Saturday, September 27, 2014

What got you started?

By Keith N Fisher

Here I am again. Trying to entertain, amuse, and inspire you. How did you start writing? Was it that, English assignment you wrote for school? Did it start with the rainy day when you mother gave you pencils and paper to entertain yourself?

I know a writer who claims we were writing in the spirit world, before we were born. Whatever the first inspiration, why do you continue? Some of us claim writing is life and to stop writing, would bring madness. They must write or die.

Do you watch videos and read stories about writers? Stranger than Fiction is a good example of what I mean.

I have been watching old episodes of Murder She Wrote. It was an eighties television series about a woman who took up writing mysteries to stay sane, after her husband died. Each week she helped solve murder mysteries she just happened to stumble into. I think the main character was patterned after Agatha Christie’s, Miss Marple, and the was played by Angela Lansbury.

I liked watching the show back then, even though there were problems with plot. I mean, how many times in one life does a woman writer stumble across a murder? I’m watching it now, because it’s clean entertainment by today’s standards.

Now, that I have made writing my life, I love the references in the show to writing. The writer of the show, Peter S Fischer is a kindred spirit. From the way he has written writing into the show, I know, he feels about writing the way I do.

There are times when the character must get some writing time in, and does. In one episode, the character attends a writer’s awards function, and gets a chapter written, before the cocktails on the night before the awards.

Of course there is a murder, but the interaction between writers reminds me of an LDS Storymakers conference. Several people writing different genres, coming together with a common bond. The episode is based around an old washed up writer who steals a manuscript. He gets murdered and the main character has to solve the mystery because her friend has been arrested. Of course he didn’t kill the man.

Anyway, back to the point. In another episode, Lansbury mentions she wrote her first book to avoid the cliché existence of the quilting and sewing widow. Her book got published and now she spends her time traveling for promotion, and writing. She lives the life many writers aspire too.

Whatever got you started down the slippery slope of writing. I hope it fulfills your dreams. At the same time, I hope you don't run into murdered people everywhere you go.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

All Good Things . . .

By Keith N Fisher

At family reunions, I’ve heard the stories of my father’s family growing up on the farm in Southern Alberta. One of the most repeated, is their method for taking baths. Water had to heated on the stove, so they started with a little water. The baby got the first bath and for each kid youngest to oldest, they would add more water. The last person to take a bath got a full tub, but . . . It’s not good to be last in anything. The last person in line gets the leftovers.

Another of the original members of my critique group moved recently, and I’m sad. I started that group and the original members were handpicked, they will always be some of my best friends. There are two other, newer members, but their kids sports commitments made them join another group. I understand. The other group meets later and closer to their home. Things change. Jobs come and go, along with sanity. Life goes on.

I was invited to come with them to their other group, but they already have ten people in that group. It might be good for me, but . . . I don’t know what I’ll do. Change is hard sometimes. Still, I believe we should adapt or die.

I also seem to be the last writer standing on this blog. Either my ways are too set to move on, or I drove everybody else away. I hope it wasn’t the latter. I continue to post, it has become part of me. I’ve also leaned on my critique group too much. They all got published. I’m still learning my craft.

So here I am. I just finished, possibly, the best book I can write. Does it get better? I don’t know, but I wonder if I missed a signal somewhere along the way. It’s true, I haven’t kept up with my self promotion. I hate job interviews because I hate selling myself. I know my performance is more than adequate, but I don’t want to have to prove my metal.

In a world where everything is for sale, self-promotion is a necessary evil, and I fail. Getting back to the point, however, I don’t want things to change. I got comfortable meeting once a week, learning from my friends and getting input about my female characters from the women in the group. In a life turned upside down, it was comforting to know I had my critique group and this blog.

Back in the beginning of this blog, I took solace in knowing my fellow laborers could entertain the masses. I didn’t feel the burden of being witty or thought provoking. I learned from my writer friends, and it was nice to be part of something helpful to other writers.

The original writers have almost all gone. Most of them felt they had to move on. Some, because their careers had reached a certain point that they needed to do other things. Others moved on because they felt nobody was reading. I can’t blame them for that. How can you write helpful information if nobody reads it?

I guess it doesn’t matter. Reasons for change are always subjective, anyway. I sit here posting and wonder why I’m still here. If change is inevitable, then I apparently, missed the memo. I post on other blogs, but the LDS Writers blogck is the one that grounds me. On another blog, I post under a pseudonym. I can write anything I want. Nobody cares, but nobody reads it either.

I’m not posting these melancholy thoughts to make an announcement of some kind, I’m just thinking. In a conversation with a friend about change the other day, he asked if I’m still writing. I said oh yes. It’s the one constant in my life. That’s true. With all the change I’ve forced myself to endure in the last few years, I’m still writing. Sometimes its golden, sometimes its crap, but I’m still writing.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I Just Want to Celebrate

By Keith N Fisher

This week, I finished the first draft of a book I started writing several years ago. It turned into a sweet tragedy, set in the mid-nineteenth century. It ends the way many Nicholas Sparks novels end. In my story, the character learned many great lessons, and became a better person, but there was a price.

Part of the reasons it took so long to write are the logistical and research problems I had. Each time a problem arose, I put the project on hold. Something, however, made me bring it out to finish. This time, I worked through the problems. Those solutions created historical problems. So, my, (on the fly) research helped me keep from writing myself into a corner. I think I talked about that process before, on this blog.

When I finished, I re-read the last chapter. Like when reading a novel by the author I mentioned, I cried about my characters. It’s hard to live through so much with them, without becoming emotionally attached. Each time I re-read, it had the same effect on me.

I’m elated to finish, but I’m dreading the next step. Have I told you of my hatred for the edit and fix process? To be honest, though, it’s not the editing. It’s the worry over getting it right. I think I will always have a dumb spot in my brain for English. In truth, I like reading and finding the missed words and disappearing point plots. It’s humbling, but it’s not that hard, and spelling has never been a big problem. Grammar, on the other hand . . .

I think the worst part of editing is explained in an old proverb: Familiarity breeds contempt. By the time you read through a manuscript several times, you begin to hate what you wrote. I don’t want to reach the point where reading my last chapter, no longer makes me cry. I want to read it in critique group and sit there blubbering.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Cat Concept

By Keith N Fisher

In an effort to move on with my writing career, I made up my mind to edit on Labor Day. I had a pile of work to do outside, so I sat in front of the Television to sort my red stained paperwork. I intended to do my outside work, when the sun came up.

Normally, I can edit in front of the TV, I used to be able to concentrate on both the TV and writing, but I’m getting old. I started to edit but found a problem.

When I asked my critique group to look at my cookbook, I got it back in sections. And those sections went on the pile of editing to be done right away. As you might’ve guessed, I didn’t get to it right away, and things got messed up.

If I were to give you one word of advice it would be, number your pages. You never know what could happen to the order you wrote them.

I had printed two copies of the cookbook, not numbered, so in the course of many days, they got shuffled. There I sat with two piles of manuscript, my computer screen, and frustration. I found several pages missing. Not sure where they went, but undaunted, I continued.

During the course of it, My daughter came in and turned on Netflicks. The next thing I knew we were watching a new version of Sherlock Holmes. Now, I’ve never been a big fan of Sir Arthur Connan Doyle’s work, but the casting, the sets, and the screenplay intrigued me. I fell in love with the new version, little did I know the episodes were made to play for about two hours each.

So, there I was, trying to edit, but losing my concentration to Sherlock. (Who, by the way can concentrate really well.) The sun came up, and I stayed there. It took an hour to sort my manuscript, but hours later, I tried to put Sherlock away. I went to another part of the house and tried to edit. Sherlock kept calling me back. I had to see what would happen next.

Finally, after dark, I turned it off. I left my manuscript in two piles, along with research notes for one of my current projects. There was a pile on the couch and two on the floor. Other notes were on the side table. I warned them. Yes I did. I told the cats to leave my stuff alone.

I see your broad grin. If you know anything about cats, you know where this is going. They didn’t do much but sleep on the papers the first day. On the morning of the next day, however. I came down stairs thinking I need to take care of those papers. It was like a Disney movie. Now, I not only have two copies of manuscript to sort, but there is other stuff mixed in.

You can learn two things from this story, never trust a cat, and make your editing changes as soon as you get them. I know. If you are like me, editing is boring. Discovery writing is fun. Still editing must be done. I might as well get to it.

That reminds me, I still have the pages I’ve been taking to critique group. I don’t think the cats can get to them, but I’d better get them done too. What I really need, is to get this stuff published.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.