Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Night Poetry

It's a Wednesday night, so why not use that as an excuse to share some poetry. This one is titled, "Where are the Poets?" from my Wooing of the Mind Collection.

Where are the Poets?
Where are the poets, the dancers
the dreamers who make things come true?
Where are the leaders, and believers
and the folks who know what to do?

Why are there quarrels
and debate
over things of nonsense
rooted in nothing but hate?

Why are there cracks in solemn foundations,
born forth from greed?
They sprout and spread persistently
like rats, or lice or weeds.

What are the lyrics
that makes a nation pause?
What notes must be strung together
for each of us to admit our flaws?

Where are the engineers, the doctors,
the carpenters with wood?
There are bridges to be built,
and underprivileged to be understood.

Call out the peacemakers
armed with diplomacy and grit.
Silence those who wage foolish war
with contracted guards, and arguments unfit.

Paint the future, sketch a dream,
sing out in fervent praise!
For the end is nowhere close to us,
so do not countdown the days.

We enjoy the setting sun,
and provide lights to darkened skies
so dare not fear for us,
tomorrow with certainty, we will again arise.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Space to Write

All I really need to write
I've been complaining about my writing space. I know this is a stupid thing to do. It's actually a form of procrastination which has nothing to do with writing. I know, people have different styles and preferences, and I understand the rituals some writers have to go through before they can actually get words from their head onto the page. It's still a delay tactic that I've been employing. Which is silly because it doesn't get anything written.

I recently moved and I find it easy to complain because I've condensed my workspace considerably so that others can have a greater living space. For family bliss it was the right thing to do. But I remain jealous because in my last place I had a real office. An entire room, with sliding glass doors that lead to an unkempt yard with beautiful views. A far cry from my present condition. But I'm romanticizing, because when I stop to think, with that office space I was probably the least productive I've ever been.

This makes me think of my prior writing environments. When I first moved to San Diego I had a sun room in Bankers Hill with a nice view of landing airplanes and the blossoming skyline. During the day it was too hot to work in there. At night, believe it or not, it often got too cold. When it rained, the windows leaked. We began to use it as a storage place as our family began to grow. But it's the room I first used an Apple computer and the first time I went online using one of the ubiquitous AOL CD-Rom's we got in the mail.

Before that, as a newlywed in Boston, my office was tucked behind a large dresser in our bedroom. A large laminate board resting on top of two file cabinets served as my desk. The old Smith Corona PWP3200 Word Processor sounded like machine gun fire that reverberated through the tiny apartment. But I penned several screenplays in that space and taped each rejection slip to the wall.

Before that was college, hunting and pecking on standard issue desks or sometimes on the floor in the hall of the dorm.

In high school, most of my school projects were by hand. I had wanted a Commodore 64 but instead had a very fancy Brother Word Processor that has a 16 character LCD screen and printed in dot matrix on thermal paper. This was for my important work, like my very first screenplay (and yes, the original has faded away).

I've had a lot of writing spaces I've never been happy with. That's because when I spent time trying to improve them, I wasn't writing. Even though it's still easy for me to bemoan the space I'm writing these very words in, the truth is, it doesn't matter. I have a laptop. I can write anywhere. And if I don't have power, or want to be out in the bright sun or in a darkened corner, I have pens and notebooks. (and now's the time to stock up on even more).

In the late spring I spent several nights at my Dad's kitchen table with just my laptop and it was perhaps the most productive, word count-wise, writing period I've ever experienced.

Sure, it's nice to have a space to spread out, like Mark Twain's billiard table. Add it's great to have a wall devoted to a whiteboard and another one or two devoted to books. These show nice to friends and validate that yes, I'm a writer. But there is something better. Actual writing. Finished manuscripts, published posts, bound books, Amazon rankings ... all more satisfying symbols to point toward.

As long as a writer has passion for the subject, they can write. Everything else is preference. Meeting those preference may be important but probably won't improve your writing. The thing that improves your writing best, it writing more often.

So crappy space be damned. Write right now! I just did.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Random Passage from "Three Blinks and a Sigh"

I've been slowly reviewing an early draft of my new fiction book. I'll use this space to periodically post a random passage from "Three Blinks and a Sigh". Some will be good, some I may just think are good and some might be dreadful examples of late night writing.

I'll post, you decide.

"He attempted to lift off his wet tee-shirt. His six-pack had long since receded into more of a smooth liter bottle. His stomach rolled slightly over his belt and clung like the edge of a homemade cake burdened with too much frosting. He shook his head, disappointed with the discovery. He unfastened his belt and waited for his pants to fall, but they did not. They remained clung to his hips and legs. He rolled his eyes and attempted to take off his shoes by stepping on the heel. A bad move if he wanted to preserve any sartorial decorum, but also foolhardy since he was wearing laced Bostonians. He lost his balance and fell hard to the floor."
-From Three Blinks and a Sigh, by Karl Bimshas 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shameless Plug

Here's a link with information on the latest journal series I've created: Perspectives; A 30 Day Journal to View Your World Differently

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Writer's Demise?

Based on a few thought provoking articles I've read recently there are two schools of thought on the publishing industry. One being that it's rapidly going in the direction of the recording industry, which one could interpret as more "freedom" for the artist. The other camp points to the fact that the majority of services that are making self publishing easily accessible to today's writer are run by huge corporations who, let's be honest, do not generally have the writer's interests as their central focus (unless by interest you mean money.) Either way lends itself to the premise that the fall of the publishing industry will be quickly followed by the elimination of the writer as a profession.

How could that be? In the democratized world of the Internet were everyone now has the ability to write and publish their own content, it makes the practice a little less special. Not only does it take the mystery out of the process, it also shrinks the cachet. Wearing a black turtleneck and sauntering into a party as a writer isn't so impressive to people anymore. In fact the caterer and valet probably have better blogs than you and probably write more often.

So does that make writing as a profession go away? No, but could it be less valuable since everyone has the capacity to do it? Maybe in the short term. There's actually a movement to halt some writing and publishing because there's too much out there and much of it isn't very good. The real rubbish is that belief. Telling a writer to stop writing akin to telling someone to stop breathing. Sure, they can try for a little while, but they turn purple and irritated very quickly. While it's true there's a good amount of junk out there, there always has been. I would guess the percentage is the same, though the numbers are larger. Let's go with the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the writing you're reading is probably mediocre or worse, and twenty percent is probably pretty good. (that may even hold true for this post).

What's going through transformation is the fall of the gatekeepers. In traditional publishing there are filters, from selected agents, to a cadre of specialty editors who move writers from good to great. Without those gatekeepers you see things unfiltered, rife with errors. You also come across genius and ingenuity that just a few years ago would have been squelched. It's like panning for gold. You could use some help deciding which stream to step into, but you have to get your own hands wet to find some treasure.

So how does the writer now stand out? I suspect the same way as they always have. Be a better writer. Work on the craft as well as your passion, everyday. Also remember, just because your writing is good there's no guarantee it will be read. The word is full of people, but many of them are still illiterate. That's why today's writer has to be professional. Not only in the discipline of writing, but also in the skills of marketing, negotiating, finance and public interactions. The writer shouldn't allow themselves to be mockable. Being a professional to everyone, particularly readers, will ensure the writer's profession remains an important role in our society.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Stink at Log Lines

I should probably rephrase that before it becomes a self-fufilling prophesy.

I have not yet excelled at log lines. You know, those TV guide descriptions of a show that tells you what it's all about. "It's about ____ who wants to ____ and _____ but _____ and ____."

Log lines are the writer's soundbite. Like the corporate elevator speech, they should be compelling enough to capture your attention but long enough to cover the subject. Similar to a woman's skirt...but I digress.

Log lines are the one pithy sentence that represent months, perhaps years of work and I continue to struggle with them. I recall when I was pursuing my screenwriting I had a reservoir of them for my spec scripts. I had to be prepared to pitch them to my agent at the time. His side of the conversation went something like, "Pass....Pass....Um, yeah Pass...Send me that one."

It's important to be able to synthesize your work into something succinct. Twitter helps with this discipline. If you can't fit it in on your mobile phone's screen, who's gonna be interested? Remember, the average American now has the attention span just a touch longer than a goldfish. ... You still with me?

Wow, you're above average. Thanks for hanging in there.

This business of crafting a log line has always given me pause in my fiction pursuits. With non-fiction the topic is pretty well laid out, usually in the title. That should be true for fiction too, but often there's real or imagined nuance that as a writer I feel compelled to protect. Also, for better or worse, my fiction tends to be slice of life character driven.

So what? You still gotta be able to answer the question, "What's it about?" with something intelligent and intriguing. I don't claim either with what I have so far for the small novel I'm currently working on. It's called "Three Blinks and a Sigh" and I penned the first draft as part of the 2009 NaNoWriMo. Now I've dusted it off, rolled up my sleeves and am editing it into something comprehensible.

What's it about? I still struggle with that question. Right now, it's about a divorced poet who unwittingly redefines himself under the influence of his ex-wife, his socialite friend and his alluringly addictive online muse.

Whatcha think?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Polishing Your Work

As a writer there are times I feel exceptionally satisfied with my work. However, this feeling is elusive when I'm editing my own prose. After I print a draft copy of my work and read it, my inner critic can't wait to begin to polish and refine. The writer in me mourns the inevitable loss of the muse driven words haphazardly captured the night before.

I've assembled some of the common areas I look to improve in my fiction writing. Yes, this can have the appearance of destroying the "artiste" in me, but it doesn't. It makes my writing stronger. I don't use these as steadfast rules. They are guidelines and prompts to fix areas I think suck when viewed in the daylight hours. I should probably use them in all my writing, but I don't. Sometimes being "correct" leaves your reader feeling like something is wrong. I ignore these rules in my dialogue, unless I have a character who is a grammatical prig. (So far I've never written one).

Nothing destroys my word count faster than doing a remove/replace with some of these words. I'd also argue that nothing improves my writing faster. Polishing makes your writing sparkle.

Be brave and be ruthless when cutting your words. A writer can always create new ones.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And So It Begins...Again

I'm returning to my old stomping ground and hi-jacking this blog to focus exclusively on my writing. Of course you can expect me to promote my non-fiction leadership books along the way, but the primary focus of this blog will be my creative fiction, poetry and prose. I'll share the things I'm working on as well as things I feel brave enough to dust off and breath some new life into.

I hope you'll find enjoyment in what I post, which will be mostly unvarnished and filled with late-night typographical and grammatical errors. I'm not going to let that bother me, and if it bothers you, this isn't going to be the place for you. I'm going to embrace the concept that good writing takes place in the margins.

It won't always be pretty, and it may not always inspire, but it should be interesting and fun. Join me.