Archive | February, 2015

Dream Big!!

18 Feb

I do love sports – well, most of them, at any rate. I look at ESPN almost as often as I check my e-mail. Even though I don’t read everything, just looking at the headlines will give me all the info I might need to be able to talk somewhat intelligently about this or that game or a totally different part of the story.

It’s pretty hard not to like J. J. Watt and Jimmy Graham, both of whom caused all sorts of havoc on football fields during the recent NFL season.  And, of course, even though I know nothing whatever about pop music, and consequently not Katy Perry, either, you can hardly ignore her super Saturday, when she correctly picked the winner of all eight of the biggest games of the weekend. That’s amazing by anybody’s standards.

So in mid-January, there was a preview of ESPN the Magazine, which was – surprise! – devoted to the Super Bowl.  Great eye-catching cover, too, in my opinion.

ESPN 2-15

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/page/music15020221/katy-perry-jj-watt-talk-success

ESPN said ‘Katy Perry put on a clinic as a “GameDay” guest picker.’ In one day, she picked: Mississippi State over the Aggies, Ole Miss over the Tide, Auburn over LSU, Ohio State over Maryland, Michigan State over Nebraska, and Rutgers over Michigan, not all of which were sure things.

But that’s not the thrust of the article, after all. No, it’s J. J.’s motto since he was a youngster. We could all take it to heart, and make it ours as well.

 ‘Dream Big, Work Hard’    J. J. Watt

 Dreaming of a goal is not at all a bad thing to do. Especially if it works to give you a nudge in the right direction. Even if life sends you on a detour, and you end up in the totally opposite direction from where you really want to be, hang on to that dream. It may work even better in your new location than it would have in your original place.

Exactly 50 years after I was disabused of my first dream, it came true. I was a junior in high school, and wanted to be a sports writer. I loved sports then, too, as well as writing, so it seemed like a ‘no-brainer’ to me. Except I neglected to consider the time in which I was living.  Our class went on a field trip to the daily paper (Detroit had three of them at that time, and I can’t recall which one we went to – sorry!) and I chose to visit the hockey writer.

He had hysterics laughing at my naïvéte. “Don’t be silly, girl,” he ordered me. “They’ll never let women in the locker rooms and that’s where all the good stories come from, so give it up. Go write about cooking or babies, or something. That’s what girls write about.” I can still hear the derision in his voice as he spit out the word ‘girls’.  I was in tears as I walked out his office.

But then, 20 years later came Title IX. Girls and women everywhere  have definitely benefited from this legislation, which was long overdue, in my opinion.  (And as America goes, so [mostly] goes the rest of the world, it seems. My life proceeded to go in all kinds of different directions, but then, I found myself in Cleveland in 2002, a published author and busy free-lance writer.  Still in love with sports, especially those that welcomed women’s participation. I had joyously become a season-ticket holder of the Cleveland Rockers since the inception of the WNBA five years earlier, in 1997. Those women were fabulous! And then, there appeared a different women’s team – the Cleveland Fusion, who played forceful, jaw-dropping tackle football!

I called to find out more about this new phenomenon, and was invited to ‘try-out’ for the vacant post of Staff Writer.  That position entailed going to all the games – home and away; traveling on the bus with the team, and then writing a game summary and distributing it to the various media outlets. I went to a try-out for potential players, took pictures and wrote it up. And – they chose me!  So when the Fusion’s season came to an end in June, 2003, I was invited to write about the last half of the Rockers season (be still my heart!) for a local jock web-site.  At that time it was known as  SportsTalkCleveland.com but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be under that name anymore.

The point of all this is – Dream Big, Work Hard – and who knows? Your dream might come true, too. For sure it won’t if you don’t dream it to begin with! Dreams can sometimes come true, if you’re persistent—and you live long enough!

Happy Dreams to you all! And happy writing, as well.

Questions or comments?  Please send them to me at bookmechanicATgmail.com

 

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Part Two — How to Write a Book

4 Feb

Where to start?

To anyone who has ever written a book, the topic of ‘how to write a book’ might seem very simplistic. But consider – what if you don’t even have a typewriter? Much less a computer or tablet of any other electronic device?

I recently had an illuminating conversation with a young woman who is really serious about writing her life story. She didn’t graduate from high school, and has not had a particularly easy life. In fact, it has been relatively tempestuous. Some folks, when hearing scattered bits and pieces of her tale, suggest it would make a great soap opera. True. Still, she has emerged, slightly bloodied but not bowed or bent, with her sanity and native sweetness intact, and is determined to put her life on paper.

She was full of questions, and I am delighted that she asked me, because she made me stop and think before I responded. I would never put down anyone for wanting to achieve something, but sometimes, the notion is a tad presumptuous, and you really wonder if it is indeed possible to achieve a particular goal. In this instance, I believe it is. She has more grit and gumption in her little finger than many of us do in our entire self.

She does read a lot, which is helpful. But her innocent questions really made me think before I opened my mouth to answer them. If she has these questions, then certainly others do as well.

Do I have to have a title for my book before I can start to write it? The simple answer is ‘no.’  You do have to know what you want to write. But you don’t need a title to begin. At some point in the writing, the title may magically appear, and you’ll clap your hands in joy when that happens. As this woman will write in longhand on a legal pad, no doubt, I began to consider her next questions.

Sure enough – Does it have to begin when I was born and go straight through to now? Again, no. To begin writing is easier if you write whatever is most insistent in your mind. It might be something that happened last week. Or last year. Or it might have been twenty years ago because of the importance of the event. What IS important is to date that episode as accurately as possible. Perhaps not the exact date but a year or a month or perhaps by an event that reminds you of it. The only exact dates you might wish to include are birthdays, weddings, graduations, deaths, and similar milestones in your life.

Once you have a good bit of your tale written, it might be time to find a way to get it typed – preferably into a computer or word processor of some sort, so that you have a editable copy of it to work with. In case you can’t afford a computer of your own, nearly all libraries have computer rooms these days, as do other community organizations. Many of these have no fees involved for the user, but they might limit your time to an hour or so, per session. Ask before you begin. Also, you will need to have a jump drive of some sort on which to store your project. Be sure you clearly understand how this works before closing out your computer after each use.

Once into the writing will also be a good time to think of the organization of your book. Certainly you can start with your birth, or the beginning of the tale, but you don’t need to. The fact that you’re alive and writing proves your existence, although I’d be willing to bet your memory of that exact date wouldn’t be as good as that of an older person. Just in case you needed the verification.

An outline might be of help – for non-fiction, while generally a synopsis is required for fiction if you plan to seek an agent or traditional publisher. But, you might find either tactic of great help during the writing process. In case you get stuck, you’ll have something to serve as a guide and get you back on track.

If you are writing a non-fiction book, such as the above-mentioned auto-biography, don’t forget the photos! They add immeasurably to such a story, and it helps to have them sorted out and handy to insert into the text when appropriate. Be sure you do not use any professional photos, unless you secure permission from the copyright holder. If you have such a photo and can’t find the photographer, it is probably best to abandon that particular photo. Better to be safe than sorry in that regard.

How will I know when it’s done?  Obviously, again there are differences between fiction and non-fiction in this regard, as well. If it’s fiction, you should know when you’ve tied up all the loose ends, and have conformed to the ‘rules’ of the fiction genre in which your book falls. For non-fiction, you can end it any old time – whatever suits your fancy. Try to end on a happy note if you can. This will be especially helpful should you decide to write a ‘part two’.

What if I’m not a very good writer? I’m not sure I really understand punctuation or spelling and all those rules for writers. Not to worry. There are editors everywhere, literally, and you should have no trouble when it comes to finding one. The very fact that you know you need additional help is a major plus for you. I say – Go for it!  Don’t wait around. Get started as soon as possible, and happy writing!

If you have questions or comments, please write to me at: bookmechanicATgmail.com