Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Greatest Awards

One of those odd facts that chimed my bells this morning was  that at the 1900 Paris Olympics winners were awarded paintings instead of medals.

This got me thinking of what award I would most like, were I to win one for, er, anything.

A box of chocolates for best dessert at a party? Hardly.

A gold necklace for best-dressed at a garden party? Nah. And I’m not a fashionista or someone you’d find at a garden without my weeding gloves.

A certificate of merit for a well-written book?

 Wait a minute- it’s called a fan letter. I just got one of these. They are *THE BEST.*

So enjoy the chocolates, paintings, and medals. A reader’s appreciation is the best award for me.

And if you don’t mind, I’ll borrow the necklace now and then.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I marvel at the persistence required to write. To complete a manuscript. To revise and revise. To submit and re-submit.

All this, against the odds it will be picked up for publication. Then the odds that if it is, the book will succeed in the market place.

 I think about dedication.

The most worthwhile moments of my life involved dedication. I am not speaking of the most fun moments, or the most memorable. I am speaking of what turned out to have long lasting value.

I read that J. S. Bach once walked four hundred and twenty miles to see a performance by a composer he idolized, Buxtehude. What dedication.
Was it a great performance? I don’t know. But the act of seeking it tells of the dedication that makes someone like Bach.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kvetching about Kvetching

Years ago I gave my mother a hand-painted mug that said NO KVETCHING.
My mother is no longer with us, but the mug is on our kitchen counter.

No Kvetching. What was I thinking?!?

At a recent writerly event, a marketing-type admonished the audience not to be negative in public. Chin up, life is wonderful and I’m doing wonderfully wonderful. This is what you’re to put out. Save the complaining for private conversations not taped by the FBI, and the angst, for your dark fiction. If you don’t write dark fiction, put it in your diary. But make sure the diary is one of those with a lock on it.

And here I was, with my kvetchy and angsty BLOG. Really.

What agent will want to work with that girl? Which crazy editor will ever take on a back ‘n forth with this complaining camper? And where are the readers who will invest twelve minutes or twelve dollars on a negative nagging ninny?

Confession: at the end of the day, in the deep recesses of my soul, I am a “G-d’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world” person. But that’s at the end of the day, and at the end of my stories. During the day is kvetching-time.

My ancestors were not of the "if you can't say something nice, say nothing at all" school. Rather, my grandma told me that if someone only ever says nice things, their credibility should be suspect. With this legacy, you can understand the tradition of Kvetch.
If I can’t offer authenticity in my blog, I really don’t know why anyone would read it. Wait, is anyone out there?

Go ahead, kvetch to me, honey. You’ll feel better, I will feel better, and in the end it’ll work out just as it should.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

VOICE, or- Why Can’t We Hear It?

There are many articles on Voice in writing. PhD and graduate theses written on this subject define and analyze. Editors often say they look for “strong and distinctive voice.” Voice trumps everything: misspelling, typos, even a plot that isn’t all there. These can be fixed in revision. Characters can be made deeper and more complex. Descriptions can be added. A writer can change all the passive construction this one just heaped on here.

But not a lack of this thing we call, here I’ll shout it, VOICE.

The other night I heard my late grandmother’s voice saying, in her distinct Yiddish accent, “Vat is dis ting they call voice? Vy dey fuss so much about it? Can you tell it to me plain?”
And still half asleep, I thought I had one of those perfect illuminative distillations. I heard myself answer her.
Voice is the personality of the narration.”
Nice going, I thought. Gotta write it down somewhere. Wake up and  find your pencil.
But grandmother was not so impressed. “Vat poisonality? You have poisonality, maydaleh. Dis narr—vat you call it, it is not a poisonality.”
So I’m still in search for a clear and simple way to say it. No highfaluting verbiage. Writing about writing can get fancy.
But at least I heard my grandma’s voice.