Our Mission Statement:

The mission of Pens & Pages Writers Guild is to facilitate and encourage writers of all genres, to share resources and tips about the writing process and, most of all, to provide a positive and productive forum that will encourage and support each writer in his or her creative endeavors.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Forming, Thinking, Writing

In the book, Talking, Drawing, Writing, the authors credit Berthoff with the quote, "You can't know what you mean until hear what you say". Although I don't know for sure, I think this is the author, Ann Berthoff, who wrote Forming, Thinking, Writing. I've been thinking about these words in relation to the writing process. Does "talking" help the "forming", and "drawing" help the thinking? Is this process the reason many are reluctant to write? Is it too much work?

This same author has written two books about Andrew Marvell's poems. One is called Marvell's poems, The Resoved Soul and the other The Resolved Self, A study of Marvell's Major Poems. I don't know much about Marvell, but from the little I've read, he seemed to be a deep thinker. I found two other titles by Ann Berthoff called, Reclaiming the Imagination and The Mysterious Barricades: Language and Its Limits. Finally, I found a book of hers titled Too Late for the Fontier, a Family Chronicle.

I find the titles of these books challenge my thinking mainly because they seem to encompass such a wide variety of topics. I'm thinking about what Amanda shared with us about publishing. What is Berthoff's platform? It seems to me it would be--Language and Its Importance, Keep Forming, Thinking and Writing.

Thanks to the Pens and Pages writing group for challenging me!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thoughts on Platform from the PPW Conference

Well, I wasn't able to make it to the last PPW meeting, and who knows about the next, so I'll write a blog about some of the thoughts I had on the conference, before they are driven out of my head by too much potty talk (yes, we are potty training here, and I am mildly appalled by the amount of time that I spend discussing bodily functions every day).

This year, as last year, one of the main messages I got out of the conference was that publishers, even the big name publishing houses, expect writers to spend a good deal of their own time and money promoting their own books.

Part of your ability to sell books depends on what is called your "platform". Your platform is basically the pre-existing audience for your books, and/or the things about you that would make people want to buy your book. For example, a person who is a medical doctor has a better platform for a book on health than I do. A famous child psychologist with a national column has a better platform for a book on discipline than an equally experienced child psychologist with no column, because the psychologist with a column has a pre-existing group of readers who are likely to buy her book.

Platform doesn't necessarily depend on professional credtials, however. Platform depends in part on what you are an expert on. If you are a mother of five, that can be compelling experience to sell a book on dealing with sibling rivalry. Your hobby can make you an expert. Mark Williams, one of the speakers at the conference, has several books on fly fishing published. His passion for fly fishing and finding the best spots to fish made him an expert in that area.

Having several shorter articles published also helps build platform when trying to sell longer pieces or a book manuscript.

Web presence can be a part of platform. I personally follow two blogs by writers. One of them has a novel forthcoming that I will buy the instant it hits Amazon. The other has a book I may or may not buy, but will definitely look for in the library.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thank You

Our blog has been featured in a post called Other Encouraging Words .

I have been following Bonita's blog for over a month now. It's a great place to pick up frequent tips and reminders for your writing. She has a lot of good information and encouragement. If you're in a writing slump, you may find just what you need at Encouraging Words for Writers.

Thank you Bonita!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Random Thoughts

No one is signed up for a post this week. Since I have missed several of mine, I thought it would be a good time to catch up. Here are two brief pieces created during our Tuesday morning writing prompts.

For those of you attending reunions this summer:


Thread--so fragile and seemingly insignificant. "Just a thread..."

"Just a thread" can be holding something together. Many threads can be a whole garment.

Our lives are tied together with the threads of relationship, chance meetings, common experiences, and common times. Simply being in the same place at the same time with someone else can form an unexpected life-long thread of connection.

We often try to retrace the threads we've collected over the years. We go to class reunions, family reunions, and write memoirs. In these, we try to pick up the fabric of the past and revisit it.

We may want to return to former comfort and security, or we may want to mend a hole--find something that was missing. One person may hope to bask in the warmth of past esteem. Another person may wonder if people from his past will ever validate him. Will he finally gain their approval? Will they even notice him?

We try to return to relive something we wish we still had, or to change what we didn't like. Neither is likely.

The threads are there just the same. What if we pick up those connections and make something new of them? Then we may breathe new life into them again.

* * *

For those of you that can't fit any writing in because you are too busy attending reunions and other summer activities:

Time to Write

Many of us dream of having stretches of T--I--M--E in which to create a masterpiece. However, the masters, like us, had other responsibilities. They too had to write as they went about their daily tasks of life.

By all means, we should take advantage of every opportunity to carve out blocks of solitude; but if we only write in those times our output will be very meager indeed. We must also make the most of the moments snatched here and there throughout the day: the thought scribbled in haste on a scrap, the idea born in a conversation. Our writing will be much richer if we collect these things as we go and then make use of them in those larger blocks of time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Well, I think I managed to miss my scheduled blogging week again. In my own defense, a lot of things have been slipping by me since the kids arrived. One of the nifty unforeseen benefits of the laptop is now I can be on the computer, writing (or more often, surfing the internet) while still keeping an eye on the kids, though.

I did manage to get to the writing conference in Amarillo, and I found it very enjoyable and inspiring. I also bought a bunch of books.

One of the things you hear over and over at the conference, or anywhere writers meet, is this: what makes a writer is writing. Planning to write, talking about writing, and thinking about writing won't do you any good unless at some point you apply the seat of your pants to a chair and your fingers to the keyboard (or pen and paper, or whatever).

My favorite new quote (not from the conference, I found it online), posted by my computer, is this:

"The mere habit of writing, of constantly keeping at it, of never giving up, ultimately teaches you how to write."
--Gabriel Fielding

So go forth and write!