Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place

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Some Writing Advice from Sue Monk Kidd

One of my favorite writers is Sue Monk Kidd.  (See my post on The Secret Life of Bees)   She gives some wonderful insights on the writing process in this lecture.   If you are a writer and have an hour, I highly recommend that you view this.




Quoth the Raven

I have a lot for which to be thankful to Edgar Allan Poe and my fifth grade teacher, Miss Mariness.

First, Miss M. taught us how to scan and analyze poems, and she used Poe’s The Raven the accomplish this.  Besides learning how to scan a poem for meter, we learned some very cool words:  quaff and nepenthe, Plutonian, pallid, Pallas and many more.   Second, after studying this poem, we were required by Miss M to memorize parts of it.   I was able at one time to recite long passages of this poem– today I can manage the first two verses from memory.  That’s big considering that my memory is not what it used to be. 🙂

However, Poe’s literary legacy is more than just giving school-aged kids some weird vocabulary words to toss around the playground.  Poe has been regarded as the creator of the modern short story.  He is also the architect of the genres of horror, science fiction, and detective fiction.   Sir Arthur Conan Doyle directly credits Edgar Allan Poe with his creation of the Sherlock Holmes stories.  Would there be a Stephen King and a Ray Bradbury if it were not for Poe?   Most likely not.  Since the short stories I have written typically fall into one of these genres, I have much for which to thank Poe.

Now, I need to…



Accepting My Writer’s Identity

I have always been involved in creative endeavors.  I write, make art, and do photography.  Lately, I have been exploring sound through drumming and strumming.  And cooking– now THAT’s creative if you consider some of the dishes I make.

It is in writing that I find the most enjoyment and satisfaction– mainly because I can be the most precise in my expression.   Like a lot of writers, I have had fantastic notions of being another Barbara Kingsolver or Geraldine Brooks, and every now-and-then I dust off “The Novel” and try working on it.   Sometimes I go smaller and work on short fiction stories.  These are few and far between.   What I mostly write are blog posts.  Non-fiction.  Essays.  Sometimes just a few paragraphs of life observations, sometimes with a moral application.  Much of it is just musing.  Sometimes I whine, moan, and complain; mostly, I’m having fun with words.

And that’s the ticket:  I enjoy myself when I blog.   I am satisfied with my writing when I do.  And from what I can tell, some folks actually read my blogs and enjoy them too.   I love it.  This is the writing expression to which I resonate the most.  I accept the fact that I will probably never make a living writing.  I am a blogger.  I accept that with joy.

There is a certain amount of disdain of bloggers by other kinds of writers.   Bloggers are the blue-collars among the starched writing elites.  To some, we’re not really writers at all     I guess this notion comes from the fact that it is so easy for anyone to set up a blog and publish.  The hoi polloi have dared to express themselves.  The democratization of writing.  “Oh dear!” the elites cry as they clutch their pearls.

I look at this way:  high-brow literary fiction is to blogging what Olympic swimming is to splashing around in a Doughboy pool at a backyard barbecue.

Which would I’d rather be doing, do you think?   Yeah, you got it.





A Little Advice on Writing and Reading about Writing

As I stated in my Sunday post, I have stopped working the creativity recovery program I had started two months ago.     I am sure this program and others like it work for a lot of people, but not for me.   I encourage those individuals to keep working at it.   As for me, I have another way.

The only thing that helps me to overcome a writing block is the physical act of writing.   I write something everyday.  Sometimes it is only in one of my journals.  Sometimes it is just posting silliness on my Facebook page.   Sometimes you get a blog post like this.

If you were to ask me my advice on writing, I would say:

1) Carry a journal and pen or an electronic device with a note-taking program with you AT ALL TIMES;
2) once a day in the journal or on the device, write one sentence that is an observation of something around you or in your life.  Just one sentence.  It can even be one word;
3) then try for a second sentence;
4) and then a third;
5) and keep writing sentences until no more come.
6) You will end up with at least one sentence a day.  Add them all up and you will have at least 365 sentences.   You will probably end up with a lot more.  It is exponential once you are on a roll.

Then, if you do feel the need of some wisdom from those more experienced (and who doesn’t?), study your favorite writers.  And if they have written books on writing, you have hit the jackpot.

Here is a list of my favorite books on writing.  I refer to them often.  Actually, most of the advice I give above are variations and paraphrases from some of these books.

Bird-by-Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,  by Anne Lamott
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury
Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg
Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, by Natalie Goldberg
Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words, by Susan Goldsmith Woolridge.

Now, get off-line and write.  🙂


Obligatory Disclaimer:  I did not receive any of these books from the publishers.  I bought ’em all and I like ’em all.  🙂




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The Crafting of Art

No matter what one’s imagination conjures, there is no artful creative expression of it unless one has mastered the craft of creating it.

A potter may imagine the soft lines and symmetry of a vase, yet if she cannot control the clay on the wheel there will be nothing but a gray mass of sludge. If a writer imagines his story in the deep recesses of his mind, yet does not know grammar and vocabulary, if he cannot master the weaving of words into a coherent and dramatic structure, then there is no novel.

People have told me that I have a nice voice, yet I am untrained and no matter how much I enjoy belting out a song, I know I will never, ever be able stand up before an audience and perform without making a fool of myself.  I have not mastered the craft of song.

Similarly, I have been exploring music through drumming, but I am a novice who can’t even read music. Yet, I move forward through study and practice so that I may, hopefully, someday master my craft and be able to artfully conjure the emotion that drumming can evoke.

Whatever your medium or genre, practice your craft until it becomes art.

Ljg. 2017