Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Writer Mag's Open House

If you want to check out some articles on writing, market listings or other features on The Writer Magazine's Site without signing up for anything, check it out now. Their Open House event, which lets you experience the features of the magazine's Web Site, ends tomorrow, March 24, 2011.
So, surf, surf, surf!

Poetry Fest!

As I continue editing my novel, hammer out short stories, and read, read, read, I am also finding myself drawn back to poetry. I look back at my first attempts at writing - all poetry - and shudder. But, I can still see more than 20 years later the energy with which I wrote.

Now as a father, I am helping my daughter with a poetry writing project for school. She has to write several poems and illustrate them. In college, I had a similar project.

Then the other day a student stopped me in the halls to tell me he'd read one of his poems recently during an open mike session. It was his first public reading, and I could tell he was excited about it. I still remember my excitement from my first public readings. It's a great feeling. He sent me a link to his YouTube video. So, here it is...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Is My Inner Critic's Name?

You know who I'm talking about. It's that voice that won't shut up when you're trying to write.

"That idea sucks! What are you thinking?"
"Really! You call that writing? You should give it up now, dude."

Yep, that's the voice, that old windbag!

"OMG! That's so cliche... And I'm not old. YOU are old!"

See! She won't shut up. But, I'm going to ignore her nagging. I am going to use an old writing prompt (one I never used) and instead describe my inner critic, give her a name, the whole burrito.
No offense to anyone, but my inner critic must be female. A male just wouldn't be as realistic for me as my personal inner critic. Not annoying enough.

So... that's my task tonight once I'm home and in my personal writing zone. This might take me awhile - at least coming up with the right name might. The name must be perfect. It must scream: Annoying, sadistic, arrogant, cruel! Too bad Cruella Deville's already taken as a name.

"Ha! Ha! Give up already. You can't do better than that."

There she goes again....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's Under Your Couch? Evidence of Your Twisted Writing Habits!

I was cleaning up last night when I got a sudden urge to check under the couch to see what might be hidden there. Here's what I found at 2 a.m. (Don't laugh):

Books
An illustrated history of America
A Jeff Foxworthy paperback (You might be a redneck...)
A poetry anthology
A volume of a 2-volume set on Epistemology
A Greek lexicon
A woodworking how-to manual
An analysis of the U.S. presidency during the 1960s
A guide to fruits (in Spanish)
A Calvin and Hobbes collection
And... a children's picture book (more on this later).

But wait... there's more. Hidden in the dark depths under the couch also were an old Star Wars calendar, a booklight (with batteries that worked!), a baseball, origami paper (oh yeah, and an origami book), two pencils, an unused green twisty tie, kneaded rubber (for sketching, or more for erasing my darned sketching errors), two plastic pencil sharpeners and three paper clips.

After reading that list, I don't even know where to begin with the explanations. How many of my writing projects are represented in this list? I can say they absolutely represent the fits of so-called writing inspiration that sometimes hit me at 2 a.m.

Don't you just love the manic art of writing!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An Epiphany On the Subway, Staring For 20 Minutes... So What If It's Rude

Don't we learn as members of polite society that it's rude to stare?

I did.

But as a writer, a long stare is part of the job. Working as a journalist for more than a dozen years, you think I'd be used to sticking my nose in other people's business - as long as it's for the story.

Now that I'm not writing for a daily newspaper I can get uncomfortable with nosy. Today wasn't one of the uncomfortable days. I spent about 20 minutes or so staring at a commuter sitting a few seats away from me on my Metro ride home.

I've been working on a short story where the protagonist, a woman, goes through a serious moral crisis that (for the moment) will lead to her death. I've had her sitting in traffic (not too hard to imagine during the commute home here in the DC Metro area) during this crisis. Today, as I saw this commuter, I thought for the first time that maybe my protagonist should experience her crisis while on a subway train.

It was a glorious epiphany filled with that furiously intoxicating energy that gets writers scrambling for pen and paper and a firm writing surface. OK, I guess the firm writing surface is optional. I had a couple of folded sheets of copy paper in my coat pocket. In no time at all, I filled it with my observations.

The story just had not felt right before. I'd stagnated. This subway trip was exactly what I needed. My protagonist was sitting there. I recognized her as soon as I got on the train.

It was a beautiful moment.

COMING NEXT: The family plays a round of Madlibs and pokes fun of the Democrats and Republicans.

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