Friday, December 27, 2013

How'd You Do? Reviewing Your Year's Writing Goals--A Sure Way to Encourage Your Creative Spirit

Each month, I set goals with a writing partner who lives in another state; we used to be in the same writing group until I moved, and I value her feedback so we set up a monthly exchange by email or phone.  We look at what we've accomplished or learned in the previous month and think about what's next.

We also like to do this each December or January, reviewing our goals for the past year and thinking about how it went.  And what we want to bring into manifestation next.

Accountability is hard to come by.  It's easy to let writing slide to a back burner, rather than generating creative heat in your life.  These regular check-ins help me stay accountable. 

But they also show me--much to my own surprise--how much I actually grow as a writer!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Your Writing Voice: How to Develop It, Recognize It, Not Copy Someone Else's

One of my long-time students asked a great question this week:  how does a writer develop voice?  Voice is the elusive uniqueness that comes out in writing over time, the signature of the individual wordsmith.  We would never mistake a passage by Flannery O'Connor with one by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 

What makes them different, distinctive? Each delightful in its own way?  That's voice.

The elusive hunt for voice is much discussed in writing books, classes, MFA programs.  One of

Friday, December 13, 2013

Strange Alchemy: How Place, People, and Conflict Intertwine in Fiction and Memoir

Boston's legendary Cecelia chorus performs only a few times a year.  Their concerts are well worth the time.  Recently I heard them in an old church in Brookline, Mass. 

At this performance, a soloist with a particularly liquid voice sang a few pieces, then disappeared into the rows of the alto section.  I strained to hear her voice rise above the other altos--but it was impossible to distinguish.  She blended so well, the group became one voice.   Then she

Friday, December 6, 2013

From School Principal to Thriller Writer--The Grassroots Journey of Andy Rose

In 1967, Andy Rose started working as a fifth-grade teacher in the impoverished Lower East Side of Manhattan. The children in his classes were predominantly illiterate and presented many learning issues.  Andy immersed them in daily readings of literature, used humor and passion to motivate them.  He found them wonderful to work with--their spirit was indomitable--and thirteen years later, he became principal of the Norwood Public School in Bergen County, New Jersey.  He served as its chief school administrator until 2009.

During the last decade of Andy's career, he read the works of Nelson DeMille, Dan Brown, and John Grisham. Their thrilling novels provided welcome escape from his 24/7 responsibilities as leader of a public school district. When he retired, images and stories about teachers and school children filled his mind. Characters and an inner city school setting began to emerge. It felt natural to write about schools and to portray teachers, instead of James Bond, as heroes.

But a major obstacle:  Writing fiction was very different from writing reports for a Board of Education, press releases, and analytical articles for local newspapers.