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'I'm not a Demon', by Sophia Mokhtari, 13


A note from William Rubel

Last week I mentioned that we want you to document your Halloween. And just look at the fabulous painting Sophia Mokhtari, 13, has sent us! We couldn't resist using it in this week's Newsletter. Although it has a very Halloween-y feel, Sophia emphasises that her painting "is not a demon. It's of a person that cannot express themselves vocally. It's all in the eyes!!" It certainly is...

Next week we will post a wider selection of your Halloween art submissions on the website. Emma Wood, our Editor, will also consider them for the magazine. Costumes, magnificent pumpkins, baskets of candy, houses that are decked out in Halloween scariness are all fit subjects. And, like Sophia, you may think of something else. Upload your Halloween submissions in the art/photography section of our submissions page.

Tips for writers: get it finished!

As longtime readers of this newsletter know, I am a writer in my life outside of Stone Soup. I write articles for magazines, I have written two books, and I write book chapters for edited anthologies. I have been in London for two weeks and have another to go. I am here staying with my partner. And, except for a little Stone Soup work, all I am doing is writing. The River Thames is less than half a block away and the lights of the city are right outside the apartment window. There are lots and lots of things do and see, but so far I have been leaving the sights to others and I've writing about eight hours every day.

I am in the finishing stages of a book I started in 2002. That is a long time to be working on a single project. I am not sure what the analogy is—let’s say it’s like a very very long race. What makes writing different from a race is that you know you finished the race when you cross the finish line. But, when is a story or a poem or a book “finished?” There is no line to cross. Creative projects are finished when we set the pencil down or stop typing and say, well, it’s done.

There is a saying: “Perfection is the enemy of the good.” Which is to say, if you strive for a perfection that cannot be attained you’ll never get done. We are always learning and growing as artists and there gets to be a point when you have to declare what you are working on finished and then move on to the next piece.

This is probably the struggle that I am in now. I need to stop writing new material to focus on the hundreds of pages of writing that I have already done that needs shaping.

For those of you who are working on longer works or who have one or more stories in various states of completion there are times when you have to take a hard look at what you have, and then make tough judgments. You may decide that some pieces are not worth pursuing because you are no longer interested in them. That is fine. But, if you have something that is almost done, or could be almost done, set aside some time and get to work.

I think every author has his or her own rituals. As a rule, authors who are successful (meaning they get work finished), often have a routine they follow. Like, they write at the same time every day or every few days for a certain amount of time, or until they’ve written a certain number of words. For those of you who are serious about your writing, I encourage you to find way to fit it into your life, no matter how busy it is. If you are an early riser, then getting up Saturday morning before your family, fixing yourself some breakfast, and writing for an hour might be a pattern you could start now that would serve you well for your entire life.

Which brings me back to Stone Soup. Whenever you have a story or poem you think is finished, and that Emma might be interested in, please upload it to our submissions page!

Join the Stone Soup Blogger Community

We've been thrilled to read the comments on our first bloggers' posts! If you want to get more involved with Stone Soup than an occasional story or poem then please consider blogging for us, too. We are keeping open our call for more bloggers, and we are open to any subject you might be interested in.

Get inspired by our first group of blogs, accessible via the links below. Have a read, and leave your comments on our website!

Leo Smith: Sports

Sarah Cymrot: Books

Lukas Cooke: Nature

Jessica Crocker: Sewing

Until Next WeekWilliam

From Stone Soup
September/October 2000

The Healer’s Apprentice

By Laurel Lathrop, 13

Illustrated by Chavaya Beebee-Galvão, 13

Murmurs and whispers buzzed through the darkened hall. No one had any idea why the elders had called a meet, but that did not hinder them from thinking up reasons. Some believed that it was merely a routine meeting to discuss the upcoming harvest celebration, though they could not explain why it was conducted in such secrecy. Others stoutly maintained that the worst had happened; someone outside the Arborus clan had learned the sacred healing-knowledge and they were called to meeting to discuss how to react to the threat.

A group of girls near the front of the hall were particularly talkative, whispering and giggling loudly among themselves. One of the girls participated little in the conversation, but listened and smiled at the exuberance of her friends. She was one of the few not targeted in the girls’ good-natured teasing; for a reason no one could explain, Keris was off limits. Though she was well-liked to an extent, the girls seemed to understand that she was somewhat different; Keris had always been on the edges of the girls’ activities. But she assumed a wistful expression when no one was looking, for Keris was desperately uncomfortable with her position on the outskirts, though she knew she didn’t belong in the inner group.

An elder stepped onto the speaking platform at the front, and even the girls’ lively chatter died down as everyone hushed in expectation. It was Elder Larch, the spokeswoman for the elders and in charge of mediating disputes among the clan... /more

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