Are you thinking of asking a writer friend for help with something? Maybe you should think twice.
Tag Archives: literature
by Lillian Csernica on June 9, 2013
Eight Ways To Win My Heart: I do consider the number eight to be lucky. The person willing to do some or all of what’s listed below is a winner in my book!
Intelligent conversation. I value it even more than good chocolate.
Send me something fun via snail mail. I love to get cards and packages.
Be willing to watch a movie with me, one of the ones I really enjoy due to explosions, strange characters, foreign culture, or a movie star I have a crush on.
Ignore my weirdness on my bad days and accept the apologies I offer later.
Fold the laundry for me.
Convince me that I will finish this book, I will finish the others, I will write and sell good, solid stories, and someday I’ll be nominated for literary awards.
Get me out the door so I’ll take that walk or go for a swim or do something to exercise this aging, high mileage vehicle.
Don’t ever lie to me or jerk me around. Prove to me that I can’t trust you and you’ll never be on the Authorized Personnel list again.
By Lillian Csernica on May 4, 2013
Day Four: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it
Nowhere else have I read such a perfect illustration of the importance of finding just the right word. When I was in school I didn’t appreciate Mark Twain’s writing. As I got older and discovered the fine arts of sarcasm and satire, then Twain’s writing and his observations about the human condition held more meaning for me. Twain himself is one of my role models. As a teenager he became a licensed riverboat pilot. He was a confederate soldier in the Civil War. He mined for gold and silver, then went on to become a journalist in San Francisco. He was one of the first people to use this newfangled invention called a typewriter. This was a man who knew very well the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
I want to write stories and novels that say something meaningful about people and the historical periods in which they lived. I hope I can always find the right words.
Rest in peace, Mr. Twain. Thank you for showing me the way.
by Lillian Csernica on April 18, 2013
There are a lot of books out there on how to write fiction. Sometimes they focus on one particular type of fiction, such as the mystery genre. Other books are more general and reach for the loftier heights of literary technique. How do you write a good story? I’ve just shown you how.
You ask questions.
In science fiction, the two famous questions are “What if?” and “What then?”
In the murder mystery, you can ask the classic “Who done it?”, the more forensic “How done it?”, or the psychological/psychiatric “Why done it?”
Journalists know that every story, fiction or nonfiction, must contain the answers to five simple questions:
Who? What? Where? Why? When? and How?
The questions are simple. What makes the difference is how clever you are at coming up with answers that will intrigue and entertain your readers.
by Lillian Csernica on March 28, 2013
As the mother of two special needs teenage boys, there are many days when I am just not in the mood to write. I’m too tired, I’m too stressed, I’ve had to be out at appointments or making phone calls or sorting out scheduling problems with the nurses and aides. All I want to do is flop down on the couch with a bag of brain functions take a vacation while I watch some trashy action movie on Netflix.and let my higher
That doesn’t get the day’s writing done.
Process Goal: This is an activity that will contribute to the overall completion of a particular writing project. I have a new short story underway. I brainstorm more plot complications to see if I can raise the stakes and make the story more exciting with greater suspense.
Productivity Goal: This is the write-the-actual-words goal. A thousand a day? Two thousand? If I want to get a five thousand word short story written in first draft form in one week’s time, then I have to hit my target of a thousand words per day. If I write more, great!
There is always something I can accomplish, no matter what my frame of mind might be. If I want to be successful as a writer, both on the personal and the professional levels, then I have to get the story or novel written, clean it up, and get it out to market. If I keep my sights set on today, I won’t feel so overwhelmed. Today plus today plus today adds up.per day five days a week for twenty weeks or five months equals one hundred thousand words, which is a four hundred page novel.
Keeping those lists of Process goals and Productivity goals is my way of making sure that no matter what kind of mood I’m in, there will be something I can muster up the motivation to accomplish. Once I’ve overcome the inertia of not being “in the mood,” I can build some momentum and get the work done.
by Lillian Csernica on March 21, 2013
For a long time I had a wrong equation in my head. I thought my time was very limited. I’m so busy with all the tasks involved in taking care of both my sons that it’s very difficult to find the time to write. Writing a novel is a serious commitment. I’ve heard it compared to marriage. Once you set out to write a novel, you’d better go into it realizing you’re going to be living with this project day in and day out for months, possibly years. I’m here to tell you that’s absolutely true. What’s painful is watching the days slip by one by one without any writing getting done. Days filled up with doctor appointments or IEP meetings or meetings with the caseworker or filling prescriptions or all the ordinary household errands that can add up into hours away from my keyboard and my writing. See, the equation I had made was very simple. I could be a mother or I could be a writer. I couldn’t do both, at least not at the same time. If I was spending time on mothering, that meant I couldn’t spend it on writing. If I was busy writing, that meant time taken away from my sons. Either way, what came out on the other side of the equals sign was guilt and frustration. No matter what I did, how hard I tried, I couldn’t win.
This was not good for my mental or physical health. In fact, it was very very bad for me. In addition to all the other difficult factors in my life, I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. Now let me be clear: I am low serotonin. I’ve had a problem in my brain chemistry since long before my sons came along, so I don’t want anybody to think I’m drawing any kind of link between the boys and their problems and me being depressed. I could go down the whole list of my symptoms of clinical depression and how I’m an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Yes, I was in pain. A lot of pain, and that pain kept sucking up all the energy I had for any creative efforts.
And then a very wise LCSW I know gave me the new equation that set me free: “If your pain is stopping you from writing, maybe you need to make room in your writing for your pain.”
Wow. Scary thought! Writers are often told, “Write what you know!” I write fantasy, horror, historical romance, some science fiction. I write ESCAPIST literature. I write to get away from the pain I live with, just like I read to get away from the pain I live with. Makes sense, right? So why in the name of all that’s logical would I want to start writing about my pain? If I combine a quick list of What I Know with a quick list of What Really Hurts this is what I’d get:
1) Every day both of my sons struggle through their hours at school.
2) From 2:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. my house is full of noise and people and more activity than I can tolerate, even though I’m grateful for Michael‘s R.N.s and John’s aides.
3) My father died a month before Michael was born, and a year after I had a miscarriage and lost my first son James, so Daddy never got to see any of his grandsons.
4) I’ve reached the age where I don’t go to weddings and baby showers anymore. I treasure my friends’ birthdays because I’ve already been to too many funerals.
5) I think about all the other things I could be doing, traveling and teaching and going on writers’ retreats and meeting all kinds of fascinating people. Having conversations that don’t center around medications and diagnoses and problems with the Special Education Department and how many diapers my 16 year old son has had changed that day.
Henry James said fiction is about “The human heart in conflict with itself.” As a writer it is my business to create people on paper and give them both internal and external conflicts. The idea of giving my fictional people my own pain to cope with in the course of the story is a frightening and intimidating thought. Dorothy Parker said, “Never never dip your quill/In ink that rushes from your heart.” I’ve begun a story about a woman living with the agonies of PTSD in the wake of losing her first baby to miscarriage. I’ve been crying when I’ve been writing it and I’ve been crying when I’ve read parts of it to my writing class. It hurts like hell, but it’s real and it’s believable and it’s some of the most honest writing I’ve ever done. I want to keep improving my work, to polish my writing style and create better plots and make my characters live and breathe. If tapping into the vast reservoir of pain inside me can help me do that, then it’s time to commit the emotional alchemy that will turn this poisonous lead into curative gold.
Other writers have been where I’m going. Historian and author Anita Brookner said, “You never know what you will learn until you start writing. Then you discover truths you never knew existed. ” According to Francis Bacon, my bags are already packed: “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is.”