Monday, April 27, 2015

Reads for Writers: Running from Safety by Richard Bach Provides a Masterclass

From Kate’s Writing Crate…


As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide masterclasses within their books.
            Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don’t generally have this option, but I have found some books to be masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice and/or creativity.


          Richard Bach has written about two dozen books, most of which I’ve enjoyed, but my favorite is Running from Safety: An Adventure of the Spirit.

From the back cover: If the child-we-were asked us today for the best we’ve learned from living, what would we tell, and what would we discover in return?

          How would you answer?

If you take this up as a writing prompt, it’s an enlightening experience. You might want to set aside an entire notebook or two to complete it.

In Running from Safety, Richard Bach has written a first-person mystical tale where the child he was is a 10-year-old character named Dickie. Together they reminisce, argue, discuss, agree and disagree about the past, present, and future. Richard is astonished to discover what he has forgotten or rewritten in his mind about his childhood.

As he considers Dickie’s observations and questions, both mundane and profound, he defends and explains himself. Even if the questions are painful, the child demands honesty. Bach's soul-searching answers contain mind-expanding wisdom.

The insights shared include:

“…Childhood was not something I was much trained to treasure. The point was to get through it. Learn as much as you can along the way, but hunch in, hold your breath, coast down that long powerless hill of dependence till you’re rolling fast enough to pop the clutch and start your engine on your own.” (page 49)

…Never had I understood that I command, with absolute authority, the ship of my life! I decide its mission and rules and discipline…I’m master of a team of passionate skills to sail me through hell’s own jaws the second I nod the direction to steer. (page 106)

“Like attracts like. It’ll surprise you as long as you live. Choose a love and work to make it true, and somehow something will happen, something you couldn’t plan, will come along to move like to like, to set you loose, to set you on the way…” (page 204)

          No! I thought. Don’t tell me that my security comes from somebody else! Tell me I’m responsible. Tell me security is a by-product of the gift I give of my skill and my learning and my love into the world. Tell me security comes from an idea given time and care. I claim this for my truth, no matter how many stable solid paychecks might come from the Accounting Department…Dear God, I thought, don’t give me a job, give me ideas, and let me take it from there! (page 214)

“…We build our personal world calm or wild according to what we want to live. We can weave utter peace in the midst of chaos. We can destroy in the midst of paradise. Depends on how we shape our spirit.” (page 222)

“Marriage is like nothing else you’ll ever live…brought together by miraculous magnetizing, found by incredible coincidence, soulmates discovered in the mystery of romance, you still have to work out problems together. Fascinating problems, it’s true, spicy tests lasting year after year, but lose romance and you lose the power to go on through hard times… (page 261)

 “Everything in the world of my consciousness, which is the only world that exists for me on earth, gets there through my consent…” (page 274)

          “…What matters, though, is how I use what I know every minute of every day; how I use it to remember… (Page 311-312)

          Running from Safety is one of the books I reread every few years because I get more out of it each time I consider Bach’s thoughts:

          How come we don’t know the answers until we find the question[s]… (page 140)

“…You don’t want a million answers as much you want a few forever questions. The questions are diamonds you hold in the light. Study a lifetime and you see different colors from the same jewel. The same questions, asked again, bring you just the answers you need just the minute you need them.” (page 141)

Who couldn’t use those questions?


Monday, April 20, 2015

Blogging Etiquette

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          I love blogging. I have no plans to stop anytime soon although some weeks are easier to post than others. Deadlines for paid work, family matters, illnesses, emergencies, etc. can all cause disruptions, but I persevere.

I also love reading blogs. However, a couple of the blogs I follow have faltered and seemingly ended. No warning, just no new posts. And several others have gone from weekly to sporadic.

I keep checking to see if there are new posts—daily the first week without a post then weekly for a couple of months then randomly. It would be nice to have closure.

What is the etiquette for ending a blog? Put up a “Gone Fishin’” sign if the writer is taking a break? How about "Bisy Backson" if you are an A. A. Milne fan? Or pen a farewell?

The blogs I read just stopped. The same old posts come up every time I check. They’re like ghost sites—sad and kind of creepy.

What happened? Did the bloggers get bored? Overwhelmed? Uninspired? Sick? Injured? Or worst of all, short of death, stop writing altogether?

How many of these ghost sites are out there?

All bloggers will stop writing eventually so it would be helpful to have a standard goodbye. As writers, THE END seems appropriate.

          But for now on this blog, I’m going with CONTINUED NEXT WEEK.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Waiting for My Life by Linda Pastan

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          April is Poetry Month. While poetry in general may not be of interest when you are reading for fun, reading it is a wonderful way to improve your writing.

          Poets have unique ways with words. Reading their poems make me want to expand my writing vocabulary. I know many more words than I use. Writing poetry gives me a place to put them. No one has to know you write poems, long or short, in your notebooks. They are merely writing exercises. In fact, you can just write fragmented phrases as they come into your mind.

Poets convey thoughts and emotions in mind-bending ways. I always look at the world differently after reading poetry. I write differently, more deeply, too.

          I highly recommend writers read poetry by Billy Collins and Mary Oliver. (See posts dated 4/22/13 and 4/28/14 respectively.) And this year I recommend Waiting for My Life by Linda Pastan.

          Read "Secrets" on page 12. The first line: The secrets I keep from myself…tell me you couldn’t fill pages and pages with that writing prompt. It’s the core of a novel or play.

          Her poem, "Elegy", on page 24 shares where misplaced words never written down lurk and tarry.

          Trees are gnarled magicians in her poem, "November", on page 54.

          While words and images are the heart and soul of poetry, the presentation on the page adds to the impact. See the poem “blizzard” on page 59 where short lines pile up upon each other just like snow.

          Read poetry. Write poetically.

Writing poetically requires an open mind, observing eyes, and an expanded vocabulary. Deeper impressions appear on the page.

See what you can create using these tools.

Monday, April 6, 2015


From Kate’s Writing Crate…

           We all remember the stubby pencils we were given in school and the really wide-ruled paper with the extra dashed lines so we would learn where lowercase letters mostly started. Posted on the wall was the alphabet written A a B b C c D d…Z z so we had a model to follow as we copied the letters on our pages. Soon we could write our own words down. A few grades later, we learned cursive, switched to pens, and then the fun began.

          Printing is useful, but cursive is beautiful. I loved everything about writing in cursive. I loved pens more than pencils. I loved all the colors of ink though I mostly used blue and black. I loved the embellishments that made my handwriting unique. And I loved that I could write almost as fast as I thought.

          Everyone’s handwriting should be uniform. We all learned the same alphabet with the same standard letters. Yet once we graduated to cursive, we went our own ways: easy to read or difficult, large or small letters, slanted or straight up. We wrote in ways comfortable to ourselves.

I never thought any more about it than that until I learned about graphology, the analysis of handwriting.

          Decades ago, I was reading The Tightrope Walker by Dorothy Gilman—a murder mystery that starts with a written clue found hidden inside a hurdy-gurdy. Needing more information than just the words in the note, the lead character decides a graphologist’s opinion would be helpful.

          I had never heard of a graphologist, but I thought it was a fascinating profession. After I finished the book, I looked up graphologists to see if there were any nearby. There were five in the closest big city and one was a woman so I called her.

          I explained to her that I had just finished a book with a graphologist as a character and that I was interested in learning more about graphology. As most people do when they are passionate about a topic, she started to explain what she did. I asked her how she was trained, who hired her, and what she could tell about people she’d never met.

We talked for about twenty minutes. Then she said she would examine my handwriting if I filled out a form and mailed it back to her which I did. Her analysis was spot on and I was hooked. I signed up for a class on graphology immediately and bought books on the subject. I learned how to “read” handwriting. Graphology is an amazing, insightful field of study.

When I worked as an accountant, one of my bosses discovered an embezzler. I didn’t know about graphology then, but I remembered the person wrote with very unusual o’s. They were more like upside down u’s, open at the bottom. I had never seen this before. While I was studying graphology, I discovered this can be a handwriting trait of an embezzler.

The way you write your letters like m’s, k’s, capital I’s, etc. is revealing as is the overall look of your handwriting. Slant, size, and strength (how deep is the impression on the paper) can tell how empathetic, detail-oriented, and emphatic you are among other things. There is a literary trait in handwriting, too—any e’s and cursive lowercase r’s that look similar to a reversed 3.

Graphology is a great tool for learning about character traits in general as well as in people you need to deal with on a regular basis. This knowledge can help you get along better with them.

So dot your i’s and cross your t’s then study how others do the same. The similarities and differences are illuminating.