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. . . . In The Fields of Air By Bullion Grey
All Rights Reserved, Derek Lantzsch (C) 2003 Printed in México City Any part of this booklet maybe reproduced in any form without written permission from the author. 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it."
I write because I feel there is something more to say, than what has been said. I am not a writer. I am part of a conspiracy for creative expressions of all kind. I think of it this way. A person digs a ditch because of the need of a ditch. If he digs many ditches he is still a person who digs ditches. But I will never concede that this person is a ditch digger. He does many other things. I don't believe people who say they are a writer. I don't admire single minded people. Its better not to trap yourself into a title. Why not be an adventurer? This little booklet will give you some of the ideas great and little on writing. I was told in the eighteenth century a form of self education was to collect the wise and witty sayings in a "common place book". The individual would then refer often. Maybe this is a kind of "common place book"? It helps to sit around and chat with creative minds and if you can't in person, well then, why not read what they have to say about a subject near and dear to you? This is in booklet form to make it easy for the reader to carry it with him/her. To refer to it while walking the dog or standing in line at the market. And possibly, in the process, inspire.
Looking up I observed a very slight and graceful hawk, like a nighthawk. . . . It was the most ethereal flight I had ever witnessed. It did not simply flutter like a butterfly, nor soar like the larger hawks, but it sported with proud reliance in the fields of air; mounting again and again with its strange chuckle, it repeated it's free and beautiful fall, turning over and over like a kite, and then recovering from it's lofty tumbling, as if it had never set it's foot on terre firma. It appeared to have no companion in the universe --- sporting there alone --- and to need none but the morning and the ether with which it played. It was not lonely, but made all the earth lonely beneath it.
Henry David Thoreau
The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can't help it.
I feel a need to have a certain experience, to see certain feelings displayed, to see certain ideas pursued, and at one point or another I make the audacious choice of appointing myself as the person who can conceivably do that.
If you have the vision and the urge. . . . Then you will discover in yourself the virtues and the capabilities require for their accomplishments.
The way you activate the seeds of your creation is by making choices about the results you want to create. When you make a choice, you mobilize vast human energies and resources which otherwise go untapped. All too often people fail to focus their choices upon results and therefore their choices are ineffective. If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you diconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.
When a thing doesn't come immediately, the artist's instinct is to say, "Ah, it will never come. I've lost the magic." It's very difficult to give yourself the reinforcement, but you must do it. For example. Hemingway used to say that he wrote all day and he quit while the juice was up. He mean't that if he quit while he was having a really good writing streak then he could go back the next morning in the middle of this really good writing and take off again. I can never do that. If I hit a really good writing streak, I think it's never going to come again; so I write till four or six in the morning till I'm too exhausted to write any more. But to be able to take it one step further and to feel what Hemingway felt---well, that's the next thing I'm working toward.
Make friends with your shower. If inspired to sing, maybe the song has an idea in it for you.
The best time for planning a book is while you are doing the dishes.
If you are having difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it.
Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered potholder.
fastest writer-- Charles Harold St. John Hamilton (1876-1961).
Wrote the adventures of "Billy Bunter" under the pseudonym Frank Richards. From 1915 to 1926 Mr. Hamilton often wrote 80,000 words a week. Over his lifetime, Hamilton wrote over 75 million words. One of the best ways to find out what you know is to brainstorm. When you brainstorm you put down everything that comes into your head as fast as you can. You don't want to be critical; you do want to be illogical, irrational, even silly. You just want to discover what is in your head. You want to be surprised. After you have brainstormed, then you should look at what you've written down to see what surprises you or what connects. These surprises and connections remind you of what you know and will make you aware of meanings you hadn't seen before.
I always work quickly. If I write slower it doesn't get any better, so I just let it out. At the time I'm writing I don't waste a damn minute thinking. "Ah this is no good" or "Is this good enough?" I just do it. Judging yourself is hanging yourself up, inhibiting yourself. It's dumb. To hell with that---just write it. Later you can look at it and throw it away, or fix it.
Now I keep a typewriter with a sheet of paper in it on the end of the kitchen table. When I have a five-minute lull and the children are playing quietly, I sit down and knock out a paragraph. I have learned that I can write, if necessary, with a TV set blaring on one side of me and a child banging a toy piano on the other. I've even typed out a story with a colicky baby draped across my lap. It is not ideal---but it is possible.
. . . . I find it helps to think of writing as both a journey and a process in which you are exploring and then restructuring your knowledge into a new representation that someone else can understand.
I write to find out what I'm thinking.
How do I know what I think until I see what I say?
For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew.
Fastest female writer-- Kathleen Lindsay (1903-1973)
A South African woman who penned 904 novels. Her writings are under three married names and eight pen names.
The following is excerpted from Frank Smith's Essays into Literacy
(Exeter, New Hampshire: Heinemann Educational Books, 1983, repr. 1984).
I found this in a college newsletter about 12 years ago. I kept it because it made such an impact on my ideas of writing.
Writing involves transferring thoughts from the mind to paper Reality: Writing can create ideas and experiences on paper which could never exist in the mind (and possibly not in the "real world" either). Thoughts are created in the act of writing, which changes the writer just as it changes the paper on which the text is produced. Many authors have said their books know more than they do, that they cannot recount in detail what their books contain before, while or after they write them. Writing is not a matter of taking dictation form yourself; it is more like a conversation with a highly responsive and reflective other person. Writing is permanent, speech ephemeral Reality: Speech, once uttered, can rarely be revised, no matter how much we might struggle to unsay something we wish we had not said. But writing can be reflected upon, altered, and even erased at will. This is the first great and unique potential of writing, that it gives the writer power to manipulate time. Events that occurred in the past or that may occur in the future can be evaluated, organized, and changed. What will be read quickly can be written slowly. What may be read several times need be written only once. What will be read first can be written last. What is written first need not remain first; the order of anything that is written can be changed. Such control over time is completely beyond the scope of spoken language or thought that "remains in the head." Writing is learned solely from writing Reality: No one writes enough, especially at school, to have enough mistakes corrected to learn to write by trial and error. Not even the transcription aspects of writing could be learned this way, let alone all the subtleties of style and expression. The only source of knowledge sufficiently rich and reliable for learning about written language is the writing already done by others. In others words, one learns to write by reading. The act of writing is critical as a basis for learning to write from reading; our desire to write provides an incentive and direction for learning about writing from reading. But the writing that anyone does must be vastly complemented by reading if it is to achieve anything like the creative and communicative power that written languages offers. You must have something to say in order to write
Reality: You often need to write in order to have anything to say. Thought comes with writing, and writing may never come if it is postponed until we are satisfied that we have something to say. Writing is a silent activity Reality: Writing frequently involves making noise, not only to exchange ideas (or feelings) with other people, but to give vent to expressions of exhilaration or fustration. Writing is a solitary activity Reality: Writing in general often requires other people to stimulate discussion, to provide spellings, to listen to choice phrases, and even just for companionship in an activity that can be so personal and predictable that it creates considerable stress. Especially when writing is being learned, there is often a great need for and advantage in people working together. All art begins and ends with discipline. . . any art is first and foremost a craft.
Has a drinking song ever been written by a drunken man? It is wrong to think that feeling is everything. In the arts, it is nothing without form.
What makes me happy is rewriting. In the first draft you get your ideas and your theme clear, if you are using some kind of metaphor you get that established, and certainly you have to know where you're coming out. But the next time though it's like cleaning house, getting rid of all the junk, getting things in the right order, tidying things up. I like the process of making writing neat.
Focused questions can reveal the key ideas you need now; What specific results do I want my writing to produce? What elements in my writing are missing? What questions haven't I asked myself that would help me solve my greatest writing problems?
Usage is the only test. I prefer a phrase that is easy and unaffected to a phrase that is grammatical.
W. Somerset Maugham
Good writing is like a windowpane.
Word-carpentry is like any other kind of carpentry: you must join your sentences smoothly.
Because I am interested in structure , I must sound mechanistic. But it's just the opposite. I want to get the structural problems out of the way first, so I can get to what matters more. After they're solved, the only thing left for me to do is tell the story as well as possible.
There is no one right way. Each of us finds a way that works for him. But there is a wrong way. The wrong way is to finish your writing day with no more words on paper than when you began. Writers write.
Robert B. Parker
I would want to tell my students of a point strongly pressed, if my memory serves, by Shaw. He once said that as he grew older, he became less and less interested in theory, more and more interested in information. The temptation in writing is just reversed. Nothing is so hard to come by as a new and interesting fact. Nothing is so easy on the feet as a generalization.
John Kenneth Galbraith
It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not do this remain amateurs.
The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in shock-proof shit-detector.
An absolutely necessary part of a writer's equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts on himself.
Rejected most -- John Creasey (1908-1973)John Creasey collected what is believed to be a record number of rejection slips, 743, before the publication of his first of 564 books. In his forty years of writing he wrote more than 40 million words. I think it is bad to talk about one's present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative art. It discharges the tension.
Never talk about what you are going to do until after you have written it.
I don't use the word "work," you know that? It's almost a superstition with me. I never say, "I go to work." I say. "I go to the studio" or "I have to go draw pictures," but never say work, because I always have the feeling that if I call it
work then God is going to take it away from me. That's my spiritual superstition.
When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages a sick sense of failure falls on me and I know I can never do it. Then I gradually write one page and then another. One day's work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.
Don't have time? Look at the thickness of the book Gone With The Wind. Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With The Wind while she was working full time at a newspaper.
Most writing is dull, and this is inexcusable, because it's one of the simplest problems to solve. Some of the tricks to make writing lively are: Be specific Reveal your feelings about the subject Use active verbs Use proper nouns Put people on the page Use direct quotes Let the reader see Vary sentence length Vary paragraph length Give examples Use analogies Document with anecdotes Change the pace Let the reader hear a voice
Needed the cash --- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) It is said of Mr. Johnson that he wrote Rasselas in a week to pay for his mothers debts and her funeral.
If I didn't know the end of a story, I wouldn't begin it.
Katherine Anne Porter
I don't know how far away the end is---only what it is. I know the last sentence, but I'm very much in the dark concerning how to get to it.
I don't know how to say this without it sounding crazy---but the characters in my books take over and do the writing for me. And as the book progresses, these characters will do things that I had no intention for them to do. And it becomes so
strong there's nothing I can do about it. This character takes over, a character that I started out thinking was not very important. Suddenly that character will come to the foreground and say, "Hey, here I am and here's what I'm going to do."
I must keep to my own style, and go on in my own way; and though I may never suceed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.
Good Juggler -- Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970) Creator Of Perry Mason, once worked on seven novels simultaneously. His lifetime contribution topped at 140 books.
Writing is just you, alone in a room with your inspiration and imagination, doing something only you can do exactly that way. Only Dostoyevsky, with his unique combination of talent and life experience, could have written Crime & punishment. Only Edgar Rice Burroughs could have created Tarzan. No one but Mark Twain could have made us laugh at that jumping frog contest. And only you can create the works of reporting and make-believe, of comedy and tragedy, that will be your gift to the readers of the world.
There are other writers who would persuade you not to go on, that everything is nonsense, that you should kill yourself. They, of course, go on to write another book while you have killed yourself.
One way to get it done -- George Simenon (1903-1989) The French mystery writer would get a complete medical exam before locking himself in a room to write. Six days later he would have a completed novel. Over his lifetime he penned 500 books.
Some of the things we learned about writing from these authors are:
1. If you have the vision you will find the ability. 2. The way you become creative is by knowing what it is you want to create. 3. You can plan your writing while doing other things.
4. One way to overcome writers block is to surprise yourself. 5. You need both technique and passion. 6. Use brainstorming to stimulate your writing. 7. Writing quickly can help you write better. 8. After you write then you can revise or scrap the material. 9. Writing is exploring and then restructuring your knowledge. 10. Writing is thinking. Write to think. 11. Don't talk about your writing, just write. 12. Use your own style.
Enjoy, Bullion Grey Creative Braintrust
Back Cover WRITING CAUGHT YOUR INTEREST? Sit down with a cup of hot coffee and join in the conversation with some of the great and not so great writers of our time. Here you'll find ideas, inspiration and instructions from those who know. Make friends with the people inside and find out what you need to do next. Robert Frost John Kenneth Galbraith Archibald MacLeish Gustave Flaubert John McPhee John IrvingKatherine Anne Porter E.M.Forster George Orwell John Steinbeck Norman Mailer Anatole France W. Somerset Maugham Steve Allen Ernest Hemingway Charles Shultz Albert Einstein and many more speak with you in - IN THE FIELDS OF AIR
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