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September 07, 2004
Grab a Pen-It's a War.
It's weird-my head races and is full of things to say and think and ache and celebrate, but I just feel like I can't get them out. Maybe they're stuck or in some kind of emotional limbo competition. Like the exposed white background of MT whips me, and bleaches my brain.
I don't want to talk about the personal stuff today, I don't want to talk about my family, how I feel, my Mr. Y, or the temperature that hovers outside my window (which I don't actually know, anyway). I don't want to talk about why I am still wearing a towel around the house or why I want to vaccum but haven't gotten to it yet. I don't want to talk about my lovely friend Jim who should arrive here sometime this today, or about the tabby bombs that should be shooting through the house sometime this afternoon (I hope I hope I hope). I don't want to talk, I don't want to talk, I don't want to talk.
I also don't want to give up on this site, hence today's rather meagre post.
Some time ago, Mr. Y suggested that I write short stories for magazines. I bought a literary guide to help me find said magazines. I also have bought a few writing magazines to help me figure my way out of this telecom nightmare and into a world that means just sitting in front of my pc, orchid dripping to my right, stuffed kitten toy sitting to my left, and just write. Ooze onto the keyboard, gush into the monitor, make no sense whatsoever and clog up the hard drive.
The magazines, however, are whipping me.
One whole article-a whole article!-is about the use of the present tense.
The present tense.
Now, I was a real English dork once upon a time. Diagram a sentence? You got it! Learn vocabulary words and use them in daily dialog? Why certainly! Your pulchritudinous oculus have a soporific effect on me! Dangling participles? Nothing to get wound up about.
But a whole article on the present tense? Including sentences such as:
"...reserves his major irritation for journalism rather than fiction, but his complaints echo a frequently-voiced prejudice."
That buzzing sound you hear is me snoring.
Or instructions at the end of such article:
"There is a correlation between narrative tense and narrative tension, and it can be a good exercise to transfer a piece of your own writing from past to present in order to explore the effect of this shift...Try it and see where you stand in the ongoing 'tense-and-truth' debate."
Hold me back, now! This is too exciting to be real! Hot damn, I could be part of a debate! Whoo-eeee-bob! If I transfer from past to present tense, maybe it's better than sex! Maybe I can walk the wild side now, and throw my cordless keyboard to the wind! This is living baby, screw the champagne Fridays, I could be writing in present tense from now on, living dangerously in the literary world!
Mr. Y, upon seeing this article, rolled his eyes and said: "You can never again make fun of me reading train magazines, if you're going to read articles like that."
I think he has a point.
I don't know if the magazines are really going to help much-I'm not saying I am above needing help, I am saying I don't generally analyze the struture of what I write. I just write. So while I may not give a great goddamn about what tense I write in, what "prejudices" are implied by said tense, or if I have armed myself with a quill on the side of the past tense or a rubber eraser on the side of the present tense debate, I am going to continue reading those magazines, just in case.
Just in case, because more than anything in the world, I want to be a writer. Please just let me be a writer. All I want to do is write.
When I grow up, I think, dancing in bright pink fairy slippers and with two pigtails swinging on my shoulders, reaching up to the countertop height and looking up at the ceiling light with enthusiasm, I want to be a writer.
And so, nestled in the middle of said magazine, is a contest which is judged next January.
I am entering said contest.
I'm not going to win, but I am going to enter.
I have to step off the diving board somewhere after all.
Posted by Everydaystranger at September 7, 2004 09:38 AM
Sweet! Give 'er a go! Best of luck.
Hey Helan.. as an aspiring writer (cough) myself I have a couple little pieces of advice ;)
1)Struck & White's The Elements of Style Its SHORT and to the point.. you might need the English English version of it for things headed for submission on that side of the pond. ((check the required books for a freshman english class))
2) Write about things that you enjoy
3) Spell and grammar check.. then have someone else read it
4) Read it out loud (Cats and stuffed animals are a good audience for the first reading).
5) Remember us when you make your millions :)
I don't know Helen, I am not so sure a contest is such a good idea. I mean you are going into it with a good healthy attitude, win or loose, you have already won just by entering. But I am still not sure.... Just think of all the decimated ego's you are about to create, the scores of once hopefuls, now (then? future tense?) forgotten folks crying in their journals... Ah screw 'em! you go girl!
hoorah for the big leap! i'm so very proud of you. keep leaping, keep reaching. so many people believe in you!!! xoxoxo
Kat-I still carry that card around with me in my briefcase. I would send it to you, or send you a copy, if I could.
It saved my life.
I stumbled on your journal while searching for the exact wording on a quote by Captain Brenner Tate. I think you know which one. Anyway, I'm at a low, confused point in my life right now, and in that particular entry (last November) there were three or four references in your journal that were like signs from above. The big neon kind. Simon. Train wreck (Sarah Song). that quote. etc.
Wanted to thank you for your words. They are exquisite -- and through them, you have made my life make more sense.
Jump off, lady. Do it. And remember this, Ms. Little-Person-in-a-Big-Person-World...you're the only one around these parts selling yourself short by prophesying a loss. ;-)
You are a writer. Period. Best of luck with the contest although, with your talent, luck won't play a very big part.
I'm sure you'll do fine! You're so gifted that it's really just a matter of time before some publisher swoops you up anyway.
Kick some contest ass, H!
Yippeee! I giggled all the way through everything but the first few paragraphs of today's entry! :) Your words make such pretty pictures in my mind. I think you ARE definitely heading in the right direction. After all, you've been writing here for a long time, and it's kept a bunch of us enthralled. Good job entering, and I wish you the very best of luck toward not only winning the contest but the confidence that winning would give you.
YAYAYAYAYAYA!!! Good on ya!
Someone once said: Just write. (Besides, that's what they pay editors the big bucks for.)
I'm sending good thoughts and warm hugs your way.
Yup, without a doubt train magazine it is.
You have a lot of material to choose from for your non-train magazine contest. That choice would freeze me right at the start. Enjoy!
present tense??? it kind of strikes me that if people really need to think that much about whether they're using present or past tense constantly then that would take the joy out of the writing... maybe that's jsut me though.
best of luck with the conference.
And thanks for the nice words. Honest. And Solomon? I may enter a contest or two, but I'll always be the everyday stranger. :)
Whoa there little filly. You seem a little tense. Once you get past this, you may get a present.
You'll do just fine. :) EIGHT DAYS!
And when you become a famous writer, we'll all say, "I knew 'Helen' when she was just a blog writer."
Congratulations on taking that first step!
Ok - second really. The first step is writing, which you do beautifully already.
Finally. You can't win if you don't play...you can't fail either but you know what they say...
If anyone can win that competition, you can. I have to go to lectures where we talk about present tense and... wait for it... embedded clauses too! Ya gotta love it.
You'll be fabulous my dear. And if they don't like what you write then we will just have to hunt them down and shoot them for having no taste :)
Good luck on the contest. I don't know if you're looking for some more formal validation of what a lot of us already know, though, which is that you write beautifully already. I even enjoyed reading about the present tense as you interpreted it.
when I grew up I wanted to be an artist. now people are telling me that I am an artist. and it's quite weird.
H, you are a writer. You're just waiting for the rest of the world to discover you.