Forward: Moving On with Who We Are
by Jennifer Paros
It’s a wonderful world. You can’t go backwards. You’re always moving forward.
~ Harvey Fierstein
When I was nineteen, I cried my way to one of the worst headaches of my life. It was the night before I was to start a full time art class – a program called Studio Project. I had been uncertain about signing up, having always doubted my ability to draw (though still enthusiastic to create). Beyond attending various types of classes and critiques, students were required to spend at least four hours a day working in the studio. The program also required an interview with the professor; I thought perhaps she might reject me and end my conflict – but she did not. As the time approached I broke down.
I was pursuing something I wanted, yet I was in so much pain, frightened to go forward. I’ve heard fear described as a “severe disagreement” in which our thoughts are in conflict with what we want and who we want to be. If I’d been thinking I was competent, good at learning, that everyone deserves a chance to pursue what they love regardless of their “talent” or “skill level”, if I’d been thinking in encouraging terms, I would not have been in hysterics. But my inner dialogue was not up to speed with the new steps I was taking. I wanted to go forward, but my perception of myself was backwards. And like an old, worn out car I’d bought years before, it was breaking down and so now was I. more...
Listening to the Print
by K. E. MacLeod
We spend so much time in our lives listening to spoken words. It is how infants learn to talk. It provides guidance, information, rebuke, praise, provokes thought, and entertains. And, very often, it is how we first understand that those inky squiggles on pale paper are a kind of magic we can have for ourselves.
Voices (spoken) and authorial voices (written) have some crucial commonalities. There are cadences in speech that structure it for enhanced communication of meaning. Rhythm makes a reader’s mental toes tap. And the tone of the voice matters.
Cadences: At its most basic, punctuation is putting markers where a speaker would insert a pause or break to enhance meaning. One way of looking at the push/pull of punctuation is that it helps the reader’s eye know when to take a “text breath”. A comma asks for a slight pause, a period makes a full stop, etc.
Rhythm: The swing of active words through paragraphs and pages, the length of a scene or chapter, the rise and fall of tension – all these assist in making storytelling engaging. Just as it does in music, rhythm brings the listener along and provides a platform for the melody.
Tone: Is it rough, thin, resonant, lulling, monotone, staccato, clipped? The annoying shrillness of a TV infomercial huckster is that way on purpose. Advertisers know that nothing cuts through a listener’s awareness like a louder, higher-pitched voice. It makes you pay attention and remember what is being said. It backfires for me: I remember those brands so that I never buy them. Decent vocal tone is really important to me, both as listener and reader. more...
Such a Mystery
by Cherie Tucker
I have searched and searched, but I cannot find where the term “such that” instead of “so that” came from. I hear people say it and just edited a manuscript that used it a lot. It feels terribly wrong and a bit pompous, but I can’t find a rule anywhere that tells of its origins or its use.
Some sources split hairs to say, if you want to show an outcome, you say “so that.”
He brought flowers so that he wouldn’t get into trouble for being late.
But if you want to show intention, you use “such that.”
He arranged things such that they lined up properly.
I don’t buy it. Whenever I read or hear “such that,” it seems that the speaker or writer is trying to impress or perhaps has a degree in a field that dealt more with figures than language. I would love to hear from anyone who might have an explanation as to the origin of this strange construction so that I can explain it to people. more...
Forget the Editor
by Noelle Sterne
You meticulously study the publication’s guidelines. You follow them precisely. You draft and redraft your submission. But . . . the rejections pour in relentlessly. You moan, scream, swear, and fling around the house, ready to throw in the sponge and throw out your keyboard.
If you identify with this scenario, maybe your approach to your writing needs an adjustment.
To find out, take this little test:
1. Do you too often feel blocked and self-conscious?
2. Like you’ve lost your flow and spontaneity?
3. Think only of impressing the editor of the Big Publication you want to get into?
4. Concentrate on displaying your great wit and astounding insights?
If your response is “Yes” to any or all of these questions, you may be writing to and for the wrong person.
Yes, the editor accepts, approves, pays, and publishes, but the editor, after all, is a surrogate audience. The editor’s job is to be plugged into the publication’s audience, and the more she/he is sensitive to the readers, the more lasting is the publication’s success.
So I have one piece of advice: Forget the editor!
Who Are You Writing For? more...