PD is a close friend of mine, and he's a great addition to any social event. Having witnessed an amazing international adventure or two, he always has a tale to tell in his inimitable and entertaining fashion. Because he's such an engaging storyteller, I suggested that he should write short stories about his adventures.
One adventure that he likes to recount is the time a group of us were lost in the Empty Quarter Desert in the Sultanate of Oman. We were on our way to see the green turtles lay their eggs when we lost our bearings and didn't know which way was toward the ocean. Out of nowhere came a white Toyota truck, emerging from a sand drift. Frantically, we waved him down, and in our best Arabic – a vocabulary of about seven words total, all pleasantries and salutations – told him we were lost. A blank stare was his reply.
And here PD took the lead. Armed with only a stick, a smooth patch of sand, and his command of charades, he performed great theatre with imitations of fish, turtles, ocean waves, and sand dunes. A sparkle entered our Toyota driver's eye. He understood that we needed to find the ocean.
Not only did we regain the right path, but we gained a great story, and concluded our detour by shaking hands with the laughing Arab. His smile revealed only two teeth, which added to our amusement. And that was just the beginning of that three-day adventure.
The last time we were at a social gathering together, and PD choose this as the story to tell, I ventured my suggestion once again. He was still not taking me seriously, so later I fired him an interview-style email to give him the opportunity to reminisce over the past 30-plus years of working overseas. The stories he returned to me were not about the work he had done, but about people he had met, places he had been, and events he had experienced. At the end of his reminiscence, he closed the email with the claim that he would love to write his stories but he was afraid. He lacked confidence about his writing and his spelling, so no matter whether he could write or not, it would just have to wait.
I'm not sure what he's waiting for. I told him that good writers know they need an editor whose job it is to help out with the spelling and the grammar and the tightening of the prose. He managed to communicate in the desert, and I told him that's the goal. "Put pen to paper and write," I said.
Are your fears holding you back? Are your doubts and lack of confidence keeping your pen dry? Free yourself. Express yourself. Tell your stories. Worry about the clean-up later. The spelling and the grammar and the word choice and the clarity of the sentences – these are things that can come in time. The first task is to get the message out. Take the first task first – freely. Then come back and perfect.
This experience of freedom is something that a specifically-timed writing exercise can give you. For example, the National Novel Writing Month challenge schooled Penelope Jensen in this very freedom. We bid adieu this month to Penny as she moves on to pursue other goals. Thank you for all of your great assistance in the past year.
For Mark London, NaNoWriMo gave different insights. Either way, the experience of freedom inside a dedicated writing space and time is like nothing else to let you encounter your storyteller.
On our cover this month is Ronald Kelly, scary storyteller extraordinaire. Check out his excerpt to experience just how unsettling his stories can be. Inside Authors introduces two more yarn-spinners from BeWrite Books, Hugh McCracken and Sean Parker.
Anne Allen offers advice about responding to requests for exclusive reads, and Peggy Bechko revisits the realities of writer as juggler. Ken Robinson concludes his series on his origins as a screenwriter, Helen Dunn Frame lays down the law, while Bev Walton-Porter reminds us about the golden rule.
Erika-Marie Geiss wraps up her three-part series of telling you what your publisher won't, and Joyce Faulkner refocuses the purpose of our fiction. Stan Grimes examines the legacy of poetry, while Char Milbrett delivers 10 resources to add a laugh track to your writing and Lynne Pembroke reveals adapting your novel for the big screen.
Joan Neubauer addresses important questions, and Ben Parris brings us up-to-date with the status of publishing's move from print to digital distribution. If you're still not sure of the value gained from writing groups, Judy Adourian sheds some light. In Book Reviews, we've got three more titles to add to your arsenal. M. Y. Mim takes us on an entertaining journey through pop-culture expression and Barbara Bordenave checks out Career Fair For Women, hosted by Good Morning America's Tory Johnson.
I'd like to thank all our contributors for another bold and successful year of sharing support for the writing community and providing free resources to help us all develop our craft. As Rowdy Rhodes says in his article of reflection, "I wish you and yours all the best during the coming year, and thank you, one and all." Happy birthday to IN!
It's all here to support you in your writing goals. Don't forget, the first task is the writing – however it comes out. And here's a bonus: it's time to make New Year's resolutions.
Read, write, and enjoy!
Julie A. Pierce
Inkwell Newswatch (IN)