It will be timed writing practices from here on out because I will not be known for writing a memoir. Timed Writing Practice is the answer. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is a great source for breaking out as a writer.
There are two kinds of writers, those that met Norman Mailer and those that never met Norman Mailer. I met Norman Mailer in 1991 at Elliot Bay Book Store in Seattle, Washington. He signed his book, Harlot’s Ghost, for me.
A thought has occurred to me. If goals are important then figuring out what you are aiming at might be a good early step. If one was to aim to win a short story contest then the writing would be of a certain effort and caliber. If one is wanting a much bigger prize, like the Nobel or Pulitzer prize, then a different level of skill and commitment would be in order. I have always recoiled against Genre writing maybe because I only want a big prize for my efforts. Not only learning to write well, but studying the masters of Literature as a life’s goal seems to be in order.
I was born in a college town, Lafayette, Indiana where Purdue University is; I was raised living next to one of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan, in both Glenview and Waukegan, Illinois; I lived in Europe in West Germany before the Berlin Wall came down; I now live on an island surrounded by salt water, Camano Island in Washington State. Starts and stops are easier to remember than the mundane existence of daily life.
The best advice I have ever heard is to try and write everyday, and to be reading two books at the same time…one a craft book and the other a book you would like to have written. Start by writing Short Stories.
I got this idea. I’m thinking that if I write everyday and write about a page of usable verbiage then in about one year I will have written a 365 page book.
When I was very young and lived in Glenview, IL, my neighbor had a red 1964 Chevrolet Corvette convertible. I would stare at that car through my grandmother’s split-rail type fence and weeping willows. I have always loved Corvettes especially the Coke Bottle Vettes, those made from 1968-1982 that are now referred to as C3 Corvettes. Every time I got wound up and went out looking for a Corvette to buy I have always ended up with something else, a Porsche, a Mercedes, a full size Ford Bronco for example. I have always wanted a Vette, but I have never owned one. One day I was bopping down highway 99 in Lynwood, WA just looking around at what car dealers had to offer. I spotted a 1974 black Corvette with a big block and a 4 speed wedged into a little rundown car dealer. I parked and asked about the car and the kid said he would get it out for me. We drove across the street to get $5 gas at Texaco. He let me drive from there. Going North he had me turn right onto a suburban side street. We were bombing down a big toboggan sled kind of hill reaching speeds of about 90 when all of a sudden he told me to take a quick right onto a hairpin that dropped away from the road we had just descended on. Down shifting to 2nd and stomping on the gas made the Vette keep level while the road dropped away from us creating the feeling of grabbing a major wheelie. The kid was screaming at the top of his lungs through that corner and down that hill like we were going to die. Back at the dealership he asked what I thought and I said the car needed too much. I should have bought that car cuz I had just made it dance.
A 10 minute writing practice each and every day. The key to writing is to just write, not to edit, think, or change anything you have written down, but to just write. It is in the act of writing that the Muse visits and the real writing can begin. Waiting for the right time to write, writing only after the Muse shows up, and any other procrastination technique will produce exactly nothing. Writing with a deadline, writing with something else to do, and just fitting in some writing time is when writing takes place. The only way to become a writer and a great writer at that is by applying one’s butt to one’s chair. All other methods are just talk. You learn to write by writing and almost any other method of lessons, conferences, writer’s groups that do not involve writing will produce no writing. Joining writing groups, buying writing magazines, working on college degrees will not in and of themselves produce any writing. It’s been estimated that if one wants to become a writer then one must write about a million words of crap just to get it out of the way so that the words will flow. To be a writer one must write. The only magic formula to writing is butt in chair. Maybe one day I will be a writer, but it will only be after I have been writing.
cuddly wedge head, Spin!
Willie war boy / party girl
bully back-up lights
reason rules the day
rose petals through noiseless stream
Scottish monarchs ruled
over the heather and hills
Haggis, Kilts, and Blood
Big climbing mountains
train for Everest, K2
alpine makes its own weather
rain, snow, cold, isolation
is where I’ll soon be going
ice floes breaking up
Wet brown bears fishing
flying meals must be tasty
at play in the falls
amazing flying rage; boom!
–get away from me
feelings will fail you
real love is a decision
heal first, then move on
Kiss me, great beauty
move me hinge-less thru rapture
love me all my days
the world is not enough, dig!
know thyself, and laugh
There seem to be as many books about writing as there are stars in the sky. Here are a few of my favorites:
Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King
Fearless Writing – William Kenower
A Natural History of the Senses – Diane Ackerman
Henry Miller on Writing
On Writing Well – William Zinsser
One Writers Beginnings – Eudora Welty
Sin and Syntax – Constance Hale
The Right to Write – Julia Cameron
The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing – Norman Mailer
Writing is My Drink – Theo Pauline Nestor
A Dangerous Profession – Frederick Busch
How to Write a Mystery – Larry Beinhart
You Are a Writer – Jeff Goins
No Plot? No Problem! – Chris Baty
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers – Christopher Vogler
Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting – Robert McKee