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About Theresa Nichols Schuster

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Theresa Nichols Schuster is author of "Brittle Silver" and "We Are the Warriors" a 2015 USA Regional Excellence Book Award Finalist. She currently lives in southwest Montana where she appreciates the wonders of nature, family, friends, a bit of pottery.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When Good is Bad...

Alongside some amazing, very intense and even violent weather, the frequent positive summer attractions have captivated my attention. The smorgasbord of delightful interruptions throughout the warm months definitely competes with my attempts to set pen to paper. The distractions of gardens and lawns with which to play, soaking up pervasive sunshine whether it is on a hike, walk or bike ride - and of course, there is the awesome food of the season...gorgeous cherries, blueberries, raspberries (I still am looking for that perfect batch of peaches…maybe an awesome peach truck will appear soon.) and all the great dishes to be made from fresh fruit and the fun time spent grilling outside and visiting, all conspire to keep me away from writing.

During this time and in between my pleasant warm weather diversions, I have played a bit with Julia Cameron's Right to Write. It was her "Bad Writing" chapter that spoke rather invitingly to me. She discussed how writing doesn't always have to know where it is going. We are taught that good writing consists of progressing in nice orderly thoughts and structures. But often, Julia surmised, this type of writing does not engage us emotionally.

So in order to be a good writer it helps to let yourself be a bad writer. Just let everything out - then sort it out later if it needs sorting. "So much 'good' writing doesn't seem to care. It is too cerebral, calculated, and calibrated," Julia states.

Cameron marvels at the juicy, intense, shocking writing of the tabloids. The surprises, high-stakes stories and jolting revelations, the good "bad" writing that populates the grocery story tabloids can be fertile ground for a fresh look at prose.

She suggests a writing exercise to assist in by-passing the "perfectionism" writer's three tabloids, or if you can't find them, buy a People or Us magazine. Cut out ten stories you like and save them in a file folder, reflecting over a period of time on what attracts you to these pieces. Then later, set aside some time, about half an hour, to write your own imaginary tabloid story as rapidly, uncensored and freely as possible.

True confessions; I've never read a tabloid. Is that a sheltered existence? Or a serious lack of curiosity? Or possibly a sign of too scrupulous of a character basis? As is...often they just seemed too fakey and untrue to me. So with a little reluctance I contemplated the least offensive place to look for a tabloid. My first attempt at an out-of-the-way convenience store and gas station left me empty handed, not a single tabloid there.

Several busy days kept me from looking more earnestly. Eventually I found myself taking cover in a bookstore during a torrential downpour. So I took the easy way out and bought copies of People and Us, still definitely outside my typical genre for reading.

The rest of the story of my foray into good "bad" writing remains to be created. I do wonder what stories will attract me, what I will learn about writing and what my "shocking" tabloid story will read like. We'll see...I do have yet to read a tabloid, one of these days...What kind of imaginary tabloid story would you write? Who would be the characters? What plot, action or storyline would you invent?