Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mixed Legacy

When a famous man died this month, the media referred to his “mixed legacy.”

Got me thinking. Which one of us, when truth is told, will not have a mixed legacy? Except for saints, who among us is all-virtuous? Or all-villainous?

Characters in fiction of yesteryear may carry these distinctions. I couldn’t write or even conjure such characters. I just never met one personally, and I need this personal connection as a hook to hang my characters’ jackets on. 

 Literary clichés aside, I’m already on record for abhorring black and white stances. It is challenging and frustrating at times, with advice to “up the stakes” and make one’s writing less aware of the gray tones mixture that is us.

My challenge, as I revise and work my way to the best stories I can, is to keep them interesting, illuminating, and allow all my characters their right to a mixed legacy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Worry-Willies

A dear friend just got some amazing news. Good news. Call it great news.

It didn’t take long to start worrying about everything that could go wrong. I told her she had just let the Worry-Willies in.

I know them well, those pesky worries. I think they are built into our DNA, and my ancestors got a double dose. 

It doesn't help that most of us misinterpret Murphy’s Law (“anything that can go wrong, eventually will”) as a law of physics that will apply to our personal journeys.
FYI- Murphy’s law is not a law, it’s an adage. It’s a cliché. We writers know better than to let clichés in, or do we?

So how to deal with the Worry-Willies? It’s not enough to “just say NO. “ Heavens, that’s another cliché.

In the past I have tackled those with reason. The odds are well in our favor, at least for most positive developments. But if reason were enough, we wouldn't be overwhelmed with worries to begin with, because worrying doesn't usually help matters.

I am open and eager for any and all personal insight, strategies, and wisdom. Goodness, I’ll even take recipes. Call it the Wash Away Worries Forum, and come-on down.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Andy’s Green Underpants

Yet another of the shattering factoids I've run into was that Andy Warhol always wore green underpants.
Who knew?
Who cares?

Obviously Andy did, or he wouldn't have done  it.
This made me think. What undisclosed facts do I store when I create fictional characters?

Some who write have extensive notes on every character, most of which do not make it explicitly to the page. I have never done this.

But there is one bit I do, most of the time. My characters have middle names. These middle names are not usually for the reader. They’re for me. They serve as a sort of secret layer. They tell of the family, or a quirky parent. Except for characters from Israel, where middle names are still uncommon, all my characters have middle names as well as last names.

I started with a factoid, and will leave you with another. Richard Gere’s middle name is Tiffany. See what I mean by evocative? 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Best Advice I Got*

*This week, anyway
          “Redeem those gift-cards.”

            It is a known fact that the US retail industry made 6.8 billion dollars last year from gift cards that no one redeemed. In fact, they repeat this feat every year, year after year, and the number of $ is growing.
Post holidays, post birthdays, post whatever it was-

            Redeem. You were meant to. This is commanded spending. Another way to say- it’s the all right kind of spending, because it’s wrong not to.

            Go ahead; don’t leave it in the store. Don’t let those retailers sell it to someone else. That sweater, that book, that whatchamacallit- they are yours already and looking forlorn without you.

            My pep talk for self moments ago. Just wanted to pass it on.

It’s a New Year. Let us make a dent in that 6.8 billion. Let us resolve to get it down to, say, 3.4 billion. We can do this.