Monday, January 28, 2008

On Cats (and Writing)

On Friday the Critique group squeezed into my flat and I gained a major insight into Tibo's little feline brain. I think he thinks that everyone who walks through my front door is there to see him. And after all why shouldn't he think that. The day he arrived Jane did come just to visit him. I remember watching a sporting event one night and realising the person I thought I was talking to was actually in the bathroom playing with Tibo. There was even the lady from the cat association who came specially to see him. Even the postlady and the census lady have cooed all over him. So of course he thought these women who walked through the door were here to see him. As realisation slowly dawned he decided that if they weren't here for him, he would sure as hell make his presence felt. He jumped in and out of handbags, bit knees and hair, stole pencils, tried to taste the snacks, took nips out of everyone's writing and generally TOTALLY misbehaved. After all this when someone did arrive who would pet him, he curled up on the back of the sofa and fell asleep.

Despite the fact that I spent the evening with one eye on the critiques and the other seeing where Tibo would stick his nose next, I felt the evening went quite well. Two things became very apparent to me:
  1. Show not tell - Ok it's not an earth shattering discovery. It's not even new, it's not like I haven't heard it a million times before. But then I suddenly discover the advice has flown out of my head...
  2. Along with my grasp of punctuation. I have a very intuitive use of punctuation. I think a comma or semicolon should go there. And there, yeah there, let's slip in a dash! Anyway it becomes kind of glaring when one of your crit partners sends you a link for a punctuation website. So yesterday I purchased New Hart's Rules - The Handbook of style for Writers and Editors. It's got a whole bunch of other sections that I will probably never look at, but it seemed to fit. I do own Eats, Shoots and Leaves, but I seem to have Read, Thought and Forgotten! And really to find the rule in amongst Lynne Truss's rants is not really practical.
Despite these minor flaws (uh hum) I seem to have acquired myself not one, but two Roars for Powerful writing. Eeek! The first one was from Kimy over at Mouse Medicine and she made me blush she was so kind. The second one is from Marie over at Deep Thinker. And I now have to tell you 3 things that I think make powerful writing. So here goes...

  1. Write from the heart. Be it fiction or non-fiction love your subject, love your words.
  2. Edit and let your love sing clearly and loudly.
  3. And because you always can - keep on learning. I'm hoping YOU guys, my crit group and Stephen King's On Writing will continue to teach me a lot.

And so on to the fun bit, passing it on. It'll be interesting to see what these people find powerful.

So Kimy, I have to pass the roar right on back to you.

at Absolute Vanilla - I hope you don't me borrowing your words, but you say it so well.

David at Witnessing am I

Apprentice at My Gap Year

And Jon from Writing in a Vacuum (and not because he's collecting awards this time).


Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Aw, thanks, Miss V, that's powerful kind of you! Now I've also got two roars which means any noise you hear over on your side of the duckpond will be me practicing my new found voice in the African bush! ;-)

As for Tibo, I think you should check out Ms Melancholy's post on her new blog called Chasing Sheep (link on my blog) and you can read all about animals with personality disorders - I think you may find that Tibo has something in common with Ophelia - the cat, not the Shakespeare character!

Verilion said...

Are you trying to say that my cat has a personality disorder? Isn't it perfectly normal for cats to be completely egocentric?

kimy said...

I picture us on a cliff with a mighty roaring echo going back and forth! thank you so much!

punctuation - my waterloo when it comes to putting words down. and then there is the whole capitalization business. obviously influenced by the visual delight of e.e. cummings works.

apprentice said...

Oh thank you so much. My first roar, so it may be a bit croaky as I'll need to tune up a bit!

Yours Elsa

Anonymous said...

Ms. Verilion,

Thank you so much for the badge. That was very, very kind of you.

( have been reading you too, just a little out of it as of late.)

Verilion said...

Hi Kimy, well I will listen out for that roar. And I won't worry too much about Waterloo just yet!
Apprentice, your roar sounds fine to me.
And David, I am very out of it of late, but slowly getting back into it.

Shameless said...

Tibo may very well have the best writing advice of all! lol

And I'm so pleased to see the ROAR has come around to you, V. Yipppeee!!!

Marie said...

Sweet story about Tibo - made me laugh! Great writing tips too.

Verilion said...

I think Tibo's writing advice is EAT IT ALL. It's kind of nice to get a roar, thanks Seamus.
Marie, believe me it wasn't sweet when it was happening!

Sophie said...

Thank you for the writing tips!! :) Come and check my blog and leave a comment it looks like you enjoy traveling.


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