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September Newsletter: Writers Are Different

Writers Are Different By Richard McGee

Writers are always trying to improve their craft. They listen differently than other people; listening to a conversation often has little to do with the subject of the conversation but noting the ebb and flow of words so they can write better and more natural dialog themselves. They like to watch people perform routine tasks so their fictional characters will behave more realistically.

Writers even watch movies and tv shows a little differently. They are watching the interaction of characters, listening to dialog, and identifying plot points. My wife and I recently watched Grantchester, a Masterpiece series on PBS. We have enjoyed this series the last two years and looked forward to watching the third season. The show is a murder mystery with a police detective and church vicar cooperating to solve crimes.

The main character of the series, a church vicar, was replaced in this latest season. In the fourth episode, the new vicar asked the detective to accompany him to visit his family. Of course, a murder occurs, and they work together to solve the case. My wife loves murder mysteries and enjoyed the episode. Watching it as a writer, I was ecstatic. The show’s writer had revealed the new character’s backstory to his partner and to the viewers. It made me more empathetic to the character and it provided the depth to him that would provide many more story ideas in the future.

A good writer must build a good backstory for his characters and often struggles with how to share it with the reader. As a writer, I watched this show, fully appreciating how it was accomplished.

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August Newsletter: Audio on the Go

Audio on the Go

Glenda Bonham

Many won’t be able to remember when driving while reading a newspaper was actually a fad. In the pre-audio days of the 70’s it was common to meet drivers on the highways in West Texas with a newspaper spread over the steering wheel. I used to stay on alert for a width of white, visible through the windshield of oncoming vehicles. The distracted reading-while-driving motorists would be cruising at speeds between 70-85 MPH on two lane highways reading the local news on the steering wheel. These were the days before seat belts, air bags, child safety seats, and electronic warnings in cars. If there was a state law on the books prohibiting reading-while-driving, I was never aware of it.

Fast forward to present day, and be thankful for the technology that delivers entire books on audio for drivers. Not only can you listen to a new book on a long drive, you can study a second language, dictate a letter, listen to a text message, get driving directions, and a score of other topics, without taking your eyes off the highway.

Downloads from the internet are inexpensive and many libraries offer audio books for check-out free of cost. There are new laws in place against texting and driving for good reasons. If you tend to get lonely on long drives, take along a better form of entertainment than your phone. You will be much safer and you might even learn something.

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July Newsletter: I Just Don’t Have Time to Write by Glenda Bonham

I Just Don’t Have Time to Write

Glenda Bonham

Have you ever said this to yourself? Most of us who write have probably said it at some point. We’ve said things like, “I’d just love to write, but I feel more important things demand my attention.” So, we procrastinate and tell ourselves “Maybe someday I’ll have the time to sit down and write something, but now I have children at home, or I have a job, or I need to do housework, or yardwork, or…” The list goes on and on.

There are in truth two major causes for us not to write. One is lack of self-discipline to sit and do it. The second is a lack of self-confidence and fear of failure. Which is your greater nemesis? If you can identify it, you can start now to overcome it.

Here is one solution to both stumbling blocks for starting to write. Set your alarm clock for one hour earlier than usual. For that one hour, your house is quiet and your brain is rested. Use the one hour as “my time.” When behind the keyboard, or with pen in hand, you have complete privacy and space. You are free of all demands of your daily life.

What you write need never be read by anyone else. These words are your thoughts, your imagination, your venting, your joy, and your reflections. Consider your writing time as your personal guiltless pleasure. There is no failure. You are the only editor, and the only judge of your work. The only failure is not to write at all.

I certainly won’t discourage doing research online, or reading other sources on the topic of creative writing. There is a wealth of information available, but reading about writing will never replace practical experience. If you want to learn to write, you must practice writing. To improve your writing, you must write.

If in time, you want to show your writings to someone else, that is your option. However, don’t try to write to please someone else. Write for yourself. In doing this, you will develop your skills and your own writing style. Be your own voice first. If in time, you get lucky and sell something you’ve written, and need to re-write to please a professional editor, only then be concerned about pleasing someone else. For now, just enjoy your writing time. Yes, you can make time to write. In doing so, you will discover one of life’s simple pleas- ures. You’ll also find a hidden piece of yourself.

News from NaNoLand

July Newsletter: News from NaNoLand

Camp NaNoWriMo by Sarah Shuttleworth

Have you ever thought ‘Someday I’d like to write a novel’? Have you heard of NaNoWriMo and thought that the idea of writing 50,000 words in one month seems daunting? Well I’ve got the perfect thing for you to test those waters and push yourself to write that story! Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writer’s retreat, designed for maximum flexibility and crea- tivity. NaNoWriMo has Camp sessions in both April and July, and they welcome word-count goals between 30 and 1,000,000. Maybe a novel isn’t exactly what you had in mind. Camp NaNoWriMo writers can tackle any project they’d like including new novel drafts, revision, poetry, scripts, and short stories. You set your own goal whether it’s to write a certain number of words, hours, minutes, lines, or pages.

If you would like more information, have questions about how NaNoWriMo works, or would just like to connect with other writers who will be writing with literary abandon this July contact Sarah Shuttleworth at sarahlcsnano@gmail.com.

National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes your story matters. They know that writing makes the world a more crea- tive, vibrant place. Through NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, and the Young Writers Program, they work hard to empower and encourage that vibrant creativity. And, they can’t do it without writers like you.

NaNoWriMo

  • Encourages you to focus on a novel! Bonus points for 1st drafts.
  • One goal everyone shares: 50,000 words in 30 days.
  • Hundreds of in-person write-ins led by local Municipal Liaisons.
  • A 100% fun writing challenge that believes your story matters… and that you can totally write it.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo

  • Focus on any writing project: novel, short story, cookbook…
  • Set an individual goal! You can even track time instead of words.
  • Join a virtual “cabin” to create your own cohort of up to 20 folks.
  • A 100% fun writing challenge that believes your story matters… and that you can totally write it.

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Fun Tidbits and Facts

July Newsletter: Water Carnival History

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Fort Stockton’s Water Carnival is back after 2018’s cancellation because of necessary repairs. This year’s theme is “The Crystal of Comanche Springs” written and directed by Genna Young, Reba Subia and Taryn Johnson. The date is July 18-20.

 

The early days of the event was the brain child of the Fort Stockton Lions Club in the late 1930s as an effort to bring recognition and tourists to the area. A huge celebration was planned by a large committee with the goal of an event so famous that Fort Stockton would become a resort town.

 

Events included band concerts, golf tournaments, horse racing, a beauty review, swimming, diving, rodeo, and dances. Over the years several celebrities have been included in the event. Local, district, and state candidates were invited to speak. Attorney General Price Daniel and Senator H. L. Winfield crowned the beauty queens in 1949. Movie star Chill Wills crowned Miss Fort Stockton in 1955, and John Ben Sheppard did the honors in 1957. The United States Navy flew two Naval officers to Fort Stockton to serve as judges for the Bathing Review. Country recording star Johnny Rodriguez crowned Miss Fort Stockton in 197
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2018 is not the only year the event was cancelled. The show ceased during WWII for 4 years, and again in 1951-53 because of low water levels.

Fort Stockton is proud of its Water Carnival, one of it’s longest standing traditions.