I’m no Stephen King, but I have been an honest-to-goodness paid professional writer for the past 15 or so years. And every time I read this wonderful bit from Mr. King, Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully: In Ten Minutes, I am struck with the raw, perfect truth of it. (Even though it was written in 1986! Before they even had teh innernets!)
Some of my favorite bits:
1. Be talented
This, of course, is the killer. What is talent? I can hear someone shouting, and here we are, ready to get into a discussion right up there with “what is the meaning of life?” for weighty pronouncements and total uselessness. For the purposes of the beginning writer, talent may as well be defined as eventual success – publication and money. If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.
4. Remove every extraneous word
You want to get up on a soapbox and preach? Fine. Get one and try your local park. You want to write for money? Get to the point. And if you remove all the excess garbage and discover you can’t find the point, tear up what you wrote and start all over again . . . or try something new.
5. Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft
You want to write a story? Fine. Put away your dictionary, your encyclopedias, your World Almanac, and your thesaurus. Better yet, throw your thesaurus into the wastebasket. The only things creepier than a thesaurus are those little paperbacks college students too lazy to read the assigned novels buy around exam time…
A bright light went out a few days ago. David Blair was a poet and a musician who was an active part of the renaissance that’s happening in Detroit, MI – until he passed away unexpectedly last week.
While we no longer have the option of seeing him in person, we’re lucky enough to have this incredible video of Blair performing an Emily Dickinson poem as a song — an a capella song, no less — that gives me chills every time I hear it.
I’m so excited I’m about to bust – I’m finally offering weekend workshops!
People have been asking for weekend workshops since I started the Fairy Tale Factory, but I couldn’t figure out how to deliver a satisfying workshop experience in such a short period of time…UNTIL NOW.
The first weekend workshop focuses mainly on the personal transformation aspects of the Fairy Tale Factory (as opposed to the hardcore writing aspects). I’m calling it Happily Ever After, and participants will spend a fun and engaging weekend using the magic of fairy tales to reclaim their personal power and change their lives for the better. We’ll learn to cast our real-life problems in metaphorical terms (fairy tale terms!), then use the narrative structure and conventions of fairy tales to solve those problems in effective, creative ways.
It’s that time again! The Intro to Fairy Tales students are sending me their favorite stories, and I’m delighted to share them with you.
Once upon a time there was a king and a queen, as in many lands have been. The king had a daughter, Anne, and the queen had one named Kate, but Anne was far bonnier than the queen’s daughter, though they loved one another like real sisters. The queen was jealous of the king’s daughter being bonnier than her own, and cast about to spoil her beauty. So she took counsel of the henwife, who told her to send the lassie to her next morning fasting.
So next morning early, the queen said to Anne, “Go, my dear, to the henwife in the glen, and ask her for some eggs.” So Anne set out, but as she passed through the kitchen she saw a crust, and she took and munched it as she went along.
When she came to the henwife’s she asked for eggs, as she had been told to do; the henwife said to her, “Lift the lid off that pot there and see.” The lassie did so, but nothing happened. “Go home to your minnie and tell her to keep her larder door better locked,” said the henwife. So she went home to the queen and told her what the henwife had said. The queen knew from this that the lassie had had something to eat, so watched the next morning and sent her away fasting; but the princess saw some country-folk picking peas by the roadside, and being very kind she spoke to them and took a handful of the peas, which she ate by the way.
Perrrault’s “Donkey Skin” is a great fairy tale, full of unwholesome passions, magic, trickery, and wonder. So of course fellow Frenchman Jacques Demy turned it into a film starring Catherine Deneuve in 1970.
THERE was once upon a time a king who was so much beloved by his subjects that he thought himself the happiest monarch in the whole world, and he had everything his heart could desire. His palace was filled with the rarest of curiosities, and his gardens with the sweetest flowers, while in the marble stalls of his stables stood a row of milk-white Arabs, with big brown eyes.
Strangers who had heard of the marvels which the king had collected, and made long journeys to see them, were, however, surprised to find the most splendid stall of all occupied by a donkey, with particularly large and drooping ears. It was a very fine donkey; but still, as far as they could tell, nothing so very remarkable as to account for the care with which it was lodged; and they went away wondering, for they could not know that every night, when it was asleep, bushels of gold pieces tumbled out of its ears, which were picked up each morning by the attendants.
My friend Arlene just told me about The Path – a beautiful, creepy game based on Little Red Riding Hood. The animation is gorgeous, the metaphors divine. Meet the Wolf in many incarnations, learn what happens when you stray into the woods.
This month is blessings and bonanzas month at the Fairy Tale Factory. Not only have we been interviewed and featured, but folks are writing to me to solicit stories for publication. So nice!
Here is the latest call for submissions:
I just wanted to let you know about New Fairy Tales, the online magazine I run, as some of your participants might be interested in submitting their original fairy tales to us. We’re an illustrated magazine with an audio collection as well and we only publish new and original tales rather than retellings.
It’s all run on a voluntary basis, so unfortunately we can’t pay, but we do ask readers to consider making a small donation to my local children’s hospice. It’s a good showcase for the writers’ and illustrators’ work and it helps raise money for a good cause. We’ve published three issues so far and the deadline for submissions to Issue 4 is the 20th October.
There’s lots of info on the site but if you’d like to know anything else feel free to get in touch.
There are so many things to love about this short video of Ray Bradbury: his awesome white shorts, his house, his lunch (hint: Coors). Oh yeah, and his words. He says some stuff about writing, too. Nice if you like that sort of thing.