Month: December 2013
It’s almost 2014, so before 2013 disappears, I would like to share some New Year’s Resolutions. I’m a fan of resolutions, as some of you might know from all the lists and goals I set for myself. I think that it’s helpful to sit down and visualize what you want and how you are going to get there, especially by listing out some manageable steps if you have long-term goals.
Here are a few of my New Year’s Writing Resolutions:
- Finish editing my current project. I have seven chapters left.
- Send out v2 to at least 4 places.
- Send out shorts to at least 5 places.
- Reach 1,000 followers by March on Twitter.
- Rework an old short I haven’t touched in several years.
Have a happy (and safe) New Year’s Eve. 2013 has been filled with some great reading, writing, and activities. It seemed to go by quite quick, and I look forward to 2014!
I am in New Jersey again this year for Christmas, and when I arrived yesterday it was warmer here than it had been in California when I left! But no, this post will not be about the dangers and inevitability of climate change, though it easily could be. Instead I just wanted to wish everyone a safe & happy holiday season! I’m going to try and take my own advice and do some writing and editing over the winter break – in between the holiday festivities. Plane rides are great for reading and I’m excited to catch up on some books I have on my “to read” list. Take some time if you find yourself in conversation with family and friends to ask: “What was your favorite book that you read this year?” I’ve already added three books to my “to read” list from talking with friends & family – none of which I had considered reading before.
And keep handy the one book you would recommend people read, because that’s the question I always find others asking me around this time. So what would it be? What’s your favorite book of 2013? Share in the comments section, and have a great rest of the week!
This Thanksgiving, I visited my family and my young niece who, at the moment, is fascinated with ducks. Every bird we saw was a “duck!” and at every pond or lake we’d pass, her finger would shoot up, and she’d excitedly exclaim, “duck!” even if there were none to be found. So I thought to share some excerpts from an old favorite duck story, The Ugly Duckling (originally by Hans Christian Anderson).
It was a beautiful summer in the country. The cornfields were waving yellow, the wheat was golden, the oats were still green, and the hay was stacked in the meadows. Beyond the fields lay vast forests and deep, hidden lakes.
In the midst of the sunshine stood an old farmhouse surrounded by an old moat. At the water’s edge grew great burdock leaves. It was just as wild there as in the deepest wood, and in this snug place sat a duck upon her nest, waiting for her ducklings to hatch.
At last one eggshell began to crack. From each little egg came a, “Peep!” “Peep!” and a tiny duckling’s head. One by one, the ducklings came out of their shells and looked around. All except for one.
“How goes it?” asked an old duck who had come to pay the mother duck a visit.
“There is one large egg that is taking a long time to hatch,” replied the mother. “But you must look at the ducklings. They are the finest I have ever seen; they are all just like their father.”
“Let me look at the stubborn egg,” said the old duck. “You may be sure that it is a turkey’s egg. I was once cheated that way. Oh, you will have a great deal of trouble, for a turkey will not go into the water. Yes, that’s a turkey’s egg. Leave it alone and teach the other ducklings to swim.”
“No, I will sit on it a while longer,” said the mother duck.
“Just as you please,” said the old duck, and she went away.
At last the large egg cracked. “Cheep! Cheep!” said the young one as he tumbled out. How large he was! And how ugly!
“I wonder if it can be a turkey chick,” said the mother. “Well, we shall see when we go to the pond. It will go into the water, even if I have to push it in myself.”
The next day the mother duck and all her little ones went down to the water. She jumped in and all the ducklings followed. They swam very easily, and the ugly duckling swam with them.
“No, it is not a turkey,” said the mother duck. “See how well he can use his legs? He is my own child! And he is not as ugly as I thought.”
So… the mother duck parades her brood around the farm, and the ugly duckling gets teased, pecked, and bit. He gets teased so much, he runs away and goes into the wild. But even in the wild, the wild ducks are mean to him, and even the geese heckle him. Even a hunting dog sees him and thinks he’s not worth his time! But one instance in his travels stays with him…
One evening a whole flock of handsome white birds rose out of the bushes. They were swans. They gave a strange cry, and spreading their great wings, flew away to warmer lands and open lakes. The ugly duckling felt quite strange, and he gave such a loud cry that he frightened himself. He could not forget those beautiful, happy birds. He knew not where they had gone, but he wished to go with them.
It was a cruel, hard winter and he nearly froze. At last the warm sun began to shine, and the larks began to sing. The duckling flapped his wings and found that they were strong. Away he flew over the meadows and fields. Soon he found himself in a beautiful garden where the apple trees were in full bloom, and the long branches of the willows hung over the shores of the lake. In front of him he saw three beautiful white swans swimming lightly on the water.
“I will fly to those beautiful birds,” he said. “They will kill me because I am so ugly, but it does not matter. It is better to be killed by them to be bitten by the ducks and pecked by the hens.”
So he flew into the water and swam towards the beautiful birds. They saw the duckling and came sailing down toward him. He bowed his head saying, “Kill me, oh kill me.”
But what was this he saw in the clear water? It was his own image, and oh! He was no longer a clumsy dark-gray bird, but – a swan! A beautiful white swan! It did not matter that he was born in a duck’s nest – he was hatched from a swan’s egg. The other swans swam toward him and stroked his neck with their beaks, to welcome him.
Then into the garden came some little children with corn and other grains which they threw into the water. The youngest one cried, “Oh see! There is a new swan, and he is more beautiful than any of the others.”
The old swans bowed their heads before him. And the ugly duckling felt ashamed at first, and hid his head under his wing, for he did not know what to do. He was so happy, and yet he had been so despised for his ugliness. After a moment, he rustled his feathers and raised his neck and cried, “I never dreamed of so much happiness as this when I was an ugly duckling.”
This exercise comes from a small book I read that listed some exercises to help you organize your thoughts and better understand what you want to write. Here’s an exercise that can help you understand what you want to be writing and align that with what you are writing.
1. Make a list of the issues you are willing the shed some blood over. These issues are ones that you might be passionate about, find interesting, feel like more attention needs to be paid to them, or ones that you just find yourself drawn to every time you think about telling a story. Look your list over once you’re done. Are you writing about any items on the list? If not, why not?
2. Get up on a crate, a chair, or even your coach in the middle of your living room. (Probably want to do this alone.) See what it feels like to stand on a soapbox and say what’s on your mind. Say it aloud so you can hear the words. Does it feel dangerous? Do you feel ridiculous? Do you realize you don’t have as much to say about the subject as you thought? Acknowledge these feels but do not stop speaking.
3. Now go back and transfer your words to writing. Move those words to paper. Say what you mean and write about what you want to write about, even if it’s scary, or new, or feels ridiculous. It’s just you and your words. Now write!