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Go big or go small: Editor's Notes #313
May 13, 2020

Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Mindes innocent and quiet take
That for an Hermitage

—Richard Lovelace

In this issue:

1. Go big or go small
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. My Covid-19 offer to you

1.Go big or go small
Locked down. Some of us still are, and many of us will be again. Writers can use such times just as those who were more forcibly locked down than we are: prisoners or those in concentration camps. Some did the writing while locked down; others thought while constrained and wrote afterward. Some wrote books of philosophy, politics, or religion; others wrote fiction.

Here is a short list of books written or concieved while confined:
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Emil Frankl
  • The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha  by Cervantes
  • The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  • Le Morte d’Arthur Sir Thomas Malory

Some of these writers were worked to the point of exhaustion; others had nothing to do but to sit and think. What all of them did was shift their focus to their minds. Then they explored what their minds presented to them.

As a writer, you can focus on the big picture or the details, in other words, on the big or the small.

Big issues might be society as a whole, world hunger, the meaning of life, goodness, evil, beauty, despair.

Focusing on the small relies on close observation and attention to detail. These can be sensory or how people interact or how you personally react.

The point is that the writer uses focus to bring things into sharp relief.

Whatever is facing you right now, you have an opportunity to focus your attention whether on big issues or small. They all matter, and they all have potential to move through you into print.

2.Tickled my funny bone
Have a great day, unless you have other plans.

3. Interesting Web site
Wahida Clark wrote and published from jail, got out, and created a publishing company. This is her Web site.

4. Writing prompt
Go ahead: go big or go small.

If you choose to go big, think of a big topic, something with a wide vista. Instead of writing all about it, jot down, in point form or as a web, all the thoughts you can about it in five minutes. Five minutes is going to feel like a week, but don’t give up the first time your well is dry. Just reread what you already have, close your eyes, sit back, and wait for something more. There will be something more. At the end of five minutes, you will have deepened your thinking on a big topic. Do what you will with the result.

If you choose to go small, choose something you can look at closely. For one minute, examine it from every angle you can. Sniff it, touch it, listen to it, and if it doesn’t make a sound, see if you can produce a sound with it. At the end, write about your object using details you noticed.

5. My Covid-19 offer to you
I write from British Columbia in Canada where we were never completely locked down and where we have diminishing numbers of new infections and hospitalizations because we have taken social distancing seriously. I care for my ninety-year-old mother, so no matter what anyone else is doing, I’m locked down. No matter what your personal circumstances, the world is locked down and will be to some extent for some time to come. I encourage you to use this time to rise above while going through. I’ll do what I can to help.

What follows is a copy and paste from issue number 309. It’s still in force for you and anyone you choose to tell about it.

Along with the health threat hanging over the world, we are facing a huge financial hit. I’ve decided one thing I can do is to make quality editing less expensive during this trying time.

For subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends, I am suspending the fee for the sample edit to anyone using the code EN19 until I cancel this offer. I intend to keep this offer open as long as the world is in crisis with Covid-19 and its aftermath, so watch this space. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer. You can submit your writing sample at Be sure to click the link below the heading "Promotion Code" to get to the special form for a free sample edit. If you find yourself at a form before clicking the special link, scroll slowly back up the page, and you should see the link for the code (EN19).

But it gets better…

When I return an edited writing sample, I include quotes for the full range of my editing services. Until further notice, I will give a true quote, but I will not charge writers the full amount. I am discounting my services 50% for subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer. Yes, I repeated that bit because I want to reassure you that this is not going to disappear in a puff of smoke.

Feel free to pass this offer along to any writing friends you think may be interested. As long as anyone uses the code, I’ll honour the offer.

This is what I can offer you in this time of crisis. I hope it encourages you as you face possible illness and financial uncertainty.

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