Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How Melania May Have Cinched the Writer Vote

Writers are a tough voting block to get.

We, by trade, move in single file. We socialize seldom. We need so much alone time that solitary confinement sounds like a great vacation spot to get work done.

We don't fit into any identity political box.

Our race, gender, sexual preference vary too wildly to be included in the groups who exclude. We rarely even include each other. Winning Ohio would be easier. Sink your advertising dollars there.

You can't reach us with empty promises wrapped in pithy phrases because we are the creators of pithy phrases. Or hope to be. But ones with more imagination. Less processed ingredients.

What we do get, however, are the struggles only writers understand: like having your written work attacked. Melania Trump, along with however many staff writers contributed, reviewed, or offered direction, made a mistake. A writer's mistake. I may not be able to relate to her wardrobe, but I can understand being human. And then getting pounced publicly for it.

I live in that unforgiving village. I've seen the torches and pitchforks.

It may have been a block of text posted for inspiration. Or a possible direction. Along with dozens of others. Have you ever seen a writer's draft file? It's a hot mess. It's the summation of every possible thought, idea, factoid, quote, or inspiration for a quote needed for this speech or any other speech until the end of time.

It's a junk drawer of ideas.

Add multiple hands and it's a junk room.

Then you start the cutting/rewriting/rearranging process, which may or may not include reconfiguring the drawer itself. It's a bloody business. Not one for the squeamish or those with better things to do than stare for hours into the distance in a trancelike state.

As a writer, missing the easy fix is something I've done myself. I've probably done it in this blog. (Crap. I can't see it, but I'm sure I have.) I've simply been spared the limelight of a national stage. So I get what she might be going through. The frustration at working so hard, stressing over every minutia, and still getting one area wrong. And believing that one area will be all anyone will remember.

Ah, unlikely.

For Melania, this will be old news in...oh...another half hour or so. Her white dress, however, will be selling for weeks.

And, on the scale of important issues in the world, well...this isn't one. We have a country facing tough days and tougher ahead. Even if her subjects and verbs disagree from now until November, we have more important discordant issues to discuss.

So, thanks Melania. Thanks for taking a walk in my shoes since my back would never want me walking in yours.

Just keep writing. It's the best any humans who dare to write can ever do.

For additional insight on how the plagiarism mistake could have occurred, the Dilbert creator Scott Adams offers up a quick, f-bomb laden explanation. There's the language warning for you.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

If the Son has set you free, then you are free indeed. (John 8:36) May ‪#‎GodBlessAmerica‬ and ‪#‎Happy4th‬ from Samantha Addison in ‪#‎NotAnotherSuperhero‬.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lessons We Could All Learn from a Second Grader

Christian came about to my ribs. I know this because that's where his head would hit when he rushed out of class every week to hug me.

I learned not to wear long necklaces so his cheeks didn't get imprints.

For a year, Christian and I hung out every Wednesday. I was suppose to be helping him with his reading. What I know is that I learned a lot about Clifford the Big Red Dog, who really is just a ginormous animal. And that Christian, with his intelligence and warmth, taught me a few things about life I'd simply forgotten.

Here, thanks to Christian, is what I learned:

Christian eating his weight in pizza.

1. Sitting still is harder than it looks. No one should do it for long or often.

2. Start every conversation with, "I've missed you so much." It completely disarms the other person and makes them agree to anything you want.

3. Video games have no educational value, but they're freaking awesome.

4. If reading isn't fun, reading won't happen. So make reading fun.

5. Cookies should be eaten so that crumbs remain on your face to enjoy later.

6. When you leave a room, push in your chair, as well as every other chair in the visible distance. It will give you a great sense of satisfaction.

7. A week is also the same time span as eternity. So, when you don't see someone for a week, don't be surprised if when you leave they respond with, "But I won't see you for forever!"

8. Tickling fixes every bad day.

9. Crayons are the coolest gift ever, second only to chocolate.

10. Everyone loves to be seen and appreciated for who they are and what they can do. And that is a need you never outgrow.

Thanks buddy. I hope you have a great summer! I'll miss you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The 5 Necessary Elements to Captivating Writing (Hint: at least 3 get overlooked.)

Goodreads asks lots of great questions. Some I answer seriously. The latest question was, "What's your advice for aspiring writers?" and I wanted to share my response, incase it can help you love your writing and love writing more. 

In a nutshell, this is the be all end all of advice. And it isn't only for aspiring writers, it's for all writers. Everywhere. In every phase. A great reminder that, when we write, we write with a burden. And it requires all of what we are. 

Here's my Goodreads answer:
Open your senses.  
Really open them. Take some menthol to the nasal passages. Smear some wasabi on your tongue. Walk into a fabric store and touch everything, but wash your hands first.
Experience your life through your senses. Pay attention to them. Pause when you hear a train whistle. Look at the details of a painting that you've seen a hundred times before. Stare at it again. Look for the things you missed. Scrutinize the paint strokes. Focus on the canvas fibers. Invision the artist's vision take shape, stroke by stroke. 
And then restrategize. 
Shuffle them up. Use senses in a situation that don't relate. What did that painting smell like? Was that wasabi a pasty, tired green or was the green vibrant with life? Did the menthol taste like biting into an avalanche? 
Okay, skip that last one. That could be toxic. 
When you write, you are the gateway for your reader to experience your story. You and you alone can do that for them. Otherwise, they are limited. They cannot smell, taste, touch, hear, or see your story. For all practical purposes, they are void of all five senses and cannot stimulate them except through you. 
You are their surrogate. Feel for them. Smell for them. Listen for what only you can hear and describe it. Go out there and eat that menthol.
Again, you probably shouldn't do that. 

Homework, if you want some:

When we tell a story, we often share our emotions, our thoughts, a few visuals, and that's where it ends. We leave a lot of flavor on the table that could be added. Next time you sit down to write a story,  as an exercise, focus on one sense, like hearing. Think about the scene: What do you hear? Focus on that sound. Is it alone? Does it have company? Is it why we - or, for fiction, our characters - feel and think what we do? What affect does the sound have on the emotion of that moment? Tell your reader what you hear as if they've never heard a sound of any kind before. 

And when you do, send it to me in the comments! Because I want to hear it, too.