Dealing With A Negative Book Review: Part Two

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Let’s face it, there is a marked difference between someone telling you personally that they did not care for something you wrote and finding a negative book review in print for everyone to see. It can be quite rattling. But like it or not, life goes on. As Creative Writers we need to know the appropriate means of dealing with negative reviews.

It’s Not Just Business, It Is Personal

You may recall the scene from The Godfather, when Tom tells Sonny that the failed hit put out on their father was business and it wasn’t personal. Yet when a Book Reviewer assassinates one of our novels, they may not mean anything personal about it, but as authors we take it as personal. There’s a simple reason for that – it is personal.

I’m not saying that any Book Critic has it out for any author by posting a negative book review. But as Creative Writers who are passionate about our craft, when anyone so publicly criticizes our art, something we have poured our heart and passion into, we will take it personally. It’s like when a parent hears something bad about one of their children, it hurts badly.

There’s Something To Learn

Even though a negative Book Review may sting, remember that no one has it out for you. It’s not personal, it’s just business, as much as it may not seem that way. As authors we may love what we write, but we are always learning. No one is perfect and we can always improve. In this Book Reviews can help us, both the positive as well as the negative ones. In fact, we may learn more from negative Book Reviews than positive because our flaws are exposed.

If someone criticizes the flow of your story or the arrangement of your plot, maybe that is something you need to improve upon. Possibly someone doesn’t like how you lay out dialogue or your choices for characters’s voices. Maybe you didn’t know of these flaws, but now you do because of a negative Book Review. There’s always something to learn.

How To Console

If the get a bad review, the worst advice is “just get over it,” “move on,” or, “that’s just one person’s opinion.” You don’t deal with a negative Book Review by ignoring it. You read the criticism as one eager to learn and improve. And as hard as it may be, try to keep yourself distant from the critique. It is so easy to get mad and take it personally. Just don’t do it.

Give the Book Reviewer the benefit of the doubt that they have everyone’s best interest at heart, both the readers but also you as an author. You may in the end disagree with someone’s assessment and evaluation, but first you need to fairly read what they have to say. You just may learn something and come out on the other end of things a better Creative Writer. Be thankful for negative Book Reviews.

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Dealing With A Negative Book Review: Part One

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 Novelists dare a danger few could stomach. They put themselves out there with no protection in the middle of a field with sharp rocks. And sometimes a person will pick up one of those rocks and throw it. And it hurts.

We are dependent upon good word-of-mouth to create a buzz for our books. But the same thing that can help us can hurt us: bad word-of-mouth. And yet, we as writers are out of control about what people say and write about our work.

One of the sharp rocks that can do the most damage is a poor book review. And more than to our hoped for ground swell, it can do great harm to our fragile psyche as an author. And recovery from such can be arduous.

It’s Not Just One Person’s Opinion

Maybe the worst advice you can give someone who has been given a poor review of his novel is “Don’t worry about it because it’s just one person’s opinion.” Authors know how false this is. A person who reviews books is not like some nobody from nowhere who scribbles a two sentence review on Amazon or Goodreads. As writers we love these, but they do not carry the heft of someone who puts themselves out there as a Book Reviewer.

The Book Critic comes to conclusions, but it’s more than just an opinion worth no more or less than anyone else’s. Book Reviewers apply a certain criteria for judging a book. They do more than apply a surface reading. And even though their review may be subjective, it is much heavier than just one person’s opinion.

Author’s need to keep this in mind. Anyone Creative Writer who dismisses a poor review just because it’s one person’s opinion will accomplish no more than sweeping the problem under the rug. Writers cannot afford to have their heads in the sand when it comes to their writings and what readers think, especially Book Critics. Dismissing them and their review fails to address what needs to be addressed.

One Becomes Many

Book Critics are credible, like it or not. One review from a Book Critic can have as much impact as a dozen reviews on Amazon from casual book readers. The review of a Book Critic can never be dismissed as one person’s opinion because their one opinion will like become the opinions of several of not many.

The best thing we can do is write and keep on writing and always do the best we can and continually improve. We need to give our readers the best product we can string up, but we also need to do our best knowing Book Critics may get their hands on it, as well.

Criticism & Literary Preferences

There are several genres and many styles of writing and a multitude of preferences. Sometimes a Book Critic may read a very well written novel, but it’s simply not in their wheelhouse. Nothing can be done about that because, well, to put it politely, there’s no accounting for taste.

I write Literary Fiction. If there is a Book Reviewer who does not read Literary Fiction, there’s a very good chance they may not give anything of mine a good review. For example, my Literary fiction would never include any shiny vampires, teenaged wizards, or hunky and brooding werewolves. And if I were a Book Critic, I would probably not give a good review to anything written with these, even though they are all quite popular now.

Keep in mind that all of the greats have been panned at one time or another. The Great Gatsby was dismissed by many in its day. Led Zeppelin never had a critically acclaimed album and only one top ten single hit. Even Shakespeare had those who hated his plays. Maybe the Book Reviewer who gave a poor review to your book just doesn’t get you or your writing. If someone pans your novel in a Book Review, it just may be that what you write is not their personal preference for reading.

I’ll have more to say on this in my next post. This is hardly all that could be said on the matter of dealing with negative book reviews. I hope this is a start.

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What “Writers Write Every Day” Means

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Every Creative Writer has heard the law that “Writers Write Everyday” maybe as much as we’ve heard “Show Me, Don’t Tell Me.” And at the beginning of the year I heard of authors tell me about their New Year’s Resolutions that always include one to write a certain number of words a day.

This leaves the impression that Creative Writers must come with fresh original first draft content every day. This is not true, and in fact it’s not even possible. We write every day in that we are in the business of writing constantly. A great deal of that involves writing, to be sure, but not always.

At The Keyboard

I’m working on the rough draft of my fifth novel, Bloodhound. I’ll certainly fill everyone in when it’s available. But I’m far from that now. If I’m a Creative Writer, then I need to put a lot time into completing this first draft. That means writing every day. But some days I don’t write.

Sometimes it’s the cares of life that take up time that day, but sometimes it’s because I need to let the next scene cook inside of me a bit longer before I put it down. Even thinking about what to write is writing.

Long before I begin page one I outline my chapters and fill in everything about the characters. For example, when I compete in NaNowriMo I usually begin outlining in June or July in order to be ready by November. This is writing as much as drafting.

And then there are the many edits our drafts go through after we’ve set down “The End.” Our manuscripts go through several revisions before we allow the story to see the light of day. Editing is writing, too.

Away From The Keyboard

As authors we know that our best ideas often come when we are away from our laptops. I used to travel with a small pad and write everything down that came into my brain. Now I use the notepad on my phone. This twig-gathering will one day find itself into a fine nest of a tale. This is writing, as well.

And there is something to be said for the work that goes into writing that comes from stillness. We don’t sit down and throw out a marvelous book without giving it a bit of thought. We meditate on our ideas before we even write anything down, even on a scrap paper.

Ernest Hemingway said that he never emptied the well. He left a little bit of what we was working on undone. That way he would always at least something to write the next day. But also, he let this little bit ferment sub-consciously. As he carried out the remainder of the day it would grow in the back on his head, and as he slept it would really develop, so the next day he had plenty to write about.

And I read that Salvador Dali would sit in a chair and relax as much as he could and think about a certain project. He would hold his keys in his hands over the arm rest. He would often grow drowsy and start to go to sleep. But when he did he would drop the keys and the sound would wake him up. That way he could remember as much as possible of what was in his mind as he entered the sleep/dream stage in his mind. I’ve tried that with some interesting results. All types of thinking about writing, even sub-consciously, is writing.

We as Creative Writers can feel derelict if we do not sit down and write new words every day. From this grows a sense of shame, and all negative feelings about ourselves as authors only damage our productivity. We do a lot of things every day that contribute to the writing process, and in this we write every day. Remember that and feel good about how much you actually get done.

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Love’s Labour Found

Love’s Labour Found is more than Shakespeare’s missing 38th play, it is the perfect description for a Creative Writer’s relationship with his own work. I know that I wrote an article called “Passion Is Overrated” some time ago, and that people have told me how they disagree, both on this blogsite and in conversations, but I do realize the necessary role of passion in Creative Writing.

The Role Of Passion

Arthur Schopenhauer wrote that we cannot want what we want. In other words, we have no control over what we desire from our own lives. I disagree. We can choose to want certain things. Not only that, but a man far wiser than Schopenhauer also said that a person is going to do what a person wants to do. This sage insight was my dad’s.

You cannot be a Creative Writer unless you have a Passion for it. My article on Passion being overrated emphasized that Commitment and Dedication means more to the career of a Writer than Passion. But also, the post argued that our Passion feeds into our Commitment, and our Commitment feeds into our Passion.

As Creative Writers, we share anxiety and tension over our stories, but we have more than that in common. Creative Writers are excited about every bit of prose we write. We write with a sense of joy. We feel a sense of accomplishment and even achievement when we write. This is not just when we finish a draft of a novel, but when we’ve had a good day of writing, or when we have written that rare perfect sentence. Being passionate about writing means we obtain a sense of fulfillment by writing as well as we can. We all have other things in our lives, such as families and jobs, and these add to our sense of personal wholeness, but we know that our authorship greatly contributes to who we truly are.

Passion Fuels Your Writing

While it may be your Commitment to Creative Writing that makes you sit and write even when you don’t want to write, when you feel uninspired, and you feel overwhelmed, it is your Passion for Writing fuels your Writing. This helps you be in a place where you want to write, where you feel inspired, where you feel centered. Passion can do this because you not only do what you want to do, but you do it as well as you can. You are careful to try your hardest because it means so much to you.

Our Passion for Creative Writing is much more than being excited over writing prose. We each have our own individual Passions, and these thing will be a part of our Writing, as well. Hemingway was passionate about baseball, boxing, and bull fighting. It is no shock that these will be in his stories. You have all three in The Sun Also Rises. This involves more than using our hobbies in our composition, but also the ideas we are passionate about. Steinbeck was devoted to the idea of a shared consciousness and the oversoul. Thus, we see examples of this in his stories. I think this is the most clear in The Grape Of Wrath, where Ma Joad learns to care for people beyond her family. It’s one thing to be passionate about Writing, but authors also need to see how we can take our individual Passions and make them a part of our industry.

We know that Shakespeare never wrote Love’s Labour Found. Still, every play and poem he wrote was a manifestation of finding his Passion for writing. Everything he wrote was his Love’s Labour Found. It’s the same for all of us Creative Writers who live and work today. In this we share something important with Shakespeare, and for that matter, with Joyce, Milton, Homer, Tolstoy, and so many others, we all share a Passion for the fine art of Creative Writing, and that is a wonderful thing to love.

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Top Ten Best Articles of 2014

What better way to end the year than with a year in review type of post? And you know I like Top Ten lists, so I’m giving you my favorite posts for the year. I am not putting down anything from an article series. I had a few of those this year, such as an analysis of the movie The Natural, my novel Siciliana, and my favorite, on Anton Chekhov. I also left of any other Top Ten lists. If you missed any of these, I’m including a link to the articles.

10 “You Don’t Have To Waddle Any More” (Jan 27) – You are capable of much more than you give yourself credit (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/you-dont-have-to-waddle-any-more/)

9 “The Problems With Adverbs” (Jul 15) – The problem with adverbs is when to use them and when not to use them (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/the-problem-with-adverbs/)

8 “We Are All Lil Engines” (Apr 1) – Self-Doubt will kill any accomplishments you may achieve (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/we-are-all-lil-engines/)

7 “How To Create Interesting Characters” (Jan 14) – All truly interesting literary characters share certain things in common (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/how-to-create-interesting-characters/)

6 “How To Insure Your Writing Is Creative” (Apr 14) – In addition to interesting characters, we need to learn how to tell an interesting story (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/how-to-ensure-you-writing-is-creative/)

5 “Your Protagonist’s Needs” (Feb 24) – All of our heroes have certain needs that we need to provide (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/your-protagonists-needs/)

4 “Why Dogs Would Make The Best Novelists” (Jan 6) – Dogs are so great at everything else, why not novel writing? (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/why-dogs-would-make-the-best-novelists-3/)

3 “Deus Ex Machina, Or, Wouldn’t This Be A Good Time For A Piece Of Rhubarb Pie?” (May 26) – There is a right way and the wrong way to rescue our main characters at the end of our story (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/deus-ex-machina-or-wouldnt-this-be-a-good-time-for-a-piece-of-rhubarb-pie/)

2 “What Criminal Minds Has Taught Me About Creative Writing” (Apr 21) – Watching this great crime drama on television helped me as an author (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/what-criminal-minds-taught-me-about-creative-writing/)

1 “The Mount Rushmore Of Literature” (Jun 9) – What writers and which books deserve this honor? (https://nealabbott.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/the-mount-rushmore-of-literature/)

Did I leave anything out? What would you have added or omitted? Please share this article with others writers. I hope you enjoyed reading A WORD FITLY SPOKEN in 2014, and I look forward to blazing a new trail of words and stories with you next year.

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Film Analysis of The Natural – Part Four: The Styles Of Acting

Plenty can and has been said about what makes The Natural special behind the camera, but there would be no film without the actors in front of the camera. Actors are sometimes classified by their acting style. There are times when that has more to do with the movie than the actor’s training, but more often than not, a given actor sticks to what suits them.

There are three styles of acting: Stylized, Realistic, and Method. Stylized acting if often over the top and unrealistic, but the role or the movie calls for acting that draws attention to itself. Almost anything by the Marx Brothers or the Stooges would follow this style. Realistic style strives for natural and realistic portrayals of characters, just as the name implies. Method acting is a type or approach to acting based on searching the actor’s own emotions and experiences to find the personal motivation for the role.

Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs

For all of his career, Redford was a realistic actor. His approach in The Natural is likewise realistic. This approach can be seen in his still and unexpressive nature. Or said better, very expressive with the smallest of gestures or facial expressions. It’s been said of Redford that he acts with his eyes, which is true for Roy Hobbs. Examples of Redford’s realistic style could be seen in other well-known roles of his, such as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and John “Kelly” Hooker in The Sting.

Glenn Close as Iris Gaines

As the love interest of Roy Hobbs, Glenn Close plays Iris Gaines as she normally does as a realistic actor. While her co-star in The Natural is another realistic actor, Close has acted around Method actors for the greatest part of her career. But she like Redford was able to keep herself from giving in to the histrionics and often overly emotional expression common to the Method hysteria that ruined so many movies in the 70s when Method dominated Los Angeles and New York.

Wilford Brimley as Pop Fisher

Unlike his co-stars, Wilford Brimley trusted in his Method acting background to perform Pop Fisher in The Natural. One can see the difference between his emotionally based interpretation of Fisher in contrast to Hobbs’s and Gaines’s quiet dynamics. Brimley uses his Method style with more control than others who have rather sloppily misused it. But the role of Pop Fisher required someone with more clear emotions and expressions, as opposed to the smolder in Hobbs.

The Natural is very well acted by everyone in the cast regardless of their style. Their excellence in front of the camera matches the proficiency of all of the roles that went on behind the camera. The result is a classic film superior in both its baseball and mythology.

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Film Analysis Of The Natural – Part Three: The Use Of Sound

Movies are the perfect blend of sight and sound to create something artistic. There is the most obvious sound in the movie, and that’s the actors speaking to each other. There are also the ambient sound of life, which in film is referred to as sound effects. And one of the most memorable aspects of a movie’s sound is the musical sound track recorded for the film.

Dialogue

The most captivating bit of dialogue in The Natural is the conversation between Roy and Iris while Roy is recovering in the hospital. Roy’s biggest flaw is his hubris. He tells Harriet Bird that he wants to be known as the best in the game. He forgot the advice of his father, that even though he has a gift it is not enough. Roy relied too much on himself and was struck down, as any mythical hero guilty of hubris.

There in the hospital, Roy admits his frustration that he will never be known as the greatest to ever play the game. He still hasn’t learned his lesson. Iris chides him for his short-sightedness. She mentions that we have two lives: a young life where we make mistakes and an older life where we learn to live with those mistakes. This definitely describes Roy Hobbs.

Sound Effects

The Natural is filled with sounds from the ballpark. He hear the roar of the crowd, the pop of the ball in the glove, or the crack of the ball off the end of the bat. These are genuine and well done. They add to the fell of honesty in the film even though it is clearly mythology.

Three of the best uses of sound effects have to do with particular home runs. One was the home run in Chicago when Roy shatters the clock in Wrigley Field. The shatter can be heard all throughout the stadium as well as the movie theater. One definitely hears time stop of Roy as he not only ends his slump but reunites with his angel, Iris. Another great home run sound is when Roy breaks the stadium lights in his last at bat that wins the pennant for Pop and end his turbulent relationship with the Judge.

But by far the best sound effect in the movie is the use of lightning. It begins with the lightning that strikes the tree that would late be made into the bat Wonderboy. Lightning strikes at Roy’s first big league at bat just before he knocks the cover off the ball. And finally, lightning strikes just before the final home run that climaxes the movie.

Music

The Natural has a pleasant musical sound track, but nothing I would consider spectacular. To me, the best movie composers are men like Bernard Hermann, Maurice Jaffe, and Enrico Marconi, who were used by directorial greats like Hitchcock, Lean, and Leone, respectively.

But the movie music does its job excellently at the final home run scene. As Roy rounds the bases, our heroic theme escorts him around the bags. We feel the triumph of the moment along with all Knights fans, which we in the audience have become by this point. With no doubt, the sound within The Natural is just as vital as the visual, and both perform excellently is telling a great story.

Movieclip. (October 25, 2012). The Natural (4/8) Movie CLIP – Knock The Cover Off The Ball (1984) HD. [Video file]. Retreived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlNLhuxeDJQ

Crackle. (January 21, 2010).The Natural. Roy Hobbs smashes the clock tower at Wrigley Field. Mammoth home run [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3w0FLxdEKk

Crackle. (June 15, 2011). The Natural – The Final Homerun [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjk3RsytFZg

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Film Analysis Of The Natural – Part Two: The Use Of Lighting (Not Lightning)

The use of lighting in The Natural is a tool used to help tell the story. Everything commonly associated with light and dark applies to how these elements are used within the movie. This is more evident when one sees how consistent light and dark are used within the film.

Silhouette

Light and dark may be used throughout The Natural, but they are continually used in association with one character each. Those will be discussed below, but first I want to take a look at the use of dark silhouettes against a backdrop or scene of some kind. Roy Hobbs appears as a dark silhouette with four characters, Pop Fisher, Max Mercy, Memo Paris, and Iris Gaines. All of these need to be interpreted in view of the first dark silhouette, Roy Hobbs by himself.

Fifteen years after being shot, Hobbs walks out of a clubhouse tunnel and into a Major League dugout. This silhouette represents Hobbs coming out of the darkness that took place in the Chicago hotel that kept him out of the game for a decade and a half. So each time Roy is darkly silhouetted with someone else, it harkens back to this effulgent leit motif.

Hobbs is in the same tunnel when Fisher threatens to send him down to the minors, which is the same as being out of the game altogether. Hobbs is in a different tunnel after he knocked the cover off the ball when he is approached by Mercy and asked about his past. Hobbs is one beach late at night with Paris, who is a type of Harriet Bird. Hobbs kisses Paris under a boardwalk and his hitting slump begins. After Hobbs breaks the clock in Wrigley Field, he speaks honestly to Iris about his past, and the scene takes place in still a different tunnel.

Darkness

While Bird and Paris wear black dresses, the use of darkness as a utility of lighting is found most often with the Judge. Symbolically, he represents the devil. In one sense, he is the villain of the story. But in another sense, he is the source of temptation within The Natural.

He tempts with money, but more to the point, he tempts people to give up their better self for something lesser and the unfulfilled promise of much more. In this he not only goes after Hobbs, but also claims Sands, Mercy, Paris, and even Pop Fisher. The darkness hides what the Judge is really up to and his true motives. And like the darkness of the tunnels, it represents what would keep Hobbs out of the game.

Light

Iris Gaines represents Hobbs in his youth when he was The Natural and his childlike desire to play for the love of the game. She is also a foil to both Bird and Paris. Not only is she always wearing white and well-lit (with the single exception of the tunnel), she foils the Judge in that she represents an angel. When she stands at Wrigley Field, she wears a light mesh hat. With the sun behind, she looks like she has a halo around her head. She brings him back to the purity of the game and even chides his hubris.

The Natural is a great film that well executes lighting to help convey the tale of Roy Hobbs. The use of darkened silhouettes as well as the more explicit well lit and intentionally dark scenes add layers of symbolism and metaphor to the subtext of the movie.

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Film Analysis Of The Natural – Part One: The Use Of Timeline

The Natural is a 1984 film based on the novel by the same name by Bernard Malamud, which was published in 1952. It was directed by Barry Levison and the screenplay was written by Roger Towne and Phil Dusenberry. It’s the story of fictional baseball great, Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford).

The Story

When he’s sixteen he gets a tryout with the Chicago Cubs. The train stops at a carnival and Hobbs strikes out a Babe Ruthish baseball star simply known as The Whammer (Joe Don Baker). A woman on the train named Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey) met Hobbs, and later in Chicago she invites Hobbs to her room. She shoots him and then jumps out of the window.

Fifteen years later Hobbs signs a major league contract with the New York Knights, a fictional team. The manager and part owner, Pop Fisher (Wilfred Brimley) refuses to play Hobbs. In time he becomes the starting Right Fielder and plays quite well. The team is inspired to play well. Hobs dates Fisher’s niece, Memo Paris (Kim Basenger), and she ends up being bad luck because Hobbs goes into a hitting slump.

At a game in Chicago, Hobbs’s old girlfriend from his teenage years, Iris Gaines (Glen Close). When he sees her in the stands, he hits a homerun that shatters the scoreboard clock. Hobbs wants to help Pop win a pennant because if he does, then contractually Pop can buy out his partner, a man simply known as the Judge (Robert Prosky). Hobbs gets pressure from the Judge, Meno, and a gambler named Gus Sands (Darren McGavin) to not play, but Hobbs overcomes all, including his health problems from the bullet in the stomach, and wins the pennant for Pop Fisher.

The Timeline

The original 1984 release told the story in a straight-forward linear means, just like the novel. But on the 30th anniversary DVD, Levison re-edited the beginning. The first act is Hobbs on the Train to New York to play for the Knights. On the train, everything from his youth up to his getting shot is shown as a flashbacks, as if Hobbs were reminiscing about his first chance at the Big League, which ended tragically.

Having seen both, I prefer to the original linear storyline. It’s almost as if Levison edited the beginning knowing people were already familiar with the 1984 release. It was as if Levison made the changes for people who already knew the story. If the non-linear/flashback version were the original release, it would not have made as much sense, and I feel that The Natural would not be the cinematic treasure that it is.

The flashback version skips quickly over Hobbs’s past. This edition focuses on his days with the Knights, but his early days are still important to the story. To me, this edition weakens the character development of Hobbs, but also Iris Gaines. Still, the re-edition I still basically true to the Malamud novel, which I highly recommend. And it is the cream of the crop for baseball movies.

Movieclips. (October 25, 2012). The Natural (1/8) Movie CLIP – Striking Out The Whammer (1984) HD [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdtCFKVtSls

 Crackle. (January 21, 2010).The Natural. Roy Hobbs smashes the clock tower at Wrigley Field. Mammoth home run [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3w0FLxdEKk

 Crackle. (June 15, 2011). The Natural – The Final Homerun [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjk3RsytFZg

 

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How To Become A NaNoWriMo “Winner”

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NaNoWriMo is here! That month of suffering for your art and straining for an image is now upon us. It is not for the squeamish. Nothing but the stout-hearted and solid-bottomed will do. The calluses on our finger tips are our flesh-colored badge of courage.

To see it through you need to be properly equipped. So for all of my fellow NaNoers I have compiled a simple assemblage of items for your literary knapsack, a compositional first aid kit, if you will, to help you through the next month.

  • Write-Ins – Sometimes these are all social, slices of pizza beside ourlaptops. But I remember last year, I got some real work done at my write-ins. You feel less crazy seeing others as crazy as you.
  • Forums – The NaNo website has a great page of forums. It’s a great place to find information and encouragement. When I need a break from writing, I usually hit the forums.
  • Pep Talks – When you sign up for NaNoWriMo you get emails from various writers encouraging you to keep it up. These are called Pep Talks. They’re great and they really work.
  • Coffee – I’m not joking. You cannot succeed at NaNoWriMo without writing very early and/or very late, scratch the “or.” Coffee is wonderful just because it’s coffee, but it’s almost a tonic for the NaNoer. And a bit of advice: coffee, yes – alcohol, no.
  • Muscle Rub – Again, I’m not joking. You are going to get sore muscles writing as much as you will. I’m sore just from writing this article. Nothing wrong with a good rub, and it smells good, too!
  • Comfortable Work Space – Last year I had piles of stuff on my desk, so I put my laptop on my office chair and wheeled it up to my recliner. Not advised. Maybe that’s why I needed all that muscle rub last year, but writing at desk at the right height in a solid yet comfy chair makes a big difference.
  • A Good Book – Writers are readers, and that doesn’t change just because there are now more demands no our schedule. I’m going to continuereading what I was already reading, which is The Bear by William Faulkner and Edmund Blake’s A Philosophical Enquiry Ito The Sublime And Beautiful.
  • Time Management – You have a life outside of NaNo, even though it may not seem like it. You need to learn to make and keep a schedule. Not only will this help you get your writing done, but it will let you get everything else done you need to do.
  • Rest – Enough of this staying up late and getting up early. You need to get some sleep. You may happen to sleep less than Aristotle, but your writing will show it. You need to rest your mind. Pillow that brain once in a while!
  • Support – The writing friends you make during NaNoWriMo can provide great support. I mean more than helping you find a synonym for truculent or what to do in your scene when the man walks through the door with a gun (the man, not the door). There is a great deal of encouragement to be found by your fellow writers. They don’t have to say or do anything. Just the fact that they are doing it with you helps bucketfuls.

What did I leave out? What gets you through a month of nervous November noveling? Let me know how you survive NaNoWriMo in the Comment section below. Happy NaNoing!

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