Every writer, young or old, has experienced it at least once in their writing career. You put your pen on the paper to write words, but words don’t flow onto the paper like they usually do. You are stuck in the writer’s block.
Have you ever watched the way a child explores a new book? She might pick it up an examine the cover image, then flip through the pages, stopping occasionally, usually on a picture or photograph. She often has a fully formed opinion of the book before she begins to read it. I have watched adults examine books and seen the same thing. They peruse the books images before going back to examine the text. As you create a family history book, consider making yours an illustrated book.
Just about all my book titles have two things in common: there was another “working title” before it and I came up with the final title while in my bed. So often they come to me in the night and even now, I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s the lack of outer stimulation when my mind is finally quiet enough that the right words have the space to come into my conscious awareness. Whatever it is, it’s developed into a rather mystical habit.
As I was applying to colleges this fall, I was one of the few kids that knew his or her major before starting their first year. Or at least I thought I did.
For this book thus far, I’ve been writing whatever comes to mind, whatever message has to get out at the time. I know the book is about love and there are a lot of water references in it (a theme my editors pointed out to me) but it was all mixed together with no conclusion. The words weren’t going anywhere. Something was still missing. Every book needs a focus. Every book should be able to be summed up in a sentence or two. Find it, shape the book around it, and your writing will be far better for having a point.
New Year’s Day presents us with a bright hope that better things lay ahead in the coming year and a dilemma regarding how to turn that hope into a reality. Do you just buckle down and “keep on keepin’ on,” relying on determination and effort to produce results? Or is it time to embrace the mantra, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten,” and strike out in bold new directions? As you reflect on your writing goals for 2015 here are some excellent ideas you might want to consider as you set your goals for the new year.
For many genealogists it’s all about the tree. Creating a factual record of generations of ancestors is the focus of years of research. Filling in lines on your tree and adding names to your pedigree chart is a worthy goal, but it’s only a part of creating a family history. There is a story behind those entries on the tree. Capturing that narrative is what will interest readers. Begin with an old idea which appeared first in Greek concepts of drama: unity of time, place, and action. Each of your ancestors was born, lived and died in a specific place at a specific time. Part of their story is entwined with the historical context of their time and place. Here are some questions that will help you discover the relationship between your ancestors and their time and place.
(This is the fifth article in a series by Stories To Tell editor/designer Sarah Hoggatt recounting her experiences in publishing her poetry and nonfiction.) Do all authors think the book they’re working on is crap at some point in the writing stage? I’m beginning to suspect most authors struggle with this at some point and I have recently been finding my place among them. Are these ideas worth following, worth exploring? Are these words worth writing down? And what’s more, how are these struggles of my own ever going to help someone else?
Believe it or not, being a writer in a time of rapidly-evolving technology is not easy. Even though we have unlimited information at our fingertips, the information can be useless in the long run and even a distraction at some times.
This is the fourth article in a series by Stories To Tell editor/designer Sarah Hoggatt recounting her experiences in publishing her poetry and nonfiction. As writers, we usually don’t get to see into each other’s creative process. We see the final product or perhaps a semi-polished version read aloud in a writer’s group, but rarely do we get a peek at the raw material. My rough drafts come out of my writing notebook. Ever since I made it, it’s been the notebook I pick up whenever I want to write a new poem or when I long to explore an idea.
I played for Hall of Famer Tom Lasorda in 1968 when he was still managing the Dodgers’ Pioneer League team in Ogden, Utah. Tommy would walk through the clubhouse calling out to players, “You gotta believe! Do you believe!” The players responded, “I believe, Skipper.” Sound silly? Tom’s teams won three championships during his three years at Ogden. When he move to the Big Leagues in Los Angeles his teams won two World Series championships in (1981 and 1988), four National League pennants and eight division titles in his 20-year career as the Dodgers manager. One of the keys was that his players believed in themselves. To write well an author must believe in himself. Yet for many writers there’s a nagging doubt when they sit down to write. Here are links to four articles that will help you dispel doubts and confidently repeat, “I believe!” every time you start typing.
As great an experience as publishing is, I learn a lot every time I go to print, lessons I put into practice with subsequent books. I thought these lessons would be for myself alone until a high school student approached me asking if I would mentor her for her senior project. She reminded me a bit of myself at that age except even brighter and more put together. So I took what I learned and shared those lessons with her. It was a gift to pass them on to such a gifted artist in her own right and her book came out beautifully. Here is some of what I told her in relation to the physical printing of books:
It’s the season for Best of 2014 Lists. In the world of books they are coming at us from all directions. Take a look at some of the most prominent, then leave a comment with your “best of 2014” recommendations.
You’ve been working on some writing and are considering the possibility of self-publishing down the road, but it looks like a large, unmanageable jungle. You’re not sure where to even start and thus ask a question I often hear, “How did you start publishing?” Sarah Hoggatt of Stories To tell explores her path into print.
In this post our intern, Ben Kostyack, raises questions about the value of the literary canon. Read his take then weigh in with your own. In high school English, everyone reads the classics. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, and various Shakespeare plays. After we recently stumbled through Macbeth in my 12th grade AP English Literature class, my classmates and I questioned the reasoning behind why we need to read these outdated books.