Wednesday, July 4, 2012

You and Your Words: Making Friends With Onions

Writing is easy.
              - the Pray twins, age 5
Sure it's easy....
In fact, I'm pretty certain there are like seven people in all of history who have turned out flawless novels in a week.
Plus there's the stream-of-consciousness Beatniks.
And Beethoven and the composer guys.  
So, there you have it -
The most effective approach to writing:

        Go be some crazy genius person. 

Brilliant people aside, there are the rest of us.
The writers who love words, but can't find the easy button.
"Aren't you finished writing that novel yet, Mommy?"
             - the Pray twins, age 6
Ahem. Nope. Not finished yet.
In fact, I'm at another fog bank in my revision, 
so I thought I'd hop over here and share a few highlights
from my session with the Teen Writers' Group.

How to Make Friends With Words and Onions

 It helps if you...

1. Like words.

2. Read. A lot. 

3. Write. A lot. Every day is really good. 

4. Make some wordy friends.

Critique groups are great. Teen Writer groups are fantastic.
So are friends who will read your work and give you honest, helpful feedback. 

5. Get used to peeling onions.

The thing is, non-Beatnik writers have discovered something clever.

Writing is really about rewriting:
peeling layers of story down to its essence.

Both onions and revising make you cry a little bit.
Onions for obvious reasons.
somebody didn't like my story! Boohoo. 
this is taking way too long! Boohoo.
my inner critic is throwing onions at me! Boohoo!
Hang on... this isn't an apple?

Disclaimer: I didn't say writers should EAT the onions.
That would kind of mess up the "Making Wordy Friends" part.

 6. Use your lifelines.

Here's a list of links for my teen writer friends:

Teen Ink
Writing Resources for Teens
Opportunities for teen writers
Young Writers' Critique Boards
Spilling Ink
Meg Cabot - on Writing
Mem Fox - on Writing
Cassandra Clare's Tips for Teen Writers
Sid Fleischman's Writing Tips
Avi's Six Secrets to Good Writing
Holly Black - Writing Help
Laini Taylor's Blog

So, there you go. 
You're golden.
Oh, you clever, clever teen writers!
You've got a lifetime of great words ahead of you.
I look forward to reading your books someday.

Onions and other Soup Vegetables in Literature:

Holes - Louis Sachar
Spuds - Karen Hesse, Wendy Watson
The Turnip - Pierr Morgan
Stone Soup - Marcia Brown
LMNOPeas - Keith Baker
Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato - Tomie de Paola


M. Bloom said...

I was just ruminating on this post -- esp. the quote from the Pray twins -- age 6 ('Aren't you finished writing that novel yet mommy?') My son would say similar things to me... "why are you writing this book anyhow if it's making you so miserable (this after seeing me lean back from the computer, cover my face with my hands and groan." We had a long conversation about how some things take a long time and are difficult, but still worth doing (I'm not sure he believes me regarding this...)


Jan Morrison said...

You are brilliant! Thank you for this.
Here's a note to all my fave bloggers: I wanted to stop by all my fave places and tell you that I’m sorry I haven’t been by much (or commenting). I’ve been on a tremendous writing jag – the likes of that I haven’t experienced since the year I left university (sixteen years ago – I was a late scholar). I have written 65 thousand so far since the beginning of June on a new book and fifty new poems (facebook every day with a photo). It is all great fun but it eats up all my time as I’m also working and trying to sell our house. I thought I’d take some time today and just tell you that I totally appreciate both your blog and your comments on mine and I will be back in full force soon! I have a mystery to revise and one to finish but I think I just revised too long and now I’m writing freeeeeee

Faith Pray said...

Bloom, Ha ha! Funny! I sometimes find that explaining things to my wee pals is my therapy. I love the picture of your groaning self. That's me all the time. Smiles

Faith Pray said...

Jan, I'm happy to hear of your summer writing and housing adventures. Hurray for your efforts. I hope they flourish in beautiful waves.

Zane Wooder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.


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