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

Thu, Jul 30 2015

Real aliens, not real, though still pretty real for a writer

It's challenging to concentrate on writing when you're in a building that is having its roof torn off and replaced. I've tried to mentally catapult myself into a science fiction thriller with aliens trying to break in from above, but these workers are so disciplined and they move in tandem so well that, as aliens, they'd be the leading battle dancers of their world. They use a compressor for power tools, which could be imagined as some very noisy anti-matter gravity converter for a device for stealing power. They take precisely-timed breaks, which lead to me imagine aggressively dancing aliens working on union scale, hopefully not a "sliding" scale since they are, after all, perched on a sloped roof.

I'm having a bit of fun here, mostly because humor is a way to cope with all the noise this week. It does remind me that writers are never really off-duty. Every real-life situation holds promise as a flight into the realm of story and characters. These hard-working roofers will probably never know that they once worked a few shifts as beings from another world.

posted at: 14:28 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Jun 05 2015

One project or just one big project?

One of my current writing projects is a type of list, which produces a satisfying amount of work in small increments of time. I used to work on one main project at a time, so when I got into a slump or was under the weather, my writing time suffered. I love having a work-in-progress that lets me pop in for 10 minutes or do a heavy focus for longer periods of time when I choose to do that.

Since I began doing the list project, I've added other projects and files that allow me to put ideas and research notes into file folders or digital documents. When I get ready to dig into these, I already have a good amount of material at hand and can fill in those writing slumps and keep my head in the game. There are even notepads that shed water, so there's no excuse for not jotting down a great line while taking a shower or out walking in the rain.

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

Fri, May 29 2015

Faith versus works, writer versus words?

Did I choose writing or did writing choose me? I've asked this a lot, particularly on days when I seemed to be able to do everything except write. I finally settled into a place where I believe that writing isn't just something writers do. It's part of who we are. We don't go to school to become writers. We don't write to be writers. We write because we are writers. (That being said, it's imperative that we do some actual writing now and then.)

It's a bit like the faith versus works discussion that Christians sometimes have. There is the saved-by-faith principle that stands well on its own. But the faith-without-works-is-dead principle is also valid. Some Christians tend to isolate one or the other and become either arrogantly holier-than-thou or a fault-finding legalist. Both concepts are solid as individual principles, but it takes the marriage of both to fully develop the life of a Christ-follower.

posted at: 11:18 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, May 05 2015

How does it end?

I ran across an unfinished fiction manuscript I had kept for a few years and am feeling conflicted about keeping it. Should I count it as a nice little writing exercise and let it go or should I attempt to salvage the basic idea and infuse new life into the story? I think I'll read it through once more and see what value it presents. Was my original ending concept too vague and weak? Would a reader turn the page to see how it ends? Will I?

posted at: 09:42 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Apr 23 2015

Breaking waves

These writing experts who advise writers to write in a big flow every single day and then edit later may certainly find that useful. It does not work for me. If I churn out 5000 words and then find later that I've written absolute guano, I'm not going to bother spending time to edit it. I'm going to get rid of it.

The true writing habit for me builds like an incoming tide, a collection of ideas that push in and fill available space until the wave breaks. I might spend days thinking, reading and researching, even jotting down phrases and scenarios, but when I do reach the point where I have to write fully or burst, the words come with substance.

If I find that I'm delaying for too long, the idea is either not right or the timing is not right. I make notes of the basics and put them in a file folder. That wave may return and break at some future date in a better form. If not, I'm free to work on the material that is pressing in right this moment.

posted at: 09:13 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Mar 04 2015

On plunking down

Artists in history can become so revered as cultural placeholders that they gain a new life by becoming characters in literature and film. Vincent van Gogh comes to mind. He's been featured and fictionalized through letters, poetry, music, film and TV. The combination of his achievements and the difficult journey of his own thoughts made him perfect for lifting out of history and plunking down into other stories imagined by other artists. Who would we happily plunk down into the middle of our works?

posted at: 12:07 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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: 10:20 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Quote Of The Moment
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature... Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
--Helen Keller
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