Read My Lips, It’s the Journey Stupid!


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“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” -George Eliot

The first day of rewrites felt exceptionally productive. I had mapped out the tweaks and adjustments necessary and motored through the first six chapters making the changes. I suspect it may slow down because the changes are a little more complicated later in the book when the conflict is more complicated. But I felt good about how it was reading. There seemed to be more push, or pull, depending on your choice of words.

There are some emails, however, I should never read. I postpone my attention to email until later in the day after accomplishing something. Otherwise, I can get bogged down in nothing! Today I read a post from a book publisher talking about publishing and age. The title was “Authors, Are You Too Old To Make It?” Ageism is not a new issue in the world of writing. Screenwriters seem to experience considerable ageism. It you are not between the ages of 25- 35 you are perceived as being out of touch, not tuned into the most lucrative of marketing demographics. One presumably grows in experience and wisdom relative to that experience as we age. But at some point, fuddy-duddiness betrays that experience and wisdom, in the opinion of some.


There are no rules on creativity and its response to experience and wisdom. Hardened attitudes are not the sole domain of the aged. Most writers are looking for recognition in some form. They want to be heard and understood.

The journey is what’s important. If you have but one book and its published when your in your sixties, like Frank McCourt, so be it. The time was right. We serve no talent before its time. The only crime is if you kill the talent before its matured. Talent, experience, point of view, and passion are ingredients not always mixed at a flashpoint except under certain conditions, and those conditions change from person to person. No formula is the only formula, no formula is the definitive formula. The journey is yours follow it to its logical conclusion.

Only One Book?

I am not a spring chicken; like McCourt, I have considerable experience under my belt. But, if my reinvention is to go forward, it is the journey that matters and not my age. If I bloom late in the day, so be it; and isn’t it wonderful that I bloomed at all.

I read an article about Katie Couric in which she says people who are famous aren’t driven by fame. They are passionate about something and want to be the best at it. That is encouraging. Devil’s Gut maybe only one book, but it will be the best book my talent, experience and energy to work my will can produce.

Join me and rush to your mirror, look into it at you. Read my lips, It’s the journey, stupid.

I better be satisfied with a single bloom. This economy has put up enormous roadblocks to financial rewards in whatever your business might be. The publishing business maybe undergoing dramatic changes, but those changes only echo the changes already made in our economy, not the dramatic upheaval likely to occur in the near future. All we can do is paddle like hell and focus on the journey in whatever waters we encounter.


Working His Will


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I made significant progress today in refining my novel structure. When I say refining the structure, I’m referring to sharpening the goals and relationships between the main character and the influence character, between the main character and the antagonist. The intent was to create a little more conflict between themes and plot while also developing the main character more sharply. It’s not so much a retelling, but a reshaping or a more clear expression. I was fearful that a complete retelling was in the offing; that was thankfully not the case. I did get something right!

The week or more of agonizing the story was perhaps good, only in the sense that I got away from it long enough to get a better perspective. I also encountered an over-used axiom about traveling your own road. My road has meaning only for me, ultimately. People might benefit from the choices I made, but ultimately what I learn, I had to learn; that may not be the same for everyone. As the Knights of the Round Table were told when embarking on the search for the Holy Grail, don’t follow each other, look for your path.

That all sounds rather banal

One man’s banality is another’s revelation. The pain I experienced finally produced some results that now require execution. I am reminded of the golfer, Ben Hogan, who is reputed to be a horse’s patooty! He did not suffer fools or simpletons.

One Man’s Patooty…

When Hogan talked about work and his golf game he spoke of “Digging it out of the ground.” Some people talk of “woodshedding”, others call it “Heavy lifting.” Whatever name you want to call it is fine, but I rather like the organic feeling of “digging it out of the ground” – it implies a relationship between us and something else, namely the ground, earth, our world.

My gut feeling about the current state of the book told me that something was lacking. Only by digging it out of the ground, that is, pondering and re-evaluating assumptions and ideas, and challenging myself to be more specific, would I find a solution to execute. Admittedly, this is only half the battle; executing the decisions and choices properly is the other half of the equation.

My rejections these days seem to be more specific. Now I get comments suggesting the story was good, but development is needed. There are also mechanical issues – in other words, grammar and punctuation. One agent suggested I retain an editor, cautioning me to not be offended. Everyone works with an editor these days. He went on to say that fiction is so brutal today that for an unknown writer to get representation and published the writing can not be simply good, it must be extraordinary.


This led me to yet another seemingly tired axiom of “Don’t sweat what you can’t change.” Our time should be spent working on those things we can change. Admittedly, I can, over time, change my skill in grammatical structure, but not by the weekend so I might get back to work on this novel! I can’t change the weather, the fact I need to work to survive, the fact that I have other responsibilities apart from writing that requires my attention. I can’t change those things; what I can change is the juice or life of the story, since it is not grammatical, only expressed in grammatical terms.

I may well need an editor when I finally feel comfortable with the shape and pulse of the story. That’s Ok. By digging the story out of the ground, I am working my will over those things my will can change. Those that I can’t change, so be it, or if possible, get help. There’s no shame in help.

I shall not dismiss every catch-phrase of collective wisdom as banal, either. We learn, hopefully, what we need to learn in our own sequence and time. Using banal as a label seems rather arrogant, don’t you think?



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Writing is heartbreaking, harrowing, agonizing, if not downright traumatic. There are moments of self-loathing, self-pity, among moments of self-aggrandizement that make the whole ride dizzying. The roller-coaster ride of fleeting pride and plummeting ego is much more than a two-ticket ride at the fair. It is the stuff of life and living. One should embrace it not allow himself to be pummeled by it.

“Oh, that’s good! Come on, hit me again! Harder!”

This past week has been for me one of lower still, and more low than one can imagine. Energy flags noticeably not only for writing but for life in general. What is the solution? The elixir? The silver bullet? The magic fairy dust that makes all right once again, if it ever was?

“Life sucks” is a lie. The truth is probably that we suck. Life is grand, sweeping, and possessed of incredible energy writ large upon the pages of the infinite. The smaller I am, the more I diminish me, the more I suck – not life. And lying comes so easy; it’s a Biblical no-no, but that magical fairy dust of rationalization pardons our sins so completely. May I say effortlessly?

Lying Sucks

Two weeks of listening to party pitch-man from both our major political stripes have raised spin, prevarication, and hypocrisy to a new level of high art. It worries me that we can justify so readily a misrepresentation of an idea, or the blatant disregard for the presented facts of a situation which fly in the face of your preconceived opinion.

There are themes of betrayal and marginalization in my current novel. I have started a new pass on the story, and I find myself thinking more and more about the rationalization of untruth. What is the process by which we slide from a virtuous aura of truth to whatever works is fair? Whatever defeats, belittles, marginalizes or demonizes the opposition is fair. This is a decent that is not all that new, but the fact it happens continually signals a moral flaw or blind spot in our human ethos. We patch up the cracks in our veneer with lie: “No crack here! You gotta be nuts!” There is no attempt to repair only deflect and lie.


Lying is more than an untruth; it’s a betrayal of self, rendering one obstinate, inflexible,  in short blinkered! Yet I watched professed men of the church spew blinkered spin without any burden of conscience. Remarkable Barnum perfidy. These fools are born more frequently than rabbits! And as hard to corral, too!

Perhaps this slide into Blinkerdom is something demanding further developed in my story. Lying is easy when attached to a noble cause or position. It’s just what the doctor ordered: “Take two lies and call me in the morning.” We are the eventual victims when we lie, because the lie becomes a truth we can’t really defend. The lie narrows options, straight jackets our response or flexibility.

The past week has been difficult for my writing. There are issues that get in the way, but to blame my failure to write on life is a grand lie. I allowed life to get in the way. I failed, unlike Murray, to work my will when forces were rallying. Murray defeated Djokovic because he, Murray, wanted it more – it’s such a head game.

I am close to achieving something with Devils Gut and must as Ben Hogan was want to say, “You have to dig your game out of the ground.” I have to want it more than I have, and lies not allowed!

So, tell me have you found times in your life when lying was easy?

Thresholds Anonymous!


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ImageI have encountered during my life many thresholds, some theoretical and others literal. I remember when a young college freshman decided to participate on the swim team, first because it was a no-cut sport, and second because the training table was infinitely superior to dorm food. These reasons, no doubt, are not particularly noble; pragmatism is also a virtue!

The college freshman of record was slotted in the 800 resulting from a lack of speed. What impressed the coach was an efficient stroke and apparent stamina; hence, the 800. The highest finish of my swimming career was third – of three. What distinguishes this experience from others was the threshold. The 800 is a long swim and it did hurt. However, there was always a moment somewhere around 4-500 meters when the pain would evaporate and, for want of a better term, I became a machine. There was no pain, and I just swam.

An Evolving Threshold

That experience has remained with me for a very long time, although I have seldom applied it to much of anything – regrettably. It is one of those lessons we learn without ever really understanding the depth of the implications. All I knew was that at some point the pain of swimming disappeared for a while, and I swam freely, confidently, easily. I passed through some threshold…

Presently, many years later – and I emphasize many – I have a far richer appreciation of that threshold. The pain, on one level, from creating new behavior, or habits will lessen with time and is a powerful tool. It also speaks, on another level, of the pain I am, or was, willing to endure to create a new habit or behavior. This is, as you might guess, significant for anyone undergoing a transformation or re-invention.

Pain and Gain

A recent post by me addressed my level of commitment and discipline regarding my work. I compared it to the remarkable discipline of a Thai woodcarver who had sculpted an intricate jungle scene of a herd of elephants walking beneath huge trees, filled with other animal life. The entire sculpture was carved from a single log some three to four feet thick and approximately six-feet long. The carver’s discipline seemed infinite compared to my own short bursts of creative energy. In short, I came face to face with my own failure to endure the pain of creation – sadly, I am of the instant gratification club, for the moment.

The polite way to evaluate our work ethic is to talk about discipline; it is clean and philosophical, given to wonderful turns of phrases as we explore our commitment to our craft and art.

That’s Not Real

Reality is more demanding and unforgiving. The reality is: how much pain are we willing to endure on the way to the top of the mountain, any mountain – it needs no name; it needs no historical import or significance in any physical way, other than it is a mountain. It hurts to swim the 800 with some intention of speed. The Thai woodcarver no doubt experienced pain in his hands and arms, pain in his eyes, pain in his fingers, pain in his brain! Some renderings within that sculpture were so delicate and small that one slip and a portion of the carving would be ruined, irreplaceable.

A Different Perspective

This element of pain struck me this morning during my twice weekly spin class. The instructor pushed us unmercifully. My legs ached, my lungs ached, my back ached, and my feet felt like lead. I pushed through the pain to a threshold of achievement for that day.

My take away was that the issue of writing is not so much talk of discipline, commitment, needs, etc., but is really an honest confrontation with ourself and how much pain we are willing to endure to create what is in our heart.

My question to fellow writers is this: what thresholds have you experienced and how did you find your way through?

Liebster Award

I am honored to be included in the Liebster Awards. The questions for my response appear below with my five nominations and questions for the nominees.

(1)  What is your “super power”—an obscure talent or skill that you know (or have been told) is particularly good?  For example, some people are super-recognizers, super-tasters, or are particularly empathetic.

Ans: My super power is something I, or anyone else, might not suspect. I am a teacher. This talent is attributed to a genuine care for others that is partnered with patience. Most people consider me aloof as a first impression, making the care and patience a surprise.

(2)  When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

I wanted to be a superhero! Righting wrongs appeared to be very worthwhile endeavor.

(3)  Name a book or movie you’ve read or watched at least three times and explain why you did.

Big Fish. It is a remarkable parable of life that embraces why I write. I also find the reconciliation between son and father a remarkable story that never fails to move me to tears.

(4)  What’s your favorite first name that is not your own?  What do you like about it?

James is a favorite first name. It was my father’s name and I admired his scientific and artistic mind. James always seemed to me the respectful title for the combination.

(5)  Where in the world would you like to be in 10 years?  Why?

First of all, I’d like to be here doing what I do – only better. I’d like to be a published author remarkable for his inspiration to other late-bloomers! Life is not over until I sing!

The following blogs are my nominations for the Liebster Award!

If the above nominees agree to participate, please answer the following five questions in a post and make five nominations and questions.

1. What are your thoughts on the relationship of craft and art?

2. What one thing have you learned from blogging?

3. What is the child in you?

4. What has been your biggest surprise from writing a blog?

5. What is the most evil bugaboo to your time management, and how do you cope with the little devil?

Wooly Bully


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According to playwright Harold Pinter the more intense the emotion, the less articulate its expression. Some consolation can be taken from that statement when considering the anxiety of my re-invention. If this expression seems wooly, refer to Mr. Pinter.

I have just begun yet another revision of my novel. For the first time, several queries produced requests for additional material. The result was the same. Now, rather than getting the standard “Does not fit our needs at this time” I am now receiving a few replies that are longer: “As intriguing as your story sounded, we don’t think it fits our agency.” The specific reference to the story is encouraging. It is for this reason we have chosen to take another spin of the story and pursue the more traditional route to publication.


The recent weeks have been tough from a discipline point of view. The newness of the discipline wears off and the fortitude required to make the new behavior a habit can wane. This mornings exercise routine was a mile swim. Thirty lengths into the 106 length swim I was struggling to maintain focus. I thought of all the reasons- compelling reasons- to push onwards; they were not making the required impact. 

Turning to another trick of the mind, I focused my attention on the stroke. I concentrated on trying to maintain the most efficient stroke possible, i.e. maximum efficiency of movement with no wasted motion or incomplete motion. Short-strokes are not efficient; they are weak. Very shortly, I found myself tapping into a renewed energy from my more efficient swimming. Essentially, I guess, my focus was on form and the proper content followed suit. I had allowed my focus to become wooly, if you will.


Old behavior can be difficult to modify. Removing them from the hard drive can be as frustrating as auto-spell on my phone that will not allow me to spell a word it does not recognize. The phone becomes a bully, refusing to cooperate. The same occurs, or can occur, when modifying our behavior. The re-focus on form enabled me to finish the workout and the resulting content- an invigorating one hour workout- was attained.

It is now time to bring the best of me to this manuscript, remembering also the Elephants in the tropics – a three dimensional carving from a single piece of wood. I need to bring as much attention, focus, and determination to this new re-write as demonstrated by that remarkable craftsman. It all starts with craft and our individual voice elevates it to art. Without the craft, art has little chance. Without the proper stroke, I had little chance of completing my workout.

Old habits can indeed be a ‘wooly bully’ pushing us to return to the known, not necessarily the comfortable. What we knew before is known and therefore comfortable. It is in the uncomfortable that we gain strength and new skill.

Reject the Wooly Bully and happy writing.

Writers Write


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ImageWriters write. I know it sounds silly.  To proclaim as axiomatic the notion that writers write actually sounds stupid; but, we need to remember this world, especially this digital world, is all intrusive.

Intrusive =s extrusive

People intrude on conversations; they intrude on research; they intrude upon navel contemplation significant to our current project- they just plain intrude. Everyone wants instant validation. As a result our energies and focus are extruded from the work we need to accomplish. This is especially true for writers like myself, the unpublished sort, yet to be paid for their labor, yet to be compensated for the work done on spec. For us, time management is all the more critical, and it often seems problematic.

Writing requires a special discipline to be successful. One must possess the fortitude to shut out the world and focus on the muse; not easy when wife, kids, job, and yard-work are seldom out of sight and needs. Earning the right to write is a steep climb.

Like many of us, I frequent some writer communities on line to solicit advice, information and news of the publishing world. One particular group I frequent features peer reviews; post a short or a chapter of something for comment. On the surface, it sounds like a good communal opportunity – people sharing and discussing ideas about a brief creative piece. Since we all crave some feedback, and wives, mothers, brothers and sisters can only go so far, the lure of these sites is tremendous!

Writer Beware

I wrote a critique of a query letter for one gentleman and received a request from another writer for a review of several chapters of his current book. He suggested that my critique had been fair, honest, and constructive. He wondered what my thoughts might be on his work.

In hindsight, I should have said no. I didn’t and found myself entangled in a banter of exchanges between myself, the writer, and several friends (I assume) of the writer. Said friends adored the narrative and thought I was nit picking. I finally dropped out of the conversation, which continued into the next day. Two days later a revision restoring the short to its initial state was posted and trumpeted as “back by popular demand”. I guess he showed me.

The exchange of ideas regarding content, structure, and other aspects of writing can be invaluable. They can also be time consuming and downright silly. Beware of the on-line critique sites. Check out the comment strings and look for intelligent content and response. The writer who challenges your critique is probably looking for something other than a critique.

In this instance, these writers spent valuable time comparing classes taken ant titles of books read. I got sucked in and spent my valuable time engaged in explaining and justifying a critique. My critique was my take on the material, end of action. Debating my critique served no purpose. None of us will sit next to our readers challenging their disinterest or smiling and nudging them because they find the work interesting. They like it or they don’t; move on.

Another issue is the mutual admiration society, people stroking each other with nice generalities that mean absolutely nothing. We do a disservice to the writer by telling him he’s good when he/she is not – at least not yet. Deep inside, I know when something I write is good, if I listen. Sometimes we choose not to listen to that little voice inside wincing in pain. He doesn’t speak loudly, he’s just there. “Tell me you didn’t write that!”


My advice, use these sites with caution. Write a critique that is honest and let it go. The reverse is true, also. Test your writing on these sites making yourself available for criticism. Some criticism may not be learned and that’s Ok, not all our readers may be as learned. Accept the criticism for what it is, one man/woman’s point of view. Debating the critique serves no purpose and is a wast of time. Most of all, remember you want to be a writer, and a writer writes. He doesn’t get lost talking about writing; he writes.

The Elephant in the Room


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Seeing for the first time is an amazing experience; or, the elephant in the room.

I enjoy Thai cuisine very much. I have eaten in many a Thai restaurant, often decorated with remarkable carved woodwork similar to the two pictured above. Both of the above pieces, while not exquisitely captured by my phone’s camera, were carved from a single piece of wood. Amazing.

That, however, is not the story. I have been to this well many times but apparently never tasted the water.

On the occasion of my eldest son’s birthday, we drove to Charlotte to have dinner with my son and his girl friend. They enjoy Thai cuisine as well and requested a Thai birthday dinner. On the way to the restaurant, my son and I were discussing some writing issues we both faced- he a writer of screenplays. We were still talking about writing as we entered the restaurant and passed the rather singular piece of many elephants in a jungle all carved from a single log of considerable size.

Our booth was ornately decorated and above us on the wall hung a wonderfully detailed 3-D carving of remarkable delicacy and detail.

It seemed to me I saw these carvings for the first time. I saw these carvings for the first time from a perspective of writing. Fix your eyes on elephants beneath the jungle canopy – I know you can’t really appreciate the detail – and imagine the entire log from which this sculpture came.

The question popped in my head: “Have I ever… I mean ever! Have I ever displayed that level of concentration, dedication, focus, or discipline in my writing? I was spellbound; I was confronted with my own inadequate discipline. I cannot say that I have written anything that even begins to approach this depth of focus, detail, and sensitivity.

Writing Is Rewriting

For the first time, the real meaning of this oft-trumpeted phrase held some significant meaning, not just a vague understanding, but a palpable truth standing before me. The elephants now proudly grace the desktop of my computer.

This world is over-run with instant gratification. We draft a short-story and it’s done; we expect accolades for its breathtaking insight to the human condition. In reality it’s just a sketch. It’s a thinking-out-loud. Writing is not easy, writing well, that is. Few ideas in this world spring forth fully developed. It took nine months just for me to spring forth- and I was on autopilot! I don’t remember the pain; I’m told it was far from painless. Expecting success from the simple completion of a story is terribly naive. I have no right to expect a world class time in the mile simply because I complete a mile on my first attempt.

When Discussion is a Waste of Time

On a related sidebar, I became involved in a discussion on a writer’s community website regarding a short story I been asked to review. I pointed out a fallacy in logic and a tendency to bludgeon us with a message. Other writer’s came to his defense suggesting that this was appropriate. We bantered back and forth for about a day until I just decided this was counter-productive. He didn’t want a critique, he wanted a rave. I know we all crave feedback on our work, but the man who created those wonderful elephants in a tropical forest, didn’t ask for feedback. There wasn’t time!

My little foray into the discussion site was an eye-opener and certain to be a future post.

For now, it is on to my revisions and submissions with a frequent glance at the elephants under the trees. And you? Can you say, honestly, you have demonstrated as much focus, discipline and work on your writing?

Call It Connections


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The interactive nature of writing is a current subject popular with writers/bloggers. Sometimes the revelations seem too obvious: there is a connection between writers and readers. You think?

I have spent much of my creative life in the theater and during that time the number of schools offering degrees in theater arts has mushroomed. They are ubiquitous. There are probably as many different schools of thought on the proper development and training of the actor.

One long-time friend and colleague discussed this trend with me in this fashion: “Who needs these schools? The best school, the only school, is an audience. They tell you immediately if you are in the ball park.” He is pretty much old school. It reminds me of a well known story of Spencer Tracy and a young Method actor. The two men were appearing in a Broadway play wherein the young Method-Actor had to enter the room exhausted and out of breath. To create this illusion- and one might certainly question this as ‘Method’- he ran out the stage right door and around the block, entering the stage left door and making his entrance, sweaty, out of breath, and appropriately flushed right on cue.

After several dress rehearsals, Tracy, who had watched, quite bemused, asked, “Why do you do that?” The young man looked at the iconic Tracy and with great irony replied, “Why do you go through that door, Mr. Tracy?” Tracy paused and smiled. “Because it’s the only %$#@!& way into the room!”

All creative expressions intended for public consumption are based upon some level of connection with an audience – and of course there are many kinds of audiences and many levels of connection. Success or failure depends on the degree to which meaning, intent, and perception are shared by the writer and his/her audience.

This leads me to consider again this whole issue of self-publishing. I’m not waffling. For the moment, I am still pursuing the traditional query through agents in hope of gaining some representation and hopefully a sale after that. But, if this writer/reader connection or relationship is what it is, and given the huge number of readers in the world – a number that is not diminishing- the traditional gatekeeper to this relationship is changing. The advent of ebooks has changed this equation. It is possible to carve out an audience from these millions and billions of readers through technology that minimizes the need for the hold-it-in-your-hand-paper-bound book- which is expensive. As more readers or searchers for content discover the plethora of material available in places other than brick and mortar stores, this process is changing rapidly.

If you don’t believe me, consider the innovations among traditional publishers to embrace the digital world! Nobody knows how this will shake out and writers will ignore the digital world at their own peril. The possibility that you might find a significant number of like minded individuals for whom your meaning, intent, and perception are a match is more likely than you might imagine. The rub? Can you continue to supply the content to meet the demand?

The audience potential is out there and if you can master the issues of visibility, the audience will teach you to success! That’s the revelation, I suppose.

Connections with words, connections with readers, it has always been the same – but now it is dizzyingly complex and potentially unlimited.

Act Like a Writer


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“And now, as the metaphorical curtain is about to go up on my own book, I sit in the audience, alternately anxious and elated, waiting to see how these actors will transform my words through their own personal experiences.” – Molly Ringwald

Insight often comes from surprising places. That is perhaps the joy of living; we never know what we’ll find or where we’ll find it.

Yesterday, I discovered a very interesting column by Molly Ringwald (of Breakfast Club fame) who penned a column for the Times entitled “Act Like a Writer”. Ringwald presents an interesting comparison between her work as an actress and her work as an author. Preparation for any role was achieved by a thorough invention of a back story, providing her with all the necessary information about the character up to the time an audience sees her onstage or onscreen. She expressed amazement that more actors didn’t write! I know actors, and I know not all of them spend a lot of time creating elaborate back stories. There is an old-school philosophy of “say-your-lines-and-get-off-the-stage.”


“Our job, as the cast, was to find the humanity in the stereotypes that we had been assigned, to show that we were all suffering in our own way and searching for our way out. In the end, that way out is through connection, another lesson I’ve carried through my life and in what I have chosen to explore in fiction.” -Molly Ringwald

She explains that she knows just how the words should sound and feel, suggesting that she has probably made some words sound better, and some worse. She then makes an interesting observation regarding collaboration for the writer: namely that the collaborators are the writer and the reader. The reader, in effect, becomes an actor, and we have no idea how the words will be interpreted. Some writers, she notes, revel in the ambiguity.

The thought occurs to me that the writing is not as much about grammar and punctuation as words. Their connections. Their placement or arrangement. Something must suggest “Come on in; the water’s fine.” The sense of our experiences or imagination are infused inside the choices of words and arrangements we make, at it’s most basic level. I have read the work of unpublished authors, who penned concisely, correctly, grammatically precise, yet fell short of living. The magic ingredient required to make us ready is just that – magic. The choice of words and connections that pull us in, inside the the sound and feeling of words. 

“..waiting to see how these actors will transform my words through their own personal experiences,” say Ringwald. I’m thinking I should be sure of the words sound and feeling in my head first. If there are no magical connections for me, what hope could I have of suggesting to someone “Come on in; the water’s fine!”

When writing mentors suggest that brevity is important, this is why! Simple arrangements of words with connections are the engine of storytelling.