Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, Jan 20 2017

Covering the Parade

I watched quite a bit of the inaugural ceremony earlier today and then viewed the parade and the subsequent attempt at torching metal trash receptacles by a few. There should be a better English term for one who throws tantrums and starts fires when they don't get their way. Arsonist doesn't quite cover it, because arsonists often set fires because they fixated on the blaze and the tantrum-thrower isn't quite that focused. They usually come ill prepared to create a proper flame and they run out of fuel and end up tossing in everything from metal items, which don't burn well, to their own clothing, which leaves them a bit defenseless if/when the police bring out the water cannons. Vandal might be a better term, because it involves destruction of property with no real control over the outcome. And, as a side note, to the people who damaged the vehical carrying media equipment, why would you hurt the very ones who are giving you the best chance at getting attention?

The actual parade was full of movement and music, protectors and performers, rugged blast-proof vehicles and a photographer walking backwards to capture that close-up shot of the drum major (who never broke stride). It was a rather wet day, but that worked in favor of the whole event. The rotating lights of the official motorcycles would have been pale in direct sunlight, but with a backdrop of gray sky and soft rain, those same lights became a brilliant banner of red and blue stars with silver metallic outlines. Very patriotic on such a winter's day.

It's fun to live in a country where people can either celebrate or protest on any given day without getting our heads chopped off for exercising our rights. I have no doubt that both protestors and celebrants will talk about this day. But there's the parade and the pageantry. And then there's the day-to-day work we each have of being an American in 2017. That's a parade where no one gets to be merely a spectator.

posted at: 15:51 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Jan 17 2017

Junk or brilliance? Brilliance or junk? Whatever I wrote it was still what I thunk.

When the experts, whoever they may be, tell writers to write down something, even if what's written is junk, they mean well. What they don't realize is that writers can be very prolific at writing junk, but that the junk still may not translate into a good piece of fiction.

I sat down earlier today and spent about 30 minutes writing what I can only call a scene, one involving a new character from a story I haven't outlined or plotted very well. I've been stuck on the whole project for awhile, so I decided to just spend the day with my character on a day that might be the type of day she would experience in the midst of a full-blown story. I generated several paragraphs, but I don't know that it was anything except junk. I still don't have a real direction for her, though I did find some events that were coming at her from out of nowhere.

I also found out something else new about her. She went to talk to a professional who is in a lot more trouble than she herself is. I'm wondering now if that was also a rather subconscious way of thumbing my nose at the experts who tell us to write just anything, even if what's written is junk, even if they are only so-called experts who are worse writers than those trying to write something brilliant.

In some sticky, twisted way, the experts are right, because I did end up writing something.

posted at: 13:58 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, Jan 16 2017

2017 is in full swing.

This is a bit of a test post after some absence. I'm checking a different method of uploading posts.

The end of 2016 went past me like toilet paper unrolling on the floor when cat paws go into action. I knew it was passing, but by the time I tried to do anything about it, the days were lying in a soft little heap and there was nothing I could do but put up a new roll.

posted at: 11:36 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Aug 12 2016

Are some pictures worth only 997 words?

I recently realized how much I'm in the habit of using words. I've been using Rabadaba, a social media app that pays users after a certain attainment of points or "Rabs". Photos, videos, audio and text are all allowed in Dabs (posts). Original content is encouraged, while obscene content is forbidden, as is copyrighted content without credit and permission. There are versions of the app for both Android and iOS.

There is no requirement to post titles and descriptions with photos, but I like it when people do add to their photos with words. The worldwide attraction to the app and website mean that a photo may have come from high African plains or a suburban backyard deck in Ottumwa, Iowa. Some landmarks are obvious in photos, but many dabs are of brilliant flowers or rabbits. A simple screen swipe may take you straight from a weathered doorway at a seaside cottage to a sandwich being stolen by a fast-moving dachshund. It's nice to know where the photo-taker was at the time.

A good photo should tell a story on its own, but the writer in me is always tempted to add to the picture with words, something I didn't realize was so important to me until I joined this particular social media platform. I try to act with restraint, but it's not always easy. (If you go and have a look, I am @debberzz there.)

posted at: 11:42 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Aug 03 2016

Thoughts on a slow summer afternoon

The great recipe project continues with progress that pleases me while making little actual difference in the sheer volume of paper lurking in binders and flles. The scent of the decaying paper is making my allergy symptoms worse than usual. I take a pill and press on.

My characters are laughing silently on paper as I leave them to ferment in their own limbo. When I get back to them, will they be the same? Will I be unable to pick up where I left off and keep the action flowing and hold a reader's interest, or will the characters have become flaccied and one-dimensional?

Since I did not reproduce, who will actually inherit all these recipes? Is what I'm doing worthwhile? Or is it a waste of time and energy? After all, I'll never make even half of these recipes into actual meals or snacks.

Are recipes more important than fictional characters in the grand scheme of the universe? Is there an actual grand scheme in the universe?

The writer in me said to put something here today, so I did.

posted at: 13:10 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Jul 26 2016

12 cups of butter

My timing to work on old recipes was fortunate. I opened one of the notebooks yesterday and found that the notebook itself was falling apart. I'm cutting apart the pages and taking care of the worst papers first. I wish I could use scanning software, but I would only trust that for straight text. I would feel the need to check every scan against the original copy of a recipe, because if the scanner saw "12" instead of "1/2" it could ruin the outcome of a recipe and might even end up killing someone (which would be great in writing a murder mystery If I was looking to juice up a plot.) If I have to take time to double-check each scan, I might as well spend the time typing the recipes by hand.

I keep my short projects files open for editing, so I don't ignore fiction writing completely during this time. It would be handy to be able to put regular life on hold like this once in awhile and keep notes for later, but time has a tendency to move on whether we like it or not.

posted at: 12:51 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Jul 19 2016

Type, type, type, write, write, write

I've never found a really good scanning softeare that works well for recipes. The characters that don't get read properly can literally wreck a meal. As a result, I've been spending a lot of time typing recipes and saving them into digital files. I've been clipping or writing out recipes since I was a teen, keeping many of them in large 3-ring binders. Back then, paper was not produced to be acid-free, so many of the pages are getting brown and brittle and are slowly losing their integrity. Some pages are almost impossible to read because the paper quality has degraded so much over the years.

I have never counted them, but I'm sure the recipes number in the thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands. As you can imagine, this typing takes many hours, so I've been devoting part of most weekdays to typing. This takes away from story writing, so I keep a few other files close at hand for jotting story notes and ideas.

It's a matter of balance, something all writers have to practice in one way or another. The tough part is knowing how much time to devote to each of those tasks we balance in life. You've probably heard that we should never let the urgent crowd out the important. It's wonderful advice, but some days it taxes one's psyche to put it into practice.

posted at: 10:46 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!