Category Archives: first novel

Sunday Snippet

 

I’ve worked long and hard to complete my first novel. Any of you who have done it certainly know the work that goes into it.  For our Sunday Snippet I would like to offer you the opening scenes of the book. So, for your reading pleasure (I hope), here is a sneak peek at my novel, ‘Jenny.’ Please remember that this is not the final draft version of the book, so there may be some errors that will be corrected during the final edits. Also, the copyright lies with me. I hope you enjoy the snippet.

Jenny cover as a painting

                           ONE

George Price lifted his goggles and rubbed his eyes. He had been flying all day and now the sun was turning red; the sky a darker shade of blue. He needed to put the old biplane down before the black sheet fell over the Earth, hiding all of its features and obstacles. He realized that he should have landed miles back, near that little town he had seen, but it was too late. The sun would be down before he would be able to find it. George could see that there was certainly plenty of open space to land, below him, but none of it seemed to be anywhere near civilization. He slowly shook his head.

It’s 1928 and the land down there probably still looks the same as it did when the Mexicans owned it.

He lowered the goggles back down to protect his eyes from the blast of air finding its way around the small windscreen.

His right hand gently eased the throttle back and the sound of the big OX5 engine dropped back to less of a roar. As he peered down onto the earth’s muted colors and ever lengthening shadows, he could see a large field off of his lower right wing with a road running through it. Looks to be as good a place as any, he thought. Maybe if I’m lucky, a car will come along and I can get a ride to the nearest town.

If anyone, down there, even owns a car.

He flew in low over the field, eyes fixed on the ground, trying to spot anything that might interfere with his landing. A gopher hole could ruin his whole day, and he had seen enough ruined days. All looked good as he flew only a few feet above the terrain with his head hanging over the side of the JN-4, the air slapping his face and the motor’s exhaust smoke filling his nostrils. Once satisfied he pushed on the throttle to climb and turned to come back around and land. As he circled the field he spotted two riders on horseback, their upturned faces standing out as white spots against the darkening Earth. He waved. They did not wave back.

George pointed the airplane’s nose at the landing spot and slowly dropped down to meet it. He felt the big biplane’s wheels gently touch the ground, and he cut the power back, the engine now idling quietly and the propeller blades revolving lazily in front of him. The machine bounced along the uneven landscape, the wooden tailskid scratching the hard surface like a hand trying desperately to find something to grab, until it finally rolled to a stop. He switched off the engine and suddenly the only sound was the crackling and popping of cooling metal. The field was endless and empty; the departing red sun just above the horizon. He pulled off his leather helmet and goggles, unstrapped himself from the wicker seat and climbed out of the wood and linen fuselage. His feet had barely touched the hard dry surface when he heard the sound of horse’s hooves pounding the ground. He looked over the faded green tail of the airplane and saw the two riders coming his way, ahead of a widening cloud of dust. As they got closer he could see ten gallon hats, rifles; one rider on a large black mount and the other sitting atop a brown and white Appaloosa. He smiled.

They aren’t cars, but a horse will work, too.

They stopped a few feet from the tail of the Jenny. The smile left George’s face quickly as the rider on the black animal pointed the rifle at his head. The other slid his weapon into a saddle holster and climbed off of his two toned horse. “What’re you doing on my land?” he asked as he slowly walked toward George. He appeared to be about fifty with a tanned, weather beaten, face and a large greying moustache.

“Uh…yes, I’m…lost.” answered George, his eyes on the man with the rifle. “Say, could you not point that thing at me?” George turned back to the older man and watched him warily as he stopped ten feet in front of him. The man quickly glanced at the airplane and then, just as quickly, his attention was back on George.

“I’ll have him stop pointing that there rifle at you, boy, when I hear some answers to my questions!”

George could feel the anger welling up inside of him, but had to remind himself that these were two armed men. He did not know them and that made them unpredictable. He willed himself to calm down. “Well, I’m lost, that’s all. Not trying to do anything but find out where I am.” Price kept looking at the man pointing the Winchester Repeater at him and very much wished that he could grab it and beat him about the head with it.

“Lost?” asked the older man. “Don’t you have a compass or something in these machines?” George watched him walk over to the airplane and peer into the rear cockpit.

“Well, yes, but they don’t tell you where you are. Just the direction you’re going.” George turned his eyes back to the rifle still threatening his head. “Is this the way you greet people around here? Up north we say ‘hello’ and offer a handshake.”

The mustachioed face continued to examine the machine’s interior. “Flying up in the air in one o’ these damn things seems like an awful stupid thing for a man to be wasting his time with.” Then he turned around and said, “Tommy, put the rifle down.” He turned back towards George.

“I don’t really care how you Yankees do things. I don’t trust strangers who pop out of nowhere and wind up on my property.”

As the rifle was lowered, George took a good look at the other man. He appeared to be in his twenties, and although it tried, his scowl could not hide his baby-face.

“That there’s my son, Tommy. My name is Earl. Earl Baker.” George was preparing to see him extend his hand, but he never did. “I own this land.”

George scanned the darkening terrain all around him and slowly shook his head. “All of it?”

Earl Baker nodded. “Bout as much as you’ can see from here,” he said; but not, it seemed to George, in a bragging way. The tone sounded matter of fact. Like he was simply telling you the way it was. George was almost ready to forgive the rudeness and even the fact that a rifle had been pointed at his head. Maybe if I owned land I wouldn’t be too happy about some dumb pilot landing on it, either, he thought to himself. I’d better just find out where I am so that I can get out of here first thing in the morning.

“Speaking of ‘here’…where is ‘here’?” he asked. “I don’t know how I got so lost. I passed a town back that way. I should have landed.”

“Yep, that was probably Corsicana. It’s about the nearest thing to a big town around these parts. You want bigger; you’ll have to go to Waco, about thirty miles southwest of here. And we’ve got Dallas about the same distance north.”

George looked out toward the darkened horizon. Thirty miles seemed as far away as thirty-thousand miles. He turned back to Earl Baker and shook his head. “Yeah, I don’t know…I just…”

“Pa, it’s getting dark,” interrupted the baby- face. “We’d better be getting home.”

Earl looked up at the sky and nodded in agreement. “Yeah, we better.” He walked back over to his horse and lifted himself up onto the dark brown saddle. “I’ll come back in the morning and check up on ya. Good night.”

“You’re going to leave me here?”

“Hell, son, it ain’t my fault you landed here,” said Earl. “And I don’t ride two people on ole’ Sandy.” He patted the horse’s long white neck and then turned to his son. The baby face shook his head, quickly, back and forth.

“Don’t look at me, Pa, I don’t want him riding with me!”

Earl shrugged his shoulders. “Well, there you have it. Guess you’re sleeping in your machine, tonight.”

The two men wheeled their horses and rode off, disappearing quickly in the dust and darkness, the younger one laughing. Like two ghost riders they vanished as if they had never been. He pulled himself out of his horsehide flying jacket and angrily threw it onto the lower left wing of the airplane. So much for southern hospitality, he thought. Yeah, guess I am sleeping in my machine tonight.

 

The haze and smoke almost obscured the earth but Lieutenant George Price knew that only a few thousand feet below him there were men who were dying, ugly, mud covered deaths. He gazed down over the side of his airplane at the dark brown, pockmarked landscape of no-man’s land that separated the antagonists and thought that it was as close to a vision of hell as he ever hoped to see. His DH-4’s motor drowned out the sound of the thousands of, seemingly endless, exploding artillery shells that blasted away at an already featureless landscape. Suddenly there was the sound of an engine even louder than his own and the tak, tak, tak, of a machine gun. Above all of the deafening noise he could hear the sound of a voice, screaming, “I’m hit, I’m hit!” and the bullets making a drumming sound as they pierced the doped canvas sides of the big DE Havilland observation plane; and finally, the stabbing, burning, pain…

 

“What…?” George opened his eyes and was startled to see a dark haired woman, looking at him and beating on the side of the airplane.

“Lord…finally. I was starting the think you might’ve have died!” she said; her voice sweet and calming. Sleep left his eyes and they began to focus. He could now clearly see the small, delicate features in front of him.

“C’mon, now. You climb on outta’ there. C’mon back to the house.” As he came awake his eyes panned the field all around him with the night, hot, and coal black. He gazed into her face and her pale skin made it seem as though someone had turned a light on in the darkness.

“What are you doing out here?” he finally asked her.

“I heard Earl telling how he’d met a pilot who landed his airplane out on his precious land. I couldn’t believe that he and my husband left you!”

Ah yes, Earl, one of my visitors from earlier this evening.

She frowned and let out a deep sigh. “I’m afraid they aren’t too likeable at times.”

“Yeah, I think I met them during one of those times.” George shook his head. “No, I think I’ll stay right here. I don’t think they’d be too happy with me showing up at their house.”

“Oh, I know how to handle the Baker men. I’m not afraid of them.”

George let out a nervous laugh. He remembered the rifle pointed at his face. “Yeah, well I am.”

She folded her arms tightly and a determined look came over her face. “I’m not leaving without you! C’mon out of this thing.” Looking around at the airplane, she added, “It, for sure, can’t be comfortable in there.”

George smiled as he adjusted himself in the seat. “No,” he said. “It, for sure, isn’t.”

“Well, then, what are you waiting for?” She stepped back away from the plane.

George sighed deeply. You must be getting old, Price, he thought to himself. There was a time you would never have turned down a beautiful women’s invitation to go back to her house. And this one is sure hard to say no to.

Oh, what the Hell.

He shook himself awake and began to lift himself up and out of the airplane. He attempted to make as graceful an exit as possible but his foot caught on the edge of the cockpit and he tumbled out head first. Before he knew what had happened he was on his back, in a cloud of dirt and dust, staring up at the young lady’s horrified face. She quickly knelt down beside him. “Are you hurt?” she asked.

George took a deep breath and shook his head. “Only my pride.”

Her horrified expression suddenly changed as she covered her mouth with her hands and began to laugh. He started laughing, too, and held out his hand. “I’m George Price.”

She moved her hands from her face and was smiling. “Well, I hope you fly this machine a lot better than you climb out of it, George Price.” She shook his hand. “Jenny Baker.”

George sat up, pushed against the side of the airplane for balance and was back up on his feet. As he dusted the dry Texas soil off of his trousers, he said, “Jenny. That’s funny.”

Her smiling face suddenly frowned. “My name is funny?”

“No, no…it’s just that this airplane… it’s a Curtiss JN-4 but everybody calls it a, ‘Jenny.’”

The smile returned. “I knew there was something I liked about it as soon as I saw it.”

George stepped up unto the lower left wing of the JN-4 and reached inside the front cockpit. He pulled out a small leather bag.

“Is that all you got?” she asked.

George stepped down off of the wing. “These things don’t carry too much,” he said as he patted the airplane’s fabric side. It made the sound of a bass drum as the vibration bounced around inside the box-like fuselage. He grabbed his jacket and draped it over his arm. “If it’s not absolutely necessary, I don’t take it with me.”

She led George back to a Studebaker pick- up truck with a red body and black fenders. It was hard to see for sure, in the dark, but it looked new. Jenny slid into the driver’s seat and George climbed into the seat next to her, his jacket and traveling bag on his lap. They both slammed their doors shut and the sounds bounced off into the darkness. He watched her as she stepped down on the floor mounted starter button and threw the truck into gear; the motor rattling through the, no longer quiet, evening. They lurched forward and made a bumpy U-turn with the truck’s headlights valiantly trying to light up the darkness. But it was a weak attempt and it seemed as though they had left the earth behind. With no city lights to interfere the stars ruled the night sky and George thought that he could plainly see every constellation that he knew of. Ahead of them, rabbits were caught in the cones of light and disappeared. A coyote, its eyes glowing an eerie red, flashed by quickly across the dirt road. She took her eyes off of the path for a brief moment to look at George. “You can see that I need to go real slow, so it’ll take a while to get to the Baker house.” She locked her eyes back onto the dark road, again.

“I’m in no rush,” George told her. “I’m enjoying the company.” She looked at him and smiled that smile again. In spite of himself, George felt a flow of warmth through his entire body.

Remember, George. She’s married and her husband likes to carry a rifle.

“How did you find me out there?” he asked her.

“Oh, that was easy, really. Earl said that you had landed near the road. This road runs through the entire property.” She made a sweeping motion with her hand as if demonstrating the hugeness of it all. “I thought I’d just keep driving ‘til I saw an airplane. Figured an airplane would be hard to miss.”

George scanned the, ink-like, blackness. “Seems to me that an ocean liner could be sitting out there and I’d miss it.”

She covered her mouth with her hand and giggled. “Well, now, that’s the second time you made me laugh, tonight, Mister Price!”

“Mister Price?” George rolled his eyes. “Oh my God. Please, call me George. My dad is Mister Price.”

She hesitated, but finally said, “Well, okay…George.” Then her expression suddenly changed. She was serious now. “It feels good to laugh. We don’t laugh, much, in the Baker house.”

The drive was quiet after that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer’s A.D.D.

ideas

I’ve read a fascinating story that claims we’re heading for another Ice Age. Some strange goings on inside the sun is going to cause it to cool down to the point where we will experience another Ice Age by 2030. I want to write a story about it.

But wait. We just saw Jurassic World. I’ve always been interested in Dinosaurs. Maybe I’ll go back to work on that illustrated kid’s book I was doing about a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Then again, I’ve been dying to try a Western. I’ve started one that involves a Confederate soldier returning home from the American Civil War and getting into trouble in a small town in Texas. I should finish that.

And that Science Fiction novella I’m 20,000 words into. I should get that done.

Oh yeah, there’s that second novel that takes place in the South Pacific during World War Two that I still have to complete.

Oh God! I have writer’s A.D.D. Bad.

But there are so many terrific ideas out there. And being the type of person who is interested in just about everything, it’s hard to stay focused. I can’t understand anyone who claims to be a writer saying they can’t think of any ideas! My head is filled with them. Getting ideas is the easy part. Now, getting them finished…ay, there’s the rub. That was Shakespeare, by the way, in case some of you heathens didn’t know.

What I really need to do, I realize, is to lock myself up somewhere until I’ve finished what I’m working on. Somewhere that has no internet connection. No information from the outside world. I shouldn’t even be able to talk to anyone. If I do, something they say may give me, yet another, story idea. My meals would be slid underneath the door. I’d have a bucket for…well, okay. That may be going a bit too far. But you see where I’m going.

My first novel, ‘Jenny’, took me three years to write. Writer’s A.D.D is part of the reason. Not all of it, but certainly part of it. During the course of writing the book I found myself being distracted by shiny objects and wrote a bunch of short stories. I should have been concentrating on Jenny! But that damn A.D.D.

I’m trying not to let that happen with this present novel. I want to finish it this year. I know for some of you that doesn’t sound like such a daunting task, but that’s probably because you aren’t afflicted. But I can’t be the only one out there. Surely there are others. Maybe we should start a self-help group.

Really, though, I think that if I finished half the stuff I’ve started, I’d be one of the most prolific writers on the planet. I have a folder filled with the beginnings of stories, and maybe even entire books. If I could just sit down and get all of those going I’d…Hmmm…what’s that book over there on the shelf? Submarines? Yeah! A story about submarines. Love submarines. Maybe an American sub during WW2 sinks a Japanese ship and takes some of the survivors aboard as prisoners. The prisoners get together and try and take over the…Oh geez. I’m doing it again.

Help me.

Someone In Your Corner

 

THE CHAMPEverybody needs someone in their corner. Someone who can tell you that you’re good at what you do even though every part of you is trying to convince you that you suck.

It all comes back to that self-doubt problem that has been written about in this blog (and probably countless others) already. It’s just that it seems to be a constant issue with writers. We have to have people telling us that what we are doing is worthwhile to keep us going. Good sales on your books, help, of course. That knowledge that you have people out there buying and enjoying your work and anxiously awaiting that next installment is certainly a shot in the arm. But what if you’re new at this and don’t have that yet?

I’m lucky enough to have a group of friends and fellow writers who seem to think that what I write isn’t blech! And that is a big help in keeping me going. But even more important is the fact that I have a lady at home who thinks that I’m the next great American novelist and that my writing is going to make us rich. While I’d be happy if my book simply helps to pay the bills, she is convinced that Stephen Spielberg is going to read it and want to make it into a film and offer me a multi-million dollar movie contract. I think she’s being a bit optimistic but it’s great knowing that someone has that much confidence in what you’re doing.

It would be hard to keep writing if I was being told that I was wasting my time. “Why don’t you stop with that stupid typing and go mow the lawn, or something!” Ouch!

No, instead I have a wife who says, “What are doing that for? Get upstairs and write!” Sometimes I feel a bit like Paul Sheldon in ‘Misery.’ I hope my wife never reads that book.

Oh, okay. She’s not that bad. That’s just a slight exaggeration. But she won’t let me sit around doing nothing. If I have some spare time, I’d better be writing or else I’ll hear about it. And that’s good, because left to my own devices I might wind up getting lazy and my wife won’t allow that to happen. After all, I need to keep turning out that work for Spielberg.

Hopefully, most of you who are reading this have someone in their corner that has faith in what they are doing. A writing group. Friends. And, best of all, your own personal cheerleader at home. Right now I’m picturing my wife wearing a cheerleader’s outfit and waving pom-poms. She’s screaming, “Joe! Joe! He’s our man, if he can’t write it, no one can!”

All right, that just got weird there, didn’t it? She looks cute in the outfit, though.

 

 

Writing History, Right

 

Noah

I’m a history nut. Historical non-fiction and historical fiction is what I enjoy reading most. When I read that stuff I expect the writer to know what he or she is talking about. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, is it?

I’m also an aviation enthusiast. My wife would replace the word, “enthusiast,” with the word, “fanatic.” I prefer the former. So being a fana…um, enthusiast, it’s another area where I expect an author to do their homework. Information is too easily accessible, today, to accept lazy writing. There is no excuse for having your characters going out to the airport and boarding a Boeing 707 when your story takes place in 1949. There were no 707’s in 1949. A quick Google search would have told you that.

Recently, I read a crime thriller. Something I don’t normally read. The bad guy works for the U.S. Government. The Government, as in many recent books and movies, were all bad guys. He enters the story flying an F-14 Tomcat. Now, okay, it’s a novel so I’ll forgive the fact that the Navy gave a civilian an F-14. My problem is when he lands. The writer says that he “engaged the reverse thrusters.” Reverse thrusters? On an F14? It’s a jet fighter not an airliner. Sorry, no reverse thrust on an F14. Am I being too much of a geek to expect that to be correct? I don’t think so. But he got away with it because 99.9% of the population doesn’t know an F14 from a Piper Cub. But okay, I’m just enough of a geek that it bugged me.

Now, like most writers, I tend to write what I like to read. My novel, ‘Jenny,’ is an historical piece that takes place in 1928 Texas. Obviously things were different then. It’s up to the writer to know, or at least find out, just how different. We’ve already established the fact that it’s no longer hard to do. I actually find the research enjoyable. I have a Model T Ford that plays a prominent part in the story and I did a lot of reading and Google searches on Model T’s. I like finding out things like the fact that the car’s gas tank was under the front seat. I love passing information like that on to the reader. I even watched a video by a guy who owns one. He showed how to start it. I got a kick out of that and worked it into the story.

And the history itself has to be right, too, of course. Not just the little details. If it’s 1928 you have to be careful that you don’t have your characters talking about something that happened in 1932. Make sure you don’t have them heading out to see ‘Gone With The Wind.’ That wasn’t until 1939. You have to do the research. I’m sure this scares a lot of people away from doing period pieces. It’s time consuming, that’s for sure. But, again, I like it.

But a writer can also have fun with history. Embellishment often works when doing historical novels. Putting your own slant to an historical event. In a great novel about the old west called, ‘Little Big Man,’ Thomas Berger decided to make George Armstrong Custer slightly insane. There’s no way to know if he was, or not, so he could do that sort of thing. He shoots down a bunch of other western myths, too. Terrific book. But even there, his history was on the mark. He just made use of a little artistic license, that’s all. (Which reminds me, mine is up for renewal, soon).

However, I don’t think you should mess with the facts as much as Noah’s biographer did (see cartoon). Then you’re leaving the historical fiction genre and moving into fantasy. If I pick up a book about ancient Rome and it starts with Nero pulling up in a limousine, I can be pretty sure that the writer didn’t do his research. Or that this is gonna be a really good story!

 

 

 

“Popular” Writing versus “Good” Writing

 

angry crowd

The success of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ got me to thinking about popular writing versus good writing. Not that they can’t be one in the same, of course. Often they are. It’s just that, well…often they’re not.

Now, I haven’t read the book, so I can’t give an opinion on it. A lot of people I know have, however. Read it, that is. Not one of them liked it. As a matter of fact, several couldn’t get through it. These are people who, in my humble opinion have some pretty good tastes in literature. And most professional book critics seem to have torn it apart.

And with ‘Fifty Shades,’ not only has it become a runaway best seller, they went and made it into a flick which is doing very well in the theaters. On top of that, there’s a sequel planned, I understand. The writer of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is obviously very rich at the moment and probably isn’t caring very much about what the critics think. And why should she (Or is it a “he”) care, anyway. She’s giving the public what they want and they’re eating it up. And copy-cats have sprung up. One is called ‘Fifty Shades of Blue.’ The author is I.B. Naughty. Ya’ gotta love that one!

So, as a new writer, I can’t help but wonder how much I really need to work to try and turn out a successful book. I can’t help wondering if I’m trying too hard. Maybe I didn’t need to take three years to write ‘Jenny.’ Maybe I could have slapped a few hard core sex scenes in there and not worried so much about the story. If that’s what the public wants, why not give it to them? After all, there’s nothing wrong with sex. Right? It’s good. I’m not a Puritan, I’m all for it

But how would I feel about it, even if the book sold well? Roll around in my money and not care whether or not I’m considered a “serious” author? Or guilty that I had sold out? Hmmm…money would buy a lot of pretty things. And my wife really wants a house on the beach… (Sigh!).

There’s always a pen name, of course. Yeah…that would work. I.B. Naughty seems to have been taken. But I’m sure I can come up with something. How about Hugh R. Hornee? That’s not bad. I could write as Hugh and watch the money pour in while I satisfy the literary part of me by writing my “serious” book. I’m weak, though. I’m afraid that if I did that and started to see thousands of dollars rolling in from Hornee’s work I’d kick the “serious” work to the curb. Hell, if Hugh R. Hornee’s novels just bought me a yacht, screw Joe Bucemi and his high-falootin ways!

But, what if you can’t have it both ways? What if it was time to make a deal with the Devil? He gives you two options. You can write a trashy book that critics are practically laughing over, but sells a million copies and gets you a multi-million dollar movie deal. Or you can write one that is generally regarded as one of the most beautifully written pieces of literature ever seen by human eyes. The trouble is, hardly anyone will read it and you will barely make enough money on it to pay your electric bill. Ironically, it will become popular ten years after you’re dead.

Hmmm…again. Would I start to think of all those pretty words, or all those pretty things and that house on the beach? I would have to make sure my wife wasn’t in the room while I was making my decision. I know which one she would pick.

 

 

Let It Go!

 

LET IT GO

Sorry, I’ve probably stuck the song from ‘Frozen’ into your head, now. But that’s not what this is about. It’s about how hard it is to hit the enter button when you’re done with that story or book. Well, it is for me, anyway.

It took me about three weeks after telling my writer’s group that I was done with my novel, to finally post it for them to read. I checked it, double checked it, triple checked it and…okay, you get the picture. It had to be right. Spelling and punctuation. And did I spell that character’s name the same way every time I used it? I had to check, again. And now that I was reading it once more, I wasn’t so sure that I liked that conversation between two of the main players in the book. Maybe I should change that, I thought. And I wonder if I should rethink that ending…

Oh man! That can go on forever if you let it. And I was about to let it. I had already been writing that thing for three years. Enough, already! Let it go!

I’m sure there are plenty of writers, out there, who finish the piece and kick it out the door. Five minutes later they are already working on the next one. That just takes more confidence then I have, at the present moment. Maybe I’ll be there, someday. I’ll write “The End,” and off it will go. “If people don’t like the ending, the hell with ‘em,” I’ll say as I spit into my spittoon and wipe my mouth with the back of my hand. Then I’ll confidently begin to bang out the next book.

But right now I can give myself a headache agonizing over it all. Is this the correct word to use? Maybe I should change that character’s name. Should that scene happen inside the house or outside? Nothing is too minor to worry about. It causes me to take a long time to finish anything. And, admittedly, sometimes not finish. I’m too much of a perfectionist.

And it doesn’t have to be perfect. Not right away, anyway. It just has to be finished. Working out the bugs is what the beta readers are for. And, of course, editors. I know all this and yet it’s just that, as I’m writing, I’m aware of the fact that the words I’m typing are what people will judge me on. Those words will be who I am. They are all that the reader will know about me. I’ll be judged a genius or a complete dumbass according to the words on those pages. Maybe that’s what a lot of us are afraid of. Maybe that’s why a lot of people who want to write, don’t. They are scared that people will think they are dumbasses. It takes a little courage to put yourself out there.

But, I’m doing it. My finger may be trembling as I press the enter button, but I press it. Yes, I do it after checking, double checking, triple checking, etc…Hopefully, with time, I’ll just hit that button with confidence and let it go.

(Cue Music…)

P.S.

I don’t really spit and I actually don’t own a spittoon.

Criticism

 

LARGE BUILDINGS

The word criticism has a certain stigma attached to it. It conjures up images of your work being torn apart. Often, by people you do not consider worthy; the unwashed masses who are not intelligent enough to share your vision. Really?Geez…get over yourself!

Criticism, unless it’s done with some evil intent, can be a very good thing. As a matter of fact, it’s very often a good thing. It keeps you from getting lazy. A bit too complacent. I’d start to get a little suspicious if all I heard was how great I am. Okay, not that there is any danger of that…but I’d figure they must want something.

No, I want you to tell me that something is wrong if something is wrong. I can’t grow as a writer if you are trying not to hurt my feelings. Our Twisted group is terrific when it comes to this. We have all become friends, but when it’s time for critiquing, don’t think for a minute you’re going to get away with showing us something that you slapped together without putting in any effort. We will see the lack of effort and you will be called out. But no hard feelings. After the meeting we all meet at the Twisted Root for a couple of beers.

We have had those who could not get over themselves, however. And yes, we were considered dullards and our I.Q.’s were thought not to be high enough to appreciate the magnificence of the work in question. We do not meet at the top floor of a skyscraper, so they did not throw themselves out the window. They just did not return to the group. And that’s fine. We aren’t a mutual admiration society. We’re a writing and critique group and would prefer to have people who want to be critiqued and improve as writers.

When I read some of the work I did when first joining the group and compare it to what I’m doing now, I can see such a dramatic improvement. And it’s because they let me know when something was wrong. That’s why you don’t ask your Mother to review your writing. She won’t tell you it’s bad. She’ll just proudly hang it on the refrigerator with a magnet that has a nice yellow smiley face. If that’s all you are looking for from your writing, then that’s great.

But, I want to be published. That’s why The Twisted Writers are reading my book, ‘Jenny,’ in preparation for a review. I’d prefer to hear about the mistakes from them rather then read the lousy reviews in Amazon. I hope they like it. But, if it’s really awful, what the hell. I’ll just  hang it on the refrigerator with a smiley face magnet.