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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

#IWSG: Blacklist


It's the first Wednesday and time for the Insecure Writers Support Group, whose mission is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! IWSG is the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh Thanks, Alex, for starting this group and keeping it going. And thanks to this month's awesome hosts:  Tamara Narayan, Tonja Drecker, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Lauren @ Pensuasion, Stephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders! 

Photo credit: Wikipedia
I just watched Trumbo, the bio pic of the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. He was one of the Hollywood 10 who were blacklisted in the movie industry. Why? They were accused of being communists by the House Un-American Activities Committee. This was during the Cold War when we saw communists behind every bush, and fear was rampant.

Trumbo kept insisting they (the Committee) had no right to question them about their political beliefs. That the Constitution guaranteed them certain rights. As happened then, and has happened recently, when America feels threatened (by terrorists or anyone) Constitutional rights are swept aside.

Fear makes us do things we wouldn’t normally do. Fear produces mass hysteria. Fear can also freeze us from doing anything.

What amazed me about Trumbo’s life was his determination to keep writing. Obviously, he (and his family) needed the money. Because of the blacklist, no movie studio would hire him. So he gave other people credit for his work, or wrote under pseudonyms. He couldn’t even accept the Oscars his writing won. He could have found another line of work. He could have given up on writing.

Why keep writing?

That’s a question not answered in the movie. I wish I could ask him what motivated him. What motivates any of us? What keeps us going? When things get tough, why don’t we give up?

Question of the month:

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

Mine was a romantic suspense that’s on a 5” floppy disk somewhere. The printed copy is collecting dust. I found out the hard way that rewriting is harder than starting from scratch, so it won’t be published.


Click here to find others on the Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop. Or go to IWSG on Facebook to see who’s blogging today.

77 comments:

  1. I rewrote a series...it was hard in the beginning but then I rather enjoyed it and now LOVE what I created. Maybe one day you'll pick up that romantic-suspense again?

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    1. Thanks, Chrys. I have so many ideas for new stories it's not likely I'll revisit that 1st one. I'm glad you enjoyed rewriting that series. Best wishes.

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    1. You would think we'd learn from others, wouldn't you?

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  3. I've gutted and rewritten a book, and I think you're right that it may have been easier to totally start over.

    And the fear you spoke about with the Cold War; it's crazy and disturbing to see shades of that fear in 2016 in our modern politics. We never seem to learn from our own history.

    Here's my August IWSG post on my first novel attempt (note I said ATTEMPT). YA Author Stephanie Scott IWSG August

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    1. I thought of the connection, too, Stephanie--even though I try to steer clear of politics.

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  4. Sometimes starting over is definitely easier than rewriting or editing. That question on why keep writing is loaded, and I bet everyone has their unique but possibly similar answer. For me, writing is like breathing. It is something so necessary for my survival that life without it is unbearable.

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    1. When I quit writing (no energy) I felt lost, as if something was missing. Thanks for sharing your insight.

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  5. I don't know. I think rewriting is a joy. Truthfully. But, we're all different.

    See, that's the kind of determination we all need, eh?

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    1. Even though we all approach writing differently, we have such a great connection, esp. through this group. Determination is the key!

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  6. All writers are different.
    Some love the first draft moments, others prefer the editing and rewriting process.
    I suppose it depends on the coherency or incoherency of the draft... and HOW much rewriting has to be done.
    Happy IWSG Day!

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    1. You are so right, Michelle. The one ms I rewrote was very complicated and it took forever. I just loved the story so much I had to finish it.

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  7. Everything I've written is published....now if I can only get something NEW written and published! Learning to write after 7 yrs of almost nothing (nothing brand new that is) is harder than revisions.

    JMHO

    Great post.

    Good luck and God's blessings
    PamT

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    1. Thanks so much, Pam. I see your point. That would be hard. Good luck.

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  8. That could be one of your greatest works, Lady, although you would have to rewrite it.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

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    1. LOL, Pat. I would have to rewrite it, wouldn't I?

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  9. Wow, what a fascinating story. I can't imagine how that must have been for him. I suppose he did it because, for one, he at least was making some money and, for two, he just couldn't NOT write. My first piece of writing was a romance I wrote as a child, and I still have it. My first 'real' attempt was a romance in 2000'ish. It is somewhere on my computer and I dread ever looking at it again. Like Diane, I have so many new ideas, I may never run out, but I honestly wouldn't mind taking a stab at that one some day. It was a Romantic Suspense, and I like the premise. Thanks for an interesting post!

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    1. Thanks, Alicia. How awful it must have been for Trumbo to watch someone else accepting his Oscar. Maybe we should swap our 1st romantic suspenses an try to rewrite them. Nah.

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  10. Oh, gosh, Diane, kids these days would never know what a 5 1/2" floppy disk was...but then they don't know what an 8 track is either. LOL! Great post!

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    1. I knew there was a fraction in that floppy. No, kids don't know what those are. Even our adult kids don't know what a party line is.

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  11. Interesting post, Diane. Nice to learn a bit about Trumbo. Maybe one day, you'll revisit that romance. I have rewrites coming up in September so I'll feed back as to how I found it. Wish me luck :)

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    1. I do wish you luck on your edits, Nicola. Thanks for stopping by.

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  12. Thanks for the post highlighting a bit of our history. I hope that this time around we will have learned our lesson about the paralysis of fear. In answer to your question, the first novel I wrote was eventually rewritten and released last year after copious rewrites. I revised so much, it was almost a new story. Guess I just couldn't keep those characters from seeing daylight.

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    1. There are characters like that. They badger us enough we have to finish their story. Good luck.

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  13. I guess Trumbo just loved writing that much. Or he was too stubborn to give up.

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    1. From what I gathered, he was stubborn.

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  14. We recently watched Trumbull too and wow I had no idea.
    I started writing because it was like therapy for me. I kind of think it was like that for him too.
    I also think it fired him up to be the best, knowing eventually they would find out.

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    1. I was too young to remember that awful time in our history, but remember hearing about those blacklisted screenwriters. What I didn't realize until the notes at the end of the film was that many "regular" folks went to jail, lost their jobs, couldn't get work, just like him. Scary.

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    1. LOL, Doreen. Those smart phones can be so dumb.

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  16. I like revision...but gutting and rewriting a past story idea that I don't have feelings for anymore--like the first book-length thing I wrote--I don't see it happening. But we learn from it, right?

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    1. Absolutely. I learned a lot from that 1st piece. Also developed a thick skin over its rejections.

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  17. I actually met and took a writing class from another of the Hollywood Ten. Many years ago, during a summer seminar at Hofstra University, I signed up for a screenwriting class taught by playwright, screenwriter, and author Lester Cole, the founder of the Screenwriter's Guild. He had just written his autobiography "Hollywood Red." Like Trumbo, he also had to write under a pseudonym after being blacklisted. With his writing career in ruins, Cole eventually went on to teach screenwriting.

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    1. Isn't it amazing that they were able to come back from that horrible time? It's a wonder they didn't completely give up. That class must have been fascinating.

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  18. Okay, now I've got to watch that movie (was already on my list becuz I love Bryan Cranston!). Very scare horror plot connecting McCarthyism to current clime . . .

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    1. Totally agree. I can't believe one person could do so much damage. Then I think about Hitler...

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  19. I wrote angst-ridden poetry when I was a teen. Luckily, as far as I know, it no longer exists.

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    1. LOL, Linda. Those teen years were awful.

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  20. I thought I commented on here, but not sure what happened. What I wanted to say was that learning about Trumbo was fascinating. Unfortunately, we see the same hate and fear in the present day. You'd hope we learn from our past, but we don't seem to :-(

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    1. Thanks for making the effort to comment, Ellen. And thanks for co-hosting. Yep, we still aren't learning from the past.

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  21. Age 7 (?) in the early '50s with teen-aged brothers I wrote: The record player's broken/ it's raining cats and dogs./ The coca-cola's gone,/ they drank it up like hogs./ This is my dilemma/ plus that of getting fat. At least I will not worry/ 'til I'm a teen-aged cat." Now you know why I no longer write "poetry."

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  22. Trumbo should be an example to us all. I've been writing since I was 8 and have most everything I've written since high school in a file cabinet. Most of it is best kept in the dark...

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    1. LOL, Bish. Best wishes on your upcoming novel.

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  23. Hi, Diane,

    Scary times then....Scary times now... but you are so right. Will we ever learn.

    As for writing, it's a passion and one has to keep doing their passion or die or become very disheartened. SO we keep PLUGGING along.

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    1. You're right on both counts, Michael.

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  24. Diane,
    I know we're not supposed to talk about politics but I found the first part of what you say very interesting and enlightening in terms of where things could be headed. Usually politics annoys me, but lately it does seem to touch upon all of us a human race apart from who we stand for. I recently read The Communist Manifest (gasp!) and was surprised but how relevant and how much it had to say about present-day, ongoing events. Perhaps, it is a good time to remember that words matter, a lot in fact, and why, especially when it is "just entertainment." How inspiring. Happy writing!
    Anne from annehiga.com (You already visited me and thanks!)

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    1. Thanks for your insights, Anne. I'm really glad the Olympics will give news reporters something else to talk about.

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  25. Now I have to see that movie. I have become obsessed with documentaries that describe the progression of political movements.

    Why don't we give up? The answer to that is different for everyone. Sometimes, I think, we just can't help ourselves. It's a part of who we are. Ballplayers always want to play ball. Pet lovers always have pets. Storytellers always want to tell stories. :-1

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    1. I was shocked at who worked so hard to keep Trumbo away from the industry. I don't usually read nonfiction but I'm going to read the book Jolana (above) mentioned. The movie makes me want to read more about this time in our history.

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  26. I totally agree, rewrites are hard! Sometimes they are worth it, though, if the original idea is. Good luck! :-)

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    1. You are right. The idea has to be worth it.

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  27. The strength and courage of people like Trumbo is inspiring. To stand up in the face of so much scrutiny, bile, anger, misinformation must have been frightening. Seeing the determination of those who faced much more difficulty than I have ever dealt with offers a good perspective.

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    1. Well said, Ryan. It encourages us, too.

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  28. I also went back to a "novel" I wrote many many many years ago. After a few pages I clicked it off. Too much work to fix it!! I have lots of ideas I'd rather pursue too. Enjoyed your post.

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    1. Thanks. My thought too on my 1st work. Besides, so much of mine is dated.

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  29. He was obviously doing what he loved and didn't want anyone to scare him away from that.

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    1. He was tough. I can't imagine what his family went through.

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  30. Fear is the greatest paralyzer.
    He didn't let it stop him though.

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    1. So true, Alex. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for organizing this group.

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  31. It makes me wonder what we're doing now that we will shake our heads about and say, "How could we?" Actually, I take that back. There are a few things I can think of right off the top of my head already. Thought provoking post.

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    1. Thanks, Elsie. I keep thinking about history repeating itself.

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  32. Sometimes our writing is destined never to see the light of day . . . but I think we learn from everything we write so it's never wasted really.

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  33. The American government is not guileless in how it treats its citizens. That was a bad time. I think Lucille Ball was even questioned during that time. I saw a play that dealt with this topic about the poet Langston Hughes.
    Writers are feared because there is power in words and how we use them. We're smart and observant, and some people like Langston Hughes and Trumbo refused to be silenced.
    Mary at Play off the Page

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    1. How right you are, Mary. Words do have power.

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  34. My first little story was written before they even had computer disks. Just a piece a paper thrown away a long time ago.

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  35. Sounds like an interesting man. I'll have to check out the biopic. I know that I keep writing because it's my sanity saver. When I don't write, I'm a mess. Maybe that was true for him, too.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

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    1. While I'm not a mess when I don't write, I feel as if something is missing.

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  36. That's an amazing story. It's hard to imagine winning Oscars but seeing other people take the glory. Wow.

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  37. Because I set about things backwards, I've had to rewrite almost everything I've done thus far. I wrote twelve books, THEN decided to learn about writing. And you're right. It IS harder to rewrite sometimes than start from scratch. I have learned a lot through my rewrites though, and they've helped me to create my editing checklist that I use for each MS. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Diane!

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    1. I've rewritten a couple of older stories and you're right. We can learn a lot from rewrites. I'd still rather start fresh. LOL

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  38. There have been many dark moments when I've considered giving up. Cried, kvetched, whined, ranted, moped...and then picked myself up and tried again.

    It could be insanity, or it could be I was meant to be a writer, and if I gave up I'd have no idea what to do with myself.

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  39. I know that feeling! I guess we just keep plugging away, enjoying the journey, and hoping our efforts to entertain or educate pay off.

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  40. It’s so sad the things people are willing to do to one another or overlook because of fear. And that hasn’t changed at all. It’s been done throughout history and still going on today. And for things you can’t even control like being born a woman, being gay, having a darker complexion. Still even though he was blacklisted he never let the situation stop him from pursuing his passion. A livelihood to provide for his family. Trumbo indeed is very admirable.

    As for rewriting I agree with you. The rewriting is the hardest part because a completely perfect and edited book just doesn’t drop out of thin air. It takes the initial writing and lots, lots, lots of rewriting. Or starting over. Neither aren’t always pleasant for most writers but giving up writing.

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