thank you

Veterans Day

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Here’s something I wrote a couple of years ago and posted on my other blog. Since this date is Armistice Day, I had a WWI soldier in mind.

Only kissed a girl once. She gave you her picture. When it’s quiet, you pull it out and look at it, especially when the other men are nearby. She’s a looker.

When the other men aren’t around, you pull out the picture of mama. You imagine her voice, telling you that everything will be alright. She reminds you to brush your teeth, no matter where you are. Eat your vegetables, you need to be strong. Stay warm. Don’t let the others lead you astray. Read your Bible.
You tuck the picture back near your heart; pretend to sneeze so you can wipe your eyes.
Never been away from home before this. Now you hear people with accents so strong you have trouble understanding – the Scots, and Irish, and even the English don’t seem to speak English. You hear French, and sometimes – always bringing a chill – German.
Instead of the strings of crickets, the night music is percussion. And once, one hellish night, the air was filled with fire and screams and blood. Your best buddy lost his leg. Another one killed a German up close and personal and still has dreams about it.
You know it will be like that again. You know your turn for nightmares is coming. You look at the flag on your helmet, the flag hanging from a low pole, you think of mama, and you know. Whatever lay ahead, it’s worth it.



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who says it’s good

I like the idea of my work being approved by critics and whoever the people are who give out awards because they usually know what constitutes good writing. Don’t they? Maybe not. I don’t know.

I also like the idea of a lot of people buying my book, because aren’t the readers really the ones I’m doing all this for in the first place? If readers don’t like it, then why bother?

But, having my book hit the best seller list wouldn’t necessarily mean that my book was quality. I mean, look at what the general public consumes. McDonalds just sold another million hamburgers while I typed that sentence. I’ve read some best sellers that were, in my opinion, junk.

So, who do we trust to judge the quality of our work? I’m pretty sure I’m not a good judge. My friends like me, so I’m not sure I can trust them.

Do I even need to worry about it? If it gets bought by a publisher and sold to the public, isn’t that enough to say that I’ve done a good job?

I’m not sure. I’ve read started a lot of books that really aren’t so good. Maybe I’m too prideful, but I’d rather not get published than to publish something bad. Or even mediocre. I really struggle because I have this stupid perfectionist thing that gets in my way. And while I know I can’t achieve perfection, the idea of not being good enough can paralyze me.

But what is good enough? And who decides?

Have you wrestled with this? Have you resolved it? Or am I the only neurotic writer out here?

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if you had to choose

Daniel wins writing award

The other day Rachelle Gardner, a local agent, posed a question on her blog. If you had to choose, would you prefer to receive acclaim and awards but poor sales or to receive lots of money and perhaps be called a hack by reviewers?

Most people chose number two.

I chose the acclaim because I really want to produce quality work and the idea of being called a hack is just too much for me to bear.

I keep thinking about the question, though and I want to break it down more. Say your book is of fabulous quality. That goes without saying. Nobody is going to be called a hack by anyone. Then, which would you prefer? Which compensation means more to you? Would you want an award or would you want big sales and a lot of money? Assuming the two are mutually exclusive, which of course, they aren’t. But let’s pretend.

You can’t say both. Of course we all want both. You have to choose.

I love money. But I love words of affirmation as well.

I think, in this scenario, I would chose the dough, though. What about you?

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why i write

A couple of days ago Amy Rose Davis posted about why she writes. I didn’t have an answer for her, but it’s something I’ve thought about since I first started this journey.


Why do I write?

The thought that follows the question is, because I’m supposed to.

Amy has lots of reasons that have to do with enjoying the process. Another friend posted on Facebook this morning about her passion for writing. About how it fills her up.

I would love to feel that way. But I don’t. I can go days, weeks, months without writing and not miss it. I don’t feel like I’m going to die. I’m just fine.

But I know that if I were to walk away from it altogether, I would be drawn back. Not out of desire, but out of duty, I think. See, I have stories and people in my head and I have a talent for putting them onto paper. I feel like I have to do something with that. It would be wrong for me not to. So I am compelled, but the compelling is different than what the lovers of the process experience.

I’m not trying to say that I have this high calling or anything like that. But I do feel a sense of obligation to the Lord to do something with what he’s given me.

One thing I’ve always wanted is to make a difference in this world. I want my life to matter. To count for something. I need to know I have a purpose. I don’t want to pass through like a camper, packing out what I’ve packed in. I want to leave behind a swath that says I was here. Hopefully a happy, loving swath. Not out of a desire for fame or notoriety, but simply because I feel that to pass through without making a difference would mean a wasted life.

So, I’m wondering if this writing thing is how I can make a difference. Maybe it’s my purpose. Maybe I write because I’m supposed to. Maybe I write because somehow my words will make a difference in the world. At least in one person’s world?



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the writing mind

I have taken several tests to determine if I am primarily a right brained or a left brained thinker. Usually the results indicate that I am pretty balanced,  (I’m sure that term doesn’t mean what I’d like it to mean).

I think that’s accurate. But certain aspects of my thinking fall on one side or the other. For example, I can express myself well with words. That is a left brained skill.

But I am a “whole picture” kind of person. That is a right brained trait.

I dislike change (unless it’s my idea). Right brained.

I don’t process things in order. Right brained.

I love symbolism and abstract ideas. Left brained

I understand logic. I use logic. Left brained.

But if it comes down to it, I will base a decision on how I feel–my intuition–rather than logic. Right brained.

I’m not in love with rules. Right brained.

So… what does all this have to do with writing? For one thing, every writer will have a unique way of seeing things. Processing will be different for each of us. So many times we try to find the “right way” based on what other people do. Or worse, we try to impose our way as being the “right way.”

Because I am a “whole picture” person and I don’t do things sequentially there are some writing practices that give me hives just thinking of them. Outlining. Plotting.

Randy Ingermanson created The Snowflake Method of plotting. This thing is backwards for someone who is right brained. He asks me to start by writing one sentence that captures my entire book. How can I do that if I haven’t written the book yet?

For a left-brained person, this would be reasonable and easy. They start with the pieces and build the whole. A right-brainer needs the whole before they can distinguish the pieces.

So this method is right for some people. Not so much for others. It depends on how you process information.

This is just one example of how the wiring in our heads might affect how we write. Get to know your brain. Figure out how you think. Discover the strategies and methods that work best for you.

There are several tests online. Here is one I’ve used.

This site discusses some of the differences in processing.

What about you? How do you think? How does it affect your writing?

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in the beginning, or how i got into this racket in the first place

I had a story spinning through my head. It would’t leave me alone. I didn’t know any writers that I could hand it off to, so I started writing it down. It’s as simple as that.

But starting to write usually is simple. It’s the continuing to write that’s troublesome.

One of my favorite writers is Angela Hunt although there was a time when I called her Barbara Hunt.  I’m terrible with names. They don’t even have to sound alike. I kept telling people they should read some Barbara Hunt books, but they couldn’t fine any. True story.

So one day, only a couple of months after I started jotting down my story, I was looking at the Glen Eyrie web site just to see what they had going on. I could dream about going to one of their events some day.

When lo and behold, I see a writers’ conference. It was called Dare to Write, I think, which was exactly what I needed to hear in those days, (well, even in these days). I was wondering things like, Can I write? Should I write? Am I a writer? And then this website says to me Dare to Write.

And to top it off, the conference was taught by Angela Hunt (ahh… so that’s her name). I love Angela Hunt! I can go and I can find out if I’m supposed to write.

I went. It was fabulous! And I met some other writers, too. Nancy Rue, Kathryn Mackel, and Alton Gansky. And you know what? Nancy read a little bit of my story and you know what she said? She said, “You are a writer.”

I’ll never forget that. It still makes me feel a little misty.

And thus this journey began. I didn’t dream of being a writer. I haven’t poured my life out into journals and writing little stories. I didn’t grow up practicing how I would sign books. I just have a head full of people with stories to tell. And amazingly (I’m amazed), a gift for putting them into words.

This whole thing was unanticipated and unexpected. It was like God dropped it in my lap, “Here ya go. Write books.”

So I’m writing them. Sorta… But that’s for another day.

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it takes guts

Writing a novel isn’t nearly as easy as I used to think.

It takes guts.

It takes determination.

It takes discipline.

It takes perserverance.

I’m not exactly overflowing with those traits. But still… I’m writing a novel.

Mostly what I’ve done so far is learn about writing novels. Talk about writing novels. And start writing novels.

I haven’t yet finished one.

But I’m going to finish this one.

I am.

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