F**k your writing. Or…(an essay regarding the use of expletives and profane language in fictional writings)

 

In polite, or politically correct circles one may refer to it as the ‘F word’.

This word first became a public literary issue after it was use in a major novel, Norma Mailer’s ‘The Naked and the Dead’, published in 1948.

Only, it was NOT.

Mailer’s publisher prevailed upon him to change this expletive; this four-lettered, description of sex, to ‘Fug’, so that it did not offend readers.

Given the fact that the book is about men during a war, ‘Fug’ occurred an awful lot of times!

The result was a backlash, a cluster of criticism and discussion in literary circles. This gave rise to the anecdote about Tallulah Bancroft saying to Mailer, “Oh, you’re the man who can’t spell that word”.

 

However, times change.

Nowadays the F-word has lost much of its ability to shock. Far fewer people are now offended by its inclusion in a book or, for that matter, in conversation. Still, authors often debate the role of ‘racy-talk’ in literature.

How much is too much? When have you gone too far, or not far enough?

Okay, before we get stuck with just this one word, let us consider the vast and rich palette of risqué words available and to clarify their ‘technical’ differences. Once we can differentiate between profanities, obscenities, curses and the like, it should be easier to determine how, why and if we should use them.

 

PROFANITY

Is often used to denote an objectionable word. ‘Profanity’ literally means words that are proscribed profane – that is words described by religious doctrine. ‘Proscribed’, in this context means ‘forbidden by written order’, such as, in Judeo-Christian tradition, taking the Lords name in vain (that is, not in Prayer).

“For the love of God, stop complaining” or “Jesus Christ, look at the size of that thing”.

 

CURSES

These call upon a deity, or fate, to cause harm in a visitation.

(Mild) “Damn this zipper”.

(Strong) “God Damn her”.

‘Damned’ is to be condemned to Hell.

‘Hell’ can also be a curse, “Go to Hell”, or a mild profanity, as in “Oh, Hell, the rivers polluted again!”

 

SWEAR WORDS

To swear literally means to take an oath, or to proclaim an oath.

Now, for anyone uncertain about oaths, (married folk take note!) An oath is a resolution or promise which calls upon a deity’s assistance in carrying it out. (Think about how many are in your marriage now!).

Examples: “God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again” or simpler, “By God I’ll show you”

You can swear to bear witness, as in “I swear, you are the best cook in this town”

 

OBSCENITIES

These are words that denote something disgusting or morally abhorrent. (Often connoting sex). The F-word is considered to be one of the most objectionable, along with the C-word.

The relatively modern inclusion of adding the prefix ‘Mother’ often ups-the-ante!

Non, or less objectionable variants of the present participle form of the F-word, beside ‘Fugging!’ include, Fecking, Freaking, flipping and fricking.

To be totally honest, I have no idea why the letter ‘U’ seems to be so ‘flaming’ important!

‘Screw’ is accepted as of the milder and therefore more acceptable terms. Please note, both the F-word and ‘screw’ are used not just used to literally describe intercourse, but to connote ‘Taking advantage of’.

“That Garage screwed me out of £300 for unnecessary repairs”

Generally, words referring to both male and female pelvic areas are considered obscenities.

 

VULGERISMS

I Like this one because this word, this term, covers a lot of bases. If it is crude, objectionable and falls outside the aforementioned categories, you have a vulgarism!

‘Bitch’, ‘Son of a Bitch’, ‘Bastard’, ‘Jackass/Ass, Asshole’ and even ‘Crap’ fall under this heading.

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Now…whether use should use, or not use, any (or all) of the above?

The literary world is somewhat divided around the use of spicy talk, which should not be surprising as our readers are as equally split.

Take two ‘Tough-Guy’ authors, Lee Child and Tom Clancy. Lee does not use any profanities in his writing. Most readers do not notice this. Whereas Tom’s books are littered with profanities…and he certainly sells a lot of copies!

Some readers may be turned off by even one, single, solitary curse word…possible? Maybe. But what is certain is that no-one will buy your books purely because you use raw language. (Although at one time, years ago, they may have well done so).

Does all this mean your safest path is to use no raw language at all?

Writing is a journey and all journeys involve some form of risk. History proves that some writers achieved success, or at least notoriety, because they shunned propriety. Harry Caulfield’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’ was shocking in its era and may still be so to young teenagers today.

As you write, look for a balance with what you feel comfortable writing, what you, as the narrator feels is right within your style for this book and what suits the characters and the story you are creating.

What may be right for one piece of work maybe wrong for another.

 

Okay…Why ‘TO USE’

We humans get angry. We crave precise expression and there is something about cursing and using vulgar language that works for us as a release valve for our emotions.

Who has not, at some time, experienced a moment when a string of expletives has not felt exquisitely sublime rolling off your tongue?

The same is so for your fictional characters. Be true, be honest to them. Let them have their voice.

Moreover, if you want your stories to be realistic about the settings, battlefields, bars and domestic disharmony, well-written raw language will bring your characters to life, give them a heartbeat and authenticity.

 

HOW TO USE

Spicy language generally works best when it’s used sparingly, or at least in moderation. That way, you preserve the element of the unexpected, which can be a pressure-reliever for both character and reader. Aside from conveying anger or frustration, raw talk can also be humorous, in that it reveals how a character truly feels about something.

Take this line for an instance: “I ate another doughnut”.

Compare it with: “I ate another goddamned doughnut”.

You instantly get a clue about this character and her relationship with doughnuts.

You may have one character who habitually uses profanity, in contrast to others who don’t. That, in itself, is a good individualiser.

If you, yourself, are not too familiar with foul language a problem can occur when used wrongly, or as often happens with inexperienced writers, it is thrown in will-nilly. If it is used it MUST sound real. If you are uncertain try visiting areas where this language is commonly used, construction sites, wharves, military establishments and prisons for example. Grab a coffee in a nearby café at lunchtime and eavesdrop on the clientele’s conversations!

However, a word of warning. Even if, say a group of Miners, use an expletive every other word, it is unnecessary for you to make your own characters speak exactly that way. Just as when using dialects and accents, you have to use raw-talk wisely. This helps keep the reader grounded in your imaginary world and avoids the pitfalls of over-use/over doing it.

Consider your characters, employ common sense.

A hospital Matron, wearing a starched linin apron, may not utter a single un-PC word in public, but she may let loose a barrage in the principal’s office over a dispute, or howl out a string of profanities during sexual fulfilment.

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How NOT to USE

I mentioned some writers, Norman Mailer and Tom Clancy who chose to include bad-language into their works, but they pale into insignificance, almost, when it comes to literary genius. The bard himself, William Shakespeare, knew how to spice-up his writings and attract an audience in doing so.

He wrote the mother of all literary cuss-outs. (Cuss is simply a variant of Curse), in King Lear; but interestingly there is no profanity or obscenity as we know it, merely terrifically imaginative vulgarisms, delivered with passion. Here it is, the Earl of Kent preparing to thrash the crap out of Goneril’s loathsome lackey, Oswald:

KENT (TO OSWALD): “A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver’d, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, super serviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pander, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch, one whom I will beat into clamorous whining if thou deniest the least syllable of thy addition”.

Knowing the historical references helps; for example, “broken meats” means leftover table scraps. But even without that, we can luxuriate in the rant. This is a beautiful speech for many reasons: It’s forceful, it’s unique, it covers many aspects of insult, it clearly communicates one character’s contempt of another, and—important for many in Shakespeare’s audience—it avoids serious curses and obscenities.

It’s a shining example of how a writer can invent insults way more entertaining than those found in the standard lexicon.

You can do it by brainstorming aspects of your characters and their circumstances:

“He was as appealing as a baboon’s butt”.

“You are the worst thing to happen to the world since call waiting”.

“May you be condemned to an eternity of weak coffee, warm gin and a driveway paved with roofing nails”.

By now, I think you will agree that it’s useful to explore—and perhaps even challenge—your own comfort zone.

Certainly if it is not you, it won’t ring true. But whether you decide to write common curses and vulgarisms into your work or not, your characters do need a verbal pressure valve. Do not use tacky asterisks to replace vowels. Just have fun with the process and remember that a ‘fug’ by any other name might sound remarkably original.

 

NOTE.

If your novel purports to reflect real life, then they must include profanity, if the life they reflect includes the use of profanities.

Let’s get real folks, you may have grown up in an era when books and movies were censored, but do you really think that in the Old West, cowboy’s actually said “You no-good-so-and-so” before drawing their six-shooters and blowing holes in one another?

Did the troops, dug into their fox-holes during WWII always speak in to each other in such a decorous manner?

I think not!

Some popular entertainment admittedly goes OTT in drenching dialogue in profanity, Such as in the opening sequences of ‘Born on the 4th of July’, but that is an exaggeration, not a fabrication, of reality.

 

So, why do people swear?

This will not cover any new territory. I expect that every angle regarding this has been covered in about every bar in every corner of the world!

People swear because the majority of profanity is emotionally charged. It can express anger, fear, sadness, joy, despair, frustration, ignorance, racism, homophobia, ageism, violence, sexism and all the other ‘isms’ and ‘tions’ you can name.

Occasionally a swear word can encompass all the above in a single word. That one word can grab people’s attention like no other when timed appropriately and, let us face it, very few things are quite as entertaining as listening to a person who has raised profanity to an art form.

You may disagree with those statements. I do not give a flying F**k…see what I mean!

When read that you do so as if I had written the word in full. Even though I ‘bleeped’ it out your mind supplied the details. Now your reaction was either positive or negative, depending on your personal personality. But you reacted.

Like I mentioned above, nothing ground breaking. Just a prelude to the answer you are seeking.

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‘Should YOU use profanity in YOUR writing?’

Writing is a process which takes pieces of ourselves and puts it ‘out-there’ for the world to see. It does not matter if you are writing literary fiction or genre fiction. Every character, setting, plot and sub-plot reveals a little about who we, as writers, are.

I doubt, very much, if a single day passes without you worrying about what you are writing.

(read that again if you wish, I’ll wait).

You see, every word we scribe invites judgment, criticism, commentary and, perhaps introspection. When we write something which surprises us, we often, most times, question where it came from.

That is because that we writers are a real self-conscious group. We are half scared to death of rejection! But if we filtered every word, considered the perception of each sentence through, say our Mothers, or Fathers, minds we would write nothing. Nothing at all.

What we have, what is so special, so personal is that little bit of ourselves that we add to the mix. Some reveals itself in plot, some in character, but most in the voice, in the narration, in our storytelling. That is where much of our fears lie, in revealing too much of ourselves, exposing our innermost to that ridicule and rejection.

BUT…if you do not add that to the mix the reader will smell you coming from a mile away. You will small like a fake, read like a fake and be discarded as a fake.

So, how does that answer the question about using profanities in your writing?

CONSIDERATIONS

As a writer you need to be true to yourself. You need to be true to your characters and voice. But don’t forget the other people you need to be true to:

Your Audience/Genre – If you forget who your audience is, for a single sentence or word, you will have lost them. If your audience demands a lack of profanity, then you had better not allow profanity to slip into your work. Not unless you are OK with alienating the very people you are trying to reach.

Your Editor – Your editor wants you to succeed. Your editor wants you…needs you…to sell books. You ignore your editor’s advice at your own peril.

Yourself – I know I have said this before, but I repeat it here for a different reason. If profanity is something that you are personally uncomfortable with then you will sound fake if you try to use it, regardless of the character in question. In fact, if a lack of profanity is one of your defining personal characteristics, then your characters will sound fake if you use it. Because, after all, your characters are nothing more than an extension of yourself. An audience can smell a fake a mile away. Be true to yourself, whether that means using profanity or avoiding it.

I am not going to tell you the world is going to smell like roses after you write something that raises people’s eyebrows. Especially if those eyebrows belong to people who are closely related to you, or who travel in social groups that are important to you. But you did not become a writer to fit in, did you?

I hope not.

Your writing has a chance to entertain, move, and bring people together.

It has a chance to shine a light on topics you care about in ways other writers have not.

It also has a chance to alienate you.

There is a chance your writing will be considered so offensive that society wants nothing to do with you. It is doubtful it will ever get that bad! but writing is taking a risk. Every time you put pen to paper you are stripping down and getting naked in front of the world.

There is never going to be a time where you do not question, at least once, “should I have written that?”

Recently I have read plentiful cursing in Stephen King novels, Nora Roberts books, and even (very sparingly) in John Grisham stories.

I have seen the use of cursing in both genre fiction and literary fiction. In some books just a little and in some a fair amount.

So, in full and final answer to the question… You are a writer. Welcome aboard the crazy train!

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© Paul White 2016


Love reading? Love writing? Why not take a look at Sneak Peek, the site that brings Readers & Authors together.

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How do your characters move?

Three men wearing masks,and holding guns while running(blurred motion)

It has been far too long since I have written a new post for this blog. The reason is that I have been busy writing my own stories for future publication.

During this time, as I reviewed and edited, I noticed how often I fell into the same trap as many others writers.

You see, as we writers scribble down our words our poor little fingers cannot keep up with the flow of information coming from our minds, so we tend, at least in the first draft, to use words, or a set of words which are the easiest, it is not a matter of laziness, because we know that we shall have to come back and make adjustments and corrections. It is simply a way of getting our thoughts on paper (or the computer screen).

But how dull, how boring and undescriptive that leaves our work, and how darned repetitive is ‘she said, he said’ or ‘he walked to the door, she walked to the door’. Yet it is often the way one must scribe their initial thoughts before they flit from our minds and disappear forever into the gloom of the forgotten.

My pet hate, the one I shall address here, is about movement, the descriptive movement of the characters which inhabit the fictitious worlds of our stories.

When I read that someone has ‘suddenly stood up’ or ‘started to walk to the door’ I cannot help but cringe.

No one ‘suddenly’ stands, they either stand or they do not.

No one ‘starts’ to walk, they either walk or they do not.

So my friends I have a little, sorry, a rather long list of possible alternatives which are far more descriptive. This is not, in any way, a definitive list, but merely an Aide-mémoire to help when we have a ‘mind-block’.

(For simplicity you will see they are all ‘he’-‘she’, but you will get the gist!)

I do however hope you find it useful, or in the least suggestive. Feel free to cut/paste/copy/bookmark or whatever you will. I have, after all, written this to help us all.

THE LIST!

he lowered his head

she hung her head

he ducked

she bowed her head

he covered his eyes with a hand

she pressed her hands to her cheeks

she raised her chin

he lifted his chin

her hands squeezed into fists

his hands tightened into fists

she clenched her fists

she balled her fists

he unclenched his fists

her arms remained at her sides

he shrugged

she gave a half shrug

he lifted his shoulder in a half shrug

she gave a dismissive wave of her hand

she raised a hand in greeting

he waved

she held up her hands

he lifted his hands

she held up her palms

he threw his hands in the air

she brushed her palms together

he rubbed his hands together

she made a steeple of her fingers

he spread his hands

she gesticulated

he waved his hands

she clapped her hands

he snapped his fingers

she held up a finger

he pointed

she gestured with a thumb

he jerked his thumb toward…

she extended her middle finger toward him

he gave her the finger

she gave him the thumbs up

she put her hands on her hips

she shoved her hands in her pockets

he jammed his hands in his front pockets

she rested a hand on her hip

she jutted out her hip

she folded her arms

he crossed his arms over his chest

she hugged herself

he wrapped his arms around himself

she rocked back and forth

she spread her arms wide

he held out his arms

she held out her hand

he extended a hand

he shook his head

she nodded

he bobbed his head

she tilted her head

he cocked his head

she inclined her head

he jerked her head in the direction of…

she turned her face away

he looked away

his breaths quickened

she panted

she was breathing hard

his chest rose and fell with rapid breaths

she took in a deep breath

he drew in a long breath

she took in a sharp breath

he gasped

she held her breath

he let out a harsh breath

she exhaled

he blew out his cheeks

she huffed

he sighed

she snorted

she laughed

he giggled

she guffawed

he chuckled

she gave a bitter laugh

he gave mirthless laugh

she tittered

he cackled

she rubbed her shoulder

he kneaded his shoulder

he rolled his shoulders

she tensed her shoulders

he massaged the back of his neck

she rubbed her temples

she rubbed her hands on her thighs

she ran her hand through her hair

he threaded a hand through his hair

he raked his fingers through his hair

he shoved his hair back away from his face

she toyed with a lock of hair

she played with her hair

she twirled her hair

she wrapped a curl around her finger

she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear

she undid her ponytail and shook out her hair

she tossed her hair

he buried his hands in his hair

he stroked his beard

he scratched his beard

she tugged at her earlobe

he bit a nail

she chewed on a cuticle

she picked at her nails

she inspected her fingernails

he plucked at the cuff of his shirt

she picked a piece of lint from her sleeve

he adjusted the lapels of his jacket

she fiddled with her earring / bracelet

he twisted the wedding ring on his finger

she played with her cell phone

he tugged at his shirt collar

he adjusted his tie

she smoothed down her skirt

she scratched her nose

he scratched his head

he rubbed his forehead

she rubbed her eyes

she pinched the bridge of her nose

he held his nose

she slapped her forehead

he smacked his forehead

he facepalmed

he slapped a hand over her mouth

she covered her mouth with her hand

she pressed her fingers to her lips

he held his finger up to his lips

he rubbed his chin

she pressed a hand to her throat

he clutched his chest

he leaned against the wall

she bounced on her toes

she jumped up and down

he tapped his foot

she stomped her foot

she folded her hands in her lap

she drummed her fingers on the table

he tapped his fingers on the table

he slammed his hand on the table

she pounded her fist on the table

she set her palms down flat on the table

he rested his hands on the table

she set her hands on the table, palms up

he leaned back in his chair

she hooked her feet around the chair legs

he gripped the arm of the chair

she put her hands behind her head

he put his feet on the desk

he fidgeted

she jiggled her foot

he swung his leg

she crossed her legs

he uncrossed his legs

she crossed her ankles in front of her

she stretched out her legs in front of her

he sprawled out

he put his feet on the desk

she cringed

he shuddered

she flinched

he shivered

she trembled

his body shook

she cowered

he shrank from…

she huddled in the corner

he pulled away

she jerked away

he turned away

she jolted upright

he stiffened

she straightened

he tensed

he jumped

she jumped to her feet

he stood up

she rose from her seat

she relaxed

he hunched

she slouched

her shoulders sagged

his shoulders slumped

she wilted

he went limp

he rolled his shoulders

she squared her shoulders

she clasped her hands behind her back

he puffed out his chest

she thrust out her chest

he propped his chin on his hand

she rested her chin on her palm

he yawned

she stretched

he turned around

she whirled around

he pivoted

she reeled

she stepped away

she drew nearer

he leaned closer

she inched forward

he loomed closer

he paced

she shifted from one foot to the other

he swayed on his feet

she dragged her feet

she pumped a fist

he thrust his fists in the air

she punched the air

Seven indispensable sites no Author or Writer should be without.

writers-block As you will know, the normal style of my posts are to bumble away rather randomly about various topics or subjects which are playing on my mind at any given moment. This post is not one of those. I believe, at certain times there comes a point when a more direct approach serves better. This post is one of those! I hope you find it informative and useful. Please let me know, thank you, Paul. No matter how an experienced writer we are we always, I will say that again, ‘Always’ need help, assistance or guidance at some point during the writing, editing, publishing or marketing process. Over the years I have been writing I have amassed a collection of various sites which I find invaluable. I have mentioned some of these in a previous post, http://wp.me/p5nj7r-8h & have also shared Melanie Rockets blog http://wp.me/p5nj7r-86 which I hope you will take a look at as it contains so much useful information. I have not however, until now, shared other sites which I use on a frequent basis. These are a rather eclectic collection covering a wide range of topics, not all are directly connected to the actual act of writing, but all are indispensable as far as I am concerned.


So here they are, in no particular order!

How many syl-la-bles I enjoy this! It is primarily an educational site for teaching poetry, but take a look at all the helpful pages like the Syllable counter, syllable dictionary, English grammar, How to count syllables, poem workshop and teaching resources. I am certain you will find some things more than helpful and keep returning as I do. http://www.howmanysyllables.com/poem_syllable_counter_workshop/


Author It. For all with eBooks this is a great app. It creates a ‘short link’ from your books ‘ASIN’ so when a potential reader clicks on the link it takes them to an intermediate window which shows the national flags associated with each Amazon server. The reader just ‘clicks’ on the relevant flag and is directed to the correct countries Amazon site for purchasing your book. So no more searching and listing a whole host of links, this one does the lot! I recommend you check this out. Helpful Authl.it is brought to you in association with the Kindle Users Form. Authl.it is designed to make linking and promoting Kindle eBooks as easy as possible worldwide. With our system you can easily generate a single link to direct your readers to the Amazon store for their country or region. http://authl.it/


. Writing World. SO much I could say about this site, it is just a MASS of info. Apart from comprehensive info about writing, from beginners to experienced, this site has information on dealing with rejection, writers block, writer’s life, time management & so much more It also covers Genre writing, children’s writing, flash fiction, non-fiction writing, travel, memoires and more. There are inclusive articles on Syndication, freelancing columns, journalism and…..lots more too! Publishing, social media & reviews & releases. And that is just for starters! This is a MUST site. But do not just take my word go take a look yourself! http://www.writing-world.com/rights/rights.shtml


Freelance fees. What should you charge for an article in a magazine, or for public relations or maybe for digital media? Do you have any idea? What about cancelation charges or fees? Bet you have not thought about that. Well these folk at London Freelance have and it is all shared with you right here. http://www.londonfreelance.org/feesguide/index.php?&section=Welcome&subsect=All&subsubs=All


Writers Workshop. Established in June 2005, The Writers’ Workshop is the world’s leading consultancy for first time writers. They offer professional feedback on your work, run courses, host events, provide a mass of free advice, and – when you’re ready – They can use their extensive connections to find the literary agent who is right for you. I need to say no more! http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/agents-advice.html


QR code generator. A bit of fun and another great way to get interactive with your potential readers, use the QR code on the back of your book to get readers to view the trailer for you next novel. Or simply link it to your website or author page. It is up to you. http://www.qrstuff.com/


Add this. A host of smart website tools for WordPress. Take a look and choose your weapons! https://wordpress.org/plugins/addthis/faq/


These are all sites that I use on a frequent or regular basis. I have found each one advantageous and effective for my needs, so you could say they are ‘tried & tested’ by Moi!


Thanks for reading, I am open to all feedback and comments. I welcome new followers so don’t be shy at pressing that ‘Follow’ button! Have a great day, Paul.

I love it when something random triggers your muse!

Happy Writer

I am certain all writers of fiction understand that some of the most satisfying things you ever write are those which ‘jump’ out at you for no apparent reason, particularly if they do so when you are not actively seeking conceptual stimulation.

I have written a short story which is the result of one such instant. Yesterday a picture set off a string of thoughts which I have done my best to capture as a flash fiction.

The quandary I had was where to post it. The reason is, that although this is a story, it also has great merit to feature here in ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind’ as it has significance as a writing exercise, even an aid for those looking for inspiration.

So I have decided just to leave this notification, along with this link, http://wp.me/p5od8T-5B to ‘A Little more Fiction’, my short story blog where I have posted the story in full.

I do hope you will go to ‘A Little more Fiction‘ now because I am sure you will enjoy the read.

Thank you, Paul.

The Wind & the Sun

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  This is a story my father used to tell me as a young child.

  Way back then I had no idea that this story was his version of an Aesop’s fable.

  I loved listening to him regale it over and again; although I had heard this story many times, it was not until I was about seven that I began to understand how the moral of the tale, or at least the basic message it carried, related to life.

   My father has now been dead for over thirty five years, yet I still recall his voice when I think of the Wind & the Sun.

   Moreover I am still learning the true extent of how the simple and basic message this story carries can affect every part of our lives, in work, play, socially, and in our domestic and love life relationships.

   I will try my best to recount this tale as closely to my father’s recitation as I can recall, because I still prefer his version to that of Aesop!

   Maybe you would too, if you could hear his voice as clearly I still do.


One day the Wind and the Sun were looking down upon the earth when they saw a man walking along a footpath.

‘Look at that man’ said the Wind, ‘I bet I can get his jacket off him quicker than you ’.

‘You think you can?’ answered the Sun.

‘Of course’ the Wind replied ‘because I am strong and powerful’.

‘Go on then’ said the Sun ‘let me see what you can do’.

So the Wind began to blow. As the Wind blew the man’s jacket flapped in the breeze. The Wind blew harder, whipping up clouds of dust and blowing the leaves from the trees.

The man buttoned his jacket, turned up his collar, lowered his head and continued walking.

Displeased with his efforts so far the Wind let a howling gale bellow over the ground. It was so forceful that the man had to fold his arms across his chest to stop his jacket from being blown off.

The Wind saw what the man was doing took a huge puff and let loose a tempest.

The man clutched his jacket tighter to himself, holding it firm with both hands.

Again and again the Wind blew and blew. The harder the Wind blew the tighter the man clung to his Jacket.

Eventually the Wind had puffed so hard for so long that he blew himself out.

The sun laughed and said to the Wind ‘Now it is my turn to try and get this man’s jacket off’.

So the Sun smiled and shone his gentle rays of warm sunlight upon the earth and upon the man.

The man took his hands from his jacket.

The Sun continued to smile and spread his warmth.

The man unbuttoned his jacket and loosened his tie.

After a while the man, bathed in the glorious heat from the sun, removed his jacket, slung it over his shoulder and began to whistle as he walked.

‘You see, Wind’ said the Sun, ‘you can accomplish far more by being gentle and giving than you can with brute force alone’.

.

I hope you enjoyed my father’s version of this story.


You can read more by visiting https://alittlemorefiction.wordpress.com/

It’s been a long walk home.

Many of you will be aware that I am (almost) at the publishing stage for a book I have been working on for a little over three years. The book is titled ‘Life in the Warzone’ it is about the effects that living in an area of conflict has on people, be they combatants or innocent civilians, even children.

During my research and interviews (from Sarajevo, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, and the Ukraine) I often come across essays, poems and other forms of accounts which expresses personal trauma.

Here is one such piece I would like to share with you.

This is not my work. I take no credit for these words.

 


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It’s been a long walk home.

(Author unknown)

.

It’s been a long walk home, I’m almost there,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

I’m right back there again,

lost in that same damn firefight,

It’s been forty years,

When will it end?

Every night it’s that same damn firefight,

We lost Sam and Bill,

Tag’em and bag’em,

we were told,

we’d never seen em again.

But every night, it’s their faces that I see,

and I ask myself why wasn’t it me,

my name should be etched in that cold black wall of stone,

It’s been a long walk home,

I’m almost there.

.

But I hear that chopper so near,

Raining tracers down,

Can’t they see us here?

Marine down, corpsman up,

But silence is all I hear.

Why am I the only one left,

Screaming GOD get me outta here?

It’s been forty years,

I still see that day,

We were almost there.

.

The edge of the jungle,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

Tag’em n bag’em the list goes on,

To many to remember,

It was their last firefight.

I’m the only one left,

Lost and running looking for my way out.

It’s been a long walk home.

.

My family, don’t understand

When I say that this can’t be real

Just let me wake up one time and this not be,

But it’s that same damn firefight every night,

I wake up shaking like a leaf in the wind,

Tell’n my wife that it was just a chill,

Not that rage to kill,

But she sees it in my eyes,

That same damn firefight,

It’s been a long walk home, I’m almost there.

.

I was telling her good-bye,

When she realized I didn’t fear death anymore,

It was my life I was about to take,

She cried out for me to come out of that jungle, out into the daylight,

Think of the kids and what this would do,

She took me by the hand helping me make that first step,

Coming out of that jungle into the daylight,

It’s been a long walk home.

.

Forty years and I’m almost there,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

but this time it’s a younger brother yelling out,

trying to find his way out into the daylight,

Out of that smoky fog of that same damn firefight,

It’s been forty years for me,

I see that flash, I hear that scream,

It’s their pain that I feel,

Knowing that this damn firefight is not real,

I’m here to help lead my younger brothers out,

Not to walk forty years as I,

Lost in that same damn firefight of PTSD!


If you would like to know more about my forthcoming book ‘Life in the Warzone’ please visit my website and look on the ‘works in progress’ page. http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white

Thank you, Paul.

Meet my Best Friends (& share them too)

I Love WordPress


My Rambling of the day.

I know the majority who read ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind’ are indeed writers and it is with you in mind I try, in my haphazard way, to offer advice and share knowledge about all facets of a writer’s life, from the more technical stuff to empathetic ‘hugs’ during those long lonely hours when nothing written seems to work.

One subject I have not broached so far is a writer’s own library. I do not mean the reading material we have for our own pastime, but that which we turn to for help and aid during the long toil of writing a book, or a poem, or an article….or even (possibly) a Blog such as this.

I have, over the years, amassed a huge array of various reference and resource works which sit heavily on and bow the shelves of my bookcases.

Even though we have ease of access to the infinitude of the interwebs content and can collate and bookmark pages, sites and various content to our heart’s desire, it is not always so practical to move away from our works and scuttle back and forth electronically.

At best this method causes interruption to the creative flow, at worst it is a distraction where one can easily click, just for a moment, a quick glance, at our email or network sites… then, three hours later, we wonder why we have achieved so little progress.

This is where a book, those pale pages which one has to turn manually, become so much more than just good friends, they become our tutors, our mentors, our coaches, they allow us to find the information we seek while keeping us focused on the task in hand.

Often, while writing I have three, four, seven, even ten various books open on my desk. Each one a weighty and mighty tome of facts and particulars, essential specifics and verifications which I can access at a glance without dismissing the words I am working on, the complex wordsmithing I am hammering out on the furnace of imagination.

You may ask, what are these bound pages of mystical knowledge I keep about me?

Then I shall reveal their names, some you may already be acquainted with, others may yet be strangers, but all are, to me, good friends.

ALL the books below can be viewed on Amazon by clicking on the title


These are some you may have, or at least you may have one of their cousins……

The Oxford English Dictionary.oed

The Chambers Dictionary.

Webster’s Encyclopaedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.


These friends may not be quite so familiar, but are worth knowing…………6

Concise Dictionary of English Etymology, by Walter W. Skeat.

Dictionary of Difficult Words, by Robert H. Hill.

Dictionary of Word Origins, by John Ayto.


You should, in my humble opinion make friends with the following……download (3)

Grammatically Correct by Anne Stilman.

Beginnings, Middles & Ends by Nancy Kress.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King.


These folk may be a little unusual, but are worth inviting into your home…..download (2)

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

The Ultimate Loo Book, Mitchell Symons.

Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story, by Michael Rosen.


Lastly, but far from least, these should be among your very best friends…

download (2)

How to Write a Damn Good Novel: (A Step-by-Step No Nonsense Guide to Dramatic Storytelling), by James N. Frey.

Plot & Structure: (Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish), by James Scott Bell.


Clearly, these are just a few of those books which line my office walls like paladins. I think you can find copies on Amazon, or indeed go and browse your local bookstore where you may find a lonely discarded volume in need of a good home.

I hope this post has been enjoyable to read as well as helpful. Please follow this blog if you are not already doing so, as I have many more ideas and thoughts I would like to share with you.

Thank you for reading, Paul.


Find out more about me, my books, works in progress and more by visiting my website HERE 

Sitting in the garden

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As the title indicates I am writing this as I sit my garden.

I am sat at the large table on the raised decking which is, at this time, bathed in dappled sunlight. I can hear the water from the falls melodically splashing into the ponds, and the heady scent from the mass of blooms is gently wafting around me, carried by the light breeze.

It is, in my opinion, the perfect place and atmosphere for a writer to work.

Since coming into the garden a short while ago I have furthered a piece, which is destined to be a jointly written story with another writer, one who I adore and respect. Written a poem, which by the time you read this will be in my book Teardrops & White Doves (Available via Amazon)! and I am now attempting to write something of interest for you in this Rambling of mine.

As with many of my Ramblings I do not have a particular subject or topic in mind when I begin to write, I just start to tap away at the keys and hope that something evolves that is informative, interesting and enjoyable to read.

In fact, if I achieve any any two of these three things then I shall consider this Rambling a success!

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I have, in past Ramblings, spoken of Writers Block, Inspiration, Creativity, Imagery and a whole plethora of various subjects, many which have absolutely nothing to do with actually writing at all. but of the common tasks and problems we writers face in our daily lives.

However, it seems that as my Rambling have developed, from very short notes about whatever was at the forefront of my mind, to my later posts (which have unconsciously, and almost subliminally from my point of view, strayed into the theme of the techniques of writing), I have won the minds, if not the hearts of so many of you, so many friends, that I now feel so very humbled indeed.

I mean that in all honesty and with my hand firmly placed on my heart.

I read each and every comment you post in reply and try my best to answer them all.

So this is a thank you, a big thank you to all of you who read my irrelevant scribbling’s regularly, and a welcome to those of you who may be reading a Rambling for the first time.

   I hope it will not be the last time you do so!

As for the subject of this particular Rambling, there really isn’t one!

Except to say that for a writer, as with so many artistic vocations, the stimulus needed to create are many and varied. For me the atmosphere of my garden right now is an absolutely perfect environment to get those creative juices flowing.

I hope I have not squandered nature’s gift of a beautiful day, but have, in some respect, justified her benevolence.

Thank you all for reading this Rambling.

Bless you, Paul.

   To see more of my work, or to find out more about me, visit my website

http://fluffybunnypj.wix.com/paul-white