Writing: What’s a Real Writer?

Recently a friend emailed me with a question about writing. She was feeling overwhelmed because suddenly she had too many story ideas and didn’t know which ones to write first. Does this happen to me, she asked, explaining that she asked me because I was a “real writer.” She’s not sure she warrants that title yet, because if she did, maybe she’d know which story should be next.

Currently I have at least 5 books and I don’t know how many short stories that I want to get to – someday. Some of them are more fleshed out than others. Some I know will never actually get written, because I have a limited time to walk the earth, and more stories and book ideas keep popping in and shoving older ideas out of line. The thing about creativity is that once you open the gate to your creative self, ideas will pour through like surfboarders riding rushing waves.

This is a good thing, and many of those ideas are transformational and wonderful. Some of them are bland and stupid, of course, but they pour through your gate too. But you can’t do them all, so it takes practice at discernment to know which you should work on and which you should stick on a shelf somewhere (notice I did not say to discard them – sometimes what looks like a stupid idea will transform itself into brilliant when the time is right.)

I have another friend who told me her “egg chain” metaphor. Think of yourself as a hen. Your body is continually making eggs inside your egg cavity. But you can only lay one egg at a time. If you tried to lay all of them at once you would break your poor little laying mechanism. (Sounds really painful.) But if you don’t lay any of your eggs, pushing hard to get them out in the world one by one, ALL your eggs will rot inside you. And that would be icky.

The thing about eggs, though, is that they are not the end point. The end point is a feathery little chick. So you can lay a clutch of eggs, but you still have to nurture them by warming them, then when they hatch you have to show them how to forage for food, and only then can you let them go. It’s a big undertaking, to be a hen writer. You will be laying some eggs, sitting on others, and polishing others into chickens once they hatch. It’s also sad sometimes to be a hen, because not all of your eggs will hatch, and of the ones that hatch, not all will live through chickdom, and of those who grow up, some of them will get eaten in the prime of their youth.

All this rambling stuff about surfboarders and gates and hens and eggs means that I don’t know how many is too many. Sometimes you focus and make sure your egg hatches, sometimes you show a whole brood of chicks how to scratch up their dinner, and sometimes you just brood over your clutch. I do know that you ARE a real writer, whether you have already written a book or short story, or are just working on them.

I am glad my friend thinks of me as a “real writer.” Sometimes I forget and have doubts too. I think that’s part of being real.

Technorati Tags: writing, overwhelmed, ideas, question, creativity, metaphor, egg, hen, chain, mechanism, chick, hatch

Compost: Creativity Starts Young

My four-year-old granddaughter Ellie stayed with me for a weekend recently, while her parents were off gallivanting. What a great time we had! Ellie is into making up stories, so my grandmotherly ambitions went soaring – another writer in the family! She told me her stories while I scribbled them down. We wrote quite a few about Rapunzel, Tinkerbell, MuLan, and other heroines. My favorite was the one in which Rapunzel went to San Francisco to buy a pretty dress and finally have her hair cut, leaving the Prince behind.

We also wrote a “round robin” story in which Ellie told a piece of a story, then I told a piece, then Ellie, then me, and so on. We called it “The Chicken Story” and here it is:

Ellie: The chicken went to the park and he slid on a bumpy slide.

Grandma: Then he fell off the slide and hit his head on the ground at the end of the slide.

Ellie: Then he goes on a tire swing, and he fell off and he bumped his head again.

Grandma: The chicken said, “This park is too dangerous, maybe I should go home.”

Ellie: Or maybe, he said, I should go to a different park. But then he thought, I’ll go home and have lunch.

Grandma: But when he got home, there was no food to eat. He said to his mom, “Where is all my food?”

Ellie: His mom said, “We ate it all up. So the chicken said, “Okay I’ll wait for a minute while you go to the grocery store.” But then he remembered he was a big chicken and could go to the grocery store himself. So he did.

Grandma: At the grocery store, the chicken looked at all the food. He couldn’t decide what to buy, there was so much.

Ellie: He waited too long in the aisle and then everybody else bought up all the food, and then there was none left.

Grandma: So the chicken thought, “Maybe I can go outside and see if there’s any chicken food on the ground and peck it up. He went outside to find food.

Ellie: Now the story is all done.

Technorati Tags: creativity, young, youth, granddaughter, stories, Rapunzel, Tinkerbell, MuLan, San Francisco, dress, round robin

Haiku Friday: Google

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Google:

google your own name
wait for whirring bits and bytes
to tell who you are

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

At the end of each month I’ll gather up the haikus in the “Haiku Comments” that meet the criteria and pick one at random in a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of Haiku for the Seasons I, or Haiku for the Seasons II.

Technorati Tags: haiku, writing, syllable, google, name, wait, bits, bytes, tell

Sharing History: What Do You Think about Unions?

When I teach “Making History” I always devote some time to taking about unions. That’s because almost no one is neutral on the subject. There are always passionate pro-union people, and equally passionate anti-union people in my classes. That might make for some uncomfortable moments, but it also makes for good stories. Here are two short ones:

“Esther” shared about her father’s death from “lung rot” at the age of 35. He was a coal miner and had been passionately pro-Union. “At his funeral the Union sent the biggest bunch of flowers I ever saw,” she said. “My mother gave each of us kids a rose from the bouquet to keep. I put mine in a vase in my bedroom and kept it there even after all the petals had fallen off.”

“Elizabeth” remembered her father and his story about unions too, from the opposite viewpoint. He was the owner of a textile mill, fighting to preserve his mill from becoming unionized. She remembered him ranting about the “Democrats” at the dinner table. He berated them so thoroughly and colorfully that she was an adult before she realized that being a Democrat was actually legal!

If you’d care to share a story about this topic, please leave a comment here. At the end of each month I’ll gather up the Sharing History comments and pick one at random from a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing my e-book: your choice of a Making History Workbook

Technorati Tags: making history, unions, neutral, subject, pro, anti, stories, comments

Compost: Goody Beagle on The Grandpa

Goody Beagle here. Me and my human go to see The Grandpa every week. The Grandpa gives me graham crackers, gotta love them. I only get them at his house.

The Grandpa had an ancient dog named Kona Husky. Kona got to pee on the rug and no one yelled at him. That’s because he was 15 years old and old age has perks. The Grandpa is old too, but he doesn’t pee on the rug.

A couple of weeks ago Kona finally died. The Grandpa is sad. I was kinda sad too, even though Kona and I merely tolerated each other. But I was sad for The Grandpa because I know he is lonely. He needs a new dog. I’d be his dog but I already gots me a human.

Now my human is on a hunt for a new dog for The Grandpa. I told her to get a boy dog because I’m a girl and I don’t want any competition. But I also told her to get a Beagle because we are the best kind of dogs. But she says beagles have too much nose for The Grandpa, so we’ll probably end up with something stupid like a Schnauzer. Oh well, just so The Grandpa has someone. Even a Schnauzer would be better than no dog at all.

Technorati Tags: Goody Beagle, grandpa, human, graham crackers, dog, death, sad, lonely, hunt

Haiku Friday: Noodles

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Noodles:

noodle with your words
shape in tubes, strands, or pouches
boil in brain water

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

At the end of each month I’ll gather up the haikus in the “Haiku Comments” that meet the criteria and pick one at random in a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of Haiku for the Seasons I, or Haiku for the Seasons II.

Technorati Tags: haiku, writing, syllable, noodles, words, tubes, strands, pouches, boil, brain, water

Writing: Make a Living – as a Ghost

One month ago, I introduced my new program, Living as a Ghost (or Learn to ghost without having to die first)!

This program is for writers interested in exploring the career of ghostwriting, and learning how to write for others, as others. This program will help you get started and succeed as a ghostwriter. There are many unknowns surrounding ghostwriting. How do you market yourself? How much should you charge? What about copyright? How does ghostwriting work? And most important – would you enjoy being a ghostwriter?

I have been a ghostwriter for more than ten years, and have ghostwritten more than thirty non-fiction books and memoirs. I make my living exclusively as a writer, which is not something every writer can say. I’ve developed Living as a Ghost so that you too can learn how to help people tell their stories and share their ideas, plus support yourself by doing what you love and are good at – writing.

Living as a Ghost is a four step program with lots of extras, a comprehensive study of how to be a ghostwriter, distilled from my 10+ years of experience – for only $349. Here’s what you’ll get:

  1. Getting the Work e-book, covering topics such as: how to get started as a ghost; marketing your services; identifying your niche; getting and using referrals; teaching and speaking; how much you might charge; your competition; how to quote; ghostwriting agreements, and a lot more.
  2. Doing the Work e-book, covering topics such as: working with your own ego; gathering info; research; interviewing; client communication; writing as someone else; and much more.
  3. Practicing the Work: Downloadable audios and their verbatim transcripts, of interviews conducted by me with three different people, to use in actual practice of your ghostwriting skills.
  4. Discussing the Work: Feedback on your ghostwriting practice work, and a one-hour individual consultation with me to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about ghostwriting.

Extras

  • Example forms to use in your ghostwriting business, such as quotations and agreements covering copyright, confidentiality, etc.
  • Ten (yes 10) extra e-books on subjects important to ghostwriters, such as: Wowing Your Readers; Who Hires Ghostwriters and How to Sell to Them; Historical timelines and suggested interview questions covering 60 years and 8 broad topics – very useful in ghostwriting memoirs.
  • Links to other book professionals that can help you and your clients.
  • A Forum for asking on-going questions or discussing ghostwriting topics with me or with others who are enrolled in the program.

This program is not only chock-full of valuable information that will save you time, money, and frustration, it is also a lot of fun! Check it out (or enroll in the program) at http://kimpearson.me/learn-to-ghost/

Technorati Tags: writers, writing, career, program, learn, ghost, ghostwriting, living

Compost: Word Friends

Many people don’t recognize the difference between good writing, bad writing, or ho-hum writing. This is not because they are stupid or badly intentioned. They may care passionately about their topic, and they may be able to move people when they speak because they are powerful verbal communicators, but when it comes to writing, an awful pall seems to fall over them and renders them ineffective. They use clichés and generalities, such as “nice” or “peas in a pod,” and think they’ve communicated. They use over-blown, overused hyperbolae, or exclamation points as if they were salt and pepper.

What is the primary reason self-published books have a stigma attached to them? It’s because many of them are not written or edited by professionals and you can tell. The text may be dull, confusing, disorganized, unfocused, or preachy. It may suffer from evils such as voice inconsistency, poor word choice, run-on sentences, or redundancy.

And yet they may have a wonderful story to tell. One of my personal frustrations is finding a book or article that has a great concept, a fire-eating story, characters that scream for attention – all lost in word salad. What a waste of an idea or story.

The written word is one of the most powerful forces there are to changing the world. It has a long and distinguished history in doing just that. But bad writing never convinced anyone of anything except that the writer didn’t know what he or she was doing – or worse, didn’t care.

And that is why professional editors and ghostwriters are the good guys.

By the way, there’s a really good blog post on why editors are good for you — www.hillelblack.com/blog/. In it Hillel Black, himself a celebrated editor, shares a wonderful story about an editor who was trying to get hold of Dorothy Parker while Ms. Parker was on her honeymoon. Parker wired the editor back: “Too effing busy and vice versa.”

I wish I could have been Dorothy Parker’s editor. I’m sure it would have been a wild ride.

Technorati Tags: word, friends, writing, bad, good, ho-hum, verbal, communicator, cliches, hyperbolae, self-publish, stigma, voice, run-on, redundancy, history, story, idea, editor

Haiku Friday: Friendliness

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Friendliness:

sit on your front porch
smile and wave to passers-by
dogs or butterflies

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

At the end of each month I’ll gather up the haikus in the “Haiku Comments” that meet the criteria and pick one at random in a drawing, and send the winner of the drawing one of my e-books: your choice of Haiku for the Seasons I, or Haiku for the Seasons II.

Technorati Tags: haiku, writing, syllable, friendliness, sit, front porch, smile, wave, passers-by, dogs, butterflies

Sharing History: Learn How to Use Your Own Past

You can take a gallop back in time, to the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and discover how you participated in and contributed to the events and trends of those times. Yes, if you were 7 or 77, what you did, thought, felt, and witnessed mattered – to history! Anchor your memoir in time with historical context, adding depth and color to help your future readers understand “where you’re coming from.”

In my book Making History I’ve divided history up into categories that make it easy to explore. The categories are:

Economics & Politics (money and power colors everything)
The Social Fabric (race, gender, morality – so much has changed)
International Scene (we’re all in this together)
Technology & Science (remember BEFORE the internet?)
Crimes & Disasters (bad stuff can make good stories) Arts & Entertainment (what do you sing in the shower?)
Lifestyles (Food, Fashion, Sports & Games, etc.)
The Weird and Trivial (language changes, Scandals, Pets & Animals, the Paranormal, etc)

If you don’t want to read the whole book (which has a lot of good stuff in it, like stories and a simple and fun 5-step system for writing memoirs, plus other goodies), you can buy e-book downloads here with extensive detailed timelines (from 1930 thru 1989) in each category, plus lists of penetrating questions and suggested topics to get you thinking and remembering. Click here to get e-book downloads.

Explore the many, many stories of our fascinating pasts – and how we ALL make up history.

Technorati Tags: sharing, history, past, learn, Making History, events, trends, memoir, future, economics, politics, social, fabric, science, technology, international, crimes, disaster, arts, entertainment, lifestyle, weird, trivial