Archives for September 2016

TBT – All The Cancers

In the 1980s I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material.  But it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your scrunchie  and welcome to the 80s.

I had forgotten about hairdryers in my rush to be one of the first to worry about the cancer implicationsin the 1980s Everything Caused Cancer
associated with cell phones and drinking too much wine.  Or not drinking enough wine, or calling friends to discuss how we should worry about drinking  which at that point  I needed a drink.

Things are neither good or bad but thinking makes them so. I have learned that over thinking causes more cancer than anything else evidenced by the fact that cancer has not been cured and  its causes are still debated, both in the medical field and in popular magazines. Hair dryers, red dye number 2, asbestos, apples. A no-win conversation.

As a parent, everything was fraught with either meaning or danger.  And I am so sorry that it hasn’t changed. It seems that parents today are as freaked out as we were thirty years ago.  I miss the 50’s when parents were not freaked out. They  smoked during pregnancy, let their children use plastic bags as space helmets and  bought lawn darts for Christmas.

Now THOSE were the days.

Now?  Not so much.  Maybe we need to just acknowledge that life is dangerous.  No one gets out of here alive. And if the conversation will not change,  we need to find strategies to work within the danger, make choices about the health or health claims of the food we ingest and eat our dinner.  Because  no matter what we invent, no matter what we ban, something new,  interesting and very tasty will pop up and become the new, new panic.

Let’s all raise a glass of red while we wait for our cheeseburger order and live. I really didn’t feed the boys Cheez Whiz.  But I never, ever, gave up the blow dryer. Not many of us did.

Blow dryers are no longer dangerous.  Just saying.

 

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Pre-Flight – Instagram Poem

Pre-flight poem

Why Bother Writing?

Why Bother Writing?Don’t Write Like You Talk
What I learned from agents & authors, publishers & poets

We feed blogs, we write tweets, we compose witty Facebook posts. Why bother writing a whole book?

Because like Half Dome, it’s there.

Because a book will sit on your shelf and remind you, every day, that you are a real author. A book is the mute testimony of a Herculean effort that few accomplish.   A book proves something.  To you and to the world at large.

Books come in many irritations, but most would agree that there is nothing like the real thing.  There is power in holding a book in your hand. 

That’s why you sweat and toil and try to figure out this weeks version  of the publishing system.

(Once you learn about the big publishers, you will run screaming from your computer, cower in a corner, suck your thumb, then realize it’s much easier to publish the damn thing yourself.)

Books are not  lightly cast aside.  Books are important. They wouldn’t be burned if they weren’t.  Kindle books can be erased, but for drama?  Fire. – 451  Fahrenheit for the home game.

We write books because we believe in our words and what we have to say.

We bother writing a book because it’s real.

And we know that being real is not only the ultimate goal of every  Velveteen Rabbit, it’s ours too.

Visit us on iTunes  – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually.  All you need to do is wait . . .  Like us.
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Anyone Can Buy – Instagram Poem

Anyone can buy

Writing is Imporant

Don't Write Like You TalkDon’t Write Like You Talk
What I learned from agents & authors, publishers & poets

Writing a book is important. But before you get all puffed up, so is knitting.    

Writing is an art.  Writing is also a hobby.  My friend Myrna  knits beautiful socks as holiday gifts to family.    My friend Terry cooks amazing meals and share them with lucky me. My mother makes greeting cards.  My sister in law creates an elaborate Halloween scene for the local trick or treaters. A number of my friends travel and happily share their experiences with me so my trip will be even better.

What do I do?  I write.  Sometimes I share, but more often than not, I don’t.  Because unlike socks, writing isn’t a really welcome holiday gift.  Wine is better.  Bourbon is much better.

I write because it’s important to me, to my health and well-being.  Writing is my way to organize the world.  It can be yours too. 

I officially give you permission to write for love.  Write because describing the sky makes it bluer.  Write because detailing the grass makes it softer.  Write because it feeds you like  twice baked potatoes.

Why is it important to write?  Because you are making sense of  the   world  and if you do a good job, you’ll help others see what you see, and make some sense themselves. 

 

Visit us on iTunes  – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually.  All you need to do is wait . . .  Like us.
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The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp

TBT – Barbie Rages On

In the 80s I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material.  But it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your Scrunchie  and welcome to the 80s.

1980s article on CA BarbieThere wasn’t a time in my life when I didn’t have a Barbie. And there was never a time I didn’t admire her from Bob Mackie Barbie to Scarlett O’Hara Barbie.     But for my granddaughter, there is no Barbie. Not because Barbie is a bad role model, not because Barbie has large breasts. It’s because of Elsa.  A lot of Elsa:  tall Elsa, small Elsa, the Elsa dress, the Elsa lunch box. In this family, when it’s not about Cars, it’s about Elsa.

Barbie has succumbed to politically correct thinking since I played with one as a child.  It is possible to purchase a curvy Barbie, a tall Barbie, a smaller chest Barbie.  A noble effort.  I don’t have the stats on the sales, but I would imagine that little girls still gravitate towards the inscrutable original. The Barbie with the better tan.  The Barbie with the pink house.  The Barbie with tiny high heel shoes.

Her purpose is to not be real.  Play is not real. Barbie is a grown up, and as such, can do anything she wants.  Remember that idea?  That you will be able to to be  anything and everything you want?  It’s as real as creating a whole castle made of ice in the course of a single song.

But if we don’t dream, how barren and tragic our lives would be.

I don’t know about you, but I read countless articles about capturing the sense of play in your (our, my) life.  Be spontaneous, play like a child!  But that only works if you did play like a child. If you did dress up Barbie in a handkerchief or old doilies left from Valentine’s Day and paraded her down the aisle to get married – groom optional.  Or walked her down the cat walk for her fashion show.  Or stuffed she and her friend Skipper into her pink car and drove them both off the bed.

Parents seem to work very  hard to make sure everything in  their child’s life is reality based. A noble attempt, but eliminating play is not the answer.   How can we return to our playful selves if as children we were handed a  doll with small breasts and thick ankles and told, this is Insurance Adjustor Barbie, pretend she is commuting to her cubical.

Barbie is well into her sixties.  She endures. I hope she resists this more recent attempt to make her relevant and more real. She’s not real. It’s not even the point.

I hope there are hundreds of little girls insisting that like Elsa, their Barbie can make ice castles.  Seems fair.   Seems real enough.

To learn more.
Visit us on iTunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp

Much Better Way – Instagram Poem

Do not start the day

Being A Beginner

Beginning is just like starting.  Just start!

Don’t Write Like You Talk
What I learned from agents & authors, publishers & poets

“Each moment is a place you’ve never been.” – Mark Strand
Are you a beginner? Good. We all are. You’ve no doubt read countless sincere articles about beginner’s mind, the whole zen profound thoughts on beginning and starting fresh.
It doesn’t need to be that hard.
It’s just about starting – and more important, not over analyzing the project before you even start.
Beginners are curious.
Beginners ask, What if?
Beginners block out that pernicious quote: If I knew what I was getting into, I would never have started. Start.
Start the story of your aunt like Julia Park Tracey did. Finish with a best selling series.
Start your story of your mother, like Linda Joy Meyers did. Finish as the head of the Memoir Writers Association.
Start by recording the crazy character who keeps talking in your head.

Beginner’s mind,is another way of expressing – starting.

You probably have read countless articles on starting – how to start an exercise program, how to start a successful diet, how to start a family. Starting a novel is much like starting a family. You do not give birth to a five-year-old. You give birth to a baby with, if you’re lucky, a small head.

Writing is just like that. You start small.
You begin small.

Here is how to start:
Don’t start by working on a big novel, all day. Don’t even start writing for an hour.
Write on anything at all for 10 minutes.
Now stop and walk away. (You know, I tried pushing out that last baby for ten minutes and then volunteered to quit and just walk away. Obstetric nurses don’t have much of a sense of humor).

If it’s not a baby, you can return to your project the next day feeling rather refreshed. Feed that beginning effort with more words. Don’t rewrite, just add. In a few months you’ll have a respectful number of words that once organized and edited, may reveal a theme and plot.

But small, start small. Because trying to give birth to a fully formed novel in one go, is very painful indeed.

To learn more.
Visit us on Itunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
And @CBramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp, thank god there is only one of me

TBT – Are You Living in the Suburbs?

Suburban life in the 80sIn the 80s I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and
ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material, but  it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your scrunchie  and try on the 80s for a minute.

The suburbs are great for raising kids, and boring for raising adults.  Even in the midst of small children, I both longed for the culture and stimulation of city life, yet loved the convenient Safeway parking lot.  This conflict never really resolved itself.  I loved every city I traveled to (okay, maybe not Cairo so much, but I loved Luxor).  But I did not have to carry my groceries up five flights of stairs to my adorable apartment with interesting views and indifferent electricity.  I loved the noise and action of the city at night, but I didn’t need to get up for an early meeting the next day.

One of those suburban children lives in a small town in the Sierra Foothills and longs for acres of land for his multitude of animals.  The other lives in Kirkland, two blocks from a Starbucks.

My husband and I spilt the  difference and bought a house in a small, but lively town that has most of the culture, bars and restaurants of the big city without the stress.

Almost perfect. Isn’t that what we long for, really?

My friend “Frank” still lives in San Francisco.  And I still visit because I have season tickets to the ballet.  I don’t know why I called him Frank.  His name is Lester.

 To learn more.
Visit us on iTunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
And @CBramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp, thank god there is only one of me

Next Steps after Finishing Your Book

Next step after finishing your book

Chocolate

Wander through the local book store
Observe how many shelves in the local book store
Notice the many books on the shelves  Many books
Pick up the hard covers, the trade, the bargain
Hate john Irving because he published at 26 and you are 56
Resent the writers who are always short listed for a Pulitzer
Detect a trend in the prize lists
Notice you are not part of that trend

Decided to distrust any book described as luminous
Promise not to buy any book described as a brilliant first foyer into the literately field.
Wish you had a better marketing team
Realize you are the marketing team

Order a dirty martini
Be pleased the olives are served on the side –
So there’s more room for the gin

Drink

Either feel grateful there are so many wonderful stories to buy
Or depressed that you are merely part of the problem

Finish the drink
Eat the olives
Send the book to your publisher anyway.

Inspired by the afternoon after I finished the third round of edits for Future Sky, the fourth in the Future Girls series.