Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Quote- Stephen King on hesitation December 22, 2013

Filed under: Quotations,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:33 am
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Quotes from Stephen King 11-22-63

 The scholars’ greatest weakness: calling hesitation research ( 282)

This is true for writers, too.  I have notes from a workshop by C. C. Humphreys about this.  The first book, you want to get everything researched, and you read and read, study and copy notes.  He says, quit researching, and get writing.  Get the first draft, then go back and focus your research to fix and fill.  If you don’t have a purpose to you research, it can go on forever.  If you are researching for something specific, you find and move on.


quote- Stephen King December 21, 2013

Filed under: Quotations,Teaching,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:25 am
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Quote from Stephen King is his novel 11-22-63

 In my life as a teacher, I used to hammer away at the idea of simplicity.  In both fiction and nonfiction, there’s only one question and one answer.  What happened? the reader asks.  This is what happened, and writer responds.  This…and this…and this, too.  Keep it simple.  It’s the only sure way home.  (p. 250)

Ah.  So true.  Brevity is an art.


quote- Stephen King on books December 17, 2013

Filed under: Quotations,Reading,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:27 pm
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“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen KingOn Writing


Tools for magic June 25, 2013

Filed under: Quotations,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:35 am
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From Stephen King On Writing:

The most basic skills can create things far beyond our expectations.  We are talking …about words and style…but…you’d do well to remember that we are also talking about magic.  (p. 137)


Little scratches,

symbols made to represent sounds,

sounds to represent words,

words to represent ideas. 

It’s magical even

before you add in the narrative. 

Then things become downright


With little scratches

we create worlds,

become divine,

and though it takes

more than six days,

when we are done,

we are satisfied that

it is good.


Underlying Grammar January 15, 2013

Grammar is not just a pain in the ass; it’s the pole you grab to get your thoughts up on their feet and walking.”

Stephen King On Writing p. 121

I kind of like grammar.  I like the structure of it, and I like analyzing it.  It’s even interesting when I discover I’ve been doing something incorrectly for years.  True, I have an English degree, and I teach English (and frequently I’m the grammar expert on staff), but occasionally there is still a surprise.

Last week, Diana Gabaldon posted a selection of her latest work in progress (My Own Heart’s Blood, book 8 in the Outlander series) which included the sentence, “I saw the seriousness that underlay the laughter…”  I had to study that for a while.

Underlay- a noun- is the padding that goes beneath carpet.  The  form of the word we most frequently use is the adjective  ‘underlying.’  So, whence cometh  ‘that underlay?’  At first glance, I thought it should be ‘that underlaid the laughter,’ but Diana has corrected my grammar before, so I pondered.

Following the lay, laid, laid vs lie, lay, lain model, I realised the verb is to underlie, and therefore the simple past tense must be “Yesterday he underlay the principle with a moral lesson,” and that “Previously he had underlain the principle with moral lesson, until he didn’t any more.”  It still doesn’t sound right, but frequently correct grammar doesn’t.

Good thing someone is keeping an eye on us, and providing an excellent grammatical role model.

More importantly, thank heavens for brilliant editors!

How about you?  Have you had any grammatical epiphanies lately?


art is life support January 10, 2013

Filed under: Pondering,Quotations,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:54 pm
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Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room.  Life isn’t a support-system for art.  It’s the other way around.

Stephen King in On Writing

There is an inter-connectiveness between art and the artist.  Our lives are fuel for art, a touching point, a grounding place, a beginning, but not a support system.  It’s not the scaffold of bones that holds the art in place, because art should not be tethered.  Art flies.

Art becomes the air that intoxicates and enlivens the life. 

Art supports life.


NaNo life November 16, 2012

Filed under: Commentary,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:26 pm
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We had a three day week, as BC had the Remembrance Day statutory holiday on Monday, and our school district had a closure on Tuesday.  That was great because I was able to get caught up on my NaNoWriMo words.  Yesterday we had Parent Teacher Interviews at school, and so I was away, working or with colleagues for thirteen and a half hours.  That’s a long day! 

I did manage to get MOST of my NaNo writing done, but I was 55 words short of par at the end the day.  It is a mark of how tired I was that I was not able to find 55 words before I headed to bed! 

The blog suffered a day or two of neglect as a result, and this is not going to be very brilliant.  However, with all the dog-ears on my copy of Stephen King’s On Writing, there is always a quote to share.  Here’s one for today, the day after report cards were issued at my school:

At the time we’re stuck in it, like hostages locked in a Turkish bath, high school seems the most serious business in the world to just about all of us.  It’s not until the second or third class reunion that we start realizing how absurd the whole thing was.

Stephen King.  On Writing. p. 54


NaNo Word count

Nov 15:   1554  (Total 24,945)

Nov 16:


Harry Potter vs. Twilight July 31, 2011

Filed under: Commentary,Reading — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:22 am
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This quote is making the rounds of Facebook statuses these days:

‎”Harry Potter is about doing what’s right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”- Stephen King

With all due respect, Mr. King.  I disagree.  That is a weak, simplistic statement simply designed to create controversy.  It is also completely erroneous.

Twilight is about the power of love, just like Harry Potter is.

In Harry Potter, you see this power in Snape’s obsessive love for Lily.  That love was a fundamental component that weaves through the entire series.  In Twilight, the mutual obsession of Edward and Bella drives the plot.  In both series, the obsession leads to protection.  Edward fights to protect Bella.  Snape’s obsession with Lily protects Harry, though secretively.

The  theme of love as protection is another theme the two series have in common.  Lily’s sacrificial love for Harry provides the blood protection that allows him to survive amid constant threat.   The same concept applied when he sacrificed himself for those fighting at Hogwarts.  Edward fights to protect Bella.  Jacob fights to protect Bella.  Both would have willingly died for her.  Because of love, Bella trains to be able to protect everyone.  Because of love she endures pain to develop her gift and fight to protect the Cullens and the Quileute wolves.

Harry Potter is about doing what’s right in the face of adversity, sure.  Being willing to sacrifice yourself for the good of the world is a pretty amazing thing.  However, Twilight shares this theme.  In  New Moon, Edward chooses to sacrifice his happiness for what he considers a better life for Bella.   His choice nearly destroys them both, because their love is too powerful to allow them to be separate.   Adversity takes many forms.

Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend?  No way.  It’s about how having the right life mate fills your world with pain and joy in equal measure.  It’s about how the challenges of a relationship (like wanting to eat your true love, for example) need to be worked on, but that those challenges can be overcome.  It’s about how overcoming those challenges is worthwhile.  It’s about how learning to be together can make life more complete.

Harry Potter knew that, too.  When he got through with the task of destroying Voldemort, he married Ginny.  He knew love was important to have in his life.  That was the whole point of defeating Voldemort, after all.

Peace and love.  They both take effort.  Twilight and Harry Potter are different, but they come to the same conclusions.


PS. They are the same conclusions that Grace discovers in Grace Awakening


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