Saturday, March 31, 2007

Online Poetry Workshop Link

I haven't written anything new to post and this is turning out to be a bit of a busy weekend, so I will just give you a link.

This is a link to an online poetry workshop at Kalliope Poetry Workshop. There are exercises to do and explanations to read. Enjoy yourself! Write some poetry!

Monday, March 26, 2007


Here are four haiku that I have written. I use the 5-7-5 syllable pattern.

Easter Island
Great stone faces look
Grimly out to the ocean
From their island home.

Basset Hound
The basset hound looks
Up at me with sad brown eyes
And smiles, wags her tail.

Autumn Prelude
Red, orange, yellow leaves
Scattered on the still green trees
Tell me that it's fall.

With broken heart and
Contrite spirit I offer
My soul up to God.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Questions about Copyright?

Copyright issues can be complicated. Where can you find information to help you out? Here are three links with varying degrees of information and explanation.

United States Copyright Office

The Publishing Law Center

Copyright Website

You're bound to find answers to your questions at one of these sites.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Quotes to Ponder

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

C. S. Lewis
English essayist & juvenile novelist (1898 - 1963)

"The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it."

Benjamin Disraeli
British politician (1804 - 1881)

"A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness."

Edith Wharton
US novelist (1862 - 1937)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Writing is Personal

One thing that I think makes writing difficult, particularly if you want to publish it (even if it's just on your blog!), is that it is so personal. You are revealing your interests, your viewpoints, your imagination to the world. What if they don't like it? What if they think you are weird or crazy?

Someone once said that writing is easy--you just open a vein. And you do, figuratively. You put yourself, or parts of yourself, in writing on the page or screen for everyone to pore over and make comments and criticize (and hopefully, occasionally, praise). It's tough to do. It requires a bit of courage.

You start out with simple things, things that you don't mind people knowing about you and your thoughts and feelings. However, for your writing to really be powerful, you need to feel a sort of passion about your thoughts or opinions or the imaginary world you have created for your story or novel or poem. And if it's not imaginary--if it's at least partly real, based on some experience you've had and what you thought and felt about that experience--well, that is really putting your soul out there for people to examine.

I've noticed that the more strongly I feel about something, the better my writing is--at least in conveying emotion. But it is difficult to let yourself go enough to write about the things that are the most important to you, the most precious.

I think you have to just start somewhere and build up to the more passionate, revealing writing. Maybe it is just my own personality that makes me reluctant to let others in, but I don't think I'm totally alone in this. So why do I continue writing? Because it has always been something I have to do, want to do, need to do. I think everyone has some passion in life, something they love doing even if it is difficult and troublesome. For me, it's writing.

I don't think that a writer has to put everything on paper. Some things are just too personal to share directly. And some things are best left unsaid. I am talking more about the feeling behind your writing and the things that what you choose to write reveal about you. For example, on one of my other blogs, Scholar, I write a lot about politics and I write about them from my very conservative point of view. That isn't always popular and it is often misunderstood by those who hold more liberal views. So that writing can be difficult for me, yet there are things that I feel strongly should be said--viewpoints that must be shared. I hope to give people something to think about and to get them to thinking hard about the rights and wrongs in the world, and what is important, and what is true.

Writing is difficult, but it is a wonderful thing to give others your thoughts so that they might ponder their own and perhaps incorporate some small part of what you have written into their own mind. Perhaps you will help them to be more understanding of other viewpoints, even if they cannot agree. Perhaps you will touch their hearts. Or inspire them to read or write or do some other thing. Maybe encouragement and hope is what you have to offer others. Or a laugh or a bit of entertainment. It could be any number of things that you have to offer the world.

And so I write.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

"Depth, Complexity, Quality"

I'm linking to a page from Professor John Lye at Brock University that might help you understand better what makes a quality piece of writing, whether it's a poem, a short story, or a novel. The page is titled "Depth, Complexity, Quality" and gives some characteristics of those concepts.

Professor Lye starts by writing:

A common way of identifying the qualities that characterize literature as 'good' is through the concepts of depth, complexity and quality.
The basic idea behind depth and complexity is that literature, as does any art form, represents human experience in a way that is both revealing and compelling, that tells us something about the world, holds it up for our examination, and does so in a way that engages us. This telling about the world will also tell us about ourselves, about the nature of human experience.

As there are local as well as broader components to any understanding of the world -- values and ideas which are common to a particular place and time as well as those which tend to encompass large numbers of groups over time -- fiction will also tell us something about the specifics of a time and place, about how a certain group or time saw the world.

The skilful use of the resources of the art form in evoking depth and complexity is known as quality.

He then discusses each concept briefly. It's not a long page, but might help you think about the use of these concepts to give your writing depth, complexity, and quality.

Professor Lye also has a page called "Critical Reading: A Guide" which can give you some help with analyzing literature, as well as noting things that will make your own writing better. These pages are written for college students, but, if you're like me, you can learn a lot from these types of explanation.

Books, Books, and More Books!

Here's a great site with links to book reviews, book clubs, and all sorts of information. It's called, appropriately enough, Great Reading Links.

Reading book reviews and discussions can not only help you decide which books you want to spend time reading, it can give you great plot ideas. You take a general plot and run off with it in your own direction, with your own characters and plot twists. The blurbs about books at the booksellers' sites can do the same for you.

Need to confirm some information for your essay or novel? Try Information Please or Wikipedia or The Internet Public Library. It's always a good idea to confirm any information you find with at least one other source. Wikipedia, for example, is full of great information, but since anyone can work on it and add to it, you should confirm anything you find there. The way I look at it is that Wikipedia can give you names, dates, and places to start with, and then you can look those things up elsewhere, too, to make sure you aren't being led astray!

The internet is great for a lot of research, but don't forget that you can go to your local public library and have access to all sorts of information to help you write knowledgeably about any subject. Other sources are interviewing experts, college professors, etc. There are special interest magazines and journals that might help, too.

Research away, and have fun doing it!