You Should Probably Read This: Kin Types

Check out Luanne Castle, excellent poet and writer.

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

So–this arrived last night. I left it on the kitchen table, and I just started reading it–you know, leafing through it the way one does–and I got sucked in. I had to force myself to put it down because I have work to do. It is a powerful, lyrical mixture of poetry and prose, tragic accounts of everyday life–stories from her family history. Well, at least that’s what I’ve read so far. I’ll return for more in a bit.

OK, back to work now!

Luanne Castle is an award-winning poet. You can read more about her here.

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Don’t Always Believe What You Read Online

I reblogged this from Luanne Castle’s site with her permission. It deals with an aspect of writing that is important to me both as a writer and a reader. Thank you for writing this post, Luanne!

 

Writer Site

When I started writing creative nonfiction/memoir, the issue of dialogue tags rose its nasty little head early on. I’d never given them much thought in fiction writing, and they don’t exist in poetry. For some reason, nonfiction made me think and rethink what works best. Maybe it’s that more expressive word choices conveyed more information than plain old “said,” but in nonfiction it seemed like overkill to write “stammered” or “giggled” about oneself.

These “more expressive” tags look something like this:

Eventually I took courses online and learned that all the creative and imaginative tags I’d debated were worthless. I think these teachers were right, so I’m sharing what I learned from them.

The idea is to stay as far from “tagging” as possible.

That means that if you can write dialogue where it’s clear who is speaking each line, you don’t need any tags at all. Sometimes you can start…

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Why Publish?

To publish means to issue for sale or distribution to the public. I’ve invited author Luanne Castle to share her thoughts about publishing and what it means to her.

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Luanne Castle

Anneli asked me to think about why writers want to get their work published. She said it can’t be about the money, so what is it about?

I do know writers who write for the money. Since I’m not acquainted with Stephen King or his ilk, the writers I know who have aspirations of big advances and even larger royalty checks, are in the not-yet-published category–and pretty clueless, to boot. That’s because–Anneli is correct–there is little money to be made in writing.

That makes writing perfect for me. I have a history of gravitating to low-pay-lotsa-work jobs. When I was starting out as a grad student in the English department, I went to find one of my professors in his office. He was tenured and had been with the department for many years. The door was closed and locked, but taped to the outside of the door was his paycheck stub.  And the pay was about the same that I was making working fulltime in retail.

I was still so new at grad school it would have been easy to back out and apply to law school. But do you think I paid any attention? One day, when I had years of grad school completed and was teaching college as a non-tenured and harried “freeway flyer,” I looked at my paycheck and remembered that warning I’d ignored.

Money is definitely not an incentive to me, although by now I’ve worked in both business and creative pursuits long enough to realize that the world is clearly divided into those who are motivated by money and those who are not.

So why do I want to publish? Having an audience of readers is a powerful incentive for writing. After all, writing is communication as is all art. If we don’t share our stories and poems and blog posts, we aren’t communicating, and communication is how we negotiate our way in the world and build a stronger world community.

I also like to bolster my weak self-esteem and build up my troubled ego by publishing stories and poems in journals and magazines. They rarely pay writers, but it’s nice to know that an editor or editorial panel liked my work enough to publish it. They put their seal of approval on my work by showcasing it in their magazines.

For example, although I plan to complete a book-length memoir, the literary journal Lunch Ticket, run by Antioch University’s MFA program, just published a chapter from my memoir, called “Nuclear Fallout.” You can read it online here, if you like.

Finally, I also think that when I do publish my book, it will make it easier to respond to the usual conversation with strangers.

Stranger:         “What do you do?”

Writer:                        “I’m a writer.”

Stranger:         “What have you published?”

Writer:                        “A memoir called Scrap: Salvaging a Family.”

Stranger:         “Where can I buy that?”

Writer:                        “Amazon, any book store, Target, Wal-Mart, everywhere.”

At least, that’s my fantasy. Now when I say I don’t have a book out yet, they tell me I’m not really a writer.

In the meantime, I’m over at Writer Site.  Thanks so much to Anneli for inviting me to explore the subject of publication over here!

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*Note from Anneli:

If you write, you are a writer. Being published does not change that. Luanne is too modest. She’s an excellent writer. Be sure to check out her blog, Writer Site.

Also, please leave a comment and tell us what you think about publishing.

Memory Patchwork

Luanne

Luanne Castle

I’d like to welcome Luanne Castle to Anneli’s Place today. Luanne is writing a memoir called Scrap, about growing up in the sixties over a bomb shelter and in front of the city dump.

She taught English at California State University, San Bernardino, before moving to Arizona, where she now lives with a herd of javelina.

Her creative nonfiction took first place in a contest sponsored by Midlife Collage. Her poetry has been published in The Antigonish Review, The MacGuffin, A Narrow Fellow, 13th Moon, Redheaded Stepchild, and many others. She recently put together her first poetry manuscript, called Doll God.

 Grandma's crazy quilt

Memory Patchwork

When my grandmother moved out of her duplex and into a nursing home, she gave my father a Victorian crazy quilt which had been stored, wrapped in tissue, in her bottom dresser drawer.  In my sixteen years, I’d never seen it before, but was immediately drawn to the warm shades of dark reds and soft golden beiges  and tans dramatized by the hint of Yale blue in lush velvets, as well as the intricate and beautiful stitching which linked the irregularly shaped scraps together.    Each patch had been embellished with embroidered flowers, animals, hearts, paisley, or was itself a patterned velvet or velour.

Grandma framed the quilt with a sedate red gabardine, and it was folded very neatly; still, some of the scraps had begun to show signs of wear.  Dad left it lying on the kitchen table when he went out to the garage, and I unfolded the quilt, examining the rectangles, wedges, triangles, squares, circles, angles, strips, and heart and moon shaped pieces.  Any one of these scraps might be swept up and thrown away after an afternoon of sewing.  A basket of these scraps would look like junk.  But here they had been artfully trimmed, arranged, stitched, and embellished to tell an intricate story.  This random patchwork design spoke to me of the past and the intersection of practicality and beauty.

When my father came back in, I said, “It’s getting ruined, especially where it’s folded.”  My father didn’t seem to understand the value of this old cover, nor did my mother, who walked up the stairs with her laundry basket and said, “Yes, that’s nice.”  She arranged the quilt, folded on the back of our living room couch, where it lay for a year.

I thought I could see the scraps fading and began to badger my parents to save the quilt.  I suspect my father began to agree with me because eventually he took the quilt downtown and had it framed in a painted golden frame under non-glare glass.  He hung it on the wall over the couch.  In their will, the quilt will be coming to me, as my brother has never shown an interest in it.

When I started writing down my memories, they came to me in pieces, much like the irregular and fancy shapes of the velvet scraps.  The oldest were faded and threadbare.  Sometimes the more I wrote of a memory, the more details that came back to me.  Sometimes I would meet a dead end and not be able to find any more to the image or story.  These images act as the embroidery on the quilt pieces.

I’ve tried to arrest the aging process of my memories by recording them, just as my father had the quilt framed to preserve its condition.  As I began to write these fragments of memory, a book about my father and me began to take shape. In honor of my grandmother’s quilt and our linked family story, I’m calling the book Scrap.

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Do you have any thoughts about Luanne’s post today?  Is there an old quilt in your background? What might the maker of the quilt have been thinking about during the many hours it took to sew it? Leave a comment and tell us what you feel?

Please visit Luanne’s blog link at http://writersite.org/