Choices by Christine Duncan

My nightstand is piled high. Right now it holds four magazines, two mystery novels, a book about writing, and a book about making more time for what you want to do. I could whine about all the stuff I have to do but the truth is simple. It is the end of summer and the work week is about to start.
I think I NEED to read. Have a good week everyone.


Unteachable Spark

I’m teaching a creative writing course soon. Every writer needs another source of income and I’m thinking of making this mine.

However – I can teach the nuts and bolts. I can teach all the tricks. I can give advice. I can set exercises. But how do I teach that moment of inspiration?

We can all do a workmanlike piece of writing, following all the plans and rules. But what’s needed is the spark. The one that transcends rules and ignores plans. The only advice I can give is to daydream, and wait.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Reading and Writing by Christine Duncan

I am reading The Kite and the String by Alice Mattson. The subtitle is “How to Write with Spontaneity and Control–And Live to tell the Tale.” She makes the point that it isn’t a book about teaching the rules of writing.

I think that is exactly what attracted me to the book.

She reveals a lot about herself in this book, talking in a way that is unpretentious and very informative. For instance, she says subplot is what else is going on in the life of a character. I started to say she defines subplot that way, but even using the word define for what she did is wrong. She just talks to the reader and trusts that you are following along.

It’s rare that I really like a book about writing. Over the time I’ve been writing, there have been tons of raves for this book or that, but I’ve never really understood why for many. I have a few that I love. I’m not done with this one yet, but I’m pretty sure it will end up being one of those.

Evening Slump

I’ve just come home from day job, sat down and started to write and I’m starving.

Now let’s be clear – I’m not advocating being a starving artist. Everyone works better when they are warm and fed and happy. No, what I’m talking about is trying to avoid the evening slump.

You know how it is – you do the day job, you spend all day longing to write, you get on, do the housework, make dinner – and by the you’re in the evening slump, and you couldn’t move to write for anything.

I’m trying to avoid this. Housework is only once a week (I have a tiny flat so I can get away with this) and I cook meals I advance and freeze them so I don’t have to waste time cooking. Then after the day job I get home and sit straight at my laptop and work.

Now this only works if I haven’t had a really bad day at work. And because I live alone and have no-one to please but me, so I can let the flat get a little bit grubby if I wish. But if I try to write 500 words as soon as I get home and I can manage this three days a week, that’s a lot of work done.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

How Little Will You Write For? by Christine Duncan

I ran into another discussion on the lousy rate of pay for writing on Amazon Turk. Yeah, it is lousy, but it usually pays and it pays quickly. If you do enough of even the tiny ones, they add up to a little something that you can usually have in your bank that week.

Do I recommend doing it? Depends. It definitely depends on the requester, the amount of writing they want, the amount in your checking account.

I mean, I write this blog. And who pays me for that?

Same Idea, Same Time

Sometimes you will get a whole rash of books and film all at the same time. Like lots of volcano films or unreliable narrators of books with Girl in the title.

It seems to the reader that one idea must come first and everyone else copies. That isn’t true. For a start, it can take a couple of years to write and publish a book – far too late to jump on a bandwagon.

What seems to be happening is that creative people have roughly the same idea at the same time. For example, I’ve had an idea for a book – then another writer of the same genre as me has a very similar idea. When I get published it’ll look as if I copied them. But both of us have been working on this idea for years, long before either one of us knew about the other.

It seems as if ideas float around the universe and then bump into several people’s heads at the same time. So – don’t get discouraged if the idea you’ve been working on for five years has suddenly appeared in someone else’s book. Everyone in the industry knows this happens. It’s a common phenomenon. Just take comfort in the fact that it’s such a brilliant idea, everyone wants to write about it.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

Truth in Our News by Christine Duncan

I was reading an article earlier today about the funding problems Social Security will have in 2034. The article was attempting to be upbeat, and it ended by saying something about how a staggering 36 percent of people say they will not even be affected by this funding problem as they do not expect to rely on Social Security for their retirements.
I spent a lot of time feeling like a loser after I read this. Social Security will certainly be a major part of my retirement. I hope to have other funding (God willing and the Creek don’t rise.) but Social Security is what I will rely on. And most people I know say pretty much the same. How can we be so clueless?
Then it hit me. Many people won’t rely on Social Security because they were teachers or some other sort of public employee and they will get some form of retirement from that. In a bunch of states, people who get that retirement package can’t get Social Security.
I’m not saying the author of the article meant to make me feel clueless, but there was definitely a slant to the article. And the author made no effort to explain that big percentage.
As an author, I try to explain to the reader what is going on and how I get from A to Z. I find it disconcerting and misleading to do less. Journalism used to be known for exposing truth. Now it appears we have to examine the smallest amount of information that comes our way.