Write with a purpose. Get out the vote.

Some of us are better writers than we are speakers. That includes me.

I meant well when I signed up to help with a Sierra Club Get Out the Vote effort by making phone calls. Before the 30-minute training was over, I realized my time would be better spent writing GOTV letters.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m way better at it.

This is one of those times when writers and other artists do well to examine how they can make the best use of their skills.

Write with a purpose. Get out the vote.

If you can talk and write, know that there’s an urgent need to call people to encourage them to vote and tell them why you think it’s important. Not so good on the phone? Sign up to write letters or texts.

The reasons to vote are many and my guess is you’re aware of them. One that should be especially important to writers right now is the First Amendment.

Whether you write or edit news, nonfiction, sci-fi, fantasy or some other genre – or if you express yourself through photography, visual arts, performing arts – your right to do that is under attack to an extreme we have not seen in the United States in a long time.

Exercise your rights. Write with a purpose. GOTV.

B.J.

Another made day for a writer

Last month I posted something about how some news from an online journal made my day. I said it was about getting a story published and that the story “may or may not have something to do with a kite.”

It has to do with a little boy, some other people, and something about a kite.

Here it is:

The Missing Kite

Read on, my friends.

B.J.

Advice for writers: Don’t call yourselves something else

A documentarian is someone who makes documentaries, right?

That’s what I’ve always thought and my favorite dictionary agrees with me, which makes it an excellent dictionary.

Some time ago, however, I came across a group for writers called Write the Docs – a “global community of people who care about documentation.”

Just a suggestion…

The people call themselves documentarians.

I get their monthly newsletter and that word bugs the hell out of me. (I know what Wiktionary says on the topic, but I don’t care and neither should you. It’s Wiktionary, for crying out loud.)

I’m sure WtD is an otherwise fine organization that meets the needs of some thousands of humans who write and edit documentation and so on. The website has lots of links that various types of writers will find valuable.

What I don’t see on the site under the “Job listings” heading are any jobs for documentarians. That use of the word may catch on more widely someday, and even land in my favorite dictionary, where you can already find documentalist.

My advice? Don’t use either of those words on your résumé if you want to find a job.

Write on,

B.J.

U.S. women athletes not “feminine” enough?

My first reaction when I saw the headline on this piece was to laugh.

Writing like a male chauvinist

Some throwback male chauvinist pig, I thought, yearning for the good old days when women knew their place, barefoot-pregnant-in-kitchen, etc.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the writer is actually a female chauvinist, someone who believes in her own inferiority. The nerve of her, evolving so far as to think she can write like a man.

Turns out there’s nothing to laugh about here.

On reading to an audience

My legs shook as I stood in front of the others in my 6th grade class to deliver a mandatory speech, every bit as hard as they shook the first time I stepped onto the high diving board at a swimming pool in West Des Moines.

At Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, Iowa

The sheer terror of being in front of an audience somehow evolved – slowly, so slowly – into nervous excitement at the prospect of talking about something I love to do. The debilitating fear of heights is now a healthy respect for the law of gravity that keeps me a safe distance from sheer mountain cliffs and other high places.

Lately I’ve found myself actually going out of my way to get in front of people as an author, to do some readings and even sell and sign a few books. Three more events scheduled! Details sometime soon.

I’m surprised at how much fun it can be.

How about you? Are you comfortable in front of an audience or not so much?