Writers Need Readers As Fish Need Water.

“An unread story is not a story, it’s little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it  makes it live, a live thing, a story.” Ursula K Le Guin

Woodblock print fish

We writers need readers, as fish need water. Without our readers, there is no story,  and no use for the storytellers. We are the weavers of dreams, conjuring up reality out of thin air, for their amusement and pleasure.

 

But before we were writers, we were readers. Who knows the pleasures of the written word better than a writer?  Most writers have long been enamoured of books. There is an old saying “a word is dead until its said”’ This applies even more so to our writing, completing a piece of writing is only half its story.

Writer Nick Morrison Unspalsh

We need the reader to breathe life into those pages, with their own imagination. A  hundred people can read a book, and all have their own impressions of it. Books are not static things, they are where readers and writers combine in imagination and interpretation.

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Your favourite fictional character may differ markedly from how someone else imagines them. And they may not be how the author imagined them, either. It does not matter, we each project our own experiences into the fictional world and create a story that is uniquely ours.

In this, books differ from a film, or TV, where every scene is shown to us. Watching them, we are more passive consumers. We allow the story to play out in front of us. It can also be why a film of a book can be disappointing, the director’s interpretation does not gel with what you, as a reader has imagined,

We may be quietly reading a book or a story, but we are active consumers, engaging with those words to create another reality. We have devoted our time to something that in one sense is not there, but in another lives vividly on the page.

Words have power, to heal, to hurt, to challenge, to change. While if never read, then the words have no power at all.

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Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

As a writer I want to say’ Thank you’ to the readers, those passionate enough about books to choose to buy books, to talk about books and to read books.  I say thank you to all those authors whose words have delighted me and continue to do so. You have entertained .me, scared me or enthralled me. I say a huge thank you to librarians for fostering a love of reading, organising author talks and helping to keep the book alive.

It was George R.R. Martin who said, ‘a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” I find this slightly ironic as most readers are women, but I can’t fault the sentiment. An escape into a different world, or a different place or time is as near as your next book.

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You Better Be Willing to Fail

Do you seek perfection? Did you realize the steps along the way include failing? Only through failure can we appreciate success.I’d even dare to say that failing makes success all the sweeter and more prized. Do you Agree?

Mary E. Nolte

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to take up book binding. I bought this planner as a PDF and I decided that I was going to print it out and learn how to bind a book. And then I’d carry that book around all year, to be reminded of how important creativity is for me.

So I watched a bunch of Youtube videos, I bought some carefully selected paper, and I got to work. It took me a long time and a free trial of a certain program to figure out how to print out the PDF so that it would fold into a booklet. I folded the pages carefully. I followed the video’s instructions and I sewed them together with perfectly even stitches.

So far, so good. The next step was to cut off the edges of the book so that everything was uniform.

This is…

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Should You Join A Writing Group?  The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Good vibes oNly- mark Adriane- unsplash

Do you feel the need for feedback on your writing or validation? Or perhaps you are sick of struggling on alone, and fed up with your own company and isolation?

Maybe you have hit the creative wall and need a boost?

Desperate to know more about writing and you sense that you are boring your family with your work?

A writing group could be the answer BUT not all writing groups are the same.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

As I have been a member of each of this type of group at some time, let me be your guide, without fear or favour.

The Bad

A bad group suits those in it for various reasons. 1. It may be an ego trip for a couple of the members.

The Bad2.The group may be a talkfest, and not get any writing done

3.The group may take up too much time with the committee and procedural matters.

4.One strong personality dominates, and only certain genres are permitted to be written.

5, Only approved genres are permitted to be written- no ‘nasty ‘science fiction or fantasy!

The Ugly

Some groups thrive on competitiveness and backbiting!

Ugly

Petty rivalries and jealousies abound, they are cliquey and only allow certain members.

In a creative writing course.that I attended a group of three poured scorn on everyone else’s efforts. The facilitator- either did not see or ignored it.As the course lasted a semester, this was not the happiest or friendliest of groups. Unfortunately, it was obligatory for me to attend.

There is no need for you to suffer this kind of treatment if you don’t have to.

Nourish your own ego in a healthy way and walk away

Egos can get bruised, by criticism whether tactfully phrased or not. At one group a disgruntled member sent poison pen letter and serious threats were made!

What Makes A Good Writing Group?

    1.Leadership is inclusive and encouraging

CUte Angel All members are free to participate in the group’s activities and no one member can dominate.

2.Writing prompts are set which may slightly challenge the group. So, in one meeting the focus may be on metaphor usage, while the next time it could be on dialogue or pacing.

3, Writers are encouraged to write in their own individual way. The unique ‘voice’of each writer is preserved.

4, Feedback is provided on shorter pieces, if requested. This can be content, word choice and usage, with suggestions to make the piece stronger.

5.They have an interest in all aspects of writing and members attend author talks, writing festivals and events.

Editing is not within the scope of most groups Although from time to time a new member will bring in a manuscript which they hope to have edited quickly and for free. Editing is professional skill and is usually charge accordingly.

The next post will focus on how to assess a writing group’s suitability for your needs.

What has been your experience with writing groups?

 

What Watching Ice Dancing Taught Me About Writing.

Over the last few weeks, I have been watching The International SkatingUnion Ice Dance Competitions. In the midst of an Australian Summer, it has been a delightful cool change., relaxing to mind and body.

In the last couple of days, I have been watching the crème de la crème of the skating world as they competed in the Olympics. Beyond the costumes and the glamour, these skaters are dedicated athletes practising hundreds of hours to achieve perfection.

 

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Image Wikipedia.

At first, what fascinated me was how much emotion can be conveyed by body movements and facial expressions. The skaters told a story without using words.

For a writer, one who values words it created a paradox, how could this be? The more I watched the more I understood that they and I could convey a mood through body language.

As writers we are always being told to ‘show not tell’, and here it was in action, the skaters were conveying emotion,

Skaters cannot glide gracefully across the ice unless they are willing to accept the possibility of falling.

Writers cannot improve, unless they are willing to push past failure and go on to succeed.

Grace on the ice comes after gruelling hours of practice. Why do we expect writing to be any different? We too have to learn our craft, to be brave and to risk failure.

Ice dancing

After watching a few less than dignified falls I also realised that skaters are prepared to fail in public, in the pursuit of their dream.  Falls can be an issue for skaters potentiality causing serious injuries. Even if not injured, a fall can upset the flow of a good performance.But skaters have resilience, If they fall, they mentally shrug it off and get back up and keep skating. It’s a blip and not a disaster.

Writers hit a bit of stumbling block in the privacy of their own minds and so many of us just stop. Just as skaters cannot glide gracefully across the ice unless they are willing to accept the possibility of falling. Writers cannot improve, unless they are willing to push past failure and go on to succeed.

Grace on the ice comes after gruelling hours of practice. Why do we expect writing to be any different? We too have to learn our craft, to be brave and to risk failure.

Should You Take The Off Ramp?

pexels-photo-236047.jpegAlas for those that never sing, but die with the music in them.” Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Singer Unsplash
Nightmatic from Unsplash

 

You have a goal, one that matters to you. One that you secretly would love to accomplish and yet, you never manage to achieve it.

WHY?

In my experience, it’s because you took the off-ramp.The diversion and you ignored the sign that said WRONG WAY. GO BACK Instead you went ahead and forgot the route that you had planned for yourself.The one taking you one step closer to achieving a goal.  You allowed yourself to be diverted And there are lots of diverting things out there. TV, movies, friends, books, 

Perhaps you told yourself “I can do it later,” or maybe even “it’s not so important.”

Deep down though you know that you shortchanged yourself. You let yourself down, again.You let yourself off easy.

It matters, especially when it is a goal that no-one else can achieve for you. No one else can exercise at the gym for you. Or can lose weight for you, it is you personally who have to put in the effort.

You want to write a book? Lot’s of people do want to have their name on a book. Someone could ghostwrite a book for you, but will that satisfy you? It would not satisfy me.If I publish a book I want it to be my own work.

We get in our own way. We do take the off-ramp.

 

Detour - JAmie Street Unspash
by Jamie Street Unsplash.

 

I believe it’s a self-protective mechanism, if we never try, then we never fail.

We fear failure, but perhaps we fear success even more.If we do nothing then we can keep dreaming our dreams and never have to do anything about them.

Are you happy with that? This year I am aiming to do more and to reach for my dreams. If I don’t succeed, I will at least have tried.

 

Are You Being Productive Or Just Busy?

Some good questions to ask yourself are

Am I doing what I want to do? Am I getting closer towards my goal?

 

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Should I have a goal? The answer to the last question, by the way, is YES.

The Cheshire Cat in Alice In Wonderland gave Alice this advice

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The Cheshire Cat image Pinterest

At the beginning of 2017, I made a list of the things I wanted to achieve with my writing, and as the year draws to a close I am reviewing it and assessing it. Here’s what I discovered.

The Good: I achieved far more than I originally intended

The Bad: While I did far more than previous years, I was not specific enough.

The Ugly Truth: I am no further towards my goal than I was at the beginning of the year

How did this happen?At the start of the year, I made a list of practical things I could do to extend my writing. Then the list held nine items, one of which was to start a blog.

At years end the list had grown to sixteen items, as I added things I thought would be interesting or fun to do.Everything on the list depended on me doing something. The only actions that I can control are my own. I cannot make readers or editors like my work. My task is to write and to improve and not try to second guess what others will think.

What did I achieve? I wrote a novella, a long short story, an 8-word story, I submitted to a couple of magazines, took some courses, attended some author talks and a writing convention and completed National Novel In Month.

A lot you might think  BUT I haven’t done much to achieve my real goal of completing a novel and getting it published. I have been busy, very busy and in one sense productive, but I have not got any nearer to my goal.

I scattered my efforts, and now I know this I intend to make another list for 2018. It will have fewer items but a bigger goal to finally write that book! The book that I have wanted to write for so long, but hesitated to do so. I am giving myself permission to try.

What do you want to achieve in 2018?  Maybe you should make a list of the steps to take to get you there. Let me know what you plan on achieving.