Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Personal Perspective: Birthdays, Cats and Patience

It’s almost my birthday.

That makes it the perfect time to post something on Christina Katz’s topic of the week…patience.

It’s common to associate youth with impatience and, conversely, age with wisdom and patience. I feel I’ve been running backward on the treadmill.

When I was a small fry, I seemed to have a limitless supply of patience. I was known--much to my parents’ chagrin--for taming any feline within a mile radius. It didn’t matter if they were strays, barn cats, feral felons, whatever. I eventually had them all eating out of my hand. Yes, literally. I didn’t manage that by sticking them on a schedule. I did it through hours of patient kindness.

It was the same with any childhood pursuit. I spent hours on anything that fascinated me, whether it was playing pretend, drawing, painting, music, walking or writing. Even my mother commented on my patience. It wasn’t a matter of rigorous character development, though. Patience came easily

When I obtained my M.A. at the ripe age of 24, I still felt patient. I was going to take the world by storm with my writing. It would happen soon. I could wait that long.

Taking the world by storm, though, gave way to a steady job that paid the mortgage. Months slipped by, then years. I grew older. A couple of short stories were published. The world remained untaken.

It was then that my patience began to wane. I started seeing that my supply of time was not limitless. With each passing birthday, I saw more of it slip away. Someday, it would run out. Where would I be when it did? What would I have accomplished? What would I leave behind to show my path through the world?

A professor told me once that you’re not a rookie in writing until you’re 40. I hope to heaven that’s true. If it is, I still have time left to be patient.

I still have time…if I’m not hit by a bus. If I don’t get cancer. If a tsunami doesn’t wipe me out. It’s more than my biological clock that’s ticking. Not only do I see my natural years floating by, unused; I’m also faced by my own mortality. My sister was 41 when she died. Was she still a rookie? I don’t think so.

I know patience is important. It’s true more so now than when I was taming tabbies and writing adolescent poetry. I know the need for quiet stillness in which ideas can develop, the need to let stories percolate and not send them out in the world before their time. I know the need to sit through one to six months in patient activity while waiting for an agent to respond.

As I enter mid-30s territory, though, I find it more and more difficult to truly be patient. I don’t want to be a 40-year-old rookie. I still want to take the world by storm. And, as another birthday prepares to fly by, I’m running out of time.

So, before my birthday on Saturday, I take a deep breath and consider the future. Seven years until I’m 40. Seven years to work on my writing. Seven years to get myself in shape for the major leagues. Seven years to be patient. Seven years?

I don’t know if I’ll last that long.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dan Blank Interview with Christina Katz

Check out this internet interview with Writer Mama Christina Katz:

Para What? A Little Writing Theory

I found the following verbatim on--of all places--an online RPG forum. Thanks to Australian player Bratzoo for sharing!

A paraprosdokian (from Greek “παρα-”, meaning “beyond” and “προσδοκία”, meaning “expectation”) is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax. For this reason, it is extremely popular among comedians and satirists.

Some paraprosdokians not only change the meaning of an early phrase, but also play on the double meaning of a particular word, creating a syllepsis.

- I asked God for a bicycle but I know He doesn't work that way so I stole a bicycle and asked for forgiveness instead.

- Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

- Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

- The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on the list.

- Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

- If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong.

- We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

- War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

- Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

- The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

- Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good evening’, and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

- To steal words from one person is plagiarism. To steal ideas from many is research.

- A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

- How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

- Some people are like Slinkies … not really good for anything, but you can’t help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.

- Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

- I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted pay checks.

- A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don’t need it.

- Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says “If an emergency, notify:” I put “DOCTOR”.

- I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

- I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with “Guess” on it…so I said “Implants?”

- Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

- Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

- Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?

- Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of every successful man is usually another woman.

- A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

- You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive more than once.

- The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

- Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.

- A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.

- Hospitality: making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.

- Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.

- I discovered I scream the same way whether I’m about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.

- Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.

- I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not sure.

- I always take life with a grain of salt, plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.

- When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

- You’re never too old to learn something stupid.

- To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

- Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

- Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.

- A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.

Examples of quotes:

* “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate.” — .
* ”I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.” —
* “She got her good looks from her father, he’s a plastic surgeon.” —
* “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” —
* “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know.” —
* “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” —
* “I want to die like my father, quietly, in his sleep—not screaming and terrified like his passengers.” —
* “I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too long.” —
* “I’m a heroine addict. I need to have sex with women who have saved someone’s life.” -
* “You know, I’m sick of following my dreams, man. I’m just going to ask where they’re going and hook up with ‘em later.” -
* “I like going to the park and watching the children run and jump around, because you see, they don’t know I’m using blanks.” -
* “When I was 10 I beat up the school bully. His arms were in casts. That’s what gave me the courage.” -
* “I discovered my wife in bed with another man, and I was crushed. So I said, ‘Get off me, you two!’” -
* “If I could say a few words, I would be a better public speaker.” —
* “If I am reading this graph correctly, I would be very surprised.” —
* “Mark my words. No, Mark, I really need my words.” —
* “If all the girls at Vassar were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised.” —
* “It’s too bad that whole families have to be torn apart by something as simple as wild dogs.” —
* “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes, that way when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.” —
* “I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they’d never expect it.” —
* “On the other hand, we have different fingers.” —
* “The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.” —
* “Whenever you read a good book, it’s like the author is right there in the room talking to you, which is why I don’t like to read good books.” —
* “Somebody told me how frightening it was how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared.” —
* “Broken promises don’t upset me. I just think, why did they believe me?” —
* “I believe in making the world safe for our children, but not our children’s children, because I don’t think children should be having sex.” —
* “I blew a speaker in my car the other day. Yeah, I think he was a… motivational speaker. It left a bad taste in my mouth but I feel a lot more positive.” —
* “I felt guilty once, but she woke up halfway through”—
* ”You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”—
* ”It has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried.” —
* “If you are going through hell, keep going.” —
* ”I never thought I could shoot down a German plane. But last year, I proved myself wrong.” —

Monday, October 04, 2010

Going All In

This piece by Benjamin Percy has some beautiful advice to all writers, fiction or nonfiction. (The link below is to Jane Friedman's blog, but the piece was originally published by Glimmer Train.) Makes you wonder, "What am I holding back?"

There Are No Rules - Don't Ration Out Your Ideas