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Archive for August, 2010

Updates on My Life

Thanks to all of you who’ve expressed your concern and good wishes during this very difficult time in my life. I appreciate your support and prayers.

Though I plan to keep this blog going, my posts may be sporadic for the next month or so as my priority now is to help care for my mother, who is combating the insidious side effects of aging. She’s been living independently, despite serious health problems, but that’s no longer possible.  Last week she was hospitalized for tests and unexpectedly quit breathing, causing her heart to stop beating. CPR was successful in bringing her back to us, but she’s very fragile. We’re hoping she will be strong enough to leave the hospital in another week or two, but her future is still uncertain. My sisters and I are focusing on her needs now, and planning how to care for her during the time ahead.

This is a blog about writing, not my personal life, so I will not be posting any further updates here. For those of you who’ve become my friends, I will occasionally post status reports on my Prayer Request Journal.

I will try to resume posting on writing topics next week.

Blessings wished for all of you,

Carol

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EDIT  August 31, 2010:

My mother has left the hospital and is staying at my sister’s home while we try to make long-term arrangements. She requires someone with her 24 hours a day, so I’m helping there as much as I can.

Between my family commitments and keeping up with my business paperwork, I have little free time to write or update this blog.  My blog stats show my daily page hits are steadily increasing anyway, so maybe people are grateful for a break from my yammering. ;) 

I’ll be back as soon as I can.

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Taking a Break

Due to a family emergency, it will be sometime next week before I can reply to comments or add new content.

Carol

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In addition to having a general understanding of who our audience is and why we write, we need to determine what we want a particular piece of writing to accomplish. Here are specific goals I’ve had in mind with the things I’ve written, and links to sites that talk about that particular type of writing:

1. to inform others about something I’m interested in or think they will be interested in. (Informative Writing)

http://www.clccharter.org/donna/writersworkshop/pssa%20writing/informative.htm  An excellent resource for informative writing tips, including how to write book reviews.

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2. to release my anger, sorrow, fears, hopes, or joy. (Emotional/Expressive Writing)

http://brainstorm-services.com/wcu-2004/expressive-writing.html Explains what expressive writing is, and how to do it well

http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/comp_med/ask_expert/2007_03/question_20.jsp  A doctor briefly discusses the health benefits of writing about emotional events.

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3. to make a little extra cash by writing something I think will sell. (Freelancing)

http://www.poewar.com/the-beginners-guide-to-freelance-writing/

Extremely helpful article about freelance writing.

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4. to encourage someone going through a difficult situation. (Personal Writing)

http://www.ehow.com/how_5317167_write-inspirational-appreciation-letter.html  Tips on encouraging others through a letter.

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5. to document what has happened. (Journalism)

http://www.mediacollege.com/journalism/news/write-stories.html  Tips for writing for the news media.

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6. to explain or clarify my position on something that has happened. (Explantory)

 http://www.tailoredessays.com/how-write/explanatory-essay.htm  How to write an explanatory essay.

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7. to entertain myself or others. (Creative Writing/Storytelling)

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/creative-writing-101/   Creative writing tips.

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8. to remind myself or others of something that needs to be done or remembered. (Organizing/Note Keeping)

http://alternativeto.net/desktop/microsoft-onenote/

Provides links and a brief description of organizational software, like Microsoft’s OneNote, for keeping track of things (to-do lists, notes, and appointments).

Each story, article, essay, list, or note we write should accomplish something, or there isn’t a point in writing it.

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What point are you trying to make with the type of writing you’re doing? Do you write lots of lists and notes for yourself or others?  Is most of your writing fiction or nonfiction?

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For some of us, writing is just one of many activities we enjoy; for others, it’s the most important one. Its importance and priority in our lives may change as we deal with other things—like family issues, jobs, or health problems—but since what we write is directly related to why we write, I think it’s important to figure out the reason(s) we write.

Some people write (in no particular order):

1. because they have a story inside them that they feel the need to share with others.

2. because they have a message they think others need to hear.

3. because it makes them feel better to write down what they are thinking, feeling, or dreaming about—regardless of whether or not others read it.

4. because they think it will provide them with money, recognition, or both.

5. because they have to (I hear this one a lot, but I’m not exactly sure what it means).

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If our writing fulfills the purpose we have in mind, I think we can consider ourselves successful whether or not our work is published.

This quote by William Faulkner sums up why I write:

I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.

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Why do you write? What reasons can you think of besides the ones I’ve listed? Where does writing rank on your list of priorities? How do you measure success?

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I read a post on agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog that nagged at me for days. To summarize, a guest blogger suggested that authors should write for individuals rather than a wider audience. She even said writers should know what books the person we are writing for keeps on her or his nightstand. Not many people responded to the post, and the few who did weren’t all in agreement. I didn’t reply, but I thought about it enough that I decided to share my views here in a 3-part series.

My Thoughts on What Makes an Audience

An audience is made up of a group of individuals, so whether our writing is presented to many people at once or read by one person at a time, we are indirectly writing for each reader. 

Can we know each of those people well enough to know what they keep on their nightstand? I don’t think so. Besides, not everyone has a nightstand. (There’s a bookcase next to my bed, and a sewing machine next to my mother’s.)

Can we know them well enough to understand what they are most interested in? Yes, I think that’s possible, and important if our goal is to write for others. And I think that’s basically what the blogger was saying, too.

Each person who reads our writing has a unique set of experiences that influences the way she views life and what she looks for in a book, short story, or article. Factors such as age, religious beliefs, values, and mood also affect what people are looking for when they choose something to read.

Even though no one’s life is identical to anyone else’s, there are common threads that run through our lives and connect us in ways that allow us to relate to people and situations we’ve never met or experienced. If we can visualize the type of person who might be interested in what we have to say, that is our audience. We can write for her or him because we know there are similar people looking for similar things to read.

 

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What type of person do you think would be interested in your writing? Do you write in a variety of genres or stick to one? What underlying themes do you find cropping up in your writing, or in the type of writing you like to read? What would someone seeing your nightstand think about you? ;)

  

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