Storytelling Matters

The Live Art and the Power of Words

Archive for the month “May, 2015”

To Edit or Not to Edit, That is the Question

Words matter. Writers and storytellers live and love them. And when we write, we choose words carefully because we want to craft expressive phrases and images that are, to quote Goldilocks, “just right.”

Every time that sought-after “just right” word clicks into place, it’s as satisfying as popping a non-dairy chocolate chip. A really productive day is metaphorically fattening and worth every bite.

The art of writing expresses meaning, catches mood, and matches words and image. It is also about getting rid of the passive voice and all of those inefficient extra terms and bulky word orders that make phrases really awkward and that unnecessarily increase the word count.

Editing is important.

But at what point does the editing process change from editing to perseverating?

In my work, I usually stop editing when I can read the piece all the way through without a desire to alter text. Sometimes that happens quickly, and other times, well…

When do you stop editing and call it done? How do you stop yourself from spinning around on the hamster wheel of “cut and paste” and “Control-Z” and finally, finally call it a wrap?

— Jeri

Photo Credit: Public domain / Wikimedia Commons

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A to Z Reflections 2015 – 6 Plus 1 Thoughts

A-to-Z Reflection [2015] - Lg

For this year’s A to Z, I decided to curate, research, and retell world ghost stories. I thought my theme would allow me to whip out short, informative posts quickly, leaving plenty of time to visit lots of blogs.

Nope.

I got caught in a research and analysis web. Don’t get me wrong, I love going down the rabbit hole of research threads, learning more, analyzing. But it took more time than I expected, meaning less time for visiting other blogs. The extra thought and research was stimulating to me and commenters, so it was great for content, great for my storytelling work, and served to help me develop relationships with some bloggers (YAY). The downside was that it stole precious time for even more community building during the A to Z frenzy.

THE GOOD
1. The organization of the A to Z is really lovely, as are A to Z-inspired opportunities for connecting with others. The Twitter chat is a great place to share and connect. Thanks to all minions and coordinators for doing SO MUCH work to make this online community work so well.

2. Pre-writing posts really helps me. My hope, if life allows, is to pre-write the entire month next year so I can devote more time to reading, commenting, and exploring during April. Part of my time crunch came because only six or seven were pre-written.

3. The After Party is great, as I have been using it to check out blogs I missed. Lovely idea to have people choose which of their posts to post there. Maybe I should have posted there as well, but at the time I was more interested in seeing other folks’ blogs.

4. Other bloggers who ‘get’ the community aspect of this make all the difference. Visiting back cross-pollinates the comments, builds blogger relationships, and opens doors to new blogs. It even fertilizes the content. Blogger comments influenced some of my later writing choices since they were a definite part of my audience – I wanted to meet them when I could. There were blogs I visited often or daily, and I always visited commenters when they left their sites as calling cards. Even when things got rough at the end of the challenge, I did my best to visit commenters at the very least.

5. The Linky list is great for finding blogs, but it is overwhelming for me. I am an indecisive person, so choosing was hard. And even if I quickly chose a random set of consecutive blogs to visit, it didn’t always work out. If I couldn’t authentically comment or ‘like’ a blog, then I felt like I didn’t really do a blog visit. And the random approach often yielded that. Since I have internet speed that is more tortoise than hare, getting to blogs is a commitment! So here’s my workaround… I found new blogs by reading the comments on blogs I liked and was already visiting. Interesting comments by bloggers were the nectar that drew me to their blogs. I found great gems that way, even with themes I would have overlooked, like mathematics….

6. The Best Thing! I enticed a three-dimensional local friend into A to Z, one who I regularly see at the theater where we both work. One night we passed each other near the rehearsal rooms. He took one look at me and said, “Oh, no…. Q.” Then he ran off to draft his post. It was so much fun chatting about the A to Z process with him in person, and then going online and having chats with other bloggers and him. Made it ‘thicker’ somehow. I highly recommend this to others if you can possible make it happen in your life.

WHAT WOULD BE NICE
7. A page or two on the A to Z website that has step-by-step instructions for how to set up cross platform communication. I walked someone through the process for commenting on a WordPress blog from her Blogspot. If I didn’t do that, I don’t know if she would have ever commented on other blogs because she didn’t know that she could or how she could.

I know there are several “following” options that reach across platforms (Networked Blogs, for instance), but they all have different ways of signing up – and procedures for getting them to work on your site. I suspect there are differences if you are on WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org vs. Blogger, etc. – even if there can’t be a step by step set of instructions, it would be a treat to have a list of all possible ways people can interconnect. And if there are suggestions for which ones work easier on Blogspot vs WordPress.com, etc., that would be a lovely bonus. (If this info is there on the A to Z website somewhere already, then someone please share the link in the comments!).

Thanks to everyone for making April such a rich month. If only such community and deadlines existed for all my writing projects…. whimsical sigh… :).

– Jeri

Daily Ghost Post – Z is for Zduhac

The inner essence of a person is called many things, such as spirit, soul, or personality. It is that core part of friends and family that we love best. And when loved ones die, it is their essence that we miss most.

Mythology and ghost stories tell us that sometimes deceased spirits leave the world of death to visit the world of the living. Sometimes the spirit or essence manifests in an unseen manner. At other times, there is a physical manifestation of their earthly form, which I call for fun their “phosphor-essence.”

When corpses unleash their restless spirits to return to the land of the living, they are called ghosts. But when living people send their spirits on a visit or quest, does that make them ghosts in life?

MEET THE ZDUHAC

The Zduhac is a superhero from Serbian folklore. Although he lives among regular villagers, like Superman, he has a super secret.

The person destined to become a Zduhac was typically born with a caul (amniotic sack). Moms would save the caul and then attach it to articles of clothing to protect the Zduhac in his dangerous work. Although the piece of caul was not as big as a cape, it was thought to offer cape-like protection to the wearer. In addition to the birth caul, another identifying mark of the Zduhac is tufts of red hair on his body. But these are not the only characteristics of this supernatural being. Solemn, wise, quiet people of stature in the community who also happen to be heavy sleepers might be among the Zduhaci (the plural of Zduhac). And although women and children were sometimes Zduhaci, more often than not, they were men, hence my choice of pronoun in this article.

A Zduhac’s spirit leaves its sleeping body at night to protect the village or region from bad weather. After making its bodily exit (sometimes in the form of a fly), the spirit of the Zduhac whisks off into the sky to fight the bad weather demons. Serbian lore suggests that sometimes they fight in teams against other evil Zduhaci bands. On one level, this sounds like a prototype for The Avengers comic and movie franchise.

But on another level, there could be something profound embedded in this folklore. In battles with winds that destroy crops, the Zduhac (or Zduhaci band) would fight the whirling weather and redirect it to another part of the landscape, to another region. For the local people, the Zduhac was a hero, a protector, a savior of grave import and value. One way I like to think of the the Zduhac is that he was a weather knight doing thrilling community service.

But what about the other places which suffered the ravages of the redirected winds?

If Wikipedia is accurate, different bands of Zduhaci fought against one another – the Zduhaci bands hailed from places like Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro. In an effort to protect their own, they had stormy, airborne tug-of-wars with wind. I find it incredibly interesting that these very same ethnic groups have experienced serious unrest in recent historic times. Does history repeat itself? Is the future based on the past? Are myths based in facts? Might a little of all of the above apply?

Books of traditional stories from folklore and mythology are not located in the fiction section of the library. Insights like this provide a clue as to why that is, no?

Thoughts? And what do you think about the Zduhac’s ability to transmigrate? Does its temporarily body-free essence, fighting in the windy skies, make it count as a ghost?

— Jeri

P.S. Thanks to those who enriched this A-Z series and whose work I enjoyed as well. It has been a pleasure, I look forward to continuing our “blogmunity” over time!

P.P.S. I have not yet found a way to properly notate the word Zduhac. There should be an accent over the letter “c” – an accent that looks like this: ‘

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Copyright 2015 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

SOURCES
http://www.reportingpoint.net/57b927dcaa4059bd.html
Wikipedia – zduhac

PHOTO CREDIT: By Warrenlead69 (Own work) / CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 / Wikimedia Commons

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