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




Fri, Feb 06 2015

Truth vs. fiction

There's a lot of flack right now about journalist Brian Williams' account of his experiences during Iraq war events in 2003. What he reports to us is considered by viewers to be based on fact, so there is probably good reason for discussion.

The difficulty for journalists is that people want facts, but they also expect truth. The barest of facts still carries subjectivity, but the bulk of the information still needs to ring true when examined by viewers and critics. When a journalist is suspected of embellishing the truth or of outright lying, the public bristles because the trust they have given to a journalist is threatened. They perceive a personal affront from someone they have been trusting for information. The local meteorologist is allowed a stumble now and then because they predict. A journalist delivering news is expected to keep it clean and real.

Fiction writers also face a dilemna, not because what they write is fiction, but because their fiction writing is still expected to contain at least some truth. Whether you write stories about bacteria, humans, creatures from another world or artificial intelligence, there are universal truths that need to be woven into the fabric of a tale in order for readers to feel fulfilled.

posted at: 09:20 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Fri, Jan 23 2015

It's not just aboout Raif Badawi

I love writing about the world of writing, particularly fiction writing. But I want to take a moment to express sadness over the punishment of fellow blogger Raif Badawi. I'm so blessed to be able to write from a place of freedom. I don't go out of my way to offend others, but if I express disagreement with some political or religious leader, there is no one on my porch to take me away and throw me in prison. We don't flog people here for thinking or writing about what they think.

There is always an argument concerning bloggers and their place in society. Some say we are journalists. Some insist that we are not. The title doesn't matter, but the work does. And if we silence journalists, essayists, pundits, bloggers and storytellers, we'll soon see the basics of the freedom of speech fall in all other ways. Then other freedoms will fall. We need more speech rather than less. I hope the Saudi religious leades will choose to lower their weapons of hate and control over the very people they should be championing in their society.

posted at: 08:42 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Thu, Jan 08 2015

It's the season for coughing and plotting.

There is no vaccine for the persistent coughing bug that recently made a stop at our house during its winter travels. We coughed until our muscles were sore. The rooms were a sad trail of throat lozenge packaging, tissue boxes, emptied tea mugs and overflowing waste cans. Speaking caused an increase in coughing, so we lounged in front of the TV and quietly caught up on episodes of home improvement shows and a season's worth of The Good Wife.

I wondered how this or that story character I've known would handle being tossed into a room with a fellow story character on an occasion when both of them had the same ailment. They might be friends, lifelong enemies, business rivals or hunter and prey. It would be a great way to crank up tension in a story and would give an excellent opportunity to show the coping and negotiating skills of both characters.

Of course, things can never be too simple with fiction. Throw in a third character and see what develops.

posted at: 12:18 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Wed, Dec 17 2014

Christmas lights displays

Other writing is somewhat on hold from this corner while our web site is listing special light displays in the USA. Many locations have bins for charitable donations. To check out the list, go to Christmas Lights.

If you know of a particularly impressive display, please let me know and I'll include them in the list. (We don't usually list private light tours, such as those from limousine companies.)

posted at: 17:55 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry



Wed, Nov 19 2014

Writing for the holidays

This is a challenging time of year for many writers. The holiday season is stuffed with party invitations, end-of-year financial crunches, baking binges and family obligations. We spend the last 6 weeks or so of the calendar year fitting a few bursts of writing into a packed day if we write at all.

It's usually good to spend some time writing early in the morning. If your sister calls and reminds you that your nephew's music recital, the one you apparently neglected to put on your calendar, is tonight, you'll know that you have that writing session done and can be more flexible with social scheduling later in the day. To make this work, it's probably important to cut back on late night partying. (Do I even have to bring that up?)

It also helps to break some things into smaller tasks. Once I know that I have some writing time logged, I turn to a task that has incremental steps, such as making a shopping list or mixing cookie dough that has to be chilled awhile before baking, gathering project items and putting them together in a container, choosing clothing for a later appointment.

Save time where you can and take on fewer new things in November and December. Record favorite TV shows to be viewed later when there is more time. Shop online. Bank online. The college-attending student who is coming home for the holidays can make his or her own dental appointment. Have the car serviced in October or wait until January. Choose a few cookies that you get compliments on during the holidays and bake only those this year. Get to know a grocery store layout and shop there exclusively, even if the receipt is a bit higher. Pick your battles. If it comes down to time or money, save time for the season and get back to being frugal first thing next year.

Will I take my own advice? Ask me on the second of January.

posted at: 10:09 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



Wed, Sep 24 2014

Fluttering leaves and falling words

Autumn is the season I would skip if given half a chance. Once winter arrives, there is the forward looking to spring. Once spring arrives, there is still the warmth and cheering sun for months to come. But fall arrives with limited days that seem to become even shorter once we go off Daylight Saving Time. In colder climates, leaves deliver a brief burst of color, but then wither and dry into brown bits of last rites. We drag on layers of clothing and we char marshmallows to warm our joints a bit, but we know that winter is not far behind with its frozen-fingered grip reaching for our wobbly, human ankles.

Writing also seems to come in seasons, flowing like a clear mountain stream or choking up with uneven ooze that barely feels like language at all. I suppose that the trick is to mix seasons and metaphors so that bright words help lift us up to the task at hand. And those dead-leaf landings should make us reach deeply into the pockets of our despair and pull out words full of autumn's bronzes, coppers and golds. We keep our head down while working. When we finally do look up, it's already Christmas morning and we're racing toward a New Year.

I'm really trying to make friends with fall, but I have much more fun reaching for a red Santa hat and a big candy cane than a brown pilgrim hat with a big buckle. And I won't even get into the sad fate awaiting turkeys at on Thanksgiving Day.

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



Wed, May 21 2014

Keeping the fire going

Process is something that my engineering husband knows well. When he works, he sees the beginning step, the middle steps and the end step as a continuum of process. The axe has been sharpened, the wood has been cut and stacked, the work tools are laid out and the engineer can concentrate on the process. He knows that if he skips steps somewhere along the way he may risk reliability, quality and even safety. Integrity needs to be present through a whole project. Proper process leads to satisfaction.

Being a creative person, I love jumpstarting the beginnings, but I often bog down in process. Middles can become muddles and endings are just sad. What is a sense of accomplishment for an engineer can translate into a sad state of melancholy and grieving for a right-brain-dominant writer or artist.

I can understand why actors sometimes long to be directors and producers, particularly in the film industry. Actors are often thrust onto a set and told to present work that may be placed out of order, or even cut from the end product. Their sense of being finished may not come until the film has been released and they often have very little control when it comes to the overall presentation and the feel of a film. Writers do have to contend with editors and publishers, though there are increasing numbers of writers who bypass these now in favor of self-publishing.

Both process and creativity have to be involved in writing. I keep trying to remember that on days when my original idea has burned down a bit and I have to make myself get up and put another log on the fire.

posted at: 08:24 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



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The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping old ones.
--John Maynard Keynes
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