I am enjoying the last pages of Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton by Rebecca Shambaugh, author of It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor (which I intend to read soon). Politics aside, and no matter if you like Mrs. Clinton or not, the book offers many good points and insightful advice not only for leaders but for everyone, that is, if you would like to become a better communicator and listener. The points/ideas presented in this book are great for business owners, and as an indie writer, I found it very helpful, and full of excellent ideas tailored to today’s world. The way we communicate today is not the same as a few decades ago – even in conservative Washington. The points presented here are classic advice with contemporary sense. In general, I found it a very good read, easy to navigate, well presented, and organized. I enjoyed it.
While reading a 2011 Country Diary, I came across these old writing quotes, and I think they are interesting and reflect the old writing wisdom, and still applicable today. I decided to share them with you.
“Anyone who wishes to become a good writer should endeavor, before he allows himself to be tempted by the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid.” – Henry Watson Fowler, The King’s English, 1908
“Dear authors! Suit your topics to your strength, and ponder well your subject and its length; or lift your load before you’re quite aware what weight your shoulder will, or will not, bear.” – George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)
“Then, rising with Aurora’s light, the Muse invoked, sit down to write; Blot out, correct, insert, refine, enlarge, diminish, interline.” – Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
“Sleep on your writing; take a walk over it; scrutinize it of a morning; review it of an afternoon; digest it after a meal; let it sleep in your drawer a twelvemonth; never venture a whisper about it to your friend, if he be an author especially.” Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)
I think there is good wisdom here. I found the last line of the last one a bit funny, but certainly speaks of how protective and zealous as writers we are with our work and ideas. However, today the internet has blessed us with a way of coming together and share those ideas, ask for advice, and give to one another. I hope you enjoy these bits of old wisdom.
As human, you may have experienced a blue season. It is when one of your support systems fail or crash. As organized people we have many support systems, some basic – family, friends, marriage, home, finances, health … – other systems are unique to your particular situation or life arrangement. A blue season may be brief or lengthy, come at once or crawl up on you. No matter its nature, it is still a blue season, and a whole bucket of emotions come with it. If you are lucky, you deal with one failing system at a time; however, sometimes, all systems crash at once. This is when your humanity is tested in all areas, and if there’s an echo of divinity in you, better take a good hold on it, because you’ll need it - even if you don’t believe.
What happens when the big test comes? The answer is as unique as we are, and so is the solution or outcome. The tools to use during this time appear in you somehow, and you pick them up or ignore them. During a blue season, whether a single test, or the big one, emotions and feelings run wild, solutions evade or play hide and seek, the mind plays inhumane tricks on your ego, and the physical you collapses, rendering yet another of your systems (health) weak. If you are among the Job (bible character) category, all your systems will fail at once, and Mega Blue Season it is. Better hold on tight for the ride, because this one is a wild one, and most likely, when you are crawling breathless, you will still find strength to yell, “Not fair, not me!” Just in time to collapse once more. But where did the idea of wanting a fair life came from? From our humanity.
Thank God (or whatever you choose to call it) for colors. Colors make a difference. We understand colors, just as we understand music, tunes… We can make the shades of blue whatever we want - perception? No, it is more than that, more like painting a response. We can paint our response the shade we want, until we dilute the blue to a pure white, coming out of it drenched in light, stronger, wiser, glad, and alive. Be grateful for that; I am. It is humanity at its best, or maybe a small grain of the divine seed in us. Whatever it is, it is there inside every one of us to call upon in the hour of need, during the blue season.
Easier said than done? Maybe doing has nothing to do with it. Maybe knowing is just enough. In the end, it will always be up to us. The response is up to us. Whether one or all systems crash during the blue season, how we respond during its length will determine the outcome. And that is all there is to know, as long as we choose to know.
I hope I didn’t scare you with the title of this post. Almost a month has gone by since I put aside the first draft of The Book of Sharon. The time away is necessary for what comes next – a heartless dissection of it, and I’m ready.
As writers, we pour our heart and soul into our work, then the time comes to forget about it, followed by a cold stare before we are ready to slash it into pieces – heartless and purposely, not an easy thing to do but necessary. From this dismemberment a second draft is assembled. The process goes on until the story is as ready as it can be.
During this time, emotions run wild – from doubt, insecurity, uncertainty, and not wanting to let go, to perfectionism, pride, fear, doubt again, restlessness, exhilaration, incessant questioning … all of it culminating in exhaustion, and all of it necessary. Sounds painful and not too enticing, but it is what writers subject themselves to repeteadly, and beyond scrupulous consideration, and all for the love of the story.
A love affair with words, a crime of passion?
My next victim.
Today, I completed (finally) the Resources and Tips section on my website. This is an ongoing labor; however, it had been left as Coming Soon! for a while, and my goal was to have it ready for January. There are some good websites and recommended reading for aspiring writers. I hope it serves its purpose, and that it may be useful to someone. Here is the link . I hope it helps a bit. I know that when I started, it took a lot of time and effort to find the best sites, as well as to separate the husk, so this is only a very small list but good for starters. I included a few websites at the end, good for exploration, inspiration, research, and learning. I will keep adding with time, as well as updating this section.
Sometimes, writing takes life on its own. With my first novel, Moonlit Valley, I felt as if the story wrote itself. The characters presented themselves, and I dare to say, named themselves. The writing process is different for everyone, and I have to say that I enjoyed the writing of that first novel; it was an adventure. After a while, I went back and looked at it with different eyes. I found symbolism in it, and a happy coincidence with some of the character’s names. When I looked at the common meaning of their names, what I found intrigued me and excited me. The meaning match the character in an almost eerie coincidence; it is how I imagined them. Here are a few of the names. If you read Moonlit Valley, you will understand what I mean.
- Jeremy = God will uplift
- Rose = Flower
- Cole Angelou = Victorious + Angel
- Lara = Cheerful
- Hael = Immense/living in hall
- Dinorah = Judgement
- Leah = Weary
- Olga = Holy
- Anne = Gracious
- Maurice = Dark skinned (I imagined this character tall and dark)
- Jake = Pale/supplanter
- Robert (town’s mayor) = Famous (of importance)
I found very amusing the coincidence of the meaning matching the characters and my idea of them. After all, writing is a very profound and spiritual endeavor, an act of letting go, of listening, and of invention and communion between writer and characters/story.