The Writers Journal

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journalThe act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium. ~Norbet Platt

I often find a sense of peace after I write even a few thoughts down on paper. Whether I’m making a list and checking completed tasks off, prewriting for a book, or sharing thoughts in my spiritual journal, pen to paper brings mental harmony. Let’s face it, I’m a word guy!

Oh the Pain

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SnoopyWriting“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

If you’ve ever had the urge to write and get a story out of your system or tell the world about an important topic, then you know the pain. The ideas of your untold story ruminate inside you until the urge to share overwhelms you. You do have a choice. You must sit down and write.

Elmore Leonard

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Some inspiring words from Elmore Leonard. One of the greats.

A Walk to Remember

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My wife and I do a lot of walking. We blame it on our dog Roxy when we do.

“Walkies!” we say.

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Sometimes, I will jingle the leash and Roxy will come running. Well, she doesn’t run anymore. She kind of strolls toward the front door. Truth is, my wife and I actually like to get outside, see our neighbors, and breathe some fresh air.

So there we were at my daughter’s house in the SF, feeling lazy. The weather was grand outside, so we decided on a walk with no dog. With cell phone in hand and track shoes tied, we walked out into the city.

Walking is pretty common in SF too, as you can imagine. Frankly, there is no better way to explore the City by the Bay than walking around it’s unique neighborhoods on foot. Whether you’re exploring shopper-friendly Union Square, Famous Chinatown, the skyscrapers of the Financial District, or the Golden Gate Bridge, SF is a walkers paradise.

In SF, everyone is out walking their dogs, going to the market, or doing errands during the day. That’s how people get around in the city. 20130706-195655.jpg

Here’s what I saw.

The city scape is quite a sight in SF. So many buildings and homes and bridges.

It always feels like a vacation when we visit SF.

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Writing and Rewriting, Revising and Editing

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“Good stories are not written. They are rewritten.” Phyllis Whitney

“The first draft is a skeleton….just bare bones.

The rest of the story comes later with revising.” Judy Blume 

Judy Blume knows a lot about writing for children and understands that revising is part of the writing process. Do check out her site as she has a lot to offer new writers.

The topic today is revision or rewriting. From books for the very young to fiction for adults. All writers share one common practice–rewriting. I have learned this first hand with the publication of my new book Stink Bomb.

Telling you that a book must be rewritten, revised, edited, etc. is one thing. Doing the hard work of rearranging the words is another task entirely. Revising seems like a daunting task, but in the end the well crafted manuscript is worth the effort.

Elmore Leonard put it this way- “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

In my book Stink Bomb, the rewriting process meant seeing the story more clearly through the main character’s point of view. Often, that’s what the process of rewriting entails–following your POV character more closely as they wander through each of your scenes. Revising can also mean removing a minor character, changing the setting, or making the dialogue sound more relevant for your audience. Revising usually means cutting parts of a story as well.

A tip if you’re about to do some rework on your current novel or essay. Print it out, grab some colorful pens, and go to a different location. In other words, get out of your normal work environment as you attempt to look at your writing piece with fresh eyes.

 

The Work is Worth it!

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For the last few years, I have set a personal goal to get my work published. My dream has almost become a reality, and I want to tell you that all the hard work is worth it. In celebration, I thought it would be fitting to do a series on famous sayings involving work. When I read a wise saying, I am struck first with the word choice. Like an artist, the author of the saying paints the inner turmoil and resulting life experience with fanciful words that truly make me look inward. Wise sayings are born out of great struggle at times. Some sayings are the result of bad choices and some come from one profound, life changing moment in time. Take the journey with me as we examine wise sayings.

Let’s take a journey to Neverland for our first saying.

“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”

James M. Barrie (1860-1937)

Novelist, Dramatist

J.M. Barrie was a Scottish dramatist, best known for writing about Peter Pan (1904), or The Boy Who Would Never Grow Up. The son of Scottish weavers, he moved to London to pursue his interest in becoming a playwright. It was there where he met the Llewelyn Davies boys who inspired his masterpiece.

The famous character of Peter Pan first appeared in the 1902 book The Little White Bird. Two years later, his play Peter Pan premiered on the London stage and became a great success. Audiences were drawn in the fantastical tale of the flying boy who never grew up and his adventures in Neverland with the Darling children. Barrie also wrote a book based on the play called Peter and Wendy, which was published in 1911. The book earned raves from critics.

“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”

I love Barrie’s sentiment. In other words, if you are doing what you love, it’s fun. Writing does take discipline like any other profession or hobby. I think Barrie was speaking collectively for all people when he shared this saying. For me personally, writing is something that I do weekly. It has taken me years to get the book deal that I have now for Stink Bomb and there is still plenty of hard work ahead, but the prize is within my reach. I can truly say that I have never been so stretched in my writing craft as I have in the rewriting of this book. Even when I wanted to give up, I reminded myself of my love for writing fiction and how far I’d come. That was when the breakthrough came.

John Muir Quotes

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“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” — John Muir

John Muir liked to hike and wander in the wilderness. It is easy to understand why after a trip to the Sierras or Sequoia National Forest.

The quote above is simple yet profound. I find that of all the activities, hiking through the forest brings the greatest measure of peace.

Yet is it the peace that I am feeling or are the worries of this world falling off like autumn leaves?

One thing is for sure …

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
– John of the Mountains (1938)

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