Tag Archives: Writing

Diving Into a Sea of Books–The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice To Writers

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice To Writers by Betsy Lerner, appears on suggested reading lists of different blogs about writing. The author, with years of experience as writer, editor, and now, literary agent, is well-qualified to write this helpful book.

In Part I, “Writing”, the author talks about traits of writers she knew, worked with, or read about. She points out the things writers are known for—introversion, perfectionism, working in solitude—have their downsides. This part of the book dragged for me, I have to admit, but her compassionate tone for writers was evident early on, and my interest in the book shot up when I started reading the second part of the book, “Publishing”.

Part II gives writers a valuable insider’s perspective on editing and traditional publishing. The author addresses questions such as: “Why is it taking so long for my editor to get back to me?” and “What is my publicist doing?” She emphasizes the importance of patience and politeness in the writer’s dealings with the various people involved in bringing the writer’s creation to the outside world. Ms. Lerner describes the many steps involved in a book’s publication, from the time a writer turns in the final draft of the manuscript to the time the book hits the bookshelves or appears online. Among other topics, she writes about dealing with rejection, what an author can do if the publisher doesn’t have much of a publicity effort going, and the reasons a book may not do as well in the marketplace as the writer hoped. Part II sounds like the advice and empathy you might find at a writers’ conference.

Language Alert: for readers who find certain words/phrases offensive (aka “adult language”), a few of those appear.

©P. Booher

 

 

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Learning from Crocuses

My last post, here, showed a few crocuses blooming. I saw the crocuses blooming, and the number of flowers surprised me. I counted around thirty—way more than the number of actual plants. But the plants didn’t get there by themselves. My mother and I planted them.

As a developing writer I am tempted to envy those writers who are better, more accomplished and more successful than me.

Seeing the crocuses blooming reminded me that it takes work to get success. Success doesn’t happen overnight or by itself. It requires investing time, effort, and depending on the venture, money and a willingness to take risks.

When envy starts to show its face I ask myself: Have I put in hours to learn craft, new technology, and marketing? Am I doing all I can to grow? These questions foil envy in its tracks.

©P. Booher

 

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Lights, Camera, Action! Off to the Movies–Little Women

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A couple friends and I saw Little Women, the latest movie adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s book about the March sisters. I don’t go to the movies much, but wanted to get out of my routine, so when a friend suggested it, I jumped at the opportunity.

I never read the book, so the movie was my first acquaintance with spunky sisters Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth March.

What did I think of it?

First off, I give Little Women an A++ for decency. There was not even a hint of sexual innuendo, which I greatly appreciated.

Secondly, the acting was good. The people portrayed seemed real, not characters in a movie. I cared about what happened to them.

The film shows people considering their beliefs and values, wrestling with consequences of their humanity, and making decisions and taking responsibility for their lives.

The movie did a good job of showing a writer’s life in following Jo’s setbacks and triumphs in her writing career. As a practicing writer, I identified with Jo in those scenes—her exhilaration when a story sells, her almost single-minded devotion to writing, and her frustration when writing dreams are threatened.

Set in the 1860’s, the film gave a view as to how people lived then—their customs, circumstances, concerns, and perspectives. It was a history lesson you got by osmosis.

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Writing As Release

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Writing is a powerful way to release emotions. I’ve posted about this before, but this evening this really hit me.

I was writing down an idea for a devotional, when suddenly I started thinking of a friend who died last August. The catalyst for this was such a little thing: I have only a few more months left to pay on my car.  If my friend were still here, I know we could get together at a local restaurant and celebrate when the car is paid off, as we did for the closing on the sale of her father’s house, to settle his estate. Before I knew it, a wave of grief hit me and the tears began welling up in my eyes.

People who’ve experienced grief know this is the way it works: grief sneaks up on you days, months, even years after the person you cared for died. Grief doesn’t care where you are or what you are doing; it just hits you, and you need to deal with it.

I left off writing the devotional idea, turned to a new page in my notebook, and wrote, “Linette, I miss you! I only have a few months left until I get my car paid off and I know you would rejoice with me when that time comes…”  I wrote for about 15 minutes more, then the storm of grief abated, and I could continue with the idea for the devotional.

Although I’ve experienced the release that comes from writing, I’m still amazed that it happens. It’s a proven way to deal with strong emotions that blindside a person.

If you find yourself in the midst of grief, anger, fear, or any other emotions, try writing them out. You will find release and comfort in the act.

©P. Booher

 

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The Gift of Writing

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The more I write, the more I realize writing truly is a gift. It’s a gift given to the writer first, then a gift to others.

While writing a short story I discovered I was learning how to write–by writing. I learned to leave in only what was needed to fit the theme and intent of that story. I took out what didn’t carry the story along, as well as what actually distracted from it, no matter how much I liked the original wording. To learn what to leave in and what to take out is an important skill for any writer, and one I hope to have many chances to practice.

Writing forces me to learn more– about the craft, about publishing, about technology.  I need to know much, much more. The more I learn, the more I find to learn! Developing the discipline to do this is a gift.

Writing is a narrow arena which gives me perspective on the wider arena that is my life. Reading blogs about how other writers tackle problems in writing (the notorious self-doubt, for one) gives me confidence and aids me in applying the same tactics to dilemmas in other parts of my life. The mindset which helps a writer to succeed can be used to resolve situations outside of writing.

For me, writing is a gift that keeps getting bigger.

©P. Booher

Author’s Suggestion: A number of blogs motivate and inspire me. Check these out: http.//positivewriter.com, https//writingcooperative.com, http://www.kristiholl.com, http://www.writersinthe storm.com, http://www.stevelaube.com, http://www.booksandsuch.com, http://www.writermag.com. Andy Mort in the UK writes about creativity in different forms at: https://www.andymort.com. Down under, David Rawlings has a unique perspective in his blog and his short stories at: https://davidrawlings.com/au.

 

 

 

 

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–Writer To Writer

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

Writer To Writer, subtitled Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing, by Cecil Murphey, is based on Mr. Murphey’s blog. Each of the book’s entries is short, one page in length, so the information is easy to digest. Mr. Murphey discusses using proper grammar, confusing words (which/that, for example), displaying professional behavior in interactions with other writers, editors, agents and publishers, following writing guidelines, dealing with writers’ block, handling rejections, having work edited, and many other facets of writing.

Mr. Murphey points out that if a person really wants to improve his writing, there are many ways to do it, such as books, blogs, classes, and conferences. He also points out that it takes time to learn to write well.

Comment: I hesitated buying this book; for me, it was a bit on the pricey side. However, I am glad I bought it. I refer to it often. One downside: my paperback edition published by OakTara doesn’t have an index, which in my opinion would have been helpful. However, there were several blank pages at the end, so I made my own customized index, listing answers to questions that repeatedly come up.

P. Booher

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–On Writing

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

On Writing by Stephen King is a book I wish I liked. For one thing, it appears on many lists of recommended writing books. Since I am a developing writer, that attracted my attention. I want to read a book that someone says, “This book is worth reading. It will help you.” Secondly, Mr. King can write books that hold readers’ attention. I’m beginning to realize how hard that is. He is someone to learn from.

The author gives valuable insights into the craft of writing. One of his most important points is that success (and earning enough from writing to pay the bills) doesn’t happen overnight. A writer has to be willing to spend the time to learn and practice the craft, and even then, fame and fortune aren’t guaranteed. Mr. King also spends time on the importance of rewriting. He gives other tips too.

On Writing is a memoir as well as a writing book, so these insights are sprinkled among his memories. The tips are a little hard to pull out from the rest of the narrative.

Although I looked forward to reading a book from an expert in the craft, I was disappointed. The book would have worked better had the memoir been split from the writing insights. What really did it for me was the author’s use of offensive language.  Never having read any of Stephen King’s books, I wasn’t aware of his liberal use of a certain four-letter word. About two-thirds of the way through, I had more than enough of that language and closed the book. The language he chose prevented his greater message from getting through to me.

Comment: I don’t want to read this again; it’s not worth my time.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

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I Am A Writer!

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I’m finally admitting it; I am a writer! How do I know that? Well, besides typing these words onto a screen, I  do and experience things like this–

  1.  I take a notebook and pen with me everywhere I go. When ideas come, I need to write them down fast, lest I forget!
  2.  I write down ideas (like ones appearing in this blog post) on break times at work.
  3.  I make up stories about strangers I see–where they are going, what they are like, where they work at, who they know,etc. I don’t really know any of that, so I make it up!
  4. I read a lot.
  5. I can’t not write. If I don’t write for awhile, I get irritable and anxious. Something important is out of sync  when I don’t take the time to write.
  6. I invest in writing. I buy books about writing and purchase online courses that fit my time and money budget.  I spend money and time that could be used elsewhere in an effort to get better at this activity. Lord willing, I plan to do more of the same.
  7. I encourage other writers. I collect encouraging, motivating quotes and pass them along. One day a writer friend and I talked about wanting to write and yet letting life get in the way of that passion. Soon after, I spotted a colorful cup that read, “Don’t quit your daydream”–a play on the words writers often hear: “Don’t quit your day job”. I bought the cup and mailed it to my friend, who uses it everyday. Writing is a solitary passion;  writers can easily fall prey to those wolves of discouragement, disillusionment, and despair, so we need to encourage one another.
  8. I find joy and fulfillment in it. Writing is work. No, I’m not digging a ditch by hand, but pinning down exactly the right word, trying to put the words in the right order, and fighting the self-doubt that comes along is mental wrestling.  Yet mixed in with all that is a joy that sings and fulfillment that relaxes. Yes, writing is work; I may never get paid much for it, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had.

©P. Booher

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