Challenge Met Again

Day 14 of Write a Poem a Day Month:

Newspaper colour

Newspaper (Photo credit: NS Newsflash)

Day Breaks

A quiet Sunday morning

Punctuated with crisped sausages

And pancakes drowned in syrup.

 A second cup of coffee

Poured to enjoy with yesterday’s paper

That we were “too busy” to read.

A lovely start to a day that promises not stay quiet~

But the tranquility has not been broken

yet……………….

Do you find your bliss as the day breaks?

Published in: on April 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm  Comments (34)  
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Tell, Don’t Show

Reading the newspaper: Brookgreen Gardens in P...

Reading the newspaper. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you a shower or a teller? For some reason I am a “teller” and I blame it on the fact that I write for a newspaper where there is not a lot of room for showing.

“Show, don’t tell” is the mantra of every successful writer. It is not mine (so what does that say about me?) but I do respect it. Becca  (Becca Puglisi)  from Bookshelf  Muse gives a brief rundown of “Show, don’t Tell” in a guest column she did for another blog (Wendy’s Writing Now) today. It is brilliantly simple–so simple, that I understood it. Here are a few of her wise words, but the whole post is worthy of a trip over:

“Telling usually explains everything right off the bat. There are certain venues where you want people to explain things as simply as possible: when they’re giving directions or explaining a calculus lesson; when you’re on the phone with your neighbor who never stops talking and The Walking Dead starts in 30 seconds. But in fiction, telling is a form of talking down to the reader; it doesn’t give him/her any credit. At worst, repeated telling says to the audience, “I’m not entirely sure that you’re capable of getting the point if I write it with any subtlety, so let me make it really simple.” At best, it’s a sign that you’re unsure of your own ability to make yourself understood without using the simplest of words. Neither message is one you want to send.”

In newspaper writing we tell a story, but we let the facts speak for themselves. I embellish every once in a while for fun, but in getting the information across, I do not talk about how a person is feeling when they make a statement. I let them live and die by their statement. In trying to make the transition to non-fiction writing and even creative non-fiction writing, I have to take a step back and really work on the showing part.

As I have written a weekly column for almost fifteen years (and earlier in my career for two years) I have somewhat perfected the art of essay writing (ha ha). Okay, not perfected it, but I have turned out a column every week for years, so I must have learned something. I think my column is a combo of showing and telling.  I am an advocate of simplicity, and showing rather than telling is something that I struggle with. I am willing to write with more subtlety, but I wonder if I will understand it. Perhaps I am too simple to garnish my writing with things that show instead of tell.

It is something to contemplate. But know dear readers, that if I do tell you stuff, instead of showing you stuff, it is because it is my style, it is not because you are lacking in skills to unpuzzle what I have said.

Is your bliss in show, don’t tell, or are you like me and tell too much?

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 1:46 pm  Comments (59)  
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~ Never Ask Me: How Are You? ~

English: Cute coffee.

Cute coffee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is from my weekly newspaper column–I talk to my readers like they are my friends. I hope some of them are:

My sister Peggy and I try to email each other every day. She lives in Ottawa, so we do not have the luxury of face to face visits often. Sometimes I do not have much to say—but today this is how I opened my little tirade to her (she made the mistake of asking how I was):

“Well, (you can always tell something did not go well, when you start a sentence out with ‘well’) yesterday started off with a bang, or should I say crash—I broke the carafe for the coffee maker, so made coffee by putting a cup where the carafe should go and then pressing up on the spigot thing to get the coffee to come out. That was some fun! Until I got the hang of it I had hot coffee coming up the handle of the knife I was using to press the spigot up. (I now have first degree burns on my right hand). So I went out and bought another coffee maker and started getting it ready to make coffee (this morning), and it did not have all the parts it was supposed to have–so I tried putting it back in its packaging, and of course it does not go back into what it just came out of.

So….I will be taking the darn thing back to the store the way it is and they can deal with it.  I just finished making two cups of coffee using my rather flawed method again today–but used a spoon this time. The coffee ran up the handle of the spoon a bit, but since I am getting better at this, not as much as yesterday. Oh, yeah, and the coffee tastes like sweet dishwater.”

That is how my day began–has to get better from here, right? Just a minute, I need another sip of coffee—yep, warm dishwater (or what I imagine warm dishwater with sugar would taste like).

It is Monday morning as I write this and no, it is not going to be a diatribe about how awful I think Mondays are. I like Mondays. It is the day I usually write up this column and I do look forward to writing another piece of weekly literature. Then I just have to make do with what I really produce, and though it isn’t literature, it does fill up my space on page five.

I am surprised though at how important that first cup of coffee is to me in the morning. I did not even drink coffee until I was in my thirties—before that my caffeine fix was in the form of tea or cola (yes, at one time I did drink cola with my morning bagel and cream cheese or bacon and eggs—try it, it really complements the food).

I am trying to become a tea drinker again for one reason and one reason only: I do not put sugar in my tea. I put a lot of sugar in my coffee—as I do not think I really like its taste—the aroma is good, but the taste without a pile of sugar is too bitter. I so admire those who drink it black (gag, ugh) or with just a little cream (just gag).

Today, I am writing this up without the benefit of a good cup of hot sweet liquid (good being the operative word here)—but I am persevering—I am made of good stock.

~ Feeling A Little Bedraggled Today ~

Richmond Town Council

Town Council (Photo credit: Burwash Calligrapher)

What do you do when you have been publicly embarrassed? It happened to me last night at a Town Council meeting. I work as a reporter covering municipal politics, and in doing so, I have to attend their regular meetings. I make notes furiously and hopefully accurately.

I like to be accurate in what I report. And since I have covered town council meetings for years I have a lot of knowledge on how things work. I know that when someone asks Council to lower a speed limit, they refer it to the Police Board for a recommendation before making a decision. I know this. Yet, I wrote an article stating that Council had approved the lowering of the speed limit without this additional step.  And (to add insult to injury) I said that the decision was unanimous.

When I wrote up the story, I remember thinking to myself that it was odd that they did not follow the usual procedure and send it to the Police Board first before approving. But, instead of checking to make sure that my notes were correct, I wrote it up, even though I was second guessing myself.

Now, the paper I work for is not a national or even city paper. It is a small town weekly—but none-the-less, I think it is a pretty good paper. We try to cover community events and let the people know what is happening in the municipality. I feel that writing up council news is sort of my way of contributing to the community.

Last night a Councillor pointed out that the paper had made an error in the article about the speed limit. He did not come to me quietly and tell me about the mistake—he announced it in front of Council and the audience of people who were attending because there was something on the Council Agenda that they were interested in.

I would be the first one to admit I do not take criticism well. I learn from it never-the-less. But I thought that the Councillor was particularly ungenerous in his comments. And it stung all the more because I was guilty of making a mistake. A mistake I had not bothered to correct, even though I had questioned it.

I probably deserved a little comeuppance, and the fact that I should have made a phone call to check my facts was undeniable. But why did the Councillor feel he had to embarrass me? I try to portray Council in a fair fashion as a reporter is charged to do. The mistake is not earth shattering. It can be easily remedied. That is not the point. The point is that it felt like someone was trying to make himself look good at the expense of another.

Am I just being a little too sensitive? Yes, I guess I am. But I would never do to another what was done to me last night.

What do you think?

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