Artwork by Evy Morelli

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Find Me on Teachers Pay Teachers

Diane here.  I just signed up on a great website called Teachers Pay Teachers. There, you can find (and buy) my lesson plans, including Ruthless Readers plays. I'll be adding new lessons on a regular basis, in language arts, social science, and art. All your "Artsandletters" needs in one place! It's easy, it's painless.

Being a retired teacher never felt so good!

Uno Arts Storefront

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How to be a Working Writer--Your Writer's Voice

From "How to be a Working Writer" by Diane Smith

Your Writer's Voice

Want to be like me? No, I don't mean short and constipated. I mean, write like me, in my particular style. If you do, and we'll discuss your sanity later, here's how you do it.

First, you step into the shower. Next, you get out, because you've forgotten the shampoo and conditioner. Now, step back in, armed with the hair products of your choice. (It doesn't matter what they are—when dry, your hair will have the same scraggly look regardless.) Turn the water on again, full blast. It comes out in the usual dribble.

Now scream. That's right, let go with a big-ass shriek. The water is freezing! And it has only slightly more force than an elementary school drinking fountain. Despite the fact that multiple guys have come to the house to check the plumbing and they all say the same thing, “Huh. You've got plenty of pressure …”

And that's the most important factor: you must be under lots of pressure in your life in order to truly write like me. Let's assume you are. Under tremendous pressure. Mostly self-imposed, but no matter. Anyway, back to you standing in the shower, which is not exactly the stress-reducer you'd hoped for. The water has finally warmed up to tepid, and you are fully lathered from head to toe.

That is the precise moment when the PERFECT story premise comes to you. And because you have the memory of a gnat, you know you won't remember the premise after the shower. That will be a good 10 to 15 minutes in the future. By that time, your mind will have gone through many changes.

List of mind changes (oh yeah, I do a lot of list-making in my writing):

a. Crap, I forgot to bring my cell phone into the bathroom. I'll bet I've missed an important call.
b. Will my husband be annoyed with me because I used his razor?
c. The mold growing in the corners of the shower looks kinda scary.
d. Ha ha, one of my 4th graders said Ny-a-GARR-a Falls yesterday! I should write that down.
e. I really like Taco Bell burritos.
f. Is a burrito a small burro and therefore made of donkey?

And so on.  It should be pretty obvious by this point that my writing voice is a series of non sequiturs. Because that's how I see life—a series of random events that make no sense most of the time. If you adopt my writing style, you'll find that while it is rarely marketable, it is somehow freeing. It's like unclogging a clogged drain. And god knows, I could use some unclogging. Hence, my penchant for Taco Bell burritos. 

Enjoy, and happy writing!
Summer is officially over today.  The last time we posted was in June.  We get the irony that September 6 was "Fight Procrastination Day." 

Bloggers who post on a daily basis, or even a weekly basis, have our utmost respect.  They must be super-disciplined, or really exhausted.  Either way, it's amazing.

Our hectic summer ends with the Cuesta College Writers Conference, and this year's program was another successful one.  Nothing is more inspiring and confidence-building than events like these.  Certain folks are just fun to hang with.  That list includes writers, animal lovers, and musicians.  They seem to have an attitude of "Not only am I gonna stop and smell the roses, but I'm gonna do it with my dog and my iTunes, and then I'm gonna write about it."  Thank you, Cuesta College and SLO-Nightwriters!

What's New:
*Evy has a new little book, "Oriental Brush and Verse," which is a combination of her simple techniques in Sumi-e painting and her own original haiku.  She discovered that haiku is very much like painting--both activities are meditative and the results can be very satisfying.  And they don't eat up your time!  A bonus!  Contact Evy for questions about painting and information about obtaining her booklet.

*Diane printed her three volumes of "Ruthless Readers of the Central Coast do Aesop," a collection of Aesop's fables done in play format, updated and infused with humor.  They're part of a series of Middle Grade Readers suitable for reading and performing in both small and large groups.  Diane continues this labor of love, including scripts in the areas of American Folklore, Fairytales, Greek Myths, Norse Myths, Egyptian Myths and Jataka Tales.  Eventually, she has plans to tackle such biggies as Beowulf and Gilgamesh.  She's crazy like that.  If you are a teacher and need a play adaptation of a piece of literature, contact Diane.  The library of literature taking up space in her brain is a terrible thing to waste.

*Diane also put together a pocket book called "Editor in my Pocket."  It's a culmination of all the cheat-sheets she provided for her students over the years, including helpful hints about grammar, spelling, punctuation and such.  It even includes an impressively long list of "Other Ways to Say Said."  Ask her about how you can get the book or have one custom made with your own photo as the cover.  (Hers is her dog.)

Enjoy your "roses" (and hope for rain)!