What about AND, IF and BUT…

A wise Canadian friend and fellow blogger, called Pamela Quiall (Butterfly Sand), who happens to have Multiple Sclerosis (as she would put it…) has just written an excellent post about that very handy little word ‘and’. It’s value just cannot be overestimated, for what would we do without our fish and chips, Derby and Joan, food-ge14646eab_640night and day, light and dark, et al? It is such a connecting, linking word and crops up all over the place in countless situations. Also, suggesting connecting as it does, it gives one a feeling of continuity and friendship…ie “You and me.” What a wonderful world it could be if we all made friends with each other. Just call me a cock-eyed optimist…

Coincidentally, as I read her piece, I was reminded about one I intended to write about ‘if’ and ‘but,’ for, what powerful words they also are… It is now quite common to use both and, and but to start a sentence, whereas in the not too distant past, the pedants would be jumping up and down in annoyance.

Often, of a winter evening, ‘im indoors and I like watching TV or reading, and now and then, catch a cold-case murder or two (of which there are far too many…) as detective work fascinates me. How many times do you hear the words: “If only the deceased hadn’t taken that lonely road (or hitch-hiked)…” but ofpolice-g59bbff2b3_640 course hindsight and caution don’t always play their roles in real life well, do they?! If only we were more logical, especially when young… There was one particularly tragic case in the United States where a woman living on her own forgot to lock the front door and a passing nut-case calmly walked in and strangled her. A real-life tragedy. “If only…” immediately comes to mind.

Naturally, in everyday life, whatever language we use to describe situations or actions however delightful, desirable or dire, it can mean diddly-squat as far as the truth of the situation itself is concerned, but us writers should give thanks to all the academics who worked on languages to give us such a huge variety of valuable words to use in our often wonderful and entertaining ‘fictitious and true’ stories. Where would we be without them!

Just small, innocuous words, but what an expression is “If only..” It suggests so much more: a vague or deep-felt desire or passionate yearning maybe, that we had answered an important letter, or kept a certain date that might have changed our life. “But I changed my mind…” too could suggest a life-altering decision and be veiled with regret…

Whatever words we use when writing, we should – when thinking straight – use them wisely.

girl-g943318a48_640And what a wealth of other, pleasing, words there are at our disposal. Most writers have their favourites. The following are just some of mine: scrumptious – so descriptive – I can almost taste a toasted bun dripping with butter, or a yummy chocolate cake; glutton: a jolly Billy Bunter type digging in to a huge fry-up…(all of which says a lot about me, except for the fry-up) and Salacious: fondly-remembered… sexual desires (“Ooh, George…”). I could, of course, could go on and on.

“If ifs and buts were buttercups, what a golden world it would be”  Anon.

Suffice it to say, there are so many immediately identifiable words that fit their purpose and it is natural, according to our particular taste, which ones we choose. Then there are words which we cannot take to. To use a word like pulchritude to describe beautiful is beyond me… and antediluvian (old-fashioned), is another weird one. I am no academic, but I’m sure there are many tomes on the English language to dig in to. It’s a fascinating subject.

Whatever words YOU use, may they be lucky ones.

© Copyright Joy Lennick 2022

Images via Pixabay.com

Wake up at the back!

Steinbeck2The whole literary world seems awash with new writers: of all genres and capabilities. In their number – trust me I know – there are a handful who will make it big: and I mean BIG (genius among their ranks; some excellent writers but also moneyed writers WITH CONNECTIONS. It is not cynical to suggest this, just factual.) It was ever thus, but I’m not a party-pooper. Good luck to those who have reached the pinnacle of their profession, more particularly the authors who have worked hard to get there, for there is truth in the saying success takes more perspiration than inspiration… Although it is humbling to recall, and furthermore brings the egotists to heel, that Ernest Hemingway said ‘We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.’

However, the “connected” and more savvy/wealthy/technical scribblers among us, don’t need as much help, while there are plenty who do! I count myself in the latter category as I hesitate when I am faced by a ‘Push’ sign…over-think (dangerous) and tend to under-estimate any suggestion of talent.

In this technical age, more than ever before, the actual writing itself seems easy-peasy when faced with the maze of problems in getting your work/book “out there.” Having experienced mainstream publishing in the 1970’s/80’s – to be applauded – I can categorically say there is no comparison with what’s on offer today. Yes, it’s easier to be published, but most authors like to see their books sell. Right? Plus they like to be paid for all their sweat and tears; more than two/three euro per book would be nice…(Don’t choke over your cornflakes if that’s a surprise!) And therein lies a difficulty. Amazon and Kindle are choked up with every conceivable book on every conceivable subject you can imagine, and nowadays the ‘big boys’ are greedier.

The writing part of your book really could be the easiest when compared to ‘putting it out there’ and selling it. If you’re very confident, can sell yourself and your book, AND you can write well, you are well on your way to becoming a household name, otherwise it’s a struggle. And, remember, wise authors put much store by the design of their book covers, and the back cover blurb is almost as important. It can make the difference between luke-warm sales and brisk ones.

Apart from the totally original/genius/moneyed writers in our midst, there are plenty of tentative, talented people aspiring to get into print, and I genuinely feel concern for them. So – including myself in this plea – let’s sit up and take note before it’s too late.

So, what can we do to improve our success? Well, common sense tells us to ensure the quality of our writing is as good as we can make it. We never finish learning…or improving, and shouldn’t. We should all read as much as we can and keep our curiosity honed at all times. Being original and spinning a good tale is another must, and cliches should be avoided but not ignored. Rules should be massaged, and sometimes turned on their heads… In Doris Lessing’s words: ‘There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.’ Optimism is key.

I will forever be intrigued by the fact that 26 letters of the alphabet can spell magic, mayhem, mystery, fear, titillation, happiness and every other emotion you can think of, and the mystique of muses and inspiration remains. Although, in my own, very modest, writing life, there was never a “”Eureka” moment, I was inspired to plod on by John Steinbeck’s writing, read after…I had written a sentence almost matching one of his about a sunset in a short story. Not exactly a difficult task, but I was thrilled to have chosen the same words as a writer of his calibre. (He was, by the way, rejected by many publishers before succeeding.) Of course, we should never compare ourselves with the greats, and remember, we are ALL UNIQUE. Every last one of us.

Sadly, none of the above sketches out HOW to ensure readers buy our books. If you are a good speaker/actor/promoter/technology wizard, it counts for a lot, for today’s writer has to do a heap more than just write. Making videos, giving interviews and courting coverage by way of Twitter and Facebook, etc., makes sense, as does setting up a website and interacting with like-minded people.

As for finishing the book itself, Larry L. King suggests you ‘Write, rewrite; when not writing or re-writing, read. I know of no short cuts!’ I heartily endorse his advice. Good luck!

© Copyright Joy Lennick 2017

Where Angels and Devils Tread

book coverI’ve a strong feeling that May is a popular month for many folk. It’s certainly my favourite. Usually… there’s more sunshine around; and the earth, with Mother Nature’s collusion, delights us at every turn. Buds pushing through and a colourful array of flowers to gladden any heart. A time of rebirth and renewal, giving hope a chance. What’s not to like?!

And then there are plans germinating: holidays ahead? Or at least picnics and barbecues. If you plan being a beach-bum for a week or two, you’ll need something to read, and this is where people like me come in handy; us writers have our uses….

This time, I’ve collaborated with a worthy author and friend, Jean Wilson: no slouch with the written word. Jean has worn several hats in her time. She was a Queen’s nurse for many years and then became a Psychologist to needy children and adults. Humour, that vital element, is evident in a lot of her and my work, so whether you want to read a murder tale or something a little lighter, there’s something in our book of short stories for you. It is available from CreateSpace and also Amazon (paperback and Kindle).

Why not order a copy and see for yourself?!