Friday, June 28, 2013

I’m Reading The Most Wonderful Book

 A very dear friend sent me Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.  I’m about halfway through this unusual memoir about a woman who had literally lost her way in life and decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, an arduous and dangerous, at times, journey from Mexico to Canada along the rim of mountains that stretch north to south a couple of hundred miles east of the West Coast of North America.

It’s already a wonderful reading experience for me, because the author is thrown into a tail spin by the death of her beloved mother and some of her reactions are so similar to trouble I’ve been having settling the death of my father into my soul. But it is an absolutely fabulous read for anyone. You’ll find yourself experiencing laughter, trepidation, sorrow, relief and great joy along with Strayed.

I did want to share this book with other readers, but that wasn’t the main purpose of this post. I felt a tremendous need to comment on how healing reading can be. I’ve read a number of books this past year that have touched me in one way or another, softening edges or making clear some point I hadn’t been able to resolve myself.  However, this particular pain I’ve been experiencing is only one of the many times reading a wonderful book has come to my rescue.

Often, by reading of the hardships of others, as in The Grapes of Wrath, appreciation for my own lucky life has taken hold and shaken me out of complacency.  Passages or whole books filled with joy also fill me with joy. Where I’ve struggled to find the right vehicle for a portion of a book I’ve been working on, I will read something like Portnoy’s Complaint and realize exactly what I need to do.

I have always been a prodigious reader and thank the heavens for that. Isn’t it wonderful that we endeavor as humans to communicate and it so often works? What a miracle.

Here’s wishing you a miraculous experience as both a reader and a writer, if that’s your passion.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Is Twitter Affecting Your Writing?

Recently, I’ve noticed that my writing on Facebook and in emails has become abbreviated. For instance, rather than starting a sentence off with “I hope”, I’ll say “Hope.” I’m dropping words all over the place, which really disturbs me because I think it appears lazy if a reader doesn’t know that I’ve just gotten used to squeezing my ideas into 140 characters. 

But there’s an upside to this constant exercise in conciseness that is Twitter. I’m finding my lines of dialog and story points seem to be cleaner, more straight-forward. There’s not as much beating around the bush. I’ve always been fairly succinct anyway, but now it comes a bit more naturally. The fluff falls away naturally.

I wonder, as well, if our spoken language will eventually become more curtailed? Will we began to drop words that can be assumed? Technology and social media have brought truly significant and rather drastic changes with them. It will be interesting to see, in a decade or two, what effects they will have had on us linguistically.

So, what do you think? Is Twitter affecting your writing?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bring on the Music

 As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Al Green cajole me in Let’s Stay Together. In the past year of virtual writer’s brain freeze I had forgotten just how important music was to my muse, Shirley (yes, she has a name and looks remarkably like Shirley Maclaine.)

In fact, I recently purchased a new CD copy of Michael Buble’s album Crazy Love. Why? Because I burned through the disc in the writing of my novels Red Mojo Mama and Red is an Attitude. The songs on the CD belong to my main character, Lydia “Red” Talbot. I’m about to take up the third in the trilogy and I need Buble’s tracks to do it justice. 

My daughter sent me Buble’s latest album, To Be Loved , and this one seems to belong to the heroine of a brand new WIP. 

The music generally fades into the background as I’m writing, but at times I find myself chair-dancing to a particular song, like Heartache Tonight. Either way, the attitude of the music filters into my writing in only the best way. I get energized; write for a much longer period and come away feeling so damn good. 

Give it a try. It may not be your cup of tea, but experimenting is always a good thing. If you currently use music, please comment on what floats your boat.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Life-Saving Activity – Writing Your Memoir

I was thrown into a tail spin when my father passed last July. Many people have described me as fearless over the years, and yet, just thinking had become a scary thing. I was processing and reassigning the family dynamics I grew up with. I was acknowledging truths that could not be told to anyone. Nearly a year has passed in trying to sort it all out. 

I finally realized recently that nothing is ever going to change with me until I get my feelings about my life down on paper. What’s been scaring me off was the idea that it would have to be published. Of course not! It only needs to see the light of my own day; that way the thoughts in my head that can drop me like a polio-stricken child can be stopped from whirling constantly around in my head. When I write, everything becomes real. It becomes truth. That’s a bit scary at first, because once you recognize an ugly or unpleasant truth, there’s the problem of keeping it to yourself.  For the original “too-much-information” giver, this can be an issue. 

I’m consciously not editing this piece much because I think it’s critical in writing your memoir to be as authentic and free-flowing as you can. So, actually this is a bit of an exercise as I’m planning to go back to the memoir when I’m done here. 

I’ve always said, since I was a teenager, that I would be a better writer after my parents were gone. Terrible thought, terrible to say, but still true. That’s because, like most writers, my abilities, whatever they may be, stem from an imperfect past, beginning in childhood. There are many, many things that I want to write honestly about, but can’t because it would hurt too many people.  That need is clawing at my insides, but what I’ve already found, in such a short time, is that beginning…writing…is the true cure. 

Again, it doesn’t ever have to be read, but as I write I’m being as truthful as I can, both about other people and myself. That’s a killer. My goal for about five years now is to be as authentic as I can be. Society really doesn’t permit true authenticity, but a person can get close. I treasure and honor kindness and that doesn’t always blend well with truth, yet I strive to be honest whenever I can.

Writers, and frankly anyone else, if you’re trying to sort things out, get your life back or just get past a particular problem, write about it. If it’s your whole life, then start a memoir. Return to it each time you have a memory that needs examining. Be ruthless, on paper. Don’t share it if you don’t want to. In fact, I urge you to keep it to yourself the first time and see if that doesn’t make you more “for real.”

I’ve been struggling far too long and am so happy to be back on track that I couldn’t help but share this. I sincerely hope this helps someone else.