Lifelong Learning

IMG_5109No one needs to learn how to write. By the time most of us get out of high school, we’ve written multiple “themes” and even some research papers. We’ve learned the basics of sentence structure, grammar, and how to divide our writing into paragraphs.

Having those basic skills under our belt, we’re able to spend our free time for the rest of our lives writing stories and poetry that we can share with our friends and family. That life hobby brings satisfaction and fulfillment.

It’s possible to go further with our hobby. There’s a big wide world out there of ways to get better at writing. Marry your love of writing with your love of learning, and you will never run out of something to do.

I’ve gotten hooked on learning about writing. Some days, I’m overwhelmed with how much is available. On the Internet, I have my regulars. I read Dan Blank, Joseph Michael, Jerry Jenkins, and Jane Friedman. Their blogs, websites, and classes are outstanding. Google any one of them.

Locally, I network with writers through the Village Writing School. They offer workshops, speakers, open mic sessions. One of the best ever literary libraries in the state resides at the Village Writing School, providing reading material on every conceivable aspect of writing.

Personally, I am inspired by my friends who are avid writers: Alison Taylor-Brown, Debbie Quigley-Smith, Nancy Harris, Jeanie Nance, Carol Martindale, Alan Lampe, Dan Baxter, Valerie F. 

I don’t put to use nearly all the lessons I listen to. Much of what I hear at workshops is not directly relevant to anything I’m writing. But, all that information accrues. Soaks into my skin. It enriches me and broadens my general knowledge. 

I have attended two recent workshops that stretched me. One was with the author of a book called Be the Gateway–Dan Blank. He actually Skyped in to talk with us about how to connect with readers. Imagine a New York author/guru chatting with little ole me and a few of my friends. The other opportunity was with an editor from New York, Denise Roy, who read my query letter and line-edited it. She took the time to fix my words! Unbelievable. The cost was truly minimal. 

I don’t plan to make a splash in New York with my writing. I don’t plan to sell 10,000 books. I’ll be lucky to sell 100. Nevertheless, I love the fact that I have the opportunity to continue learning about this my chosen field. I love that we live in an age where we can live in the splendid Natural State and still have access to the top teachers in the country.

I don’t need to tell you the value of lifelong learning. You already know. Just take a moment to ponder what a marvelous time we live in and how lucky we are to be writing today.

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More Efficient Internet Searches

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My Desk Today

Accurate, Comprehensive, and Quick Internet Searches

If you’re like me, you learned to do google searches by the hunt & peck method. And, that works fine. However, while I was hunting and pecking the other day, I stumbled on an article entitled Ten Tips for Smarter, More Efficient Internet Searching.
 
Let me mention a few of the tips. You may or may not know these, but I’m guessing that out of the ten tips in the complete article, you’ll find at least one helpful item.
 
1. First of all, you don’t need to use capital letters. You can search for the Village Writing School as:
  • VILLAGE WRITING SCHOOL
  • village writing school
  • village Writing School
You’ll get the same search results. 
2. Second, you don’t need to use common words such as a and the.
 
3.  Usually, you can skip typing punctuation marks.
 
4. Drop the suffixes. If you’re looking for writers, just type in writer. Novel instead of novels, search instead of searches.
 
5. Use the plus sign. If you need something specific, use several key words joined together with a plus + sign. While working on my memoir, I searched for other similar books by typing memoir + polio. By doing that, I discovered a list of specific memoirs gathered into one list. (Thanks to our new member, Mary Hutson, for reminding me of this helpful tip.)
 
If you’d like more tips on the essential art of internet searching, go to the complete article in Tech Republic.
 

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What is Your Key to Comfort?

GatewayI’m in a class at the Village Writing School to study a book called Be the Gateway by Dan Blank. The book truly  is one of the most practical books I’ve read that leads creative people through the process of sharing our work.

Author Dan Blank reminds us that fear is the thing that holds most of us back. Fear keeps us from finishing a project; it keeps us from following through on an idea; it keeps us from opening up and sharing with friends and strangers about what is most important to us.

One of the things that Dan shares is the fact that he is uncomfortable at large social gatherings. Now, we might think that here is a guy who lives in New York, has contacts with major publishers and writers, is well-known and admired. Why would he be uncomfortable in social settings?

I’m not going to analyze why, but I’ll tell you that I certainly identify with him. In the book, Dan explains what he does to overcome his wall-flower-ish-ness.

I’ll tell you what I do:

Whenever I’m in a large group, I seek out someone—anyone—who looks the slightest bit receptive to talking with me. Then, I ask questions about who they are, what they’re interested in, why they are here, etc. Some might say I fire questions at people like a machine gun. (I try to maintain some restraint. But, I genuinely like to get to know people.)

Because this has been my habit for years, I’ve started observing others. I find that a lot ofpeople begin by talking about themselves. I’ve been in groups in which no one ever asks me a question about myself. That’s comfortable for me because I don’t have to talk, but it’s kind of sad that they don’t show any interest in others. People end up simply taking turns talking. That’s it.

 

IMG_5109What about you? What’s your mode of interacting with others at a big social gathering? How do you navigate your way through the two or three hours you spend in a crowd?

Here I go, asking questions again. But, I’d really like to hear your response. We can all learn from each other about making social events more social and less like a dreaded event.

What’s your “key to comfort” at a party or reception?

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