One Reason Why Writing Is Difficult

Writing is incredibly difficult. If you are a story teller, it seems it should be easy. However, there is a great difference, a difference wider than a rift in the Earth that you need all  your strength to jump across.

For instance, if you use this sentence while telling a story you could be telling one of I Never Said She Stole My Moneyseven different stories: This Sentence :  I never said she stole my money.

Say this outloud seven times and each time you do, emphasize a different word. Each time the story you are telling about yourself or this particular girl changes.

This is one reason why writing is so difficult. The writer knows what is meant when the sentence is written, but if the reader reads it differently, somewhere along the way the reader will probably be confused and will either reread the story until that particular sentence is found or the reader might just toss the story aside because it wasn’t what was expected.

This is also why reading is difficult. I’ve read stories on the radio (usually for adults), and in classrooms, often for second and third graders. I’ve found that if, for some reason, I haven’t previously read the story. I could suddenly find I’m not reading the same story that was written.

This is why it’s good for a writer to read outloud and, if possible, listen to someone else reading the work outloud. Here’s why: If I take the above sentence and bold type a word you will be more likely to know what I’m trying to say. This Sentence : I never said she stole my money.

On the other hand the writer might realize the sentence needs to be rewritten: She may have stolen some money, but she didn’t any of mine.

I knew a woman who made her living translating English to Spanish and vice versa. She said English was much more difficult than Spanish because so many words in English have more than one meaning and sentences can be phrased in so many ways.


Children in Restaurants: Maybe, Maybe Not

You might disagree with me on this, but children younger than five should not be crying babyallowed in restaurants. Fast food places, family restaurants, restaurants designed for children, okay; but otherwise the child should be left at home. If the parents cannot find a baby sitter then they should find a place suitable for children or stay home.

Any restaurant not billing itself as a family restaurant should have the right to ask parents with a noisy or misbehaving child to leave, whether the child is three or twelve. I’ve sat in restaurants where children who were six or seven years old ran around playing tag. Once I was eating a plate of Butternut Squash Tortellacci when a girl, probably eight, maybe nine who had been too loud and boisterous for my tastes, topped her behavior off by vomiting on the leg of a man at a table about five feet from mine. That might not have happened if the restaurant had been able to ask the family to leave.

Other than terrible food or terrible service, terrible surroundings will ruin almost any romantic night out. A child screaming or running around a restaurant will turn any atmosphere, no matter how lush or lavish into something lurid.

I know there are times when even the best children act up, get irritable, get sick, or are just ‘out of sorts.’ When that happens a considerate parent will remove the child until the child is able to return to normal or will leave and take the child home. There is no reason to abuse other people with an inability to be a considerate parent.

Actually, I feel this way about most public establishment including retail stores (especially grocery) and churches, but especially about restaurants.

What do you think? Am I way off base here? Should I be the one who stays home or leaves the restaurant?

For something similar read: Children in restaurants, a delicate dining dance –

Is A Stress Free Childhood a Good Thing?

Stress childEveryone wants their child to have a stress free childhood, right? Maybe that’s not such a good idea after all. According to a Dutch researcher, Esther Nederhof, children who have stress free childhoods are more likely to be depressed when they become adults. They’ve never learned to handle stress so it becomes too difficult to handle. Continue reading

To Be a Better Picture Book Writer, Be a Better Picture Book Critiquer

Picking Picture Books Writing a Picture Book is not an easy task. I know people who spent more than five years learning the craft before they made their first sale. It seems like it should be an easy thing to do. After all, everyone has made up a story or two that they told to a child at one time or another. Being able to tell a story and writing one, while similar are also quite different. When you tell a child a story, the child is, in a sense, a captive audience who might hear the story only once. A good Picture Book, however, is measured not by being told as much as it is measured by being told again and again and again. Continue reading

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book, especially the way the old collectors’ photographs were woven into the story. The characters were very believable even with their peculiar abilities.

I actually checked a map to see if the locations mentioned in the book existed, that’s how believable this book was for me. Not that I thought Miss Peregrine’s Home ever existed, but the island off the coast of Wales, its village, shoreline, hills and bogs could have existed. I put this book down, intending to finish the last 80 pages on another day, but five minutes later turned the light back on and got to sleep late after finishing this book.

Seventeen year old Jacob dreads his future. He is an heir to a large company, a drug store chain and he is being groomed to be an executive in the company. He’s not sure what he wants to do with his life, but helping to run a chain of stores is not it. On the other side of his family he is very close to his strange and reclusive grandfather. The sudden death of his grandfather leads Jacob into a mission to find Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and to discover the truth of his grandfather’s past.

He travels to Wales where he find’s the remains of the Home on an island off the coast. Strange things begin happening and Jacob discovers that he has stepped back in time, to the time when his grandfather was a resident at Miss Peregrine’s Home.

I could go on because I found the story to be a curious sort-of Science Fiction/Horror/Fantasy all rolled into one. It made for a fascinating and fast-paced novel.

I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel, Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children).

Perhaps Reading Books Is an Aquired Taste

Surprising Book FactsThis is both frightening and sad.

The one stat here I find most shocking is the one that states: “42% of college grads never read another book after college.

It’s probably about right, though. In my family of seven children I think there are only two, maybe three of us who buy and read books on a regular basis.

I’m  pretty sure three of them may not even know the location of the nearest library.

When I was student teaching I had two students may have already quit reading, because they refused to write anything in class and never turned in any homework.

It was my great challenge to get them to write something, but all I ever got from either of them was a blank sheet of paper with their name on it.

Room Available

This is an exercise where I take the first line or two of a book and start writing. The goal is to write a complete story or scene. Another rule is that I haven’t read the book, so I have no idea where the beginning of the book is going.

He’d stopped trying to bring her back. She only came back when she felt like it, in dreams and lies and broken-down deja vu. **2007 red Mustang

That’s what she called her car, ‘Deja vu’ because she said it was pretty much like the 2006 red mustangclunker it replaced. Only it wasn’t a clunker. It was the same model, same color, same interior. The only real difference was that it was four years younger, as if a seven year old car could be considered young. She said the salesman told her she was getting a bargain because, “A new car loses at least 25% of its value the minute it rolls off the lot and after a month, it’s not a new car anymore. It’s a trade-in.” That’s why she always bought used cars. Continue reading