocative.
Trudy, I haven't freelanced since my newspaper days. The one on the list who mentioned free-lancing most recently was Anne.
Travis, your entries about truth read like the study of literary criticism to me (and a little bit of medical text thrown in). The literary critic stands outside the creative process and wonders how and why the writer does what he/she does. The critic attempts to "deconstruct" what the writer has constructed, but how can he when he hasn't lived in the writer's skin. I've said it before, the fiction writer creates a story and gives it to the reader who will interpret the story in his/her own unique way. I will be blunt, to me literary criticism is a mind game, a pretentious one at that--and, yes, I had to take it in University and aced the course. Bottom line, if as a writer, you sit there dithering about "THE TRUTH," you'll never get any writing done.
Jack, was this Writer's Haven entry an advert? Was this cheek or were they here by invitation? I like the idea of the Notebook and the Workbook. Thank you for undertaking the work to put it all together. I wish you would drop into the discussions more often, your point of view is valued.
Take care all. --Kitty

P. S. Bob, did you notice that on your last entry you have Ben's name in front of your e-mail address? Hmmm....? Bob, Ben. Ben, Bob. Hmmm....?


trish trishm@iswt.com Sat Sep 21 13:53:44 PDT 1996

Wow!! It's taken me half a day to catch up on what's been going on. There's a lot happening out there.
BEN- would love to read about Friar Tuck. E-mail it sometime, will ya? Your trilogy sounds really interesting too.
I read somewhere on the page that many of us are always writing in our minds. I have done that as long as I could remember. It just took me a while to decide to put it down on paper.
I, too, truly enjoy this forum. You guys, and a couple of others I met here some time ago, are the only other writers I know, and your words are often comforting and encouraging. To be able to read about your frustrations and accomplishemnts, is like salve for the wounds of my own fragile ego. I think that sometimes it is quite easy to get discouraged and want to quit. But I could never quit reading, and the more I read, the more I want to write.
I am currently trying to lay out the basis of a story set in a small campground. Will let y'all know how it progresses.
Kitty-is it you who does freelance work? I've forgotten.
TTFN
trish


Lisa Nickles http://www.geocities.com/athens/8506 Sat Sep 21 08:28:18 PDT 1996

Hi guys! Tobin, my warmest congratulations. I am pleased to see so many of us turned out! Let's see now.... Ah, yes- putting sensations and experience to writing. I have never fought a dragon with a broadsword, but I well remember, as a child, a particularly large child who used to like to bully me. I remember the sensation of wanting to run at his approach, but being determined to stand my ground even if it would mean being pounded upon. You see? Even if you don't have the direct experience, there is often something similar that would have the same range of emotions. Admittedly this is a limited example, but we are all writers. You could probably come up with a hundred for yourself.

BTW my email address I've been relegated to using for now was too long for the box. Soooo... E-mail me here. Prolific pages, my friends!


Writers' Haven jglantz@int1.mhrcc.org Sat Sep 21 06:50:26 PDT 1996

Tired of all the inane chatter clogging up the internet? Looking for a serious
writing group that takes the craft of writing seriously without making demands
that you complete 20+ exercises or critiques before receiving any help on
your current project? Then maybe it's time you checked out Writers' Haven!

As an English teacher I like working one-on-one with people. I believe any
critiquing of value comes from people looking at your work in progress and
addressing its weaknesses, not some unrealated exercise.

>1.Length of time for feedback in most groups could take months and posts
>are sometimes used only to show off work, not really to give your piece a
>valuable critique or finally dumping the advice after you've spent hours
>of hard work. Note our goals: interactive critique in careful, but quick
>responses so the writer can continue their work
>
> 2. An advice session where other writers listen to you and help you when
> you're suffering from writer's block, no matter what stage of your writing.
>
> 3. We don't think people want to spend their time submitting exercises that
> are unnatural and aren't necessarily addressing their weaknesses. By
> unnatural we mean a 200 word limit that focuses on 1 or 2 aspects of writing
> without consideration of other elements. If this traditional school
> approach hasn't worked so far, why will it work now? Exercises can be
> wonderful, but only as you need them. If you're concentrating on getting
> admitted to something else, like the next group, then you're probably not
> concentrating on what you are writing!
> If you can't focus on the whole aspect of writing, why bother?
>
> 4. This is a serious writing group that doesn't treat you like a kid, i.e.
> you get out of it what you put in voluntarily. If you're serious about
> your writing, you'll be spending time with your writing. This group
> functions as a motivator, a place to brainstorm ideas, help one another
> with the craft, recomend books on the craft of writing & in our particular
> genres, etc. Personal chit-chat is done via personal email.
>
> 5. Once you become comfortable with the people in the group, you can
> choose a partner and share work back and forth like we do. That way, you
> can scout for the right critique partner for you. We crit, because we know
> each other, not just the particular genre we write. We share ideas, giving
> the added push to write. Not only is this helpful now, in building style
> and creating an invaluable network, but we've also established a friendship
> that will grow throughout our writing careers. To beyond that day when we
> can proudly say "See ya at the next book signing!">

> When answering questions relating to tools of the trade please be sure to
> give plausible answers, research your answers to make sure they are not
> misleading someone. Use thorough citations & when recommending or
> unrecommending a source, please explain why.


Jack Beslanwitch top@webwitch.com http://www.halcyon.com/top/sf/warlock.html Sat Sep 21 00:40:12 PDT 1996

Well, from the several responses I've gotten, the Writer's Workbook idea seems to have spawned some interest. When I archive the Writer's Notebook September 30, I'll initiate the Writer's Workbook and a blank version of the Writer's Notebook. We might want to talk about what scenarios we would like to play out there.
   I'll throw my one suggestion out and let other people add theres.

   An old fashioned nineteenth century train with gas lights and plusch purple velvet seats. There are spitoons on the floor. Cigar smoke and the smell of stale beer and whiskey pervades. It is late. Your character is not quite sure why he is sitting where is. He looks around and sees an assortment of those dressed in Victorian, Tudor English as well as someone in blue jean cut offs, tank top and a green mohawk. Gas light glints off the pierced gold ear and nose ring in the youth in jeans. Just then Elvis Presley taps your character on the shoulder and asks you what time it is. Only, there are no hands on your watch when you look at it.

This would be a setting in which characters could walk in and out of on the Writer's Workbook if people agreed to participate. Other possibilities are cheerfully accepted. Also, bits and pieces are encourages as well. I do suggest, however, that examples such as I just gave above would be alluded to and reside on the Writer's Workbook. Take care everyone.


trudy trudan@mi.net Fri Sep 20 20:27:20 PDT 1996

Jack, love the Writers Workbook idea, and wanted to let you know this page has become what I thought it would be. It's wonderful to meet people with such passion for writing and all things related. Don't have a lot of time so will just say hi everyone! Thoroughly enjoying all your postings, and it's nice to know if I need encouragement or an answer to a question you're all nearby. Glad to have made all your acquaintances via the WWW. Back soon. Trudy


Anne fbarnhi@ibm.com Fri Sep 20 19:52:58 PDT 1996

Ben, I've never written anything directly about the Arthurian legend, but I've read oodles of stuff including Morte D'Arthur. I took a class last year. The prof did all he could to squelch my interest but I still enjoy the whole thing. I've read the Mary Stewart books, Steven Lawhead, T.H. White and some of the old texts from the French (in translation) I'm particularly interested in the character of Arthur and the dynamics between Guinevere and Arthur. Sounds like you've given the subject a lot of thought.
I guess the theme of my first novel (not quite finished) is based on the Arthurian triangle, though set in modern times. Tell me about your ideas and the project you've laid out. Must run.


Jack Beslanwitch Fri Sep 20 08:43:08 PDT 1996

Just as a clarification. The Writer's Workbook idea would not just be for the shared world project, but for any short examples of writing people would like to drop off and could be referred to from Writer's Notebook. This way the file size of both could be kept to something reasonable. Also, the shared world does not necessarily need to be fantasy or science fiction. World could better be thought of as setting. An example might be let's see how character's would react walking into Pike Place Market or Time Square or a train half filled with ghosts. The options are completely open.


Ben Woestenburg Nittritz@netcom.ca Fri Sep 20 02:06:59 PDT 1996

Hi guys, sorry I'm late. I was really looking forward to getting back onto dayshift again and actually reading this as it was coming on, but...Seems a senior man has bumped me off my job and I'm going to be stuck onto afternoons for at least another three or four weeks. I can't resent him for what he did, because what's the sense in being in a union if you can't use the seniority you've managed to collect over the years? It's just that after twenty years of seniority you begin to think maybe you've finally found a little bit of security. Looks like I have another cold winter on the water to look forward to. And TRAVIS, if you want my perceptions of what's cold and what isn't, trying working outside on a river in the cold. Gathered, it's not as cold as the rest of the country -- it's not Green Bay -- but it gets damned uncomfortable. We used to make our fires with wet pieces of bark and broken branches floating in the water, dropping them into a 45 gallon drum. Thank God for diesel fuel though. You can light anything with that stuff.
As for having another page for a collective story, I think it's a great idea. I haven't written Sci-fi for a long time, but I figure, hey, why not. I know this is a sci-fi sort of a page, but I've always thought a writer is a writer. I like reading it. I love Tolkien. I ate up Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince books. Has anyone read David Wingate's CHUNG KUO?
I like to read everything I can when I'm not writing, and went through a period when I thought it would be neat to read as many Nobel laurettes and Pulitzer winning writers as I could. I even read War and Peace just because it seemed like the thing to do. But I was in love with Clavell. Has anyone read Tai-Pan? I guess I must have read that one about five times.
My buddy was looking after a house for a client of his once -- he's a hairdresser and meets all sorts of people -- and was sitting outside in the hot tub when a man looked in over the fence. My friend, being English, hit it off with this guy and became fast friends. Before you know they're out at the pubs playing darts and watching english football (soccer). Finally, the guy comes by with a book one day and gives it to him, telling him it was something he had just published and he wanted my friend to have it. I believe it was Noble House, or Shogun. My friend had only been calling him James, and had never bothered to ask him what his last name was. I guess it never came up in the conversations. He promised me he was going to get an autograph for one of my copies, but the bastard went and died on me! Go figure, eh?
ANNE: Tell me what you're writing about. Is it an Arthurian story? I had seventy chapters titled and laid out with no real plot in mind except for the fact that I wanted to structure it like the d'Artangnan stories out of the three musketeers. You know, follow a young squire as he becomes a knight and gets mixed up in all the politcis at court. I loved Morte d'Arthur. Have you read it?
Anyway, I have to go. I want to copy out the pages I did at work onto pages. AT least if I take this job on the river I'll have more time to read and write while I shiver in my parka -- unless we have a mild winter. By that, I mean only a couple of days of snow, which is all we usually get. I guess that's why Iove it here in the Vancouver area. You don't have to shovel rain.


Anne fbarnhi@ibm.com Thu Sep 19 20:11:12 PDT 1996

I'm having a hell of a time getting this right. Please excuse me, but I'm really new to this whole process. It's interesting to see what all of you are thinking and writing about. I'm particularly interested in the Arthurian legend. Just bought Julia Carmeron's sequel to the ARtist's Way called Veins of Gold. Haven't read much yet, but seems interesting. I've got all the names mixed up but someone asked what I write. For money, I write nonfiction, just freelance stuff mostly. My real writing is fiction and it's hard to categorize. I've got a story in new Papier Mache anthology (they are the ones who published When I'm AN Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple several years ago) GROW OLD ALONG WITH ME. It came out in June and I'm really excited about it. I'm in the middle of a novel but haven't been able to get to it for a week because of family duties. THree kids, though only two at home. Am homeschooling my youngest. Not my idea. I'm resenting it a little but hope to work out the snags in scheduling. THis is more than you asked for. Sorry. Keep the faith, all.


Anne Thu Sep 19 20:01:53 PDT 1996


Jack Beslanwitch top@webwitch.com Thu Sep 19 18:16:00 PDT 1996

Sorry to keep dropping back into these discussions, but I just had a thought with respect to the shared world project. I'm a little hesitant to inflate the size of the Writer's Notebook, which, at the end of the month, I think will be ready to be archived. However, I was wondering what people thought if I established a sister version of this page which I might call Writer's Workbook where anybody here could put fragments of writing or vignettes. I suggest against large pieces, finished works or even significant parts of stories since there is some question about what impact this has on serialization rights and other copyright issues. However, a shared world is not impacted by this and if we wished to leave off character studies or small pieces as examples for our discussions I'm not sure if this would be a problem. Some of the pieces that Tam Lin was dropping off a while back might fit into this category. And then have the discussion here. Does this sound like good idea? Bad idea? Unnecessary? Let me know either here or via email

BTW, I am very interested in the shared world idea. However, I do not wish it to become a distraction from what is the real goal and that is to write and finish what we are writing and send it out when we are finished and keep sending it out until it sells. Leastways, that's the theoretical way things are supposed to go :-). Take care and hope this spot on the internet is meeting people's needs and expectations.


Travis Emmitt txe@thunder.swa.com Thu Sep 19 15:47:16 PDT 1996

Jack: I agree! My fav author is Tolkien, and he never saw any elves or hobbits or magic rings or sinking islands. But he sure does a good job of portraying them with bits and pieces of his own experiences.

Another David Brin fan! :) Have you read the new Uplift book yet?

Everyone: Have y'all on here ever done one of those pass-along stories, where one person writes a paragraph or so and then someone else takes over and so on? Well, what if a similar group effort were made to build a "world" (kind of like what Wizards get to do on the MUDs) or situation. Everyone would contribute a short (< 50 words, say) description of an object, location or character and then afterwards the group would decide how to assemble those elements into a nicely flowing story (also keeping it short). All elements would be used so no contributers would feel left out. You could even have a couple teams trying to come up with the cooler short story. This would be an exercise in assembling standalone "things" (perceptions, whatever) into a comprehensible, pleasing whole, as well as coming up with cool "things." (The "mean" version of this game would state that only half of the suggestions can be used!)

Travis

p.s. Anyone know if the 2nd Goodkind book is any good?


Jack Beslanwitch top@webwitch.com Thu Sep 19 14:57:43 PDT 1996

Travis,


   Longwinded? Perhaps a tad. Certainly, it has prompted me to boost my resolution to 1024x768, ;-). However, I think these are wonderful and interesting discussions. I'd rather people be long winded than silence.


   On the topic of real versus imagined experience, coming from a strong interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy, I have to say that nobody has any experiences with fighting a dragon or piloting a starship or jacking into cyberspace, but we can come up with experiences in our own lives that invest the emotional authenticity to these experiences. William Gibson had never seen or worked with computer hardware much beyond Atari when he imagined the incredibly detailed and emotionally authentic Neuromancer. I can't really think of a better first line than "The sky was the color of television tuned to a dead channel". Or something like that. In one clipped statement he drops you fully into his world and slams on the accelerator and eventually goes quite literally into orbit. This does not negate that actually building a fire at 50 below will not give you more to work with. However, you also have to bring the perceptive genius to the table as well to benefit from the experience. Several astronauts have written their stories about the experiences of being an astronaut and being in space both in reality and in fictional accounts, but other writers who have never climbed out of this gravity well and can only imagine it have done marvelous pieces that far outstrip what those that have been there can do. The Right Stuff jumps immediately to mind in this regard. Some of the things David Brin also. Hope this helps the discussion and doesn't obscure it.


Take care and keep writing.


Travis Emmitt txe@thunder.swa.com Thu Sep 19 12:20:36 PDT 1996

Greetings, everyone! Do any of you belong to the Critters work shop, or have you heard anything about it?

--

On the topic of truth, I think sensations are indeed generalizations. Even on the lowest level, only *some* information about the world around us ever reaches our sensing cells, and our brain fills in gaps.

If a doctor is poking around in your brain and you suddenly sense the color red, or smell flowers, your senses are giving you an incorrect generalization of the environment. Ditto for LSD, I hear, where people don't just perceive that the wall is melting, but they actually "see" it melting. These are instances where the brain's ability to assemble cell firings into senses revealed as imperfect.

Even working at its best, our brain only picks up a very narrow-visioned snapshot of the external world. We get an image map that we "learn" represents a book, and so we perceive that a book is there. But this sense-based image map only represents a small sliver of information about the book.

If I'm out in the frozen wilderness trying to start a fire, I am only sensing an incredibly small portion of the situation. When I chop down some branches and put them in a pile, I am experiencing something completely different from what the branches were experiencing about being cut down, or what my skin cells were experiencing. The information that comes to me about the situation is limited to what hits *my* sensory cells, the very few that I have. After that comes the kludgy process of generalizing a collection of senses into perceptions, perceptions into cognitions, and cognitions into memories. And then, if I survive to trek back to civilization with these stored memories, I have to try to express them in words.

When Jack London composed his words about building a fire, he was probably sitting somewhere warm and cozy a few day or years later after his fire building. Jack therefore had to construct his story from his memories (synaptically stored collections of perceptions and associations) about building a fire. He had to mentally "visualize" the cold and branches and feelings of fear or frustration. All he really had to work with were his personal perceptions of "cold" and "branch" and whatnot, and had to associate abstract labels to them, which are the words that he put down on paper.

Now, *I* have never really been in the frozen wilderness trying to build a fire. However, I can "imagine" what it would be like, in that I can mentally assemble "cold" and "branch" and other perceptions together, just like Jack had to do in his cushy writing room. And if I were to write a story, the words that I churn out about cold and branches would really be no less "true" depictions of my experienced environment than Jack's were about his environment. Both of us are constructing words from our perceptions, and perceptions do not have "truth" just like sensations do not have "truth."

The difference is that Jack's perceptions of "cold" and "branch" are probably much more vivid in his mind when he writes than mine, since Jack was colder than I've ever been, for longer than I've ever been, and because tree branches were more important to him, more sharply focused upon by him, than they ever were for me.

Additionally, Jack's synaptically managed associations between "cold" and "branch" are stronger than mine, just like a puppy's associations between "hunger" and "bowl of dog food" are stronger than mine. And Jack has a whole web of strong associations, like "cold" and "hunger," "despair" and "darkness," "white" and "fear," etc. I probably don't have as many of those strong associations, so when it comes time for me to write my book about building a fire in the snow, I have to pick some of my own, considerably weaker associations, like "snow" and "igloo" so in my story I might say I built myself an igloo to protect me from the cold.

Let's say I had an intense dream about trying to make a fire in the snow. Certain associations like "snow" and "fear" would be strengthened, just like in Jack's "real life" experience. Would what I write down be less "true" than what Jack writes down, simply because I was having a dream and he was awake? Neither of us fully conceived the snow, or the fire, or anything. We only saw out of our tiny little windows.

Anyway, my point is that "first hand experience" indeed strengthens associations and perceptions, which make for consistant and assertive writing, but a vivid dream should be able to do the same thing. Likewise for a vivid waking imagination.

The "problem" is one of degree:

In first hand experience, previously weak associations might suddenly be strengthened when something unexpected and new occurs, like finding a roach in your soup. Emotion usually accompanies radical associational augmentations. When you tell someone else about the roach in your soup, that person's assocations about roach, soup, you, restaurant, sickness, whetever, are also strengthened, so they, too, feel some sort of emotion.

In a dream, associations usually are not strengthened as radically as in first hand experience, for many different reasons, one of them being the absence of associative reinforcement upon waking. If you perceive a dragon eating you in your dream, when you wake up the dragon is no longer eating you nor anywhere in sight, so you let the dream related associations die down unless you consciously make an effort to put them into long term storage. Also, many dreams are about what is currently "on our minds" during the day, which means they involve little more than stimulating the already strong associations, and so very little emotion comes out of it. This makes for less "enlightening" reading and therefore less emotional reading.

Waking imaginations are even more constrained than dreams, since when we are awake we make conscious and subconscious attempts to stay "focused" and "realistic" and so there are very few radical association strengthenings due to our ponderings, since our consciousnesses tend to follow only the strongest associations anyway. Therefore it can be very difficult to force a radical assocational augmentation, since you have to find a "weak link" first. And, preferably, the synapses connected to that weak link should have STRONG links to other synapses, so that your mind not only will strengthen the link between A and B, but the links between everything strongly linked to A and everything strongly linked to B, because that's one thing our brain does: generalize.

An example, and then I'll shut up.

Up until you read this paragraph, you probably had strong associations between "Travis" and "long winded." And you also probably had strong associations between "Seinfeld" and "funny." But your associations between "Travis" and "funny," "Travis" and "Seinfeld," "long winded" and "funny," and "long winded" and "Seinfeld" are were very weak.

Now, if I say to you, "Guess what, I'm going to be on Seinfeld tonight!" then not only is your travis-seinfeld association strengthed, but also longwinded-seinfeld, travis-funny, and longwinded-funny and so you have lots of thoughts and emotions going on, like "seinfeld is going to be long winded" (sad) and "but maybe travis will become funny" (optimism).

If you had weaker "surrounding" associations then there's not as much of an impact. Like when you read the following:

glog is going to be on 1242.

How much though and emotion did that sentence trigger? Not much, unless your lucky number is 1242 and the last thing your grandfather said to you before he died was "beware the glog, my son."

So, as writers, perhaps one of our aims is to build bridges between webs of strong associations. We just need to find the gaps first.

What d'y'all think?

Hello?

Travis

p.s. I', *really* sorry this was so long. Please let me know if you think this sort of talk is inappropriate, okay? Thanks!


Ben Woestenburg nittritz@netcom.ca Thu Sep 19 12:00:53 PDT 1996

Hi! It's almost noon and I'm wondering why the blurb I posted last night didn't go through. I won't have time to re-write everything I said last night -- let alone remember it -- because I have to get lunch ready for the kids (one of the drawbacks for living half a block away from school I suppose). But I have time enough to say that right now I'm having problems with the e-mail system, so if you guys want to read Tuck we'll have to do it the old fashioned way and rely on the good ol' pony express.
TRAVIS: Enjoyed your interpretation of what we perceive compared to what we conceive. Would have made Lucretius proud with that train of thought. Also have to say I agree with what you said about the Bible. Most of it was written way after the fact. St. Mark's and St. Luke's being the only possible exceptions, but even still, the first one was at least fifteen or tweenty years after, and the latter almost thirty. They were all written through second hand accounts. Some people say Mark's is an account told to him by Peter, and I guess we all know what Luke's was. I've always thought that this was the main reason things could be misconstrued. But hey, don't get me started!
TRUDY: It should be easy enough for me to remember your name because that's my sister's name. I was in a couple of writing classes, and although I enjoyed them, I know that if I ever went again it would have to be a different set up. You know, the kind where you all sit together and someone reads what he's written the week before and everyone else crtiques it? Of course, I'd like to be able to sit in a pub and have a few drinks as I listened, but that's not going to happen.
Anyway, I gotta go now. The kids just walked in and I can't afford to leave them upstairs alone. The oldest one's all ready asking me if he can make Pizza-pops for him and his sister -- as if fried eggs sandwiches and chicken noodle soup wasn't enough. T.T.F.N.


Ben Woestenburg 2hanford@itech.net Thu Sep 19 05:55:44 PDT 1996

Travis,
But have you read "To Build a Fire" by Jack London? His "truth" about the difficulties of building a fire in -50 degree temperatures would be implicitly better than mine since I never experienced it. Given a choice (and of course that is the basis of our economic system), a reader will choose his version over mine since mine is a guess and his is not.
And though our collected experiences may generalize, our senses do not. And that is what we writers try to do: to be sense-specific, to not generalize. An older pilot, retired, was asked to test fly a new small plane for the manufacturer. He was delighted. On the day of the test flight, he saw a young pilot also was to test fly it after him. Wanting this last piece of glory, he flew and landed it the best he ever had. The young pilot took over. He flew well but the test was in the landing. Alas, the pilot landed the plane "like a butterfly with sore feet." And that is not a generalization. That is writing.
Peace. Bob


Ben Woestenburg Nittritz@netcom.ca Thu Sep 19 01:52:51 PDT 1996

Another part of the day over and now the real one begins. It's 1:30 a.m., my favourite time of the night as far as writing goes, unless it's 5:00 a.m. like I suppose it will be next week. I'm having problems with the e-mail sysyem at the moment, (seems it was a part of the netscape program), but I'd be glad to mail samples to anyone via the old fashioned pony express.
TRAVIS: I especially liked your interpretation of what we conceive as real and what we really perceive. You would have made old Lucretius proud with that one. And what you thought about how the Bible was written pretty well fits into what I think about it. It's all interpretive I think, and that's the problem with how it's been handled: too many interpretations.
As for writing, I find it is the easiest and most natural thing I can do. I get right into the stories and sometimes don't even remember have the things I've written until I re-read it. I wrote a poem like that once when I was about eighteen. I woke up out oof a sound sleep and wrote thirty-three stanzas of Spencerian verse, blank, and then went back to sleep. The next night it happened to me again, and then a thrid night. I didn't even remember writing half of it. I just knew I had to write it. That was in the days when I was into my 'olde English' kick. I had started it with something like, 'Alas, sleep hath eluded me and mine...' and then couldn't for the life of me remember anything else. I didn't even want to look at it the next day because it seemed so strange. It was like I was possessed at the time. It finally ended up being ninety stanzas, and do you think I can find the damn thing anymore in my files? I've kept everything I've ever written from back then, my outline for my Arthurian Quartet, poems I had written that were based on mythology, my labours of Hecules which I wanted to write after having read Idylls of the King by Tennyson. But I could find that one.
TRUDY:It will be easy for me to remember you, because that's my sister's name. I went to writing courses at different times in my life -- it's hard to find that sort of time when you basically work swing shifts -- and although I always enjoyed them, I didn't think I was getting out of them what I wanted. I haven't been to one in years, and I think if I was going to get into anything thing, it would have to be one of those support groups where everyone sits around drinking coffees and reads out what they've written over the course of the last time they met. Of course, they don't really meet in bars very often, but if they did...
Anyway, I have to go because I managed to get a few pages written at work tonight and I want to get them organized before it gets too late for me to do anything. I like this kind of atmosphere, but I can't let myself get carried away and forget about what it is I'm supposed to be doing. So now that I've broken the ice and set myself free, I have to reel myself back in and try to control myself.
But I'll be back tomorrow.
Bye!


trudy trudan@mi.net Wed Sep 18 17:21:33 PDT 1996

WOW! Get busy with work for a few days and you guys go nuts! Great to see so much happening. This is what I hoped this page would be like when I first discovered it. So glad you dragged me back Kitty when I neglected it so long because postings were few and far between. This is great!
Ben and other newcomers welcome! I'm not as good as Kitty keeping track of everyone (Impressive Kitty!), but want everyone to know I find their postings interesting. I'm from Canada too Ben, that's why I singled you out as a newcomer though you seem to be visiting more than me lately. I'm at the other end of the country in New Brunswick. And don't worry about being long winded. As writers, you will see we all tend to get a little long winded at times.
Congrats Tobin! Boy are you going to be busy.
Travis, regarding writing groups; I love them and wish I had more time to attend them because I find the deadline always made me write my fiction more frequently. I am a member of the Writer's Federation of New Brunswick and thoroughly enjoy the semiannual get togethers with writers which usually include workshops where we share our works. Lots of fun and informative. I have also taken a few writers courses (a children's writing course, a post card story writing course as well as attended the New Bruinswick Writers Workshop - an intensive week of writing, lecturing and critiquing). What's everyone else done regarding writing courses? Did you find them useful or not? Mine were all encouraging and made me believe I can make a living as a writer.
See what I mean about long winded Ben? Take care all. I'm busy with work to the point of having to bring it home each night and on weekends - too many deadlines! - so sorry if I don't get here as much as usual. Don't worry Kitty. I'll never be gone forever again. Bye gang! Happy writing. Trudy. Oh Ben would love to see your story - e-mail it please!


Travis Emmitt txe@thunder.swa.com Wed Sep 18 14:07:12 PDT 1996

BEN: Your Friar Tuck story sounds interesting! It'll be like an "hors d'oerve" for us to your big trilogy! Where will you post it? You definitely win the award for Most
Enthusiasm! :)

BOB brought up an interesting topic: "what can you write about with first-hand experience?"

A few months ago someone on a music-related mailing list asked if a certain band's singer was "singing about real life events or is it all fiction?" I responded saying that everything we say is indeed "fiction," because:

1) everything we say is a generalization of what we feel,
2) everything we feel is a generalization of what we perceive,
3) everything we perceive is a generalization of what we sense, and
4) everything we sense is a generalization of what is "really there."

So what comes out of our mouths is a terribly watered down, warped version of the "truth."

Light bounces off of something, scattering in all directions and some of these light particles (or waves) fly into our eyes. The particles/waves "tickle" certain cells in our retina, causing them to fire. Our visual cortex endeavors to construct summaries of the millions of firings, fuzzily filling in the blanks and reporting tendancies like horizontal and vertical lines and color. These attributes are then assembled into primitives, like "circle with thick black lines" and "rectangle with a brown interior." These primitives cause certain synapses in our brain to fire and our mind uses previous experiences to make a best guess as to what the primitives are indicating and then we "recognize" those objects as a "bike tire" and a "leather bound book." After a second or two getting messages like these, you "perceive" that a bike tire is rolling over a leather brown book. This perception may tickle another set of synapses synapse which, when firing, prompt your "memory manager" to copy the short term perception of a bike tire and book into long term storage, and then tell your consciousness (program counter) to examine what`s been recently placed in long term storage and so you do and then you tell yourself, "Hey that bike tire rolling over that leather bound book is interesting. I think I'm going to write a poem about it!" Later that day you sit down on your PC and try to recall what you saw earlier. Your attempt is to mentally deconstruct (disassemble) the high-level perception of the tire and book into the responsible sub-perceptions (depending on how far down towards sensations you want to go), and then you try to express those intermediate perceptions in the extremely basic shorthand we call "words." Or, if you are a painter, you attempt to reproduce on paper those external elements which triggered certain sensations and hence perceptions. In any case, what comes out of your mouth or off of your pen is incredibly removed from the "truth" that existed in your environment.

This is not to downplay the important role that experience plays in our perceptions, sensations and memory, because the more patterns we have described by the chemical states of our synapses, the more associations we we will able to draw, the more quickly we will recognize (and generalize) items in our environment, and, perhaps most importantly to the process of creative writing and interpersonal communication, the better we will be able to "visualize," associating meaningful perceptions with the flimsy abstractions of words and art.

So, when someone writes about "the good old days" or even what she had for breakfast, she's only communicating to us her top-level "best guess" as to what "really happened." What "really happened" we will never know since we do not fully sense, let alone perceive, let alone remember, let alone communicate the existance of the tire and book, which are really just collections of atoms anyway.

So yes, it is really important to experience stuff "first hand" but not if you're doing it to find "The Truth" which is about as uncomprehensable as: 2*&A%^hj$D&v*A^S.

Once we recognize the inherent limitations in communication and honesty, we should be able to relax and have fun with our silly, clunky building blocks. And that brings up the question of:

When do y'all most enjoy writing? What are some of your favorite creative moments? And have you ever has something you are working on "click" with you and "unfold itself" almost frightenly naturally/magically/divinely?

I bring this up partially because my friend, who is a devout, fundamental Christian, claims that the Bible was "inspired of God," meaning God put the perceptions in the authors' heads and they scribbled them down in their own words. But even then, going with my above arguments, what the Bibles' authors wrote cannot possibly be the "truth" but only their own best-guesses of God's best-guesses.

What say y'all?

Travis


Kitty Dwyer edwyer@spherenet.com Wed Sep 18 13:19:18 PDT 1996

Happy to read the Tale of Friar Tuck, but please send it via e-mail. Your tale might fill up our new not-so-blank page and then we (read Jack, the saint) would have to archive and start us off anew. Have to go, more later. --Kitty


Jack Beslanwitch top@webwitch.com Wed Sep 18 12:36:08 PDT 1996

Ben,


Others may have a different opinion, but my own recommendation is that people request this from you by email and you send it to them via email. I would certainly be interested looking at it.


Ben Woestenburg nittritz@ntecom.ca Wed Sep 18 12:19:32 PDT 1996

Hi. I snuck on again. Can I post The tale of Friar Tuck for you guys when I get home tonight? It's about 600 lines, or maybe five or six thousand words? It's different from anything you might have imagined friar Tuck to be?


Jack Beslanwitch Wed Sep 18 12:14:04 PDT 1996

Ben and all, the Surrey Writing Conference is October 18 and 19, Surrey, British Columbia. Information can be found out about it on the Surrey Writing Conference website Also, another real exemplary convention takes place at Potlatch 6 on February 28-March 2, in Seattle.


ben woestenburg nittritz@netcom.ca Wed Sep 18 03:17:42 PDT 1996

boy did I have a hard time finding this place. I just about lost you guys for good, and I just found you! Seems that the server here, the Netscape, has expired and is updating. But this isn't my computer like I said, and the guy who owns it is paying all the costs for me to look after it for him, so I can't very well go out and buy things on the spur of the moment. I'll just have to save this place all over again and try to smarten up.
The reason it's taken me ten years to write this story is because of all the vices in my life. I liked to party a lot, and once I got married and started to settle down, my wife and I began to entertain a lot. I recently forced myself to become more disciplined. I write everyday now, instead of sporadically. I get up in the a.m., or don't go to sleep until I fall asleep at the keyboard. If I'm on the dayshift I write after the kids go to bed and get up as early as I can, so that by Friday I'm pretty beat. I tell myself that five hours of sleep a day is more than enough during the week, and try to catch up with it on the weekend. I guess I'm just like everyone else. I put things off thinking I can do them later, but that time is lost then, isn't it? You learn these things as you get older. If I was to count the years it's taken to write this, I mean the time I've actually spent, I know it wouldn't add up to ten years, but I made the hero of the story 28 at the time, because that's how old I was. There was a lot of wasted time in between though. I work too much; I eat too much (or not enough); I smoke too; I drink too much...I guess the only thing I don't do is write enough.
Kitty: You wanted to know what aspect of Rome I was writing about? (I love this part) I want to write a history of Rome that starts with the beginnings of Christianity and mirrors the downfall of Roman society as Christianity itself takes its place.I can see three different books so far. Right now, this story takes place in the years 47-65 A.D. I've used Tacitus and the Gospel of Luke as the main thread of my story, interweaving my ficticious characters lives with those of St. Peter, St. Paul, Luke of course, as well as the burning of Rome. I know these stories have been told before -- QUO VADIS may come to mind for some of you -- but this story is so different because of the time involved. (You see? I told you I loved this part, I'm babbling again.) I love research, and before the internet came along, used to spend hours in used bookstores and libraries. That's how I stumbled across this story in the first place. I based it on the idea of the apocryphal texts of the new testament, and had originally considered writing it as an epic poem using the story of Paul and Thecla -- that was in my poetry days, just after I wrote my Robin Hood. I realized that couldn't work, but I kept the title for the longest time: The Apocryphy. I kept that title for the second volume of the trilogy. It was the weakest part of the whole thing, so I thought I'd do something different and make it a slender volume of letters, journal entries and such, serving as a bridge between volume I and III. I still think it might work, but I'm open for change and will make it just as long as the others if it doesn't seem to work out.
I put it aside though and began re-writing my poem because I had come to a point in the story where I was going to say something that might be construed as controversial. I was going -- I think I still am -- that Christ did not die on the cross, but was drugged, put in the tomb and then taken out during the night where he was taken to a house and his wounds tended to. He lingered for forty days and died however. I was going to tell this story through the character of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert who was now living in the city of Corinth. It was something I had to think over because of what it was saying. It's an important part of the story, and not just something I thought up just for shock value. But was it something I really wanted to say?
Phillip: The Surrey Writers conference is getting underway sometime in October -- I can't seem to find the little blurb I had, but then if you saw my desk you'd understand why. I went two years ago. William Deverill was there, as well as Diana Gaba...the woman that wrote those three books about the nurse who gets transported back into 1700's Scotland ...VOYAGER; DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, and I can't remeber the first one. If you make it out this way, drop me a line and I might be able to talk my wife into cooking you a gourmet dinner. If not, there's a couple of nice pubs in the neighbourhood with excellent food.
Well, I better go now. It's 3:15 in the a.m., and once again I've gone on too long. I'll be going onto dayshift next week so I might even be able to talk to you guys when you're all awake. I'll try not to be so shy next time.
See ya!
And keep punching those keybords.


Philip McLaren mclaren@magna.com.au Tue Sep 17 19:00:27 PDT 1996

HELLO EVERYONE: greetings from DOWN UNDER! It's reassuring to see writers supporting each other on these pages. We're an isolated bunch really, aren't we? Sitting alone in our attics sculpting ideas from words. When I take a break and walk from these four walls into the *real* world it's always a jolt initially but I always find it stimulating discussing writing with writers.
TARA: this is a nudge :-) what are you writing at the moment from that space you've whittled for yourself? Your choice of chaos (normal life) sounds great, but were we really meant to live like this?
JACK: writings based on personal pain are said to be very therapeutic. Some of my writing touched on a massacre of my ancestors - despairing to write - but I've never written about my own personal traumas. When egos gets out of control long enough for writers to do their autobiographies, they must contain pain in order to be truthful. Do we fiction writers base some of our plots on the hurts of our own lives?
KITTY: my books aren't published in the USA yet, thank you for asking. The two ISBN #'s are: 0 7022 2551 7 (published by the University of Queensland Press) and 0 7322 5142 7 (HarperCollins). My third is due in March '97 (HarperCollins), my fourth October '97 (University of Queensland Press). I am writing my first non fiction at the moment - very different.
BOB: I agree... the barter you wrote of previously, is the curse of modern civilisation. We are conditioned to accept this as the way we should live our lives. Every thinking person ought to *drop out* for some period to feel the independence freedom from economics can bring. As a single man, I bummed my way around the world for seven years, visiting about thirty countries. Recently, I stayed for a short while with a community of Aboriginal people who won't be slaves to the buck - they hunt, fish and gather the way their ancestors have done for forty thousand years.
ANNE: tell us what you're writing.
TRUDY: if you're lucky enough to be crafting words every day (and getting paid for it) you are honing your skills and that will pay dividends when you need it to.
TOBIN: some years back I read a wonderful piece an American mother wrote about the expressions left by her daughter in her diaper; there's another challenge for you.
BEN: hello, I lived for a while in Vancouver. Pleased to read your enthusiastic first posting. How long is a manuscript? - it's as long as it is! But they are measured in the number of words, not pages, because of spacing and typeface differences. Some use 60,000 to 80,000 words as a guide. If you don't want to go to the trouble of writing an entire manuscript most publishers and/or agents will accept the first three chapters plus a 500 word synopsis to read. Six or more rewrites is normal for some writers (I do more) but ten years?... why not send it out soon and pull out the list of burning ideas from the bottom drawer.
TRAVIS: hello - any group of writers is good and helpful. You discard what you feel is not for you and cherish the remaining free advice - I do. I'm sorry I really can't agree with writers doing exercises - just do it. Make a start on that hot idea, for real, in earnest!
Does anyone know dates of writers conferences or festivals in north western America? I plan to visit sometime in the next six months.
Keep writing everyone - Philip.


Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech.net Tue Sep 17 17:10:08 PDT 1996

Quickly: Kitty: Realize I didn't answer your question. I can't really separate the four men. Don't know that any one of them was single greatest influence.
Anne: I, too, am going to look into the Artist's Way. Thanks.
May the rain never find your hiding place. Bob


Jack Beslanwitch http://www.webwitch.com/top/ top@webwitch.com Tue Sep 17 17:09:00 PDT 1996

Kitty, my consulting business relates to website design. Check out the website I keyed in above. Me and whole lot of other people in the Seattle area. Oh, well, I'm having fun at it and that's the important thing. I also am having fun promoting the internet via my HTML SIG Anyway, enough patting myself on the back.

   Travis - with regard to writer's groups. My experience is as indicated by others that they very widely. The one I participate in has a Writers of the Future winner and several Clarion West graduates so the level of critique is excellent and I would not trade it in for anything. Although, like with any group it can have periods of dry spells and be a social time waster. Overall, though, I recommend a face to face group. It also can be a motivator to produce. BTW, all, this place has really livened up nicely. Welcome to you all and your comments.

   Take care everyone.

   Jack


Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech.net Tue Sep 17 16:58:37 PDT 1996

First a warm welcome to Lyttle John,aka, Ben. Hope you hang with us. I have a weakness for historical novels. Blown away couple of years ago by Follett's "Pillars of the Earth." Been consuming Howard Fast's Revolutionary War novels. Wish he had written more of them.
Kitty: You are the most astute amoung us. Kerouac, Steinbeck, Thoreau and Whitman. You missed only Thomas Paine. But then you couldn't know that much of my writing is local and political. You absolutely amaze me. More than one epiphany, I'm sure. One when in the Air Force stationed in Istanbul, Turkey, standing on the shore. 12,000 or so miles away was America, the United States, the greatest experiment in the social history of men and women. From that shoreline, I could see the forest, not just the trees. One was Kent State. One was Goddard College. One was growing up very poor in the country. Probably first epiphany was reading "The Boy" by Freud at age ten. One was unhappy marriage to a millionaire's daughter and contrasting that to pure joy of financially poor childhood. Have always felt guilty about
having had such a blessed growing up. Editor of Good Times Magazine (where I tried to peddle a column) said he felt the same way. An area twenty-five miles and stepped back eighty years from here called Perry County where friendship is honored and practiced daily. Native American friends and readings. I got a wonderful response from a woman writer named Rainbow Wolf to my diatribe on barter coupons. Each time that happens it reaffirms my values and those of Kerouac, Steinbeck, Thoreau, Whitman and Paine. You amaze me.
Keep the wind in your hands. Bob


Kitty Dwyer edwyer@spherenet Tue Sep 17 16:16:49 PDT 1996

Ponderous?! Does this mean we have to be serious too, Travis? Writing groups run the gamut. It is all in the dynamics of the people involved. I don't belong to any formal writing groups, but I know quite a few people who are serious about their work. For me, getting together, talking about books we've read, bouncing ideas, commiserating with disappointments, cheering accomplishments, all of this is very inspiring and encouraging to me as a writer. I guess that is why I like this forum so much. I want to know what Trudy, Trish, Jack, Bob, and Tobin-- the ones who have been here the longest through thick and thin, have to say on whatever we are discussing. I'd like to hear more from Anne, Kim, Tara, Lisa, Britomart,Phillip, Ben and you, Travis. And, yes, I miss you Tam Lin. When you keep something formeost in your thoughts, it is not hard to get excited about it and this forum helps me to do that with my writing.
Ben, a Roman trilogy! There have been a rash of Roman mysteries in the past few years. My all time favorite is Lindsey Davis' Falco series--I think because it is so funny and makes the "ancient world" come alive. What aspect of Rome are you exploring? As to the ten years writing the epic, point out to your wife that Rome was not built in a day (I couldn't resist!).
Anne, I've heard about the Artist's Way and have decided I must take a look-see.
Bob, regarding your life, which was the greater influence: Kerouac or Steinbeck, Thoreau or Whitman. And was there any single event that turned the course of your life? An epiphany?
Jack, if it is not too inquisitive-- it is the journalist in me, what kind of consulting do you do? I'll be checking out the Jo Clayton info ASAP. As to the subject of the week, I don't think I ever stop thinking about stories. Writing is truly an intregal part of my being. Certainly, I am more "creative" on some days than others, but I always seem to be scribbling something down.


ben woestenburg nittritz@netcom.ca Tue Sep 17 12:58:27 PDT 1996

Hey Travis, thanks for the welcome. It's not that I need an audience for what I write (I mean for me personally), but just the idea that there are other people out there who have so much in common with me is reassurring. I mean I was up until 4:00 a.m. scrolling through this website and woke up at ten'ish. My wife says she doesn't want me on the web during the day, because it ties up the phone lines. Granted, that may be true, but she isn't here at the moment, and you know what they say, when the cat's away, the mice will play. I've always done things alone as a writer anyway. When I was on steady dayshift I was getting up at 4:15 and writing until 7:00 when I had to get ready for work. I neglect things like food and drink if it's going to take me away from my writing. And once I traded in my electric for a computer, there's been no looking back. I started to re-write my novel again when I changed from the one format to the other, because my imagination took off with it and I saw the whole work as three books instead of one. I still call it one, because that's what it's always been, and have to remind myself that now it's going to be three. I've renamed it --THE ROMAN TRILOGY-- picked out names for the three books, and started researching my secon project on the net, because how many times does a guy have access to the Vatican library in Rome?
You see? I just can't stop. I hope someone tells me to stop being so long winded and give it a rest, but then, you'll all miss me when I'm gone --(you see, I'm not from the south, but from the Great White North of Canada). I'll be dropping in again when I get home from work tonight, should be around 1:00 or 2:00, and I'm on real time too, -- by that I mean I live in Vancouver -- so if anyone wants to stay up and talk to me...ciao!


Travis Emmitt txe@thunder.swa.com http://faraday.clas.virginia.edu/~osse Tue Sep 17 10:26:21 PDT 1996

Wow! This list is lively! Thanks for all the responses to my initial post. It's half-comforting, half-depressing to see that I'm not the only restless worker bee and that very few people actually get paid for what they truly love doing.

What do y'all think of writing groups? Are they helpful? I looked over the Writing Lab and tried out the first exercises but kinda lost my steam; I had initially planned to do an exercise each night, but for whatever reasons haven't. I'd like to think that getting into a writing group where feedback is bandied about would be an effective motivator. Is this what y'all found?

How important is it to have an audience? What is the best kind of audience? What have you found to be the advantages and disadvantages of composing on the computer instead of on paper? What are some favorite brainstorming techniques?

Glad to be here among such friendly and ponderous people!

Travis


Ben Woestenburg Nittritz@netcom.ca Tue Sep 17 03:07:05 PDT 1996

Hi everyone! I'm a little nervous doing this, but I've just read all the posted messages and thought to myself, 'Hey, these guys are going through the same things I am.' It's late right now, almost 3:00 a.m., so I feel safe enough knowing that nobody's going to be awake to read this until tomorrow(or, I should say, later today)when I'm at work doing what I hate most -- which is almost anything if it's not writing. I've been writing since I was a teenager, and even though I'm unpublished, I think it's my fault for not trying hard enough. It's taken me years to hone my craft down to where I can actually write several pages and throw out almost as many. I write historical fiction, Roman at the moment, but I had to put it aside because I came to a major point in the story where I was about to change the entire history of Christianity. It's not a light thing(or something to be taken lightly for that matter), so I thought I'd re-write something I wrote when I was a kid. I wrote a poem Called ROBIN HOOD which I self published, thinking at the time that it would be the answer to all my dreams. It was, in all honesty, vanity publishing at it's most vain. I tried to re-read it recently at my parents' house - and what parents wouldn't have a copy of their son's one and only book? - but discovered that it was bad. If it was anything, it was a first draft that should have been re-written and then re-written again. But what a difference twenty years makes! I really think this poem will sell now because it is different. And I think for a person to sell anything, it has to be different, just so you can catch a publisher's eye. It's a poetic novel, told by a blind Lytlle John, to a group of travelers on the road to London in 1239 England. I'm actually enjoying it, researching it and reading it aloud to the children in the neighbourhood. I've got sixty pages done so far, and keep telling myself: 'Your half way there, almost.' The original manuscript is 149 pages, so If I can get the same or a few pages less, I think it will finally catch someone's eye. Now I think I've taken up far too much time for a first time 'postee', but I think that's because this isn't my computer, and the friend who owns it will be wanting it back in a few months time. So you see, I'm only visiting until I can get my own dinosaur up and running on the net. But having cruised for a month now, and looking as much as I have for a place like this, I know I'll never want to leave.If I'm long winded, I apologize; if I'm not, and you want to talk to me, just say something like: 'Hey, how's that book your writing about Rome going?' I can see my wife rolling her eyes all ready.(It's been ten years and six re-writes all ready.) I don't want to go, but I have to.


Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech.net Mon Sep 16 05:48:45 PDT 1996

Tobin, Tobin, Tobin. A son! That's why the earth hiccuped, the angels and all the muses took a sudden day off. There simply is no greater gift. My most fervent hope is that all is well.
Trudy. I don't find my life that unusual or interesting compared to billions of life stories outside the United States. I am writing chunks of my childhood in stories and a novel for young adults. A small piece can be found in the Home Forum page of the Christian Science Monitor, 11-21-94 (archives - www.csmonitor.com)
Peace. Bob


Philip McLaren mclaren@magna.com.au Sat Sep 14 16:19:43 PDT 1996

Congratulations Tobin! Is this baby one, two, three or four??? Or are you a good Catholic and it's more?


Kitty Dwyer edwyer@spherenet.com Sat Sep 14 12:37:53 PDT 1996

Congratulations Tobin! How are mother and son doing? Do you have a name? And does the little one have sibs? Let us know when you have the time. I am very happy for you and your family. --Kitty


Tobin tkelliott@speedline.ca Sat Sep 14 11:04:43 PDT 1996

Manomanoman! Take a couple of days off to deliver your brand new son into the world, and it takes half an hour to catch up!

Yes, I have a brand new son and my God, he's beautiful. So I guess I could write about that, eh Jack?

Bob, the more I read about your life, the more fascinating you become. I admire your courage, and spirit.

Anne, welcome. I too have gotten a lot of inspiration from The Artist's Way.

And folks, I've run out of time. I'll write you soon!

Tobin


Anne fbarnhi@ibm.net Fri Sep 13 21:03:37 PDT 1996

Hi. I'm new to the net and have spent the last seven years trying to organize my life so that I can write full time. Finally, I'm there and it's wonderful. I found much good advice and encouragement in The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Discipline isn't my strong suit, but somehow I'm able to work everyday and am slowly building a career. I agree that passion is a must. Also, an indefatigable spirit and the ability to rebound after rejection. And play. I'd rather write than do anything else. (Well, almost.)


Anne Fri Sep 13 20:56:13 PDT 1996


trudy trudan@mi.net Fri Sep 13 18:16:19 PDT 1996

Travis welcome. I am a lucky person really considering that even though I work for someone else, it is doing a job I love - writing. It may not be my fiction or poetry or other personal projects and I may have to write stories I don't necessarily find interesting, but I'm writing and getting paid to do it. I do find it extremely difficult to come home and do personal writing for me that may one day make an appearance on a publisher's desk, and that is something I have to make a priority over other activities such as housework; spending time with family and friends, hubby and cat; gardening; visiting Writer's Notebook; reading and other hobbies. What keeps me sane is knowing I am the one choosing to put writing on the back burner for awhile even though sometimes I get a little angry at myself that I don't pull things on to the front burner more often. And I am working on become a self employed freelance writer though I'm not riduculous enough to think that won't mean doing projects I don't necessarily want to to pay the bills.

Bob, have you written your life story? Now there's a book I'd love to read! You sound like you have led and lead such an interesting life.

Jack, regarding keeping the creative juices flowing, have to agree with what you said though my problem isn't coming up with ideas it's finding time to expand on them on paper. What exactly is a consulting business anyway?

Hi everyone else and happy writing! trudy


Jack Beslanwitch top@halcyon.com Fri Sep 13 12:59:28 PDT 1996

   I also welcome Travis. My perspective is slightly different. I have my own consulting business which is a bit sluggish at the moment, but it was my choice and it involves doing things I love for a boss I can work with effectively most of the time, myself. As for turning off the creative juices. I don't, for fear they'd never get started again. So, my mind wanders or dances ecstatically around new idea and then wander off again. When I'm in a boring business presentation and I hear one more half truth, I sigh and tuck it away as something to use about the ethics of companies. Kafka wrote about the mind/soul/spirit numbing beauracracies, maybe explore that side when you're in you're boring job. In any case, I usually go on the motto, nothing is wasted.
   One brief comment about the health subject that I presented before. Recently, it was reported in Locus how Jo Clayton, a science fiction writer, who was active on Genie, just quick posting. The other writers on Genie mobilized and sent someone over to check on her only to discover that she had broken her hip and was unable to move and had not eaten or eaten very little in several days. She was treated and it was discovered that she had bone cancer. If any are fans of hers and would like to know how to help please check out the information I've posted elsewhere
    Finally, I rather like the idea of a discussion of how to keep the creative juices and writing habits flowing when navigating through the troubled waters of work, family, children, responsibilities. We've discussed some of this before, but it could bear additional perusal.
Take care, everyone.


Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech.net Fri Sep 13 05:49:40 PDT 1996

Travis,
First, welcome. Second, re your question: What you get at the end of your forty+ hours are barter coupons. Since you are of the genus homo sapiens, you have a limited amount of time (roughly seventy-two years). Right now, you are bartering a chunk of that limited time for barter coupons with which you can buy anything you want. What are you buying? A house? A car? New clothes?
For me, the answer to all of the above is "no." I don't buy anything. I wouldn't take health insurance if they paid me. Health insurance can be hazardous to your health. (You give up the responsibility for your own health.) Hop a freight train gong anywhere. I spent one entire day from dawn till dark standing next to an oak tree in the woods. You can't buy that with your barter coupons. I put one dime in my pocket and spent thirty days in a small town in Pennsylvania, bumming food and smokes, sleeping in strange houses and the woods. Your barter coupons won't buy that.
I don't mean to sound arrogant. But writers and artists have to live on the edge, spend a weekend on the streets with the homeless, travel constantly and everywhere, especially while you are still young. Stuck in a boring job, deskbound, what can you write about with first-hand experience? What is the dominant smell on the streets? What is the secondary smell?
What is the dominant smell in the woods at dawn? At dusk?
What is it like to be a tree? A nurse log? When does your back start to kill you picking beans? What is it like to drive an eighteen-wheeler 70mph down the highway while you catch forty winks?
Are you buying any of this with your barter coupons? If so, the finite time you are bartering is an investment in your writing career. If not...
Peace. Bob


Travis Emmitt txe@thunder.swa.com http://faraday.clas.virginia.edu/~osse Thu Sep 12 17:05:10 PDT 1996

Hey, y'all, hey. How to catch the eye and not become a sore? I don't think it's possible. Already your eye glances away from this paragraph. Already your mind wanders off towards more "fun" malls of information. And here I stand, the crummy old sterile outlet store in the boondocks.
I yearn for flavor. I learn to smear grimey, bug-gutted dirt all over my body, just to get a kiss from nature. I don't know what most of y'all do for a living, but I'm taking a guess that at least some of you have to work boring cubicle jobs as I do. 40+ hrs a week of total detachment from anything truly RELEVENT to our well being or well feeling. So my question is, how do y'all escape? How can you turn off the creative juices, the mindwanderlust, when you go to work, and turn it back on again after dinner? How often do you take off travelling? Have you ever just said, "f**k it" and zoomed off into the wilderness to explore yourself and nature rather than exploring your work and money? How do you manage to live and love for your best and not just lift and loft for your boss? -- Travis


Kitty Dwyer edwyer@spherenet Wed Sep 11 21:24:00 PDT 1996

Hey y'all and wow! This is hardly a blank page any more. Greetings to all the newcomers. Phillip I would like to read your intro for John Smelcer. What a daunting task he has before him. I would also like to read one of your books (I took a peek at your web page). Do you have a North American publisher? An ISBN # would be helpful. And what part of Australia are you beaming from. I went to Australia after graduating from University back before it became a "hot" destination.
Tara, how can you be a "novice," if you have been writing for nine years? You are a writer. Period. Now whether you have been published is another matter, but does not make you any less a writer. What are you writing and/or what do you want to write?
Okay, Britomart, tell us about your book (title, release date etc...) and tell us about the writer's festival (I've been to writer's conferences, workshops and conventions, but never a festival).
Bob, a poet! I liked your poem very much. Is it part of a collection? About the nail door, I thought by colonial times building great houses and filling them with stuff--and lots of it, had less to do with defense and a lot to do with showing off one's wealth and power. Or did you just have to build a great door?
Trish, to tell the truth I could never get through GWTW. I always wanted to slap Scarlet across the face and tell her to grow up. No sympathy for her or Melanie. I've never been to Graceland either. The closest thing I have to Elvis is the soundtrack from Honeymoon in Vegas which is good (all Elvis songs performed by various living singers). However, my grandmother's family did run stills in the Carolina mountains, but since prohibition has been abolished, it may be cheaper, not to mention healthier, to stick to the ABC. I have only spent a third of my life in the South, but still think of myself as a Southerner through and through.Have you read Margaret Maron's Bootlegger's Daughter, a mystery set in N.C?
Regarding the subject of the week.... Jack, this is a tough one for me. Last June I was very ill, in fact, I could have died. I didn't--these haven't been heavenly postings, and undoubtedly my life has changed profoundly. I don't have time to waste. I have streamlined and prioritized. I am more focused and I work harder. I write more, but I find it very difficult to write about this.
I hope everyone takes a peek at your wife's page. She is very eloquent. --Kitty


Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech.net Mon Sep 9 05:37:49 PDT 1996

Trudy: Thanks for kind words.
Phillip: 50% suicide? Wow.. Would definitely lke to read your intro. E-mail me pls.
Jack: Thanks for info. Re topic of the week: I should no doubt be writing story about a writer diagnosed by psychiatrist as manic-depressive 2. After five years of discounting his good, workable ideas as "grandiosity - flights of fancy" typical of md2's, writer is finally re-diagnosed as ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder. Though it has been a year and a half since correct diagnosis, the md2 tag still influences my writing. Should definitely be doing this since it is fairly common for add'ers to be misdiagnosed as manic depressive (it is known as the writer's disease.) And to help spread the word about adult ADD.
Peace. Bob


Philip McLaren@magna.com.au Sun Sep 8 20:51:22 PDT 1996

Hello everyone,
I participated in a Writers festival in Sydney, Australia on the weekend and want to share something with you from it. One of my functions was to introduce a Native North American poet, John E. Smelcer. What a remarkable character! John is from the Ahtna people who's homelands are in Alaska. The last tribe found in North America (because of the remoteness of their land) the devastating impact of European culture is only now being felt on his people; in particular, they don't quite know what to do to preserve their culture. Recently, John was ceremoniously given the daunting task of Keeper and Preserver of the Ahtna Culture by the elders of his tribe and has taken up the challenge with caution. He is the last person alive who can write his language, only ninety people can speak it fluently, there are one thousand Ahtna alive today. Fifty percent of all Ahtna males succumb to suicide.

John is creating the Ahtna dictionary and literature in his native language. Recently, his poetry was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

For those who are interested I can beam you a copy of the introduction I wrote for John's segment at the festival called Spring Writing. It's perhaps too long for a posting here. (600 words) Back again soon - Philip.


trudy trudan@mi.net Sun Sep 8 12:44:10 PDT 1996

Hi all! Boy has there been some activity here since I last checked in. Welocm all new visitors!
In response:
Kitty: It's not really a series per se so much as a whole pile of gardening story ideas. Yes I will be approaching Canadian Gardening first then going from there. I'll let you know how it all progresses.
Bob: loved the poem!
Anyway even though it's Sunday I have two deadlines for work tomorrow morning (had three but just finished one) so must get back to the grindstone. Just wanted to see how everone was...glad I stopped by. Later, Trudy


Britomart s333289@student.uq.edu.au Sun Sep 8 03:16:23 PDT 1996

Hello writers all over the world. I'm always interested in hearing how people work and what they're working on. I'm a soon-to-be-published gothic-horror writer, just having experienced my first writers' festival and feeling a bit of a culture shock. Love to hear from anybody interesting anywhere in the world. For now, I'll just keep reading your interesting posts.


Britomart s333289@student.uq.edu.au Sun Sep 8 03:16:15 PDT 1996

Hello writers all over the world. I'm always interested in hearing how people work and what they're working on. I'm a soon-to-be-published gothic-horror writer, just having experienced my first writers' festival and feeling a bit of a culture shock. Love to hear from anybody interesting anywhere in the world. For now, I'll just keep reading your interesting posts.


Lisa Nickles Sat Sep 7 19:16:46 PDT 1996

Sorry, I had a stupid attack and forgot to write the rest of what I had to say.

First, welcome to the newer visitors; I wish you all prolific pages. :-)

Second, I'd like to touch on the subject of writing time. I always have a heck of a time trying to sit for more than 5 minutes with a pen at home (Husband/four kids... Need I say more?). Consequently, I write in my head on the way to work in the car and take a pen in hand during lunchtime, breaks and assorted other types of down time. On the rare occasion that I get a chance to write at home, I'll usually put a nice neutral tape in the stereo (rainstorm, jazz or classical) or something to match the mood of what I am writing, (blues, eerie music or whatever feels appropriate at the time) and snuggle up in my notebook.

Most of the writers that I do know have minds that are going on a subject or two all the time. Considering a subject mentally is an important part of the writing process, so most of us are writing more than we know; the problem actually is finding time to put it on paper.

Hey, don't knock it... It makes sense to me.


Lisa Nickles lnickles@geocities.com Sat Sep 7 18:46:50 PDT 1996

Thanks for the info, Jack. Did you happen to catch whether or not that applied to poetry as well? Since serialization rights are not really a concern, I'll ask if you know if a posting would affect publication rights.


Jack Beslanwitch top@webwitch.com Sat Sep 7 17:04:42 PDT 1996

Hello everyone. Back from the creative chaos of Worldcon. Lots of good panels. A raffle towards Reading is Fundamental collected $8000 or so. The panel on electronic publication seemed to indicate that publication on your own on the web jeapordizes your serialization rights. However, if your publisher wants to provide excerpts or even the whole novel, that's OK. However, the consensus also was that short pieces or even serialized pieces was better than one large document. They used as an example the fact that Orson Scott Card's latest Ender novel was placed at the publishers site in its entirety electronically. Only eight people downloaded it.
As a suggestion for a topic to discuss, this week, a recent Institute Newsline for Children's Writer had an article about turning life's pains to creative use. In the article the writer had her jaw wired shut and she used her desperate need to talk as inspiration for her writing. This past spring my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and it proved a time of self examination and some writing. At the very least it spawned a homepage dealing with her cancer and the wisdom we derived from the experience. This is a long winded way of suggesting we discuss how to use physical or pychological trauma as an opportunity and not a roadblock. This is just one suggestion. If other people have thoughts for alternative focus topics, please, as always, feel free to jump in.


Philip mclaren4@ozemail.com.au Sat Sep 7 14:06:29 PDT 1996

Hello Tara,

From all accoounts you sound as if you're halfway there. You will do it. Some writers create a skeleton (a plot sheet) upon which they build and that means they can come back to their writing anytime and are able to pick up the loose end. For those who can't keep continuity of time at the keyboard this way of working is not a bad idea. It may work for you if you have interruptions that make it hard to maintain your threads. - Philip.


Tara tgu941@airmail.net Sat Sep 7 12:36:21 PDT 1996

I am a novice writer who has, for the last nine years, thought I could only write in a room alone, in a house alone, surrounded by inspirational music and decor. Well, I now know that is out of the questions, but still feel the pull of writing. I just wanted to say publicly, I intend to write in the midst of the chaos my home provides, despite two teens, a husband, two dogs and a demanding outside-the-home boss. I would love to hear from others willing to supply me with the nudging and support that my new resolve will require. Thanks for the forum.


Philip mclaren@magna.com.au Thu Sep 5 19:39:54 PDT 1996

Bob,

I've found a kindred spirit in you: I agree with much of the advice and thoughts you've given to these pages. I particularly enjoy Steinbeck for inpiration and rarely talk about my ideas for fear they'll lose their magic in the ether - I know they loose their dynamic once verbalised. One of my strands is fine arts and I remember in my student days that Henry Moore, the British sculptor, would never write or talk about his work because he said he feared it would become a *framed, boxed up exposition of my expression*: your work will represent itself and its dynamic will be embodied in it.

Jack,

Thank you for the email welcome to the group. Sincerely - Philip.


Philip mclaren@magna.com.au Thu Sep 5 16:52:26 PDT 1996

Hello All,

I'm a published author who writes full time. Please don't throw me out, I haven't reached my use-by date yet and I may pass on something someone may find useful. You can find my home page at http://ozemail.com.au/~mclaren4

I read (scanned) the most recent group archive postings and have picked up on a few threads that everyone realises are important for writers to think about and say out loud. Here are some of mine.

PASSION: you must have passion - desperate, heart-churning passion - for your subject or story idea as well as the characters.

OBSESSION: all writers I know agree we are obsessed people and laugh about it when it is ever discussed. If your obsessive behaviour is beginning to annoy your friends and family, you are entering the writers zone. Everything is put on hold for that bloody manuscript.

DISCIPLINE: a TV scriptwriter friend of mine told me when I was a teenager that Hemmingway wrote a single-spaced, type-written page every day, seven days a week. This is how I began - I do much more now. When I begin a manuscript I write from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm on week days, and nearer the end, I slog it out seven days a week. I do give myself time off when ever I want, I'm passionate, obsessed and disciplined not insane.

Things to think about when you've finished a polished manuscript:
what to do with it - agents, publishers, money, contracts, promotional tours, publicity, sales and your next book. Don't rest on your laurels! That second book idea that was nagging at you must be started right away - at the very least you could dabble at the necessary research at half pace.

I'll visit again soon. Keep writing everyone - Philip.


trish Thu Sep 5 06:25:35 PDT 1996

by the way Philip, glad you could join us.


trish Thu Sep 5 06:23:22 PDT 1996

I too am sorry, Trudy. To be honest, I don't think I have time to write. But I do have a plan. I'm trying to get up early in the morn to do some writing before my daughter gets up. Right now I just get up and stumble around the house. It will take me some time to get used to being up that early. Then there are the notebooks, one on the desk, one in the bedroom, one in my purse, and others that end up in other odd rooms of the house. All are filled with scribblings and ideas (and some grocery and Wal-Mart lists).
As for now, I steal some writing time during Chris' nap time. And I write a lot in my mind that never makes it to paper.
Kitty-I am from W. TN, born and raised. Believe it or not, I've never finished GONE WITH THE WIND. I've seen the movie about 5000 times, but never finished the book. I don't know why, I've always enjoyed the parts I've read, guess I just got sidetracked by something else. I've never been to Graceland either. If I keep going like this, I'll be booted out of Rebel country. Maybe I can redeem myself if I build a still in my backyard, what do you think?
Bob-how I envy your simplified life. I would like to try that, for just a few days.


Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech.net Thu Sep 5 05:41:05 PDT 1996

The Poet

It was I who first captured the moon
undressing the dark in back alleys
lighting the path for the lickpenny poor
and kissing the fog in the harbor.

It was I, a serf to the blind, who
drew metaphorical pictures of clouds
and with similies, I breastfed them colors
and a delicate taste of the

Pitapat sky.
It was I.


Philip mclaren@magna.com.au Thu Sep 5 00:44:55 PDT 1996

I'm an Australian writer here at Trish's kind invitation (she rescued me from the horror of the newsgroups). I'll eaves drop and learn before I jump in. Everyone here appears to be very polite.


Kitty Dwyer edwyer@spherenet Wed Sep 4 21:10:54 PDT 1996

Hey, Kim! Don't just bookmark this page, join in the discussion. This is our new blank sheet (see Jack below), and we're crackling the sheet with writing resources (written or internet) and how we make time to write. Care to share? Also, what kind of writing do you do and what are you researching? Looking forward to hearing more from you. --Kitty


Kim Massé kcmasse@axionet.com Wed Sep 4 20:25:56 PDT 1996

Hi Everyone,

I'm a novice fiction writer and I just wanted to mention to all of you that I learn so much just reading your posts and replies. I must say that since I've been doing a lot of writing research on the Net lately - that the writers I meet and read on the Internet have the best "netiquette" of anyone in cyberworld. Reading some of the newsgroups and the stick & stone bantering that goes on can be a turn off.
I will keep this page bookmarked because of all the great information I glean from it. Thank you and happy writin'!

Kim ô.ô
^


Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech.net Tue Sep 3 05:52:14 PDT 1996

Kitty,
First, thanks for the suggestions on the nails. Understand, hammering dozens of nails in the face of the front door was not decorative but a form of braggadocio. I.e, "I have so much money, I can afford to waste nails." Many, if not most, colonists who moved west burned their houses to get the nails to build their next home.
Economists use the word recession but it belongs to us. The nickel word for it is "slump." That be me.
Peace. Bob


Kitty Dwyer edwyer@spherenet Mon Sep 2 20:08:22 PDT 1996

Hey y'all! Trish, I am surprised! Wasn't Scarlett forever on tentahooks? Have you read Florence King's Southern Ladies and Gentlemen? It is, for me, one of the definitve books on being a Southerner-- and very funny too. Anyway, a tenterhook, or as said in my part of the South "tentahook," is a sharp hooked nail used especially for fastening cloth upon a tenter which is a frame for stretching cloth. To be on tentahooks is to be in a state of suspense, which TamLin, I am... I did say way, way back your submissions were provocative. BTW, Trish which part of the South? I was born in Mississippi but my family settled in North Carolina, though I don't live there now.
Tobin, "I'm a nice guy. Really. It's my family that's weird." Hmmm.... where have I heard that before?! I'm just joking, remember I come from the land of Tennesse Williams and William Faulkner. We don't say our family is weird, but full of characters. Did you ever read the book The Getting of Wisdom? or see the movie, one of the first films to come from Australia and be a box office success here? It is about a young woman who has a very definite view of herself, her life, and her family. By the end of the book she realizes that her perspective is just that, hers and hers alone, that all the people around her veiw shared events from their own perspective and thus differently. There is nothing weird about it, but what you had to say about your family reminded me of The Getting of Wisdom.
Bob, have you looked into some of the Universities on-line for research on these Colonial nail doors (can't think of another way to describe them), say the University of Virginia? Or what about the Winterthur Museum? I think they specialize in early American decorative arts--they have a catalogue. Have you tried the Library of Congress: http://lcweb.loc.gov/ (I think) And how can you be in "recession?" I thought only economies could be in recession.
Trudy, are you going to submit your dried flower series to the Canadian Gardener? I think for a series it is a better bet than Chatelaine or Canadian Living. Of course, there is Harrowsmith too. I took a basic dried flower decorating class a few years ago and one of the highlights was a three hour walk in the countryside with the instructor identifying many many wild flowers and plants that were suitable for drying and using in various projects. Suddenly nature seemed less weedy.
Jack, bet you are having a great time.


trudy trudan@mi.net Sun Sep 1 18:17:42 PDT 1996

Bob and Kitty thanks for responding to my question; enjoyed both responses. Now don't get me wrong. I didn't mean it as a complaint that I don't have a lot of time for writing at home for myself. I feel extremely successful to be a paid writer for a daily newspaper and most of the time I thoroughly enjoy everything I'm writing about. In fact my job has led me down a new garden path - that of non-fiction writing. I'm working with a woman who owns and operates a dried flower farm on a series of articles that I hope to get published in some of Canada's major magazines. It's probably going to be the major winter project. Also part of my holidays was spent researching and photographing some local landmarks for a photo/non-fiction touristy type book on large landmarks in New Brunswick (We have a giant potato, blueberry, salmon, axe and many many more). I was just curious if someone had any interesting time techniques for writing. I, like Kitty, also have a notebook (and many pieces of scrap paper) with tidbits of writing that will someday, God willing, become something great. If not they give me great joy to read when I go through the notebook and tidbits. I guess I too have gone on long enough. Happy writing everyone! Trudy


Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech.net Sun Sep 1 08:09:39 PDT 1996

Trudy,
I too, missed your question; I would certainly have responded to it. Though my situation is so different, I doubt the answer will help in any way. Three years ago I downsized my life, selling my car and since then have ridden a twelve-speed bike. I seldom buy anything - don't really want anything, so I'm able to work 4-5 hours a day to pay for subsistence. Thus, I have plenty of time to write and research and read. I have no kids at home and almost no distactions.
I don't see how any of this could possibly help you but wanted to respond to your question. On the children's story you have at a potential publisher: Please forget about it and talk to us with even more excitement about your current project. When I stick something in the mail, I promptly dig into a new idea, new article, new story. Because I have no control over how the editor at the other end has come to work the day my piece is on the top of the pile. A rejection means next to nothing unless I am focusing completely on one particular piece. I cannot tell you how many times an acceptance and check arrived in the mail for a piece I'd totally forgotten about. You are a writer - not only the author of the children's book. You will be a writer tomorrow whether the book is accepted or not. It took Stephen King 110 attempts before his first book was published (so I have read.) I'm not implying you're not going to be successful with your current venture, just that it is not as important as it feels. Forget about it and get tremendously excited about something new.
Kitty: you are never long-winded. Enjoy your posts always.
Peace. Bob


Kitty Dwyer edwyer@spherenet.com Sat Aug 31 07:21:58 PDT 1996

Trudy, so sorry I missed your question about finding time. Here's my answer.... When I get up in the morning and after doing those immediate and necessary morning things, I sit down at my computer for an hour or so. I do the mail and I write. I do the same thing at the other end of the day. In between I attend to "real life." I always keep a notebook and pen at hand incase inspiration strikes, but mainly writing caps both ends of the day. Now, having said that, there are a few things I try very hard to do as I have found that not doing them affects my ability to string together nouns and verbs. I try to get enough sleep so that I wake up rested, I drink lots of water and eat well, and I try to excercise every day--even if it is just a walk down the street. I think we run ourselves down and take on a lot of stuff that complicates our lives without enhancing them. I know, I have done this to myself. In the past few years I have tried to simplify and focus my energies. I'll stop now since we are edging over into life philosophy rather than writing. I suggest, that while you are collapsed on the couch you review what you are doing and see if there are any areas where your creative energy is dissapating like a mist. Are you overly concerned with publishing that you have put aside the joy of writing? I ask this because you ARE published in one area and I have observed this happening to other published writers. Things which are a pleasure to do we somehow find time for, our senses thrum with anticipation and no salt mine could dampen the enthusiasm. There is a long tradition of writers who worked at newspapers while scribbling away at their novels--Hemmingway comes immediately to mind. The other thing you may want to examine is your focus and drive regarding writing. Have you noticed that successful people are incredibly focused on the objective? For some the rest of the world ceases to exist while they push toward the goal. For others the world is an obnoxious intrusion (they are the ones who blame everyone and everything, if things aren't going their way. They rule by intimidation, if you let them.) I believe there is a middle ground, but you must be persistent. I've blathered long enough, Trudy. I can't send a St. Bernard through the net, but send my your snail mail addy via e-mail and I'll send you some happy mail--and chocolate, since my barrel doesn't carry brandy.
I have to go. Comments regarding other messages will have to wait. Besides, I think I've been a tad long-winded.


trudy Thu Aug 29 15:49:51 PDT 1996

Kitty, send out the St. Bernard's. I have not heard from the publisher yet so no working furiously to hone that piece of work. You'll hear me screaming for joy (or crying) as soon as I hear the news - I just keep picturing me screaming for joy; they say visualization is 90 per cent of getting there. Sorry I haven't been here for awhile but nobody responded to my question about how everyone makes time to write and there hadn't been much going on here so I just popped in and out, though not in the last week as the flurry of activity shows me.
Writing resources - To get started, when I'm having difficulties I have a great book called The No-Experience-Necessary Writer's Course which has a number of fun writing excercises at the end of each chapter. My Canadian Writer's Market - I've had editions nine through eleven, are probably the most well-leafed, both from looking for potential publishers and the tidbits of info in them. I have two William Zinsser books (Writing to Learn and On Writing Well) from university years that are invaluable. In fact I have a shelf full of books about the craft of writing and publishing and what not that I have read all the way through or bits and pieces of. I bought a year's worth of Writer's Digest many years ago when I first started this crazy idea of being a writer and they are still around; plus I read, read, read anything else written to see what I like and don't like. On the Internet so far I've found several sites that I hope to explore further though one of the best so far is Inkspot from which I've subscribed to Inklings that is sent every three weeks to my e-mail. I could go on but I think I have enough already!

Now what about my question? How does everyone make time to write? Later trudy


Jack Beslanwitch Thu Aug 29 12:43:17 PDT 1996

Hello everyone. Just as a quick update. Just found the internet room here at Worldcon. This afternoon I will be going to a panel on Electronic Publishing and hope to have a better answer on what the impact of putting things up on the web has on serialization rights.


Trish trishm@iswt.com Thu Aug 29 11:38:37 PDT 1996

Resources we turn to? A good question to ponder. I have only one copy of Writer's Digest so far, but I did enjoy looking through it. Don't know that it gave much inspiration, but I found it interesting. I am right now reading 'Bird by Bird' by Anne Lamott. It was recommended by a friend. And I just picked up a copy of 'Room to Write', a book of writing exercises by Bonni Goldberg. It is designed to help you tap creativity and speak to your muse, (or rather hear her).
Kitty, the mysteries aren't going for now. I have been too busy(?) to work on anything. I know that's a cop out, but for the life of me, I can't seem to find the time to sit down for more than ten minutes at a time. I am trying to re-organize my time so that I can be more productive. (This actually just means getting up early enough in the morning to write while my daughter is still sleeping.) I am not a morning person, so it will take some time to get used to the new schedule so that I can actually be productive in the a.m. By the way, I'm from the south and don't know what a tentahook is. Has my upbringing been lax?
Later all.
Trish


Bob Hanford 2hanford@itech.net Thu Aug 29 05:47:02 PDT 1996

Kitty,
I pick up The Writer's Handbook for a necessary review, a reminder every month or two so I don't get lazy with my construction. I have probably two dozen books about writing and ten years of back issues of Writer's Digest and Writer. But, I've written long enough to know it is hard work that demands every skill I can bring to it.
I guess what I'm saying is I turn to the Handbook for a slap on the wrist. I pick up Steinbeck, read anyone of his intros and that's usually enough to remind me of the grand and glorious tradition of writing of which I'm trying to become a member. All of these resources make me knuckle down and write and cuss and throw weak leads across the room.
I have so many different interests because I have Attention Deficit Disorder. It is both a blessing and a curse.
No, I've not done anything with the nails piece. Received only one response from other writers. But, it is an "evergreen" piece, just as valid five years from now as now. Also would like to do a piece on salt. It, like nails, was more valuable than gold to colonists. I should be churning these articles out but I think I'm lazy right now, in recession. Maybe talking with you will give me the kick in the butt I need.
Peace as always. Bob


Tobin tkelliott@speedline.ca Wed Aug 28 22:21:01 PDT 1996

Sorry Kitty, I honestly thought I did answer it. Funny you should mention Addams family and the Munsters. Because there is a couple of family members who could be monsters. Unfortunately, not the funny haha kind. Probably closer to the Twilight Zone than anything. With a little of the segment from Natural Born Killers - what was it? We Love Mallory? or something like that.
Now don't get scared -- I'm a nice guy. Really. It's my family that's weird.

As for writing tools. I liked If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman, and So, You Want To Write A Novel? by Lou Willett Stanek, Phd. I'm currently hunting down an apparently good how to book by Orson Scott Card. Other than that, I just read alot to see what styles grab me. But Kitty, you're right: you just gotta stop at some point and say the hell with it, I'm gonna WRITE! And then do it.


Kitty Dwyer edwyer@spherenet.com Wed Aug 28 19:58:40 PDT 1996

Okay, Jack. I'm not fightened by this blank page, though it is incredibly blank! Regarding the nuts and bolts of constructing a novel, I often refer to the text handed out at the one and only creative writing class I took: How to Write a Novel by Judith Simpson. Essentially, it is an expanded version of the course both of which were concise and informative. Occasionally I will buy Writer's Digest, but only if there are several articles of interest to me. And that is about it. I think you can spend a lot of time reading about how to do something when you should be doing it. My degree is in English and Communications. Part of the course of study was reading and analyzing texts, which is a handy skill to have when trying to figure out why something works (and why other things don't!). Bottom line, writers must write and with each paragraph, each chapter, each novel, you learn something new.
Bob, I look forward to hearing your response to the question. You have such a diverse range of topics and interests in writing. Did you ever find information on the colonial doors with the many nails?
Tobin you haven't answered my question which is unfair since you brought the subject up.
TamLin, I am on tentahooks--and if you don't know what those are, you'll have to visit the South.
Trudy, I hope your absence means you have heard from the publisher and are feverishly working on final drafts or editor's proof. If, however, you are collapsed exhausted, upon your couch after slaving at the word factory, we will have to send in the St Bernard's.
Pat, what progress on the mystery front?


Jack Beslanwitch top@webwitch.com http://www.halcyon.com/top/sf/ Mon Aug 26 19:00:47 PDT 1996

As I mentioned earlier, I've archived the messages up to now. And, yes, as I am able I will report on the gems of wisdom I discover at the World Science Fiction Convention. What I would like to do, though, is to propose a new subject for exploration now that we have a virtually blank sheet at Writer's Notebook. What are the resources either in written form or on the internet that you find most useful. To name a few for myself - Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, any of the Pulphouse Writer's Chapbooks series (Unfortunately, Pulphouse has suspended operation so these may be hard to find), Writing to the Point by A.J.Budrys and Language of the Night by Ursula LeGuin, are all useful resources. Hope others have some interesting and useful gems to drop in here.


Return to Writer Notebook Archives