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 August, 2002

Special Advice for Beginners

by Sandy Tritt


So you wanna be a writer when you grow up, huh? My first word of advice is don't. Don't become a writer. Not for money. Not for glory. Not for any reason unless you have a passion in your gut that is so strong that nothing can prevent you from writing. Unless you have stories in you that you must tell, and writing them is as important to you as eating and sleeping and breathing. And sometimes more important.

With that out of the way, I assume you have passion. So, what do you do with this life of yours to pave your way to the writing world? Read. Observe. Write. Live. Those are the four main ingredients to preparing yourself to write.

Read everything you can get your hands on. Read classic literature, read literary fiction, read commercial fiction. Read books on the craft of writing. Read books on writers. Read dictionaries. Read cereal boxes. Just read.

Observe. If there is one attribute a writer must have (other than his passion to write), it is the ability to notice details. What is it about the way she walks that captures your attention? Is it her clothes? Her figure? Her wiggle? What words could you use to describe the preacher's snorts between shouts? What do his eyes look like when he says "Hell"? What keeps his hair from falling into his eyes (or onto the floor)?

Look at your surroundings as though you're showing them to someone who's never been to your area. Notice the sounds you would hear if you listened. Notice the smells, the colors, the textures, everything you normally take for granted. Think of new ways to describe old things.

Write every day. It doesn't matter if it's a dozen words or a dozen pages, write. And don't limit your writing to your passion -- try writing poetry, fiction, journal entries, essays. Keep a journal or notebook with you at all times and jot your thoughts as you think them.

Live. Can you write about New York City if you've never been there? Probably -- if you've seen enough movies and read enough descriptions, you could write with integrity about a city you've never seen. However, you would not be able to add any new insight. For me, a small town girl, it was the vastness of the big city that took my breath away. And that most of the thousands of people all scurrying to some place would gladly pause a moment to give directions or advice.

Visit as many places as you possibly can, but also consider actually living in as many different types of places as you can. Yes, you can get superficial impressions of cultures during a seven-day vacation, but to truly understand a culture, you need to experience it more deeply. I've lived in small towns, large cities, suburbs, villages and deep in the country. I've lived in apartments, houses, complexes, dormitories, alone, with friends, with family. I've lived in Appalachia, the Midwest and the Deep South. And each of these have left an imprint (as well as an accent!).

Experience as many aspects of life as you can. Can you really understand the pain of heartbreak if you've never been loved and left? Can you understand the intensity of a mother's (or father's) love if you've never experienced it? Can you understand the thrill of surviving the bunny slope on down hill skis if you've never put your life at stake?

This isn't to say you must become an alcoholic to understand alcoholism (although it does help) or a bank robber to understand a thief. What it does mean is that writers need to take more chances than the average Joe, need to experience more of life in order to write more knowledgeably. It also means that writers must have empathy to understand people and situations beyond their personal experience.

What kind of job should you hold while waiting to publish? Well, many successful writers have had successful careers in business, law, medicine, education or any area you can think of before becoming published. However, I think it is best if you don't get too comfortable in another career, if you work at something you don't like and change jobs often. This way, you will never forget your passion for writing or your drive to publish. (Just don't go into debt. Live humbly and within your means, because once you sign that car loan, you are obligated to your 8-5 job). Some suggestions:

  • Work with people from diverse backgrounds, such as you can meet in airports, resorts, hotels and restaurants. These give you plenty of characters to draw on.
  • Work physically. Manual work doesn't occupy your mind. I do some of my best creative thinking while washing dishes by hand and mopping floors.
  • Work where you have free time to write, such as night desk clerk, night guard at a business, bowling alley clerk (on the slow shift), car lot attendant, and so on.

I am fond of saying that there are two aspects to writing -- the craft and the art. The craft is that which can be learned -- grammar, using active voice, the basics of dialogue and so forth. The art is the God-given talent that a writer is either blessed with or isn't. It is the ability to "see" the details in a setting and relay that in interesting, unique words to make the reader feel the location. It is the ability to understand human nature and empathize with even the most dastardly villain. If you have that talent, and if you have that passion to write no matter what the odds, you are a writer. And nobody can take that away from you.

(c) copyright 1999 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved, except for those listed here. August be reproduced for educational purposes (such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt at tritt@wvadventures.net for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.

   Keep writing!

Sandy Tritt

Inspiration for Writers tritt@wvadventures.net


Critiquing Special

  • First ten pages free, and, for a limited time, all additional pages at $2.75 per page (regular price, $3.50 per page).  Just mention Publishing New Writers  Newsletter (August, 2002).
  • Critiques by Sandy Tritt
  • Unlike most editors, I consider my role to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other writers.
  • Treat you with respect and compassion. All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.
  • Mark your manuscript, correcting grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where appropriate, line-by-line.
  • Highlight areas that are especially well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.
  • Where appropriate, offer suggestions for plot development, character development or other areas that could be strengthened.
  • Return a two-to-four page written analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting, characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks, etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.
  • If appropriate, recommend reading or resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.
  • Answer any questions you August have via email.
  • Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.

For Sandy's success stories, see http://tritt.wirefire.com/Manuscript_Critique.html

Write Sandy at tritt@wvadventures.net

(See Sandy's article above.)


Lynette's creative Writing Website

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Writing St. Nick's

by Jim Colombo

I am fifty-six years old and have spent the last three years writing St. Nick's Outlaws. I felt overwhelmed and at times possessed to write this novel. It was good therapy because it opened holes in my past and brought closure to restless spirits that have roamed my sub conscience for years.

It is difficult for me to write a biography. If you read St. Nick's, you will know me better than any biography I can write.

I began writing when I was nineteen. It helped me find myself and some of life's answers. Writing is a joy like an experienced marathon runner. There is reward to the discipline.

There is a discovery when going though the exercise of writing. I have leaned things about myself, created characters, and chapters I never planned in the outlines. Like Alice in Wonderland, each day I jump into the hollow of a tree and return to the world and characters that I have created. It is a world that I create and control It is one of the most gratifying experiences I have had.


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Read...   Two-bit Dancing

Life's an onion. Not a new concept—Usually, what we reveal to others about ourselves adds flavor, distinction…making us appear just a bit more exciting. Assume for a moment, that someone is peeling your life apart, onion layer by onion layer. Are you still adding flavor? Distinction? Is at the heart of the onion really a heart? Is it, then, the onion crying — or the one who’s peeling…?
Angela Louie, mother of a teenager and a disabled child, is entering a fine hotel while fidgeting with the business card of an escort service — lapse of common sense? Hanson Lee Ascano is a computer genius working for a prestigious firm — he also dances in an exotic night club a few nights each week. Tom Lawson is taking on what should be a routine investigation to reunite a parent with his children — instead, it rouses monsters.

For more info, visit... http://www.twobitdancing.com/

About the Author

Evelyn Schneider was born and raised in Germany. She has written "almost anything from plant-care tags to television sitcoms." She lives in San Diego, California.
She says, Two-bit Dancing was inspired by a television talk show, and laughs. Then, serious: "The true inspiration came many years ago while visiting a police fair. I was a teenager then and should have been impressed by the latest crime-fighting technology. But what remained in my soul where the images of cubicles upon cubicles filled with photographs of children -- not victims of some far-away war but sons and daughters of modern families: burnt, starved, locked away.


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Publishing New Writers,

August, 2002 (no.308)

Editor Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.  Fax (847) 428-8974.

Submissions and comments to cookcomm@gte.net. Links are welcome.

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The Plight of a Refugee Poet

by Rais Neza Boneza

There is nothing more difficult than writing in the troubled areas of EAST AFRICA. Moreover, when you are 23 years old ,a refugee, a victim of war ,have lost relatives ,parents and brothers in political problems, tribal upheavals are greatly enhanced.

Alone surviving in middle of hatred and madness, far from your home; a writer is vulnerable to obstacles never even imagined by those who have the peace and tranquility of a homeland without chaos and war.

Since the inception of war in my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, I have been shuffled from one neighbouring country to the next, most of which Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda are at loggerheads with my native land.

You can imagine, then, how difficult it is for an artist, a writer, or a journalist to freely and creatively ply his craft.

I am not being nationalistic, but I know what I am talking about, especially when I, myself, have been affected from near or from far by that madness, inhumanity, and cynicism of this African thirst for war in my region: the GREAT LAKES (East Africa).

When a writer has witnessed such cruelties as the burial of a live woman alive, rapes, massacres of babies in hospitals, he is forced by his conscience to reveal these atrocities in writing. By this he shares with the world his memories of brutality that will haunt his life in perpetuity. Therefore, I am compelled to write about all the situations I experience in my society.

As a refugee in a land which is involved in external struggles, I personally know many people who have perished in these struggles. But I cannot always truly write concerning what is going on and certainly I can not always freely write about it for reasons of security. I live in cultural and intellectual embargo, a situation where no one can publish your work, you are used without being paid for your work. Your manuscripts are stolen and another man’s name appears on a published book, the contents of which are clearly your own.

Since the September 11th suicide attacks in the United States, many leaders in the Third World, especially in Africa ,have legitimated their dubious actions and totalitarian tendencies by suppressing their opponents under the guise of anti-terrorist laws. No one can write the real truth, fearing laws that suppress freedom of speech. In my case it is more dangerous because I have that identity “Refugee from a hostile country.” According to the unofficial but real, a refugee is a non-entity in society. He cannot have work, no rights, and most of the time he is not even considered a human being. Every now and then information surfaces about the sudden disappearance, or even assassination of a refugee. The situation is confused; the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) is unable to protect those whose cares they are pledged to uphold. Even minimum security for refugees is not seen. Many refugees have been killed while under the protection of the UNHCR.

Now, imagine my own situation, no job, only writing over and over, waiting and waiting for an opportunity that may never materialise, sometimes without many meals, living the life of a beggar. Surely I am poor and my situation is getting worse by the day. I live under tensions, in a world where people do not care about the problems of others. But I cannot keep quiet when with me and near me there is misery, injustice, violence and daily increase of crime. All these situations affect my very being, my emotions, my reason, and my creativity.

I have to write. I know however, I cannot live by my pen, which is my deepest desire. I do, though, keep on writing and wait patiently for the day when my star will reach its ascendancy.

All that I have shared with you gives me the strength to keep on singing my song in poetic expression. For me, writing brings me to the summit of satisfaction that I reach by my creativity, my words.

The inks of my pen some people fear and try to repress. I have to spread truth, ideas of peace, reconciliation, understanding, tolerance, justice and love among people. In my poverty my only tool is the richness of language expressed in written form.

Sharing experiences and discussing with other writers our work, I take on a renewed vigour, more objectivity in my struggle for peace, more hope which nibs my ultimate victory.

I assure you in my weakness, my pen is powerful. I am in pain, troubled by the uncertainties of my daily life, but I keep up my courage. I will not let hopelessness overcome me.

I want to see the fruit of my works; the Bible said that the tree which is not productive would be thrown into fire. Today, I am near a certain fire (Poverty), but I know, even if my rights as a human being have been sidelined; the solution is not to give up because my greatest mission in life is to continue writing.

It's not that because I write I know all things, but because in writing I can reduce ignorance and promote truth, justice and peace. “Ars Longa; Vita Brevis”, life is brief but art is everlasting.

                   By  Rais Neza Boneza.    

Writing Therapy

Cost: $25.00

Instructor Name: Lynette Rees [Dip. Couns]

Instructor Email: peaceful_writer@yahoo.com

Url: http://class.universalclass.com/writingtherapy

What is Writing Therapy?

Writing Therapy is a way of connecting with your emotions via pen and paper, or the keyboard. I devised this course after studying the research of James W Pennebaker, Head of Psychology, University of Texas. Pennebaker's research shows that writing helps to lift the mood of depressed people. He also found that students who wrote about how they were feeling coped better with their exams.

Class Format

I have devised 9 lessons in all - taking you from what writing therapy is to covering the basic emotions we feel such as anger, grief, love, fear etc. I've also added a lesson on dreams and how to interpret yours, and a bonus lesson on creative writing. Each lesson has an appropriate assignment to match the lesson's content.

Write your way to emotional health!


Writerly Websites...


This is Dianne Ochiltree's site for children, parents, teachers and writers for young readers. Dianne is an author of books for young readers (birth to teenage)

and she is also a children's book reviewer. She's been writing professionally for over 25 years---about 18 years in public relations/advertising/marketing and the last 7 years as a children's writer. Dianne has two books published to date, with Scholastic and with Simon & Schuster.

http://tritt.wirefire.com The Inspiration for Writers website offers help and encouragement to writers of all levels. Tips and Techniques give practical advice about frequent writing blunders. The Writer's Prayer, inspirational quotes, and essays about the writing life add insight and inspiration. The Fiction Showcase offers short stories for the reader's enjoyment. And, for those serious about improving their writing skills, manuscript critiques and coaching services are available. Visit http://tritt.wirefire.com today!










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