Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

I am a shameless lover of the season. While I could quite cheerfully do without the snow and cold -- frankly, there's not that much snow here, yet. Give it time -- I adore the lights, the music, the baking, the shopping and the wrapping. Most of all, I love watching my kids tear into their stockings and presents, and seeing their delight and pleasure. Who wouldn't?

I seem to recall having read some navel-gazing piece at one time or another that posited that giving gifts is about control. In the particular piece I'm thinking about, giving extravagant gifts is a way for the gift-giver to exert control -- in the form of engendering a sense of gratitude -- over the recipient. Perhaps that's true. It certainly made sense when I read it.

In my view, though, giving gifts is a way of bringing pleasure to both sides of the equation. I get pleasure out of finding the perfect something(s) for my children. (That can be pretty tricky, considering their ages span 11 and 17, two boys and two girls, with a wide variety of interests.) While I want them to be happy with what I give them, I hope they subconsciously tune in to the underlying message: "I love you. I know you. I care."

Because that's what it's really about. Knowing someone well enough to know what they will like, what they will love, and what they will pretend to like to spare your feelings.

I'm shooting for the middle option.

Best wishes of the season, and for the new year!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The End

There is nothing as satisfying as typing “the end” on your manuscript, even if it is only in your mind.

I’m of the opinion that it never really is “the end,” though. As in any other profession, be it driving a bus or running a company, writers mature and improve and shape their craft throughout their lives.

I like to think I’ve become a better writer – heck, just finishing a book is a huge improvement from my early days! I’ve got any number of unfinished manuscripts kicking around on my hard drive. Some I may go back to. Others I might cannibalize … (Hmmm, such a nasty word. How about take inspiration from? Better.) Others I may use as inspiration for newer works. And still more will never, ever see the light of day, and that’s a good thing. Regardless of the final outcome, I learn something from each effort.

And I continue to learn, when years later I read over my stories, published and not. I always consider ways my work could have been better, my characters more interesting, my dialogue snappier, my plot a bit darker. I think, “Oh, I should have done this,” or “It really would have been better if my hero had done that,” or “Did I really have to use the word ‘really’ so much?” :lol

Even so, with every story there are also those bits of gold, the scenes that surprise and amuse and make me proud to know that, hey, I wrote that and I still think it’s good. It’s especially great when I fall in love with my characters all over again, and remember how caught up in their “lives” I got while I was throwing them in the river, hoping they could swim (but maybe they couldn’t, and – ooooh – what would happen next?!). I prefer to think of those passages rather than the ones that make me want to reach for my red editing pen.

Regardless, with every figurative “the end” comes a sigh of relief, a sense of satisfaction and the urge to get the story out there to, hopefully, surprise, amuse and entertain my readers.

And then it starts all over again as the next idea starts kicking to be born on the page, and I can look forward to the next …

The End.