Archive | May, 2014

Dreams – day or night? Maybe both, eh?

28 May

If you’re a writer, your imagination never sleeps.  Of course, if you dream while you’re sleeping, your conscious may not recall it, once you wake up. But – suppose you wake up in the middle of the night, for whatever reason, and there’s this truly amazing idea running around loose in your head. What do you do about it?

Well, to be sure, it isn’t always possible or even a good idea to start up the computer in the middle of the night, just so you can make notes. There’s an alternative, you know. Remember that paper and pencil (or pen) that you used to use in school? I promise you, they’ll work just as well for this purpose as does your computer. And furthermore, if you look hard enough, you can find a pen that’ll light up to illuminate whatever you’re writing down. I will say it does help to have white or at least light-colored paper for these midnight inspirations.

I have an entire mini-legal pad (the 5 x 8 inch size) full of such notes, produced during a two year period, when I was probably the most creative I’ve ever been. I was working on several books, a play or two, song lyrics, poetry – you name it – all at the same time! But I’ll tell you what – those midnight scrawls stand up as well today as they did ten or so years ago! Some of them have even made their way into published materials.

I think the most recent time this happened to me was in January of this year – 2014. I wanted to publish a Regency novelette, but I couldn’t quite figure out a major plot element. Even though this story was only to be about 10,000 words, it still had to make sense, and I was stuck! Big-time. It was so irritating. And then, one morning, the whole plot presented itself to my bleary and blurry eyes! I couldn’t believe it, and really hurried to get the ideas on paper before anything could interrupt my progress. An Improbable Duke was indeed published as a Kindle book on February 16, 2014.

When I was writing my very first book Bertie’s Golden Treasure in January, 1988, there was a plot point that eluded me. I thought about it quite often during a particularly gnarly couple of days, and then whoopee! There it was – the result of a dream. I was thrilled, and several people have remarked favorably about it through the years.

But I’m really small stuff in this department, compared to my good friend Sandra Heath of England, who has written and had published more than 70 Regency novels in the last thirty or so years.  A little secret here – she cheats! She has been known to dream entire novels in one night’s sleep! Don’t get between her and her computer, let me tell you! If I don’t hear from her for a day or two – chances are, she’s busy writing down the specifics of a dream she had. 

Another friend of hers, has also had this sort of success. So, I think it’s safe to say, if you get stuck in your writing, think about it BIG-TIME as you drift off to sleep. And if/when a sudden deluge of words and ideas presents itself to you, WRITE!! Fast.  You won’t regret it.

Questions?  Comments?  Send them to me:  BookmechanicATgmail.com 

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On Rejections —

13 May

I’ve been down-sizing this year. Or trying to. About 75% of my ‘stuff’ doesn’t serve any very good purpose other than taking up space, so I’m getting rid of it. The paper recyclers should love me! The other night I found two great notions in one box. Since they’re related, it dawned on me that if I combined them, they’d make a good blog post.  The first part is from a newsletter I did for a local writer’s group; the latter is a sort of motivational poster. So here we go . . .

Dream isn’t synonymous with Goal, but you can’t really accomplish one without having the other.

Some years ago, I visited our local School of the Arts at the beginning of the school year. It’s a magnet school with not only an exceptionally high attendance and graduation record, but also the percentage of students who go on to college after graduation.

One student was discussing his project, which I thought was pretty good, but neither he nor his teacher agreed with me. He smiled at me as he said, “By time this semester is over, I’ll do better.” He went on to specify a goal. His eagerness and sincerity brought a smile to my face.

I told him, “You’ll do it, I know. Having a goal is the first step toward attaining it. After all, you can’t get there, if you don’t know where ‘there’ is.” Both the teacher and the student just looked at me, then both broke out in grins. The teacher reached over and grabbed my hand to shake it. “That’s terrific!” she said. “I’ve never heard that saying before. Do you mind if I use it in my class?” Of course, I didn’t mind.

But, to be sure, you’ll never achieve your dream or your goal if you don’t know what or where it is. You may fail a couple of times as you head for that goal, but eventually, if you’re willing to put the necessary time and effort into it, you’ll get there.

Another paragraph mentioned the famous author Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, among hundreds of other tales), was quoted as saying “I get rejection slips every week of my life.” The author, 77 at the time, said, “I’ve published 35 stories in Playboy Magazine, but in recent years they’ve rejected eight short stories. And the New Yorker rejects every time I submit.” He then said, “I plan to write at least until I’m 99. Then God can hit me with a baseball bat.” Sadly, he didn’t make it quite that long, as he died in 2012, 2½ months shy of 92.

Don’t Be Afraid To Fail

You’ve failed many times, although you may not remember.

You fell down the first time you tried to walk.

You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim, didn’t you?

Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat?

Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot.

R. H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.

English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he went on to publish 564 books.

Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs.

Don’t worry about failure.

Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.

 

One box contained a folder of rejection letters I’ve received in the past 30 years or so. I did NOT throw them away. I keep them as a reminder – whenever I need a nudge in the right direction!