Which Writers Do You Trust? – RAV007

Posted on : 05-02-2015 | By : Lynn | In : Communication, Featured, writing

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Is there a place that you frequent often to get (written) information about the world around you ?  Are you confident that the writing is honest, ethical, fact-checked and not to mention well-written?  So much has happened over the last 5-10 years in the world of journalism and reporting, what with magazines and papers trimming staff or shutting down much less the onslaught of millions of wanna-be-reporters blogging their opinions, that I’m not as confident about the written word as I used to be.

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And, in my humble opinion, I come from a background of having worked at one of the most well-written and fact-checked national magazines, TexasMonthly (TM).  Some of the U.S.’ best journalists either cut their teeth at the magazine or were regular contributors such as Lawrence Wright, Stephen Harrigan,  Joe Nick Patoski, Mimi Schwartz and Skip Hollandsworth to name a few.  For every piece written in TM, its readers could be confident that extensive and exhaustive research was done.  Facts were checked and re-checked.  And each of these writers have a gift of pulling the reader deep into their story, making us grab on to the edges of the pages and hang on for the ride all the way to the satisfying end.  Many of the writers who I knew from my time at TexasMonthly continue to write and also enjoy multi-faceted brilliant careers in screenwriting, broadcasting, speaking and teaching.

My hope is that there is a crop of writers out there who have the talent, wisdom, tenacity and perseverance to investigate and report back to us in an engaging and well-written manner like these great writers who have gone before them.  The world needs writers who can sift through the myriad of noise out there and focus in on what is happening so that they can help us to understand our world better.

Thought for the Day:  Where do you go to get information about what is happening in the world? Do you believe and trust it? Why?

Helpful Hints for Being Human: Recognizing the greatness around us through the written word can help us find the greatness within ourselves.

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Blog #47 Still in My Comfy Clothes Late Into the Day!

Posted on : 07-05-2010 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized

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I really respect writers who are able to take an every day kind of an event and turn it into something that most people can relate to, if not resemble. I call myself a writer, though not too loudly, and have written many blogs and expository pieces, poetry and even a short fictional story now and then but have never attempted to compile all my stuff together to have it published. My block today is how in the world can I make something interesting for others to read and connect about when it comes to a lazy, hazy sunny spring day when I’m still in my comfy clothes at 4:30pm?!

I probably need to pull down my copy of “the War of Art” by Steven Pressfield (break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles). It really is an excellent book for any writer or writer-wanna-be out there.

One of my blocks about culling through my pieces of writing to compile a book is what on this good green planet could I possibly have to share within a book that others have not already written and published?! It gets better, I’m very, very good at stalling. Another block is money. I would like to work with an editor to help me cull through my stuff and hold my feet to the fire with revisions and deadlines. I know there are tons of books out there about this, I have several writer friends who are well published but I drag my feet when it comes to compiling and publishing my own work. This, this gristle, this grime is the stuff that writers have been aching and drinking and drugging and sleeping about for years and years and years. I get it that I have not invented a new block here! Yet, here I sit with my blocks. Wanna play?

What is different today is that I am exposing these blocks and letting you all know about them. Kind of like exposing the boogy man in a nightmare using lucid dreaming techniques (google Carl Jung). I seem to like to rise to challenges so what I’m learning through this every-day-blogging process is being willing to expose more of my own bullshit and dreams. Who knows, maybe it will be helpful to one of y’all. I sure hope so. I sure hope you can find some gems in the middle of all of this. There’s got to be some sparklers in here somewhere. I can believe of the possibilities for you, it’s just really hard for me to believe it for myself sometimes.

Anyway, real people sometimes find themselves still needing to go take a shower after a whole day of rest and relaxation on a Sunday. It’s a good thing. I took the Paul dog for a long walk and saw all kinds of butterflies all over our neighborhood. I have studied and studied, even out by our sparkling pool. David woke up from his nap and came outside to water the flowers and plants and noticed that our little owl was hanging out in his house. I like the thought of the little owl hanging out in the tree right beside me as I studied about Modernism and Post Modernistic art somehow that feels especially befitting.

What I’m realizing through this process of daily blogging is that I am forcing myself to go deeper and deeper and to hold myself accountable. And gosh darn it if I’m not raising the bar up bit by bit for myself in the process. How does that happen?! I’ve even found my mind taking a look at thoughts and beliefs that I’ve shuffled around with for years and coming out with a whole bunch of new perceptions and reasons behind them. Hmmm. Maybe this is stuff I’ll be writing about in the coming days. Maybe my realizations will help you find yours or at least give you some comfort. That would make me happy.

So, I’m off to get cleaned up finally and then dip back into this fabulously enjoyable day. Thanks for being out there and thanks for helping me wake up a little more each day.

Blog #43 Writing and Vietnam

Posted on : 03-05-2010 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized

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Tim O’Brien, Texas State University – San Marcos Endowed Chair in Creative Writing, visited our class today to talk about the story we read for our class out of his book, “The Things They Carried” which is a fictional account of soldiers (Army) in Vietnam and the “things” they carried physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

My friend Nettie told me that he was a good writer (and a good man) and she was sure right about that. He began his talk, before he opened it up for Q&A, about his creative writing process (he’s written several books and received numerous awards) which I was particularly interested in hearing about since I love to write.

Tim said that everyday, rain or shine, no matter the holiday or celebration; he writes 8 hours a day. He correlated writing to being similar to dreaming and that “if I leave it too long, for 2-3 days, I lose the passion for what I wanted to write about”. I sure do understand that. He also said that the second part of his writing process was endless revisions of his writing. He said that 95-98% of his what he does every day is revision and that he learns about his story as he is writing. I wonder often if my friend Cyndi will ever publish the book she’s been writing on for quite awhile now because of her endless revisions, but Tim gave me a new perspective on Cyndi’s process. She’s just fine tuning while learning and someday, hopefully, she’ll share it with us all if we’re lucky!

One of the points Tim made about “learning as he is writing” is that it took about a month and a half for him to get a sense of what “The Things They Carried” was about. He knew that they definitely carried physical stuff, so he began to write about what he knew and then as he wrote he also realized soldiers carried emotional, mental and spiritual stuff as well. He discovered that he was writing a story about what we all carried. He also used the word “carry” (or variations of it) to help get the point across about the burdens that were carried through word repetition.

He spoke about some of his experiences in Nam, such as his platoon coming upon My Lai about a year after the massacre, and seeing the destruction and desimation. He said a lot of things, but the quote that made a point in my head was “a bullet or bomb cannot only kill the enemy, but it can manufacture the enemy”.

I know that I am very interested in Vietnam because of how the war impacted my own family. In 1968-1969, my parents divorced and my father did two tours then (as well as TTY’s to Japan in the early 60’s) to Nam as a pilot in the Air Force. I think my parents did a good job of buffering the horror of the war that was coming across our television as well as the reality of my Dad’s going to war from completely devestating my brother and I, but there were still a lot of questions about it in my head. What I understood about the war when my father returned was that he did not want to talk about it much. Every now and again, my Dad would share some things but not a whole lot. It wasn’t until years later that my Dad, after 2-3 vodkas straight up, would tell us about some of his experiences as a pilot. Some of his duties included flying down canyons to draw out enemy fire and take photos of them, at night and then have to make return trips until all the film was used (this was before digital cameras!).

Today, I also understand better the burdens that my Dad carried when he returned from war and continued his career in the military. I respect him for his convictions even if I don’t always agree with them. What I did see happen in our class today as a result of Tim speaking with us is that there were some Iraq vets in our class who have never spoken a word over the entire semester, who asked Tim questions. We know there is power in people helping people and most assuredly in vets helping vets.

I wonder what it would be like to have a symposium, retreat, class that offered veterans and civilians the chance to ask questions of each other and to talk about their experiences. Tim spoke about the “distance between those in Viet Nam and those not at war” and that while in Nam, they would refer to going back to the states as “going back to the world” because their experience did feel so other worldly.

One of the students in our class asked if Tim thought that there would be writers from the Iraqi/Afghanistan War writing and he defiinitely believed they are now and that they will be others once they woke up.

It is my hope that this time we can have more interaction and more conversation about the experiences of war and at home so that we can learn from each other and come together instead of isolating.

Blog #14 The Iceberg Theory

Posted on : 04-04-2010 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized

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Surely I’d heard of Ernest Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory” before class on Monday but perhaps not as specifically. The theory says this:

“If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader; if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as if the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of the iceberg is due to only one-eighth of its being above water. The writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing”.

Suspending any tendency towards Freudian or Jungian analysis of Hemingway’s personal life, we can see the accuracy of the theory….

I would imagine that Hemingway would be horrified with the whole blogging situation and perhaps even as far as most of the internet community because EVERYONE is sharing about EVERYTHING they don’t know whether they realize it or not. And many of us are tending to lap it all up creating a veritable plethora of truisms about EVERYTHING.

What I am learning about myself through the wonders of completing my education that I had begun so very long ago is how ignorant I’ve been about so many things in spite of my cleverness. I do not mean this to sound derogatory because I do recognize the many lessons I’ve learned through living my life. But I do accept the realization and understanding of what has been haunting me lo these many years and that is that it turns out there has been a whole lot of information that I did not know that can open up my mind and heart in so many ways. I knew it but I kept dismissing it because I was able to figure out how to create a successful living in spite of my lack of education (had an associates degree and many coaching school hours but no “traditional education”).

I am wondering if part of my reticence about writing a book through to publication is the blatant evidence of my lack of education that would have shown up not only in what I said but what I didn’t say as well. Who knows? I hope I will never be able to prove this theory!

Hopefully global warming won’t hit this iceberg yet….

Blog #2: Why write, sing, play, paint, sculpt, draw, act, etc. ??

Posted on : 23-03-2010 | By : Lynn | In : Uncategorized

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Why is it important to express ourselves creatively?

There are some of us who only show their true thoughts, feelings and values through their creative expression. If you have every spoken with a singer or actor or writer or artist who expresses themselves through one of these vehicles, they have most likely told you that they HAVE to sing or act or write or paint. It is as if they are a living volcano where the molten lava of their thoughts and feelings have to come out.

I’m very grateful to know many creatively expressive people AND if you don’t think of yourself as being creative…I encourage you to think again. We’re all creative, you just have to discover your own unique way of expressing yourself creatively.

Finding your own unique way of expressing yourself could be as easy as recognizing that something you do effortlessly, a lot, and that you enjoy…just could be your way of creatively expressing yourself.

I’m someone who has to write or speak the ideas that come into my mind so that I can see or hear what it is I’m thinking. Turns out that my brain is a really crowded place and so it’s like many of my creative thoughts are crammed up back-to-back against each other in zip file purgatory. It is only when I express my creative idea through writing and/or speaking that I can release at least one of those zip files to make room for more.

As you go through this process of looking at yourself and how you live your life, find someone safe that you can bounce your realizations off for feedback. If I was going to say that there was a one “rule” to this exercise, I would suggest that you only do this when you can be kind to yourself. No editing your ideas, no judgement about what you do and no comparison with others. You are the only YOU in this world. Trust that specialness.

Notice, just be wiling to notice how you interact with the world today. You just may be pleasantly surprised.