The Golden Rule? Not In Politcs!

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Now that the government is open for business again, we can all breathe a big sigh of relief, right? We know better.  In politics it seems that the motto is something like “do unto others before they do unto you,” and then lie about it afterwards with smiling faces and mock sincerity for the cameras.  Our Congress shut down the government, and then those same people complained about our parks being closed. They got in front of the cameras and pointed fingers across the isle. They kicked the can down the road a few months, and we’ll have our stomachs in knots right before Christmas. Fantastic.

 

I happen to lean left, but I am disgusted by the way both Democrats and Republicans behaved, and both sides must agree to resolve future disagreements without harming the entire country. Tyranny, whether by the many or the few, is evil. The drum beat of hatred is loud, drowning out reasonable discourse on Capitol Hill and on Main Street U.S.A. I cringe at what I read on the internet sometimes, and I am astonished by what some people are willing to say. Our leaders, in the rhetoric they use, seem to be a distorted reflection of reality. The shrill cries from both sides do not represent who we are as a people. If the voting public could convey this message to our elected officials, perhaps the nastiness would subside.

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One word at a time

Great article on the pain that is editing, along with solid practical advice.

Julie Lawford

scissors-editI’m line editing.  After almost three years of writing words into my first novel, for the last month I’ve been taking them out, one by one.  With two line-by-line passes through my draft, I’ve shrunk 107,000 words to 98,000, dipping below that 100,000 word marker beyond which, apparently, novice writers venture at their peril.

Line editing is an interesting if tedious technical exercise and it’s involved a few tactics, amongst which:

  • Culling 99% of occurrences of these words: really, rather, just,quite, very, oh, so, well and suddenly. I said a silent prayer to the twin gods of Search and Delete.
  • Appraising every instance of verb + adverb and replacing many, many of them with… a more descriptive verb. Yes, you can’t escape that one. I love my well-thumbed Roget’s more than ever now.
  • Interrogating every adjective cosying up to a noun…

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Coud Atlas… Review

I just finished watching one of the best films I’ve seen in years, Cloud Atlas. Some folks did not like the convoluted structure of the film, which features six story-lines over hundreds of years. After about twenty minutes, I was still confused, but glued to the screen. By the time the credits rolled, I did not want the film to end.

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The acting is perfect, with Tom Hanks and Halle Berry standing out in an ensemble cast. The film covers hundreds of years, with interweaving story lines and connections between each piece in history, from the mid-nineteenth century to the distant post-apocalyptic future.

 

I do not in any way believe in reincarnation, and you don’t need to in order to enjoy this movie, which is really about redemption, love, and freedom. The way our actions impact those around us, and how our decisions for better or worse can ripple through the generations.  The special effects were excellent, and not over-done in the way of most science fiction movies.

 

Every now and then, Hollywood surprises me by producing something cerebral and true; at a time when the box office is flooded by bombastic fluff and when the television is full of shows with zero substance, Cloud Atlas is like a cool drink of water on a hot day. It felt like I was reading a superb novel, layered and subtle, with engaging characters who grew over time.

 

I’ll be watching this one again soon.

That Hard Creative Road

“Son, it’s not too late. You can still go back to college…Well tonight, you’re just gonna have to settle for rock and roll.” Bruce Springsteen, from the introduction to “Growing Up”

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An artist’s life is hard, joyous, depressing, daunting, rewarding, poverty stricken, and often all of these things at once. We’ve heard it doesn’t have to be that way from self-help gurus and feel-good books. sometimes, when things get close and mean, when the sacrifices we have made hurt the most, we wonder whether it was all worthwhile. But I believe true art is born from this struggle.

 

Now, I don’t think the only way to be a great painter is to cut your ear off, that melody must arrive from pain, that literature only flows from broken, bearded, drunken angst. There are better ways that aren’t cliches. But it’s hard work. There is no way around that part. There will be sacrifice and tears, and hopefully we learn from the experience and get better at what we do. Maybe that’s part of the refining process, the purification of our creative souls.

It’s hard. But we choose to pursue the life of the artist, and we can only hope that what we love chooses us. The legendary songwriter Harlan Howard, whom I had the privilege of knowing, told a writer who was whining about the music business “Well, nobody asked you to move to Nashville.” Those words sting me when I realize I’m slipping into complaint mode. That’s right, Harlan. Nobody asked me to become a writer. I may feel called to do it, but in the end, it’s my choice, and the time, loves, and brain cells I’ve squandered along the way are a consequence.

 

I do not understand the writer who does not read, the painter who does not see, the musician who will not listen, or the artist who does not live. There is glory in it, earned joy which is the process and the product, but not the recognition or fame. We writer types often equate the glory with adulation and miss out on the glory of life. Like a hiker so fixated upon reaching the summit, he walks  through the golden October woods, missing the grandeur of the low clouds blanketing the slopes and ridges, ignores the green smell of hope and mountain, and the trail itself, undulating, rocky, muddy, and wonderful. If we are focused on the peak, we miss the path. I’ve climbed many mountains, but the best views are usually from the ridges and valleys. The peak is often shrouded in the mist, and it’s really just another rock.

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It’s hard. It’s beautiful. I’m still not going back to college.

 

 

Why Writing Horror Is–SHOULD BE–Hard Part 2

Good Writing advice.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

First, a quick announcement. For those who’ve been waiting, my new social media book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital Worldis now available in PRINT. Yay! *happy dance* Almost 300 pages and 1.1 pounds of AWESOME. All you need to build a solid author platform and have time to do the most important part of the job—WRITE MORE BOOKS.

All right. Since it’s coming up on October, it seemed fitting to delve into the genre of Horror, and not simply for those who write spooky tales, but for the rest of us as well.

Elisabeth Kubler Ros once stated:

There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But…

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