Writing Tips Revisited

You don’t have to have a near death experience to write but it is a game changer.

 

At the end of each blog post, I encourage you to share, press, tweet and otherwise assist me in getting my brand out there.  I repay that kindness with similar actions, and I post some delicious stuff from time to time. This blog is one you want to pay attention to if you are a writer, author or just think you might want to be someday.

If you look at any of these sites where independent authors publish their manuscripts, you will quickly discern that everyone thinks they can write.  By everyone, I mean everyone that can string a noun and a verb together in the same sentence feels that they are the next Hemmingway or Tolstoy.

I especially am interested in young people with limited life experience with a penchant for painting pictures with words.  Reading great writers will undoubtedly get your juices flowing.  I have read some young people’s writings and was impressed. Blog before you publish.  Like walking before you run you have this opportunity that those that came before you did not have.  You have technology that is incredible, and you have access to the world through the internet.

Google does not replace life experiences nor does any form of social media. Do something.  Become a missionary or go see Machu Picchu for yourself!  If you walk among the locals, you will all of the sudden develop an appreciation for what you have, and you will meet others with a different culture.  In short life experiences can inspire a writer to be a better writer.

Me personally, I have traveled extensively and still have more to do.  I may start out with a tour bus but I will explore, and I will visit with the locals.  From the local pub to another social event.  Those are life experiences that if you are aware of those that you are talking with, will reward you in kind.  From the street vendor to the waiter they all have a story.

I will get their name and talk with them as we are equals.  Why, because we are.  I can disagree with everything that they believe in but, I can still respect them and find something in common even if it is merely that we both bleed red.

Now that paragraph sounds very altruistic, and I am not that philanthropic.  If someone appears deranged or dangerous, I will not bother them or try to engage them in conversation; I am not that brave.  My first trip to Manhattan I was told not to look the locals in the eyes.  Don’t talk with them unless you are in a setting that they expect interaction such as a business environment or restaurant.

Folks, I talked with everyone I came across.  Now when I started out my greeting with HOWDY, they knew that I was not from around there, and felt strangely at ease with talking with me.

Yesterday I was on twitter, and some author put out a statement that I took issue with.

“I carefully craft each sentence rewriting it as many times as necessary, before going on to the next.”

If I wrote like that, Under Roswell, my first novel would still be in the first paragraph, and the other 25 books would still be future events.  Respectfully I would say that she is in the wrong line of work.

You cannot be that anal or obsessive-compulsive with your manuscript.  Writers are creative types.  We don’t think in dotted I’s and crossed T’s.  We don’t give a damn about a dangling participle or my favorite the split infinitive.  We are writers not English teachers.

In short, we tell stories, and we do it in such a way to engross the reader in the story.  When I write, I or my characters are telling the story as they see it at that moment in time.  As you read it, I hope that the picture of where they are, and what they are doing, is etched into your mind with the assistance of your imagination, using my words as the pigment and brush.

As long as the “stream” is flowing, I will press on, sometimes three or four chapters at a time.  If the stream switches off, I go back and do a rough edit looking for consistency and those nasty little participles.

Writers, like an artist, are a work in progress.  When I look at my first painting, I want to gesso over it and do something else with it.  My child will not let me as she loves it! It was my first attempt at putting oil on a canvass.  As we do this time and time again, we develop that critical eye one must have to paint. To paint and be any good at it, that is.

Writing is the same way.  Write short stories. Blog about your summer vacation.  Write, write, write, and with each paragraph, strive to improve.

Two quick stories that I think you will appreciate.  Once upon a time I golfed.  I sucked at it.  I went to these par three courses where you use the short irons and putter, and I played round after round. Mastering the drivers next, I was suddenly playing with business executives and influential people.  My five iron was still eating my lunch.  Every time I pulled it out of the bag, the ball would find the water or trap or the weeds. WTF!

Back to the par three course with you guessed it, only the five iron and a pocket full of balls. I felt kind of manly with all those balls there at the beginning of the first nine.  (a joke in case you missed it)

After several rounds with that five iron, I could play it with confidence every time I played.  Golf is about muscle memory and your mind.  If you don’t think you can do it, you won’t!  You must convince yourself that you can, then you will.

Twenty-Eight Years ago I was in a head-on collision with a drunken driver who was also on drugs.  This changed my life.  I could no longer do what I was trained to do.  In many of my novels, you will see that someone dies or has died in an accident with a drunk driver.  That little factoid is part of my life, and I want to drive that home just a little bit with whoever reads it.  I don’t preach; I just put it out there.

Along with ending my golfing career, not that I had one, it ended many things that “normal people” do.

I accepted my fate and re-invented myself once again.  Computers were just coming into vogue, so I took some classes and began learning all that there was to know about computers.  That last statement is pushing it a bit because I soon discovered that statement is an impossibility.  I have certifications in Novell and Microsoft and Cisco and it all changes overnight.  The people who put on the classes get rich, and of course, the testing centers make money.

I went into Management of IT. I had a good run of it until I was replaced by an H1-B person. The company got to write off their salary (half of what they paid me) to take over after I had updated the company to the latest greatest of everything including redesigning and upgraded their computer room.  I did all this in just a few months.  I was at the top of my pay quartile, and they were not willing to pay more for my talent, so they had me do all of these projects working 70 hours a week for months.  Expecting a bonus, I was laid off.  “We don’t need anyone with your talents anymore so thanks for everything here is your final paycheck!” That was a lovely life experience that I will not repeat ever!

Many of my novels I talk about technology, that is where that comes from so yes, the bits and bytes are not far off.  It makes some of the stories interesting when they use forensic technologies to find the bad guys, which is what I do now.

One of the things I did before the wreck was, played musical instruments.  Nerve damage in my wrist and well everywhere else made that untenable.  I have an excellent ear and “yo dog your pitchy” resonates with me.  “If I cannot do what I did then, screw it…” I was wrong.

A few months ago a friend saw my guitars and ask me if I played.  I kept them out as a reminder to never even think about drinking and driving.

“Yes I played 30 years ago or so why?”

“You should pick it up again.”  Those words sat hard with me.

After he left, I picked one of the instruments up and plucked a few strings realizing that I needed new strings.  My cheeks were damp when I tried to play stairway to heaven to only hear what an awful sound it was and that it scared my cats.  I couldn’t blame them.

Like golf, you take the good shots that you get in now and then and try to do better with the bad ones.  Practice practice practice.  Is this sounding familiar?

There are some great apps for a guitarist that I found.  Even an awesome tuner.  People who have strokes may have to learn to walk again.  I had to reteach myself how to play again, with my new abilities.  Notice I did not say disabilities.  Things are just different than what I remembered them to be.

Finding boring old tunes with three chords then four and then the dreaded bar chords I practiced.  After a few weeks of messing around with that guitar trying to keep my emotions in check, I have since purchased two more; the last one is a Taylor, which I am rather fond of.  Playing no less than two hours a day I can finally make bar chords “ring” again.  It chokes me up actually. Every time I play a song that sounds half decent, I often find my cheeks are wet and my eyes are blurry.  It is a good thing, those are happy tears.

You see that careless SOB took so much away from me with his drinking. Music resonates with my soul, it is my happy place.  When I am making it, that music is much more special than if I am listening to it.

There is not one minute of any day that I am not in physical discomfort to outright pain.  I don’t take pills or anything, I exercise and stretch and endure.  Oh yes, I don’t sleep much!

Will I ever be as good as I was, who knows?  My calluses are back, and the will is there.  I listen to the different artist and try to emulate them and see what I can do with the cards that I now have in my hands, pun intended.

If you are still reading this rather long blog, bless you.  This is the kind of life event that makes it into my stories.  Now I am not suggesting that you hit another car head-on doing 85kph.  As a matter of fact, I would strongly advise against it.

One side note that is rather interesting.  I have legs today because I drink coffee.

You see I had stopped minutes before the accident to fill up the car and purchase a thermos full of coffee.  The thermos, a Stanly Steel thermos was sitting on the seat next to me.  As I topped the hill passing a red truck, there was a Cadillac in my lane headed straight for me!  This was a divided highway and he should not have been there.

I locked up anti-lock brakes and bent the brake pedal.  Time slowed to a frame by frame sequence of events as glass from the window beside me tumbled horizontally by me as the steering wheel came up and impaled me, crushing my chest and face.  The thermos fell to the floor, and I saw it tumble as if on some purpose other than obeying the laws of physics. Time stood still, literally, frame by frame.

From the time I topped the hill, to the actual impact I said, “oh shit” bang! “Oh, shit may have been my last words.”

We ended up in the center part of the divided highway.  The pain was indescribable.  There was an elephant on my chest.  Blood was flowing from everywhere, and I merely thought, this is how it ends.

Oddly enough, I was ok with it.  That sounds strange but it is true.  The mystery of what the sting of death would be was answered; I thought.

There is this old story about people seeing the white light before they die.  My vision was failing.  It started with sparkles, and not too much longer I was pretty much blind, but I could still hear.  Then there was this rushing wind sound in my ears, so I guess that was the next sense to lose its ability to function.

My brain was being deprived of blood flow and oxygen and that is what it is like to die.

The red truck I passed was a guy that worked for the local fire department.  They took the old bastard out of his car who did not have a seatbelt on and was under his dash before they cut me out of mine.  He had one small cut on his forehead and was released from the hospital that night.

When they finally pulled me from my car, as they laid me back, my hearing and then sight returned.  The pain also returned, and breathing was not comfortable, to say the least.

The guy in the ambulance said, “I am going to put some liquid sugar water in you and this needle is going to sting, it is 18 gauge.”  My teeth were through my lower lip, my nose was broken up, my chest was crushed, and I was losing more blood that I thought I could spare,  and he thought that I gave a shit about a needle prick!

They took me to the charity hospital I guess because it was the closest and it showed.  The doctor was a complete ass as we had interrupted his game that he was watching.  Suddenly I was a sideshow as they cut my clothing off with police and who the hell all knows who all were looking down at my nude and bleeding body. Suddenly I was not a person or human but a piece of flesh to be poked and prodded and well pieced back together.

The cop was an arrogant piece of work.  I have many friends who are police.  This person was a total ass!  I had removed my seat belt thinking that would stop the pain.  It didn’t. I think the bastard was going to write me a ticket for no seatbelt until the purple streaks across my chest and waist that were caused by the belt were self-evident that I indeed had it on.  The man, I kid you not, looked disappointed when he saw it! This guy and the doctor too wanted this to be my fault.  I am pretty keen on reading people, which can be a curse.

They checked me for drugs and alcohol and all kinds of stuff.  “Nope, I don’t do that stuff.”

Because my heart was bruised they could not give me anything for the pain.  In a way that was ok, I remember thinking as long as I am in pain, I am alive.  It was ok until they stitched me up with no anesthesia.  That hurt like well, you can imagine.

Later another doctor came in to fix my nose, long hemostats up the nose crunch crack, thumb placed on one side pushing things back into place and then stuffing a whole bale of cotton up my nose with no anesthetic.

I spent a lifetime in that sorry little emergency room listening to the beeping monitors, having to get assistance to pee every 30 minutes being careful not to turn my head because my inner ears were severely screwed up.  Any movement caused a case of vertigo.   The last thing I wanted to do is throw up!   I wouldn’t be surprised if this doctor were also the town vet.  Thinking back, I would not have been shocked to have seen an animal on the next bed.

Minutes turned into hours and hours turned into days.  With all the cotton up my nose, I could still smell myself, and it wasn’t pretty.  Finally getting some kind nurse from California to bathe me, I felt a little more human.

When all the results came back that I was not under the influence, the cop went away probably disgusted because he just knew that the young person had some culpability. Hick!

The old guy that caused the wreck was drunk and on drugs, and he went home. I know this because we shared the emergency room with a curtain between us.  I heard everything, including his wife scolding him for drinking and driving. She actually came over to me and apologized.  She stroked my forehead which was still spattered with blood and told me “I am not supposed to say this, but we have good insurance.” BFD!  Lady, I am in pain here, and I may not live to see tomorrow.  Didn’t say it, but I thought it.

Instead, I asked her how her husband was.  When the words came out of my mouth as angry as I was, I knew what my true character was.  I was actually concerned about that old fart!  That still boggles my mind.

She went on to say that he had recently wrecked their last car, so she bought him that Cadillac so if he hit another tree or something he would not get hurt.  Wonderful logic!  Let’s put more old drunk guys in tanks and set them loose.  Wait, maybe that was the mayhem guy?

Years later I found out why the old guy went home and not to prison.  I was cleaning out the filing cabinet and found the file folder from the infamous day that I about died.  Reading the police report, the bastard cop only wrote him up for left of center.  Now I get that the guy was 84.  I understand that he was well known in the community.  But the guy was drunk and on drugs, prescription or not; he should not have been behind the wheel!    Yes, I am still pissed and every move to this day reminds me of that fateful day 28 years ago.  And the limitless insurance, same outfit as me.  Want to guess how that worked out? I had to fight to get my car paid for!

Oh yes, the coffee and legs.  The thermos that traveled from my seat to the floor wedged itself between the frame of my seat and the firewall.  Since it was full of coffee, it did not compress with the impact thus keeping the steering column from going through my chest and the dash taking my legs off at the knees. There is this whole hydraulic thing I will not bore you with.

The engine and front wheels were under the front seat.  Steam or freon was still escaping from somewhere as they hauled me off to the ambulance.  The violence of the crash turned my vehicle sideways.  The sides were split open and my stuff was scattered all over the highway.  It is amazing that I am not driving a Volvo, which is close to a tank I understand!

God was there that day.  Not sure why he allowed my life to be so drastically altered, but he did.

Maybe he wanted to teach me to forgive… Not there yet.  How do you forgive someone like this?  If you know please tell me.  I do pray about it, it is in my heart and only hurting me.  I cannot forget about it, as I have constant reminders.  The ringing in my ears is a result of the damage from the wreck.  The arthritis is of course where everything was injured. Anyone that has ever played sports knows what I am dealing with.

My doctors tried to give me that handicapped plate and I refuse.  I can still walk.  It is painful but once you stop, you die.  If you are coasting you are going downhill.

I now drive a full-size truck, fuck gas mileage. I don’t pass unless I can see down the road, even on divided highways, but I do travel.  I love road trips; I am just a little more cautious about them.  I stay in the right-hand lane unless I am passing and, I don’t care if I am up to the speed limit or not.  I would rather get there in one piece, than five minutes earlier.

When you read my books, snippets of this story are in them as well as many other stories.  I think one of my favorite books that I have written to date is Diamond Joe.  No car crashes, but that is such a great story, I like to read it again and again.

And my point to this is what exactly?

Go live your life and have adventures.  As Sally from The Girl-Next-Door discovers, life is about adventures. You cannot write with passion if you have not lived a life.  If you live your life through the tellie and or other people’s books, that is not living, that is existing.

Steve Erwin who I admired greatly died doing what he loved.  He lived his life in his 42 years more fully than most people do in 84 years.  There is a man I can admire and did.  I actually used to talk with him on e-mail, told him he was nuts.  In a good way.

Please please please don’t drink and drive, and put that damned phone down!

Thirty percent of all drivers statistically speaking are under the influence of something.  God only knows the percentage that are texting while driving and under the influence.

If you are like me and live in pain every day, don’t give up.  Hang in there and feel free to connect with me here on the blog or the website http://www.authortwscott.com. If I can re-invent myself as I have, and live without pain meds, you certainly can.  I am a wimp with this stuff, so I know.

This blog is the creation of yet another sleepless night where insomnia once again has scuttled my attempt at rest.  One day I fear I will end up giving in to the need for medication, and I will most likely hate that day.

Much Love TW

Don’t forget to subscribe, follow and you know the drill.  Thanks!

 

Author: AuthorTWScott

Author, Writer, Artist ... Over 30 published novels crossing many genres. www.authortwscott.com

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