Writing “The End” on Your Novel

I don’t reblog that often, but after reading this post by Susan Wingate (an award winning author) I had to.
Writing IS a labor of love. I agree with Wingate. Something is lost if we write “mechanically”. Plenty of used book stores have books, but how many stories really change the reader, affect a generation? I don’t think robots can do that, only the human spirit.

Susan Wingate

I was once told by a self-proclaimed writing guru that writing the end of a book shouldn’t be an event. That we shouldn’t get all wrapped up in the fact that we finished a book–your first or your fiftieth, that we should simply move on to the next story and plow through that one too.

And I get that. You don’t have to tell me to keep my nose down and my fingers flying. I write daily.

But, here’s the thing: I would understand this setting aside of emotional attachment to my writing more if I were a robot having zero feelings and no degree of the understanding of one’s own self-worth. But, I’m not a robot. I’m a human being with all the longings anyone else has.

So, as a human being who also writes for a living, the satisfaction I feel from finishing another story is tantamount to, say, crossing the finish line…

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International Peace Poets

The Bellingham Poets for Peace Read-In! Write-On! Event is pleased to announce the confirmed international speakers:

Candice James,Duke Ashrafuzzaman, Bernice Lever, Max Tell
Bong Ja Ahn, Lilija Valis, Janet Kvammen, 
Farina Reinprecht, and Una Brauhns.

Referring to this collaboration of Canadian poets and American,
Farina said it best, “We are a team” 

***


Short Story: Wolf and Girl

You never know where a great idea for a story will come from.  To me the definition of a “great story” is one you can’t stop writing.  A world that awakens every time a finger tip hits a key, because you yourself love it!  

The story below is a snip from a writing warm up I started one morning, based on a dream I had.  Meant to only be 1-2 pages long, I have decided to expand it into a short story.  My original goal for the exercise was to add place and time to the events.  All stories have to have a world where they wiggle and run.  This is a “Great Story” and I can’t stop writing…  
Wolf and Girl

1364, the Black Forest of Germany and fairy tales, where witches hollered out spells to the sky, and blood sucking creatures, that feed on our dead less than fifteen years prior were born.  The Black Death brought the wolves down out of the forest and into the fringe boundaries of our little town where the dead were burned and buried.   Hungry wolves found dead bodies an easy meal.  Dead mothers, brothers, sisters dragged off, bones licked clean before a priest could speak a prayer.  Great hunters, immune to the plague, rose up, in honor of the dead.  These hunters were paid in wolf pelts, God’s blessing for returning the dead and free beers at the pub.  Hunting parties killed many wolves, none more than my father. 
Mother died in the plague.  Father said my birth weakened her.  Her heart was stronger than most, yet it was not her heart she gave me, but her eyes.  As I grew, I resembled her, which only angered my father more.  The memory of his dead love standing before him every day was like a cut that never healed.  Father’s fame of being the regions “champion hunter” died and ran off with the packs that left in search of new grounds.  Father is now a shell, angry, empty, and full of fermented drink and hate.  Hate towards me, hate towards God. 
When the wolf packs left, my beatings began.  They became more frequent after my hair darkened months later.  Black like the night, it draped over my features, keeping me hidden from him, when I escaped into the woods.  The woods were the last place I should hide from a “champion hunter” who, it was said “could track the wind itself through the thickest brush.”   Yet father let me hide.  He let me run.   His threats would race out the door, as sharp as his ax, chasing me up into the mountains, until my silhouette was hidden from site.  Always he stopped only four trees deep into the forest before resting up against an old pine.  The screams were like a wolf’s howl, words slurred by beer and grief, “Come home!   You can’t hide from me!  I am Reinhardt the greatest hunter!”   I ran until I all I could hear was the sound of the waterfall that never stops, and then I ran some more.

One day while picking berries I found a spot, high in the wood, where an old giant had been cut down.  It made for a nice table, bed and chair; a home for my imagination. In the day I would pretend this was my home, a happy place, full of peace and prosperity.  I was a princess married to a prince and our children were beautiful.   At night, if the sky was clear, moon light would find that tree stump through the dense crowd of conifers for a brief hour, “magic hour” I called it.  When father was at his worst and I knew there was hell to pay, I escaped to my magic place waiting for the beer to leave his blood.   
Last Night
There was a wedding in town.  Everyone in the village was invited and beer flowed like the river Danube.  Father drank more than ever that night.  Free beer goes down easy.  Tonight was my chance!
I raced home ahead of Father to pack, raced in the dark up the quickest trail to the cabin; stars guiding me.  The moon was still low in the sky.  It would be above the trees in a hour lighting my way away from here.  Tonight, the night of the full moon, would be the last night I would spend in the home I was born in.  I knew he would kill me, before forgiving God.  I packed, for a future unknown, I packed for my life.
~~*****~~

Poetry: Transform

Transformation of person to poet
One day something grabs you without touching
An idea lingers in your mind, like garlic on the tongue
A vision walks all over you placing footprints
on your being without leaving a bruise
Words become puzzles you have to solve
You write, you type, you scratch
an equation out hoping the math totals
You turn emotion into a story, a prose, a poem
Baptised in ink you are now a poet-
hungry for characters, yearning for stories
sick with discovery…
M.C. Escher “Transformation”

Poetry Warm Up

Last Saturday I attended a class taught by Wendy Call “Self-Editors Toolkit: Improve Your Own Prose” at the Chuckanut Writers Conference.  During the class she had us do a fun poetry practice game or warm up.  Thought I would share it with you here.  I enjoyed doing this, perhaps you will also.  I find that warm ups like this loosen up the mind and place our thoughts in a good working space. 

First- draw 2 boxes that are shaped like the formats you prefer to use when you write poems.  For example- a long thin rectangle or a wide square.

Step one/first box:  write a short poem to someone close to you.  This will be like a letter to a close loved one or friend, share with them something that you believe in  This will be called “Poem A”

Step two/second box:  write a short poem to a person who is far away, physically or otherwise.  Introduce yourself not using your name & mention something about traveling.  This will be called “Poem B”

Step three:  combine the lines, writing a new “combo” poem, only fudging the verbiage slightly so to help the poem gently in this fashion: 

1st line A
1st line B
2nd line A
2nd line B
A
B
A
B
(etc)

Here is what I came up with:

Poem A
To my son, about the night we sat around our chiminea one warm summer evening:

UFO Pilots

I believe
in the stars
that moved
above the
chiminea

Planes do not
zig like
those stars
zagged
that night

Many missed
the dance
in the sky
while they
pondered
the flames
before
them

Poem B
To an unknown/future friend:

Table Setting

I wear spit up
proudly on my shoulders,
hand print of spaghetti sauce
covers my back pocket

Preparing a dinner
while mothering three,
a place setting I set for you,
my friend far away

Tonight you dine with us
and the miles shorten
so salt can be passed
one hand to another

COMBO:

I believe
I wear the spit up
of stars
proudly on my shoulders,
watching them move like
hand prints of spaghetti
above our chiminea,
slipping into the back pocket
of my memory

Enjoy!
Please also check out Wendy’s web site for more helpful ideas and inspiration:
http://www.wendycall.com/

Four Corners

Please enjoy the music while your party is being reached…

I’m working on a blog, and my short story and my article, honest. I’m really not just sitting back and enjoying the company of men. This is serious research. It’s called living. Ever do it? I know you have. But, I’m not just taking time out of my day to start a fight; I’m really trying to make a point. Just because I’m not sitting at my kitchen table writing like a fool out of school doesn’t mean I’m not working on anything. I have reached a state.

This state is not a “wall” or a “black hole” but a state. The location of my metaphorical existence is not too unlike the area of the United States called “The Four Corners”. At this point on the map the four corners of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet. There is a marker on the ground and if a person wanted to they could take a big step North, South, East or West and literally be in a different state each time. Very cool. So that’s where I am- in the middle of that kind of state; I’m active, working, have a good family and personal life, AND… My writing has almost ceased. What the heck is that all about? Must I be in pain and anguish before I write poetry, or have an ice cream & pizza dream before I get inspired? Please no more! NO MORE GRAVY! You caught me- it’s true I’m not writing. So, how do I get started again?

A good blogger friend of mine recently re-introduced me to T.S. Eliot. Eliot 1888-1965, was an American born English poet who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. I bring him up because his poem “East Coker” has been ringing in my ears the last few weeks. When something nags at you long enough it deserves attention. Now, some would say that the poem is about man’s relationship with time, the universe, and the divine. Today I see it more as if you want different results then you MUST DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Here’s the portion of the poem:
“In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.”

Can a person move in four directions at once? Yes, if they move UP!
Trying something new, stirring up the pot— will I fall off the edge or is that where I need to go?
*deep thought*

Generous writing; Foie Gras reading

As you know I’ve just started to dive into this great adventure called “become a master author and get published”. My writing has gone under the microscope and I am its worst critic. My spelling is not so good; I’ve read less than 200 books in my lifetime, and my most recent discovered fault: I lack descriptive words.
Quite often when I am writing a story I will leave out some information like the color of someone’s shirt, even if I see it in my mind, because I feel it would bore the reader to know such detail. After careful thought I’ve concluded that this attitude toward details is due to bad writing habits from my past. Working in an office for ten years has striped me of any creative writing abilities that I now see MUST be recovered! Many times in my grey cubicle I would slave over the simplest of memos before hitting “send” to confirm that there wasn’t anything fluffy or unnecessary in the note. For example: “Stacey from Les Schwab confirms if commercial #123-A doesn’t arrive in time to air, we are to air spot #123-B in its place.” But I struggled with wanting to add the “WHY” factor into the memo. People in offices do not want to know why. If they do, they will ask.

Looking over my first piece I’ve selected for the SJI Writers group to critique I am full of anxiety. There are many places where I could add something, take something else away and so on. I just hope no one feels like they are grading a high school paper. One big difference between my writing and other member’s are descriptive words.

Christopher, my husband, is a poet and a master of words. In the red car driving steadily into town, we discussed at great length the importance of knowing how many descriptive words to include in a sentence. Chris suggested that the one who started the over dose on it all was the American author Herman Melville. Melville wrote the great American novel, “Moby Dick” in 1851 when “Twitter” was only something a bird did, but his use of the English language is almost exhausting to digest. Each sentence makes you feel like a goose on a foie gras farm gagging down the details of the simplest events!
Here is an example of his work. Keep in mind, there are only seven sentences:

“You may have seen many a quaint craft in your day, for aught I know; – squared-toed luggers; mountainous Japanese junks; butter-box galliots, and what not; but take my word for it, you never saw such a rare old craft as this same rare old Pequod. She was a ship of the old school, rather small if anything; with an old fashioned claw-footed look about her. Long seasoned and weather-stained in the typhoons and calms of all four oceans, her old hull’s complexion was darkened like a French grenadier’s, who has alike fought in Egypt and Siberia. Her venerable bows looked bearded. Her masts – cut somewhere on the coast of Japan, where her original ones were lost overboard in a gale – her masts stood stiffly up like the spines of the three old kings of Cologne. Her ancient decks were worn and wrinkled, like the pilgrim-worshipped flag-stone in Canterbury Cathedral where Beckett bled. But to all these her old antiquities, were added new and marvelous features, pertaining to the wild business that for more than half a century she had followed. Old Captain Peleg, many years her chief-mate, before he commanded another vessel of his own, and now a retired seaman, and one of the principal owners of the Pequod, – this old Peleg, during the term of his chief-mateship, had built upon her original grotesqueness, and inlaid it, all over, with a quaintness both of material and device, unmatched by anything except it be Thorkill-Hake’s carved buckler or bedstead.”**

He simply will not allow himself to write, “I looked and saw the old brown ship, Pequod.” If he did his fingers would break not to mention his conscious. This man is committed to painting the picture!

Arrgghh! -So much to learn. My “Moby Dick” is finding (re-finding) my unique writing style. In order to do that I’ll need to write a lot… and with great fervor, …ahhh…sitting a top the cushions of leather framed around proper back support, while they themselves sit upon a carousel of wheel set to move in any direction my body wills to moves them. Aye, my body dose not move away from the black board of symbols that lay before the troubled torso; instead the forearms and elbows stand firm to prop up my focus on said goal. All that would be seen in motion by any soul, who happen to enter the room, be but the tips of this human extension. For one to see, to truly see all to be seen, that would take a different eye. The movement within the mind, which exceeds the speed of fingers, yea only in the eye of imagination, the form in the mist, the very beginning of vision and the conjuring of characters. Conjure I do like a wizard over a glass orb, perhaps you prefer a weaver, with each stroke spinning together words and visions into an object a child could hold and cover over it’s head when scared. If only these tips would weave a million blankets! Warmed by an artist’s craft, as if to purposely leave thy fingerprint, touched and warmed by words on the cold night that is our very existence.

**http://www.princeton.edu/~batke/moby/moby_016.html