13 February 2009 - 20:26Wisdom from the Pen

A few months ago I was listening to NPR, and they were doing a story on some brilliant and powerful Latino gang in Los Angeles.  The thing that they singled out as a major factor in this gang’s success is that the leaders were lifers — in prison for life, but also dedicated “careerists” who devoted themselves to the gang.

One thing they did was when in solitary confinement, they had to come up with 1000, that’s ONE THOUSAND, ideas a day.  Every day.

Talk about your mental discipline! These guys have turned prison into a top think tank.

Of course, a writer I know who has a family to take care of said something like “Oh, yeah, well that’s easy when you don’t have to change diapers and clean house and run to the day job, and fill out taxes…”

Maybe we need to put ourselves in solitary once in a while.  And I don’t mean like the self-funded fellowship I’m saving up for. I don’t mean for writing.  I mean for THINKING.  For brainstorming.   That’s one of the bits of wisdom world leaders were overheard giving to Obama when he travelled overseas before the election.  “Schedule time just to think.”

Fortunately, that’s something that’s a part of the job when doing something like writing the tiny articles I’ve been doing.  It’s also one of the things that those pulp writers learned, having churn out story after story.  Donald Westlake was ingenious because he had trained his brain to stretch the limits on new ideas.

A few more of my eHow articles:

No Comments | Tags: Craft, productivity

7 February 2009 - 11:19Starting Again

As I may have mentioned, my life went to hell for a while.  Life does that.  If you are a working writer whose survival depends on writing, things like this can sometimes shift you into a higher gear.  But when everything is on spec, and you are just building your contacts and your portfolio of work, it can stop you dead.  Because when life goes to hell, especially if the situation is even vaguely threatening, your brain is hard-wired to concentrate on SURVIVAL.

But now I’ve got a big distraction out of my way, and I’m working on the restart.  I’ve decided that I really am going to start over.  I’m going to take some courses at the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program, among other things.

But first I’ve got to fund my own fellowship.  So my concentration for spring is going to be money money money.  I also need something that I missed in learning my craft the first time around.  Pulp.

My first writing hero, Donald Westlake, died recently.  I remember reading interviews with him in which he talked about sweating over a typewriter at half penny a word, writing for the pulps to support his family.  And the same turned out to be true for many of my favorite writers, over and over again. They started in journalism, they started in pulps.  Sometimes those first writing jobs had very little to do with what they were later great at — but the crappy writing job gave them strengths and skills that you can’t get any other way.  Other than sweating it out for a half penny here and half penny there.

So for the next few months, my spare energy is going to go into writing little how to articles for eHow.com.   I don’t expect to get much money out of it, but I do expect to revive my concentration and discipline.  And what money I do get can help fund my fellowship.

More about what I expect to get out of writing articles next time.  For now I’ll just post a link to a couple of my first eHow articles:

See ya in the funny papers…..

No Comments | Tags: money, productivity

4 February 2009 - 10:26Feed Change Accomplished

The migration of the account did indeed disrupt the feed (and I’m sorry — I screwed up — but then that’s why I warned you). However, we are now back up and running.  You will probably need to delete your old feed and click on the subscribe button to get it back.

I’m going to try to post more in the next couple weeks (starting Friday).  However, since my goal is paying for my own “fellowship”, I’ll probably write more about money than about writing.  Still, I think money is an issue of interest to all writers.

No Comments | Tags: Blog Business

2 February 2009 - 22:13Changes to RSS Feeds

Feedburner, the service which has handled my RSS feeds up to now, is merging with Google.  This blog’s feed, unfortunately, is a bit tangled with another account.  At this point, I am thinking that the best way to straighten this out would be to delete this feed, and restart it in a clean new Google account.

It’s not quite clear what Feedburner and Google are swapping around, so this may not even cause a disruption to your feed.

I’m going to make these changes this week.  I will post again on Friday when they are done.  You can check your feed reader on Saturday, Feb 7, to see if the subscription survived.

In the meantime, I suggest you bookmark this blog, or send me an email at pitchlady@pitchlady.com for a notice of when I’m done.  Just in case things go wrong.

No Comments | Tags: Uncategorized