Research

Doing research takes time and determination. I’ve been searching for some crime stories from the 1950’s. The newspapers I find with the articles want me to pay for a subscription. It’s free (at first), but you have to put in a debit or credit card number to access the newspapers. Surely there is a cheaper way.

Research can take time and I resent the time it takes from writing, when it’s a dead-end street that I repeatedly encounter.

I’ve thought about going to the original source – the hometown newspaper. Perhaps I’d have to drive there to check microfilm or however they have stored (archived) past issues.

Right now I’m not that ready to write these things. I think I will abandon current research until I can figure out how to proceed.

Meanwhile, I did write a poem and included it on today’s blog at proudofeverywrinkle@wordpress.com   That poem was inspired by events in the kitchen this morning.

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Ideas

Writers are often asked where they get their ideas. I get most of mine from the life I’ve led and people I’ve known  . . things I’ve observed . . .

This morning, while perusing an old copy of Poets & Writers magazine, I read an article about using a picture to inspire a story. That’s the “what if’s” and “I wonder’s” that pop into your mind when you stop to watch something and give it a little extra thought.

David Rowell wrote the article I read. He described it as “writing inspired by photographs”. (I have a painted picture of two cats that I’ve often looked at and wondered if they were really someone’s cats that were painted or how they interacted with each other and their environment, etc . . . so I suppose you could also use a painting or a drawn picture to inspire your muse as well as a photograph.)

David Rowell also talked about a feature he had created in a magazine, DoubleTake, that he edited. The feature was called Viewfinder and he would send photographs to writers and ask for a thousand-word story about them.

(His complete article was in the Jan./Feb. 2012 PW.ORG Magazine.)

I wondered where that phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” originated and found the following online:

“Who coined a picture is worth a thousand words?
This saying was invented by an advertising executive, Fred R. Barnard. To promote his agency’s ads he took out an ad in Printer’s Ink in 1921 with the headline “One Look Is Worth a Thousand Words” and attributed it to an ancient Japanese philosopher.”
Can you write a thousand words about a picture/photograph? Can a photo inspire a poem? It’s something to think about.
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The Wealthy Writer Book

Today I found a book I’d bought called The Wealthy Writer. It says it will teach me how to earn a six-figure income as a freelance writer (no kidding!).

Part of my writing life, I’ve decided, includes research and knowledge. There may be something in this book that will help me profit. Most books on writing and magazines on writing have helped.

I didn’t have time to read this book when I bought it. Back then I was trying daily to teach 35 struggling readers to be competent readers. I thought about each student and planned as individually as I could for each one as I taught them in groups of 4 to 6.

My Reading Supervisor said my groups were too large, and I knew that. She said to lower them to 3 to 4 children. There were too many needy kids at my school, and I knew how to reach most of them. I could not lower my numbers. Whom to drop? My principal said not to drop any of them, and she was my main boss.

So I poured my heart and soul into creating readers who could not only read well, but could also comprehend what they’d read. I worked on their writing skills as well. It was a very full-time job that I brought home with me.

My writing? I did write from time to time and I did publish an article or poem once in awhile. I started four books and would dabble on first one and then the other, and then go back to the first. My heart and soul were elsewhere.

Now they are here, and I’m learning day by day how to be a full time writer.

Back to this book I’ve found tucked away with some other things I pushed aside for “later”. Later is now. I’ll let you know what I learn from it, or maybe I’ll just share successes and let you know where I learned to do that.

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Createspace

Createspace is a self-publishing part of Amazon.com   I had created an account with them in 2013. At that time I was working fulltime and unable to devote the necessary time to publishing my book(s).

I signed into the website for Createspace today and my account is still there, but nothing has been published. That was no surprise. Although I’ve written articles that were published since 2013, I have not tried to finish and upload any of my books.

I’m going to start publishing with my book of poems. Quit groaning. I know poetry books are not best sellers, but I also know it will be a short book and one I can practice on as I learn how to publish. My poems are not flowery or obscure. They are mini-stories written in rhyming form.

I actually did post a group of poems about African Americans on teacherspayteacher.com in hopes they would sell in that format. The free one that I posted on my site there, I will put below. It is copyrighted by me, but I am sharing it so you can see the kinds of poems I write. This one doesn’t really tell a “story” like my poem “A Yorkshire’s Tale”, which was published in Sleuthhound Magazine, but it does identify a person and his contribution, which is what teachers teach during February, Black History Month.

The clip art with it was posted as free clip art by http://www.clipartpanda.com/categories/traffic-light-clipart

Garrett Morgan

Garrett Morgan,

Red, Yellow, Green, 

Made the Traffic

Light be seen.

by Constance Barr Corbett

Image result for free clip art with traffic lights

 

 

 

Characters

I am currently dealing with an uncaring, mean person. I must deal with this person because she’s an employee where I work. I’m going to describe her in a folder I’ll call “Characters”. I will include notes of traits that to me exemplify the way certain types of people behave. I will include mannerisms as well as behaviors. I may throw in a few “quotes”. None will be used exclusively to describe a character, but when creating characters, I will have some descriptives I’ve noticed to expand on.

I’ll do this with doctors, lawyers, and Indian Chiefs . . . in other words, if you’re in my life, you may provide help with characterizations in my stories. I suppose all writers do this, consciously or subconsciously. This person is so vile that I will have to document her behavior. In doing that, I have found a way to help myself be a better writer.

That’s what I strive for . . . to be a better writer whose writing is read and usually appreciated.

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Settings and What That Might Involve

I awoke this morning to the sound of thunder and the heavy pounding of rain outside. We have had a flood watch in this area since yesterday. It extends until tomorrow morning.

Yesterday I posted on facebook that I wondered how many drops of rain it would take to make a flood; all we’d gotten all day were off and on again sprinkles. My son, whose job involves the weather, told me it just hadn’t gotten here yet. Maybe it wouldn’t? But it was expected.

Well, it’s here. As I looked out my window to see how heavy it was raining to make such a loud noise as it hit the ground and my roof, I saw a school bus down the street. I could see its lights flashing. It was stopped and picking up children.

How barbaric will future generations think we are to require school children to trudge through a thunderstorm to catch a school bus just as the sun rises?

We already know that teen-agers’ sleep patterns are skewed and that starting school later would benefit them, yet high schools in my area start at 6:55 am.

As I read stories and books from times in the past, I am often struck by how some things were done back then. I’ve read about how doctors didn’t know that handwashing would rid us of contagious germs until the mid 1800’s.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis

Germs themselves were not accepted as causes of disease until around the same time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germ_theory_of_disease

Yet now we harp on “wash your hands” during cold and flu season as a way to prevent catching either.

I had a short story that involved an answering machine. How many of those do you hear now? That story was written during the 1980’s.

Times change, and they change quickly. People’s attitudes change as well.

It takes time for people to change how they think. Today’s teen-agers may be the ones who insist that their own teen-aged children do not get up in what is the middle of their night and head to school while their brains are still foggy. The kids I saw getting on that school bus this morning may also change the way rain related weather affects school bus routes, if there even are school buses in the future.

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e-books

Studying the craft of writing this morning, I find that e-books and e-readers are a market to seriously consider. While I enjoy the feel of holding a book full of pages to be read, others get the same satisfaction from e-books.

I continue to work on my Blindman book, and unless I find an agent who can get me a deal and get it quickly, I will self-publish.

Reading more about getting published, I learn the need to build a following of readers. Perhaps this blog and my other two on WordPress will help with that?

Is this blog similar to an e-book in that it is read on a screen?

I try to dissect facts I read when I study and link them to ideas I already know. In education, that is referred to as scaffolding. But I digress.

e-books . . . maybe that’s equal to the word “plastics” spoken by Mr. McGuire to Benjamin  in that famous film?

Note to readers: It’s early in the morning and I can find no way to make the “e” in my        e-book and e-reader words not post in caps. I’m hungry; I’m stopping to have breakfast. I doubt I’ll spend any more time on this editing endeavor. If you know how to change it and you let me know in a comment, I’ll appreciate it. We’re all in this writing gig together.)

Writer’s Magazines

I subscribe to a couple of writer’s magazines. One is “Poets & Writers”. I consider myself a poet, as I’ve written many poems and have seen several of them published. My poems are not flowery or obscure. They tell little stories to the reader. When I read the magazine, “Poets and Writers”, I am looking at ways to market my writing and also studying the markets and what other poets/writers are saying. One such “study” led to a short letter to the editors that they published on page 11 of their Nov/Dec 2016 issue. That was a boost for my morale and also enabled me to add “published in Poets & Writers Magazine” to my resume’. I was very moved by an article in one of their previous magazines where they asked writers their feelings about the Presidential candidates. When I saw my favorite candidate was not even mentioned, I got “fired up” and wrote about it. I also had been disappointed in some of the comments by the interviewed writers. I’m glad I sent that letter to the magazine and flattered and pleased that they printed it.

One of the articles in the Mar/April issue of Poets & Writers is “The Necessity of Failure”. As a former school teacher, I realize that in order to teach well, I must first see my students fail. It does no good to teach them what they already know. I was very observant as a teacher and while I made sure they never felt shamed, I also made sure they were comfortable enough to fail and let me see where their weaknesses were so I could correct their conceptions.

I imagine this article (The Necessity of Failure) will be about how failures similarly teach writers how to correct their writing conceptions and begin to succeed. I haven’t read it yet, but I will. The magazines I subscribe to are read cover to cover with the kind of reading intensity that garners new knowledge and new encouragement.

I also subscribe to “Writer’s Digest” and have gotten leads on markets from reading their articles. I also get tips on how to perfect my craft, and I enjoy reading about how others have succeeded and what it took to get to their level of success.

What all this writing today is about is whether or not to count the studying I do when I go through my writer’s magazines as “writing time” on my two hour daily writing requirement that I have recently imposed on myself. I think I will. Just as I stopped after reading the article about the Presidential election to write that letter/feedback to that magazine, I will also stop from time to time to pull out a dusty old manuscript and see if some of the ideas I just read will revive it.

Yes, studying counts for me. If I don’t include it, I may find myself studying less and writing more, but not writing as well.

Writing is a dance and we must learn and appreciate all the steps . . . from the ideas we think to the research and the writing and then the editing . . . it all matters. It all should be counted in the time we spend on our writing careers.

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Time Spent Daily Writing

Last night I was searching through the available substitute teacher jobs for this week. I try to take jobs that involve recess or lunch so as to have less time actually working with the children in the classroom.

It occurred to me that the ideal sub jobs are the ones that require about two hours of actual “teaching time”.  Or that’s what I like best.

I wondered if I spent two hours on the days I don’t substitute teach working on my writing projects, if I’d get things finished and submitted? For some reason, I tend to procrastinate when it comes to finishing writing projects. I’m both afraid of success and failure . . . Failure means, “now what?”, while success means, “more work”.

When I’m writing about somethng I want to write about, it doesn’t feel so much like work. When I write about something I think will sell, and there is interest in, but I know has to be absolutely perfect (by my standards) before submitted, it’s more tedius and time consuming, and feels more like work.

I have tried various writing plans. The one where I write until I am tired of writing works well, but I tend to do that writing here on my blogs. I need to write in some kind of organized way, on the things I hope to sell.

So I will try, for now, two hours a day, IF I’m not subbing that day. I do not sub very often . . . maybe a half-day or two a week. If I were able to work every day, all day, I’d find a regular teaching job and go back to it. But then, that’s what prevented my writing career in the first place . . . working a regular job daily.

So far today I’ve spent twenty minutes (got 100 more to go!) working on an article I’ve thought about writing for years. It’s actually a project I have wanted to do and as I do it, I take photos of my work so far. I took pictures Sunday and I did a little more and took more pictures today. I will submit some of the pictures with the article. I hope it sells. At some point I’ll need to research possible markets. That too, will count towards my two hours of “work” per day on writing. I also spent part of this morning researching things involved in this article. Research is a necessary part of non-fiction writing and, I think, should count as time working.

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Amazon.com

I first became aware of Amazon.com when I was a student in 2005 at UNCW. I bought some books from their site and decided at some point to set up a seller account.

I’ve been happy with my seller account over the years until recently. It looks like Amazon.com has gone up on its fees.

This morning I mailed a book that cost me more to mail than I will actually be paid for the book. It was a thin little 8 page children’s book. Whereas before I got at least half of the $3.99 shipping charge billed to the customer, and that helped me pay postage, today I got almost none of it. Amazon.com took $3.61 in “fees”. . . My book was listed for a low price because I have no use for it and it was what the “going rate” was for it when I listed it. Now with the new Amazon.com fees, I lost 79 cents on the sale of the book. I paid $2.67 for postage to mail the book, and I will “earn” $1.88 after Amazon takes their fees. I considered canceling the sale, but didn’t want to do that to the customer. However, from now on, I will. I will also add at least $2.67 to the cost of any book I sell on Amazon as I am not in the business of giving away books to strangers who live all over the country.  I was trying to weed out books from my collection that I no longer want or need, and earn a little cash in doing so.

I was going to just close my seller account, BUT decided to write about it instead in hopes of encouraging other sellers to increase the cost of their own books that they are selling on Amazon. Just because Amazon is greedy doesn’t mean we should go out of business. If the costs of all the books listed on Amazon is too high for customers, perhaps Amazon will rethink their new “fees”. Seriously . . . it’s MY book that I am selling . . . all Amazon has to do is let me list it on their site. They do collect the money, and should get something for their part, but they should not receive more than I do for MY merchandise.

If you sell or buy on Amazon, please be aware the you might soon have to spend more for books because of Amazon’s new fees.

I will not mail a book again that costs me more in postage than I will receive when Amazon collects the customer’s money and then distributes what they think I deserve to me.

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