You Really Don’t Need to Tell Them

My youngest son is a good writer.

In fact, all my kids are good writers. (so sayeth their proud mama.) But my youngest son invites me to edit his writing on occasion so I have more opportunity to read what he writes.

Like many high school students schooled in the art of the five-paragraph essay, he’s been trained to – tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.

And he’s very good at essay – particularly argumentative essay (don’t know where he gets all that passion from….)

I was comfortable with that format when I was a teenager. It made writing a little less subjective. Clear objectives make me happy. I like to know what I’m aiming at.

5 paragraph xmas

The formulas that work in essay-writing don’t apply as well to fiction writing (or memoir).

It should be more like – Continue reading “You Really Don’t Need to Tell Them”

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Lay Your Truth on the Page

Every writer loves promoting their books.

Not.

I’m deep in the midst of promoting my latest book and, to tell you the truth, this time around is WAY fun. That’s because I’m sharing almost every event with a dog or two.

Dogs make everything better.

Truth.

My last three books were novels – stories I made up sitting at my laptop on long afternoons and pre-dawn writing jags. I crafted characters and lived their lives- but only in my head.

The main character in my latest book, Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs, is much more real…. Me.

So instead of dreaming up my drama, I lived it.

It’s easy to take risks when writing fiction, everyone knows you’re making it up, even if they suspect you’re actually writing about them (but changed the names and distinguishing features).

It’s another thing entirely to take risks while writing memoir. Memoir is nothing if not Continue reading “Lay Your Truth on the Page”

Changing the World

I have a speaking engagement coming up tomorrow in front of a tough audience.

Elementary school students.

It’s Career Day and I was invited to an Elementary School in Maryland, along with lots of people who likely have much more exciting careers than mine. I’ll have just 10 minutes per group to talk about what I do and answer questions.

I’m in a quandary about what I should tell them.

Writing is pretty boring. At least the act of it.

Unless you’re inside my brain, I appear awfully sedentary. Most days I bore my office mates to sleep.

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So, what should I tell the kids?

Obviously, they’ll find my dog writing much more interesting than my women’s fiction writing or my occasional freelance pieces about parenting or organics or writing. They probably know more than me about marketing yourself via social media. And I’m pretty sure that talking about the largest part of my writing day – editing – would bore the life out of them, as it does me.

My tentative plan is to dazzle them with the dogs. I’ve even printed out a few 8x10s of some of my more exciting foster dogs to flash them.

My biggest dog- Whoopi. Continue reading “Changing the World”

Lacking Inspiration?

Feeling inspired?

No?

You’re surrounded by inspiration, as ever-present as the air you breathe.

Okay, sometimes you have to reach further to find it, but it’s there, believe me.  All you need is an open mind, a little creativity, and a good analogy.

Okay, maybe the analogy doesn’t have to be that good.

Glancing around my workspace, I can see a pencil sharpener. That pencil sharpener is like me working on my latest manuscript  – I carve and twist and sharpen my point to perfection, but really, will anybody need that pencil? Nobody uses pencils anymore.

Depressing? Yeah, kind of.

Here’s an even more depressing one from PG Wodehouse:

“It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo.”

Do you suppose he was looking out the window at his garden when he came up with that one or maybe there was a brochure for the grand canyon on his desk?

Maybe you read that and thought, who thinks like that?

I would assert – anyone and everyone.

You, for instance.

You are surrounded by potential analogies. They’re everywhere.

My oldest child is a creative soul. This made him both a pleasure and a pain to raise.

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He is also smart. His standardized test scores came in very high in every area, except one.

Analogies.

These questions he would miss with alarming regularity. The problem was that he could always see two sides of everything.

analogies

He could absolutely understand how a bear could live in a hotel or a table could be used to sleep or a car is part of a kitchen or that something that is right is very wrong.

Look around you.

What does that lamp look like? A snake? A butter churn? An alien?

How could whether or not you made your bed this morning be an analogy for how you live your life?

What about your dog? Is he living the life he always wanted or is he a prisoner in a foreign land who has adapted well?

The truck rattling down the street — where is it going? What is it carrying? What has it seen? Who’s trapped inside? Did it runover the walnuts covering the street, the sound of the shells cracking like bullets exploding?

There is inspiration all around you, free for the taking.

inspiration

My cat has been slowly destroying my laptop. Whenever I leave it open, she nests on it. Her relentless plucking has removed key after key, her efforts so thorough most are unable to be snapped back on. This week she tore off the control key. I’m annoyed with her, but I’m sure there’s an essay in there. (I’ve lost my control….)

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Being open to possibility is the first step to discovering inspiration.

Sometimes when I’m journaling and can’t think of what to write, I’ll open a nearby book and randomly place my finger on a word or line. Then I’ll either continue the sentence or write about what that word or line brings to my mind. Other times I’ll look out the window and see what first catches my eye and explore why.

You can find inspiration on billboards, click bait, cereal packaging, or sales circulars. You can find it in the dirty laundry on the floor or the gunk in the sink drainer or the sarcasm in your teenager’s remark. There are analogies to be had in being late because the cat threw up or being lost when your GPS fails you.

Inspiration is everywhere. The place is lousy with it.

Breathe it in, and see where it takes your mind.

Need a chuckle? Check out these hilarious analogies written by high school students.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

 

Is There Any Reason to be Reasonable?

Every new year I make a list of resolutions. This year’s list is long. I’m not going to share it here because that would mean you might hold me to it. I’m gonna hold me to it, so you don’t have to. But also because some of my resolutions are deeply personal. I’m digging deeper this year.

2017 was fine. Lots of good stuff happened. I learned quite a lot. I adopted a puppy and bought a convertible, so I really can’t complain.

But 2018….this is gonna be my year. I’m going to make it so.

When I first scratched out my list, I thought, yeah, right, you are so overshooting. But then I thought – why can’t I overshoot? Why can’t I reach for bigger stuff and bigger dreams (and maybe a smaller waistline)? Why can’t I want it all?

I’ve read a slew of new year’s posts full of very nice resolutions and advice. Make it reasonable. Make it doable. Make it measurable. Pick one word, one resolution, focus on that.

Why?

I see no reason to be reasonable. Our world has seemed incredibly unreasonable this past year. No one else is staying within the lines, why should I?

And doable? Well, there’s no way to know if something is doable until you try to do it. So I plan to.

And the thing about measurable is that it’s restrictive and reeks of judgment. It’s more or less a pass/fail situation and that doesn’t leave enough room for really great tries or hitting it out of the park. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss,  you’ll land among the stars.”

shoot for the moon

I’ve made ten resolutions. Ten big ones. For a great part of my life, I’ve been practical; I was learning, growing, practicing, trying, but you know what? I don’t know how much life I left (neither do you), so enough rehearsing, it’s time to act. It’s time to make this thing real.

How about you? What are you resolving to change? Cause if you don’t get moving, you’ll surely get runover just sitting there. It’s time, people.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

 

What is YOUR Creative Self Saying?

I started teaching a new course of Creative Writing this week. I forgot how much I love it. My class last spring didn’t fill and was canceled. At the time, I was busy preparing for a book launch, so I was somewhat relieved.

Driving home after class this week, I was energized. It’s so exciting to work with writers who are just beginning their journey. The possibilities are fresh and exciting.

The knowing nods when we talk about the urgent need to write, reassure me. I’m not the only crazy person in my town who feels this compelling urge to bear witness to all the little oddities in my life and heart.

pexels-photo-115782We talked about what we write and why. So many echoed the same sentiment—a voice running through their heads aching to get out on paper. I recognize that insistency. It’s their creative spirit. Everyone has one. That spirit can find its way out in a plethora of ways, but when its left trapped inside, unrecognized and unfed, it can lead to a confused despondency, a sadness borne of a day-after-day sameness. Continue reading “What is YOUR Creative Self Saying?”

How Not to be Boring: 8 Tips for Writers

Be honest. Don’t pretend you know something you don’t, feel something you don’t feel, or are something you’re not. Just be heart-exposingly honest and readers will appreciate it. Honesty is never boring.

Write your passion

write with passion

Write what you love. Write what you are committed to. Write about the topics, stories, people, issues that get your heart aflutter or make your pulse race. When you write your passion it comes straight from your heart. Passion is never boring. Continue reading “How Not to be Boring: 8 Tips for Writers”