Weaving the yarn…

Folks work with crochet hooks, knitting needles, material and thread, and everything a person would think of when weaving with yarn. Sometimes we weave items for friends, for presents, for sale, or just to satisfy ourselves with a peaceful hobby.

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The project may exist as one large piece or may be many small pieces that are woven together to compliment and contrast each other. The same is true of stories. Perhaps only one story is being told. But many times there are multiple threads that work together to make a strong finished product. Perhaps that is why in days gone by stories were called yarns. I think of the well-woven stories of Mark Twain and how his characters twisted and complemented each other into a perfectly fabricated tale.

But, the part that so many crafters forget is the inspector. When goods are woven, they are inspected to make sure the stitches are even, all of the loops hold, that no elements are out of place, and that the end product will be admired by the wearer.

Stories are the same. As word crafters, we weave our tales with different backgrounds, characters, actions, dialog, and energy. But without the inspector (editor) to make sure there aren’t any dangling threads, the story might unravel and leave the reader confused or unsatisfied.

Never doubt the fact that every author needs an editor who can trim away excess material, pull and tuck here and there for a perfect fit, and make sure all of the loops are connected and tied up before the story is over.

Winner

Craft your words, weave your tale,
and find an editor that can make
your story the winner you want it to be!

 

 

Thanks, Intent to Win for the guest post!

The Versatile Blogger Award

I was nominated as “Versatile” by the wonderful Superwifeandmummy. I think she did it mostly out of kindness, but I’m going to try to live up to my new award. You should check her blog out, she is very versatile herself, and often funny too.

First I want to give a sincere thank you to Superwifeandmummy for thinking of me for this award.

The Versatile Blogger Award was created to feature and recognize blogs that have unique content, high quality of writing, and fantastic photos.

The Versatile Blogger Award states: Honour those bloggers who bring something special to your life whether every day or only now and then.

It’s a way of saying thanks, y’all.

Rules for the nominations:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Nominate up to 15 bloggers for this award and inform them.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Put the logo of Versatile Blogger in your post and display the rules.

First, my 7 very randomly picked facts about me:

  1. I love animals and currently live with 4.
  2. I collect owls. (Not real ones)
  3. I know a lot of random facts and tell them to people whether they want to hear them or not.
  4. I’ve been to Taiwan for a wonderful girls-only vacation my good friend paid for.
  5. I homeschooled my two children.
  6. I edit/proof for money.
  7. My grandmother just had a big 90th birthday party.

I would like to nominate:

  • Probably the most versatile writer I know, Dar, at Writing for Me.
  • Jules at MomJul, who’s just getting started but I know will be greatly versatile.
  • Sarah Doughty at Heartstring Eulogies, upon whom I have a poetry crush.
  • Jack Bennet at Bennet to Blog, also another rising young poet.
  • The extremely versatile (and educational) Nel at Reactionary Tales.
  • And of course the very versatile Mainepaperpusher at Everyone Else Has the Best Titles, who really introduced me to the social side of blogging (and probably has this award).

Thanks for helping me along in this blogging thing. I could not have continued without all of you.

I completely understand that some people do not particularly want to take part in awards and that’s fine. I just want others to know about your blogs.

SO

A Little Goes a Long Way…

Sometimes writers believe that adding a touch of their natural speak helps the reader feel more comfortable with their words. I believe this to be true to a point.

If you read Stephen King, you can almost hear that New England accent from many of the actors in his movies. If you read Charlaine Harris, you can hear the Southern drawl of the people from Bon Temps, Louisiana. Having that speech in your mind helps the reader hear what the characters are feeling as well as what they are saying.

But a little can go a long way in the written words. When the conversation of the novel or other work is so abbreviated or drawn out that it impedes the reading of the text, that is too much. A well placed “Y’all” isn’t too bad but making the Southern (or any other) lingo so heavy that it is unreadable or understandable defeats the purpose of writing the story.

This link provides an interesting view on when the use of translators is necessary even for people who are speaking the same language:

http://brave-new-words.blogspot.com/2006/12/translators-responsibilities-when.html 

Which brings me to another point. In worldwide blogging, we often run into blogs written in the native language of the posting person rather than automatically to American or British English. There is always a button at the top of the blog which asks if you wish to translate. I’m always uncertain about using the translate button. We’ve learned from auto fill on our texts that what we meant to say is not what is sent a good portion of the time. How do we know that the translate button really works? How do we know we are reading what the posting person wrote or felt?

It is a quandary I am facing daily. For the people who often use the translate button, how well do you believe it translates what might be regional or other versions of the basic language?

I would like to know your feelings.

Photo Credit: How many languages are there in the world? Stephen R. Anderson  https://www.linguisticsociety.org/content/how-many-languages-are-there-world 

 

Don’t Fear the Reaper-uh-Editor

I like to share my funny and interesting adventures with people. I love to hear them laugh. But life’s not always funny. Or even fun.

Some things just have to be endured. Struggled through. Worked out. For those times you need good friends and people who know the things you need to know.

You can’t go through life without help, and you can’t create good writing without an editor.

Writing has the same ups and downs that life throws at us. Sometimes characters write themselves. Those are the giddy moments. Your hands can’t even keep up with your brain. Sometimes the words stick somewhere in your elbow instead of flowing out the ends of your fingers. Those are the moments that you just keep plodding along, struggling, but not giving up. You finally think you have it down. You work and work and write and write and try to fix all the errors and then the manuscript comes back bleeding red ink. No one enjoys that. But it’s not the tragedy that you think it is. It’s a chance to improve.

Some authors are so afraid of an editor’s pen that they just skip that step. Or they pick an editor they know will be “kind” to them. Someone who will let them get by with less than their best. Trust me; long run, that is not the least bit kind. You need honesty from your editor. You need support and collaboration from your editor.

Don’t cheat yourself out of a strict, experienced editor. Those are the best kind.

Don’t think of the editor as the enemy or as that one school teacher that enjoyed marking your papers down. Editors are your most loyal allies. A good editor wants to see the artist succeed. Wants that author to end up with something that no one can poke holes in or say wasn’t carefully written. Or edited.

Also, make use of your editor’s knowledge. Ask your line editor for not just corrections but also comments on why the words or punctuation need to be a certain way. Ask your editor if you are making the same mistakes more than once. Use your editor as a teacher. Good editors generally love what they do and are always excited to talk about language and how you can improve it. They know that the more you know about the mechanics of writing, the less you’ll have to struggle with the words. The better at your own language you are, the more smoothly the ideas will move from imagination to paper. You can devote all your energy to the creative work.

In life we need people who push us to be our very best. In writing, we all need good editors who do the same.

 

Editing My Teeth

There I was, once again at the mercy of my dentist. It’s not his fault; I have terrible teeth. I got the wrong tooth genes. I’ve become resigned to them. They get problems and need to be fixed.

So while I was there, having maybe had a little bit of gas, I began free-associating, and next thing I knew, I had decided my dentist was my tooth editor.

Bear with me.

They’re my teeth (Manuscript); I grew (wrote) them. I think they are a masterpiece.

I can do the basic work on them—brushing and flossing; anyone can do that. Just like most authors can do the basic line editing on their own work.

But it’s not enough. There are parts of my teeth that I can’t even see. The front looks good, the back must be fine too, right? Authors are often too close to their work to see things like awkward phrasing or missing words. They know what it’s supposed to say and their minds and just fill in with context that the reader won’t have.

My dentist, with his special tools and skills, can see problems I don’t even know to look for.

Editors have special tools and skills, like red pencils and semicolons; editors can see problems or potential problems with a manuscript that authors don’t see. Or an author might not even know could be a problem. Or how to look for these problems.

I need a specialist to find and fill holes, level things, and even just to give my teeth a much more thorough cleanup and polish than I can manage.

Authors need their editors to clean up typos and dangling modifiers, to help point out plot holes, and to generally turn an already fine manuscript into a thoroughly clean and polished masterpiece.

Authors need editors as much as editors need authors. Don’t let beautiful work end up failing for want of good polishing.

And maintain good dental health and see your dentist twice a year. 

Damn it Jim, I’m an Editor, Not a Writer

You know I’m not a writer, right? I’m an editor, a proofreader, a beta, someone good to just talk to about the structure of your article or novel. That’s my real talent. I can take something good and help make it great. I know how to say what you wanted to say, but more clearly. Moreover, I know how to keep it in your voice while still making it correct. I know a dangling modifier from a squinting modifier, an adjective from an adverb. I know how to spell weird words that don’t follow the rules. I know examples of better words to help you make your point, exactly. It’s my superpower.

All writers need good editors. Don’t think you can proof your own work, or your mom can. A good story, or an excellent novel, has had many eyes looking at it, finding things the others missed. The more experienced and trained an editor is (sorry moms) the better your final creation.

Don’t say, “I don’t have the money for an editor. I can’t afford editing.” You can’t afford not to have your work edited. Scroll through a few reviews of self-edited works. Someone will always mention the mistakes and errors. Mistakes make people stop and look at the error. They jar the reader out of your narrative and out of your control. It takes away from the possibly excellent piece of work. It makes you look like an amateur.

Your editor doesn’t have to be me (though, of course, that’s what I’d prefer). However, it needs to be someone experienced, someone not vested in the piece, someone with enough distance to be ruthlessly honest. Someone who notices details. And of course, someone with impeccable spelling and grammar.

I’m an editor, and I still have someone else proof everything I put out there. You should too.

New Words, New Ideas

I love language. I love to read it, write it, study it, analyze it, and I love to watch it change and grow.

Recently there’s been a mini-explosion of nouns made into verbs. Things like peopling and adulting. As in, “I just can’t adult today,” instead of the stodgier, “I can’t be an adult today.” This turn of phrase takes the boring to be verb right out of the sentence and places the emphasis on what really is being done. One isn’t just being, one is actively doing. It makes it seem much more dynamic, and therefore possibly more difficult. Instead of merely being with people, peopling acknowledges that people, and having to interact with people, takes energy, must be done, isn’t just something one floats through. Even more so for adulting. Adulting is more than just a state of being. I’m not just “being an adult.” I’m actively doing things that make me an adult.

I enjoy the changing of the language; however, only when the addition or change adds to the usefulness or beauty of the language. For instance, I’m going to mourn the passing of the word whom. It served a real purpose. It gave you another clue about what was going on in the sentence. And in real life. Who acted upon whom. Givers and receivers clearly labeled. But I’m adjusting, slowly. I know, but honestly, I’m still feeling a little sad about the passing of thee and thou. I hate to lose words.

I’m even fine with the use of third person plural (they) as third person singular (he or she) when you don’t know whether you mean he or she. It was already the correct thing to say for a mixed group. (Anyone else have 9th grade English flashbacks just then?) I see the usefulness in this world of making our language less sexist. I just wish we’d come up with a whole new word (like vee, and ver maybe), so we’d still know if we were talking about a group or just one person. And I object to using they or their when a sex is obvious. “They took their children,” is fine. I don’t know how many people were involved, whether they were men, women, or a mix, but I could ask. However, please go ahead and say, “The mother took her child,” when you know the mother is female. Not “the mother took their child,” unless you sincerely are not sure the mother is female. Just because we need sexist-free language doesn’t mean that our world has suddenly become genderless.

While I love contractions and shortenings and abbreviations and acronyms and generally making things easier to say, I am not crazy about things like “R U J.” It was useful for a while, when texting was an odious chore on just a number keypad. Now, with smartphones that have virtual keyboards and predictive text, we can go back to writing like adults.

Many of our words were shamelessly stolen from other languages. Words like sushi, or hors d’oeuvre or feng shui name new things or ideas that enrich our language and our minds. Many, like adulting or scuba or laser, are made up or began as acronyms.

Because English is willing to absorb and create, it is a rich and colorful, flexible language—packed full of words and phrases with nearly the same meaning, but slightly different connotations. It allows us to be very descriptive and specific as well as very comprehensive. Our language is multicultural and inclusive.

The lesson is obvious. If we as a society could just learn from the history of our language changes, if we could learn to accept people the way we accept their words, we could enhance the progress of our society and culture.

To prompt or not to prompt?

So today I’m on about writing prompts. Everyone gets stuck and needs an idea occasionally. I’ve recently done some writing and posting on the blog using photos as prompts They were mostly just quick little shorts, impressions, an opening scene or a line of poetry. A friend has taken a series of walking around her neighborhood close-ups. I pick one and write a paragraph. It is a lot of fun to look at a photo and imagine what is going on, or fantasize about something going on.

It was so much fun I bought a mostly blank book of 300 Writing Prompts. And I hate it.

Maybe it’s that it feels too much like an assignment. Those never went well in school. Telling me to write about a something is the same as emptying my mind of everything I ever knew or thought about that something. And there sits this book—that I paid money for—chiding me for not doing my homework.

But I’d rather blame it on the suggestions. They are very “un-prompting.” The questions or sentences of prompts I’m finding are almost uniformly things I’d never write about and will never write about. Are, in fact, things that I can’t imagine anyone making themselves write or read about. Here are a few examples from the book and from some online free eBooks and what’s wrong with them:

  1. “Tell me a story.” —Seriously? That’s not a prompt, that’s a blank page. If I already had a story, I wouldn’t be looking at prompts.
  2. “How can Facebook be even better?” —Better? I’m sure someone must have opinions on this, (because every time Facebook tries to improve itself plenty of people tell them that no, that wasn’t the way) but it ain’t me.
  3. “Make up a really awkward description or ad for an online dating site.” —Sure, because I really want to practice my awkward writing.
  4. “Recall a memorable haircut or hairstyle you have had, given, or witnessed.” —Uh, what?

I know; you’re going to tell me I’m missing the point. “No one has to read it. It’s just for your own benefit. It will give you real ideas.” Sorry. I just have a hang-up that real writing has an audience. That I should write something that someone, even if that someone is only me, would actually bother to read. And if I can’t even interest myself, then there’s no way writing about it is going help.

Unless I lie! That’s it! Even though I’m more of a non-fiction writer, I could take them all as fantasy prompts, and pretend like I cared and…and…nah.

I’m going to just stick with photo prompts for a while longer.

Drabble – Photo Prompt 1

I’m a Lucky Bear! I have my own little girl.

bear

I have my own string! My girl put it on me. I get to ride around on the string, hanging close to her heart.

 

Mommy made her take me off and leave me here on the mommy bench so I wouldn’t get lost while she plays on the playground.

Once my string broke and I spent a terrible lonely night in a dark restaurant in a lost and found box. I was not a happy bear. My girl’s mommy rescued me the next day, but that one night away was hard. And scary. I could tell that my girl had been crying too. We never want to do that again. So here I lie, on the mommy bench, waiting on my lucky girl.

A drabble is a tiny piece of random writing, sometimes from a prompt, as this one is.  They can be very short or up to about a page. The prompt can be a picture or words. Or just unprompted thoughts.