Introducing WriteCoach365.

Introducing Writecoach365: Creative Writing Coaching.
After hearing from several former students and current writing clients, and in response to their feedback, I am happy to announce a brand new option for individual (and, individualized) creative writing training: WriteCoach365.
Find more about this program, launching March 5, 2014, at http://www.WordsMatterESW.com/writecoach365

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Thank You, and Goodnight

Applause.

It isn’t something a writer seeks. Or, at least, it isn’t something a sane writer anticipates. Ours is, most often, a very solitary craft. Few of us will ever stand in front of a throbbing throng of rabid fans and accept, graciously I hope, their thunderous applause.

But, occasionally, some of us stand in a small room or a bookstore or, perhaps, a quarter-filled auditorium where we receive some feedback for our work.

Similarly, when I teach, I do not anticipate an ovation at the end of a class, even in a class where the students have chosen to be there and are happy to be so.

Today, though, I received a warm ovation from the students in my Reading as a Writer class. We had spent Fridays together for the last eight weeks, studying Graham Greene’s classic, The End of the Affair. As class ended today—ten or fifteen minutes late, as usual, because I have been unable to limit myself to the allotted class time—I wished the students well, told them I hoped they had enjoyed our time together, and reiterated just how much fun I had had leading the class.

And, they applauded.

It is a nice feeling. I understand, a little, of why actors and athletes and performing artists do what they do.

Applause is a different kind of feedback than the writer gets used to. There is always something wrong with a written work, so sending even a very strong story or novel to our trusted first-readers is a risk. We have to gird our loins, so to speak, and wait for the hammer blows. Sending stories to editors for consideration most-often ends with a form letter rejection. When we get a personal rejection, most of us do a happy little dance that we can’t explain to non-writers. (“Yes, I’m shaking my groove thing because someone said ‘no’ to me in a kinder, more considerate way than most people reject me!”) Even when my stories are published, I rarely hear any positive feedback, and certainly no one has ever made an audio recording of themselves applauding my work.

I appreciate the feedback I received today from those kind and gracious students.

After they had all left, I stayed in the classroom and erased the whiteboard and gathered my things and sat, for just a moment, in the now-empty room, almost as one does when leaving a long-time home for the final time. It is silly, I know.

Later today, a dear friend asked me, “Do you miss it already?” She knew I had really enjoyed teaching this particular class, and she already knew the answer before she asked it. As, good reader, do you.

The Feel of the World In Your Hands

Occasionally, a story, or poem, or song will move me beyond what it reasonably should.

This heart of mine is tuned to a strange frequency, but sometimes I find just the right point of resonance in an unexpected place.

I’m a big fan of Tift Merritt’s music. I enjoy all of her albums. I got to see her, along with Simone Dinnerstein, in Tampa last year.  But there is something about this song, The Feel of the World, that consistently tugs at my sentimental soul. Especially when she sings, “I picture you now, you are beautiful, you are golden, Just like you were when you thought no one was looking. Time will take care of you, love. Time will take care of you…”

I thought I would share it with you.

The lyrics are below. You can buy the mp3 of the original album version or the version recorded with Simone Dinnerstein. (Or, buy both of the albums…)

Listen here: 

The Feel of the World
Tift Merritt, See You On The Moon

I’ll tell you what I will miss –
California and horses,
Down by the sailboats where we waded in,
The feel of the world in my hands, in my hands,
The feel of the world in my hands.

And still so many ways that I love the wind –
From a storm in the sails to the breath on your lips,
It’s such a little thing, then again, then again,
The feel of the world in your hands, in your hands,
The feel of the world in your hands, in your hands.

Just like the Sunday we drove out from Houston,
Out to the edge of the world, out where the sky starts to bend,
After awhile in the sun, you’ll be sleeping, sleeping.

I picture you now – you are beautiful, you are golden,
Just like you were when you thought no one was looking.
Time will take care of you, love. Time will take care of you, love.
I will take care of you, love, again, again,
The feel of the world in my hands, in my hands,
The feel of the world in my hands, in my hands.

Hey, writers…

This is a quick post. A sort of poll question, if you will…

What service or resource have you tried to find to help you with your writing, but have been unable to find, either on-line or in person? Or, another way to ask: What is something you’ve said, “If only I could find _x_ it would help me be a better writer!” but have been unable to find?

If something comes to mind, feel free to post it below, or send me an email. Ask other writer friends to chime in. I’m curious to hear…

There are no wrong answers. 🙂

12 Weeks to Me, Part Two – Tracking

Here is installment two (of three) focused on my summer scheduling and my attempts to find greater balance in my creative, spiritual-emotional, and physical lives.

Change Your Actions, Change Your Results

As I mentioned early in the week, I hit a creative wall in the second quarter of 2013. Things weren’t happening, for me, and as the transition into Summer came around, I knew it was time to re-charge the process.

We all know, on some level, that if we keep doing things the same way we’ve been doing them, we’ll continue to get the same results. When things are going really well, that’s a good thing. Keep plugging along. Keep drawing on those reserves until they give out.

Continue reading

The Engagement Age (This is NOT a Wedding Blog)

In my Legacy of Words classes, I spend a good amount of time talking about VALUABLE writing. It isn’t a concept that is original with me, and I present it this way:

Valuable writing informs the reader, engages the reader, and deepens the reader’s understanding of the story, himself, or the world. Not every sentence must do all three, but good sentences will.

Originally, I had used the word “entertain” in this explanation of “valuable” writing, instead of “engage.” Some students, though, thought that meant that every story the told had to be funny or full of plot-points like a Tom Clancy novel. So, I modified my approach to put an emphasis on getting a reader’s reaction, not just making them laugh or gasp. We live in an Entertainment Age, when too often that word is reserved only for over-the-top theatrics. Sometimes, the reaction we want from a reader is much more subtle than that; we want a nod of the head, a sigh, or a pause of recognition.

Whether we see our blog as a business or as just one tool in our quest to meet and interact with new people, we are always hoping to find a way to increase engagement.

Whether we see our blog as a business or as just one tool in our quest to meet and interact with new people, we are always hoping to find a way to increase engagement.

We not only live in an Entertainment Age, but an Engagement Age as well. Engagement is a buzz-word for those of us who are active in various social media circles. Writers, today, are judged not only by the content of the book or story collection or slate of poems, but by their ability to engage with people on Twitter or Facebook or via their personal blog. Writers who have more “followers” get a step up in the literary line. Those writers who have an active and engaged following in social media circles get even more attention from agents and publishers. So, those of us who are involved in social media try to find ways to get readers to re-Tweet or “share” or “like” or leave a comment. We ask questions we hope people will answer and we write about topics we hope people are interested in, then we sit back and wait to see if anyone takes the bait.

And so, as a writer who has a blog, I strive to find ways to add value to my blog posts, but it seems like the “engage” piece of that puzzle often remains lacking. Perhaps I’ve not said something controversial enough to stir a response. Or, maybe, I’ve not provided enough information or increased the reader’s understanding, and therefore, haven’t earned a response.

(It has occurred to me that if I would make more typos, that might at least generate a series of, “Hey writer genius, you misspelled a word!” sorts of comments…)

As a fiction writer, I want to produce a novel or a short story that will be valuable to the writer. As a blog owner, I want to do the same. I think, most of the time, my fiction can lay claim to meeting that goal. With my blog, I’m still searching for the right formula.

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photo credit: The Rocketeer via photopin cc