Things Writers Are Not Supposed To Do

As writers we are not supposed to give our books away free. As one who does not have the good health or stamina to learn how to market books, I have no choice. I would rather something I wrote reached one human heart than delay publishing because of the monumental task of marketing. I see people marketing marketing marketing and get very tired of seeing it over and over and over so I am aware that marketing can also annoy others and I try not to do it on my private pages anywhere.

As writers we are not supposed to change the covers of our books. Too late. When I first released my collection of short stories I was in a very bad head space suffering from full blown PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) the result of my ex and a former “bestie” physically assaulting me and then lying to the police about it so that police dropped the charges despite my physical health issues for over a year following that assault. (Still can’t get over that she had martial arts and kicking is lethal force (she could have burst my bladder and killed me on the spot), she committed Assault Causing Bodily Harm and yet charges were dropped entirely because of their lying collusion.) Anyway, my PTSD is still there, as you can read, I can still be easily triggered but my thoughts about why I originally chose a pink cover for my book have changed. At that time in my life I was choosing everything pink from bedding to book covers because pink was safe and warm and comforting to me. When I looked at that pink cover recently I realized I can do better now and have a more universally appealing cover (I hope ūüôā ).

As writers we are not supposed to change the titles of our books. I get that and wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think it necessary. The title of my “pink” covered book was taken from one of the short stories inside the book. For some reason I never liked it as well as I should have. Every time I saw the title “One Part Good” I thought people likely assumed I was referring to myself. I was not. I was referring to that human part of us, that one little bastion of goodness within no matter how much of a nasty beast we have been to others. It has been my years long and sorrowful conclusion to find that not all humans even have ‘one part good’ inside them. Some kill others or bear grudges so long they would rather nurse their anger to their death bed than step up to what it is to be a kind, compassionate human being. ¬†So my title has been changed which you will see from the following link. Enjoy your day and thank you for reading my pages. You are very much appreciated by me.

Welcome to my free ebook “One More Chance” – hope you enjoy ūüôā

 

 

WRITING BETTER IN YOUR OWN VOICE

Writing well is something to eternally aspire to because the truth is, no matter how well we write, there is always room for growth and improvement.

Well, almost always.¬†Not for some literary greats, obviously,¬†but then I consider myself an average¬†person with an overwhelmingly powerful desire to be the best writer I can possibly be.¬†Continually learning is one of the methods I use to advance my writing abilities and develop my own “voice.”

Mordecai Richler said the following (noted from an article/interview with him):
“As a society, we are irony deficient.”¬†
Richler carries on writing regardless of what he thinks the masses want.  He said he may not be writing for people who know about Greek mythology, the Bible or who Dr. Johnson is but he writes about them anyway if he wants to.
“Novelists only have a couple of tunes to play and they play variations on that tune throughout their careers.”
Richler¬†also said until he wrote “The Apprenticeship of Duddy¬†Kravitz” he hadn’t found his own voice.
 

This was comforting to know. As a writer, I found it reassuring that I did not have to know exactly what my voice was so much as simply keep on writing until I find it.  Some days I think I have found it. Other days I feel I have no voice at all.

Thanks to Mordecai Richler’s words of wisdom, as well as many others including Carol Shields and Margaret Laurence, personal instruction¬†or training¬†from Ed Griffin, Andreas Schroeder and Bill Burns, I’ve been fortunate in my journey to continue¬†“growing” my own unique writing voice.

I’m not saying I’ve found it yet. But I am definitely still working on it.

For all the professional training we may have, there is often no other remedy than to simply keep on writing. But what can one do on those days when pulling a decent sentence out of the mind feels akin to trying to extract your own wisdom teeth? Apart from a good long walk, I keep several prized books around me.

A few of¬†the¬†favorites in¬†my¬†personal library¬†that help me kick-start myself on those days when¬†I am hitting “the wall” are¬†:

Ralph Keyes – The Courage to Write
Natalie Goldberg – Writing Down the Bones
Christopher Vogler – The Writer’s Journey
Brenda Ueland – If You Want to Write
Peter Rubie – The Elements of Story Telling
Anne Lamott – Bird by Bird
Laurence Block – Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print
Gabriele Lusser Rico – Writing the Natural Way
Linda Seger – Creating Unforgettable Characters
Jesse Lee Kercheval – Building Fiction
 

What do you read for inspiration? Even if it’s not about writing, what written works inspire you to carry on and keep on fighting the good fight of the creative life?

THE MUSICAL MESSENGER (published 1999(c)

Parents teach us about life even long after they leave us...

The Sunday my teenaged brother accidentally slammed the car door shut on my hand is more vivid in my mind then my forever altered fingerprint. It wasn’t that I had never witnessed my father’s rage before. His impatience with the repetitive noises children naturally make was no secret in our family. Neither were Dad’s scathing outbursts of cursing when he reached the height of frustration. But his silence that day terrified me. No yelling, no swearing, just the rhythmic crunching of boots crossing gravel.

To appease my father, my brother uselessly repeated,”It was an accident. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.”

Stop it! Get in the car! We have to go to the emergency room!” My mother shrilled through the tension as she wrapped a towel from the clothesline around my hand.

With a bewildered expression, my father backed toward the car. My bloody nosed brother stared at us as we pulled out of the driveway but he did not return my wave at him through the rear window. It’s okay, I whispered. At seven years old, I already knew that Dad calmed as quickly as he riled himself up.

Child rearing was not my father’s area of expertise. Country music was and, competing in several talent shows, Dad rivaled artists who later achieved international fame. In one event he had hoped to place third and win a new stereo. Instead, he was awarded the first place trophy and a chance to advance in the industry. But a growing family demanded a steady pay check and Dad abandoned his musical dreams.

A machinist by trade, his skilled hands eventually only played the guitar at home on weekends. No more band rehearsals or overnight jam sessions. With guitar in hand, he left when I was thirteen. All I knew was that he was deserting us.

Some of us are still licking wounds from the ensuing sense of rejection and abandonment. Mine manifested as an inability to release possessions and relationships long past the expiry date of their goodness. A greeting card hoarder, I held onto people and things that were no longer life-giving.  I now know that I was clinging to a self-worth that hinged on how much others valued me, including my father. I considered death among one of his many human short-comings because when he died, so did the love he gave me.

Dad lived simply with a fondness for good food, rye whisky, Sunday drives, nature and practical jokes. A charismatic character with a strong sense of right and wrong that is vivid in my mind, he would hate it if I painted a posthumous image of perfection. “That’s not right,” he would say. “Tell it right or don’t tell it at all.”

A man ill-equipped to deal with the curve balls life tossed  him, my father was completely freed when performing. He often encouraged us children to take turns pressing an ear against his battered acoustic guitar while he strummed. The only stress visible in him then was his taut neck cords straining to hit the high notes. And he did.

Recently, I realized that my father’s gift was far greater than the gift of music alone. Observing the passion of a man lost in the rapture of creativity was a magical experience. Through him, I not only heard but saw and felt the music. I still do.

When I was still a teenager and my father was 41, he left this earthly world for what I have always hoped is a better place. Over time, I feel I have come to know him better than I did when he was alive. Youthful preoccupation blinded me to the light of love on his face in the photos I now cherish and pore over while listening to his music. His songs speak directly of the heartache he endured and , more poignantly, to the suffering he knew he caused. Every time I hear the lyrics I recall my brother’s words the day my fingerprint was altered and I can almost hear Dad saying,”It was an accident. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.”

Daddy Stories...reading and writing so serious, even then.

Reverence on my part, perhaps, because my father lived simply but he was not a simple man. The most glorified memory I have of him is one I, regrettably, was not present for. It is of a man who, weeks before his cancer riddled body fought the final fight, created a haunting legacy of words and music that tell me who he was and, in turn, who I am.

Now 40, I have learned a couple of things myself. I have realized that the greater part of being loved is loving yourself, being at peace with yourself. I know that people must follow their hearts or it can make them sick, possibly even kill them with an insidious, joy corroding cancer of the spirit.

Thanks to my father, I strive to “make my own music” by writing full-time. I left a mainstream career track for humble part-time¬†work that supports my learning and basic needs. I no longer feel stretched forty ways but there is no steady pay check for following the call of the soul and being true to your creativity. There is usually no check at all.¬† But I can’t let that stop me.

In discouraging moments I think of my father’s creative life cut short by obligations, then by cancer at age 41 and I continue writing because I have no choice. I know Dad would completely understand this and, wherever he is, I hope he knows that being in his life was one of the highest notes in mine.

(c) 1999 Published in Anthology of Winning Literature

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