Terrytown's Library

Terrytown's Library
Raised in Terrytown, Louisiana

Monday, November 29, 2010

Writing, Not Talking

I'm not going to talk about my next writing project, I'm simply going to write my next story. I recently bought a magazine containing an article that urges you to get rid of time wasters, turn off the TV and set daily and weekly goals and simply write. That's what I need to do. I watch too many reruns and I write without an end in mind. Post Thanksgiving, I'm going to write in a different way. I'm not going to talk about it, I'm just going to write whenever I can.

I like to set a goal of scenes rather than words or maybe pages. One writer suggested writing at least five pages. The Writer issue that contains the article said, "If you write just one page a day, in a year you'll have a completed book. Can you imagine how much shorter the time will be between beginning a book and completing a book if you wrote at least five pages a day or more.

Making a list of stand-alone memories will show you that you actually do have a lot to write about. I've expanded on this writing exercise. Use words to inspire stand-alone memories.

Classroom
kids talking about the churches they attended

Church
Baptist service with my aunt and a cute boy in one of the pews

You may want to put a limit on the number of memories you come up with so that you can choose one and actually write a fiction story based on that memory. Maybe even combine two memories. This is your writing exercise. Come up with a list of stand-alone memories and choose a memory or two and write that short story.

Happy Writing!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Source Material

Anything can become source material for your short stories. I was late to church, standing outside service, waiting for the ushers to let us in when I saw a photo of our pope. This sentence came into my head; "I bet he was cute when he was younger." Why would anyone say this? And what was the reaction. What was this person thinking when she or he said that. What were they going through?

Working one day, a vendor came in the store I'm employed in and told me how she walked out on her job at a restaurant. I'm not sure how, but, I want to tell her story. Like John Dufresne said, I want to know about this person's life without asking him or her. I want to know about the vendor whom I'll probably never see again. I want to know about her daughter who was with her and working while we talked. What does she think about her mother.

I had another idea from church, the Catholic scandals. What if someone decided to leave the church because of hearing what her priest may or may not have done without understanding that you are there for God and no one else.

Anywhere you are, you can find source material. I want to write a story about a couple with two adopted children moving from the city (New York) to a suburbs in New York. How did they cope with the changes? This idea is straight from the final episode of Friends. I'm curious to know how they are coping with change, but I want to create original stories based on these characters rather than write fanfiction.

Music is another inspiration for me. I love country and rock. Dufresne has an exercise where you take the lyrics of a favorite song and use it to inspire a story by making that story yours. Change the characters, the setting, etc. and make it yours.

What is your source material? That's this weeks exercise. Happy writing. I believe everything that interests you is source material for your fiction.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The First Step To Being Published

I'm sitting in a Barnes and Noble when I realize that there are small steps that I can take to get my fiction published and to have them published continually. The first step is what Narrative Magazine calls Reader Narratives. My narrative will be published and archived. It's a beginning to being known in the writing and publishing industry. This is something I've read about in magazines. Articles suggests writing letters to the editor to get published. It's a start and your name will be known. I'm a stubborn person and I've always believed that I was a fiction writer. I don't have the brain of a nonfiction writer. But, today, nonfiction has to have some elements of fiction in order for it to readable and publishable. I'm still telling a story, I'm just telling a story about something that happened to me. I'm not embellishing details like I would for a fiction piece. I'm telling you this is the way it happened.

A nonfiction piece needs characters and scenes and plots. What happened that makes you want to write about it and how did you fix it? This is the same rule for fiction. What happened to your character and how did or does your character fix it? After reading another narrative I came up with a short list of things I'd like to write about and I wrote my narrative piece. I'm going to read it and see how I can improve it, make it publishable. Sun Magazine is another literary publication that does this, except they have chosen topics. Their latest is Rites of Passage, whose deadline is December 1. Basically you have to think of every publishing opportunity you can imagine and take advantage of it and don't be afraid to ask others what else can you do to become published. You can self publish along with going through the traditional channels. Think of being published as your own personal story. What does it take to become published? What have you been doing and what can you do? And try everything and then research for more publishing avenues.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stop Complaining and Just Write

You think you're doing all that you can to become published and get your fiction into the hands and hearts of readers and hopefully get paid when you read an article or two that tells you that you can and should be doing more. One of my faults is complaining about not having any time during the day, even on one of my many off days. When you live with other people, especially with family, you don't get a day off to write. But, you still need to produce final, polished drafts of stories no matter what anyone else is doing.

One of the articles I read talked about what you'd do if you really wanted a career writing fiction. You'd make the sacrifice. You'd wake up early and give up your favorite TV shows. You'd use the time you choose to write as serious writing time, meaning that you don't do research or anything else. You simply draft your stories. I also need to be quiet and just write and submit and join a few writing communities. To me, writing communities are groups of people who gather to read and write and to hear published authors speak. We're all trying to be published so we all need to stand out someway. I vow to stop talking and just write, to figure out how to have a career as a published fiction writer and to make the sacrifices I need to do to write more polished stories that are ready to be submitted. What is your writing vow?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Nacirema Society Requests The Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Years

This was a play not to be missed. You really felt like you were staring into the lives of rich black people and you were getting to know all of them the way you would get to know yourself or a friend. It's the way writing ought to be. I strive to make my writing just as good.

My favorite character was Gracie Dunbar, the writer. She had this passion, this romantic notion of moving to New York to be a writer, even if that meant being poor. And she was looking forward to that life. She made me believe that she would be the fiction writer that she wanted to be.

I liked that Pearl Cleage was able to give it a good, happy ending, one that was very satisfying and didn't leave anything unanswered.

Gracie gave me hope. If you live in Georgia or near Georgia, today is the last day to see The Nacirema Society Requests The Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Years. Go see the play and let Gracie Dunbar give you hope.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finding Inspiration

Every time I need inspiration, I go to a bookstore or a cafe. Sometimes simply riding MARTA is enough to provide inspiration for a story or two. Of course working retail provides more than enough for a few stories.

There's something about either leaving the house or the room that you normally write in that helps you to find stories you wouldn't have thought if you stayed stagnant. It's about being in a different enviornment now matter how familiar it is to you. This works whether it's something new or you feel stuck in a writing project.

Sometimes you have to step away from writing. This will allow you to see your writing from a different angle. It will also give you ideas you wouldn't have without the small break.

Today's prompt, write a story that was inspired by being in a different place from where you normally write.

Happy writing

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Trick or Treat

"Trick or treat."

"Luigi," I said as I stared at the foam costume he wore like a suit. Several kids walked passed or came in with their moms dressed as Princess Tiana, Belle, or a wore a simple black cap with red lining like they all got together and said this is what vampires will look like this Halloween.

"Sorry, no candy."

He continued to watch me, as if I'd say, gotcha and drop a few Kit Kats in his bag. Why hadn't our store thought to do this, I wondered as I watched him leave. His costume was pretty cool and realistic.

It was still light outside as kids went from store to store saying trick or treat. I thought of telling Luigi that we might have candy next year, but he was already saying trick or treat to the next sales associate or manager.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kossiwa Logan Writes A Short Story

I really enjoyed reading Ron Carlson Writes A Story. He took us through the process of writing a short story. That's what I'm going to do here. I've told you my process of writing and now I'm going to show you.

First I have an idea, which begins with a thought, an image, a memory, a word or phrase that I turn into a sentence.

There wasn't much to do today. As slow as it was, the manager let the girl at customer service go for the night. He told her to call her ride to come get her. I was in the process of putting more things in my cart to return to their proper shelves when Mr. Barkley told Tracy there wasn't enough work. I glanced at them, but the store manager was walking away and she was already dialing on her cell phone. I hated standing in the customer service box trying to think of something to do in between customers. Since they didn't need me up here for no, I finished filling my cart with items customers either returned or changed their mind about. I started in Infant Care.

I've always wanted to write my version of John Updike's A&P story. I'm hoping this is it. I've also always wanted to write a story based on working in retail.

It's been raining all day as if a storm was blowing through Georgia. I had to drive through it to work this evening for a four-hour shift. We closed at 9:30 and we're out five to fifteen minutes later depending on the ease or difficulty in setting the alarm. My co-workers, and me when I wasn't at customer service reshopped and Straightened the selves as fast as we could so we could be out the store and on our way home or to wherever as fast as possible. My four hour shift was actually a three-hour shift.

The beauty of a first draft is that you're just getting the story done. You're not figuring anything out. You're not trying to write anything, you're simply writing. You don't have to have a subject, but it is helpful.

I sorted out the items for the Infant Care section while standing near the Tommee Tippee bottles. I hated doubling back because I missed an item.

"Ma'am, do you work here?"

That question grated on my nerves. I'm wearing the same purple and khaki that every other employee wore. But, it was better to ask than to make an assumption. I glanced at her and smiled. She looked ready to have the baby any second.

My idea, as I said earlier, was to write a story based on working retail jobs. I enjoy talking to people. I enjoy the work when I'm staying busy. I might rewrite this to include a vendor I spoke to. She was so memorable to me.