Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Drawer Full of Memories

By Keith Fisher

While searching for a lost something the other day. I pulled on my center desk drawer. It decided to be free, and came all the way out. I sat there, with the desk contents on the floor, and threw my hands in the air. I needed to go to bed, so I left it.

It was still there this morning, when I went to post my blog. The drawer lay on the floor with the contents strung all over. I sat and stared at the mess. It was kind of like those I Spy books we give to kids, only I was reliving memories with each object I spied. I looked at the Dutch oven tag from the Japanese Dutch Oven Society, expensive pens I haven’t seen for a long time, Dutch oven hat-pins, and a miniature sword letter opener.

Of course there were stamps and checkbooks, Drafting tools and colored pencils. The charcoal pens I used to make headstone rubbings on our trip to Pennsylvania were there. As well as old hunting and fishing licenses, Keys, and spare change. I found the whistle that was given to me by Chuck-A-Rama restaurants in a Dutch oven cook off. I wondered where that went. The one thing that grabbed my attention most, however, was the old Duty to God Award.

When I was a teenager in the early seventies, it wasn’t cool to get merit badges in scouts or work on any thing like a Duty to God Award. It was cool to skip church, break the word of wisdom, and go inactive. Consequently, I never received a Duty to God Award.

After I got married, I rode my bicycle for exercise. I was riding one day, about 14-years ago, and found an On My Honor Award lying in the street. It is givento Deacons who are on their way to Duty TO God and it had obviously been discarded because of the way it lay in the road. Someone had even driven over it with an automobile.

I picked it up and took it home. Every time I examined it, I was intrigued. What would make someone throw it away? It seemed pretty callous considering I foolishly never received one. I had served an honorable mission and wished I had remained righteous and pure through my teenage years. Someone had, and they were discarding that.

The Duty to God Award is now a medallion, but back when I was that age, the award was a real medal, with a pin for attaching to a scout uniform, like the Eagle award.

The Duty to GOD Award, coveted by me, stands symbolic of a committed soul. A soul, that puts God first in his life. I keep the award I found, as a reminder to be, that committed soul. Perhaps my desk drawer is not the best place to keep it. I think I’ll hang it above my computer so it can remind me.

Now, the part about writing, my desk drawer is a great analogy of the editing process. Sometimes it’s hard to get the story right. We search, and search, for that one little flaw. "Why doesn’t it work?" we ask. We start pulling on the drawer by tightening the sentences. Still, there is something wrong. So we pull harder.

Like my drawer, we end up with our story all over the floor. Editing and tweaking are essential to a good story, but it can be overdone. Recently, I tweaked a chapter before taking it to critique group. When I got it home, I noticed one of the suggestions was to change something back to the way I had it before. My group didn’t know that, but they all agreed.

There is a time to quit editing and step back. Give it to someone else to read, while you work on your new project. Don’t pull too hard on that drawer handle.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Goodnight Harry

By Keith Fisher
I Saw, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on Tuesday night. My daughter and I stood/sat in line for the midnight showing on opening day. It was our daddy/daughter date, and I wanted her to have the experience of being in an opening night movie.

We left about ten-thirty, thinking we would be first in line. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. When I turned the corner into the Riverwoods development, the sheer numbers of humanity shocked us. Finding a parking space wasn’t easy, but at least we didn’t have to go to borders.

People lined the building. They extended into the parking lot and up the street. The theatre worker on the corner asked us what time our tickets said. I told him, and he directed me to the line up the road.

By the time they let us inside, there was no rhyme or reason to the lines. They picked a line and started with them. Yeah, you guessed it---we were last. Theatre assignments were given according to ticket show time. We walked into our theatre, and all the seats were taken. We sat in the middle, on the extreme front row.

I watched conversations happen with Harry on one side of the screen, and Ron on the other. I literally had to turn my body to watch the other one say his bit. It gave a whole new meaning to the term, following a conversation.

So how was the movie? You ask. After the last two movies and all they had to leave out in the translation from book to movie, I thought they would make the last books into two movies each. There was a ton of relevant stuff left out. I wonder how anyone, who hasn’t read the book, could follow the movie. Also leaving out scenes that touched our hearts in the final pages of the book was lame. I hope they show us those scenes at the beginning of the next movie.

I’m told they did The Deathly Hallows in two movies and I’m glad. I just wish they had done that in earlier movies.

As for the film, it’s nice to see another one. But I suspect the die-hard fans will be disappointed. The cheers and applause was deafening when the movie started. When it was over, surprisingly little applause could be heard. I heard a few disparaging remarks mostly about scenes that were missed.

As for standing in line at midnight to see a movie, I think I’ll grow up. I say, “Goodnight harry. I’ll watch you at a better time.” Although it was fun to listen to the college kids talk. I learned about how to write characters of that age. As a younger man, I stood in line for many a Star Trek premier. I loved the movies (I think), because I hadn’t read a book before. Maybe those who didn’t read will love the movie.

Personally, I got more out of the television special about JK Rowling a couple of days later. It showed (a little) of what it’s like to be an author. However, I wish they’d shown the edit/rewrite process, and how painful that can be. The program gave the impression that writing is a piece of cake when it’s really a lot of hard work. I did see something that touched me, and I will end this blog on that note.

The show was a collection of clips taken over the year in Rowling’s life when she was finishing Deathly hallows. They took sequestered video that would not be released until after the release of the book. There was a scene when we saw her finishing edits on the final pages. Non writers would think she was writing the book, but they showed us her computer screen, and I noticed she added sentences and took things out.

When she finished the last edit. She turned to her interviewer and smiled. She said it’s done and immediately grew sad. Her thoughts were about those who would not like it. Try as she might, she couldn’t please everyone.

There are many lessons to be learned by that. One I would point out is we can’t expect everyone to like our book. There will be some that just don’t get it, but if we listen to our characters and write what we feel, it will be as it should be.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Word Weaver

By Keith Fisher

When I was asked to review Bron Bahlmann’s new book, Bone Warriers, It was still an ARC and hadn’t been released yet. Because of life changes and commitments, It kept being put back. I never knew what I was missing.

Finally, I picked up the book and began to read. Two paragraphs into the first chapter, I became aware that Bron Bahlmann was no ordinary kid writer. I had to read his sentences out loud because of the mastery of his writing.

Bron is a word weaver. He takes sentences and braids them into other sentences without the aid of a conjunction. And the words he uses conjure images in the mind, leaving the reader feeling like he/she has taken a journey.

I like this book and I like reading it. The author has a long career ahead of him. I’m glad he writes fantasy because I would have to stop writing. My mediocre talent is no match for his. When I grow up I want to be like Bron. I want to be a word weaver.

Bone Warriors is YA, but its a must read for everyone. You can find information about the book and Bron here. You can find the book at Amazon and fine bookstores everywhere.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Patriotism-Happy Holiday

By Keith Fisher

Sorry, I went camping and didn't get this posted this morning. Hope Your holiday was great.

For several years now, I’ve attended the Orem Summerfest Parade. It’s always fun. It’s held in the evening, and I don’t have to bake in the sunshine.

In all the years, there are a few parades that stand out. One, in particular, back in the nineties, sticks out in my mind. When the flag passed, me, my friend, and maybe six others, were the only ones who stood up. With my hand over my heart, I wondered what happened to patriotism?

I was equally disturbed right after 911, when the number of those standing increased. I couldn’t help but wonder where all the new patriots came from? Wasn’t it just as important to stand before?

There is a new twist, now. A civil war reenactment group marches down the road with a flag, and they fire their black powder rifles. Its great having them there, but one of them, dressed in an officers uniform, draws his saber and points it at spectators. He commands them to remove their hat or stand up. He is reminding people to show respect by commanding them at the point of a sword.

I like to think he doesn’t realize what he’s doing. One day, I watched him threaten a man who doesn’t speak English. The man was visiting his children from South America. Clearly that man didn’t understand. Besides, isn’t it true, that in the USA I have a right to not stand?

Patriotism is like belief in Deity. It comes from a place in the heart. It can’t be forced any more than faith in God can be. There is a very sweet, almost spiritual moment when I stand for the flag and put my hand over my heart. I hope everyone feels the same, but allegiance that is forced, is not patriotism.

Have a happy Independence Day. If you go to a parade, stand up when the flag passes by. I think you’ll like it. If someone threatens you with a dangerous weapon . . . well, consider the source.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.