Living Longer on the Sidelines

Most predictions of life in the future expect increased life spans where people live to be over 100 years old. However, we have a culture oriented to being young. What will all these old people do and how will they fit into our culture? How will it feel to live an extra 20, 30 or so years, on the sidelines of life?

Watch commercials, TV shows and other media. Young people involved in the plot, central to the action. Notice people over 45. Mostly they are extras or being sold insurance policies in commercials. Seldom are older people seen as important or vital.

How will the future be when we live a lot longer?

Write a Novel in 30 Days

Writing Novels

Free eCourse from SuteU.

By Sara McGrath

Introduction

You can complete a novel of at least 50,000 words within thirty days while receiving the guidance through this course. You’ll learn to write for quantity and quality while you steadily increase your word count, advance your story, and give your characters, plot, and theme the added impact they need to catch the eye of an agent or editor.

 

Lesson 1: You Can Write A Novel in Thirty Days

You can write a novel of at least 50,000 words in thirty days even if you have a day job, a social life, and a toddler. I know this because I have all three. In this first lesson, I’ll discuss being a writer, scheduling your writing time, finding inspiration, and staying motivated. Then we’ll start writing.

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Creative Drawing

Originally posted to SuiteU, part of Suite101. SuiteU is being removed from the site. I wanted to save the ecourses so this resource would not disappear.
Drawing 101
By Joan Martine Murphy

Introduction

Most people would love to be able to draw what they see. Many people find enormous pleasure in the art of self-expression. Sadly the idea of learning to draw skillfully is quite daunting for a high percentage of people of the Western World. This is sometimes due to negative experiences that have come from early child hood.

Drawing is a form of communication, which can allow us to express ourselves when words will not suffice. This simple art form affords us the opportunity to express our emotions in a safe and pleasurable manner. Many people for example find that the simple exercise of drawing negative emotions which are then ceremoniously torn to shreds or burnt away – is a useful, safe way to deal with them. The exercise allows the artist to move on to a more relaxed and harmonious and peaceful happiness state.

Maps, symbols, colours, expressions and many other elements of design convey meaning and help us to construct a world of illusion. They help us re-present our reality. This can be useful, informative, recreational and healing.

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To Read or Not to Read

Date A Girl Who Reads

I’ve been rather late on this, but a lovely little essay has been making rounds on the Internet, apparently in response to Charles Warnke’s You Should Date An Illiterate Girl. Rosemarie Urquico writes:

You should date a girl who reads.

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

 

You Should Date An Illiterate Girl

Jan. 19, 2011

ByCharles Warnke

Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in the weary squalor of a Midwestern bar. Find her in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love. Fuck her.

Let the anxious contract you’ve unwittingly written evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like sushi, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale, or the evenings get long. Talk about nothing of significance. Do little thinking. Let the months pass unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her decorate. Get into fights about inconsequential things like how the fucking shower curtain needs to be closed so that it doesn’t fucking collect mold. Let a year pass unnoticed. Begin to notice.

Figure that you should probably get married because you will have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take her to dinner on the forty-fifth floor at a restaurant far beyond your means. Make sure there is a beautiful view of the city. Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass of champagne with a modest ring in it. When she notices, propose to her with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do not be overly concerned if you feel your heart leap through a pane of sheet glass. For that matter, do not be overly concerned if you cannot feel it at all. If there is applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile as if you’ve never been happier. If she doesn’t, smile all the same.

Let the years pass unnoticed. Get a career, not a job. Buy a house. Have two striking children. Try to raise them well. Fail, frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference. Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a mid-life crisis. Grow old. Wonder at your lack of achievement. Feel sometimes contented, but mostly vacant and ethereal. Feel, during walks, as if you might never return, or as if you might blow away on the wind. Contract a terminal illness. Die, but only after you observe that the girl who didn’t read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion, that no one will write the story of your lives, and that she will die, too, with only a mild and tempered regret that nothing ever came of her capacity to love.

Do those things, god damnit, because nothing sucks worse than a girl who reads. Do it, I say, because a life in purgatory is better than a life in hell. Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.

Do it, because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose bitter cynicism will run on, run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm and cadence of a life well lived.

Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.

Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. You with the Joyce, you with the Nabokov, you with the Woolf. You there in the library, on the platform of the metro, you in the corner of the café, you in the window of your room. You, who make my life so god damned difficult. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied. So out with you, girl who reads. Take the next southbound train and take your Hemingway with you. I hate you. I really, really, really hate you.

Writing a Children’s Book

Originally posted to SuiteU, part of Suite101. SuiteU is being removed from the site. I wanted to save the ecourses so this resource would not disappear.

Writing a Children’s Book

By Sally Odgers

Introduction

 

Do you enjoy writing for children? Have you often read books to children and thought you would like to write one? Do you read some books for young people yourself, just for enjoyment? Have you kept up with the success stories and the controversies surrounding different juvenile titles over the past few years?

Do you often pop into the children’s section at book shops or the local library? Do you look at the books your kids bring home to find out what they’re reading? Have you recommended books to your children, or to any other young people?

Do you have an active mind? How about a good ear for dialogue? Can you quote two or three catchphrases kids use now? Do you enjoy the company of children and young people? Have you ever read stories to a child, or children, apart from your own? Can you remember the stories you enjoyed most when you were young?

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Writing Mysteries

Originally posted to SuiteU, part of Suite101. SuiteU is being removed from the site. I wanted to save the ecourses so this resource would not disappear.

Writing Mysteries

By Janet Blaylock

Janet Blaylock writing on Helium

Introduction

What are your favorite genres? Romance perhaps? Maybe it’s Adventures or Comedies? How about the more intense genres of Mysteries, Detective Fiction, Suspense, Horror, or just good old Thrillers? Have you ever wondered how they are written? How the author builds up the suspense and the excitement that keeps you turning those pages right to the very end? If you do, then you will probably find “Writing Mysteries” intriguing. In the previous course, “Mysteries,” you learned about the different writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie; or the later writers such as Catherine Coulter, Nevada Barr, Sara Paretsky; or the famous authors of suspense or thrillers such as Mary Higgins Clark, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, and John Grisham. They have learned the essence of a good thriller/suspense book. When you first pick up a book and you say to yourself, “This looks like a great book.” They have already captured you and will now hold you hostage until the plot is inevitably revealed. Finally, you say to yourself, “Wow, I wish I could write a book like that!” Well, you can! You will learn about the elements of fiction writing such as settings, themes, characters, plots, etc. You will also learn how to write mini-mysteries and short stories. The information you receive in this course will help you to write your first novel, so lets climb on board and let the suspense begin!

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Character Development

This is originally posted to Suite101 University which has been closed and is due to be demolished soon. I wanted to keep the content I’d like to read again myself.
Character Development

By Linda Orlando
IntroductionWhen I was writing my first book, I went searching for tips and techniques from more experienced writers. I wanted my book to be the best it could be. I even joined a writer’s book club and read as many books about writing as I could. I found books on plot, dialogue, even how to write a novel in thirty days. But I found little information available in the many, many writing books on point-of-view or character development. Point-of-view was covered in several books but only in a very superficial manner, just a basic definition of point-of-view and a hard-and-fast rule on which was best. Most of the books I found about character development were generally written from the perspective of character traits or personality. I even found a book that was set up like a thesaurus. It included descriptive terms for physical features, clothing and accessories.

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Mysteries

This was originally part of the Suite101 University ecourses offered for free. I wanted to preserve the information for myself and others as Suite101 is taking all of the ecourse University content down.

Mysteries

By Janet Blaylock

Introduction

This course is a pre-requisite to “Writing Mysteries.”

What are your favorite genres? Romance perhaps? Maybe it’s Adventures or Comedies? How about the more intense genres of Mysteries, Detective Fiction, Suspense, Horror, or just good old Thrillers?

If you enjoy reading books by the earlier writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie; or the later writers such as Catherine Coulter, Nevada Barr, Sara Paretsky; or the famous authors of suspense or thrillers such as Mary Higgins Clark, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, or John Grisham; then you may find yourself investigating the cases right along with the detectives. This is the essence of a good thriller/suspense book because they have already captured you and will now hold you hostage until the plot is inevitably revealed.

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The BookWord Game

From It’s All About Books, The BookWord Game.

The game has been put on hiatus. But, here is the list of all the words created up to now. What can you come up with to add to the list yourself?

A List of Bookwords
(to be added to as we create them)

RecommenDUD: A book you hate that everyone else loves.

CheckBook: A book that you find yourself checking to see how many more pages left, on every single page!

Memoread: A book that reminds you of another book you have already read, not necessarily in plot, but in tone and atmosphere.

Wait-listed: A book that continually gets moved to the ‘next in the pile’, but never gets read.

Marginally Challenged: a book with very little space between lines (likely, it’s a public domain book/classic) giving deceivingly few pages to read

Misunderbook: A book that you LOVE, but everyone else (well, almost everyone) HATES.

A Flick Pick: A book you read after you’ve seen the movie

Oblibook: A book you read because you think you should in order to be well-read.

Whoopsabooksy: A book you buy that you forgot you already read/own.

TrueFiction: A non-fiction book which reads like fiction.

Reliascribe: An author you can always count on for a good read.

Throne Tome: A good book to read in the bathroom!

Midnight Special: A book with a plot makes you unable to go to sleep.

Aroma Tome: A book with a very distinctive smell.

Screen Plagued: A book with a character that you can only picture the movie actor who played the role.

A Lullabook: A book that makes you sleepy.

A Wanderlust Novel: A book that makes you want to travel to its setting.

A Crossover Book: A book you start in one year, and finish in the next.

A Mis-covered Book: A book with a bad cover.

A Boomerang Book: A library book that gets returned unread.

Title Block: A book that you can remember its plot, but not its title.

A Book Siren: A book that begs to be read immediately.

A History Mystery: A book where characters from the present are researching characters from the past.

A Firestarter Book: A book that inspires you to do research on the topic.

Anticipage: A book where the anticipation of it is part of the excitement of the book.

A Bookmate: A person who has the same taste in books as you do.

Book Crush: A book you totally fall in love with.

Screen-plagued: A book where you can only picture the actor from the movie as the character in the book.

Don’t Make Me Sleep Through a Really Good Plot

From The Unhappily Uninspired Writer’s Guide to Kick Starting Creativity (& Gaining Back Creative Confidence!)

Stop worrying about whether others will “get it” — instead, aim to make them think. They don’t have to “get” it for it to be good writing. Sometimes, my favorite writing is absolutely a mess (House of Leaves by Daniel Z. Danielewski, anyone?), but it’s that reckless messiness that makes it so textured & fun to read. All my journalism classes stressed the importance of simplicity–& yes, if you’re writing the front page story for a newspaper, you better make sense. But if you’re writing (or drawing/sculpting/jewelry-making/glass-blowing/collaging/designing outfits for mythical mermaids), mix it up a little. Throw in something that will totally confuse the hell out of your audience–& feel the creative juices start to pour in.

A fatal flaw in any fiction writing is telling too much and not letting the reader come to their own conclusions or imagine the scene and the details for themselves. There is nothing that makes a good plot become boring to read, like over narration. I don’t want every last detail, every possible thought in the character’s head to be written, narrated, as if I can’t figure it out for myself. I’m reading a series now, with a super plot -it’s even about dragons!- but reading the books is ploddingly slow and dull. Every smallest thought is written, over done, over and over and over… Zzzzzz….