Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Stampede Your Scribbles in 2013

Have you established your 2013 writing goals? If not, take some tips from bison. Yes, I admit the homely bovines probably don’t have goals, other than finding juicy clumps of grass; however, I believe they can help us with our New Year objectives.

  • First tip: Focus on your work. Bison eat and rest, eat and rest, with an occasional mud wallow or scratch against a tree trunk. All that eating and sleeping grows and sustains their bodies.
  • Things to do this year to grow and sustain your writing: Read, write, attend writing classes, workshops and conferences, read, write, study how-to-write books, blogs and magazines, read, write, join a critique group, read, write, find a mentor, read, write, rewrite, and write some more.
I was surprised to learn that North America’s largest land mammal is not a buffalo. According to the American Bison Association (Bison Breeder’s Handbook), “the genus bison has certain traits and characteristics that separate it from other bovines,” including Asian and African buffalo.

  • Tip two: Celebrate the fact that you’re a writer and, therefore, different. Authors may fall into the genus homo (species sapien), but certain characteristics separate us from other humans. You’re in good company when you:
§Eavesdrop on conversations to catch the cadence and colloquialisms;
§  Sneak a cellphone picture of your mailman, the perfect protagonist for your next book;
§  Snap to attention when someone says, “What if…?” or “I remember when…”

Another tidbit from the ABA: “Estimates of the pre-European herd size vary from 30,000,000 to 70,000,000 animals.” In the late 1800s, bison were slaughtered almost to extinction. From millions upon millions dotting the Great Plains, their numbers were reduced to 1500 (or fewer) lonely critters. Not only is writing a lonely vocation, it’s one that requires tenacity. Hang on! Better times are ahead. Thanks to efforts to preserve genus bison, approximately 500,000 such bovines exist in America today.

  • Tip three: Keep on writing and marketing your work.We may not write millions of words, but we can peck out thousands of good, publishable, enduring words—with the help of others.
  • Tip four: Seek input from critique partners as well as professional editors.

Bison “can weather storms and help their newborn calves survive in blizzards that would kill entire herds of cattle.” Writing is a stormy business. Tip five: Be a survivor. We’re capable of preserving our newborn stories amid publishing perils, even when others give up.
A few more fun bison facts, and I’ll stop:
o   Bison are interesting, wild, and unpredictable (“Never turn your back on a bison”). Tip six: Create interesting, unpredictable prose and poetry in 2013—maybe even something a bit wild.
o   Bison are smart, fast and agile. They might look dumb and cumbersome, but they can pivot on their hind feet as well as their front feet, zip from zero to 40 mph in an instant, and out-sprint most horses. If we leave our computers for a few minutes each day to stretch and strengthen our muscles, we’ll become faster, more agile—and smarter. Tip seven: Exercise your body as well as your brain.
o    “Bison are curious, intelligent, territorial, dignified, playful and tremendously strong.” Need I say more?
 About the Author
Becky’s debut novel, “Winds of Wyoming,” features a bison herd (surprise, surprise!) along with several homo sapien characters. The sequel, “Winds of Freedom,” is scheduled for publication next spring. She’s also written two nonfiction books, “It’s a God Thing: Inspiring Stories of Life-Changing Friendships” and "On a Wing and a Prayer–Stories from Freedom Fellowship, a Prison Ministry." She and her husband, Steve, live in beautiful Boise, Idaho.
Twitter: @BeckyLyles
Facebook: Rebecca Carey Lyles or Becky Carey Lyles


................................ Kevin Parsons said...

"Be a Bison... be a Bison..." My wife often calls me a bull in a china shop. Probably not the same! KP

Marilyn said...

Thanks, Becky. I think I'll take a tip from the bison. Sounds like the bison has the right idea. I think we can learn a lot from nature and God's beautiful creatures.

Patti Shene, Executive Editor, Starsongs Magazine said...

Thanks for the great tips, Becky! I know I really want to do more writing this year. I've been so busy reading everyone else's writing with my editing duties that I hardly get time to write anything of my own. I'm hoping that will change this year, at least a little!

TNeal said...

Becky, you combine two of my interests--nature and writing--in a way that engages and encourages. Loved the piece.--Tom

Anonymous said...

Wow, what fun comments! I've enjoyed all your responses and am happy I could encourage other authors.

Ray Ellis said...

Good info, and I know it works.

jude urbanski said...

Thanks, Becky, I think I'll pick tip #6!

J.B. DiNizo said...

Hi, I loved your comparison of writing to bisons' life styles! Wonderful

Anonymous said...

Thanks, JB - I'm glad you enjoyed it! Becky