Monthly Archives: September 2013

Guest DJ: The “Re” In Revising

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Guest DJ: The “Re” In Revising

viewprofileimageLet’s welcome another guest DJ to the writing party!  Patricia Florio graduated from Wilkes University with an MA/MFA in creative writing. She is the author of MY TWO MOTHERS, a memoir, and CUCINA D’AMELIA: MY MOTHER’S SICILIAN AND NEAPOLITAN RECIPES, published by Gina Meyers, Serendipity Media Press.  She has also published several short stories.  Patricia is a 2012 Norman Mailer finalist, and received a scholarship to workshop her latest memoir, SEARCHING FOR THE MAN IN THE GRAY FEDORA, in Provincetown, Massachusetts at the Mailer Center.

What You Think You Know!  by Patricia Florio

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Revisions are a way of life for a writer.  Just accept that fact and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and energy.  It’s exactly a lesson learned a few days ago when I received an answer from an agent.

Last summer, I was a finalist in the Norman Mailer 2012 nonfiction workshop.  While on location at Mr. Mailer’s home in Provincetown, Massachusetts with nine other writers,  we were introduced to an agent.  We had our “in.”

I had promised myself not to do anything foolish like rush to send out three chapters and a proposal until I felt comfortable I had  a finished product.  I took a whole year with my revisions, sometimes putting these chapters away, taking them out later in the month, and re-revising them again.  It’s the reworking, retooling, revising, readjusting, retelling of the story, even reselecting the order of the chapters, that makes the story move forward.

I really paid attention to every detail and then read my chapters out loud, sat down and wrote a proposal, not only for the prologue and three chapters I was sending, but for the entire premise of the book.  That’s what an agent wants.  Then I finally sent all 80 pages to the agent from the Mailer workshop via email.

A few days ago, I an email popped into my inbox from the agency.  SEARCHING FOR THE MAN IN THE GRAY FEDORA had been given to another agent for a second read.  Music to my ears as it had passed the first test.

And this is what Katherine (the second agent wrote):

“Thanks for sharing your work with our agency. Ike passed your writing to me for a second look, as I evaluate many of the new manuscripts here. There was much to admire in your voice and your premise, but we felt as though the narrative arc wasn’t quite strong enough; the storytelling felt, at times, jumpy to us. Of course, publishing is terribly subjective and another agent or editor may well feel differently.”

I took the words “much to admire in your voice and your premise” as a commendation for my hard work and determination.

And now the real work begins.

You can contact Patricia at patriciaflorio@aol.com and on Facebook here.

And if you have something to say about writing and would like to be a Guest DJ, contact me here.

Priming The Pump #1: True Colors

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Ta da! Here’s the first installment of Priming The Pump, a new feature on creative writing exercises:

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Two of my writer’s notebooks for my English classes. We read the Seuss book, looked at the O’Neill poems, chose paint chips and labeled them with our “many colored days.”

This is all about using color to inspire you or enhance your current piece.  I learned this technique from a very gifted teacher, Carol Engleman, in a graduate class on writer’s notebooks.

1) Go to your favorite home improvement store and grab some free paint chip cards.

2) Read Dr. Seuss’ My Many Colored Days and/or Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill.  The illustrations are as bright and  vivid as the language.

3) Choose a paint chip and let it guide you.  You can:

  • Pick one of your “many colored days” and label the paint chip with that day (happy day, sad day, morning, afternoon, a holiday, etc.).  Create a web around it with details and then get writing.
  • Peruse the color names.  What could you write inspired by Forward Fuschia or Blue Click?
  • Name a character after a color name.  What kind of character would be named Inkwell or Mauve Finery?
  • What colors would match your characters?  Why?  For example, Marina would totally go between Feverish Pink and Daisy; Arman would always be a steady Samovar Silver.

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    My personal writer’s notebook with the paint chip activity that inspired this post. We had to identify, describe and rename colors of how we felt in the morning, afternoon and evening. I miss my Summer Evenings…

Let us know what you did with your paint chips in the comments below.  If you’d like, show us what you wrote. Write on!

Do you have a writing exercise you’d like to share?  Here’s information on how to get it to me. 

We Need You (Yes, YOU!): Writing Exercises Wanted

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232323232fp53459>nu=3238>-82>4WSNRCG=3238;3-8-63--nu0mrjMy friends have a beautiful, rustic cabin in central PA.  There’s no electricity, except for brief generator sessions, and no running water, except for the well.  Essentially, it’s quiet, peaceful bliss.  When it’s my turn to fill the bucket to flush the toilet, I have to prime the pump before the water flows out of the spigot.  The woods fill with the squeaksqueaksqueak of the handle as the water makes its way through the pipes and flows into the bucket in cold spurts.

Writing exercises are like priming the pump for my mind.  I remember doing an exercise where I had to change a story into a poem, which helped me with word precision and theme.  My novel, HOPE YOU GUESS MY NAME, was inspired by a prompt that read, “Wanted: Dad.”  These small exercises flex my writing muscles, and, although they don’t usually turn into a processed piece, they help me get ideas and hone skills. They pump the ideas through my brain, onto the paper or laptop screen.

In the spirit of getting our own writing wells flowing, I’m going to start a weekly feature called “Priming The Pump.”  I will share exercises I have tried on my own or will have tried with my students.  What’s more is that I need your help!  If you’re a professional writer, aspiring writer and/or a teacher of writing, send me your best writing exercises  aimed at ANY writer (not just students) and I’ll post those that seem the most interesting or useful.  

Guidelines:

  • SHORT description of no more than 200 words – and add hyperlinks when possible
  • Include a photo of yourself and a 50 word bio
  • Add an image of the writing exercise after it’s been written, if you can
  • If this writing exercise is taken from a book or website, please cite the source.

Please contact me to submit.  And take the poll below, please!

Let’s get writing together!