Saturday, December 28, 2013

Writing's Gifts

Since beginning writing, I've learned so much. It took me a long time to write my first book. First, I had to refresh my grammar skills, and then learn how to tell a story — very difficult! After all the grammar I learned in public schools, I thought I knew it. Ha! I was fooling myself. However, everyone believes if you practice anything consistently you expect to become better with experience, and I know I did. Pacing, use of show or tell, character development, world-building, and judging the best method to use for a particular story are tools I continue to develop. I cringe at the mistakes in my early stories, but writing has become easier and faster. Happily, it is an on-going process, but along with my grammar, my word usage is better, and I recognize my mistakes.

Writing forces the mind to work at both critical and creative thinking. The problem is the mind works so much faster than fingers type, and ideas often strike when in locations that leave the writer unprepared to jot them down. I've so many notes scribbled on random sheets of paper that it often becomes confusing. Critical thinking comes into play again when appraising and analyzing writing. It teaches the writer to know what to keep and what to cut. Another problem in developing writing skills is getting the imagination and mind to stop working or at least slowdown.

While not a best-selling author, writing has served me well in other ways, especially in knowing that I've touched some readers. Receiving an email from a pleased reader is a treasure. In addition, I think I am more logical, more organized, and methodical, and publication has led to several other jobs.
The New Year always makes me more reflective, which it is supposed to do. I'm glad I drove myself to write and will continue to do so. Using current problems and issues and letting them play out in a future or fantasy world defies emotional description. I have plans for many more scifi and fantasy stories, and I'm finally reaching the end of a historical novel. My future looks filled with stories.

For more about what other authors have learned from writing, go to Diane Bator 's blog.
Please visit all the authors participating in this round-robin:

Ginger Simpson  
A.J. Maguire 
Connie Vines
Beverly Bateman
Marci Baun 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the Shopping Frenzy

When did Thanksgiving stop being about family, friends, and togetherness and become a dinner's done, thank the Lord, now I can shop day? Was I snoozing over a very full stomach that I missed the transition? (Yes, I know it supposedly started as a peace gesture between current landowners and immigrants which went murderously awry.) Who developed the racing through the store's doors, running shopping carts down aisles like NASCAR drivers, and tearing through product displays combat game where arguing, fighting, and giving the worst attitude wins more points? (Sort'a like we did to Native Americans after the first feast, isn't it?) Was this change made to please those dear family members you rushed from the Thanksgiving table so you could buy the best present possible at the cheapest discount? Maybe we as a people need to rethink 'best' present, and the meaning of  'thankful.'

And don't tell me about Black Friday being the day retailers finally reach black in their accounting books, and we were doing it for decades. I know. Is the 'black' for the store's bottom line, or for shareholder earnings and the CEO’s bonus? Big difference. I've worked a lot of retail, and I don't buy it. It's hype. It's another sale. It's about getting shoppers in the store and dollars into the registers. I know many retail stores fail; it's a tough business, but to not break even until the end of November? No way, no how. Is it greed or desperation causing the big retailers to encourage Christmas shoppers into their stores not only before Halloween but also to open on Thanksgiving Day?

Okay, so if you don't like the trend, then don't participate; maybe it will fade away. However, all convenience store, gas station, and mini-market owners--please stay open on Thanksgiving Day! Either I or a family member is always on the road and we always seem to have to pick up some forgotten items like whipped cream! You’re laughing and accusing me of hypocrisy. I admit it. While so many people are on the roads traveling, it is important to have certain retail services available, but to turn Thanksgiving into a retail thanks for shopping quest somehow seems wrong. The gas station we stopped on Thursday said they were swapped. Good, at least it was worth the effort.

Yes, Thanksgiving has changed over time. No matter how it supposedly started with the Pilgrims and the Indians, or when Lincoln created the A national holiday in 1863 during a terrible and bloody war, it has evolved into a day of shared traditions. One day a year to remember what you and I are most thankful for seems needed, which is hopefully not just possessions; plus, whether religion is involved or not, it is often for some families the one meal a year shared over the same table. Can we have it without a side of commercialism?