Write...or Die Trying

I used to work in a factory. Now I work in an office. Either way, my writing was dying. So now I must: Write...or Die Trying.


Tips on Getting published

A harsh, but realistic look at why pink scented paper isn't the best way to submit a manuscript:

I am Your Editor: Submitting Your Novel

Gutenberg Has Been Updated

If you haven't been to the Gutenberg.net website lately, you should trot on over there. They have a new, online eBook reader that paginates the texts. That's a godsend for reading these eBooks, because it was always a real pain to have several hundred pages of text to scroll through vertically. It's much more pleasant to read, though I still have reservations about reading anything online that's very long.

Check it out!

Sad News

I didn't blog about this last week because it still bothers me a little bit, but my wife has apparently had a miscarriage. It was to be our sixth child, which annoys some people (I hate annoying people that bitch about big families), and I was rather excited, though my wife was understandably less so.

Ah wel... The Lord giveth...and the Lord taketh away...

Character Analysis of Big Nurse

I had to turn in a paper on Monday for my fiction class. It was a character analysis of Big Nurse in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This paper deals with chapter four. If you have a copy of Cuckoo's Nest, crack it open and read (or re-read) it first.

UPDATE (24 AUG 2005):

Okay--here's the deal: I've been getting an inordinate number of referrers from search engines with the terms "character analysis Nurse Ratched," or similar. My assumption is--incorrect or not--that people are looking for a pre-manufactured paper to plagiarize. Since the few are ruining it (well, that's an arrogant statement. . .but there it is ;-) for the many, I'm taking the text of the paper off-line.

If you're trying to shag a paper because it's due tomorrow (or this morning, whatever the case may be,) you're out of luck here. Write your own damn paper!. You're not going to learn a doggone thing by plagiarizing someone's else's work.

I got a "B" on it anyway, so you'd be better off stealing someone else's.

But maybe you're in college just because your parents and/or scholarships financial aid are paying for it. Maybe you're just using college is as a stepping stone to that $150,000-a-year job you're just sure to get once you graduate. If you think that that's an accurate prophecy, then you've got a lot to learn, my friend.

By the way, if you're plagiarizing papers, and subverting your instructor's attempt to teach you something useful already, the chances of your succeeding in the "real" world at a "real job" are drastically diminished. Only by developing a hard-working work ethic (unfortunately, sorely lacking in today's society) will you develop the skills, persistence, and honesty required to be successful at any career you choose after college.

But maybe you're okay with mediocrity? It's a free country. Make your bed and sleep in it.

I'm just a crotchety old geezer, right--even though I'm only 32? What do I know? Knock off the lecture, right?

Get used to being lectured my friend. Get used to it.

Bad Grades Suck

I got a pretty bad grade on a recent French test. It was probably my own fault because I didn't really understand the concepts I was taking the test on.

In my defense, trying to get a Creative Writing degree while working full-time, raising five kids (in some months, six), and going to school is quite stressful. It makes it very difficult to study with any kind of comprehension and clarity.

I'm really starting to envy those friends of mine who have finished their degrees as adults by just concentrating on school. A friend of mine went back to school full time while his wife worked. I wouldn't even ask my wife to do that for me, but I do kind of envy the ability to spend all that time, energy, and brain cells on actually learning, instead of splitting those finite cells between solving significant problems at work, at home, AND at school.

I knew this wouldn't be easy, but I don't think I anticipated dealing with a few bad tests here and there along the way. I kind of thought I'd just skate through with A's and B's like I've always done. Not so!

Cuckoo's Nest and New (old) books

We're reading Ken Kesey in my fiction class. I've already read Cuckoo's Nest, so it's not new to me, but it is interesting to revisit a book after a while.

I know some people who will never read a book a second time. If they've read it once, that's enough. It would be "boring" to read it again because you know how it ends. I don't think that's the point of re-reading a book. Books give you an emotional feeling that (hopefully) you enjoy and can become as addictive as any drug.

Maybe that's the reason I'm always compusively buying books? Abebooks.com is a wonderful resource. I just picked up a copy of Charles Williams' All Hallows Eve and Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood. I'm about half-way through All Hallows Eve. One thing that irritates me about Williams is that things always are, and yet they're not. She did this, and yet she didn't. He said something, but he didn't. It's hard to follow. I understand he's trying to be subtle, but it sometimes feels simply indecisive. Maybe I'm just not "refined" enough to truly appreciate it. I imagine that's partly true. He's a little over my head.

School Daze

French is a difficult subject for me. Maybe it's just that I'm getting older. Maybe I'm getting dumber. The whole concept of learning another language is just stressful to me. What bothers me most is that I can't understand fully, right from the beginning. I don't like to struggle with things. I never have. So I just don't do things that force me to struggle.

That's not entirely true. I've worked at jobs that were challenging and made me struggle. I worked at one job, not too long ago, that was intensely physical. So much so that they had a very high turnover and some friends of mine tried it, but quite, it being too "hard." So I'm not afraid of adversity. I'm just afraid of feeling stupid.

Maybe feeling stupid is a good thing. It humbles you. Keeps you in your place. Makes you want to move forward. Maybe it's just frustrating. I've lost enough sleep over worrying about all this that I'm getting to the point where I can just swallow the bitter pill, chalk it up to personal improvement, and quite my whining and carry on.

I won't quit. I might not do as well as I'd like, but I definately won't quit. I might whine about not quitting, though :-)

The Worth of Education

I know it's not necessary to have a college education to be a writer. You can just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get to it. But as I'm sitting here waiting on class to start, I'm really glad I decided to take this route to better my writing.

The thing that really impresses me about being involved in a good creative writing program is the quality of the feedback. If I was just sitting around in my underwear, writing and submitting stories, getting rejections, writing and submitting more stories, I'd not have a good grounding in where I stand as a writer. Trial and error works okay, but I like being able to shoot an email to my Fiction adviser and have her give me her thoughts on it. She catches stuff I never would and spends the time to help me figure out what's "just not right" and what works well. Editors don't have time to do that for you, so you end up thinking you're a better writer than you really are.

Besides the humble pie aspect of it, it's great to step through some great literature and disect it. I'm learning more than I thought I would and I highly encourage anyone serious about becoming a writer, especially if you have your eye on fiction, like I do, to be involved in a good creative writing program somewhere. Your writing will improve and your opinion of yourself will go down. Both directions will work to your advantage in the end.

RNC Observations

I was blown away by the sheer power of Zell Miller's speech last night, on day 3 of the RNC.

Democratic political firefighters are out in force today, trying to put a mean and nasty face on Zell Miller. I'm not all that old, so I can't say that I've experienced a lot of political speeches, but I didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. I would have to rate that speech as the best political speech I've heard in my life. Far from mean and nasty, it was powerful and passionate--two traits I'm saddened to see the modern Democratic party deathly afraid of. I wouldn't have guessed I would be so moved by a Democrat.

Don't forget that Zell Miller offered to do this kind of thing for President Bush. The RNC didn't go out hunting for a sympathetic Democratic and parade him across the stage as a show pony. Senator Miller wanted this. He's also not a "closet Republican." By his own admission, Zell Miller is a die-hard Democrat till the day he dies.

I'd like to analyze this speech from a writer's perspective. Even if you don't agree with his politics, Zell Miller's speech was a fantastic oratory that encapsulated ideas, conveyed power and passion, and made a solid connection to the audience. I'd like to see if I can uncover a glimmer of that in the speech's words or structure. I'll keep you posted.