Saturday, November 29, 2014

Speech Tags and Giving Thanks

By Keith N Fisher

I met a new character this week. His name is Simon and he’s big Hawaiian, with a heart of gold. Even though Simon hasn’t got a large part in the plot, I like him. I will, however, need to change his name.

When Simon came into the story, I thought he was a refreshing character and the name fit perfectly. I soon found out why people don’t use the name very often in fiction. Did your ever play a game called, Simon Says?

You guess it. My speech tags are killing me.

Now, onward and upward, In the USA this week, many people celebrated family dinners. We had the biggest feast we could manage, mingled with the reminder that we should be thankful. The idea of course, is the concept of gratitude for what we have, rather than dwell on what we don’t have.

I could delve into political deep water and mention that as a people, our standard of living has dropped. Many Americans work longer hours for less money than ever before. Yes I could write about that, but . . .

If I wrote that, many of the polar factions would claim it’s the fault of one party or the other, when the fault really lies in the pockets of the greedy. Too many wealthy people are unwilling to admit their wealth was a blessing from deity. Then, not admitting that, makes it easier to ignore that God charged them to help others. Yes I could write about that, but . . .

Well, since I wrote about that, I should also point out, the wonderful blessings that we have. It is very true. God might not grant us the luxuries of life or the basics for many, but there are blessings, even in our extremities.

What are the blessings? Well in light of what I didn’t write about above, I will name one. At least we don’t have to worry about the condemnation of being given much and not giving back.

So, I hope when you took that quiet moment of reverence before digging into whatever constituted your feast. I hope you remembered the guy who can afford a cruise for Christmas while his employees work two jobs to pay the mortgage.

Remember that God sends blessings to help us, and to try us.

With that being said, I thank God for the blessings in my life. May you never have the burden of deciding whether you should build that second house or give gifts to those cherished people who work for you.

Seriously, I hope your holiday was filled with answers to your prayers. May God bless you. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

That Irritating Employment Thing

By Keith N Fisher

At the end of a recent writer’s retreat, I asked many of my fellow laborers a question. "Did you have a productive weekend?" One of the answers was, "I wish I could’ve been here Friday."

"Didn’t you come Thursday night?" I asked.

"No. I had to do the work thing."

"Me too," I said.

The answer to my question made me think of all the times I’ve had to put my story away, in order to
do the work thing.

Unfortunately, paying the bills is a necessary evil. It has to take precedence to writing. In the past, when I filled out tax forms, I listed the day job first, and the writer thing after. A few years ago, I changed to, Freelance writer/current bill paying job.

This year, I have three jobs. I will put, Freelance Writer/Inside Salesman/Convenience Store Clerk. Even though I’m busy, I still find time to write. Of course I have to write. The problem comes when writing is going so well that I curse my other job for taking me away.

The retreat was great, but it was the first time I ever really hit a wall. Having the plot worked out beforehand helped, but I had so much time to write, I wrote myself past what I had planned. In some books, I know where I’m going, but I have to work out logistics along the way. In my current book, I had the logistics worked out to a certain point. My character took us to Las Vegas where, since I’d been there so many times, I thought I’d have plenty to write.

My character left Las Vegas before I had to chance to write her into the casino. She didn’t know where she was going, neither did I, so I hit the wall, and played Nine-Ball on the pool table for a little while.

The fact that the retreat house had a well-furnished game room and theatre, that went largely unused, is another blog.

Anyway, that’s how discovery writing goes sometimes. It makes you do other things while you think about the plot. After a while of editing my cookbook, We reached a compromise, my character and I, we moved forward into new territory, Places I never dreamed we would go.

By the end of retreat, I’d written thousands of words, got well into editing my cookbook, renewed old friendships and made new ones. Having time to write was rejuvenating. It reminded me of how I started writing, and why. I still write in spurts during brief moments between responsibilities, but I’m looking forward to the next retreat. If writing really is life sustaining, It’s too bad I have to interrupt my life for that employment thing.

Missed you at retreat. Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Good Morning & How are You?

By Keith N Fisher

I wrote a blog, which I didn’t post last week. I agonized and debated whether it was too offensive. Like the time during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, emotions and innuendo run high. I didn’t post it, but that ship hasn’t sailed, I still might.

Today, I’m at the Authors Incognito writer’s retreat. I didn’t sleep much last night. I did get some writing done, but I’m afraid I socialize too much. This is a great experience for writers. Periodically, we have sprinting periods. Like the name implies, we write for a time then the person with the highest word count, wins a prize.

Years ago, during the first AI retreat, I was one of the instigators, but as it turned out, I couldn't go. Nevertheless I still paid for my spot. I figured it was the right thing to do. Now there are many writers in the group I don’t know.

This morning, I’m working on my suspense novel, this blog post, and my cookbook. Do you remember a few posts ago, when I talked about the manuscript being scattered across the floor? Well, it happened again. I spent more than an hour last night sorting and collating. Today, I’m cooking a new dish for the critique of twenty-two people so I can get it into the book.

Maybe I can persuade the publisher to print the pictures. It would increase sales from writers who want to see themselves in a book. Perhaps that wouldn’t work though, I don’t want to get permissions and pay for the privilege.

Anyway, that is where I am today and why my blog post hasn’t been well edited. I didn’t think there would be Internet access up here, and I’m still debating the other post. Either way, Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Beginning, Ending, and Plot

By Keith N Fisher

We did it again. We successfully passed through All Hallowed Eve and into All Saints Day. Now, we’re running headlong into Thanksgiving. After that is, dare I say it? Yes, there are only fifty-one shopping days until Christmas. Assuming you don’t leave the family feast to get in on the big sales.

This year, as in other years, we went from October to November without incident. Many of my writer friends began their ritual. They stashed their treats and supplies and locked themselves away to spend the month in the writing marathon, called Nano-Wrimo.

From November first, to the end of the month, they write, hoping to reach their word goals. For some, it’s a chance to unleash their imaginations. To climb into the zone and start a journey with their characters. I’ve never done Nano, and there are reasons, but I won’t talk about them now.

In the comments on Facebook and other media recently, I’ve read about the drafting and advanced planning, some writers were doing. Their idea is to make a plan so they don’t get stuck in the middle of the month, with nothing to write. That meticulous kind of writing can be liberating. It can also stifle creativity.

We’ve been over this ground before with the drafting versus seat of your pants debate, but isn’t Nano supposed to be about seat of your pants? Like I said, I’ve never done Nano, but I think drafters are cheating themselves.

There is a pure rush of creativity that comes from discovery writing. It’s addicting, and I hate to see others miss out on that feeling. With that being said, however, You should know, I have written books that were in my head, beginning, middle and end, before I wrote a word. Other books have been entirely written by the seat of my pants.

To place yourself in front of a blank page and write words that beget other words is like watching your child walk for the first time. Then again, we are. Aren’t our characters and stories like children? Some of them are our greatest accomplishments.

The hardest writing I’ve ever done is trying to follow an outline. When the beginning and ending is written and I must write a scene that gets me from point A to point B. I have to rein in my characters so we don’t drift from the plan.

I’ve written a couple of books that way. In one, the ending turned out different because the characters had other ideas. The other was pure labor. The lesson there is be flexible. It’s true, you might come to the end of a concept without anywhere to go from there, but most times, following your internal vision makes the plot far better.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.