It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the YEAAAAAAARGH!

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Un-named blog host has lost–and I have re-written–this post FIVE TIMES.  I’m rough draft posting as a workaround.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

UPDATE 1: Ok, FYI there is no Low-Budget Writing post this week because haven’t finished the books for the next few topics.  It’s that time of year when things are stacked up and glitchy (<cough><Blog-host-that-shall-not-be-named><cough>), and there’s not nearly enough hours in the day.  Carving any creative writing out of the day is nearly impossible, and most days I’m too tired to edit in the evenings.

Still, I did submit a short story last week, which brings me to a grand total of TWO submissions.  Yikes.  It’s better than zero, but I have a looooong way to go.

I also re-started an exercise program, so the chances of living until I get published are marginally better.  That’s good, I guess.

I’ll keep this short and pointless (much like my writing) so we can all find something more productive to do.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Writing!

UPDATE 2: I may have angered the internet gods when I named-and-shamed my blog host.  Edited, so please let people see my post, now.  Please.  PLEASE!

 

 

 

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Low-Budget Writing Program: Part 6 Grammar and Punctuation and Bears! Oh, My!

I am the last person who should be giving anybody grammar and punctuation advice, but I will tell you about the books that have made my self re-education slightly easier.  You could, of course, go right to one of the style books, but there are over a dozen, and many more blogs, columns, and other sources.  I was looking for something that would entertain me into better usage.

Of course, when it comes to usage, there is the question of whether you side with the followers of linguistic prescription (the rules are always correct) or linguistic description (actual usage is more correct).  There is no right answer, by the way.  Just MANY different opinions, and most people fall somewhere in the middle.

‘When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready… The teacher will disappear”

-Lao Tzu

This is a motto of mine.  All of these books were found in used book stores, gifting me with their timely appearance when I was on a strict budget.  Since I have been avoiding writing this post successfully–for a year–you are getting the added bonus of which book actually stuck around in my unreliable memory the longest.  Lucky, lucky you.

Scan_20171127 (36)Angels sang and the sky lit up with glorious rainbows when the prophesies came to pass, and I finally came across “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White (Forth edition by Allen & Bacon, Massachusetts 2000).  It was a shockingly thin book. (Six different publication dates, 1935 the earliest.  That is some serious staying power.)  I’m not sure why it took me so long to find a copy, since every time I’ve gone to the book store since that day there have been at least five copies to choose from.  I guess I was not ready before that day.

The word ‘style’ in the book’s title is not an accident, and that style is concise. If a writer wishes to be clear and bold with the English language, then this is a benchmark to guide you. Even if your style is wordy and obscure, it will still make an excellent base for writing in general.  (I, personally, got a huge kick out of the older ‘misused’ words, but I’m a total word-nerd.)  White’s added chapter five, with its twenty-one approaches to style, is worth serious study.  I may not keep a copy of the book in my pocket, as is suggested, but it sits on a shelf, close to hand.

Scan_20171127 (30)“Mortal Syntax” by June Casagrande (Penguin Group, New York 2008) is next on the pile. Clever and funny, this book is actually a defensive rant about all the things the author was accused of being wrong about–repeatedly–while she ran a grammar column.  (This is actually her second book, and I’m keeping an eye out for the first.)  In these pages I learned there were several style guides, and they didn’t always agree with each other.  No wonder the arguments get so heated, for there is no One True Way.  I enjoyed her biting humor, but the funny stories stayed with me longer than the actual grammar advice, and that wasn’t for very long, either.  My search continued…

Scan_20171127 (34)“Words Fail Me” by Patricia T. O’Conner (Harcourt Brace & Company, New York 1999) is another good and clever book full of anecdotes, but the rules she tried to convey were quickly forgotten.  It’s a good writing style book to try on, like a rambling conversation with a knowledgeable writer while wearing comfy yoga pants and sipping tea, and worth it if your brain remembers rules better in this way, but of limited use to me in the long run.

Who is the clear winner, and the book I will read again to brush up on rules before self-editing?

Scan_20171127 (32)“My Grammar and I… Or Should That Be Me?” Caroline Taggart and J. A. Wines (The Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, NY 2009) is the closest to a school textbook, and it shocked me that that was what I actually needed.  I guess logic-brain wins this round, when I was putting my money on creative-brain all along.  Now, don’t be fooled thinking this is just dry rules.  The authors sprinkle in just enough Sahara wit to keep you from nodding off at your desk, then drooling until the bell rings and startles you awake.  Most importantly, I came away with a working knowledge of grammar and punctuation, which was the whole point of this project.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a year since I read this, and while I may have retained enough to get by, I definitely need to read this, again.  Soon.  An added bonus will be when I self-edit, I will know what to call the things that went wrong.  (Other than “Bastard,” that is.)  “Compound conjunction” and “irregular verb” will mean something, and not be just static in a confused brain.  I’m getting giddy just thinking about it!

Well, that’s the best advice I can give to date on this topic.  There’s nothing to fear about grammar and punctuation, and I’ve run out of time for the bears (maybe next time).  Don’t go off thinking you can go straight to self-publishing after this.  This should be just enough to not get you laughed out of the publisher’s office, or make a complete fool out of yourself online.  Self-publishing is going to require more eyes than just yours!  Either find some highly skilled (but free labor) beta readers, or your going to have to come up with the money for a good editor. Don’t trust yourself to catch every thing!  Even professional editors go to another editor.

While hanging out with other writers online, I found a grammar/editor blogger named Thomas Weaver who is fun, interesting, and does a daily Writing Glitch series that is great for testing your knowledge.  Follow him if you like a challenge, or if you might need something professionally edited in the future.  https://northofandover.wordpress.com/2017/11/27/writing-glitch-547/#like-10679

You may have missed the other posts of the Low-Budget Writing Program:

  1. Butt in Chair
  2. Monster in My Manuscript
  3. Take Over the Literary World!
  4. When the Manuscript Goes Into the Garbage
  5. Fear is the Mind-Killer
  6. Grammar and Punctuation and Bears! Oh, My!

The Future May Be In Your Hands

Today, I’m not talking about myself and my struggles to become a writer, or trying to organize what I have learned to benefit other writers.  I’m going to talk about some kids. (Or, more specifically, my own kid, who wants to be a writer.)

ocp flyer 002My daughter is in the Occupational Credential Program at her high school.  Kids end up in this program for different reasons.  My daughter loves old movies, comics and manga, video game lore, cryptozoology, world mythology, cosplay, bad puns, and scaring people.  She also has autism, with a combination of issues that make it too hard to get a standard diploma, and it’s unlikely she will go to college.  This is why she is in the OCP.

OCP flyer 001She wants to be an artist, and a writer, and a video game researcher/developer.  We’ve had “the talk” with her, about how artists and creative people usually have a day job until the creative work starts to make money.  She understands and accepts this unfortunate fact of life.  But she’s a teenager , and she has dreams…

The wonderful teachers for the OCP have organized a job shadowing opportunity for the kids on a cruise ship…   I know it sounds weird at first–I was very skeptical–but Mrs. R explained that she hoped such a huge break from the everyday life of a regular town would really open the kids eyes of the possibilities for jobs out in the wider world.

And she’s right, of course, but it’s also a chance to expand their horizons, quite literally.  My artistic, sensitive child will get to see a sunset at sea, watch the movement of waves and wake, experience a diverse population of many cultures and languages, have a little fun, and who knows what else.  These new experiences could re-shape her perspectives, and be the meat and potatoes of her future artistic life.

But it also costs money.  While I imagine the parents will find the money to send the OCP kids on this trip, along with a family or school volunteer, we are also asking for sponsorship from businesses and corporations.

ocp letter 001letterbackbk-001-e1511230497608.jpgI’m not asking for money from individuals, because so many of my friends are in the same tight circumstances as I am.  I just don’t have any personal connections with businesses practicing this kind of inclusive sponsorship, and I thought one or more of my friends or followers might.  (Maybe a comic publisher, or a game developer.) And I don’t normally ask for post sharing or likes, but that’s how social media works, so I would really appreciate it this time.  More eyes on this post could make all the difference for someone having difficulties raising the money.

Questions about sponsoring the OPC Job Shadowing Cruise should be sent to:

  • Benjamin Dangerfield at bdangerfield@lexington1.net
  • Karen S. Rozmus at krozmus@lexington1.net

And tell them it’s for AJ and all the other kids in the OCP with big dreams!

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Jak and Daxter! (My favorite cosplay picture of AJ!)

Until next week, Happy Writing!

 

Low-Budget Writing Program: Part 5 Fear is the Mind-Killer

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Anywriter who spends any time thinking about showing their work to another person has likely felt fear.  Unfortunately, that never goes away, according to the professionals who share tips.

I have already given my thoughts and book suggestions for getting the story written, but, obviously, there is more to learn.  There is a deep connection between the fear of writing and good writing.  Honestly, there should be a copy of “The Courage to Write” by Ralph Keyes (Henry Holt and Company, New York 1995) in the starter pack of every writer.  You didn’t get the starter pack?  Neither did I, but I did find the book at my local library.  (And just in time.)

The book is at first a warm hand holding yours, telling you all is well, your fears are perfectly normal, and–more importantly–useful, then there are a ton of examples of writers finagling their way around their fears to produce words of worth.  (And writers are pretty creative when it comes to finding a comfortable way to write.  Prepare to be shocked and amazed!)  If you find you are lacking the courage to put your work out there, please seek out this book before giving up on yourself.

“Trying to deny, avoid, numb, or eradicate the fear of writing is neither possible nor desirable.  Anxiety is not only an inevitable part of the writing process but a necessary part.  If you’re not scared, you’re not writing.  No message in this book is more important.  A state of anxiety is the writer’s natural habitat.”

Ralph Keyes

While we are on the subject of fear, there is a book that is incredibly useful in detailing the physical manifestations of fear, and when and why you should listen to your body/brain warnings.  “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Becker (Originally published by Little, Brown and Company in 1997, now updated and published by the author through Amazon 2010.) is also useful in lots of other ways to writers and other persons just trying to navigate the world in unsafe times, and nearly as important as a reminder for trusting your intuition.  (Intuition is sister to Inspiration.  Ignore either of them at your peril, for sisters do gossip.)

“‘No’ is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who choses to not hear it is trying to control you.”

Gavin de Becker

 

Here are the other posts in this series:

  1. Butt in Chair
  2. The Monster in My Manuscript
  3. Take over the Literary World!
  4. When the Manuscript Goes Into the Garbage
  5. Fear is the Mind-Killer
  6. Grammar and Punctuation and Bears! Oh, My!

The Purpose of Art…

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That’s it.  All thirty-one pieces of art from Inktober.  I framed them and put them above my desk.

It feels a bit weird, like I’m betraying my humble, working class heritage.  We don’t go  for vanity, or tootling your own horn, or any such drawing attention to yourself.  I mean, they aren’t that good, and some of them a really bad.  Nobody would buy them, and art is a waste of time, and you have to work hard to feed your family.  I mean, you could put one or two of the best up, but not where anyone would see, except maybe family, who will love you anyway.  You don’t want to get above yourself.

Fuck that.

I turn fifty in a couple of months.  My country is a dumpster fire.  Human rights and social safety nets are being lost and cut like they’re made of tissue paper.  (The really cheap stuff, from the dollar store.)  Profit is God, and people are dying on it’s altar.  Everybody I know is struggling to keep it together, sometimes just day-by-day.  Including me.

I’m going to make Art.  I’m going to draw and write my feelings.  I spent thirty-one dollars at the dollar store for frames.  I went to the library for books on graphic novel and comic book techniques.  I’ve written three novels, have the notes for six more, and I’m going to keep working on them until they are ready to publish.  I’m going to submit short stories to anthologies, and keep writing my blog, and…  Keep screaming my words to the wind.

I don’t really know what else to do.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”  Pablo Picasso

Inktober Countdown!

Scan_20171030 (3)I’m completely fried, but wanted to check in.  Thank you for all of the support and patience with me this month.  I will try to get the useful posts up in November and December, along with pics of the costume I was working on.

Apparently, I’ve just added a graphic novel/comic series to next year’s agenda, because I didn’t have enough projects going on.  Nice.  It’s scripted, but I’ll be doing layout and pencils.  Then I’ll have to ink, color and letter it, unless I hook an artist by the imagination or suddenly get rich enough to hire one.  Yikes!

Happy writing, especially all of you NaNoWriMo participants!  I’ll be cheering you from the sidelines!

What?

Scan_20171015 (6)I’m sure no Humans are worried that I missed a post last Monday.  Hell, I didn’t even realize I had forgotten for about 36 hours.  I have found the literal, figurative, metaphorical, and actual limit to my creativity.

Inktober and making-a-new-cosplay-for-my-daughter do not play well with others.  I was able to edit for the first two weeks, along with helping some friends with other projects, but it all went sideways week three.

Honestly, I’ll be surprised if I get a post up next Monday, unless it’s just a stream of obscenities.  I may post Nov 1st to prove I survived, or I will sleep all day.  Thank goodness I didn’t commit to NaNoWriMo because of my strong commitment to editing my WIP.  Good luck to those who are doing it!

Catch y’all on the flip side!