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Posts Tagged ‘writing

Dilbert: Maybe try writing something.

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Dilbert-08132015

More Scott Adams: http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-08-11

Written by kirkistan

August 13, 2015 at 8:58 am

Posted in curiosities, Writing

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Recast Your Story

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Melt. Turn. Form. Repeat.

More and more of my work is recasting. Telling an old story in a new way: finding the locus of interest for today, for these people, living right now. These people who don’t care how the story used to be told—it meant nothing to them and seemed irrelevant if not invisible.

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My industrial-controls client wants a new way to talk about a neglected product. I write to find the words and the approach to make it interesting for today’s audience. My medical client wants to recast the backbone of their selling proposition with proper science and citations (versus just their own internal studies, which were not wrong, just limited). A consulting client wants to turn their expertise into a broader story that pulls in people outside the narrow audience with which they’ve been successful.

My process is to play with the story element. That’s why writing often seems like play or goofing off. It must be so: that’s where key discovery happens. Sort of like the process in my daily failures at Dumb Sketch Daily. I don’t know what’s right until I draw it wrong.

It occurs to me this recasting process is going on all over my life. Writing and faith and parenting and exercise are all changing before my eyes. A new story keeps getting told about each and it is important each story is told—telling and retelling the story helps me understand life. Maybe the retelling is all about making meaning.

What’s changing in your life and what story do you need to recast or retell? And who might benefit from that retelling?

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

July 29, 2015 at 9:47 am

Make mistakes as fast as possible

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And get yourself a steadfast interlocutor

As the crane slowly lowered the casket-laden truck into the hole, the widow leaned over and whispered “He loved that ’58 Chevy Suburban more than anything or anyone.” And then, quietly, “That should hold him.” [Excerpt from a short story in progress.]

As the crane slowly lowered the casket-laden truck into the hole, the widow leaned over and whispered “He loved that ’58 Chevy Suburban more than anything or anyone.” And then, quietly, “That should hold him.” [Excerpt from a short story in progress.]

Making mistakes is the point with Dumb Sketch Daily. And it is the point with writing every day. And it is the point with moving forward quickly with client work. Progress happens only as we make mistakes. And often we only realize it was a mistake—or at least somehow fallen short of our dream—when we present our rough sketch to someone else. That’s why it is important to have steadfast interlocutors in our lives. Those ongoing conversations with people we trust help us see what is what, which helps us see how to do something differently, which is what progress looks like. Teachers and professors and authors (and spouses!) can be great conversation partners as we stumble toward some goal.

I am learning to make mistakes in more media. Yesterday I commented on some quick sketches by an artist in Quebec, how simple they were and how definitive.

“It’s easy,” she said. “Just sketch the people you see on TV.”

“Not so easy,” I replied. “I do that as well, but my sketches turn out fussy and juvenile. And ugly. And sometimes I despair at how bad they remain.”

“Well, I do 12 sketches before I get the one I really like.”

I found that encouraging because she is quite accomplished. And of course we all know this is true. One need only think on Philip Glass or Hemingway to gain a bit of perspective.

The more time we commit to the thing, the more mistakes we make, the more we progress. But mistakes are part of the process. As far as I can tell, making mistakes in pursuit of our passion is the only way forward.

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Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

July 3, 2015 at 9:22 am

A Disabling Fiction About Writing

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Writing is Embedded

The fiction about writing is that it takes place in a special compartment, sealed off from everyday concerns. In part that is true, the best writers gain access to deep, hidden wells that supply the fodder for their process. Working writers locate those deep places regularly, whether or not their muse shows. In fact, it is typically the gears churning through the regular process that conjures whatever muse actually exists.

But more to the point, rather than being cut off and hidden away, the embedded writer pulls from experience—past, present and future—to load content into an emotional grid, commonly called a story.WriterInResidence-06172015

I find myself writing lots of stories lately. My own short fiction, yes, and that is great fun. But also for clients with something to say. And these clients hope to release their content on a larger scale than what their marketing monologues have afforded. They hope to release their messages to a wider audience, which means making a coherent story that might interest others.

Even writing for clients—especially writing for clients—involves locating that deep well. It turns out that deep, special compartment is permeable in some way that lets real life flow through and collect into something meaningful at the other end.

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Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

June 18, 2015 at 9:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Find Work Where You Can Draw Your Own Lines (Shop Talk #10)

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Color inside your own lines

I’ve had several conversations lately with people looking for ways to bring writing into the rest of their lives. Some want to make a living as writers. Others want to flesh out a particular passion that been dormant behind the demands of their day job.

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In each case I suggest drawing their own lines.

What I mean is to look for opportunities where you can define the problem yourself (or in collaboration with a few). When you define a problem yourself, you set the focus and you begin to take ownership. Then your brainpan starts spinning in a fresh orbit that lets you locate resources to help solve that problem. Defining the problem is a way of looking at the topic of your passion and finding what about it that excites you and where that might be a problem/solution for others. Inevitably you want to send your topic out so others can begin to care as well—or perhaps you send it out to find those other few who care.

Writing something is a way of drawing your own lines.

I know this from (literally) drawing lines of definition: over at Dumb Sketch Daily (currently at dumb sketch #152) I’ve been trying to learn to draw. I’ve found that an ink pen does a kind of definition work that my eye longs for. Sometimes I wonder if ink is a crutch: outlining before filling in detail with color or graphite. Do I really need those lines? But then I think

I don’t care.

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I’ve got your precious Brussels Sprouts right here.

Because there is something about the crisp line that yields a bit of loony joy. Yes, it is true, that line does not exist on the edge of my Brussels Sprouts. Not really.

Still.

Seeing something clearly feels worth that particular fiction.

What definition work will you do today?

Where will you draw lines?

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Dumb sketch: Kirk Livingston

See also: “Can 78 bad sketches change your life?”

Written by kirkistan

June 1, 2015 at 9:41 am

Calvin and Hobbes on Writing your Way into Academia

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Via Workman’s Tumblr

Written by kirkistan

April 15, 2015 at 9:45 am

Josephine Humphreys: When writing from the center of things

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The world keeps aligning with what I just wrote.

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Interviewer: When you’re writing, is it that you notice things more acutely?

Humphreys: Yes. You notice everything, and everything seems to be full of meaning and directly centered on the thing you’re writing about. I heard E.L. Doctorow say something like that—that when you’re writing, all experience seems to organize itself around your themes, which can give you some really strange feelings of coincidence and ESP. You start to think you’re onto the secrets of life.

–Josephine Humphreys, quote by Dannye Romine Powell, Parting the Curtains: Interviews with Southern Writers (Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 1994) 192

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Image credit: Kirk Livingston

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