notes--writing

The stimulus of ideas

One idea can produce two ideas, but they both take a different slant, that’s the difference. For example, take this premise, as comedy for a Hollywood blockbuster that would get one star from the critics, depending on how well it was done, the potential to be a bomb.

A man spent ten years of his life around a lot of people and got so sick of them that he decided to isolate himself from people because he enjoyed the other half of his personality better and settles down with him, but his friend tries to get him back into socializing with people and to see the good side of humanity. In the end, he comes around to see the good side. That’s a silly comedy. But I can change the ending and the whole tone of the idea to sound like an arty drama. In the end the person stays away from people for the rest of his life and there is no seeing the good side. That’s a German drama. I would write neither.

notes--writing

Lessons of rejection: belief

Rejection can be a task master making you try harder, be different, fit in, conform, and do what will make you feel accepted. In writing, this may make the writer try to perform. But, acceptance is another story. If your story is accepted as is, for what it is, and published just as it is, then you are blessed. You don’t have to do anything different or more to be accepted by a publisher. But what happens if some kind of work of yours gets continually rejected? Maybe you don’t know why you are writing something and even if you did and got rejected it wouldn’t matter–because you know why you are doing it.

Personally, I have found the key is to find security in why I am writing something, then any amount of rejection won’t matter. It’s the harder path to come to realize why I want to write something, but the one which says, I don’t have to write in this another way, because I know why I am writing this. Who cares about rejection!

poetry

After

Street sight is long,

Run by the forlorn.

A cloud settling across,

Street mastered by a turn, as ghosts come and go.

Darkness one thinks she sees.

Ghosts flashing across trees, deafening cries of the lost souls from purgatory,

Lingering in her mind the fraternity,

Their callings exciting the moon

And along comes the white and spot of lunar light and valleys of doom,

There she finds rambling, the day languishing, but not in the heart of someone lying down.

Curious she bent Surprised to find one who rose to meet her, with a crown.

The light brighter than before. Enlightened, wonder-awed, by the face,

She fell into the calm, the breeze behind.

And saw the street unlike before.

notes--writing

What will the author do next?

The humble writer or artist and filmmaker for that matter, may shy away from publicity or at least attempt to. But, underneath, there may be a liking to the question, what will he do next? Will it be as good or better than the last thing they made? That’s when a writer and artist gets a little inkling they have made it. But what will be next? A widely received disappointment? After the artist has gained acceptance?

notes--writing

Merely interesting?

When an article is merely interesting. If its my article, I deny it. Because I believe, rightly or wrongly, that articles need to be more than interesting. But there are two types of interesting which sort of makes up for it. A stimulating interesting in that one is always engaged in the article, that while it doesn’t jump off the page or screen, is always stimulating. And a dull interesting, in that the way it’s done isn’t that imaginative, but is always readable.

notes--writing

This is stimulating reading

For me, when it comes to reading a piece, the best effect is when I’m intrigued and stimulated by the writing. From beginning to end, the piece falls into place nicely and sits well. The reader, that’s me, senses the piece is drawing one in, rather than away. How would one do that, as a writer? I think one must make it always interesting, with facts, color and imagination, descriptive prose, and good ideas, producing “the effect” on the reader.

notes--writing

Between truth and experience is the writer

in 1999, I wrote a short piece that was implicitly about truth but even I, the writer of that article, found myself caught between truth and experience. On one hand, truth is solid. On the other hand, experience is fluid, it flows. They can be in contradiction, but sometimes the two can intersect perfectly. This was not one of those times. My article stated a truth; but something in my nature was also going in the opposite direction as well. I went along with the truth, but had I ignored writing about experience at my peril? The editor encouraged me that the article was about a good truth. Yet I got the feeling that wasn’t enough in his eyes. Myself, I thought the article was great and even now I think it’s the best article I did for that magazine up until that time.

notes--writing

Cliches are pain, are they not?

I’ve heard it said that it’s better not to use cliches in one’s writing and it’s better to say it a more imaginative, colorful way. Eschewing that rule, I used two cliches in a 200-word article I wrote some years ago and I didn’t mind. I didn’t consider them cliches, but still quite inventive and keeping their flavor. But I did reverse their wording, so that “to be or not to be” was “to go or not to go” and “mountains into molehills” became “molehills into mountains”. A twist I quite enjoyed and I’m sure my readers did. Or moaned.

notes--writing

When endings make sense

Sometimes, articles sign off with the big takeaway point — but if a reader will engage that point depends on how well it’s done. Unfortunately, some articles may require too much thought. Having to think about what an article is saying may be detrimental to the writer’s point they are trying to make. Clear, concise, lucid article writing is always good, one that shows commitment to the point the writer is making. Then, the reader just gets the sign off in one go, without any confusion and ambiguity.

notes--writing

Reflecting on what’s going on in the mind of a writer

An article can reveal the state of mind of the writer, if the reader can see through the writer’s lines. States of mind can change — overtime — and the writer may be embarrassed or pleased by what they were thinking in the past. Whatever it was, reflecting on that state of mind can help the writer face it afresh and see whether that philosophy still stands today. It’s an intriguing exercise.

notes--writing

Did that inspire you?

I may have grown out of writing articles for one reason or another, but I hope my published articles inspired, encouraged or made someone think, in terms of what the article was saying to a specific reader, who might have been seeking an answer, or food for thought, on the topic I raised. Some people need answers to a topic – such as how does one go about complaining about a film? And why would one go deeper into analyzing a film? And so on. It just depends on who’s reading the article and if the article is a right fit for a specific person on the day, among the readers the writer is reaching, no matter the “page views”.

notes--writing

When the page comes together

The headline, the opening paragraph, and the photos, all come together to set the tone for the article. The editors did this extremely well, although I wasn’t expecting it, nor did I intend it. But it did serve the readership and I am pleased how the article turned out. The whole article reflected one basic idea that was introduced in the headline, the photos, and the opening paragraph which would make the reader identify with one main idea. What a writer thinks should be emphasized isn’t always going to be fitting or appropriate for the readership so the editors can construct a frame for the article which fits. I am quite happy with this, although I intended another emphasis, but can still along with how it was done.

notes--writing

No explanation required

Some readers know implicitly what a writer is talking about and the writer does not need to explain a thing. I say this in light of an article I wrote, about how many Oscar nominations The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King got in 2004. I didn’t even have to explain what The Return of the King was and what it was about because the readers would already know. Although, on the off chance someone didn’t know, I thought I should have explained it, but in the end, didn’t. There was no problem with it as the editor published it anyway, probably knowing that the subject was so well known among the readership that it didn’t require anything more than a mention.

notes--writing

Editing SOS

Ever thought an article of yours that was published sounded uneven? Like some parts could have been better, but other parts were good. But in the end it sort of comes out in the wash and the effect of the article actually says something well. That’s a bit of a strange working, if I may say so. That’s how writing can go, for one reason or another. The writer, on a reasonably off day, may not be 100 percent “on the ball” but gets it right in how it all jells together. Uncanny. Maybe the writer was so enthusiastic in writing the article, and side stepped thinking it through, as it appeared to sound okay as is. With the published article, the blemishes showed through a little (at least according to the writer), yet the article still works (according to the writer, again)!

notes--writing

Moments that matter

It’s great to read an old article of mine. What somebody said in it are quite simply words of wisdom and even encourage me today. I think that anyone who enjoys reading, will find that the stories and articles that they look back on, can still resonate, years later. It’s like those pleasant surprises one finds in the attic and the basement; a long lost card or report that surprises one and causes a most pleasant feeling to come over you.

notes--writing

Submitting agony

There comes a time when I must decide on what devotions I am going to submit. The pain of it all. Agonizing. But somehow exciting. I honestly struggled and labored with the idea of what ones to send. It was a to-and-fro, back-and-forth decision, until I revised and revised again. In the end, I had five devotions to choose from, but picked a certain three because they fitted better. But with more revision of the other two, they are looking good for another assignment somewhere down the track.

notes--writing

When someone gives an opinion

This post is about when someone gives their opinion of your article: good, boring, needs improving or is too long. Naturally, I like it when someone says my article is good, but am unsure how to respond when someone tells me her husband thinks my article is “boring”. Getting that remark happened only once and I didn’t hear it through the horse’s mouth as it was, so how was I to know it wasn’t the wife telling me indirectly that she thought my article was boring?

notes--writing

Are some articles not helpful?

There are different ways readers can respond, or react for that matter, to articles. Anger is one reaction; the article is so stirring that one is thrown into a negative emotional reaction. Articles that deal with issues that polarize can always get a rise from some people. These can be basically useless articles if anger is the main response. However, for the unconverted on some issue, these kinds of articles are ‘dangerous’ in that they have the power to persuade.

Factual articles outlining the issues and going in depth are better, as they help someone find where they stand on an issue, rather than persuade or coerce.

There are also articles that make one think, but these tend to make one think for a moment, and then, that’s that. No further action and thinking required–but, what if, in that moment of thought, a writer drew someone towards a conclusion? This is when articles that make one think are useful or put someone on the wrong track. In the end, they can have the power to persuade. The best articles they say are those that inspire someone, be that personally, or to action. Then, one may ask: inspire to what? Writers can be ‘dangerous’ people.

Uncategorized

Hard questions

We need writers who are not afraid to ask the hard questions as this brings balance to the status quo of everything is all right, jack. Hard questions will make one think and contemplate what may be or is actually happening but is rarely or never breached, rather than the idea that everything is going along honky dory on some issue.

notes--writing

Confession: the editor saved my article

In retrospect, certain embarrassing turns of phrase and articulations in a column I wrote were going to make my column sound off-color. But a good editor saved me from such embarrassments. Having wrote the article, I sent it off to the editor, this was back in 2002. Sometimes, I may write a sentence or paragraph that I don’t double check for how it sounds. Looking back at the version I submitted, most of the article sounded fine — apart from a couple of things that would have spoiled the entire tone of the article. Just imagine it got published exactly as submitted. Such was my thought as I looked back at my submission. But an editor looked over my submission. And the editor who is doing a great job can save an article by making a few necessary adjustments. And save the writer from embarrassing moments that would have spoiled the tone of the article and make the writer look a little embarrassed. Consistency can be important to an article, or at least a sense of it. But a few off-kilter moments can spoil the broth. But the day the editor saved me from such moments is a day I had a great editor.

notes--writing

Risk: just do it?

I wrote a piece that might have been a risk; would I jeopardize my column? Not that it seemed to matter in the moment, because I wrote it. But with a sneaking suspicion in the back of my mind, what would happen? And months later, something happened. The column came to an end.

I reacted inside myself, but years later, I looked over the columns, and reflected somewhat on them. And if a risky article was the reason for the termination of the column, I realized why I wrote a risky article in the first place, putting it down to this and that. I looked at the wider picture and found more insight. Ideally, I should have thought before I acted. This, I would say now, is a rule of thumb. Think before sending anything. Very important.

 

 

notes--writing

Time brings some perspective

I hadn’t touched some articles for a few months, but time adds a little more perspective, and one can see clearly. Apart from a few which I will use, the majority will be binned or recycled for another publisher if I can find one. I always remember some wise words when I realize some work I do is, I think, usable, and the rest isn’t usable. That’s “Only some work writers do is actually any good”. But even those inferior pieces can be recycled into other pieces.

notes--writing

Grist to the mill

I have seven devotional ideas to write into devotions, with probably more inspired by my readings each day. I don’t like to have devotional ideas on the back burner, because I like to have nothing devotional pending on any given day. Ideally, I like to write a devotion a day based on being inspired by my Bible reading that day! But I have seven devotions pending…Is there such a thing as being over-inspired? It’s nice to start on a blank page. With nothing to call a “workload” or “catch up”. But I’m not complaining about that. Grist to the mill!

notes--writing

On the agenda, on a busy day

Writing while doing other things in life as you would normally do can be hectic. Keeping up to date with the stuff a writer does–that is, the writing–sometimes near impossible. If one is going well and the good days outnumber the bad ones, then keeping up to date is a reality. Getting through the writing agenda is not impossible. It is simply writing the ideas up that get turned into short meditations or devotions or what’s also knows as reflections. Short and sweet.

notes--writing

Does one have to sell their writing to get published?

Writing my own stories may be best left with a free online platform like WordPress, because I wonder if the traditional publishers will ever take my own stories on board? Of course, traditional publishers do take stories, but they tend to be the ones that suit the publisher, not any old story, not the ones that I may want to write. My own stories may have to be written a certain way before they are even considered by traditional publishers. I can’t be myself or else face a rejection because it wasn’t written the way the publisher wants it written.

Continue reading “Does one have to sell their writing to get published?”

notes--writing

When is the right time to submit?

Eagerness to submit and get published may prevent one from getting the piece right first. A fault of mine in submitting, which may still slip me up from time to time, is submitting before the piece is ripe.

I’ve learnt something from this which I would like to tell others about. That the best time to submit is not immediately after you’ve edited something.

Continue reading “When is the right time to submit?”

notes--writing

Lack of genre knowledge may not be a barrier

If freelancers do not have the precise knowledge of a genre of writing, how would freelancers get their work published in that genre? This would be because some publishers are not exacting. It’s possible to get through on one’s own merits rather than what’s usually required by the more exacting publishers. At least, that’s my experience. The editors liked my ideas, my work, and I wrote it well enough for them. I was never employed as a journalist, but I was an external contributor and I had an affinity with the type of publisher they were.

 

notes--writing

Marketing one’s work alone

Writers on their own, with a book in hand, may need an agent or representative, because agents are closer to the publishers. Agents are also good because they save the writer having to concentrate on marketing work as well as writing it.

One can go it alone in the grand scheme of choices a writer has in getting their work published. Send an email. Try and meet the publisher, even if out of town. This is the hard work of marketing one’s work alone. Some go out to the workforce and work as a writer, full-time. They are in the job as it was.

notes--writing

Persevering

My first draft looked at a little tatty, what’s new? I was going to flag it. Never to submit the piece. So, I said to myself, leave that genre of writing alone. A day leaving it alone did wonders. Then, I thought, try harder. And I think the piece looks better than before. In a few days, I can send it. A key to not surrendering, a key to not chucking in a piece, is to try harder, when one can’t be bothered. That’s in my experience.

notes--writing

To revise or not to revise

Writing is a catch-22, but I’m not talking ’bout the film or novel on which a film is based. Catch-22 is a novel and a film, but let me use that title’s meaning for the purposes of this post. Saying catch-22 is synonymous with making a choice between two equal values and one or the other won’t really do considering that you’re in a predicament between the two. So, writing is a catch-22 in that sense or something like it. I mean that one may write a piece. The writer thinks he should revise it out of the normal process, and also thinks it’s probably good as it is and doesn’t need revising. What does the writer do? This is my predicament at the moment. I would say to myself, just wait. Let the piece smolder under the surface for a while until it’s ready to resurface and face the writer once again. Then, all becomes clear. 

 

notes--writing

To continue or not to continue writing after New Year’s

New Year can mean there is a spike in divorces, according to one lawyer. Does it also mean a spike in giving up vocations,  jobs, employment or gigs as well? One may feel like giving the job away after a nice relaxing holiday.

Continue reading “To continue or not to continue writing after New Year’s”

notes--writing

Submit everything or only the best?

Rejection seldom takes a writer well, but taking it on the chin can be enlightening. Personally, I would like to see all of my articles etc. published. But this is unrealistic. One, my article may be inappropriate for the readers although on its own merits stands. Two, not everything of mine should be published. Why? Simply because some of my pieces may be better than the others. So, when something is rejected, it’s not as good as the other pieces.

notes--writing

Approaching publishers with the picture book idea

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been writing a children’s short story, originally intended for a picture book. The inspiration was in my garden. I may approach publishers, but on speculation that they may or may not publish it. Of course there are the usual doubts that it won’t work for children, it’s too Watership-downish, although Watership Down was a goldmine in the end.