Murder Your Darlings

skWhile on my getaway a couple weeks ago I had plenty of time to read. I was especially excited to dig into Stephen King’s book “On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft.” And I’m not even a fan, I prefer Koontz.

However, “On Writing”, part memoir/part How-To, is practical and fun to read. Mr. King writes it as if he’s sitting at a table talking to you and you get the feeling that he is concerned about making the advice he is giving practical and helpful to (wanna-be) writers. It’s not surprising that he was once a teacher.

I’m sure there were tips and pointers that I learned that were brand new to me, but overall I felt the book confirmed what my instincts have been telling me these last few months. And that, more than anything else, I found invaluable. I’m a person who puts value on confirmation. For example, I know how to sew, but I’ll take a sewing class just to confirm the knowledge. I feel more confident when I have an expert tell me to do what I’m already doing – if that makes any sense.

“If it works, fine. If it doesn’t, toss it. Toss it even if you love it. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch once said, ‘Murder your darlings,’ and he was right.” pg. 197 This was probably the most profound “pointer” in the entire book for my own writing. In fact, the editing part of the writing process is my very favorite. There have been times that I have edited something I’ve written down by half. Murdering my “darlings,” or those portions of written work that I adore but just do not fit with the overall picture or flow, is never easy, but I always feel relieved after I’ve done it and my writing is better for it. In fact, I may murder this entire paragraph during the edit. 😉

“The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story… to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all.” pg. 134 This simple sentence is freeing to me. I can get distracted by what others are writing and discouraged that something else is better or more well written. I remind myself that my writing is an extension of me. If I were to adjust it to be another way, more “correct,” it would lose the uniqueness that makes it mine – for better or for worse. Not that I don’t need improvement, I most certainly do, but I should not try to improve myself by imitating the styles of others or feel locked in to a certain way of “correct writing.”

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.

After that, things can only get better.” pg.269

“On Writing.” Stephen King. 2000

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Motherhood, Magnolias and Missionaries

I rarely struggle for inspiration. Actually, I don’t struggle at all – sometimes I just don’t have it. We’re halfway through the A to Z Challenge and on most days I know well in advance what I will be posting for each letter. But not today. Not “M.”

M! Motherhood, Magnolias, Madness. So many Ms! But I wasn’t feeling it. Was. Not. Inspired. At. All.

stockvault-magnolia-tree121131I care about you, dear readers. I do. I never want to post – just to post. When I read A Living Flame’s post this morning I realized instantly why I was not inspired – she had already written the post meant for today. Voila! Missionary. (PS – I loved this post. PPS – She also wrote the recipe for Chai in my post The Art of Chai.)

A Living Flame

Some days life on the field is easy. Then there are days when it is hard. There are days when I climb to the rooftop and singing praise songs over my neighbourhood and then there are days when I feel like hiding in a quiet corner of my house and listening to the voices that tell me I am not good enough and will never accomplish anything. When I want a close friend to take me out to coffee and pray with me I am reminded that I am alone.

But there is encouragement. There is a way that I bring myself back to reality and realise that my obstacles are small, my friends many and my situation hopeful.

In the past few years I have found great joy (and sorrow) in reading of the lives that have gone before me. When I read about Amy Carmicheal and that she…

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WRITE!

I’ve recently signed on to write two articles a week on a faith based mom blog. Since I haven’t written for someone else on a schedule since college it’s exhilarating and intimidating at the same time.

It’s not the writing that intimidates me, I’m a Mawrtyr – no, I didn’t spell that wrong and no, I’m not dead. I am, however, a graduate of Bryn Mawr, and if Bryn Mawr taught me nothing else, it DID teach me to write.

BMC 1

 

As a freshmen I came to BMC with NO writing skills whatsoever. None. Four years later – well, I’m pretty sure I was writing perfectly penned papers in my sleep. (Close to twenty years have elapsed – twelve of which I was an expat – the writing skilz have tarnished a bit.)

I am now scheduled to submit two articles every Tuesday. Thankfully, I’m also not a procrastinator. Memories of Freshman English papers due every Monday for two whole semesters swirl about my head – I think all but one of mine were completed, printed and ready to turn in before the weekend ever started. Seriously. I am not a last minute person – I like my stuff done. It aids me in maintaining what my brother terms my “zen-like” state.

Time is not the issue.

Inspiration. Inspiration is the tricky little thing. The truth is, it’s all around us but, like smoke, it’s gone with the wind if you don’t capture it – in that moment. This is where my lovely iPhone 5s comes in handy – I’ve totally converted to talk texting and talk note taking.

phone

These days if you see me walking through the grocery store you might catch me talking to my phone in a conspiring whisper and saying something like, “take out ham.” Yes, my life has been changed.

This little device is all kinds of useful when it comes to preserving ideas that pop in and out of my head at inopportune moments.  Like church.

I am insanely inspired with things to write about while in church. Yikes! I’m not so uncouth as to talk my notes, so I have to type them, discretely, during the service. Generally, this is a fiasco because,

1. I must have fat fingertips because I can’t seem to type any of the right letters. Ever.

2. I’m sure the people around me think I am texting during church.

Obviously, I would never. I’m just taking notes. For things I’m going to write later.