29 July 2005

When Ideas Leap from the Head

Greetings Dear Readers,

One of the things in a writer's life is both a bane and a blessing. It is that moment when you are somewhere, concentrating on something else, and an idea leaps into your brain without so much as a "good day, may I enter?" These events are survivable but you must be prepared. Here are some steps to take.

1. Realize that this is going to happen and be prepared to get the idea into something permanent.
2. If you are in a social situation, excuse yourself if possible. People will know that you are a writer and assume you are a little nuts.
3. Keep a small pad and pen or a voice recorder with you to get the idea into recallable form.
4. If the story demands it, stay up all night and write it. I do not recommend getting into a habit of this. It is to controlling on the part of your muses.
5. Be as detailed as possible in recording your idea.
6. Get back to the idea soon so that you may begin to develop it.

These steps will assure you that you do not lose those gems and sit in front of a blank page begging the writing muse to whisper those sweet somethings back into your brain.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

22 July 2005

Papago's Passing

Recently my closest and dearest friend lost one of her favorite cats. She knew the end was coming but that never makes loss less. I grieve with you and know that your tears are from the heart.

Papago’s Passing
By Aramis Thorn – July 16, 2005

Our calico hunter, sleek and demure,
Slipped away the bounds mortality,
Leaving behind human mourners unsure,
Of how to carry this finality.
Having fought for life against blight and age,
Improved movement and energy gave thought,
That our friend might yet have time upon this stage,
To bird and mouse and share of what was caught.
On the stoop, no more barely allowed strokes,
Or talks of news from the surrounding wood.
An earthly lingering sadness evokes
Hope that in wisdom the Creator would
Have a peculiar secret realm he keeps,
For the mouse police who forever sleeps.

18 July 2005

This Week's Reading 07-18-2005

Greetings Dear Readers,

I am still rereading Steven King's On Writing and also I have returned to a tome I find invaluable for refilling my well. It is Julie Cameron's The Artist's Way. I find the exercises in this second book invigorating and challenging all at once.

I will be cracking open the J.K. Rowling's novel, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Price this week so that I can keep pace with my writer's and artist's discussion group. I would love to hear your about reactions to Rowling's work.

Remember that no one steel the books we have already read.

Wishing you joy in the journey,
Aramis Thorn

16 July 2005

When Writing is Hard

Most mornings I get up ready to write and anxious to create. There are a few mornings when I am distracted, concerned, or down right empty. All the players in my head are silent and the wonders of my several created worlds are hidden from me. It is frustrating, daunting, and even frightening to find this place. Quickly awakened are the haunts of my place as a writer, my self doubt, and the temptation to chuck it all and go dig ditches somewhere.

It is important to do two things when you feel this way. One is to write something anyway. Make yourself pound out some words. Do some free writing to loosen up your brain. Get some words down no matter what their quality or lack of quality. If you feel later that you should line the parakeet cage with what you have written, that is all well and good. The important thing is that you are only a writer if you write. You can then move on to the second thing knowing that you are still a writer and have worked today. Make yourself write every day that you are supposed to write.

The second thing is to do something to recreate yourself. What is it that recharges you? Go for a walk. Visit a museum or library. Watch some little kids play your favorite sport. Do something to rebuild who you are from the inside out. Clear your mind and see the beauty of the universe in some new way. Do something to recharge your battery.

Even if it takes a day or two or three to get back to your stride, you will get it back. The important thing is to keep at it. A writer writes, always.

Wishing you joy in the journey,
Aramis Thorn

11 July 2005

This Week's Reading - 07-11-05

Greetings Dear Readers,

This week I am delving into some oddly different areas. I am reading Steven King's On Writing, a must for any writer. I read this annually to remind me of some of the things I do to keep my writing going. I am also reading The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit Effects in Us What Christ Has Done for Us by Donald T. Williams. The book has a long title but is one of the best tomes I have found on the Holy Spirit. I am also still working my way through The Last Best League. I usually read very quickly but when I read about baseball I tend to adopt the easy pace of the game as if it were August and I was in the old Atlanta Stadium surrounded by hope and humidity.

Go find a good book and tell me about it.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

10 July 2005

On Editors

Greetings Dear Readers,

Many things, both wonderful and woeful pass through out lives. Sometimes they stay. Occasionally, when the timbre of the great song is just right, the universe sings out an amazing and kind editor. In my mind, editors are mostly curmudgeonly old men with red pens and sour stomachs. Since God loves to shatter my stereotypes he sent me an editor who is kind, vibrant, and very encouraging.

None of the things I have mentioned are requirements to good editing but what they do for the author is unchartable. I have had three professional editors in my writing career. The first was critical, mean spirited, and chemical dependent. His goal was more my destruction than the healing of my writing flaws. He almost drove me away from writing all together. My second editor, truly one of God's greatest creations, was too busy to be great. I have retained her as my first reader. (If you do not know what that is read Steven King's On Writing, heck read it anyway, as a matter of fact I think that I will reread it today.) She is an awesome first reader and will always fill that role as often as she wishes. My third editor is also a singularly clear note in the universe. She is efficient, encouraging, and pushes me to be a better writer.

When you choose someone to edit your work, do not rest until you find someone who loves editing and gets you as a writer. Avoid frustrated authors who became editors so that they could hang onto the edge of the writing world without really living in it. True editors like mine are not standing on the edge waiting for the courage to write. They find their passion in making writers better at their craft.

Here are some things to look for in an editor

Skill in the language
A passion for excellence
Kindness - Kind Editors exist, therefore, we should use them and drive the others out of business
Good communication skills
A teaching aptitude - My editor is great at showing me flaws in my grammar without making me feel like and idiot. After all I have a Ph.D., I just have trouble with things like spelling and split infinitives.

Above all, it is vital to entrust your writing to someone you trust. You are handing them a piece of your life. Your time, thoughts, and heart went into what is on the page. Your editor should respect this. I know mine does. She is a joy and a blessing.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

04 July 2005

This Week's Reading - 07-04-05

Greetings Dear Readers,

So many books, so little time. This week my mind wrestles anew with the words of Thomas Traherne and George Herbert. One of my dear colleagues gave me a Latin and English version of George Herbert's works as a graduation gift and I use it to keep my skills at the long dead language honed. Amidst the great messages of the humble pastor, Herbert lies the constant reminder of the ways in which Christ shares our journey with us. Thomas Traherne's words are eternal no matter what your faith or practice. His Centuries of Meditation cause the reader to look at the universe as his own and see the ways in which his calls a man to greatness.

I am also reading The Last Best League, by Jim Collins. This is a baseball story about the Cape Cod League and therefore has my heart. The book was a gift from my youngest son this past Father's day. Giving books as gifts is a tradition that must remain. Books are eternal gifts in which you can package messages that remain for many years. Buy someone a book. Buy them one of mine if you wish. Stephen King called them "uniquely portable magic."

Feel free to tell me what you are reading or recommend books for me. Stay cool in the heat and read something amazing.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn

02 July 2005

The Freedom To Write

Greetings Dear Readers,

Since it is Independence Day weekend I thought I would talk about the freedom involved in the writing life. If you are a writer in America, you can write about almost anything you wish and if you find an audience, get published and paid for writing. The Constitution guarantees out right to speak freely, including via the written word. There are still countries where it is illegal and even dangerous to write things that are not politically correct or socially acceptable.

We are free to write but must be careful to protect this freedom. An example of threats to our freedom to expression is the whole concept of political correctness. When someone tells me I must say something a certain way they are telling me that my intent is determined by their interpretation of my words.

This is an error. When I use a word to describe something in my writing, it is my intent that matters, not the readers assignment of my intent. Many have gone back to great past writings attempting to assign their social framework to another writer's intent. Authorial intent always matters. Coaching demands for political correctness in terms that sound kind makes it no less improper. People accuse those rejecting political correctness of be exclusive or non-inclusive by their word choice. To me, this borders on the always to be feared thought police.

We must try not to offend out of hand, but sometimes the truth is offensive. This means that there will be offense just because we speak the truth. That is too bad. It is a slight on our freedom to demand that we temper the truth so that it is inoffensive.

The concept of political correctness also forces a logical fallacy. It offends me to demand that I be politically correct in my expression so, political correctness becomes, by its nature, offensive and therefore wrong. Political correctness is a threat to our basis freedom of expression. Too many people gave their lives and continue to do so in order for me to write. It would be dishonorable for me to speak anything less than the truth, tempered with kindness.

Have a great holiday, and go write something.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn