Friday, August 10, 2018

Friday Rambles - Favorite subject, I guess.

Still here, still writing, perhaps not as diligently as I should, but can't seem to put it down. What would I do? Much as I love, love, love to read, eyes and mind do get tired after a steady diet of just reading. At least mine do. Of course, some time must be devoted to keeping one's living and writing space habitable. I don't enjoy seeing a sink full of dirty dishes for days. Or even just two days. My house is far from immaculate, but clean enough for me to accept. And I'm the one who lives here. Occasional cleaning, straightening up is a good antidote to hours in a chair at the computer. So I guess it's a win-win situation to have to do it. But lately I seem to be hearing the siren call of my muse, Yardley, more often. I hope it continues.

In the column below, written several years ago, I mention books that have helped me. Most libraries probably shelve some of them, or can get them through inter-library loan. If you're a writer, or aspiring writer, try one or two, you might like them.

Writer or Ditch Digger

Since I profess to be a writer I suppose I should occasionally write about the subject of writing. I don’t delude myself into thinking anything I might say could ever approach the value of Stephen King’s “On Writing” or Noah Lukeman’s “The First Five Pages” or Anne LaMott’s “Bird by Bird.” If anyone who aspires to write for public consumption is not familiar with those books, a used copy is usually available somewhere for not much money. These are only three of dozens of books on the craft of writing to be found and most have some value.
In my opinion another book, now a classic, is even better than the three named in the previous paragraph, “Make Your Words Work” by Gary Provost. I believe it and years of Writers Digest, the magazine, helped me achieve publication. Another classic that I had wanted for a long time before I actually ordered it is “Goal, Motivation & Conflict” by Debra Dixon. I heartily wished I had not delayed buying it.
Aside from books on writing, just reading books-novels, biographies, whatever one prefers-is also invaluable to improve writing skill. I love writing, but a voracious reader since the age of five, reading was my first love. A person who has read hundreds, maybe thousands, of books just absorbs the way words, sentences, paragraphs sing together in harmony, to use a musical comparison.
Of course, reading and reading books on writing, no matter how good, is no substitute for the actual practice of writing. There is universal truth in the hoary joke’s answer given the person who asked how to get to Carnegie Hall, ‘practice, practice, practice’. Writers achieve mastery of the written word by writing. Exercises on description, snippits of dialogue, just as a violinist or pianist learns to make beautiful music by practicing scales.
Good writing is hard work, but, alas, holds no guarantee of monetary gain. Only a small percentage of writers make a living through writing. One who doesn’t love writing for itself might be better served to find a shovel and a place that needs a ditch.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Friday Rambles-Rememberies

This post speaks for itself pretty much. It might be titled 'Path of a Writer.' I'm certainly not a famous writer, but I am a writer. Not a young, or even younger, writer and sometimes I think about giving it up but the feeling passes. My writing gives me a focus, a beacon, to follow along my mystery lane rambles. Before I began to try seriously to write I was a voracious reader, I'd read any printed matter my gaze fell across. And I still enjoy reading just about more than writing. The world is full of books just waiting to be read. But something keeps pushing me to write 'one more thing,' then maybe I'll quit. Or maybe not.

A clear glass pumpkin-shaped jar sits on my desk. I've crammed into it various mementoes that mark significant moments in my life.
Visible through the glass is an address label with my mother's name and last apartment address. More than twenty-five years after her death the ache of loss lingers in my heart. I'm reminded of the hardships she endured, raising eight children in deep poverty, and am very doubtful that I could have done as well as she.
Next to the label is my grandson's name tag from the family reunion Holston Valley Medical Center provided for babies who spent the first few days or weeks of their lives in the NeoNatal Intensive Care Unit. I remember my fear at first sight of his tiny, mottled body after long, anxious moments waiting for the delivering doctor to bring him into view. Or his Lilliputian form as his Mom held him for brief moments, IV tube in a matchstick arm, feeding tube in his button nose. Now a strapping father of two himself, he bears little resemblance to that preemie in the NICU incubator.
Among the jumble of mementoes is a round piece of molded plastic which covered an indicator lamp on the old cordboard where I worked as a telephone operator. The job that gave me not only independence, but the realization that I was a person in my own right, not just wife, mother, caretaker of an aged parent.
A parking permit from the local community college symbolizes my long-delayed college degree. An Allen wrench I used to assemble a large modular desk for my computer, ownership of which began another major turn for my life. A red and gold enameled key ring fob with a menorah and the word "Shalom" from my first and only trip outside of the US, to Israel.
A name tag from the Citizen's Police Academy class I took, seeking realism for my writing. Still another tag identifies me as facilitator for a home Bible Study. And finally one ringed with ivy leaves from a ten day writers retreat in North Carolina.
I found me at that retreat. I'm a writer. One who seeks to trade bits of myself through essays and columns for personal gratification and, occasionally, money. I now have books as evidence that I'm a writer. Books won't fit into the jar, but the objects it holds show me the path I took to get to the place I am now. And they provide me with inspiration for further journeys on that path.