Monthly Archives: September 2014

Why I hate the letter M

Many good things begin with the letter M. There is mother, M & M’s (especially many M & M’s), money, mermaids (they’re cute and they’re real), malted milk, maple bars, Mars candy bars (funny how much food we have so far), Marines (Semper Fi), milk maids (they’re cute and they’re real), macaroni and cheese (food again), movies, munchies (something one gets after smoking a cigarette that starts with the letter M-so I have heard) and so on. I would say mammary, but I do not want to appear sexist. Also the Mariners, as in Seattle Mariners, a baseball team in the upper reaches of the Pacific Northwest far from civilized society. I write a blog on the Mariners, have done so for years.

So why do I hate the letter M?

Because we are at war. That letter is the great white whale to my Ahab. It is the saboteur on my keyboard, it is a terrorist that attacks me daily, not once or twice, but incessantly.

You see despite typing the letter M  thousands of times, especially the word Mariners, if refuses to capitalize. I am not joking when I say that just now the lower case ‘m’ showed up instead of upper case ‘M’ in Mariners and I had to correct. Again.

For some reason I can’t seem to shift to M, though I swear I do, but the letter refuses to acknowledge my upper case stroke. I get the upper case right about 13.8 % of the time, not that I have get tabs mind you.

Now imagine what happens when I write a novel. I have written two e-novels and a collection of short stories and I am haunted by the letter like Casper’s unfriendly twin brother.

The chair I sit at when I keyboard is a swivel office chair with arm rests that move in all sorts of positions. I set the arm rests in such a manner to make it easier for me to pound them my elbows, a driving force that thunders and echoes so loud the neighbors complained and the police came knocking on my door. Not once, but Many times. Wait! How did the upper case M get in many. That happens only .03 % of the time. See how insidious M & m is?

If you find any Mistakes (again!) with the letter M in my e-novels, please let me know. There is a war on you know.

 http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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The cartoon that strangles and swallows

There is a cartoon, if that is the proper word for what I am about to share with you, that is on my corkboard. It is an 8×10 copy of a drawing in which a frog is inside a long beak of a large bird. The frogs legs are hanging down from the lower beak, its head part way down the birds throat. The caption says, “Don’t ever give up.”

But there is more to the drawing, as the frogs hands are wrapped around the throat of the bird. So to whom is the message directed, the frog or the bird. Both?

They literally have each other in a bind. It got me to thinking about writing. If you are a writer are you the bird being strangled by your writing, AKA the frog, or are you the writer as the frog being swallowed by your writing? I ask because writing can be frustrating and maddening as it strangles you with dangling participles, too many adverbs, forgotten rules of grammar that come back to haunt you, similes and metaphors that stick out like Pinocchio’s nose, but are as flat as a pancake (did I mention clichés). You have a library full of books on words, grammar, creative writing, and anything which helps sort out the bugaboos about writing that strangle you.

Writing can also swallow you as you get rhythm and flow, your thoughts translated into words through stroking keys that make sense out of those things inside your head you must get out. Time passes, you don’t notice, you forget to eat because scenes, dialogue, plot twists, all fly rapidly around in your head and they must be sorted out by the keyboard. You love to write when this happens, but when it runs out, as it must, does it make sense or do you second guess yourself and see the editing that needs to be done. Drat, you mean I must clean up my mess.

So the question is not whether the writing is strangling you or swallowing you because the answer is the same either way. Don’t give up.

My Amazon page and e-novels created by not giving up: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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Discovering when it is best for you to write

I used to write in the morning after a good breakfast. It worked well. But life changes and what worked then does not work now.

I can not write in my usual time because I moved to a new city and for whatever random reason there always seems to be something I need to do in the mornings after breakfast. It really has nothing to do with the new city, but more to adjusting to a new life. Old habits are hard to break, and I always wrote first because when I had a good day I could reward myself in some way. But that is a big problem. Why reward myself after doing work, why not before?

On a flight to London many years ago the flight attendant brought the dessert around first. It was strawberry shortcake, one of my favorites. I was hungry with a capital H, but I held off and waited, and waited, and waited while listening to my gurgling stomach. But after half an hour of waiting I ate my strawberry shortcake. When the flight attendant returned I was chastised for eating my dessert first.  I remained calm, resisting a smart aleck comment that I am known for, but politely said I was starving and could wait no longer for the meal. Today just to spite this unknown attendant I sometimes have desert first.

I think this incident affected my reward system. Have fun first then work. It works better for me. Now I write later in the day before dinner. I can write through dinner, then reward myself after a good day of writing. No reason not to reward yourself twice in one day.

The point is not to fall in love with your schedule as life changes and sometimes you must adjust when things change.  Write when you have the time away from distractions, have healthy snacks. I eat a mixture of sliced almonds, walnuts, and raisins. There is also a bowl of grapes and bottled water, with a no calorie flavor enhancer.

My e-novels written during the morning days are found here: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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What was Alexander Dumas talking about

Alexander Dumas was a great writer as anyone who has read “The Count of Monte Cristo,” or “The Three Musketeers” can attest. I ran across a quote of his that, except for the last three words,  I understand. But before I get to those words lets start at the beginning.

The beginning is easy. He said, “To learn is not to know; there are the learners and the learned.” I understand this part. What Dumas is saying almost echoes Woody Allen’s line, “Those that can, do; those that can’t, teach; those who can’t do either, teach P.E.”

But let me take the Dumas quote and apply to writers. One can learn to write, but because one learns how does not mean that someone can. Understanding all that you are taught about writing is not the same as implementing what you learned Understanding creativity does not mean you are creative.

The second part of the Dumas quote is “Memory makes the one, philosophy the other.” Memory applies to the learners, philosophy applies to the learned. To learn is to know because you remember what you are taught, so if you are not creative, you teach writing, or if you can’t do that, you teach P.E. I think I got it anyway.

It is the philosophy part that is my bugaboo. Let us look at the quote in its entirety. “To learn is to not to know; there are the learners and the learned. Memory makes the one, philosophy the other.” As a student I was the learner, learning from the learned, my professors. Understanding what they taught me-or at least some of it- is still in my memory. But that does not make me learned. But according to Dumas philosophy does make one learned.

Philosophy, according to my American Heritage dictionary, is “Investigation of the nature, the causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning.” It also say, “A system of values by which one lives.”

Perhaps Dumas was saying that to be learned one must implement what one has learned. But I don’t know. The French are just different, as anyone who has read Camus or Sartre, will tell you. Dumas was the learned one and I the learner, but I am not sure what I learned. I guess I should teach P.E.

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What is the next evolutionary step for libraries

It is said the first great library of the Western World  was in Alexandria, Egypt, then the capital of the Ptolemaic empire. But part of it went up in flames thanks to a dockyard fire when Julius Caesar was being Caesar trying to burn Egypt’s ships. There were between 100,000 and 500,000 scrolls gathered from throughout the world at the Alexandria library.

The idea behind libraries was to gather and protect knowledge, mathematics, charts, anything and everything that would help man. Not really any fiction writers back in those days.

The first American library was at Harvard College in 1638, but the first public library opened in 1698 in Charleston, South Carolina. Benjamin Franklin, America’s Man of all Seasons, opened the Library Company in Philadelphia in 1731. There was even a children’s library in Salisbury Connecticut, opening in 1803. Libraries were created by clubs or by private individuals, but not until 18333 in Peterborough, New Hampshire, did a city vote for public funds to create a public library.  And of course Andrew Carnegie libraries are everywhere, at least in the state I live.

But in the new e-world of e-books what is next for libraries? At some time in the future, someone will develop a huge cloud to store e-books where e-writers can donate their books to be borrowed by e-readers. There may have to be clouds within clouds as there will be millions of e-books, so perhaps a cloud for each of the non-fictional categories now found in libraries and clouds for all fictional categories.

Od course if you do not return a book the cloud librarian will send a virus to your device and ruin your day.

But the day is coming where there will be e-libraries, after all what is Netflix and Hulu Plus, but TV and movie libraries. Even with the speed of todays technology I doubt I will be around to see it happen, but until then we have Amazon where you can find books.

My Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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Yes there is a god for writers, but who

When I say there is a god for writers I am not talking about William Shakespeare or Stephen King. I am talking about a god that writers can start each day by burning a candle and saying a prayer to the muse of writers who can stimulate the creative juices.

I Googled the question and found Momus, a Greek God, surprisingly not in Edith Hamilton’s classic book on Greek mythology. But the more you learn about Momus from Wiki and the Internet-take if for what it’s worth- it seems that dear old Momus, who is the god of complaint and satire, who likes nothing, is more the god of critics, not writers. Therefore I can not, nor would I urge writers to adopt Momus, for he is clearly in league with Satan.

Hindu’s have Saraswati and there is Baalat, chief deity of Byblos. But a cursory examination of these two fail to absolutely convince me to recommend them to writers.

I do have one to recommend. However, in the honesty of full disclosure I must admit a bias for Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of writers. One is that I am a summer type of guy. I love the heat, I love wearing shorts and a shirt, soaking up rays, and watching women in shorts and halters, and who better to worship than the sun god Ra. Second, because Seshat is depicted wearing a panther like dress and that dress makes a woman look  hot.  Trust me on this.

I  have been to Egypt and that came about by going through a time portal somewhere in France that was discovered by two British schoolteachers, I believe, in the late 19th century. Feel free to Google it. Anyway I  ended up in Egypt during the time of Cleopatra and let me say Elizabeth Taylor looked better. Cleo had a big nose.

Anyway while there I joined the cult of Seshat, whose name means ‘she who is the scribe.’ All in all I had a good time, though I had to pretend to be deaf and dumb as I did not understand ancient Egyptian, or Greek, which most Egyptians spoke. I did mess up one morning when I woke up in bed with one of Cleopatra’s maidens and I forgot where I was and asked what she wanted for breakfast.  She ran screaming, palace guards came for me and took me to Cleo. Whatever she  said I simply spoke English, saying anything that came to mind. I remained stoic, confident, acted regal and spoke the name Seshat many times, almost in every sentence. Eventually they thought I was a god, husband of Seshat, and they gave me a nicer room. 

Notice how when I got to the name Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of writers, my creative juices kicked in. Yes, proof positive that writers need to worship Seshat. Of course, now that I am linked to her as her husband you can see my bias. But she works for me and I am willing to share her with writers everywhere.

My Seshat inspired e-novels at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

 

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Are you a writer or an author

I like to say I am a writer. It sounds better to my ear than author, in part because I associate the word author with writers who wrote  books and appeared on talk shows when I was growing up. Writers were always introduced as ” the author of . . .” and they tended to be famous like Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, John Updike, Phillip Roth, all of whom were of literary authorship. Irving Wallace, Sidney Sheldon, Jacqueline Susann, and Harold Robbins were of the pop culture authorship. But all were writers.

The American heritage dictionary says an author is the writer of a literary work. Notice the word ‘literary’ that rightly or wrongly I associate with the highfalutin writer since ‘literary’ refers to literature and I studied literature in college, not pop culture writing. That does not mean I did not read Robbins, Sheldon, Wallace, or more importantly Ian Fleming. But they too were authors because the second definition under author in the dictionary is “one who writes for a living.” The same definition is found under writer.

Author is a more broad term. You often hear in sports show that some pitcher “authored a no-hitter.” You can not write a no-hitter, but you can author one. That is because the next definition in the dictionary says that an author “is one who creates or originates something.”

So an author can not only be a literate writer, but some one ”who creates something.” In this definition there is no hint of quality, so an author could also be a hack since he originated something. Now I feel better about being an author for I no longer feel the pressure of being literary.

On the other hand the dictionary defines writer as one who writes. Since I write two blogs and have two e-novels and one collection of e-short stories I am a writer.

Okay I am confused.

Let me say that I am the author of writings that may or may not be literary, depending if you like offbeat works or not.

Maybe you can decide for me. http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38

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