Thursday, June 17, 2010

appreciate comments & seeking Amy

I appreciate comments left by readers of this blog. They make me feel less like I'm throwing my words into a well. Often I thank people by e-mail, but can't thank Amy because I don't have an address. Amy, if you're there, e-mail me if you feel like it, Sounds like we'd have things to talk about.

Monday, June 7, 2010

the writer's life: Shuswap Lake and beyond

I recently attended the Shuswap Lake International Writers' Festival in Salmon Arm, BC. Interesting thoughts on the writer's life emerged from the presentations. I'll share some below:

-Almost all writing is desire. Writers are climbing a mountain in the fog. The more driven writers will find a way to get to the top.

-Words mean what they mean, not what you want them to mean [which is one reason most writers need to revise for clarity].

-A blank sheet of paper is God's way of telling you how hard it is to be God.

-Literary nonfiction is nonfiction that uses the devices of a fiction writer; e.g. narrative arc, flashbacks, characterization, dialogue, figurative language.

-Writing involves both art and engineering. The right side of the brain is the artist, the left the engineer. Give both their due. Sometimes it's a good idea to free-write for half an hour or other suitable period of time, i.e., simply write whatever comes to mind—no stopping. The left brain isn't involved in free-writing, only the right. Later you use your left brain/engineer to revise and shape what you wrote.

-If you need to shorten a piece of writing, generally cut only about 10% each time you work your way through it. Otherwise you run the risk of cutting things that should remain.

-When querying an editor or agent about one's writing, use their MOST RECENT submissions guidelines. The publisher's or agency's website is often a good place to find these.

-To be a successful book writer, you need to live the lifestyle. Become part of the writing community in whatever ways you can, e.g., by joining writing groups online and/or in person, taking writing classes online and/or in person, attending writing-related events, submitting articles to periodicals. Publishers and agents like to see that you're not a "cave dweller." Once your book is published, people in the writing community are more likely to support you if you cultivated them earlier. Some ways they can help promote your book: by buying it, talking to others about it, writing reviews, interviewing you, inviting you to be a guest speaker or guest blogger.