Monday, August 26, 2013

Know Your Calling

One of the advantages to living in Phoenix, if you’re a sports’ fan, is the variety of teams we have. For the NBA lover, we have the Phoenix Suns. NFL? The Arizona Cardinals. Hockey? The Phoenix Coyotes. Baseball? The Arizona Diamondbacks. WNBA. The Mercury. Then we have teams like the Rattlers.

A few nights ago I stayed awake to watch the Diamondbacks play 18 innings (7 hours, 6 minutes – the longest game in D’Backs history). Score was tied 7-7. The Philadelphia Phillies eventually let a fielder be the pitcher. He wasn’t trained to pitch, but he did okay. Except – our batters got five hits off him in the 18th inning to win the game.

A wise person knows their calling, their gifts and skills. Just because a person loves to sing, wants to be a singer, doesn’t necessarily mean they can sing. I’ve heard a few who set my teeth on edge, but their whole stage persona says they think they are the cat’s meow. The Phillies fielder wasn’t skilled at pitching, but he gave it his best effort.

Some people just can’t write. It’s not their gifting, yet I’ve read some things on websites, usually sponsored writing contests, that were quite horrid. The grammar and craft is awful, there really isn’t a flow of a story line whatsoever. Often a person can have a gift for storytelling, but just need to develop their skills or take classes to hone their craft. Those aren’t the people I’m talking about.

When I started writing, I hadn’t a clue regarding the proper crafting of a story. I’ve learned as time progressed. I’m still learning. It amazes me when people approach me with, “Can you read this and tell me what you think?”

I’m not an expert and I know it. I’m not even well-educated in the art of writing. Yet I’ve had a few people who send me thing to “read.” I’ve even had someone pester me to write their life story AFTER keeping me on the phone for an hour sharing events in her life. I’m thinking of two people in particular, and both are disconnectedly related to me.

Don’t misunderstand – I have friends who write and I love to read their work and tell them what I think. But to the other two – one keeps sending me “stuff” in a private message on facebook and wants me to critique it – please be considerate. I am not an authority on writing at all, I am very busy, and we are not close at all for you to expect such favors from me. And it is rude! My advice – join a writing group.

Like the Phillies pitcher, I can tell you what I think, but I may lose the game for you.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mum's The Word

I just finished a book, the third in a series, by a successful author. She’s not well-known like James Patterson, Debbie Macomber, Stephen King and others, but she is successful – at least in Christian circles. I noticed an error in the book when it said though and it should have been thought. I’m always a little tickled to find errors in other books because there are errors in my book Like A Cedar In Lebanon. Misery loves company, I suppose.

The though/thought error reminded me of an old I Love Lucy episode where Ricky was complaining about how confusing the English language – which wasn’t his native language – is to learn. He used the example of bough, rough, though, and cough. They all end in ough, but sound entirely different. Add to that the words thought and drought which also sound differently. Then we have the words their, they’re, there, and your and you’re, and its and it’s, and other language nightmares. Accept vs except, principle vs principal, complement vs compliment, affect vs effect, capitol vs capital! There are too many to name.

To most writers and those with an adequate grasp on the English language and grammar, these nuances don’t give any problems, or at least not too many problems. But the average person struggles to use the correct word, and it’s especially difficult for those attempting to learn the English language.

I belong to several writers’ groups. One is an international group, so submissions of any kind can come from other countries. Although the English language is used, some words are different. In the USA, it’s mother, mama, mom, mommy and not Mum, and we spell things to end in er and not re, such as center, theater, etc. But those are easy things to learn and understand.

So, for the pure pleasure of reading, ignore those little mistakes in novels. Life is too short to concentrate on the negatives!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Poor Writer

I know a lot of people, A LOT, and have many friends. It’s from my years in church, and in ministry. When the word first got out that I was writing – had written a book – I began getting messages or being contacted by people that I hadn’t seen or talked to in awhile.

All are good people, dear people, and those I admire and love. But the underlying reason for them contacting me was they assumed I was riding a crest of wealth now – you know, being an author and all. It was a subtle way to remind me of the good work they’re involved with.

I am a giver by nature. I don’t need to be coaxed or strong-armed into giving. The truth is, though, I’ve never had a lot of available resources for giving. And, are you ready for this….writing usually costs more to do than I’ll ever see returned in royalties, etc.

That is true for most writers, at least those I hang out with. Unless you become a Debbie Macomber, Stephen King, James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, or any number of famous, prolific writers, there’s just not a lot of money to be made for the beginning or struggling writer.

This truth hit home with me almost immediately. My income/expense spreadsheet is always in the red. BUT, I keep writing. I write for the love of writing. I love words. Not just words, but the ability to string words together to tell a story.

Maybe someday I’ll get rich and famous. Maybe!