On Writing: Why Prewriting Matters

deskIn the past, my writing style typically leaves out the all important first stage of writing—pre-writing.  When I write, I tend to write and then rewrite but rarely ever do I engage in pre-writing.

Needless to say, when I started taking creative writing classes at UMass Amherst UWW, I learned that I was cutting out an integral part of the writing process. Jumping right into the writing phase works if you know what you are going to write about, but when you’re stuck pre-writing frees up space and opens up the creative channels.

Reading Chapter 1 of Connie Griffin’s text, To Tell The Truth in my Magazine Writing class gave me a keener understanding of how to use pre-writing as a strategy to break free from writer’s block. The creative process needs the freedom to be expressive, and pre-writing can be seen as a fun exercise in letting go, while also trusting one’s subconscious in a “nonjudgmental and forgiving” way. (p. 5)

The Getting Started (p. 6 – 7) section in Chapter 1, helped me to understand that pre-writing is comparable to a dancer warming up with exercise and practice, or a painter sketching in a rough outline on his canvas in preparation for creating his painting using the tools of his craft. When seen in that light, I suddenly found how pre-writing should and could fit into my process. Continue reading

Who Is Your Audience?

Writing copy for a website is like writing a paper for college, you always need to be cognizant of who your audience is. If you are marketing to a mixed demographic that might range in age from 18 to 80, it is important to remember that your tone and wording set the stage for how people view you online. Written communication is a powerful tool. If you set the wrong tone you fail to engage and will draw either criticism or disinterest.

Last night, I was comparing the issues statements and websites of two local politicians running for state office. I was struck by the word “my crystal ball leans” prefacing an important issue. Voters don’t want to know a candidate’s supposition, they want to know his platform on an issue and what that candidate will do to make changes. We can all make “crystal ball” predictions, but typically when voters go to the voting booth, they tend to vote for the candidate who has ideas, not predictions.

Communication is a powerful tool. If you set the wrong tone, you leave yourself open for a realm of misinterpretation. This applies in politics and business.

Just my two cents…

A Little Night Music: Compared to What

Every Sunday morning, I listen to Lisa Garvey’s show A-Train on UMass Boston’s PBR station WUMB. Every now and then Lisa will play Les McCann and Eddie Harris’ Compared to What. It’s one of my all time favorite jazz and protest songs. From Les McCann and Eddie Harris’ seminal 1969 live performance album Swiss Movement, recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival with trumpeter Benny Bailey:

Compared to What“, was a huge Billboard pop chart topper crossing into pop from the soul/jazz genre. The lyrics criticised both President Nixon and the Vietnam War. Written by Atlantic composer/artist Eugene McDaniels, the song first recorded by soul vocalist Roberta Flack, on her debut release, First Take (1969).

Lyrics: Compared to What

I love the lie and lie the love
 A-Hangin‘ on, with push and shove
Possession is the motivation
 that is hangin‘ up the God-damn nation
Looks like we always end up in a rut (everybody now!)
 Tryin‘ to make it real — compared to what? C’mon baby!

Slaughterhouse is killin‘ hogs
 Twisted children killin‘ frogs
 Poor dumb rednecks rollin‘ logs
 Tired old lady kissin‘ dogs
I hate the human, love that stinking mutt (I can’t use it!)
 Try to make it real — compared to what? C’mon baby now!

The President, he’s got his war
Folks don’t know just what it’s for
Nobody gives us rhyme or reason
Have one doubt, they call it treason
We’re chicken-feathers, all without one nut. God damn it!
 Tryin‘ to make it real — compared to what? (Sock it to me)

Church on Sunday, sleep and nod
 Tryin‘ to duck the wrath of God
 Preacher’s fillin‘ us with fright
 They all tryin‘ to teach us what they think is right
They really got to be some kind of nut (I can’t use it!)
 Tryin‘ to make it real — compared to what?

Where’s that bee and where’s that honey?
Where’s my God and where’s my money?
Unreal values, crass distortion
Unwed mothers need abortion
Kind of brings to mind ol’ young King Tut (He did it now)
Tried to make it real — compared to what?!

(Music break)

Tryin‘ to make it real — compared to what?

Narrative Essay: The Day I Met John Kerry

The Day I Met John Kerry

On a cloudy and rainy day, I find myself reflecting on my life, searching for an experience that changed who I am in the world. I have had more than a few life-altering experiences in my 56, almost 57 years that have influenced my life in many profound ways. As a woman of many stories to tell, that all seem to intertwine in the narrative of my life, the one that stands in clear alignment when I map them all out, is the day I met John Kerry for the first time, ten years ago this month, September 2003.  For that day ultimately empowered me and changed my life in many ways. Continue reading

Daily Affirmations: Common Sense

Common sense tells me to respect the boundaries and opinions of friends and family in my life. I tread carefully, I remember that we don’t all have the same views when it comes to religion or spirituality, or politics. Life, love, friendship are all precious and in that I work every day to use common sense in my communication with others. ~~ Pamela J. Leavey

(Photo: Great Blue Heron on the Fall Colored Salt Marsh ~ c. Pamela J. Leavey 2012)

Springsteen: “American Skin (41 Shots)” Live in Tampa, FL

From his new Wrecking Ball tour, Springsteen is performing an updated version of “American Skin (41 Shots)”.  “This is for Trayvon,” Springsteen said last night in Philly…