Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Definitions of criticism on the Web:

  • a serious examination and judgment of something; "constructive criticism is always appreciated"
  • a written evaluation of a work of literature
  • The word critic comes from the Greek κριτικός (kritikós), "able to discern" , which in turn derives from the word κριτής (krités), meaning a person who offers reasoned judgment or analysis, value judgment, interpretation, or observation . ...
I have chosen only two of the four or five definitions of criticism which suit my purpose. When regarding literature or one's writing I prefer these definitions. This is the kind of criticism I wish to have when one is looking at something I have written.

As was pointed out recently, writing is very personal. It is also very subjective. This makes an unpublished writer quite susceptible to harsh criticism. This type of treatment may be enough to convince the scribe that they have chosen the wrong profession with the result that we may lose someone with a great deal of talent .

In my opinion it is important to point out all the positives of one's writing before trying to assist with ways to improve the piece. Word choice here is very important. If you can find things to like then that sets the mood for "constructive" critiquing. I for one am quite willing to have someone point out ways to make an article or scene stronger if first the person making the suggestions has given me a reason to believe it is worth the effort to fix it up.

Although I have been published in newspapers, big and small, I have not written fiction before attempting to write a romance novel. I had no difficulty getting the story down but I have had a great deal of trouble trying to make it a less formal piece. Because I really like the story and have received some encouragement in that regard I may pick it up again to finish editing it. That may not be for awhile for I have been goaded into changing my focus to writing small personal articles in the hopes of amassing a compilation for a book to be published.

Writing fiction is much different from writing fact-based articles. I still have a lot to learn. I am counting on those in my writers' groups and readers to help me by giving me their "reasoned judgment". Telling me what is good and what would make the article go from 'just okay' to 'terrific' would be the greatest way to inspire me to continue.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I have decided that I am very vain. I have just spent a great deal of time going through photos to make a small album of my life for my friend Betty, whom I mentioned in the last post. I discovered numerous pictures of me both as a small child and as a wife, and mother.

I have been small and big and I'm not talking about age. I have always been a little over-weight with the exception of when I was a child. As my grandmother always said, I was "big-boned". But as I tried to select pictures from each decade I deliberately set aside the ones that particularly showed that.

We have many photo albums but luckily, I do not appear frequently in them. I hate to have my picture taken at the best of times and certainly not at the worst. The worst being when I am particularly "large". My family has been aware of this and very kind about it too. They do sneak a shot in once in awhile but I have hidden the latest ones. Why? Because I'm very vain.

"Vanity is the excessive belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others." That is Wikipedia's definition and one with which I concur. I am concerned with my attractiveness to others. I like to know that when I go out I am dressed well and appropriately for each occasion, partly in order that my husband will be proud of me but mainly for my own satisfaction. I want to feel good about myself and knowing that I look good does that for me.

Lately it has been very hard to achieve a sense of "looking good" when through no fault of my own, but for medical reasons, I have ballooned in size. Nothing seems to fit right or feel right. I sometimes feel like I should wear a sign saying "this is fluid not fat". I know that I sound like I'm whining and I guess I am.

I don't like that this bothers me so much because I know it is who you are as a person that is the most important quality but as I said earlier, I want to look good too. For that reason I chose my graduation photo from University in 1989. I could have picked my wedding photo or the photos taken during my pregnancy with my daughter or son. They were good ones as well. But this photo is one of my favorites. It not only shows me in a thinner period but I can boast that after hard work, under difficult circumstances, I got my degree at 48. So you see, I am vain using either of the two clauses in the definition.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Childhood Memories

On the weekend I will be seeing a woman who was so important to me as an infant that I should never have let life get in the way of staying in contact.
I have not spoken to her for well over 50 years but talking to Betty tonight brought back comments and memories of such affection and love that I was reduced to happy tears.

This woman and her husband nurtured me for quite some time while I was a very little little that I remember the time in bits and pieces. I will have to check with her but I believe I was two or three at the most. Apparently they took care of me during the war while my mother worked and for some time I stayed with them on his parent's farm(Momma and Poppa's)until Betty and Del got their own home. Some of these times came flooding back.

--I remember Del building me a swing on a limb of the big old tree in their front yard and he and Betty pushing me "up to the sky". I reminded Betty of that tonight. She had forgotten.

--Going to the farm with Momma and Poppa and being chased by the turkeys. I hated and feared the old turkeys. I have never minded eating turkey since.

--Being in the old farm house kitchen with such wonderful aromas that I can almost smell them now. We got to eat the apple peelings for the pie apples.

--Watching while Momma 'laid up' many, many jars of fruits and vegetables. There were no freezers as such.

--It was always the same too in the big white house on Queen Street. Whenever I would go Momma always had cookies or some other delectable thing baking. Her houses were always welcoming.

--On the phone tonight Betty told me of Poppa always rocking me in the old rocker and singing "a song about an apple tree-- over and over". Now my daughter, and I too, know why I liked the song "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me" so much.

When Betty and Del had a daughter of their own they named her after me. Surprisingly she looked a little like me too with the same blond hair and blue eyes.

I have never known for sure how long I was with this wonderful family, or even if it was just a daycare thing or overnight and Betty is at an age where she is not certain either,but I find it easier to remember that age with them than with my own family. No one in my family ever talked to me about it. I do know that my father was overseas at the time from letters he wrote to his mother.

I had tried once or twice to find them but only knew Del by a nickname and Momma and Poppa were gone.
I was messing around on Facebook one night and decided, out of the blue, to type in their daughter's name. I found it attached to an obituary for her father Del. I contacted the funeral home who gave the message to Jane, Del's daughter.

Unfortunately I had waited six months too long to reconnect with these wonderful people. I never got the chance to let Del know how much he meant to me. It just proves that we should not wait to connect to ones we love or those whom have had an impact on our lives. As the adage goes you can only be sure of today. Tomorrow may be too late. In this day and age of fax, telephone and email there is no excuse.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Here I go Again.

Once again I have picked up my first major work in progress, commonly known in the "industry" as my WIP. The good thing is I really like the story. The bad thing is it needs work. Maybe lots of work.

I have been told that I write very formally so I will have to change that by making more contractions but in all honesty I tend to write like I talk. Until all this was pointed out to me I had no idea that I did this. It's funny because as I read over the last two sentences I saw that I was still doing it. I'm not sure that I have always been so formal or if it is a result of attending university in my forties. Whatever, it is going to take some time to fix this.

It has been suggested that I need to make my heroine a little stronger. Instead of crying over the problems with the hero she should possibly be angry or use some other emotion to get the point across. I think I can do that. After reading over some of the important scenes I can see how the recurring flow of tears could be a turn off for the reader. I'll have to work on that.

There is one important thing I need to do. Most of the work is done in conversation. It will be necessary to put in some introspection and more description I guess. This is something that I will only be able to decide as I re-read the work.

I still have problems with 'showing', a good thing, and 'telling', not so good. I had someone read a scene from my work at our writers' meeting to see which the scene was doing. Luckily I learned that that particular piece was 'showing'. What a relief. Phew! Just a few technical suggestions. It was nice to know that it was also well received as a good bit of writing. That's great because I really liked that scene. One scene down. Two hundred or so to go.