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Posts Tagged ‘contest’

And the winner of the "Summer Breeze" contest is…

Peter, a.k.a. wordshiv!

Congratulations to Peter for winning our “Summer Breeze” Contest. You can read his winning entry here. Peter will receive a copy of “The 3 A.M. Epiphany” by Brian Kiteley, a book filled with over 200 unique writing exercises and prompts sure to inspire your summer season of writing.

3am-epiphany

Thanks to everyone who entered our fourth contest at Scrawlers.com. We had 50 entries, making this our largest contest yet, and we appreciate everyone who tried their hand at writing a story or making comments. You can expect another contest at Scrawlers before summer’s end, and we hope you stay with us in the coming months.

Keep writing,

-nm

And the winner of the "Dead of Winter" contest is…

Ryan, a.k.a. frombytherivertrash!

Congratulations to Ryan for winning our “Dead of Winter” contest. You can read his winning entry here. Ryan will receive a copy of the movie tie-in cover edition of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and fits-right-in-your-backpocket edition of To Build a Fire and Other Stories by Jack London.

Thanks to everyone who entered our third and final contest for 2008 at Scrawlers.com. We have more on the way for 2009 and would love to hear from you about your experience with our contests. What works for you? What could we improve on? What would you like to see for next time, in terms of prizes?

Keep writing,

-nm

Our "Dead of Winter" contest is almost over

Just a mid-week reminder of our latest contest…

If you haven’t been entering the Scrawlers “Dead of Winter” contest this week, you still have a few days to post your stories and comments before the 11:59pm deadline this Friday night. We’re giving away a copy of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and To Build a Fire and Other Stories by Jack London to one lucky Scrawlers writer.

Will it be you?

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Absence here, presence there

I took an unannounced and approximately three-week break from this blog to focus on a few issues, projects, and priorities but I’m back and excited for a few entries coming up this month to wrap up the year. The following are in the pipe:

  • Wrapping up last month’s NaNoWriMo.
  • Wrapping up my first semester teaching at NCC.
  • A link to my latest short film (now in the editing stage).
  • My top ten favorite blog posts of the year.
  • Finally, my long-promised recommendation of Five Books for Boys.
  • Thoughts on Oprah’s Book Club.
  • Pros and cons of books as gifts.
  • A Writer’s New Year’s Resolutions.
  • New writing prompts and recommendations.
  • A new Scrawlers contest!
  • And, depending on how often I find myself with internet access, some daily blogging about a mission trip I’m co-leading down to Beaumont, Texas over the last week of the year.

While I took a break from blogging at The Scrawl, I have been quite active on our sister site, Scrawlers. I’ve posted a few new stories over the last few days and it felt good to write something new. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve written at my own website, which is pretty ridiculous, but something struck me in the last ten days or so that panned out to six new stories (and hopefully a few more to follow). That, I think, is a cool side effect of Scrawlers. How it can appeal to the writer who is daunted by writing a longer piece of prose or has only a finite time to scrawl something down or who is frustrated by having a lot of open projects but nothing concretely finished. 100 words? Short, brief, finished. Problem solved for that writer. There are those on the opposite end of the spectrum who are turned off or perhaps frightened at having only 100 words to complete an idea. To those folks I say embrace constraints as a challenge, not a limitation. Pretty sure I’ve talked about that here before.

Thanks for your patience during my absence and I’ll write to you soon, dear reader.

-nm

Your Friday Recommendation #20

Scrawlers writer Andrew’s prize is in the mail (oh, Andrew, your prize is in the mail…) and I’m in the middle of re-reading today’s recommendation, On Writing by Stephen King.

If you want a petty argument about the worth of taking the advice of a genre writer who appeals to the masses, with all due respect, take a hike. King is one who cares about the craft and he writes of his life emerging as a writer and hands out well-articulated thoughts on writing  with excitement and the enticement of a giant squid latching onto a sperm whale. In short, Stephen King proves one thing and one thing along in On Writing – he respects writing and that respect is both encouraging and contagious to the reader.

The book is riddled with pull quotes simple and smart enough to make a little poster on the young writer’s bulletin board. Here are a few:

“You must not come lightly to the blank page.”

I think this quote is what might surprise a non-genre fan or at least someone who assumes a lot about Stephen King just because he sells a few million books about parents who bury their children on sacred land so they’ll rise from the grave instead of simply parents who mourn their deceased children. Not many sentences into On Writing, close readers and aspiring writers will be quick to discover that King loves this art, just loves it. And with that love comes respect. The money’s great, no question, but it’s always, always, always about the writing.

“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation.”

How many times do I have to mention my own fears in this blog before I shut up, man up, and step up with my writing the way King proposes a good writer needs to do? I’m getting there, I swear. That said, I recently joked to someone that their son needed to “man up” and they didn’t look too happy about it. I immediately felt embarrassed – how’s that for letting go of affectation?…

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

King is talking about audience. I know talented writers who have argued one shouldn’t have to worry about audience whatsoever, and for them that means during the writing process, while they’re rewriting, and even when they try and get it published. With respect, I disagree. Audience is an important notion to consider in writing. What King proposes is when one writes their initial draft they should focus on getting the words out, letting the story take shape. Then, when rewriting, decide what elements need adjustment or are missing or need to be cut because at that point, the writer is preparing the piece to go “out there” to an audience. This opinion is not for the writers who like to print one copy of their masterpiece, open their desk drawer, slide it in, and lock it away. I guess they always write with the door closed.

“Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room.”

This sentence is from the last paragraph in the first portion of the book, the part that serves as memoir. King writes about battling his demons of alcoholism and drug addiction and feels a desk in the corner, implying writing should be a part of one’s life and not the center of it, will serve one a lot better than trying the opposite approach.

I’m inclined to agree. I’ve known people obsessed with writing (or for that matter, improv). They claim to write because they have to write, that if they don’t, like, omigosh, what would they do with themselves?! Writing is an important part of my life, but the day I “have” to write instead of “want” to write it’s time to reexamine my life choices. This doesn’t make me a lazy writer – cable TV and video games help on that front plenty, and at least I got rid of the cable – it makes me a writer who knows storytelling is a wonderful part of life, not the whole enchilada.

Same goes for those enthralled with improv; the folks who love it so much they eat, breathe, and sleep improv. They see every show, they read every Johnstone, Spolin, and Napier book and then some, they take every class in town and take all the workshops from out of town instructors, they talk about improv and nothing else, they do notes on their shows longer than the show itself, they can’t help but critique other shows instead of sitting back and enjoying them, they form their perfect improv philosophy and anyone who thinks otherwise is out of their minds no matter what their personal improv journey has been, and they make it their business to be near great improvisers in the hopes of some sort of improv greatness osmosis. Thing is, these folks grow so obsessed with improv that they can’t see the forest through the trees. They get self-exclusionary and forget the point: improv is a great thing to have in one’s life but improv does not a life make.

This perhaps sounds like a tangental tirade inspired by recent events or that I have particular people in mind – I honestly don’t, but bits and pieces of the above description could certainly apply to anyone involved in improv at one time or another, certainly including yours truly – but it’s simpler then that. I’ve been around the block and this is a blog about creativity. I feel improv is one of the purest forms of creativity out there and to me, creativity is a form of play. It will always seem unfortunate to me when one forgets just how fun it can be to play.

The last King quote I want to share is this:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Below the giant logo at Scrawlers.com, you’ll find two sentences: Writers read. Writers write. It’s the philosophy Barry and I had in mind when we founded Scrawlers and I’d be lying if I said this notion doesn’t owe a bit of debt and gratitude to Stephen King. He encourages the young writer to read everything they can get their hands on both to learn and to enjoy the written word, as well as write on a regular basis and keep it up no matter how tough it gets. That attitude is one we’ve tried to emulate ever since we read King’s advice and we hope Scrawlers helps pass it along, in some small way.

There’s a lot more in here, of course (King’s thoughts on passive verbs and his concept of “ideal reader” are worth the price of admission alone) and I encourage you to pick up your own copy. I have two copies and another on audio tape, the latter is what I spend my drive-time commutes listening to in late August / early September as a new semester crops up and I prepare for a fresh season of writing. Barry and I have our copies, Andrew is going to get his in the mail soon.

When will you read On Writing, dear reader?

-nm

Final day to enter the "Back to School" contest

Today’s your last chance to enter the Scrawlers “Back to School” contest. Enter to win a copy of “On Writing” by Stephen King by 11:59pm CST. Full contest details are at Scrawlers.

Who will win?…

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Still time to enter our "Back to School" contest

Just a reminder that Scrawlers is running a “Back to School” contest for one lucky winner to receive a hardcover copy of “On Writing” by Stephen King. See this post or the Scrawlers contest page to learn how to enter and get the rules. Don’t miss your chance to win this inspirational memoir with practical advice on creative writing to gear you up for a season of good writing.

The contest ends at 11:59pm CST on August, 28, 2008.

-nm