Editor’s Corner 101.37

All Good Things….

There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. …Ellen Goodman Scribe smallStories, films, lives – all things come to a close. Sometimes neatly, sometimes not. And so, after nine months, I am bringing the Editor’s Corner to what I hope is a neat and graceful end. Over the past thirty-seven weeks, we have covered topic both minute and sweeping, and yet, in the end, I find it fitting to return to the beginning. To our words. I originally wrote the following back in March of this year as a guest piece for Karen Sanderson’s blog. I now amend, update, and present it to you as my parting thoughts. My thanks to Niamh and Plum Tree for this forum, and to all who have traveled with me on this writer’s journey. Enjoy.

P1010342

You Are Your Words We humans are creatures of custom. It frames our existence and structures our lives. In the course of my daily custom, once I begin to feel the dream-webs lift from my mind, I brew a fresh pot of tea, play with the kittens, and allow my thoughts to mosey along paths both cosmological and mundane, reasoned and stochastic. The other day, I started thinking about words. Magical, mystical, wickedly creative, oh, the glorious power of words and we who wield them. “In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God.” This is not just a Judeo-Christian notion. The Popol Vuh – Mayan Book of Creation – speaks of how Sovereign Plumed Serpent (who later became Quetzlcoatl) and Heart of Sky came together at the beginning of time:

“…And then came his [Heart of Sky’s] word, he came to Sovereign Plumed Serpent, here in the blackness, in the early dawn…. they joined their words, their thoughts….And then the earth arose because of them, it was simply their word that brought it forth….”

Quetzlcoatl - Vampire Princess

Quetzlcoatl by Vampire Princess

Now this notion (naturally) draws me down a whimsically syllogistic rabbit hole: The Word is divine; the divine create with words. Writers create with words; writers are divine. Hey, makes sense to me. Ok, we writers may not be divine, but we do cloak ourselves in Creator’s motley as comfortably as jeans and broadcloth. Mind blowing for gods to shape the universe in the round of a word, yet that’s what we do every day. Out of the chaos of random thought, the void of the blank page, we create whole worlds and the beings who live in them. Earthsea, Darkover, Yoknapatawpha County, OZ and East Egg, Wonderland and Wessex – the list of literary terrae nova are legion. Even places we think we know, like Richard Wright’s Chicago or Edith Wharton’s New York, are, in authorial hands, transformed into alien landscapes ripe for exploration.

Wizard of Earthsea - Torture Device

Wizard of Earthsea by Torture Device

And so we string one word after another, counting our hours from phrase to sentence to paragraph to tome. We weave tales of myth and wonder and supernal genesis. For words are creative. With them we name things and by naming them bring them into being. They are active, breathing life into those named things, making them romp and fly and do handsprings through the treetops. They are descriptive, coloring and shaping the world that it might be recognized and marveled at in all its beauty and strangeness. And that is without even touching upon the mind and heart, the emotional power of words. The power that reaches out across our inherent aloneness and makes people feel and think and remember, even change their lives. For words are lash and cradle, warming spark and unholy conflagration. They heal and nurture, wound and kill. Complex stuff. God stuff.

Sue Blackwell book sculpture

Sue Blackwell book sculpture

Which brings me to a story. More memoir than fancy (though there are tangential Dragons); just a little something I thought I’d share. Two years ago, my book, The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook, was making its way into print. In anticipation of this event, my publisher invited me to the Book Expo of America in New York. Sign some ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies), generate book buzz, and spend two days in Gotham with all stripe of book folk – authors, publishers, agents, librarians. Commercialism be damned, for a writer, what could be more delicious? Not to mention the swag! A convention neophyte, I was quite unprepared for the booty laid out like Smaug’s hoard, just there for the taking. From simple promotional bookmarks and house totes, to signed copies of the year’s (hopefully) hottest titles, one was limited only by one’s interests, greed, and in the case of acquiring a major author’s John (or Jane) Hancock, no small amount of stamina. Even though I was hobbling about on a broken leg at the time, I returned home with several bags – now weekly filled with groceries – and a far from shabby passel of books. For all that, my favorite BEA keepsake was from the folks at the American Heritage Dictionary of English Language: a modest white 6” x 4” oval magnet, adorned in black Arial with the deceptively simple gnome: You Are Your Words.

URYourWords

Every morning since, I rub the sleep from my eyes and focus on this reminder of how I am defined by the words in my life. They are my tools, my paint and canvas, soil and seeds. I shape them, play with them, with luck make them croon like an armadillo and pirouette on the wings of a damselfly. They represent me to the world, my ideas and dreams. Whether tripping across page or tongue, they have consequences, so I must choose them with care. They are my children sent into the world, and I am responsible for them, in all their beauty or ugliness.

I am my words; my words are me. As logophile, whimsical scribe, exacting editor, wielder of words. As a writer. I give you my word. 1219782482yLCfpg

Happy Holidays, my friends. Write well.

The Last Edition of the Editor’s Corner To Go To the Archives Click On the Highlighted “Editor’s Corner”

I will try to respond to messages as I am able. At times it may be in the form of a post or a direct email response. Guests who post, I will forward messages addressed to them. It is up to them how they decide to correspond.   — Shawn MacKENZIE – MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest

‘A’ to ‘Z’ Writing Prompt Challenge #3

The Writing Prompt Challenge that I recreated was found on a fellow blog mates Post. I modified the Challenge. I call it: The ‘A’ to ‘Z’ Writing Prompt Challenge #1 – ‘A dark and stormy night…’ A new phrase will appear every Monday with a new #. One is to write a [Story, Poem, Essay, etc…] using the prompt as the beginning of the first sentence and each following sentence is to begin with the next letter of the alphabet.’B’ and ‘C’ and so on. I hope you will find this a fun Challenge and a Good Time Playing with the alphabet and awakening the creative in all of us. 'a' to 'z' writing prompt poster #3 template The Third of The ‘A’ to ‘Z’ Writing Prompt Challenge #3 – ‘After the end…’ will appear on Mondays. Posted in your email, for those who receive when I have posted, early Monday @2:05AM EDT East Coast USA. The Challenge will close Midnight on Sunday Evening. Then the next Challenge will be Posted a short time after at the above time.

RELAX. LET INSPIRATION FLOW. HAVE FUN.

Remember to leave the LINK to this Post at bottom of Your Post & in the Comment Section of this Post. It is in order for me to be able to find your Post. Thank you, jk

‘A’ to ‘Z’ Writing Challenge #2 – “Another thing I remember…”

‘A’ to ‘Z’ Writing Challenge #2

“Another thing I remember…”

'a' to 'z' writing prompt poster

ANOTHER THING I REMEMBER

Another thing I remember
Beginning when I was young
Children should be seen
Don’t make a sound
Everything must be calm
Forget about play
Go to your room
Heard that phrase often
I was silent as a mouse
Just ask my cat
Kipper was my friend
Loved me most of all
Made me feel noticed
No one gave me time
One day she went away
Playing in Heaven now
Quietly I cried missing her
Running away came to mind
Staying with my family NEVER
Tortured was what I felt
Unless I could hide
Vultures surrounded me
Waiting for their pickings
X-rays for broken bones
Yet there was no concern
Zoning out was the only answer

by Jennifer Kiley
@occultguardian
‘the secret keeper’

‘A’ to ‘Z’ Writing Prompt Challenge #2 – “Another thing I remember…”

‘A’ to ‘Z’ Writing Prompt Challenge #2: “Another Thing I Remember…”

Beginning something new. 

The Writing Prompt Challenge I modified from a fellow blog mates Post, is titled: The ‘A’ to ‘Z’ Writing Prompt Challenge. It began with the #1 Challenge Phrase being: ‘A dark and stormy night…’ A New Phrase will begin with the letter ‘A’ and appear every Monday with a new #. One is to write a [Story, Poem, Essay, etc…Writers Choice] using the prompt as the beginning of the first sentence or line and each one following is to begin with the next letter of the alphabet, ‘B’ and ‘C’ until you reach the letter ‘Z’ or at least attempt to reach ‘Z’. If you are stumped or have finished then stop. The instructions will be placed at the top of each Writing Prompt Challenge. They are also on the Page “WRITING CHALLENGE” at the top of ‘the secret keeper’ blog in white lettering on the far right in the second row.

The following week after a Challenge I will Repost the CHOICE OF THE WEEK on my blog ‘the secret keeper’ after I have read through all the submissions. In order for me to locate your submissions, please leave a PING in the Comment Section of your ‘A’ to ‘Z’ Post or a LINK in the Comment Section with the Instructions in this POST on ‘the secret keeper’. Do whichever is easiest for you. Just be sure I can find your submissions. I hope you will find this a fun Challenge and have a Good Time Playing with the alphabet, awakening the creative in all of us.

The Challenge for the week of Monday June 29th 2015 is: ‘A’ to ‘Z’ Writing Prompt Challenge #2 – “Another thing I remember…” It will appear on ‘the secret keeper’ Monday June 29th 2015 @2:03AM EDT East Coast USA & if you are a follower of ‘the secret keeper’ it will be posted in your email that same day. The Challenge will close Midnight on the following Sunday Evening. The next Challenge will then be Posted on Monday @2:03AM EDT East Coast USA.

I will be participating, posting my submissions separate from the Instruction Page. It will be a Challenge for us all in many different ways.

'a' to 'z' writing prompt poster

RELAX. Let the ideas FLOW. Most of all have a GOOD TIME.

THE CHALLENGE:  ‘A’ to ‘Z’ Writing Prompt Challenge #2 – “Another thing I remember…”

Jennifer Kiley
the secret keeper

PS. Be sure to put the LINK to this POST somewhere toward the bottom of your own POST to each Challenge.

Perfecto!

A to Z Writing Challenge #1: A Dark & Stormy Night…

the secret keeper:

A to Z Writing Challenge #1: “A dark and stormy night…”
CHOICE WRITER OF THE WEEK is Shawn MacKenzie

Her story is written with a haunting Gothic flavor. Holding us inside the mystery.
And  Shawn succeeds grandly using the alphabet from A to Z with perfection.

To read the complete story go to Shawn’s Original Post of A to Z Writing Challenge #1.
The title and her name are the Link: “A Dark and Stormy Night…” by Shawn MacKenzie

THE CHOICE WRITER OF THE WEEK is Shawn MacKenzie

Originally posted on MacKENZIE's Dragon's Nest:

Here is my rather Gothic take on the A-Z Challenge #1:

A dark and stormy night hung over the moor like an Elsinor arras. Boughs bent near breaking, the trees whipped and dipped in a wind-tossed tarantella. Crazy for man or beast to be out in a night like this!

Driving down a hedge-lined road, ‘crazy’ Zandra searched of refuge from the torrential downpour. Each cottage she passed was locked tight and empty, as if the inhabitants had long since fled to higher ground. Far across a field, lights flickered through unshuttered windows, beckoning.stormy night

“Granville Grange” read the carved plaque to the right of the oaken door. Her hand grasped the massive brass knocker and gave it a solid thunk. Ignoring the rain running under the collar of her jacket, she shifted back and forth, waiting – hoping – for rescue.

Just as she was about to resign herself…

View original 202 more words

Editor’s Corner 101.23

Hedge Trimming – Bidding Adieu to Ambivalence

Dragon ScribeIt is another glorious August morning; the dog days are past, there is a slight nip in the air, and the New England sky is taking on the vibrant blue of ear…ly autumn. A perfect day for hedge trimming.

I am not talking about shaggy privets or laurels, or overgrown rhododendron and yew turning the yard into a wilderness and begging for the touch of well-edged shears. No, I am referring to the stray equivocations that seep insidiously into our prose – wee, verbal field mice, gnawing away at our meaning. Seems to be, more or less, essentially, about, almost as if, sort of, as it were…. The list goes on with the persistence of a Minoan labyrinth.

fxdrtfde65564

They dilute our prose and sap our meaning. Unless spouted by a character less decisive than Hamlet’s second cousin twice removed, they are unnecessary 99.9% of the time. We know this deep in our souls, yet they continue to plague us like verbal viruses we just can’t shake.

From where does this urge to mitigate our authorial voice come?

As with most of our bad writing habits, I believe it comes from writing as we talk. And live – or strive to.

In my youth, lo so many years ago, I was taught to tread lightly through the world. Each step, each word has consequences even if they’re not immediately evident. I was also taught that truth is seldom absolute and to presume to know The Truth about anything is the height of arrogance. The pride before the fall. Call it the Rashomon Effect. (note: truths are not to be confused with facts, which, while open to interpretation are in and of themselves quantifiable constants.) In a cosmic sense, there are as many truths as there are beings in the universe. If we are lucky, we will find one or two that meet our needs, asking for more is just greedy. A venal sin, avarice.Truth%20Cartoon

While such life lessons served me well for being in the world, it took me years to discover – then believe – that the opposite was true for writing in the world. Writing has hedges of a different cut, and the fictive voice must be authoritarian, even dictatorial. Shed the hedges – trim them, if you will – from your prose. Set doubt aside and rage through the landscapes of our making. Be certain. No deference to the masses or shilly-shallying will suffice. We serve the story, after all.

I know this sounds arrogant, and, well, it is. You are the architects of your novels and short stories, and no structure stands with foundations ‘sort of’ level or walls ‘roughly’ plumb. There is nothing relativistic here. As the sole creator of your universe, your truth is absolute and no one can say otherwise. But make your truth precise, memorable, and believable enough to touch.img_artemis A heroine isn’t ‘rather impressive,’ she’s six feet of Artemesian grace, with a mind like Susan Sontag and the riveting gaze of the Delphi charioteer. This is a woman you not only see in your mind’s eye, but know how she’ll stack up against whatever villains come her way.

I am fond of saying the anarchist in me balks at blind obedience to even the most reasonable rules. In the case of hedging, I am more inclined than usual to set my anarchism aside. Still, if the mantle of authorial power sits uncomfortably on your shoulder, and you feel compelled to equivocate, try to do so unequivocally. And when you must hedge here and there to appease the spirit of your prose, let those hedges be topiaries, wild and wondrous, adding to your world, not detracting from it.

962120-bigthumbnailSo be sure of yourself.
Be dynamic.
Be a little arrogant.
Be memorable.

*       *       *       *       *       *       *

I will try to respond to messages as I am able. At times it may be in the form of a post or a direct email response. Guests who post, I will forward messages addressed to them. It is up to them how they decide to correspond.   — Shawn MacKENZIE – MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest