Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Apologies and Proof I Am Not Dead

I beleive I owe you all an apology. First, for not providing you with the Magical Stranger stories I promised for you to vote on last monday and, second, for disapearing and not offering you an explanation as to why there were no stories to be voted on.

I do apologize. I am quite sorry.

I would further above apology with a promise that such things will not happen againt but, for the first part at least, I can not be sure that it won't. Perhaps I ought to realize that once a month is a little much for a contest and admit defeat but . . . I've never been very good at that. Besides, there is still the finalist prize to be given away in June and there has been at one winner so far. It wouldn't be fair to take her out of the competition. So there are three more rounds left. Depending on participation there may or may not be stories to vote for after the challenges are issued. I will promise, however, to provide you with a story of my own that meets the challenge should there be no other participants. Just in case you come by looking for something to read.

As to proof that I'm not dead, --or wasn't dead and now have come back to life or perhpas am a ghost typing from the grave --here is some of what I was doing last week instead of apologizing for not having any stories for you:

"Touring" the creative writing classes on campus about Notes From Underground

Writing essays

Attending writing criteque with some very awsome writers

Writing more essays

Reading Victorian poetry

I also may have written an essay or two

Happy writing friends and in case you want to start mulling over it, next month's Literary Idol Challenge will be about fertility.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Number One Secret To Writing

I'm feeling rather mischievous about this.

There is a lot of advice out there for writers. Some of it is helpful and some of it is not. A lot of it just depends on defining what your goals are and figuring out what works for you, but there is one very important element of writing that is very seldom addressed. This, my friends, is the number one secret to writing, which is, of course . . .

. . . that there is no number one secret to writing.

I pause here and indulge in a wicked grin while you groan and roll your eyes.

Wait. Come back. Forgo the scythes and pitch forks a moment. There is more.

There are a lot of elements we discuss when deciding how we are going to write a book --tone, characterization, plot, setting, whether or not to use adverbs --but, in the --slightly altered-- words of Jack Sparrow “That's what a book needs. What a book is –what a book really is –is a story.” There is something intangible and altogether undefinable hidden in the pages of a good book that really can't be pulled apart into all those little elements that hold it together.

Musician call it musicality. Actors call it presence. Dancers call it grace. You don't have to be born with it but you can't really learn it either. Not with a list of rules and techniques. You can only find it, hidden somewhere deep within yourself. All the tricks to help you define your prose and increase your tension can help you showcase it and improve upon it but the finger that points to the moon is not the moon itself. Relying on the rules is like having a keel and a hole and a deck but no ship.

There is no secret –or legion of secrets –that will make your writing good. You can do everything right down to the last detail and still have a rotten story. You can have characters that are underdeveloped, a plot full of holes, and awkward prose but still have a story that is pure magic.

Find your story and tell it. That is the number one secret to writing. In fact, it is the only secret.

(also you still have six days left to enter the Magical Stranger contest for Literary Idol)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Literary Idol Challenge: The Magical Stranger

You may have begun to see things like this around the grocery store

in order to remind you to drink a lot of Guinness on the 17th in celebration of some people (which may or may not include you) being Irish

or . . .

You might sit around the fire and re-tell the story of how St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland.

Political and religios implications of the event aside, the story capsulizes a common theme in literature. The "magical" stranger who comes and brings harmony and wisdom to a select region. Pollyanna, Chocolate, Mary Poppins. Sometimes the Stranger stays and sometimes they leave once everyone's troubles are fixed but they always teach a community in a state of distress how to create richness and magic in their lives. Thus we come to March's Literary Idol Challenge:

Write a 50-1,000 word story that incorporates a Magical Stranger

As always feel free to play with the theme however you like. Use an object instead of a person or maybe the "fix it" is much darker than it first appears. Whatever you come up with, send it to:

by the Sunday, March the 2oth and I will post it Monday, March the 21st to be voted on.

(also, I've added something to the list of Literary Idol Finalist prizes)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Notes From Underground!

A story of mine is in oficial print for the first time ever. Forgive a poor virgin author for being overly excited.

But even appart from that I seriously advise you to check this book out. It is such a unique project and I am honored to be a part of it.

You can read more and get ordering information here.