What is Missing from Modern Movies?

I fall in love again.

Every time.

I want to grab an umbrella and dance outside. I wish I could tap and look as cool and casual as Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain.


The movie celebrated its sixtieth anniversary this year. It showed on TCM tonight, and I remembered why I always fall in love again.

It’s the dancing, singing, acting and …

The writing.

Aside from the fact I am in love with Gene Kelly, I listened to the words delivered by the actors. I am certain writers, who’ve imagined their books as movies, and script writers think of actors who breathe life into their lines.

The lines were simple, a Hemingway touch.

Some were funny, a classic Hollywood touch.

The writing works.

I once wondered why classic Hollywood was considered the “Golden Era.” Why couldn’t films be as great today?

The classic recipe, as used in Singin’ in the Rain, begins on an empty page. The script writers knew how to write words in a way they were naturally spoken.

The scene in Debbie Reynold’s car, after Gene Kelly has jumped over vehicles in the street, proves my point. He is flirtatious, and she is not impressed. The lines are easy to deliver. You also remember them.

The movie begins with good writing.

I am inspired by old movies, books and music as a writer and author. I do not see the same penned passion in modern movies.

Something is missing.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I am certain it’s the writing.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Time Enough to Write

Courtesy of http://partyof5.livejournal.com/.

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You might have missed me.

Maybe you missed my words,

or maybe you didn’t.

I borrowed today’s title from one of my husband’s favorite books, Robert A. Heinlein‘s Time Enough for Love. While the 1970’s award-winning, Science Fiction book examines the life and loves of Lazarus Long—the oldest living man—the book caused me to consider an important point.

Heinlein writes about love’s importance through Lazarus Long.

But what about time enough to write?

If you work, have children, grandchildren or all of the above, sometimes writing takes a back seat. It becomes that university sweatshirt you wore to a football game in late October, and then you did not take it inside until April.

What happens between now and then? Is there a creativity killer?

Sometimes the creativity killer is bitter exhaustion.

Exhaustion: What’s That?

Writers and editors have talked about 2 or 3 a.m. work time when everything is quiet. They write or edit. Sleep becomes less of a necessity.

A former mentor once told me, “If you truly love something, you will make time for it.”

In a sense he is correct.

I found writing and editing time while I worked and attended college. The years 2006 to 2008 were when I did the bulk of my research.

I woke up early during April 2012 when I worked a temporary, full-time job to write and edit. I was on a good writing schedule.

Problems arose.

My son was very sick.

I became sick.

My husband became sick.

Since our two-year-old began day school, I have learned what it means to be grateful for strong health.

Part of having health is rest. Without it, you cannot take care of all the responsibilities.

Okay, some people can, but they are superheroes on 5-hour energy drinks.

The Reality …

The reality is if you’re a writer with several responsibilities, you are still that strong writer. You still have the power. You do not lose it when you have vomit on your shirt, or you’re tired from a week of teaching and tutoring students.

How do I know?

Three reasons:

  1. In 2009, I worked for a five-day-a-week newspaper. While I wrote articles every day, I stopped writing. No work progressed on my manuscript, Sons of the Edisto. Four months was the longest period within six years in which I did not touch the book. When I left journalism, I began writing again.
  2. When the baby is born, you—as a mother or father—wonder if you are insane enough to do this again. At first, it is like the morning after a night of binge drinking. You say, “I’m never going to do this again.” You’re too ill or tried to write. Then you wake up and realize you have it good. Unlike drinking, there is nothing to replace the sweet-faced, playdoe maker in the crib.

    Within two weeks of Charles’ birth, I was writing and reading again while he breastfed.

  3. Now …

    I took the last half of July off to spend with John and Charles after a few distressing changes in our lives. I took August off to adapt to a new job. In September, I have taken on more hours substitute teaching and tutoring. But, I know I will hop back on the bike. I will remember how to ride it without a problem.

    If you’re in the same place, you will too.

    By Rebecca T. Dickinson

    Note: For more information about Sons of the Edisto, you are welcome to visit my other pages.

The Man who Started it All

He was a man of faith.

He was a man of science.

He was the man who stood at the train station in Alabama one day after being fired. This man saw the manager who let him go.

“Did you come to see me off?” he asked the manager.

“No,” he replied. “One hour after I let you go, my bosses fired me.”

This was during the Great Depression. The man at the station was my grandfather, George M. Dickinson Jr.

My father—his son—was invited to give a sermon at his church today. He spoke of George, and I heard the prior mentioned story for the first time.

Stories about my grandfather could span a long life of their own. Some tales are funny, some are moving, and the most significant stories make you realize no one had his guts, tenacity, imagination and strength.

One Fact is for Certain

My grandfather’s life inspired the project about which I am most passionate and have treated as a (much loved) career throughout Sons of the Edisto‘s six years. George’s life sparked Dad’s sermon just as it sparked SotE.

Anyone’s grandfather can inspire them,” you might say.

Not everyone’s grandfather was George M. Dickinson Jr.

When the Time Came

I fiddled with poems and short stories in early 2006, but I was distracted by a bad relationship and an ill-considered sorority. I had not accepted my path.

I had forgotten life for a writer is very different.

You cannot hide from it.

It will find you.

Whether you have one story or ten, they will find you.

I shot out of bed at 3:00 am during June 2006 and turned on the light. I began writing what I thought would be a short story inspired by (you fill in the blank).

Why my Grandfather?

During the teen years and first semester of college, I was a songwriter. I wanted to compose something in my grandfather’s memory, but nothing did him justice. I grew bored with music,and left it behind.

I could not leave the idea of Papa behind. Somehow that man who had stood at the train station deserved whatever small piece of immortality I could offer him.

In a time when fear shook the United States, a political group attended the 1924 Democratic Convention in New York, NY. The group, with 5 million members nationwide, fed on fear of immigration and encouraged intolerance. The 1920s faction was not made up of the cliché cartoonish uneducated men from the South.

The Ku Klux Klan represented white men, women and its youth organization for what it considered to be America’s roots and Protestant values. They were educated and believed they were right.

My grandfather knew they were wrong.

George—a chemist from South Carolina—burned a robe from his father’s shed along with Klan paperwork.

He burned it all despite opinions of that time.

“I can’t talk about that,” my father said to me before his sermon.

“No, but you can recognize the spirit your father had to stand up to injustice.”

That man at the train station burned a robe, became a chemist, recognized love above all things and inspired the work I hope will be recognized one day.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

I would like to thank everyone who has continued to support my blog since I have not been online as much to read and write on WordPress due to a busy work schedule. I am working to set aside time for reading, because there are so many of you who write such wonderful blogs.

When Deals Go Bad

Thank you to http://media.salon.com/.

Sometimes a deal goes bad.

Maybe more deals than you want.

 You’re an artist and writer. You dedicate time to your craft.

 I am a writer. I dedicate time to perfect my craft, but challenges arise when you choose to become a freelance writer. There are many great freelance writers. I’ve met them. Some have more luck than others.

 As writers, our job is also to understand the business side of writing. Even if you are not a freelance writer and want to publish a book, information about literary agents, publishing, self-publishing and business practices are good tools to keep in your case.

The problem is even with knowledge a deal sometimes goes bad whether you’re trying to sell a portrait, negotiate a contract, or sell an article.

Know Your Worth

When I switched from full-time journalism to education and freelance writing, I entered semi-blindsided.

Guess what! It is not enough to want to become published. Potential customers will take advantage of that desire. 

I know. I wanted it, too.

I have never been comfortable with talking about money, but when it comes to writing, I know I am worth more than giving the work away for free.

You must decide what you are worth.

Advice on Books

You’re offered a deal to write, organize, or edit someone’s book. That’s great news.

Sometimes you will find the I will pay you a cut after the book is publish.

Okay, this is when your business smarts must come into play. Don’t do it.

I see you now, fellow writer, with those glimmering eyes full of hope. You believe with your touch, the book has a shot. I’ll throw you a bigger bone. You are the best at writing query letters and a synopsis for an agent or publisher. You just know you’ll find an agent.

Don’t do it.

First negotiate a proper contract that will stand up in court because your work is worth something. Name your price. It is okay to negotiate from a price you are comfortable with. Remember you are going to spend hours—job kind of hours—writing, doing research and editing.


I know. I have made those mistakes. The realization you’re not going to be paid for an indefinite amount of time is like an anvil falling on your head.

Good writers should be paid.

Freelance

I have had wonderful opportunities in the last year. I have also struggled against hard heads.

When it comes to freelance, know your skills and hone them.

When you spend a few hours doing research at a computer, make sure you are going to be paid for them.

I wrote an in-depth AP-style article for a new magazine publisher. The article was going to pay well. In fact, I had already set aside the money in my head for fall clothes and shoes for my son.

Whoops.

The guy wanted fluff. Not market research and quotes from an expert.

How was I treated?

First it took more than one month to get a response from him after we’d negotiated the deal. He pushed me off until he told me the article was not what he wanted after all without specifics. When I offered to rewrite the article, there was no response.

A professional “no thanks” goes a long way.

Good Manners

A deal will go bad. Step away from it.

Do so with grace.

But, I want to bash the guy’s head in. Do you know how many hours I spent researching, interviewing, writing and then editing?

Yes, I know.

Write your last emails to the client or person with grace. Stand firm, but still wish them the best.

You’ll find you stand on higher ground.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

What I Learned from Sports Journalists

Thank you to http://awaisislam.blogspot.com

The best journalists are sports writers.

That is right. Writers.

When I volunteered at The Daily Gamecock, I wanted to write with that passion. I hoped to shoot pictures that captured a fire of emotions; the kind in which you see every line, feeling, and expression in a player’s face.

In high school, I shot pictures on the sideline. Shy girl in khakis almost got hit by a running back and the ball. Storytelling burned through interceptions and one hand catches for touchdowns. I fell in love with more than sports. I read more sports articles than I wrote.

In my two year career as a journalist, I worked primarily as a political, education and hard news reporter. I still read and cheered for my teams. I felt excitement like when Dad first took me to the (former) Greenville Braves baseball games.

Boston Red Sox articles from The State covered my wall.

When the South Carolina Gamecocks beat in-state rival Clemson for the third year in a row, I looked at every photograph taken by The State and read all articles.


Sports writers at The State have talent that flows onto the paper. Just like the Carolina-Clemson rivalry, some bring their own drama. Sports journalist, Ron Morris, has made his feelings known about South Carolina. It led to SC Coach Steve Spurrier banning him from a post-practice conference last season. Other journalists came in. Morris stayed out.

But, when Morris does write with intensity about the Gamecocks, he pens that page. He knows sports. He is a natural writer.

Sports bloggers and journalists cannot wait for the next home run or touchdown. I feel the same way as fan, and I love reading their work. Sports writers get to use the best verbs. Emotion comes easy. Nothing is ever slow.

When I interviewed Steve Spurrier at a post-practice in 2008, I could not believe what I was doing. I stood with all those men, and waited my turn to ask questions.

As a fan, I turned into a beer drinking, cursing fan in a garnet and black dress. I yelled louder than the boys, and paid attention to every down.

And, I still do.

My husband wonders how many hours I will spend watching college football on Saturday. Not to mention the time I take Sunday morning to read articles, blogs, and check statistics.

What is so Funny …

I was born with orange blood.

Yes, it is true. I reveled in reading and knowing everything about Clemson football. I came from a long line of Clemson University fans and graduates.

But, I felt the excitement, the thirst to win, and the in your face fandom at South Carolina. I was hooked.

Beyond my dedication, I wanted to write. What I found is there are others who are meant to tell the story of South Carolina football and baseball.

What can we learn as writers …

No matter what we write, we should read anything and everything.  In 2009, I reached the point where looking at a gray newspaper made me jump. Now I read the sports section again. I want to know what is going on. More importantly, I want to see how the sports journalists are writing. What has changed?

What makes this article so exciting? What is it about this style?

Justin King Media

Music and video are other tools great for storytelling. Justin King has used his talent since 2010 to tell the story of South Carolina football. He takes sports one step further. He knows what football means to fans, and he combines words, pictures, video and music.


Now

I write sports within my creative work.

From Sons of the Edisto:

Owen lets go of Easley and smiles as he walks back to his team. JD’s back in the game, he thinks. He spreads out his offense, and gets ready to run the ball down the center. He wants nothing more than to outrun Easley, make him fall, and get a mouth full of dirt.

Today’s post is dedicated to the South Carolina Gamecocks.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

© 2006-2012 by R.T. Dickinson. All rights reserved. No part of the Sons of the Edisto manuscript or material related to it may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of R.T. Dickinson.

Six Sentence Sunday

It is a great idea.

You know: the six sentence Sunday.

I have read great six sentence Sunday posts by favorite bloggers, such as Jennifer M. Eaton or The View Outside. Inspired, I thought I would take part this week.

I look for ways to share pieces of my writing related to Sons of the Edisto and other projects without giving everything away. Below is a piece from a story published in October 2011 by The Copperfield Review, a great online literary magazine.

(The magazine is also hosting its first historical writing contest. Visit the website, hyperlinked above, for details.)

The main character, Andrew, in the story is the son of Oliver, who I’ve written about in episodes of The Bannister Histories.

Enjoy.

From Out with the Old

He opened the creaking back door. It was ready to fall off its hinges. Cob webs created a silver-white arch on the upper half of the entry’s frame. Andrew lifted part of his lip sneering at the black and red spiders. As he made his way up the narrow wooden stairs, he recalled how he was always the last one to climb them. The girls’ shoes left dents in the steps.

By R.T. Dickinson

© 2006-2012 by R.T. Dickinson. All rights reserved. No part of this manuscript or material related to it may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of R.T. Dickinson.