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How to embrace the writer within

A. M. MURRAY – AUTHOR

How to embrace the writer within

How to embrace the writer within

Embracing the Writer Within
– Getting Started

When I embarked on this journey to embrace my inner writer, I was clueless.

The urge to write fiction had never left conscious thought since childhood, yet it took several decades to mobilize myself. I enrolled in a creative writing course early on and churned out a wave of short stories destined for a desk drawer when self-doubt subjugated aspiration.

How to embrace the writer withinWorse, I had no idea how to apply myself to the task of writing a full-length novel.

And I had plenty of excuses and diversions to mitigate the sense of helplessness. How to embrace the writer withinI studied the Japanese written and spoken language, shifted to Japan, took on stimulating yet time-consuming employment, and started a family. Life was in the fast lane. No time to write.

Mentoring my daughter, who’d grown up in a bicultural environment, through senior creative English classes was the pivotal event that ended this culture of evasion. I decided to take charge of my aspirations and make the time to write a novel.

But where to start?

This was before the explosion of social media and the current wealth of writing resources on the internet. Back then, a few internet searches for “how-to-write” sites yielded my first three tenets, still guiding me today. I found nothing then on pantsers versus plotters, character arcs, show-don’t-tell, story structure, and so on—I encountered and absorbed these gems of wisdom later—but these three initial tenets sufficed to transform me into an active, persistent writer.

1. Write every day

No matter how few words you put down, write every day. Even just ten words a day.

Do this routinely and you will develop a regular writing habit. I started with a low word count, but without fail wrote at least one or two sentences. These days it levels out at around 500 words per day, sometimes reaching 1,000.

Some years later, I found an inspiring quote on BestsellerLab.com , the website of writing guru, Jonathan Gunson. How to embrace the writer within

You write. You stop dreaming of writing. You stop talking about writing. Stop wishing you were writing. And you write. – Jonathan Gunson.

I printed this quote out, enlarged it and pinned it to the back of my desk where I still see it every day.

2. Find your optimum writing location

Experiment until you find the best place to write. Everyone is different. Some prefer to tap away at their computer on an office desk. Creativity is unleashed for others on the sofa, laptop balanced on knees.

My creativity switch automatically sets to ‘ON’ in cafes while I drink one or two (or three) double-shot cappuccinos with peripheral distractions partially tuned out.How to embrace the writer within

I’ve found that writing long-hand using a pencil works better for me than staring at a blank screen. The physical action of writing the first few words on paper seems to overcome the psychological barrier holding back the narrative.

I type the handwritten text on my computer when I return home, typically adding another 200 or so words, then I print out the day’s work. This is where I start the next day—checking and improving on yesterday’s work seems to stimulate the flow of new text.

3. Call yourself a writer

Don’t be self-conscious. Tell your family (I started with the dogs), friends, and colleagues. Say the words, “I am a writer.” How to embrace the writer withinIt will soon empower you and help fight self-doubt. Eventually, you will believe the mantra and output will improve.

Don’t quit. Never quit. Just keep saying, “I am a writer.”

With these three tips, my writing life took off. But I soon discovered it wasn’t enough. There was so much more to learn. Where did I go from here? Read the next instalment of my blog to find out.

I have a confession to make. I’m extremely lazy. I love sitting around and doing nothing. The call of the TV screen beckons me far more often than I want to admit. I know I should be writing, but that new show just started and nobody’s gonna watch it for me. Not to mention the bookshelves of DVDs and blu-rays that go to waste if I don’t pop them in and press play. Hours and hours and hours of movies and tv must be consumed.

And I’m not even sorry.

Yep, I’m lazy. But I work hard to earn that right. I’m a productivity machine. Not to brag, but put me up against the average 63% robot and I’ll run circles around them. And don’t even get me started on full-humans. I’m a prisoner to my own habits and schedule. Which is why I have to schedule my downtime as well.

It’s Not TV, It’s Research

So, yeah, my busy daily schedule includes TV time. You could almost say I took NBC’s slogan from the 80s, “Must See TV” and etched it into my life. But here’s the thing. All those hours I spend watching TV and movies, well, that’s work too. And I’m not just looking for a clever excuse when I call it “research.”

When people tell us that we should find a job we love, well, I’m not sure they had “watching TV” in mind. Of course, I don’t get paid to watch TV and movies, I probably need to get a career in Hollywood for that, but I’m convinced that watching TV and movies helps me become a better writer, and someday, I’ll get paid for that.

So I have another confession. I don’t enjoy reading as much as I enjoy watching movies. Very few books stick with me mentally the way a movie does. I guess I’m more of a visual learner. So, what I learn about writing comes less from reading great stories than from watching great movies.

And I’m (still) not even sorry.

Every Story Has Something to Teach Me

I consider movies the cliff-notes version of a book. Even a book that doesn’t exist. Movies have far fewer words in which to tell their story, yet, they still manage to captivate me. As a writer, I’m amazed at how movies work in plot, sub-plots, character development, and emotional arcs for multiple characters all in just a couple of hours. I think Avengers: Endgame was an amazing feat in storytelling capabilities. Over 50 characters and I never felt any one of them was underutilized.

This is how I want to learn how to write. I want to tell powerful stories in the shortest space possible. That doesn’t mean writing short stories, but that does mean writing stories with little fluff and a big punch.

So, yeah, I study movies. This goes hand-in-hand in how I developed my novel’s characters. But beyond the characters themselves, there are story aspects that I analyze to bolster up my own writing skills.

Lessons I Learned from Watching the (Big and Small) Screen

    How to explain away plot holes. I was watching The X-Files (for the zillionth time) and one episode had a huge plot hole. Mulder was working a case and was in a situation where he should have called for backup. Why didn’t he? All it took was one line to make it believable. “I called the office and no one picked up.” We never knew why no one picked up but we now had a plausible reason why Mulder had no backup. Plot hole filled with a single sentence.

How character decisions move the plot forward. A pet peeve of mine is when characters make obviously stupid decisions. So many movies rely on this trope that they build in the stupid character for that very purpose. I remember seeing this in the recent Kong movie. One of the primary conflicts came from one character’s bad decision. Contrast that to Star Trek: Into Darkness. Here you have the opposite. Kirk makes rationally smart decisions that just turn out to have unforeseen disastrous consequences. Now that is good storytelling. Characters always make bad decisions and even obvious ones, but I never want to rely on that to keep the plot moving. I prefer the other way, where good decisions go bad.

Don’t start mysteries you can’t solve. Two shows come to mind when thinking about this point. LOST and Battlestar Galactica. They both added layer and layer of mysteries within each season but ultimately were unable to bring many of them to a satisfying conclusion. They either chose to ignore them, change what they led us to believe about it, or gave a weak explanation and moved on. The lesson here is to plan out your mysteries. And start answering them long before your conclusion.

Science and common sense can be violated within reason. And by within reason, I really mean is with reason. I’m a time travel nerd which means I’m also a time travel snob. I hate when movies or shows violate rules of how things should work. Take the show Timeless. It drove me nuts that two people could go back in time at two different times to try to alter the past. The moment the first person left for the past, the present would already be altered and they would be none-the-wiser about the original timeline. On the other hand Avengers: Endgame had a scene calling all the other time travel movies BS and proceeded to write their own nonsensical rules. While I don’t buy the rules they created, they did give us a reason to buy into it. That’s all it takes.

  • Bad guys can be redeemed. I love a good redemption story. One of my favorites is Pitch Black. There is no doubt that Riddick is one bad mofo. The viewer has no doubt that Riddick would sacrifice anyone to save himself. That is until someone sacrifices themselves to save him. “Not for me!” is one of the most powerful move lines. It was that sacrifice that allowed Riddick to redeem himself and become the true hero of the movie.
  • Embrace Your Inner Lazy

    These are just a few things that come to mind, but there are many more. When I’m in the midst of my “lazy-time”, I’m often hard at work studying character development, plot execution, emotional story arcs, and more.

    As writers, we have to write. The stories won’t write themselves. But you also need to take a break. Watch a movie. Or two. Binge a TV show. And don’t feel bad about it. Study it.

    I’ve learned more from watching movies than I have from reading novels. But this is also because I’m reading books on how to write novels and I can see this play out a lot faster on the screen than on the pages of a novel. And where I rarely read a novel more than once (I’m a slow reader), I will watch movies over and over and learn something new each time. With each viewing, I pick up on something new. And all of this works into my subconscious and makes its way onto my pages.

    Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid get a little lazy. Embrace it. But while you’re at it, learn something new, and become a better writer.

    Documenting our daily events, we are determined to remember what makes our family special.

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Embracing the Writer Within

    We were asked to think of a special place and journal on it. Having the opportunity to stay with my parents in order to participate in the University of Mississippi Writing Project, I have been inspired to remember what makes my parents’ home so special to me. I am working on this piece and trying to fine tune it. I cannot wait to see your responses. Being a part of this writing project, I am trying to embrace the writer I did not know. Thanks for reading!

    Home Is Where My Heart Is
    By Cassandra Hawkins-Wilson

    Footprint like messages lead up a steep driveway guided by specially placed rocks. Reminding me that it rained the day before, my muddy footprints cross the sheltered carport and stop at the bottom of the largest concrete block stair. I quickly catch the aroma of one of my favorite place, taking care to remove the fully-covered muddy shoes. My parents’ thirty-three year old home is one of the most comfortable and loving places I know.

    From the wooden front door to each bedroom, I am amazed that many things look the same as when I lived him, a mere nine years ago. Walking through the threshold, I escape into another world. Crossing into a world of peace and serenity, I take in the open kitchen and dining area. The wooden table, which once was adorned with a tablecloth hand painted by my creative mother, is cluttered with a variety of things and functions more as a desk than the Mecca of family time and celebration it once was.

    Not far from it, just to the side of the table lies a corner stand snuggled closely with the wood paneling. Filled with antique what- nots and opened mail, this corner stand has always operated as the communications depot. Even after I moved out, I would visit the corner stand to find out what I have been missing since away at college. Most of the time it was unwanted junk mail, credit card statements, and cell phone statements.

    As I walk through the doorway to the living room, I remember the cowboy saloon swinging doors that once functioned as a room divider. Dividing the living room from the dining area, these swinging doors were the object of our affection. Before their unfortunate destruction, we were warned to not play with them. Yet, the saloon style doors could not survive the harshness of our tender young hands. It’s so unfortunate that they were unable to grow to a ripe old age.

    Within a few feet stands a wooden oak glass cabinet housing the precious objects not to be forgotten. The crystal vases, a variety of colorful plastic flowers from the funerals of loved ones long gone, sacred white and black spotted jersey cows, staring at the human-like figurines mimicking important acts related to my family, positioned nearby symbolized the preservation of family. The faded designs of the linoleum, the replacement ceiling in the living room, the old remaining ceiling, the gas heater lacking the gas (we never used it), the recreated fireplace, which will make you sweat with the smallest fire, all scream the validity I need to know that I am where I always have loved to be: HOME.

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    Searching online for “teach student writing” or any similar sentiment will produce countless headlines to the tune of “Improve Writing Skills Online” or “10 Tips to Help Your Students Become Better Writers” or “5 Clever Ways to Improve Student Writing.” But any teacher who’s been on the job for long knows the truth: you can’t actually teach students to write.

    Despite all of the ways teachers can support students in their writing, students learn to write, first and foremost, by writing. Everything we do is ultimately to support them on their own journey to become better writers. This is especially, frustratingly true when it comes to revision in writing. And yet, revision is when so much of a student’s learning, growth, and critical thinking happens.

    Revision often feels like the most difficult writing skill to teach and to learn. Students tend to misunderstand or resist revision, preferring to focus on proofreading and surface editing instead of true, deep revision. Here is where educators really can support students by clearly defining and reinforcing revision in the writing process.

    Define Revision

    The first roadblock to revision is a misunderstanding of the task and goal of revision. Students often mistake revision for proofreading or editing. Therefore it’s helpful to walk through the writing process and define the three terms for students, setting forth the goals and differences of each. All are important components of writing, and as such, they are each separate steps in the process.

    Explain to students that revision comes after drafting, but before editing and proofreading. Be sure to then clarify each terms’ meaning. One helpful definition of revision comes from Erika Lindemann’s A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers, “True revision involves reseeing, rethinking, and reshaping the piece, resolving a tension between what we intended to say and what the discourse actually says.”

    Practice Together

    Sometimes, students need to see revision in action to understand how to apply it to their own work. Find an opportunity for an in-class revision, using a past student paper or writing something collaboratively, comparing drafts at different stages.

    If working on creative writing, use a known story, then change the point of view, to literally ask the students to “re-see” the story. For example, rewrite Little Red Riding Hood from the Wolf’s point of view.

    When working on critical writing, collaborate on a given prompt to create a short outline. Then, have the students ask the following questions:

    1. Does the outline respond to the prompt?

    2. Does the outline have a clear and persuasive argument?

    3. Does the outline have a logical and thoughtful organization?

    Have the students work together to revise the outline until the answers to all these questions are affirmative.

    Peer Review

    Create opportunities for peer review. Sometimes it can be easier for students’ to see revision opportunities in their classmates’ work than in their own. Have students use the same methods that they used during the in-class revision practice to revise each other’s work. This can also help encourage revision individually as well, by creating multiple deadlines during the writing process.

    Incentivize Revision

    When structuring a writing assignment, especially something higher-stakes, like a term paper, add steps to incentivize student revision. Take the emphasis off of the final product and place it on the process itself. Set multiple deadlines in which students submit different drafts, with activities like peer review and self evaluation associated with each draft. Have students submit all drafts along with their final work and assess the work based on the revision efforts, not just the end result.

    Use Technology

    Students can practice revision with Turnitin Draft Coach™, which offers three Similarity Checks per document. This allows students to revise and review their draft based on feedback, particularly focused on citation, paraphrasing, and other revision activities, all in the same document when using Turnitin Draft Coach™.

    Once they’ve revised on their own, students can submit to Turnitin Feedback Studio, which allows for multiple submissions of the same assignment by recognizing them as the original author and automatically eliminating previous submissions for potential similarity matches. This functionality is designed to support the revision process within the Similarity Report and helps educators facilitate student learning within the process.

    By creating a clear definition of what revision is (and is not), practicing and incentivizing the act of revision in writing assignments, and utilizing technology that emphasizes and enhances these aspects of the writing process, teachers can encourage students to grow as writers and help shepherd them towards stronger writing skills that will serve them for years to come.

    How to embrace the writer within

    How to Embrace Change and Become More You

    • Post author:Courtney Harris Coaching
    • Post published: July 2, 2019
    • Post category:Restorative Practices for Families / Self-Care for Parents
    • Post comments:2 Comments

    Noticing Change

    In the past five years… Has your choice of music changed? Or the way you dress? The types of books you like to read? What about your hobbies? Or friend group? Who you live with or where you live?

    My guess is that you answered YES and maybe even nodded your head to a least a few of these questions. While the questions may seem superficial, your answers can help you capture the changes in the landscape of your life across time.

    Over time, you will go through changes. These changes may be emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, or all of the above. Some changes happen without a plan, while others are plugged into the calendar and organized just as you wish. Furthermore, with each change, you have the opportunity to integrate new information into your identity and sense of personhood. In other words, with each change, you have an opportunity to grow and become more YOU!

    How My Life Has Changed

    Whew, has it changed! In the last five years, for example, I:

    • Made multiple job changes– left teaching, worked as a nanny, returned to teaching part-time, and left teaching again.
    • Decided to become sober.
    • Started my own business (Thank you for being a part of this community!)
    • Moved in with my partner, and later, got married to him, which also means that I gained a whole new, second family.
    • Made lots of new friends and let go of a few friendships along the way, too.
    • Reclaimed my relationship to writing. (The book is still in progress.)
    • Reached out for help from different therapists and coaches.
    • Stopped going out to late-night events and embraced my need for sleep.
    • Lost one of my grandfathers.
    • Gained a 5th nibling (gender-neutral for child of a sibling).

    How has your life changed in the past few years?

    I invite you to pick whatever timeframe feels good to you–1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. and make a list of the changes you have experienced.

    Stop. Breathe. Feel.

    What sensations do you notice in your body after creating this list? How is your heart? What kind of thoughts are you hearing?

    As you consider your experience with change and prepare for continued transition and evolution, these 10 tips will help you embrace the changes in your past, present, and future!

    10 Ways to Embrace Change and Become More You:

    1. Remember that change is inevitable, normal, and necessary. Specifically, you might like to use this sentence (or one like it) as an affirmation! Repeat it as often as self-doubt or resistance to change comes up. Sometimes these acknowledgments alone will offer you deeper presence or greater capacity in the midst of a transition.
    2. Name and acknowledge the changes you are experiencing. You might say to yourself, “Things are changing, and that is okay” or “Whew, a lot is shifting, and this feels tough.” Whether you feel graceful about the change or not, naming the experience is an excellent first step.
    3. Claim your sphere of control. Assess the situation and determine which elements are within your control. It might be helpful to categorize elements as “in my control” and “out of my control” in a two-column chart. Furthermore, sit with the list of items under “in my control” and notice what comes up. Check in with your sense of empowerment, contribution, significance, and belonging. Then, as you sit with the items under “out of my control” you might ask: “Is there anything I can make peace with? Let go of? Ask for help with?”
    4. Separate yourself from the experience. You are not defined by one change; you are a whole person with vast and diverse experiences. Yes, life changes can impact you greatly, and, you get to decide what each transition will mean for you. If it feels supportive, give yourself a gentle mental reminder of your wholeness. For instance, I use the phrase “I am not this experience.”
    5. Maintain self-care routines and rituals. While things are shifting in life, it can be helpful to rely on a small handful of self-care practices that ground and support you. For instance, I try to take a long walk– 30-60 minutes per day, most days, no matter where I am. This helps me feel most like myself, whether I am traveling, going through a loss, or embarking on a new project. What is on your go-to self-care list?
    6. Focus on resilience. Each change will bring with it some level of discomfort. As you meet this discomfort and learn new parts of yourself, you are getting stronger and wiser. I invite you to notice the quality of your heart as you consider this idea.
    7. Ask for help. Friends, you have a support system for a reason, and times of transition and change may call for extra love and care. Each transition is a chance to connect with yourself and your community.
    8. Celebrategrowth. Through each and every change, you are making progress. Isn’t this inspiring?! Pat yourself on the back, call a friend, journal, make a social media post, buy yourself a donut, or find another way to honor your growth.
    9. Reflect on your own unique journey. Pause regularly to notice how far you have come. Perhaps you do this nightly or weekly or after a big challenge. Regardless, slow down to acknowledge the distance you’ve traveled.
    10. Connect with community. It can help to reach out to other folks who have gone through a similar change. This can be formal or informal. Ideas include the following: support groups, group therapy, FB groups, podcasts, IG accounts, MeetUps, lunches with friends, and calling a loved one.

    Embracing Change as Self-Love

    How to embrace the writer within

    Without change, we would be stuck, stagnant, bored, regressing, and uninspired. I’m not saying that going through multiple job changes, going to therapy, starting a business, and deciding to be sober was easy. However, change is an important and potent part of life.

    It is my hope that these 10 ways of embracing change support you in cultivating love and appreciation for yourself and your journey. You are worth it.

    How to embrace the writer within

    Reading time: Less than 1 minute

    This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about how to embrace risk…

    I work with several hundred writers every year — thousands over my working life — and I can tell you one thing most of them have in common: They are shy.

    I figure this is just the way genetics works: Those characteristics that make us interested in writing also cause us to fall on the introverted side of the spectrum. And what goes with shyness? Fear of risk.

    As a shy and introverted writer myself (albeit one who has learned, over time, to be brave enough to speak with clients and, pre-Covid, speak at large events), I know I am also risk-averse. Perhaps that’s why the headline of a recent blog post by Michael Hyatt caught my eye. It read: “Learning to Embrace Risk.”

    In making the case for risk, Hyatt phrases his argument this way: “The people who find success and continue to advance are those who keep pushing for better. Whether they tackle a project that seems impossible, push to break record sales goals, start a new product line, and so on. Whatever the goal, people with a mindset that embraces risk understand that you can’t allow a fear of failure to hold you back.”

    Although Hyatt is now a leadership developer (early in his career he was a literary agent), I’m going to take his four tips for how to raise risk tolerance and put them in the context of writing:

    1. Failure is something to be learned from, not feared. Writers — especially freelancers — benefit from taking plenty of chances. Pitch on an article/job you don’t think you can ever possibly land. Interview the celebrity you’re frightened to call. And if you work in an office, challenge your boss to give you adequate time to write the articles you’re required to produce.
    2. Life is always moving. New publications (and entire businesses) change every day, some collapsing as new ones emerge — especially during the pandemic. Yet many of us aspire to avoid change. Recognize that’s impossible. Instead, determine the direction you want to go, and run after it.
    3. Practice by taking small risks. Ask a risky question during your next interview. Include a metaphor or simile in your next piece of business writing. By embracing small risks like these, you’ll be able to shift in your focus. And you’ll also find yourself empowered by small wins along the way.
    4. Surround yourself with people who measure the ‘gain not the gap’. Sure, some people are born with more writing talent than others, but talent is not the key issue when it comes to being a successful writer. Instead, focus on your own improvement. Work to become better each day, week, month. This concept — of what’s known as a growth mindset — has been proven by researcher Carol Dweck to be a key to achieving success. Some people will lift you up as you work to grow, while others will only bring you down. Be sure to associate with people who lift you up.

    Risk can be scary. But measured, carefully calibrated risk can also be liberating.

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    embrace verb ( ACCEPT )

    • bear I will bear the responsibility for whatever happens.
    • endure She endured years of hip pain before seeing a surgeon.
    • suffer She suffers from severe asthma.
    • accept I have finally accepted that I can’t change who he is.
    • resign yourself to I have resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never work again.
    • become resigned to People have become resigned to the fact that increased security means much longer wait times at airports.

    See more results »

    • accepting
    • accommodation
    • accreditation
    • aligned
    • allow
    • approver
    • arrive at sth
    • concurrence
    • gentleman’s agreement
    • leap at sth
    • memorandum
    • middle ground
    • reach
    • reconciliation
    • respect
    • settle on sth
    • solidarity
    • strike
    • swallow the bait idiom
    • take root idiom

    See more results »

    embrace verb ( HOLD )

    • hold Can you hold this for a moment?
    • clasp He reached out to clasp her hand.
    • grip The baby gripped my finger with her tiny hand.
    • clutch Silent and pale, she clutched her mother’s hand.
    • cling One little girl was clinging onto a cuddly toy.
    • hang on The child was hanging on to her mother’s skirt.

    See more results »

    • affectionate
    • affectionately
    • bear hug
    • canoodle
    • caress
    • chuck
    • cwtch
    • cwtch up to sb
    • demonstratively
    • demonstrativeness
    • fall into sb’s arms idiom
    • man hug
    • mwah
    • nurse
    • osculate
    • smack
    • spoon
    • squeeze
    • to hold/clutch/clasp/take sb/sth to your bosom idiom
    • touchy-feely

    See more results »

    embrace verb ( INCLUDE )

    • absorptive capacity
    • all in
    • assimilable
    • assimilate
    • build sth in/into sth
    • carry
    • cast
    • draw
    • embody
    • encompass
    • enshrine
    • extend
    • factor
    • factor sth in
    • number sb/sth among sb/sth
    • o’
    • pack sth/sb in
    • package
    • pepper
    • pepper sth with sth

    See more results »

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    • affectionate
    • affectionately
    • bear hug
    • canoodle
    • caress
    • chuck
    • cwtch
    • cwtch up to sb
    • demonstratively
    • demonstrativeness
    • fall into sb’s arms idiom
    • man hug
    • mwah
    • nurse
    • osculate
    • smack
    • spoon
    • squeeze
    • to hold/clutch/clasp/take sb/sth to your bosom idiom
    • touchy-feely

    See more results »

    embrace | American Dictionary

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    embrace verb ( HOLD )

    embrace verb ( ACCEPT )

    embrace

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    Examples of embrace

    Translations of embrace

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    a light meal of scones (= small cakes) with jam and thick cream

    Zak Salih lives in Washington, D.C. His writing has appeared in Crazyhorse, the Chattahoochee Review, the Millions, the Rumpus, and other publications. Let’s Get Back to the Party is his first novel.

    How to embrace the writer within

    Photo (c) Emily Poland

    Name: Zak Salih

    Literary agent: Kate Garrick, The Karpfinger Agency

    Book title: Let’s Get Back to the Party

    Publisher: Algonquin Books

    Expected release date: February 16, 2021

    Genre/category: Literary Fiction / LGBT Fiction

    Elevator pitch for the book: Two estranged childhood friends reconnect as adults and struggle to find their place as gay men in a rapidly changing culture and world.

    Previous titles by the author: N/A

    What prompted you to write this book?

    I’ve long felt my identity as a gay man has been linked inextricably with the circumstances of my birth. I was born in 1982 and came out (to myself as well as others) in 2005; as such, I’ve long seen myself as part of a sandwiched generation of gay men. On one side are those who bore the brunt of the AIDS plague, which I was too young and closeted to connect with anything inside me; on the other, those who are growing up in a time of increased visibility and acceptance, which I was unable to benefit from. Born too early, born too late—in either instance, my life would have been radically different. While this novel is far from autobiographical, it did afford me the chance to explore what it’s like to belong to this sort of “in-between” generation of gay men, to try and forge some sense of present in relationship to the past and the future of my community.

    How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

    The idea for the novel had been with me for quite some time, doing laps in my head while I waited for the courage to bring it out into the world. I first had the idea of a novel about two gay men with very different ideas of what it means to be gay in 2010, having had five years as a “practicing” homosexual under my belt, so to speak. It wasn’t until January 2017 that I sat down to write a first draft, then another draft, then another draft. By mid-November, I began to query my first literary agents. Then another draft, and another draft. Then more queries. Then I had the great good fortune to connect with my agent, Kate Garrick, who sold the novel to Algonquin Books in the summer of 2018. Then revisions and revisions, until the book was completed (or as completed as a book ever is) in the summer of 2019. The core of the novel remained the same throughout, and was only strengthened by helpful feedback from early readers, my agent, and my editor at Algonquin, Betsy Gleick.

    How to embrace the writer within

    (WD uses affiliate links.)

    Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

    I am, alas, a fairy impatient person. Chalk it up to anxiety about the speed with which time moves, or regrets about not doing nearly enough with the time one’s given. The publishing process, understandably, is a slow one; there are plenty of fallow weeks and months in which one sits at one’s desk and waits for any correspondence that proves, no, you haven’t been forgotten about. The publishing process for this book—as for nearly every book out there—has been a master class in patience, in learning to be more productive with the time I spend waiting for something to happen: a novel to print, a package to arrive, a cake to cool. And, of course, that inevitable time spent waiting just means more time to spend writing.

    Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

    It’s amazing how much creative freedom you have when you give yourself permission to first write crap. As a child typing out stories on his father’s electric typewriter, if something didn’t come out perfect the first time, it was trash; I had no time (or patience) for revisions and edits. A revelatory moment for me as I was preparing to write this book was learning to embrace the messiness of the writing process, of which there’s no evidence in any final published book. All I have to do is look back at the first pages I wrote in early 2017 and compare it with the first pages of the novel as published to see this idea confirmed. I find so much more joy now in revising, in reworking pages that already exist in the physical world, than in sitting down to write a first draft.

    What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

    While Let’s Get Back to the Party is unapologetically gay, I like to think the heart of the book and its characters’ journeys is one that extends beyond the queer community: namely, how people cope with the passing of time. What obligations do we have to our pasts? Is it better to remember, or to let go? How does one make it through life without being at the mercy of all the lives one didn’t lead? Is it up to each of us, alone, to survive in the world, or are we unable to do it without help?

    How to embrace the writer within

    If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

    I recently read a post on Twitter (that fount of wisdom) which said, “I like books that feel like the author doesn’t give a f**k what I want.” I couldn’t agree more. Embrace the selfishness of writing. Writing what you want to write about is, ultimately, more respectful of the reader’s time and attention than trying to cater to the needs of a particular market—or to that awful idea of “likeability.” Writers are hosts inviting a reader in to their dinner party; the reader is welcome to leave if the menu isn’t to their liking, but, with respect, there will be no substitutions this evening.

    How to embrace the writer within

    Tackle the first draft of your novel piece by piece in this Writer’s Digest University workshop.

    Just keep flowing…

    Flow is one of those intangible things that we strive for in the writing life but isn’t always clear how to find it. Writing flow, from a reader’s perspective, is making the sentences smooth and the continuation of ideas read on the page. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the act of writing, when you get into that writing groove, where the words come out of you more like the opening of a dam rather than pulling teeth.

    But a writing flow isn’t just something that happens when you are hit by miraculous inspiration, but something you can help cultivate with a few best practices.

    This is one of those ‘duh’ pieces of writing advice that still needs to be repeated. Get rid of distractions while writing… whenever possible. Of course, life is full of distractions. The dog barking, the phone ringing, cars honking outside… and, of course, parents always have to be parenting. It is a rare privilege to be able to completely divorce yourself from all responsibilities and distractions.

    So saying to have a dedicated writing spot and a dedicated writing time… isn’t realistic for a lot of people living in tight quarters or with hectic lives. So I’m not going to tell you to get rid of distractions. I’m going to tell you to manage distractions. If you can’t avoid all of them, avoid the ones that are the most bothersome to your writing.

    If being in a messy place is distracting, find some tidy little nook to write in. If having a large chunk of uninterrupted time to write in is unlikely, learn how to fit in little scraps of writing when you do have free moments. (Those little scraps can add up!) Some people swear by writing with music, while some find it distracting, while for some it’s a matter of whether the music has lyrics or not. Find what works for you.

    But get rid of the big distractions you can control. Maybe that is closing all those extra, tempting tabs on your computer browser. Maybe it’s turning off the TV. (Something I repeatedly tell myself; I don’t know why I keep thinking I can multitask TV watching and creative writing!) Whatever they are, manage those distractions.

    Having goals to write a certain length of time or to a certain word count on a daily (or another time parameter) basis can be helpful. I’ve found it helpful in the past, but after a few years of using a word count goal as a guide, writing nearly daily became a habit for me. Even more, it became something I felt weird not doing if I missed a couple of days in a row.

    If you are a person who uses a predetermined goal to write towards — like word count or time at the writing desk — don’t be limited by those goals. If you reach your goal and are in a writing hot streak, don’t stop! Keep going. Embrace the flow. Embrace the inspiration. Keep typing.

    Within reason, obviously. Get your sleep. Go to work. Don’t ignore other obligations. But also don’t stop yourself because of meeting an arbitrary finish line. Sometimes it is tempting to stop when you reach that goal, or you worry about running out of ideas for tomorrow. Don’t worry about writing tomorrow. Let tomorrow’s writing handle itself. Let yourself keep flowing today.

    This section was originally titled ‘planning’ and then I scrapped it for something broader. A notion I call ‘pre-writing.’ This can include planning, for those plotters out there. Whether outlines or plot summaries or diagrams or whatever it is that matches your style. But pre-writing also includes all the loosey-goosey, go with your gut, write the story by the beam of the highlights style of the pansters too. You know, daydreaming and the like.

    Whatever your version of pre-writing is, do it. Don’t sit down at an empty page or at the end of what you’ve written previously without a single idea in your head. That is major self-sabotage. Especially if you’ve carved out special writing time in your schedule. Whether it is an idea for an article or a piece of fiction, there is plenty of downtime in our lives — while commuting, taking a shower, cooking dinner — that you can be pre-writing your writing projects so that when you sit down it is just the translation from brain to page.

    As always when I talk about writing craft, I must insist you discover your own way of embracing your flow. Maybe not a completely individual way, but a way that works best for you.

    What time to write. How long to write. How often. Which distractions you can avoid and which you can manage. If you only can concentrate on one project at a time or can flip between. Whatever. Learning how to embrace your writing flow will make writing both more enjoyable in your life and more productive.

    Margery Bayne is a librarian by day and a writer by night. Like a superhero but with more paper cuts.

    If my story was the one that perhaps pushed you over the edge into wanting to get a Medium membership, please consider signing up through my membership link . It’s no extra cost to you and helps support my writing efforts

    How to embrace the writer within

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    A blog about writing

    How to embrace the writer within

    How to embrace the writer within

    by Kathryn Craft
    Turning Whine into Gold

    Yep—that’s a whine all right, and a truth, and the summary of this entire post. Change is as constant in publishing as any other industry impacted by computerization in the past twenty years.

    But change can be especially hard to grapple with for writers. Here’s why, and some tips for turning whine into gold .

    Nature of the beast

    Whine: Storytellers are constantly adrift in imaginary worlds, conjuring unexpected pressures that, in the end, will force some sort of inexorable change. Yet day after day writers depend on their coffee, their chocolate, their word count, their wine, their cat, and their Obi-Wan Kenobi action figure (oh—is that just me?). Constants serve as touchstones for an inner life in a constant state of upheaval.

    Gold: Storytellers are change specialists. Yes, we usually control that change. But actual, real-world challenges, although rarely welcomed, provide fodder for our stories, and ground them in the realities of the world in which our readers live. Real-life shake-ups can stimulate the imagination in ways that refresh both story and career.

    Whine: Of course we all know writers who sprang from the womb with their tiny fingers already curled around a pencil. But the need for reliable income, the need to go through some real life “material” first, the distraction of children and unsupportive spouses, the need to grow into one’s voice and gain perspective—for many reasons, writing is often a late-stage choice. And as you get older, adaptation of any sort can get more challenging.

    Gold: Corporate human relations executives, whether hiring MBAs or chemists, favor employees with a background in the arts. Why? They adapt better. Use your innate creativity to negotiate the changing tide, knowing that you are better equipped than most to do so.

    Time required

    Whine: Let’s say that it takes a decade of concerted effort to power up a publishing career. If you did that between 1995 and 2005 you may have had your first laser printer, a dial-up modem, and an unimaginable number of kilobytes of hard drive space. Your soundtrack changed from albums to disks to mp3s. Landlines became cell phones—then, in the next decade, smart phones. In publishing the past decade saw genres blur, the advent of digital publishing and social media, the emergence of the independent author, and constant redefinition of career roles. A decade in this technological age can make a writer dizzy.

    Gold: A decade in this technological age is nothing short of revolutionary. New options abound. Niche markets can be built, at almost no cost, for exactly the kind of book you want to write, and you can publish and promote it yourself with relative ease. You need only rewind two decades and imagine yourself writing with a typewriter, onionskin, and Wite-Out to see that the gifts outweigh the challenges.

    Personal investment

    Whine: Writing is a ridiculously front-loaded effort without any guarantee of financial gain. In return for all you’ve done to learn the ropes, you’d like to be able to count on them to hold your weight. But the ropes keep swinging, and are hard to grasp.

    Gold: Publishing has always been a gamble. That’s why you were drawn to it—you wanted to see if you could make it. In an industry where even veterans are now scrambling for an edge and guessing at what comes next, your own best guess can fit right in. The gamble still exists, but your greater career input stacks the deck—knowing what you’re made of, you know better than anyone whether investing in self is worth the risk.

    Whine: As our chosen industry continues to evolve, the destination called “success” is losing definition. It’s getting harder to have faith that we are still on the right path, in the right woods, within a career story that we still have the power to bring to a satisfying conclusion.

    Gold: People who whine for the golden age of publishing forget that the industry has always been extremely selective, and that the parameters for those who made it in were always subjective. Preparation and faith were your only hope. Social media and independent publishing options allow us to supplement the “wing and a prayer” method with more of our own efforts than ever before.

    So what say you?

    Are you willing to both control and surrender to story change? Are you willing to use your abundant creativity to adapt? Are you willing to cash in on new methods of working? Are you willing to invest in yourself and the changing industry? Do you have faith that ever-present change might be able to work to your benefit?

    If the answer is yes, you are indeed an alchemist, capable of changing whine into gold . Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go learn how to use the gizmo that will let me take credit cards on my iPhone. Increased impulse purchases, BAM! Can you even believe it?

    How to embrace the writer withinKathryn Craft is the author of two novels from Sourcebooks: The Art of Falling, which was released on January 28 and has already gone back for a second printing, and While the Leaves Stood Still (due Spring 2015). Her work as a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, specializing in storytelling structure and writing craft, follows a nineteen-year career as a dance critic. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she now serves on the board of the Philadelphia Writers Conference and as book club liaison for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She hosts lakeside writing retreats for women in northern New York State, leads Craftwriting workshops, and speaks often about writing. She lives with her husband in Bucks County, PA. Although a member of The Liars Club, she swears that everything in this bio is true.

    1. Habit

    I sing ALL the time. In the car, in the shower, in the bedroom while I’m ironing. My poor musically inclined boyfriend is very nice about it — maybe because I’m ironing his shirts — but the truth is, I’m not very good. I can hear the pitches and modulations in a melody, but I can’t always make them with my own voice. Still, I have fun, and that’s good enough for me.

    2. Hobby

    I love to dance. I went from ballet as a girl, to drill team in high school, to contemporary in college. I would say that I am an above average dancer, but not a great one. Still, I always made it into the “upper echelon” of my dance groups because I worked really, really hard. I knew I wasn’t the best, so I tried to make up for my deficit in talent with an abundance of passion and effort.

    3. Hope

    I am a writer. Some level of innate talent was identified at a young age, and I’ve spent almost two decades trying to nurture that. At first, my goal was literary acclaim. Glowing reviews, tons of awards, the Pulitzer, maybe even a Nobel. Then I just wanted to be a bestseller. (“Just.” Ha.) Pleasing readers is more important than pleasing other writers, I told myself. Now… Now I just want to write as well as I can. No matter who’s reading or reviewing. No matter who isn’t.

    4. Perspective

    Some people might view the change in my goals as a lowering of standards. For me, it’s about understanding and accepting my limits. I mean that in 2 ways. First: Neither literary acclaim nor blockbuster sales are within my control. That’s just the reality. And that’s okay. Second, and this may also be a reality: I might not be cut out to be a professional writer. After a lot of internal struggle, I realized that’s okay too.

    5. The Point

    I know most people who come to Writer Unboxed are looking for advice on how to “make it.” We contributors are supposed to offer tips, insights, or encouragement. Truly, I think I’m doing all 3 when I say this:

    Being able to write and being able to write professionally are two very different things.

    Writing as a hobby is no less valid or worthy than writing professionally.

    As a capitalist society, we are somewhat obsessed with productivity and profitability. But those things have nothing to do with joy or creativity. Is my singing “invalid”? Is my dancing “unworthy”? No. They bring me pleasure. That is justification enough. That is its own reward.

    In a world where it seems like everyone is trying to cash in on Twilight copycats and 99-cent ebooks, that might be the most unboxed idea of all.

    How to embrace the writer within

    Last month, I wrote about minimalism, and how I thought the lifestyle might have particular value for writers. I planned to take the month of March to experiment with de-cluttering and embracing a more minimalist lifestyle in my home and on my computer. A month and many, many trashbags later, I’m still not quite done with the de-cluttering process, but I’m already beginning to experience what Marie Kondo calls, “The life changing magic of tidying up.” Embracing some minimalist principals and, of course, tailoring them to my own lifestyle, has already had a positive impact on my creative life.

    I tried to write a follow-up article that summed up all my thoughts on the matter, and found 1,000 words woefully inadequate. So, I’ve decided to extend this series to a few more articles. I think the principals of minimalism can have a positive impact on writers. For this initial follow-up, I’d like to talk about three things I’ve gained creatively by discarding the majority of my stuff.

    1) A Greater Understanding Of What Matters to Me

    I often live my life in a state of pure reaction, putting out fires and not able to prioritize at all. It’s hectic, unhealthy and, ultimately, unproductive. I think this is a reality for a lot of writers, and a perfect example of why minimalism is so applicable to us. It can be really easy to lose sight of our priorities because we’re juggling a lot of obligations in addition to writing. How to embrace the writer within

    Going through all of my belongings, and saving only those things that are useful or bring me joy forced me to examine what I actually value. It forced me to question whether my daily habits–begun, of course, in my living space–were a reflection of what was truly important to me. By picking up each item I owned and deciding whether it reflected what I actually want, I was able to refine my own understanding of my values and, in the process, set up a space that reflects them.

    For example, I decided that it was important for me to have a desk in my room (I’d thrown my previous one out). At the same time, it’s important for me to be frugal. By swapping some furniture with my roommate, I was able to set up a small writing nook. I decided I would only use this desk for writing, and would keep it clear of excess clutter. The result? I have a dedicated space for the work that is most important to me–it’s useful and pretty, and brings me lots of joy!

    2) Focus on the Present Project

    I recently wrote an article about revising a trunk novel. A lot of writers have at least one or two. And, in addition to massive amounts of files on my computer, I had piles of drafts, notes, maps and inspiration pictures from old manuscripts. It was a disorganized mess, shoved into binders, and stuck on a shelf. I’d never be able to go through them all, but have always been scared of discarding them. What if I wanted to revise one of those books one day?How to embrace the writer within

    In going through all of my belongings, I decided I had to go through these as well. It forced me to question why I was keeping so much stuff from each book. If I ever came back to them, did I really need a hard copy of drafts four, five and six of the old version? Didn’t I have all of these digitally? I did a quick search of my laptop to see whether I did, in fact, have a final copy of each book. In one case, I didn’t! It was on my laptop from college. This made me realize just how disorganized my files were.

    It took an entire weekend, but I consolidated and organized all my files from three computers onto one. I printed each manuscript (hey–what if the zombie apocalypse happens?), and discarded every other draft, saving only the hand-written notes. In the end, I recycled four trashbags full of paper, gaining a clean, aesthetically pleasing bookshelf, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly where all my notes, drafts and manuscripts are.

    But the bigger benefit, in this case, wasn’t getting more space on my bookshelf. After I had consolidated all my files to one computer, I moved all the old ones–for every trunk novel, high school paper, college essay, photos, everything–off my laptop and onto a USB drive. The laptop I use every day now has only the drafts, notes and files necessary for the project I’m currently working on. I hadn’t realized how much those past manuscripts were weighing on my mind. Now, I know exactly where they are if I need them, but I can let them go and focus on my current project for the time being. By freeing up my physical and digital spaces, I’ve freed up my mental space as well. It also made my computer run faster!

    3) Less Decisions=Less Stress

    How to embrace the writer within

    Part of the “throw away” pile.

    Going through my possessions forced me to confront what I value, and helped me set up a space that reflects that. But I’ve also found my day-to-day life improved by this simple fact: I don’t have to make a lot of decisions because I don’t have a lot of options, and I’ve already determined what’s important.

    For example, I love fashion and putting together outfits, but also understand that this can be a source of stress and a time-suck in the morning. It involves checking the weather (thus, getting on my phone) and making decisions (which are naturally draining). The morning is when I write and I don’t want anything disturbing that focus. So, I decided to try picking out my outfits at night. To help, I got an old ladder and used it as a set up shelf. The result? A more peaceful morning and a clearer head.

    I’ve set up my room for the things I value: I have a writing nook, a reading nook, and space to throw down a yoga mat. I have a drawer specifically for my phone, so that I can turn it off and put it away, thus shutting off email, social media and the news in the process. I know every piece of clothing in my closet. My needs are fewer, and my values clearer, so I’m able to make decisions–say, about going out to lunch, or buying the skirt I see in a window sale–with more confidence and ease.

    So what does this last part have to do with writing? Less stress means more focus, which–especially in today’s cluttered, digitally driven world–is invaluable for an artist. In fact, I think time and focus are two of the most valuable things we have. Embracing minimalism has given me more of both.

    How to embrace the writer within

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    How to embrace the writer within

    A Bookseller at Harvard Bookstore:

    “Natalie Goldberg’s 1986 classic guide on creating a writing practice has inspired beginning and seasoned writers for decades. All types of writers will find something useful in these brand new lessons that are guaranteed to get your pen moving. Pairs well with the original book for a thoughtful gift for every beginning writer, and long-time fans of Goldberg will love the fresh lessons. I’ve been getting it for all of my writer friends, and love drawing a card at random to find a spark of inspiration to get outside my comfort zone.”

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    WINNER – Shelf Awareness: Best books of 2021

    How to embrace the writer within

    Each book Natalie Goldberg writes builds on the one before. Writing Down the Bones, her first, gave amateurs ample leeway to doodle, explore and dream on the page. In that book’s chapter “A Sensation of Space,” Goldberg cites haiku from Shiki, Issa, Buson and Basho. Those four send her on the title pilgrimage of Three Simple Lines. This book brings her body of work full circle–her Zen practice, her writing practice and the ways in which each enhances the other. It’s a tribute to her teachers, her students and to Allen Ginsberg, who introduced her to these Japanese haiku masters. Some chapters are only four pages long; all leave readers with big ideas to digest. Goldberg demonstrates the fluidity between teacher and student, the desire to share knowledge and the willingness to learn. She closes the book with six rules of haiku penned by one of her students, and sends readers on their way. –Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness

    The workplace of today is a multifaceted environment, with people from every walk of life. Most business leaders agree that diversity in the workplace is a positive element, but there is still a large disparity within the IT industry between what we know to be true, and what we are actually seeing in the workplace. Diversity is not a utopian ideal to be studied and considered, but rather an essential part of every successful, profitable enterprise.

    Diversity in the workplace was a phrase used to only refer to gender, race and ethnicity, but today it also embraces the concept of working with people of different ages, educational backgrounds and technical aptitudes, religious and political beliefs, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientation and identity, social cultures, disabilities and languages.

    Business leaders who encourage diversity within their enterprise are likely to face challenges, but in the long term, the business will evolve to embrace the positive characteristics that a diverse and inclusive workforce brings with it. An evolving, innovative business is one that thrives, with increased profitability and more resilience. As Josh Miller, Technology Directory for the national IT talent recruitment agency i.c.stars, stated, “Without leadership’s embrace of diversity and inclusion, the organization will suffer from singular mindsets, initiatives, products, and solutions — all out of alignment with the needs of a diverse customer base, flat growth, and decreasing profits offset by employee consolidation leading to poor moral and further attrition.“

    Understand the Benefits of Diversity In the Workplace

    Aside from just knowing that they are doing what is right, the fiscal benefits of a diverse workplace are many. Having people within the business who come from diverse backgrounds brings innovation, new perspectives, and plays a role in creating enterprises that are more resilient to financial instability.

    According to research from Great Place to Work, well-recognized experts on workplace culture, during the recession of 2008, publicly-traded companies with highly inclusive workplaces not only survived, but actually gained a return on their stocks that was four times greater than the S&P 500. Irrespective of economic downturns, businesses that embrace diversity have more than three times the revenue growth than businesses that do not.

    Among the assets that diversity brings are a greater empathy for others, more innovation, creativity, flexibility, versatility, increased productivity, less employee turnover, a broader skillset, a wider range of cultural insights and perspectives, and a heightened sense of employee engagement. Miller agrees, adding that, “lower attrition, increased loyalty, improved corporate culture, etc. are all excellent examples of organizational outcomes of embracing diversity.”

    Recognize the Challenges of an Inclusive Workplace

    When asked about a lack of diversity within a business, Lauren deLisa Coleman, author, digi-cultural trend analyst and speaker at the upcoming QSP Summit 2020, stated that businesses that fail to embrace diversity have a “less competitive advantage and holistic understanding of the marketplace.” For those companies that are making an effort to embrace diversity and inclusiveness, Coleman believes that open communication between groups will facilitate greater change, “I think the biggest challenge (within large organizations) is various age and lifestyle demographics who have different behavioral patterns and different values around tech trying to come together to move as a unit.” Working with different perspectives through diversity brings innovation, but being able to apply it to action isn’t as easy, as Coleman points out, “Essentially the biggest challenge is consensus and innovative means and definitely speed of applying it all!”

    Miller put it another way, as he believes that the problem is changing the way the corporate establishment looks at hiring practices, stating that “Overcoming an antiquated and change resistant approach to sourcing human capital is the biggest challenge facing an enterprise when it pertains to embracing diversity.”

    Challenge the Status Quo

    Although the IT industry is well aware of the benefits of diversity and inclusion within the workplace, and is generally a very politically correct environment, the fact is that it is still largely dominated by white males. Though we are now seeing more women and minorities in enterprise companies, there is still an inherent bias present in hiring practices. Asked about how the hiring practices should be framed, Miller stated that he believes that it should be, “a recruitment process aligning the organizations’ values/mission/vision with employees’ aptitude, ambition, motivation, and drive.” His understanding is that “the effort required to transform a series of checkboxes and database filters to one that focuses on aptitude, ambition, motivation, and drive requires strong leadership from management as well as a sense of ownership and buy-in from the front-line employees tasked with implementation.“

    Speaking to Coleman about the issue, she sees the problem as endemic in typical corporate structure due to the silo effect. “The definition of a corporation is to move as one body so each cog seems to only work within his/her own realm. If you ask someone who even handles something else, it’s rare that they truly know and how it all works together past a step or two/department or two.” She believes that diversity is a stated ideal of most IT workplaces, but as she puts it, “digital culture very well encourages that [diversity], but it is not utilized. In small companies, it is much more likely.” A recent ad on LinkedIn in which Google was looking for a Technical Writer included the following diversity statement:

    “At Google, we don’t just accept difference — we celebrate it, we support it, and we thrive on it for the benefit of our employees, our products and our community. Google is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and is an affirmative action employer. We are committed to equal employment opportunity regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, marital status, disability, gender identity or Veteran status. We also consider qualified applicants regardless of criminal histories, consistent with legal requirements. See also Google’s EEO Policy and EEO is the Law. If you have a disability or special need that requires accommodation, please let us know by completing this form.”

    How to embrace the writer within

    Critiques must be handled with a deft touch. I always thought I had a knack for giving useful writing feedback—that is, until a writer friend asked for my thoughts on her novel-in-progress. I gave them, pointing out where her plot seemed to lag and the characters felt flat. Surely, I thought, she would be grateful for my insight.

    Not so much. In fact, she eventually confessed that my comments caused her to shut down and stop writing for months, convinced she was doomed to fail and that her writing career was over.

    Most people have good intentions and don’t want to give blistering critiques. You’re here because you want to learn how to give good, straightforward feedback that’s helpful, not deflating. Here’s how to make that happen.

    Be empathetic

    Writing is a vulnerable act. And, ironically, the more experienced the writer, the more likely one may be to think they’re a complete fraud. In fact, some creatives rack up impressive achievements all while feeling certain that, at any moment, someone’s going to expose them as a poseur.

    This psychological phenomenon is called impostor syndrome, and it strikes writers who produce anything from poetry or fiction to monthly marketing reports. When you start giving honest feedback on someone’s writing, keep this in mind.

    The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you.

    —Neil Gaiman, author

    When you’re preparing your feedback, make sure you acknowledge what they’ve done right as well as what needs improvement. Every piece of writing has some strengths, so look for them and be prepared to point them out.

    Read the whole thing thoroughly.

    Give the manuscript a thoughtful read-through (or two) before you give feedback. The writer is in a vulnerable position. You owe it to this person to prove that you’ve invested more than a quick glance and offered a snap judgment.

    Don’t skim. Read deeply. Take notes.

    Forget about the compliment sandwich

    You may have heard of the compliment sandwich, a technique for sandwiching criticism between praise. It’s often used by managers when giving their employees feedback, but it’s recognized by many professionals these days as ineffective. Would this help soften a critical blow?

    “I read most of your article and liked it, but your spelling awful and your grammar sucks. Are you sure you graduated from high school? You did lay the manuscript out really well, though—good job!”

    Instead, of sandwiching harsh criticism between empty positives, be honest. “Diplomacy” is your watchword.

    Ask questions that lead the writer in the right direction

    The goal of a critique isn’t to show how much you know; it’s to help the writer expand on his potential. The best feedback leaves the writer feeling they’ve had an awakening and knows what needs revision to make their writing work. Here’s an example:

    Don’t nitpick

    Feedback is really about the quality of your suggestions, not the quantity. If the writer’s work needs proofreading, suggest a thorough line edit rather than picking at every little grammar, spelling, and punctuation nit. If passive voice or weak language choices are a theme, recommend that the writer take a closer look at those things.

    A mountain of feedback, no matter how constructive, can be overwhelming. Choose a few of the most important things the writer can do to improve the manuscript, then point out an example to help them understand what you’re referring to.

    He was walking walked to the market to meet Mary.

    It’s a critique, not a review

    Don’t treat feedback the same as you would a review. In most cases, when someone asks you for feedback, you’re looking at a work-in-progress, not a finished product. Giving feedback is about finding ways to suggest improvements. Share your ideas and tips.

    When you critique writing, your job is to determine whether the writer accomplished what they set out to do, whether that goal was to tell a good story or to write a convincing sales pitch. Focus on what the writer can do to improve the next draft and you’ll help them create a winning manuscript.

    By Michal Spiegelman

    I had an “aha” moment the other day that I want to share it with you.

    After a week of being in deep conversations with women, I noticed that when women speak from their hearts, a lot of pain and burden is expressed. These women, and maybe you, need a reminder and a little bit of encouragement to bring some lightness into the conversation so they don’t stay stuck with heavy feelings.

    It made me think about the natural attraction that many of us have to suffering and pain, and it made me wonder, why does it feel safer to stay in the dark? Is it because darkness is more familiar and the thought of lightening up is strange and unknown for us? Is darkness an easier place to be in than light? It felt like the right time to reflect a little bit on why and how to embrace the darkness.

    It was a beautiful night when I was pondering these thoughts in my head. I took a minute to pause and look at the sky. I noticed one evening that the evening sky is absolutely beautiful, so I spent few minutes just looking at the dark sky.

    And then it hit me:

    When you look at the dark sky at night, you see the stars, which are thousands of light years away from you. The darkness can feel very overwhelming and you might feel as small as the faraway stars, but there is something else that is really important for us to remember. At some point, every day, the darkness is slowly shifting into light, the moon and the stars keep traveling, and the sun rises and night turns into day.

    This transition from darkness to light seems to be effortless and natural on the planet. Why can’t it be as easy for us to transform darkness to light in our lives?

    Just like in nature, we can transform our darkness to light with ease and serenity.

    But here is what we must do first:

    We must accept, embrace, and own the darkness as a healthy part of our lives.

    I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t embrace the darkness.

    I’ve been pregnant 8 times. I have 2 wonderful children. Six of my pregnancies ended in the 6 th or 7 th month of the pregnancy. I went into early labor and a few of my labor experiences were very traumatic. I was on bed rest or in the hospital for almost 10 years while going through the pregnancies. I ended up being depressed, and every time I lost a baby, the grief in my heart became heavier and heavier. I couldn’t handle the grief. Being in my dark place led me to Reiki. I had to find a way to heal my broken heart. And I did!

    Hours and hours of therapy made me aware of what I was feeling, but the heaviness in my heart only started to lift when I found my spiritual and healing practice and allowed true healing to begin.

    I learned how to embrace the darkness.

    I learned to give purpose to my personal darkness.

    Fast-forward 21 years later.

    I continue to create a delicate dance between darkness and light, reminding myself that darkness and light go together, and true healing happens when we accept the darkness as part of the process.

    Do I have some ideas about transforming darkness to light? Oh, yeah! I have plenty of ideas, but I am not going to share them with you today.

    First, I want you to spend some time making friends with the darkness and become willing to keep dancing with me on this journey from darkness to light.

    A word of wisdom:

    Sitting with darkness is valuable, as long as we are able to find hope and give it purpose.

    Living the happy, free life you are meant to live might feel light years away, but finding hope and purpose to the darkness will lead you there.

    I invite you to spend some time looking at the sky, paying attention to the stars, the moon, the natural cycle of transitioning from day to night and from night to day.

    What are you learning about your own personal journey from darkness to light?

    What dark parts of your life are you ready to embrace?

    What is your personal experience with darkness and light?

    Please share your light by posting in the comments area. Let’s take this journey from darkness to light together, without fear.

    The Musings of an Inspirational Historical Novelist

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    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Embracing ‘Writer’s Pause’.

    Ever have those moments in writing when everything comes to a screeching halt? I call it writer’s pause, and I’ve learned to embrace it. It is a time to allow the scene to simmer and wait for that extra spark of inspiration to pull you back into what you see visually that will enhance the scene. The other day I was working on a pivotal scene in ‘Beside Two Rivers’.

    Adventurous Darcy can’t stay confined inside four walls for long. She has an innate curiosity for the outdoors. And so she heads off astride her grandmother’s mare across the moors in the Hope Valley.

    When I realized that the scene would be a cliff-h anger and a critical turn of events, suddenly my mind froze. For two days I mused over what I had written. I sat at my computer, staring out at the falling snow outside my window, watching the flakes float down and the layers growing on the tree branches. I began to worry. Why was I stuck?

    I walked away from the book for a while and read. My mind was still on the scene. I was at a crossroads. Remember those books for kids where you could go one way or another in the story? I visualized each possibility and the effect they would have on the rest of the story. Should the antagonist come riding up? Or should Mrs. Burke, Darcy’s grandmother’s housekeeper, come lumbering up the hillside calling to her to return to the house? Or should Ethan chance upon her?

    Suddenly my mind began to churn with images of Darcy on horseback. I saw what she would see – the green moorlands, the barren tors rising against a cloudy sky. I heard what she would hear – the whisper of the wind, and the murmur of the grass as the breeze brushes through it. Then I began to feel what she would feel. Lonely. Homesick. . .and a longing for the man she loves. I went back to the scene and wrote the bare bones out in my notebook, then to the computer I went and the scene was enhanced tenfold. I’m glad I waited.

    When you have those moments where the words are not flowing, be patient. As a writer friend told me when I shared with her what was happening, ‘continue to stare. something BIG is about to break!’ But do not neglect your muse. Dwell on the scene. Listen to inspiring music and read or watch a movie in your genre.

    If you are not a writer, but you read, next time you sit down and open a novel think of the work that the author put into writing it. It took months to write, perhaps a year. They went through moments where they froze, moments of intense creativity, moments of despair wonder if it was good enough, and lonely moments too. Writing is hard work. But we do it because we love it and we love our readers and want to please them.

    О книге “Embracing Writing. Ways to Teach Reluctant Writers in Any College Course”

    A guided approach to using college writing for everyone’s learning Faculty in every discipline are increasingly pressured to include major writing components as part of their courses. Unfortunately, as author and English professor Gary R. Hafer explains, college and university educators often have little training in the use of writing in the classroom. Embracing Writing elucidates the principles of academic writing and shows instructors how to integrate writing with course content, blending them to enhance and deepen the higher education learning process. Scholarly writing is a central part of the academic experience and, when used effectively, can be an outstanding pedagogical tool. The creative approach in Embracing Writing will have you looking at writing in a whole new way. Not only will your students appreciate the honest, nurturing, and fun writing assignments, but your own writing will improve as well. This is not a rulebook for writers, but a guided approach to viewing writing and content as one indivisible whole. Embracing Writing will help you: Engage students in writing assignments that actually help them develop their writing ability Understand what makes good collegiate writing and how it can aid in content discovery Discover new pathways for your own writing so writing for publication and the classroom is enjoyable again Develop a writing pedagogy that doesn’t detract from core course content delivery There often is a disconnect between administrative demands for in-course writing and the inadequate training resources available to faculty members. Because most of us aren’t trained as writers, we need a meaningful way to connect writing to our areas of expertise. Embracing Writing provides that connection.

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    How to embrace the writer within

    Enterprises learned an important lesson on their way to embracing open source software: they could benefit from work that came from outside of their own rosters of employees. Now businesses are beginning to recognize that open source lessons apply beyond software development, and they are finding new ways to seek out talent beyond their walls.

    It’s a trend that is transforming the workplace as we know it, as documented in a recent Deloitte publication, “The Open Talent Economy.”

    This movement rests on the recognition that the community and the company have a shared goal in pushing the ball forward, and that new ideas can only be a good thing. It promises to make enterprises more responsive to the desires of users, and more flexible in adapting to changing business demands. Fundamentally, embracing the open source workforce means changing the way businesses think about themselves and their consumers. It means gravitating away from the company-customer paradigm—in which the company creates products and customers use them—and thinking about product development more as a communal collaboration.

    It means recognizing that great ideas can come from any level of the organization, and, indeed, from outside the organization altogether. It means realizing that people can advance their own interests while simultaneously contributing to the common good—a bedrock principle underlying the work of Red Hat, which developed a blueprint for how to apply open source principles to any endeavor called the Open Source Way.

    What does it mean to embrace the open source workforce? First and foremost, it means recognizing the incredible talent there is to be mined outside the walls of the company’s office. It means fostering and relying on a community of engaged users, seeing them as potential collaborators rather than mere customers, and thinking about new ways to harness the talent and ingenuity of people who aren’t on the payroll.

    Companies should think about increasing community engagement through blogs, forums, and other communal online spaces. They should consider asking for input on decisions from the community of users more frequently, and inviting users to collaborate on new projects.

    Bringing the open source ethos into the workplace also means being more flexible in harnessing internal talent, fostering collaboration across departments and across offices. While the traditional technique of segmenting an enterprise into different departments may increase efficiency, it can also lead to the under-utilization of talent.

    Companies that embrace the open source model will recognize that good ideas can come from people within the organization who may not be specifically tasked to a certain project. Those companies will alter operations accordingly, affording workers more opportunities to showcase and develop hidden skills—helping the company and improving worker satisfaction at the same time.

    On a more tangible level, bringing the open source ethos into the company may mean moving toward open floor plans that make it easier for workers to communicate and share ideas, and intermingling departments in the physical space of the office. Such changes might seem merely cosmetic, but they can go a long way toward facilitating the free flow of ideas across the office.

    Certainly there are limits to this principle, and enterprises will need to find a comfortable balance between the traditional workforce model and new models. But in the long run, incorporating the open source ethos deeper into the company DNA can only be a good thing for companies, their employees, and their communities of users.

    Focus your company in 3 easy steps with examples

    How to embrace the writer within

    How to embrace the writer within

    © The Balance, 2018

    A mission statement articulates a company’s purpose. It announces to the world at large why your company exists. Every business should have a mission statement as a way of unifying the organization.

    You can think of a mission statement as a combination of what your business or nonprofit does and how and why it does it, expressed in a way that encapsulates the values that are important to you. It can be a challenge to clearly and concisely bring these ideas together, though. Here is a simple guide—along with some examples—for writing your own company mission statement.

    Describe What Your Company Does

    How to embrace the writer within

    There’s no need to be fancy here. Just say it simply for the moment. What product or service does your business produce or provide? Get down to the bare basics and don’t add any filler. You will elaborate on this purpose in the next steps.

    My company’s purpose is to:

    • Sell shoes
    • Provide educational services
    • Grow market vegetables
    • Design phone apps
    • Provide financial advice
    • Sell women’s clothing
    • Provide pet sitting services

    Describe How Your Company Does What It Does

    How to embrace the writer within

    This is the tricky part, because we’re not looking for a detailed description of your business’ physical operations here. Instead, we’re looking for a description of how your business generally operates. This usually means incorporating one or more of your core values into your description.

    So take a moment to list the core values that are important to express in your business. Here are some sample values that you may want to use when you write a mission statement:

    • Provide high product quality
    • Provide superior customer service
    • Protect the quality of the environment
    • Ensure equal access to resources
    • Encourage innovation/creativity
    • Practice sustainable development

    It might be helpful to focus on your business’ core competencies when you’re considering which values are worthy of including in your mission statement. Zero in on one (or two at the most) to add to your description of what your company does.

    Mission Statement Examples

    Here’s what the first three examples from step one might look like when you add values to them.

    My company’s purpose is to:

    • Sell shoes of the highest quality.
    • Provide educational services that allow all children to experience learning success.
    • Grow market vegetables using organic, sustainable farming practices.

    Remember, these are not finished yet. There’s one step to go before your mission statement is complete.

    Add Why Your Company Does What It Does

    How to embrace the writer within

    This is the part of your mission statement that describes your spark—the passion behind your business.

    Why does your business do what it does? For some people, it helps to think back on why they started their business in the first place.

    Mission Statement Examples

    This is what our three mission statement examples might look like when you add “why” to them:

    My company’s purpose is to:

    • Sell shoes of the highest quality so every customer can find a pair of shoes they actually love to wear.
    • Provide educational services that allow all children to experience learning success and become life-long learners and contributing members of our community.
    • Grow market vegetables using organic, sustainable farming practices to give people safe and healthy food choices.

    When you’re finished, have another look at your mission statement and see if it captures what you want to say or if there’s a better way of phrasing it. Be sure to change the phrase “my company’s purpose” to the name of your company.

    “My company’s purpose is to grow market vegetables using organic, sustainable farming practices to give people safe and healthy food choices,”

    “At Earth’s Bounty, we grow market vegetables in a way that’s good for the earth and good for the table.”

    And, “Our company’s purpose is to provide educational services that allow all children to experience learning success and become life-long learners and contributing members of our community,”

    could be better phrased as:

    “Our company, Hopscotch Learning, exists to provide educational services that allow all children to experience success in learning and success in life.”

    A writer shares how she learned to embrace her hair and style it to perfection.

    The road to embracing my natural hair was not the perfectly smooth ride to self-love I had anticipated. I’d been watching women rediscover their natural texture for years, and while the journey looked empowering and magical, no one told me that confronting the belief systems surrounding love, identity, and acceptance is also incredibly difficult.

    When I stopped chemically straightening it, I liberated parts of myself I, until that moment, didn’t know were suppressed. I had moments that felt hilarious—like the first time I tried a bonnet dryer, or what my boyfriend now refers to as the “bouncy house”—to others that broke my heart, like when I realized how much self-worth I carried in having straight hair.

    I have three different hair textures that are a result of my three ethnicities: Black, white, and Hawaiian. My hair is curly, wavy, and straight, depending on the section, and while I’ve learned this isn’t uncommon for multiracial women, it’s rarer to see and tricky to style. Uniformed hair, meaning a texture without inconsistencies, whether it be through curl pattern, texture, or style, has been an unattainable goal with my mixed hair. And while I now know that the diversity of my hair texture is a blessing, it took some time to unlearn my previous mode of thinking.

    Before coming around to the natural-hair movement, I had chemically straightened my hair for years. Brazilian blowouts were my drug of choice, but after learning that formaldehyde is one of the main ingredients (a known carcinogen), my stylist informed me she would no longer perform them. When faced with the choice of embracing my natural texture or risking my health for three months of straight hair, I chose to risk my health.

    Once I was finally ready to embrace my natural hair, I chopped off the damaged portion, and although I felt empowered at that moment, it was short-lived when I realized how ill-equipped I was to manage my hair’s many textures. I contacted salon after salon, but no one had any advice outside of “ Just curl the pieces that are straight. ” Not helpful. Finally, I discovered Virgo Hair Salon in Los Angeles, which focuses on natural hair texture and curl care.

    “It’s incredibly hard to find anyone in the salon and hair industry that focuses on textured hair,” explains Mateo Garcia, the salon’s owner. “Sadly, most cosmetology schools primarily focus on what you need to pass the licensing examination, which is simply maintaining health standards and the basics of hairstyling, and usually only touching upon looser textures.”

    Garcia’s grandmother (who was a Virgo and for whom the salon is named) was a Native American medicine woman in Colorado, and she instilled in him a passion for natural and holistic remedies, which is why he now only uses specialized, gentle hair products. “There are a lot of horrible products out there that not only weigh down and create buildup on the hair, but also prove to be detrimental to the delicate structure of highly textured hair.” Some ingredients he recommended to steer clear of are: coconut oil (it suffocates the hair and inhibits moisture absorption), sulfates, silicones, mineral oil (similar to silicones—they aren’t water-soluble and can block moisture), parabens, phthalates, and drying alcohols like ethanol and propyl. Fatty alcohols that are derived from plants, like cetyl and stearyl, are a safer bet for textured hair.

    To help me find the right cocktail of products for my combination of textures, Garcia encouraged me to try Davines Love shampoo and Love Curl conditioner, Davines Relaxing Moisturizing Hair Fluid, OWAY Rebuilding Hair Bath and Mask, and Oway Glossy Nectar serum. He is a firm believer in empowering his clients to learn how to care for their unique hair, sharing with me tips like never rough-drying my hair after a shower, sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase, and avoiding heat styling as much as possible. Techniques like air drying, plopping (an easy no-heat drying technique for volume and enhancing curls), diffusing on cool or warm, and using the aforementioned bouncy house, are best for my strands. After starting to incorporate his recommended products and tips, my hair transformed.

    Soon after meeting Garcia, I crossed paths with another trailblazer in the hair industry, Tania Whittier, a stylist at Meche Salon in Los Angeles and a non-toxic hair guru who advocates for clean hair technology. “My clients come to me because I encourage using treatments to balance out the different textures in hair,” she says. During my first appointment, Whittier spent 30+ minutes looking through my many textures, piece by piece. It was the most in-depth hair consult I’ve ever received. She took notes and gathered information about my hair so that she could tailor a plan and create a custom Pura Luxe formula just for me.

    “When I approach a client ’ s hair, we first discuss what we like and don’t like,” says Whittier. “Everyone has different textures, and everyone wants different results, [which is why] I like using Pura Luxe — because I can customize each client ’ s formula.”

    While there is debate on whether or not you can call your hair “natural” if you treat your edges, I like to use Pura Luxe on them a couple of times a year. It is made from proteins and aromatic essential oils that are deposited into the hair without breaking its structure. It’s dissimilar from a keratin treatment, which tends to break down the hair the longer you use it. Rather, this smoothing treatment works to strengthen the hair fiber itself and smooth frizz.

    And obviously, since it’s 2020, Instagram has been a powerful tool for introducing me to new products and finding other women who’ve found ways to nurture their natural texture. People like Ebane Ward of @booksandbraidouts (and my cousin), Tondreanna Esquilin, Sunkiss Alba, Manes by Mell, all share the details of their hair journeys, offer product advice, and encourage everyone to own what you’ve got. In addition to curl-influencers, I love to follow hair-focused sites like The Girl Habit, Mane Addicts , and BounceCurl. Resources like these mean I can always find the information I need to keep my curls looking their best.

    Today I wear my hair however I like—sometimes straight, sometimes curly, or rocking all my textures at once. It’s now a choice that comes from love rather than shame. Before, I’d dread washing my hair and having to wrestle my curls straight. Now, wash day is a luxury. It’s become a weekly self-care ritual that I look forward to. My hair has taught me patience and gives me an excuse to be present at least once a week.

    While the journey to natural hair has been emotional and overwhelming at times, it has never felt lonely. The number of resources available is rich, and the community of individuals willing to help and share is plentiful. Following the journey of other women both online and in person has helped me to find the confidence to step outside with my wild, unruly hair and proudly wear it like a favorite accessory. For women, and especially women of color, our hair is more than a style—it ’ s a display of self-love in a world that has at times taught us to not like ourselves. It’s tied to our culture, heritage, and history that’s often as colorful as we are.

    In case you’re starting your natural-hair journey, or are simply looking for a few new products to try, check out a few of my favorite products for keeping my hair healthy and happy.

    How to embrace the writer within

    Witchery: Embrace the Witch Within

    获取ebook资源库微信ID:dreamer901204

    书籍英文名:Witchery: Embrace the Witch Within

    书籍作者:Juliet Diaz

    书籍简介: Everywhere, the witches are rising. Are you ready to answer the call and embrace your own inner witch?

    In this book, third-generation Witch Juliet Diaz guides you on a journey to connect with the Magick within you. She explains how to cast off what doesn’t serve you, unleash your authentic self, and become an embodiment of your truth. You’ll also learn the skills and techniques you need to build your own Magickal craft.

    Within these enchanted pages you’ll discover how to:

    * Connect with the power of your inner witch
    * Create spells, potions, and rituals for love, protection, healing, manifestation and more
    * Amplify your energy by working with a Book of Shadows
    * Create an altar and decorate it according to the seasons
    * Work with the Moon and the Seasons of the Witch
    * Connect with your ancestors to receive their wisdom

    Filled with Magick, inspiration, and love, Witchery is your guide and companion on a wickedly delicious journey to true self-empowerment.

    The influence of the British author’s feminist reframing of pornography and women is demonstrated in a letter by performer and Drag King pioneer, Diane Torr.

    How to embrace the writer within

    This story begins with a serendipitous find at the British Library, during a research trip to examine the archives of writer Angela Carter. Carter’s correspondence attests to the friendships and literary connections that she formed during her life. But on that particular trip it was a single letter sent to Carter by performer, activist and Drag King pioneer Diane Torr that caught my attention.

    More than just fan mail, Torr’s six-page letter is a powerful narrative of her life, as well as fascinating evidence of how Carter’s work effectively empowered her readers. The letter begins:

    I have been composing letters to you in my head since I first read your book The Sadeian Woman 2 years ago but now I really have to do it as I leave for England in a week & I was hoping to maybe have the opportunity to meet you. [sic]

    Dated March 1, 1983, Torr’s letter, sent from Berlin, makes for arresting reading. Torr recounts her life as a temporary office employee struggling to make a living from her real craft, dance, and tells of how she moonlights as a go-go dancer to boost her earnings. What is most striking about the letter is its sense of urgency. Torr’s writing demands that her reader – Carter – bear witness to her life’s fight for recognition. The letter seems to have been written feverishly, in one sitting, with the ink changing colour mid-sentence about halfway through the pages.

    Torr tells of how the writer’s 1978 polemic The Sadeian Woman allowed her to reconcile the different aspects of her life: her position of subjugation in the office, her desire to be a performer recognised for her skills, and her nightly transformation into the object of male sexual desire. As Torr states:

    By the time I had finished your book, I was really transformed – not exactly a Juliette, but I knew how to sell my body & at the same time how to maintain a sense of my own subjective reality within each strange place I would travel to.

    Pornography and the feminist movement

    In The Sadeian Woman, Carter uses the pornographic writing of 18th century French nobleman Marquis de Sade as a model to analyse women’s position in society. De Sade was famous for his deeply unsettling portrayal of sexuality, in which men and women would play the role of torturer or victim in intricately elaborate orgies.

    In De Sade’s 1791 novel Justine ou les Malheurs de la Vertu (“Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue”), Justine, the titular character, is repeatedly subjected to violent rapes and humiliations. Her sister, Juliette, the heroine of the accompanying book Histoire de Juliette, ou les Prospérités du vice (“Juliette, or The Prosperities of Vice”), portrays the obverse of this tale of suffering femininity.

    Carter’s polemical analysis of femininity owes much to her reading of psychoanalytical theory. While she depicts Justine as a passive figure equally unable to rebel or embrace the possibility of pleasure, Juliette has her mind bent on maximising her own sexual satisfaction at the expense of others.

    As Carter notes, both women are “a description of a type of female behaviour rather than a model of female behaviour”. As a result, her essay doesn’t fully pick a side but reads as an indictment of the myths of femininity, and of women’s participation in patriarchal structures. The book made waves in the feminist movement when it came out, with some critics accusing Carter of privileging aesthetics at the expense of politics, and of falling for de Sade’s trap.

    Reading herself as “not exactly a Juliette”, Torr reveals how The Sadeian Woman helped her identify and name her own position, at a time when other authors in the feminist movement only left her with “a sense of hatred & self-ridicule” due to their condemnation of Torr’s participation in the sex trade. She contrasts her experience of discovering Carter with the isolation she felt reading feminists such as Andrea Dworkin, and the essays published for anti-sexual violence movement Take Back the Night, in which pornography was presented as an instrument of patriarchal domination.

    From page to stage

    Torr goes on to explain to Carter that she eventually turned her go-go dancing experience into a performance, Go-Go Girls Seize Control, before embarking on a European tour. Her shows elicited such violent responses that the tour had to be cancelled, forcing Torr and her co-performers to return to go-go dancing to support themselves financially:

    We were back to straight go-go dancing for entertainment. We had attempted to be Justines but we were clearly too tainted for the other good girls so we had to revert to the Juliette roles.

    While the tour ended on a bitter note, this is not the tone of Torr’s letter, nor was this her last performance. The rest of Torr’s career, before her passing in 2017, was dedicated to questioning the definition and experience of gender. She went on to found the pioneering Drag King workshop, Man for a Day, based on a collaboration with trans artist Johnny Science.

    Torr’s letter is tangible documentation of Carter’s unique position in the feminist movement at the time, seen through the eyes of a woman “on the front line”. While no explicit reference is ever made to Torr in Carter’s writing, it is tantalising to speculate on whether the towering performer figures at the centre of her later novels – aerialist Sophie Fevvers in Nights at the Circus, the twin performers Nora and Dora Chance in Wise Children – could have been created with Torr in mind. Reaching us from the 1980s, the letter enriches our image of Carter’s many connections with the world of the performing arts.

    Marine Furet, PhD Candidate in English Literature, Cardiff University.

    How to embrace the writer within

    How to embrace the writer within

    I will never forget the trauma which my vision problems gave me growing up. I had myopia and astigmatism which made every eye test a humiliating experience. Nearly every kid in the class had better vision than I did. They would read off the letters like brushing their teeth while I stumbled and fumbled through the blurry figures happy to guess one or two right. Needless to say, I was put in the front seat. Despite these yearly reminders of my poor eyesight, I refused to wear my glasses because they were so thick. Eventually I wore contact lenses for a decade and even that eventually became very impractical for me.

    Fast Forward to the Present.

    As one of the early beneficiaries of laser surgery, I now only use glasses to drive at night and still do not need reading glasses despite heading toward six decades on this eye test we call earth. It occurs to me that when it comes to serving God and others, not to mention bringing glory to God as is our mission in life, we all need glasses in one way or another.

    We know that the purpose of corrective lenses is to bring the world into better focus for those who have all sorts of visual defects and limitations. They shift light rays so that they are refracted correctly on the retina making up for the particular problems in the eye of the user. These lenses do not cure eye problems in the eye but rather compensate for them by re-focusing light where it should be.

    The idea behind using glasses is that the user is able to compensate for his or her vision problems through their use and live a relatively normal life. Activities which could not be enjoyed due to poor eyesight become accessible to the person using glasses, and they are once again able to seek out the happiness and progress of those who do not need glasses. At least in theory, most people using glasses eventually become so used to wearing them that they do not even think about them at all. The glasses become part of them.

    Christ as Our Ultimate Lens

    Just as glasses shift and adjust the rays of light that enter an eye with visual problems, so too Christ adjusts and corrects the perceptions that enter the minds, hearts, and souls of those of us who face moral and eternal issues as well. Each set of glasses is unique and tailored to the particular issues of the user, as anyone who has put on glasses meant for another can verify. In the same way, Christ’s adjustment of our lives is unique to each of us according to our particular needs, purpose, abilities, and life situations. Christ’s impact on each of us is unique to what God wants from us and how we each divert from that purpose. Similarly, Our Lord’s solution or answer to a given problem will differ from person to person for the same reason.

    Our Purpose as a Lens for God

    As followers of Christ and children of God, we are called upon to be glasses for a world whose vision of what is important is increasingly blurred and distorted. We must help others to see God more clearly through our love and service and Christ more clearly through our example. Many will reject us as I rejected those glasses long ago, but we must relentlessly offer ourselves in this mission of corrective lenses for God to an increasingly blind world.

    Christ tells us that he is the light of the world, and rightly so ( John 8:12). However, just because Our Lord is truly that light does not mean that everyone will see that light as they should. It is our job as followers of Christ to serve as lenses in such cases. At the same time, if we are to serve others as we should, we will also need to continually improve ourselves as well. I painfully remember being called four eyes by mocking classmates whenever I did wear those thick glasses, and that only contributed to my rejection of them. Like so many of the trials God allows us to experience in His service, we must come to embrace being four eyes for God if we are to truly fulfill our mission as followers of Christ.

    The infernal internal editor is the shoulder devil common to all writers. You sit down to write a simple paragraph of description, a few lines of dialogue, a scene transition—and before your finger has even hit the first period key, your inner editor is screaming in your ear.

    It’s not good enough! Nobody talks that way! You really think any self-respecting reader is going to wade through a description like that? This is insanely boring: pardon me if I start to snore.

    Does Your Inner Editor Make You Feel This Bad?

    Nobody likes a tongue-lashing, even from invisible, imaginary anti-muses. So when Mr. Inner Editor starts warming up, what do you do? You tense. Your fingers freeze in crooked positions above the keyboard. You start chewing your lips, your eyes flicking back across the meager handful of words you were able to squeeze out before Mr. Editor started his harangue.

    Your heart clutches a little and your breath sticks halfway up your throat, as you realize he’s right. Mr. Editor is right. This paragraph does stink. This dialogue is hokey. This description is too long. No wonder he’s snoring!

    From there it’s an easy leap to convincing yourself that since your description, dialogue, and scene transitions stink, then, naturally, you must stink as a writer. Doubts assail you about your ability to write anything that will please your inner editor. Doubt avalanches into fear—and you’re crippled by panic.

    You Can’t Beat Your Inner Editor–So Join Him

    It doesn’t have to be this way. We’ve transformed the inner editor into a monster of epic proportions, but only because we haven’t learned to utilize him. Your editor’s not a fiend; he’s a friend. In fact, he’s the best friend—and the best tool—a writer can have.

    But only if you embrace him.

    A writer’s confidence comes and goes. One minute you’re brilliant, the next you’re a hack. But confidence isn’t what makes a writer. (If it was, we’d all be sunk.) What transforms a random someone-typing-a-story into an author is sheer determination.

    You know your writing will always have room for improvement. But don’t take that as a putdown. Take it as a challenge!

    How Use Your Inner Editor Instead of Letting It Abuse You

    Embrace Mr. Editor, not as a cruel taskmaster who will never be satisfied, but as a tough-love coach who refuses to let you settle for less than you’re capable of.

    The trick to embracing the inner editor is to turn his diatribes into lessons for improvement. I’m thankful for my inner editor. I’m pleased he’s usually right. I appreciate that I have this voice in my head telling me how to be better, never letting me settle for status quo.

    Is it tough sometimes? Do I occasionally hate him? Does he ever make me want to stomp away from the keyboard with the certainty that quitting now would be far easier? You betcha.

    But I don’t quit, and I don’t let myself hate him for long. I love my infernal internal editor for the simple reason that he makes me better. And, if you learn to embrace him, then so will yours!