There are words

 There are words. They curl and tumble through time and space, through nebulae and dark stars, teardrops and sea mist, in search of a poet. They search diligently and completely and patiently until they find the one person who can open the universe and let them pour onto the page. They don’t care if the poet has studied or if he is important. They don’t care if he is a he. Their only desire is to flow into being. Time is without consequence. These remnants of the creation seek a creator to speak them into life and when they find their creator they are without mercy, they jostle and push for attention and compel him into action. They are ambivalent about whether the poet writes poetry or paints a story, creation seeks a creator, and the page is more patient than a person. Eventually they will fulfil their purpose and reach the heart they are seeking. And when they are shared, then they grow another poet, who will listen for the words and open the universe to allow them to flow onto the page. It is a mystery of being that the words which come to a poet are often not for the poet, in fact he doubts their necessity or credibility or viability until he accepts their need to be and his need to allow them to be. Then, there is peace and there are words which tumble through time and space…

 

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Lost your Voice?

When you first start editing your own work you might check your spelling, grammar and punctuation, but some of the first questions that your Editor will ask involve Voice and tone. What exactly do they mean by Voice and tone?

It really is very simple. Just think about your own voice, your speaking voice, barring infirmity or accident we all have one and it is uniquely ours. I imagine that family members can tell you from a relative by voice alone. We recognise each other by voice and our voice can tell the world a great deal about us. Where were we born? Have we travelled? What about education, class, ambition? We all make assumptions about those based on voice. That is our speaking voice.

Now imagine your Writing voice. It is just as uniquely yours and it tells the world about you but instead of pitch and lilt we talk about language choice and phrasing. Your writing voice is the expression of your personality on the page and we make the same assumptions about personality and upbringing from grammatical and language choices.

Now consider Tone. We are all used to the idea of tone of voice and none of us would consider using the same tone with a toddler and with our bank manager. The tone of our voice needs to be appropriate to the situation whether we are speaking or writing. This is why a seasoned editor might raise a question mark over the tone of your writing.

Things become more complex when you introduce characters into your writing. Each of these characters will have a Voice and during the course of your writing several tones. It is the job of the Editor to make sure that the Voices of your characters remain consistent throughout your work. To make sure that they do not slip. Any voice slippage should be marked on your manuscript for correction.

Voice slippage is a very common error in even the most seasoned writer’s work. It usually simply means that instead of responding or writing as our character we have become involved in our work and are writing as ourselves. Easily done.

So as you see, there is no mystery to Voice and a good editor is there to make sure that you never lose yours.

 

 

 

 

The Words. A Fable

Once there was a young man who wished with all his heart to be the King of Words. He wanted to write songs, and poems, and stories that would be famous throughout the land.

One day he heard that the Father of the Forest was able to grant the wishes of young men who wanted words, and so he travelled a long way, for a year and a day, to see the Father.

The Father was the tallest, and the oldest, and the wisest tree in all the world. His roots bound the land together and his branches supported the sky, and he was very kind. He listened to the young man, and when he had listened, he touched one gentle, gnarly finger to the young man’s chest and took out his heart.

It was a thing of amazing beauty, bright and shining like the largest diamond. The Father smiled and bending low over the heart he whispered,

“Live, Love, Learn.”

Then he gently replaced it and sent the young man out into the world to be a writer.

 

The years passed slowly and times were very hard for the young man. He always seemed to lose his luck or his love and there were days when he despaired of his life. He became very unhappy and decided to return to the Father, to ask why, when he had come to him with such a pure heart, the Father had not given him the words.

The Father was even taller and older and kinder. He welcomed the young man as a child, and he listened. Then he touched one gentle, gnarly finger to the young man’s chest and took out his heart. It was dark and chipped and broken, and held together by love and tears. The young man began to cry as he looked at his poor heart but the Father smiled a gentle smile. He held up the heart in the green warmth of the Summer afternoon, and he broke it clean in two.

Out poured words: red, green, amber and gold, the bluest blue of the ocean and the deepest black of the night sky. They poured unceasingly to the forest floor creating streams of life and love and laughter, swirling around the feet of the amazed young man.

“My Child,” said the Father with great love,

” Why would I give you words, when you have been growing your own? “

 

How to Write

There are a  multitude of books available on the subject ‘How to write’ and a plethora of courses available, all promising to show you the secrets, give you an outline, throw you a rope when you are drowning in words. Many of these are well written, well thought out and helpful, but sometimes they seem to subtly miss the mark for us. We have a head full of theories, plans, guidelines and confusion.

You see, courses and books can give you a very clear idea about how other people write and have written, but what no teacher will admit off the bat is that they have no idea how you are going to do it. Writing is a journey, one we all take in a different direction. Before we set out we need to fill our backpack with three things

1) Words – dictionary, thesaurus, experience of reading a great deal

2) Grammar – an understanding of how the words fit together.

3) Punctuation – knowledge about how we signpost meaning.

These are the essentials. We all need these. Without these we are trekking the Himalayas in our swimwear. 

Next we need the useful items:

Map of the terrain – an idea of the structure of a novel, short story,  article, essay

Travel guide – a description of journeys by past explorers. How did other writers write?

And finally we need the things that make life more enjoyable:

Chocolate – or your treat of choice

Bug Spray – for the Fear bug, which swarms on a scale from nervous tension – sheer terror. If you have no spray then hit them with a slipper, newspaper, pop song.

All packed? Good. Now you are ready to explore. Some of us will be an Amundsen, Columbus or Magellan and some of us will be Dora, and that’s fine. The journey is our own. We make it ourselves and each discovery is as exciting regardless of who we are. Be yourself and forge your own path and before long you will have a page in the Travel guide.

Watch out for the Self-editing Tar-pits and

Happy Trails!

    

Procrastination

Time is a limited resource.

I can hear you cry that you know, and anyway look how busy you are.

Well of course you are. You are very important; one of the cogs that turn the wheel that makes the wossname work. I am not suggesting lack of drive or effort, I am just pondering on those times when we get in our own way. 

I file. I like to file. I have binders and dividers and sticky notes and coloured highlighters. Filing is fun. I know how to do it. I’ve mastered the alphabet so ordering is a piece of cake. It’s all practical, useful, neat and I can find stuff, but

It isn’t Writing.

You see my Procrastination style is – Organiser

 

There are several Procrastination styles available and in a wide variety of colours, such as the

Socialiser – Unable to spend long periods of time alone, the socialiser will spend a couple of extra minutes on every phone call, answer every query and every doorbell and then complain that no-one leaves them alone to get anything done, while they book a dinner meeting because who wants to eat alone, right?

 Awareness will help you to overcome your procrastination style and be more time efficient. The insidious thing about procrastination is that we mostly choose things which look useful and in fact are even necessary in small doses,

Now excuse me while I file this Blog post…where are the P’s?

Tune-up

The English language has built over time and has rules of construction; just as any other builder has to follow a code, the writer should be able to don their hard hat and survey their handiwork. Kick the foundations and see if it wobbles.

In order to do this effectively the writer needs a good and up to date understanding of the rules. I recommend a yearly tune-up with a good grammar.

Of course, there are times when the correct use of grammar is simply incorrect, such as when we represent everyday speech.
Speech follows a whole different set of social rules,

Ya get me blud?

No one said you have to follow the rules all the time but it’s more fun to break them what you know are there.