Thursday, November 18, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Save the Words

Writers often take up causes to save various things.  I myself am guilty of trying, on occasion, to save the world.  Recently, while taking a break from saving the world, I checked my email and found an email from an old friend.  Her message included a link, and she informed me that I should be sure to check it out. As she was a friend, and also quiet old, I figured I better check out the website right away.  After all, most old people still think a "status update" refers to so-and-so's surgery and if her panchymagogue worked or if so-and-so's latest gout flare-up kept him from his riviation trip. 

Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the site,, and realized that trying to save the world was no longer enough! I also needed to start trying to save, of all things, words.

To some of you this may seem trivial, but I consider myself a writer.  I use words. I need words.  If those words are going extinct, then what will I be left with? I can't draw.  I can't paint.  Heck, I can't even stop the stiricide on the side of my house!  I have no choice. I must become a saver of words.

If you to are a writer, or perhaps just a lover of our language, or maybe if you just want to be someone who saves important stuff like whales, walruses, and words, then adopt a few endangered words and use them. Keep them alive. Share them with the world. Save the words.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

AlaskaKids --- Webgames and Other fun...

I thought I would share with readers some great kids games from AlaskaKids that I helped design and wrote the content for from LitSite Alaska.

The main game is the Serum Run, based on the historic serum delivery via dogsled to Nome in the winter of 1925. I had hoped the game would become Alaska's version of that old classic we played as a kid, Oregon Trail. 

The photo safari allows kids to "hunt" for animals and snap photos of them and learn about some of our incredible critters in Alaska.  The Artifact Match is the classic concentration game, incorporating different artifacts from our rich heritage of Alaska Native culture in our state.  And the Geography Drop is a great way to fly about the state and learn some geography!

If you have kids or know kids, direct them to the site. What more can you ask for than free educational games?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Embracing Rejection

At this stage in my writing career I’m far too much of a greenhorn to be giving advice of any substance or merit. Unless we happen to be talking about one essential component of any writing career, in which case --- for that one particular slice of the writing pie --- I am a certified expert. If there were writing seminars or conventions with fancy buffets on this topic, I would be the keynote. If someone would read a book devoted to the nuances of this topic, I would be the author.

And since you, gentle reader, have already been duped into reading this far, the least I can do is provide for you the subject that has my rugged, yet handsome, photo beside it on the Wikipedia page devoted exclusively to it:


Rejection has been around since the earliest writings on cavewalls. (As evidenced by caveman writings followed by, “We regret to inform you…”) From those first cave scratchings, rejection became a standard part of the writing life; unless, of course, you were a celebrity who just always wanted to write a novel or a children’s story. It wasn’t until the mid to late 90’s that the art of rejection was truly crafted and finally perfected.

By me.

See, in order to perfect rejection, a writer must first begin with ridiculous aspirations. Believe that every word, every paragraph, every page of poetry or prose is perfect. Believe that every character, climax, and conclusion is complex and “crafted.” Finally, the writer doesn’t just hope for publication or production, but knows it will be so.

In this fashion, and only this fashion, will the writer be completely and wholly crushed upon opening that first rejection letter. Complete and utter devastation is necessary for the writer to take the next important step:


Then, once the writer begins writing in a new genre or form, perhaps several years after that initial rejection wears off, the sting of the second and subsequent rejections will create a nostalgic sensation of sorts. This is key. Feel that pain. Throw the letters in a giant pile and roll in them naked. Let their sharp little edges cut your skin. Bleed on them. Bleed. In a word:

Embrace the rejection.

Okay that was three words, but you get my point. Rejection is an essential part of the process. Writing is supposed to be painful. Why do you think all those great writers drank opium and put their heads in gas stoves? It was because they were great and didn’t know about rejection! So if you’re like me, you’re mediocre at best and you love the act of writing enough that even rejection is a validation of what you are trying to do. Write. Get rejected. And learn to love it.

Then write on.

Plus, who can afford opium or gas these days?

Bio: Don Rearden’s writing has never actually been rejected. He is a master storyteller who simply wants to understand the pain and anguish he imagines lesser writers must endure.

[Blog Editor’s note: This post was initially rejected eighteen times, but due to real Alaskan writers being busy with actual writing projects, we had to accept Don’s at the last minute. Our sincere apologies.]