Saturday, November 25, 2006

Staying in Sync on the Farm

By Keith Fisher

Have you ever noticed in the early days of the church, most of the important meetings were held in the winter or early spring? I wondered about that, until I realized that most of the first members were farmers.

In the spring, farmers did chores and mended tools, but mostly they waited. They couldn’t do anything in the fields until the fields dried out. In the summer, farmers were busy weeding and doing the chores that provided a living for their family. In the winter, they survived. If the weather got bad they were cooped up for days with nothing to do but read and play games.

It’s no wonder that Joseph picked the spring to go into the grove and pray. After a winter of reading the scriptures, he must have been anxious to get out and try out his new found wisdom.

I was reflecting on my writing habits the other day, and I remembered when I started writing. It was in the dead of winter. There wasn’t much I could do out-of-doors and I hated to waste time watching TV. For a few years this was my habit. I would put out a rough draft over the winter and polish it as I found time in the spring.

After a few years, I discovered a desire to get closure for my characters. A year or two later, I got serious about writing. Now, I write every day sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.

With the approach of the holidays once again, I am observing another anniversary. I celebrate my awakening to the joys and sorrows of writing fiction. In March, (the early spring), I will attend the big meeting, (writer’s conference), I will be renewed, I will be ready, I will be a published author . . . well I can dream can’t I?

Anyway it’s time to write the family newsletter and shut myself up in my office. This winter I have six books in the works. I hope to get one of them finished. One book is written and waiting approval. When you read this blog, Thanksgiving will already be over, but let me wish you a happy one anyway and just for good measure, I wish you a happy productive winter. May you emerge in the spring among the hibernating critters with your finished book in hand and a publishing contract to sign.

To paraphrase, I hope your holidays are full of joy.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Editorial Blindness

By Keith Fisher

First let me apologize for the poor way this is written. Here at LDS Writers BLOGCk we have a group where we meet and review each other’s blog before we post it. I for one have benefited immensely from this relationship.

Normally I tend to capitalize things, and I repeat words to the point of distraction. I used to write "started" a lot. Now I use the word "that". I am so glad that Nichole has eyes to notice that. (You see I did it again.) Connie and Gaynell constantly ask me to explain my meanings, Cindy, (I mean Inky) should be an English teacher because she catches things that I should know better.

Darvell is an inspiration, Wendy helps me see things in a different way, Karen gives me ideas, and it’s a blessing for me to be associated with these people.

Now that you have read this far, have you spotted any errors yet? I couldn’t ask my friends to look this over because I have been in a crisis since last Thursday and didn’t get it written in time.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I have editorial blindness. I can look at a whole page of manuscript and not see any mistakes. Then I have what I call a slap myself on the forehead moment, when I see colored marks from an editor. I fix the mistake and move on. I think those moments are getting fewer and farther between. (It’s a good thing. I was getting a headache.) I am getting better, but I don’t think I will ever outgrow an editor.

That’s the beauty of a writers group. At Authors Incognito, I have friends that can see what I missed. We’re tolerant of each other because we know how many mistakes we make ourselves. We all have editorial blindness to one degree or other. For those of you who don’t know, Authors Incognito is the writers group who sponsors this blog. You can join by attending a LDS StoryMakers writer’s conference.

Those of you who don’t live on the Wasatch Front may not have heard the commercial that says, "You have a friend in the diamond business". For those of you who are members of Authors Incognito I would say, "You have a friend in the writing business," Even the authors will help out.

This was going to be a piece about the approach of the Christmas season and the shameful way we commercialize it. Maybe I’ll save that for another time. Until then, feel free to comment and tell me how many errors I made. It will make my friends feel good to know they have been so helpful to me. Comment anyway, I love to see responses, it always makes my day.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Getting My Butt Out of the Chair

By Keith Fisher

In all the seminars I attend on the subject of writing, there’s one thing they have in common. Writers will always say, you have to get your butt into the chair. It’s a quaint way of saying don’t procrastinate or waste time, just do it.

Today I want to turn that saying around to make a point. It’s a point I’ve made before, but I’m going to elaborate.

In my day job, I spend eight hours a day glued to a computer. I don’t move anything but my head and my hands for hours on end. I often don’t take breaks because I’m trying to finish a job. Then I come home, take care of family needs and glue myself to my chair to write.

My daughter told me there is a name for people like me; she called me a numb-butt. It’s the modern equivalent to the couch potato. I never thought of myself in those terms because what I do is exercising my mind. I don’t sit on a couch being entertained.

But you know . . . She may be right. How many times have I had to stretch out the kinks after spending too long in the chair? I don’t think I’m alone either. I think that the American couch potato is being replaced by numb-butts. Those who spend hours working in front of a computer then drop into bed late each night, exhausted because they have stretched their mind to the limit.

In my schedule, which should be called the best-laid plans of mice and men. I have carved out time for my writing. I also penciled in time for gardening, exercise, daddy/daughter dates, husband/wife dates, work time, and church time. Often I get so caught up in writing that when my scheduled time comes, I’ve already been writing for hours.

Those of you who know me well, know I can use all the exercise I can get so, I need to tell myself to get my butt out of the chair. What good will it do to get my books published if I can’t enjoy book signings and other activities? I don’t want to be published posthumously.

So I resolved to do it! To stop procrastinating and make sure I get out of my chair and get moving. I’ll still do the writing; I’m going to do my research while I’m out of the chair. I plan to carry a CD player and listen to books on CD. Maybe I can give my dad a run for his money on the number of books he’s read. I talked about that in another blog too. If your characters are dragging you in, and chaining you to a chair, maybe you should make a resolution too.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

It’s That Time of Year Again

By Keith Fisher

Each year the primary children in our ward gather at the church for a Halloween party. It’s directed by the young men/young women organizations. I look forward to it because of the trunk-or-treat.

If you’ve never participated in this ritual let me lay it out for you. Years ago it was relatively safe for parents to let their kids run wild in the streets on Halloween. Now, because of sick-minded individuals, it’s no longer an option. Someone developed the idea to have a trunk-or-treat so parents could feel that their kids were safe.

That’s a great idea isn’t it? Well it would be, except the kids in our neighborhood still do the Halloween night ritual. I’m so glad I live in a neighborhood where I know all my neighbors. Even with that, I still wouldn’t let my kids go out without supervision. But I digress, let’s get back to the trunk-or-treat.

The way it’s done is simple; you take a car, truck, minivan, SUV, and in one case this year, a Moped with the seat up. Back it up to the sidewalk, decorate it and provide the candy. It is fun for the adults to compare how artistic the decorations are. We had a good time with ours as you can see from the pictures. this one was ours

One of the families has always brought animated decorations for their trunk. This year, they
brought a new one. It looked like a little kid with a jack-o-lantern head. When someone approached, it would shift it’s weight from side to side and move it’s arms a little. Something about those actions made me fall in love with it. Did I say it’s cute?

I watched the cute little guy for awhile and my writer’s eyes took over. I dreamed up a scenario where the cute little thing spent Halloween night on someone’s porch greeting visitors. Everyone loved it. Then at midnight it turned evil and went on a Stephen King type of rampage throughout the neighborhood, starting with the death of the owners of the house.
Those who handled the estate put it into a box. Then on the following Halloween . . .

I was reciting this scenario to one of the guys in my ward and he said, "You ought to be a writer."

"Hmm," I said. "I think I am." He didn’t hear me and I didn’t want to get into another of those discussions so I let it go. I turned into my contemplative thoughts as I often do, and I said to myself, "No I ought to be a published author of fiction."

I may write the story of the cute little serial killer someday. But it’ll have to wait until I finish my other projects. In the meantime, I’m going to find a cute little guy for Halloween but I’m going to chain him to the porch, maybe keep a shotgun handy.