If you can't say something nice, at least make it funny!

Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Tuesday, December 28

Nuts and Bolts

Earlier this year I asked an old acquaintance of mine, who is also a published author, for some advice on learning how to write and how to get published. He told me one thing he always advises students in his workshops is that they need to read more and to write more. A year after delving into my passion for writing, I realize he wasn't letting me in on some big secret. I mean, thanks, really, but don't you see this advice everywhere? Well, there's a reason for that though, isn't there?

This thing of writing is nothing new to me. I have written since I was in about 3rd grade, endlessly, writing poetry mostly. Bad, bad poetry. In high school I had a senior English class in which we had to not only journal but also write one original short story each week. My friend was always coming into class not knowing what to write about and I would say "Well, gee, what have you done today? You told me you saw a dead bird on the sidewalk, write it about that." She would look at me like I was crazy. She ended up being a photojournalist. I ended up being an accountant. Go figure.

Once I was in the working world, and married, busy, traveling, trying to make a living, I sort of stopped writing completely. Except for letters for business purposes or my resume, I didn't write at all. The way in which I came back to writing was a circuitous route, but it got me here nonetheless. I was in Pennsylvania, working for another real estate agent after moving away from everyone I knew and the city I had called home since 17. I joined a Toastmasters group in 2006. I competed in public speaking in Jr. High and High School and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would like Toastmasters. And, I did. I loved it.

Toastmasters was about public speaking and your delivery, but you also had to write a speech to deliver. My speeches became quite the hit, peppered with my self deprecating humor and a southern accent. They were almost like very short short stories. Even when I had to stop attending my Toastmasters group because of my school schedule I kept on writing. I had papers to write for every class I took, even my drawing and photography classes, and I usually always got A's on them. I started writing short stories, and daily journaling got me through some of the worst days of my depression.

But this year I really turned it up a notch. I did something I never did before. I put my work out there. I remember the first week I decided to post to the 100 Word Challenge. I sat there forever deciding if I wanted to put myself out there or not. I almost got sick once I had posted the link. "What if they say it sucks? What if people laugh? What if it does suck?" Well, one thing I have learned this year is that it may very well suck, but at least I am getting it out there. The feedback I received gave me confidence to take some of my writing to the editor of the local paper, where said photojournalist friend works. Now, I can say that I've had my work published as feature articles in our local paper. Ten stories over the last two months. And? I've been paid. To write.

This year I have returned to my former love, reading. When I was a kid I devoured books, tearing through one almost daily when I was out of school. I read and reread most of the classic Whitman books. Mom couldn't buy them fast enough to keep up with me. I had given up reading almost entirely when I was busy with work. I would pick up a paperback here and there to read on the plane or when I was on vacation, but I didn't make it a part of my daily routine. This year I set a goal to read 50 books, and I have far surpassed that goal. I have read great books, and I have read total crap books. I had two that I started and put down without finishing because I just didn't care. I read a series of four by the same author that I loved but still don't know why she is so popular. I read books by new authors whom I met at a book festival this spring.

Somewhere along the line I lost count of exactly how many I have read. The book I am currently reading  has me really excited. I was hooked from the first 2 pages. I love her writing style, and I am trying to figure out where the difference is between the way she writes and some of the books I read that are clunky or don't keep my attention. I don't want to put the book down. Someday hopefully, with enough reading and writing it will come to me. That ebb and flow, that beautiful prose, that perfect composition. Until then, I will just keep trudging on, keep writing, keep reading.

What do you writers think? How do you work on crafting a style all your own? When you recognize a style you like, how do you know what makes you like it?


  1. I like to make punctuation my bitch, basically. :)

  2. True, that! Steph, you're an exclamation point's bff! :) Heart ya girlie!

  3. Oh, and? PCAW!!!!!!!!!!!! PCAW!!!!!!!

  4. I'm not a writer. I'm too lazy to take the time to draw a decent word picture, but I do know what I like when it comes to writing. I've read (or started) books and thought I could do better. So with that ringing endorsement of my validity as a critic, I love your writing. Some of your 100 word entries bring a tear, or a chuckle, creating actual emotion with words is huge, huge I say!

  5. Well, thanks, Lori! I do appreciate all of your support. The power to be able to do that is amazing, I tell you. I appreciate your opinion that I can.

  6. It was one of your 100 Word Challenges that brought us together. I'm so glad you did that. And... you know, all the rest of it. You are quite the inspiration. What an awesome 2010 you've had.

    Now it's time to rock 2011. ;)