At the Speed of Slow
by Jennifer Paros
Fast, we can only do what we already know. . . . To overcome limitation the first thing is to slow way down. Slow gets us out of the automatic mode.
-- Anat Baniel
From the time they were small, both my sons ran around the backyard in deep self-conversation, exploring ideas, acting out scenes. If they had a thought that excited them, they could always be found outside, running back and forth, thinking. Eventually, their unconscious, repetitive thought movements wore a track in our lawn. Though my husband periodically encouraged them to vary their paths, the next new routes inevitably became habitual, soon forming other barren areas.
After more than a decade, and two years following my oldest son’s departure to college, my husband formally asked our youngest son (now sixteen) to be more conscious of where he was repeatedly treading. At first, he took offense at the implication he was doing something wrong and the attempt to control him. We were asking him to slow down and make a new choice. I suspect it felt like an indictment and an imposition and he may have even doubted his ability to change. He was just moving around while thinking; it had always been fast and unconscious. But as he assessed the situation – the sorrowful lawn and his own guilty role – he reluctantly agreed both to help replant those areas and to change his path.
The grass grew and the “track” and bald patches filled in. We all marveled at how simple it had been to end an entrenched pattern that had been part of his daily routine for most of his life. Through a shift in awareness and the smallest intention to alter his route, he allowed new things to grow – and quickly. more...
Five Tricks to Supercharge Your Revisions
Whether you’re self-publishing, traditionally publishing, or working with a small press, editing is a crucial part of the publishing process. But it’s just as important to work on your own manuscript as much as you can first, before an editor ever gets involved.
New authors sometimes worry that they don’t know enough about editing to revise effectively on their own. It’s true that self-editing doesn’t replace the need for an objective editor, but it’s also true that by taking a few hints from those same editors, authors can make sure their revisions are heading in the right direction.
1. Make a Style Sheet
A style sheet is a set of editing notes that chronicles every editorial decision you (and, later, your editor) have made about your book: spelling and hyphenation preferences, real and made-up names and places, decisions regarding capitalization, the treatment of various numbers, and anything else that might recur throughout the book.
In other words, a style sheet is the ultimate resource.
It’s brilliant, if you think about it: With one central resource to help you remember how to spell everyone’s names, you’ll never have to scroll back through your manuscript to chase down spellings and other editorial preferences. The document will help your editor understand when you’re intentionally deviating from standard usage. And when you decide to write a sequel, you’ll have a ready-made list of all your characters, towns, and invented words in case you forget any details!. more...
They’re Still Talking Like That!
by Cherie Tucker
Apparently we have to bring out reminders periodically to keep people in top form. Yesterday a voice on the radio said he had a “whole nother” idea. I know we have a ton of lazy expressions like this, and we know what the guy meant, but let’s stop using them – at least when anyone can hear.
And while we’re on memory lane, here are some more gentle reminders from five years ago. Read them aloud:
Asterisk: This one comes from aster, the Greek word for star. After you say “aster,” say “risk.” There is no x, so you can’t bend this word into “asterix.”
Boutique: In French, the ou combination is pronounced oo, as in Boo! So the word is pronounced boo-teek, not bow-teek. The same rule applies to coupon, pronounced coo-pon, not keyoo-pon.
Et cetera: The first word is et. Say that, then inhale. The next word is set-er-ah. There are four total syllables. If you say ik-set’-ra, don’t.
Height: This word ends with a sharp t, not th. Pronounce it hite, so it rhymes with night.
Niche: Niche rhymes with itch, really. Neesh is in secondary position in the dictionary, indicating that the first pronunciation is preferred.
Often: The t is silent.. Say off-n. more...
Teaching Young Writers
by Terry Persun
I’ve been writing for a long time and I’m, well, up there in age. So, when I was asked to teach writing skills to eight teenagers from a private school, I froze. My first thought was that I would be over their heads, or they’d see me as just some old dude going on about passion and commitment, then stop listening when I got to craft. I wasn’t sure if it was something that would work for me, or the students, so I sidestepped and asked my daughter Nicole to teach with me. She just turned twenty-one and I figured she’d be close enough to the age of the teens that she could relate to them and be my translator in case one was needed—which I expected to be the case.
The girls—did I mention that they were all girls?—arrived at Fort Worden here in Port Townsend on a Friday morning and would be around until Saturday afternoon. We’d be teaching in the living room of the place they were staying. Although it was comfortable, with a great view, I felt a little out of place in the room when I sat down, but started things off anyway.
The room remained relatively quiet much of the morning, and Nicole and I talked about commitment and passion first. The blank stares I got back when I talked about writing every day, day after day, appeared skeptical at best, but I moved on. Then Nicole talked about her busy schedule and how she incorporated writing into it nonetheless. Then we opened to questions before going on. more...