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Point of View
by Sandy Tritt
(continued from last month)
PERSON, CONTROLLED CONSCIOUSNESS, GARY’S VIEWPOINT:
Gary scooted deeper under the Cadillac and loosened the drain plug.
Heavy oil clumped out in globs, some splashing on his already-stained
shirt. He scowled. Surely, people could take better care of their cars.
Something kicked at his foot. Probably the new kid again. He couldn’t do
anything without asking questions. Gary set the plug aside and rolled
from beneath the car.
His brother Ray waited. “We gotta talk.”
Gary swiped at the sweat on his forehead. It wasn’t like Ray to
interrupt him at work. “I get off at three.”
Gary stood and wiped his hands on an oily rag. “What’s up?”
He followed Ray outside and toward town. “What did the doctor say about
“He put her in the hospital.”
Colorful leaves swirled around their ankles, the drier ones crunching
under their heavy steps. Gary kicked them out of his way. “Why?”
“He got the tests back.”
A young mother, her sweater flapping in the wind, pushed a baby carriage
over the uneven sidewalk with one hand and pulled a stubborn toddler
with the other. Ray stepped into the street to let her pass.
“What did the doctor say?” Gary repeated.
“She’s got cancer.”
Gary stopped walking. “Cancer?”
Ray slowed down until Gary caught up. “Something about a mass in her
Gary’s hand automatically went to his own head. He looked at Ray,
waiting for more, waiting for reassurance that it would be all right.
But Ray was silent.
“Does she need surgery? Does she have to take chemo? Or radiation?”
“He says there ain’t nothing they can do. He says it’s too late.”
“Too late? Too late for what?”
“Dr. Brown says . . .” Ray rubbed his head. “He says it’s too late. He
says she ain’t coming home.”
They walked slower, silently, past the library and into the park. Pre-schoolers
played on the swings and slide, laughing and shouting. Gary leaned
against an oak tree, his dirty gray jumpsuit blending into the trunk. He
had always thought of his mother as being like a tree, strong and
immovable. “What’re we gonna do?” he said.
Gary took a new pack of Marlboros from his pocket and tapped it against
his palm. “The boys.”
“I guess we gotta pick them up from school and fix them something to
“I don’t mean now,” Gary said, opening the cigarettes. “Until they’re
grown. Who’ll take care of them?”
Gary stared at his older brother. The dull, distant look in Ray’s copper
eyes worried him. “You okay?”
Ray scratched the five-day-old stubble on his chin. “They made a
mistake. We just gotta find Dad and get this all straightened out. Dad
will know what to do.”
Gary lit a cigarette and slowly exhaled. Their father wasn’t coming
home. He knew it. Ray knew it. And now their mother. A cold wind blew
from the north and he shivered. It would be a long winter.
(continued next month)
(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. September 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
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
Setting up a Writer's Website
by Leslie J. Weddell
A year or so ago, trying to build
a website without professional help was daunting to say the least. But
the technology is here right now to enable you to do just that. One of
the very best website builders that I have found on the Internet is
Their online state-of-the art software is user friendly and simple to
use, and there is nothing to download. I am not a ‘techno’ and never
will be, but I have managed to build my own website using their tools.
They hold your hand (so to speak) all the way through the simple process
of building your site.
Building your own website at Free Webs.com is a great way to get
started. Later, if you want to pay for a website of your own – then you
can simply upgrade your existing site. This means you can have your own
domain and a shorter address. Handy if you want to run a business from
it, but I see no ‘status-loss’ in having a free website address for your
own personal use.
As an example of building your own website, simply go to mine and see
how I’ve laid it out. You don’t have to copy mine of course, although
you are welcome to do so if you wish. And there is an abundance of
‘bells and whistles’ if you wish to use any of them!
The other good thing I found about Free Web is that you don’t have to
panic if you make a mistake, because unless you press ‘delete’ your work
will still be there when you log back onto the website.
Just take your time in reading the simple instructions, and if you mess
up, look at the left column and you will find the answer to fix it.
So there you have it. What are you waiting for? Go build your own
Just click the link; http://www.Freewebs.com
My website address is;
- Leslie J. Weddell
Critiques by Sandy
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
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
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
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 have via
Provide my telephone number for a
personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at
(See Sandy's article
What is Fiction in Social Work and
Fiction as Social Work? Is There
Room for A Writer?
Dr. Valerie Bradley-Holliday
Prior to beginning, a working definition of social work needs to be
established. According to the International Federation of Social
The social work profession promotes social
change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and
liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilizing theories of human
behavior and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where
people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and
social justice are fundamental to social work. (IFSW, 2000).
Social work, then, covers a lot of ground but is typically known for
pragmatism and immediacy. The media often maligns social workers but
this article is written to address social work from the perspective of
writing and not to cajole or force an attitude about the profession
itself. Specifically, this article addresses to aspects of writing:
fiction in social work and fiction as social work.
Fiction in Social Work
Fiction in the field of social work has been used for a number of
years, especially in the areas of teaching, self-help and group work.
Although social workers are better known for writing reports, case notes
and grants, social workers themselves have been taught using
vignettes—fictionalized accounts of realistic situations. With the ever
increasing strictness of regulations on privacy (refer to Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), in teaching
it is easier, safer and legal to provide realistic, fictionalized
accounts to teach issues regarding the unlimited duties of a social
worker, such as, advocate, educator, guide, liaison, advisor, community
worker, counselor, group facilitator, planner, case manager and
administrator. In social work education, "one innovative educational
method of particular relevance to social work
educators is the incorporation of contemporary fiction and non-fiction
literature into social justice and human behavior courses (Vigianni,
Charlesworth, Hutchison, Faria, 2005). In order to be effective, social
work has to empower clients.
Sself-help has been a burgeoning area for book writers. Most
social workers’ consider self-help to be empowerment that is
accomplished through the use of bibliotherapy in their clinical
practice. According to PsychOptions (2001) "bibliotherapy refers to book
therapy or a list of books that may be helpful in understanding a newly
developed problem, a diagnosis, or suggested treatment . . . and the
more you understand, the better you will be able to place your problem
in perspective and inquire about or discuss your concerns with mental
and medical health practitioners, as well as concerned family members."
For example, work books are available for clients to use that combine
accounts of situations in which they respond with reflection and writing
with respect to their own experience and how they would respond given
the same particular situation. Thus, in a pseudo journaling fashion,
even clients who would not identify themselves as writers are able to
work through problems in their past and present lived experience with
the help of fictionalized stories and situations in an organized guiding
tool. An example of a guiding tool is Dr. Phillip C. McGraw’s ("Dr.
Phil") The Life Strategies Workbook: Exercises and Self-Tests to Help
You Change Your Life. Self-help is still a viable area within which to
write. Jean Marie Stine, an author, writes how-to books on writing
self-help books. Promoting individual change can sometimes be isolating.
Staving off isolation warrants an approach that promotes individual
change through the collection and synthesis of information with others
in group work. Group work utilizing fiction also serves as a powerful
Group work provides a wider scope of experience with
fictionalized accounts to teach such subjects such as ethics, crisis
work or clinical counseling to emphasize there are often no "right"
answers. Fictionalized, but realistic situations help social workers in
training to boost their critical thinking skills where they will
eventually be called to face challenges in the field that require them
to work through situations in "real" time ("think on their feet"). Other
less threatening situations are where fictionalized accounts are given
and the groups have to help the client through the situation. In this
situation, students often learn more about themselves as well. In
extreme cases, the students’ judgments come out. Used with clients to
promote individual change, group interventions that utilize literary
works can be skill based, culturally specific and socially contextual.
Although the use of bibliotherapy or literary based group work requires
a professional facilitator, the literature that is utilized does not.
For example, look at Scott McPherson’s book, Marvin’s Room, which
deals with the interactions of family members around the needs of an
elderly father and his chronically ill, care giving daughter.
McPherson’s fictionalized story speaks to chronic illness and pain,
depression, dementia, elder rights and caregiving. In children’s
literature, an area that needs further exploration and may provide
opportunities to write is children’s view of dementia "as a plot and
character device and contemporary fiction" which could be used by
"social-work practitioners, educationalists and voluntary-sector support
or self-help groups working in dementia care and in older people's
services" (Manthorpe, 2005).. This takes us into the widening world of
fiction as Social Work.
Fiction as Social Work
A less explored area is fiction as social work! The most popular is
personal journaling. How many people have been pulled out of a mire of
despair through the use of writing out their past, present and future
experiences, fears and aspirations? Currently, the most famous person is
Tyler Perry who reached great heights from the depths of homelessness.
Perry has developed powerful, moving, evangelistic plays based on the
fictionalized people he knew in the past. His journal based play have
healed his, as well as, others’ hearts and souls.
Use of narrative based techniques as interventions with children and
adults and to deal with serious issues, such as dying and death, are
very old. The most ancient examples of fiction as social work is so
common place that its power is often overlooked—folklore. The archetypes
presented in folklore, from African village folktales to urban legends,
reflect the best of what we want to be, the worst we want to avoid or
just poke fun at our own human foibles. As in the past, the biggest
purpose of fiction in social work is to deal with ambiguity in human
interactions, societal issues and environmental events. Believability
and credibility in realistic, but fictionalized stories, allow people to
interpret and analyze the impact of human interactions, societal issues
and environmental events in a personalized way. Future implications for
fiction in social work may be the use of Blogs. Blogs, written by the
web site owner or several users, is short for web logs that use a dated
log format for regular input of new information.
Blogs have brought fiction as social work into a new age. People
write about their own personal stories or fictionalized stories of
others with respect to human interactions, societal issues and
environmental events. The Blog allows for an amalgamation of
communication from others with their own personalized fiction, which may
have the potential to be life altering in positive ways. The main issue
with Blogs is property rights seem to be blurred emphasizing greater
care on the part of the Blog author(s) to make sure that what they write
remains their own intellectual property but this discussion is for a
© Valerie Bradley-Holliday, Ph.D.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs
License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.5/
or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San
Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
United States Department
of Health and Human Services. Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act of 1996. Retrieved August 5, 2005 from
of Social Workers (2004). General information about IFSW.
Retrieved August 5, 2005 from IFSW Organization Web site at http://www.ifsw.org/Info/1.info.html
Manthorpe, J. (2005). A
child's eye view: Dementia in children's literature. United Kingdom:
Oxford University Press.
McGraw, P. C. (2001).
The Life Strategies Workbook: Exercises and Self-Tests to Help You
Change Your Life. New York: Hyperion
Bibliotherapy. Retrieved August 5, 2005 from http://www.psychoptions.com/bibliotherapy.htm.
McPherson, S. (1998).
Marvin’s Room. New York: Penguin Books.
Created You: A Guide to Temperament Therapy
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