Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mon Jardin: The Vertical Jungle

A lot of things have gotten in the way of writing the last two weeks. It makes me crazy when I think about all the things I want to do or have to do and how I always run out of time. I'm about 250 pages into my edit/rewrite of my novel. I'm afraid it's becoming a jungle like my garden. My tomato plants, trained to abide in cages, are over 7 feet tall. I've had to trim them back so more energy goes to the fruit. Cucumber vines grow up wooden trellises and vie with the beanstalks for the highest spot in the garden. My pepper plants fight their way to get their share of sunlight. Winter squash trail along any vacant path they can find. The zucchini grow large leaves the size of elephant ears and take up more than their share of the garden. They are prolific and unloved. The eggplants are late to the party; they are just beginning to fruit. There are herbs and greens popping up everywhere. When finally the marjoram began to bloom, the bees finally arrived to do their work.  It seems they love those tiny flowers on herbs more than any others.

 
Too Many Oranges

Last week we picked several bushels of Valencia oranges and gave many away to neighbors, friends, and coworkers. They have few, if any, seeds and they are delicious. The problem is it was a bumper crop. I did manage to juice a couple of bushels with my heavy-duty Breville juicer. I put the juice in quart-size freezer bags, leaving enough expansion space at the top of the bag. Then I set the bags upright in a plastic container. Once frozen, I removed the bags from the container.

 
Beans, Beans, Beans
I've also had quite a lot of those long, flat green beans. They are stringless and very meaty. They can make a very quick meal on a warm summer evening. Just toss a couple of pounds of beans, cut in bite-size pieces in a pressure cooker. Add a can of chopped tomatoes, 3/4 cup of water, a little sweet onion, if you like, and some chopped ham. Season with salt and pepper. Add your favorite herbs. Basil is a good choice. Cook in the pressure cooker until it starts to jiggle and hiss. Immediately set the cooker in the sink and run cold water over it to release the pressure. It takes just a few minutes to pull this meal together.

 
So here are the hard and fast rules of my garden:
    • If you don't produce, you die.
    • If you take someone else's space, you may get cut off at the knees. 
    • If you get sick, I'll give you a helping hand, but remember--only the strong survive.
    • If you are attacked by rascally varmints, I'll kill them.
    • If you're pretty, you might be granted special attention.

The same kind of philosophy bleeds over into novel writing. Editing requires a hard eye and a sensitive ear. The story line must be lush but strong. What started out as nothing more than a seed or two, must become a full blown jungle--oh, and feed the masses. 

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