Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Mon, Mar 17 2014

A St. Patrick's Day rambling on memory and societal assumptions

I had a blog subject nicely tucked into my mind and then I put off writing down my thoughts. I had my hands full of items and had no pen, no paper and no device on which to put a voice reminder. Now I can only hope the thought returns to me in some idle moment.

I recall hearing tales of people using their own blood to sign correspondence or add their name to treaties or sworn oaths. These tales are often chilling and are filled with threats and dire consequences held over the heads of those who don't keep their word. There are times when I doubt that this was true and that the participating parties simply had no immediate access to ink and so were afraid of losing either the document or their nerve, so they seized the moment and cut open their arm or hand in order to seal the deal with a long-lasting, colored liquid.

I realize that last paragraph might be cringe-worthy and highly charged with religious and cultural taboo. I don't intend to offend. I simply take the opportunity to point out that a lot of our archeological and anthropoligical discoveries may mistakenly attribute items (or events) to some other-worldly influence or idol worship, when the truth of the matter might be that a preferred item or proper medium was simply not at hand at the perfect moment. People in snowy climates often grab a credit card to scrape frost off a car windshield in the driveway before they drive to work. Some discoverer could find this card centuries from now and might suppose that the plastic item held significance as a charm placed in front of homes to ward off evil spirits, when the truth is that the driver dropped the card in a snow bank beside the driveway, was in too much of a hurry to look for it and drove on to work. The temperature rose, the snow melted and the returning worker rolled over the card with the car and pushed the thing into the mud. He never remembered to look for it. It remained there for many generations near the crumbling remains of the home until any researcher finding it could only speculate on what purpose the little piece of rectangular plastic served in some distant past.

And then there's the other question. What will the researchers consider when they find an actual old, plastic and rusty-bladed ice scraper that bears the faded remains of a message that is actually an advertisement imprinted on its handle?

Brown Mortuary and Chapel: Professional End-of-life Assistance

posted at: 15:21 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Feb 19 2014

On the rails, between the rails, outside the rails, straight ahead

I've been occupying a vast space between the extremes of monkey-typing and overthinking each phrase of writing the last couple of weeks. I'm making better progress. I have increased freedom from my inner editor, but I'm also taking brief pauses to think about sentence structure a bit as I go. A train track of extremes might appeal to some, but getting real work done in my reality seems to require keeping watch on a bit of passing scenery on the way to my planned destination.

posted at: 11:40 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, Feb 03 2014

Blithering now and editing later versus editing while write

I tried one of those little exercises that involves stream-of-consciousness writing for five minutes with disastrous results. I produced material that would have been worth editing only if I had been channeling the thoughts of a lower life form on crack. I rejected the process and went back to editing as I write. The problem is that I have trouble finishing a work in progress this way. There always seems to be a tension between the two extremes, so my latest tactic is to think a bit harder before I pound out a paragraph and then try to produce several paragraphs before I go back and edit. How is this working? We'll see in a few weeks, if I can last that long.

posted at: 09:53 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Jan 28 2014

What's really going on with the State of the Union

When writers listen to US presidents deliver their respective State of the Union addresses we tend to think of sentence structure and grammar. It might help to think of these speeches more the way we would think of a query to an editors or a pitch to a filmmaker.

Some of what we hear will be a series of statistics on how things have been going for the past year. Some of what we hear will be observation and an interpretation of what things are like now. Some of what we hear will be justification for whatever President Obama hopes to see happen in the next year or two. (This would be true of anyone holding the office.) Facts, interpretation of history and present conditions, idealism and thinking habits are interwoven into a speech that reflects the deliverer's social, political and personal background.

You could make the speech more interesting and personal this evening by imagining how you would deliver the review and projection, based on your own observations, or even from the point-of-view of your son, daughter, worst enemy or best friend. All these speeches are stories of a sort and each speech tells us something about who the speaker is. Our own filters, as we listen, tell us more about who we are. It's a good exercise in how speaker and listener, or author and reader, work together to make the speech into a dynamic piece of literature that will be catalogued as part of history.

posted at: 11:49 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Jan 10 2014

Flood, famine, pestilence and other party poopers

Stress can be a writer's best friend or worst enemy. It's easy for stress to distract us from the task at hand. But if it brings on deep emotion it can be a force to enhance a story in the same way that actors uses past personal experiences to drive a scene for maximum effect. We should't lose sight of our objectivity as we relate a character's experience, but we can certainly harness our own personal stress to the character's angst in a sort of orchestrated empathy.

If the stress is so great that we absolutely can't handle objectivity at that moment, it might be nest to set aside the fictional writing for a short time and describe in writing the way the stress is affecting us. We'll get a release by writing about what's bothering us. And we'll maintain a professional space between our immediate stress and our current characters' experience. This probably won't work for every situation, but it might be a viable solution when there are just too many distractions to make concentration possible. Even a neurosurgeon would have to take a pause if the medical building exploded. We just have to make certain we don't use every bump in our day as an excuse to wander away writing.

posted at: 14:19 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 08 2014

The long and short of it on one of those days

Current writing projects include several works I can leap into and out of when I have only a few minutes to devote to writing. It means that longer projects may have to wait a few days, but it would be too easy to get out of the habit of writing daily if I ignored them altogether, so I always have a character description, blog entry, poem or other item I can plop onto the work table of the mind and develop. If I waited until I "had time" to work on the longer projects I might get nothing done at all.

The real challenge comes when most of a whole day gets stolen with the likes of a leaking water heater or other emergency. Again, I could easily do no writing. What I try t do on those days is keep my head in the game with lists or notes that allow me to use the current crisis as fuel for some future project. This might involve the research required to solve, or find an expert to solve, the real-life problem. It might involve getting in touch with feelings that would apply in the course of describing a fictional character's tale. The goal is to use life interruptions as an excuse to write something, rather than an excuse not to write anything.

posted at: 12:19 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Jan 01 2014

New Year energy

If you begin a diet, an exercise program or a new novel today, you're probably not alone. The momentum created by a new calendar prompts many to start new betterment projects. Assembling fictional characters and giving them marching orders to start living a life worth reporting fits right in with the theme of new beginnings. Is it cliche to begin today? Possibly. Does it work? There's only one way to find out.

posted at: 09:12 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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