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




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: 13:51 | 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: 11:46 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Thu, Jun 30 2016

Weeds, wildflowers and words

Yesterday I spent time clipping some wild dandelion-like seed balls that had gotten started in part of the back yard. I missed a lot of them, but the ones I clipped will at least put a dent in the multiplying of the long-stemmed plants that I hate and the bees love. (The bees have plenty of blue rosemary petals, purple creeping thyme blooms, chive flower balls and oregano stalks they can still visit.)

I looked down at the small bucket filling up with dandelion seeds and thought of works of writing. We work from the ground up to grow a piece of writing that pops and then ends, or so we believe. The truth is that the flower comes along after all the other work of growth is done. The same is true of stories we write. But we think that all the work is done once we see the big yellow bloom, so to speak. What actually happens is that the gist of what we write may fade after awhile, but what comes along behind us are a hundred other writers who write long after the seeds have scattered to the winds. A hundred writers are formed only after a lifetime of someone else's work. It's an encouraging thought that the work we do today may inspire someone else long after we have lived our lives and delivered our words.

posted at: 12:59 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, Jun 17 2016

Water, water everywhere and not a time to write

A lint-clogged pipe in the garage created a backup that flooded the garage floor when I washed a load of towels. It wasn't actually that much water, but I learned that a little water, like a little knowldge, is a dangerous thing when flowing in many little directions at once. The faithful plumbing service managed to improve on the old house corroded pipe situation with a smoother style transition that will make it more difficult for lint to clog the pipe when the washer drains. This situation, along with a few switcheroos in household scheduling, made it a real challenge to get quality writing done. These things are part of a writer's life, so this post will still appear under the Writing Life category.

Meanwhile, please enjoy the blogs listed on the right side of this page. If you're all caught up in that department, branch out with a few others, listed here in no particular order:

Oddity Central

Fictionaut

fictionbitch

Reading the Past

Radish



posted at: 12:45 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Wed, Jun 01 2016

Yet another social media gathering place

I recently joined Rabadaba. (My username there, as on Twitter, is @debberzz.) Rabadaba is a bit different from other social media platforms in that it pays users when they reach certain goals. But that hasn't been what most impressed me.

The app is much more visual in its leanings than many other social media. You can dab (post) in text, but many dabs are photos or videos. Some users simply find photos online or pass on visual memes, but originality is encouraged and often rewarded by other users in the form of upvotes, stars, comments and rabs (points that lead to better chances of earning cash). By the way, this isn't a get-rich-quick scheme, but the clever goals create an incentive to encourage frequent activity and interaction.

The application is currently heavily youth-leaning and there aren't many of us there who are older, but I'm hoping older users will be attracted to the simplicity of the experience. There are users from all over the planet, so while I mention spring in the evening there might be another user experiencing fall in the morning. A lot of English is used, but other languages are also there. Little by little, I learn foreign (to me) phrases and I get to see glimpses of other cultures and lifestyles on every continent.

If you yearn to travel, but you don't currently have the time, opportunity or money, you'll appreciate the global atmosphere. Writers are always looking for ideas and the many photos are superb visual writing prompts. Have a look. The app is available for both Android and iOS phones.

posted at: 11:31 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, May 06 2016

When the word outlives the buzz

There's a new writing platform that helps describe job listings and fine-tunes other business communication. It's Textio. Certain phrases and terms gain favor in the business world, but these same phrases can become overused and end up sounding trite or dated over time. Textio suggests phrases or words that keep job listings from sounding out-of-sync with current job market needs. It won't necessarily help with specific skill needs, but it can suggest terms that best fit the general description of what a company is seeking.

It's a great idea, and while it may fling open the door toward better job hunting, I hope we don't move toward too much of this when it comes to other writing. There's something fun and exciting about realizing that another human mind came up with a lush description of a beach setting or the tight wording of an action scene. Businesses need to be able to hire the best candidates. Job hunters need to be able to hone in on the right jobs. But individual creative writers need to be a bit more free range in their word choices. Otherwise, writing becomes a sad exercise in auto-correction.

That being said, my trusty thesaurus sits open beside me, ready to assist. I'm in favor of any tools that get any writing job done. But when it comes to poetry and creative prose, I hope to see us focus on the individual human writer's voice more than on the tools that the writer uses.

posted at: 11:48 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Mon, Apr 25 2016

When it's more than blah-blah-blah

Fiction writing often involves more than description. It needs well-chosen dialogue between characters. The conversations we have in real life often involve a lot of talk that we would never bother to include in a story. We might not be able to skip the dull parts in real life, but in fiction we have to get past all that so we don't lose our reader. We hone in on a few choice bits of dialogue that matter.

A seemingly dull conversation while doing the dishes can propel a story forward, if it takes place between two people who don't really know each other well. If there is tension between a nervous wife and a mother-in-law and the younger woman drops an heirloom soup tureen, a conversation while washing dishes could become a pivotal moment in an already tenuous relationship. Does the mother-in-law use the conversation to push the younger woman further away? "I've always cherished this piece. It was the one thing my mother left me." Does she invite the young woman closer into her heart? "The truth is that I've always hated that ugly thing, but I couldn't bring myself to smash it. You've just done me a big favor." (I've made the scene a little stereotypical, but many other things could play into affecting the dialogue, such as the mother-in-law being younger than her daughter-in-law.)

posted at: 12:45 | 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!