One Door Closes….

There comes a point when you have to realize that… your story is not yet ready for the world. It that will take a long time to reconcile with yourself. And by yourself I mean… myself. I have been pondering this for weeks and am finally ready to face it head on. Hypothetically. Okay, I’m still having trouble facing it but I’m hoping that writing about it will help.

For a couple of years I have been placing the framework for my book. I’ve made a map, planned the races of my world, figured out the plot… basically taken a barely remembered, half-notion that I woke up with after dreaming one morning and smoothed and plumped it up into something real, with tangible ideas.

And now, I’m trying to force myself to recognize that this book may have to wait a while.

I’m starting to lose interest in it, to look at this particular story as a chore. Instead of working on it I’m thinking up plots for new books and my fingers itch to write these instead of my old one. I spend my driving hours imagining new worlds but… not the one I’ve already created.

Even so, I don’t want to put it aside yet. I love my book. In my mind, the world is real and the idea of placing it aside for a half-baked notion is hard. I’ve put so much effort into this book. This grand adventure that I hope will be on the scale of Lord of the Rings or David Eddings in its depth and scope, in its culture nuances and land descriptions, begs to be written and yet…

I’ve only recently accepted the thought of placing my work aside and it came from one particular realization: I have not actually worked on writing the book for at least half of a year. I’ve gotten bogged down in the details and I’m reaching the point that I don’t really want to write it. At least, not yet.

Instead, I am putting it aside. One day, I will pick it up again and make it real, but I don’t think that I’m mature enough as a writer to bring it forth. I need more experience as a person, a student, and a writer before my world can become reality.

So, this is what I leave you with today. Don’t be afraid to move on. The story is not dead because you do so. It still lives on inside you and one day you can always pick it back up again. I think that being able to recognize that you are not yet ready for a task is a sign that you realize how important your story is.

But at the same time, do not continually do this. Do not be bogged down in fear of failing the perfection your mind has created. Eventually, you must take the plunge and replicate what you imagine. Otherwise, all of your work will be for naught and your stories will never come to fruition. You can always go back and change what you have written if it is unsatisfactory, but an unwritten work will never live in the mind of anyone else besides you, and that seems like a shame.

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Introversion’s Writing Enhancement

Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while telling it. – John Green

So, I have a question for you: do you agree? If you are a writer, is it easier to write if you distance yourself from society? Maybe distance isn’t the right word. Perhaps a better word choice would be to say that you don’t know how to work within society so you stand at the outskirts and observe.

I think that John Green has a good point here. I do consider myself an introvert but not in a bad way. It allows me to observe society as it flows around me and use that observation to enhance my writing. The best way to understand something is to watch it and society has so many nuances that, even with careful observation, there are still things that will be missed.

I’m a college student who identifies more with the adults, whether it is family members, professors, or fellow coworkers. I often look at people in my generation and find myself baffled. I’d rather sit and have a good conversation one-on-one with someone than text or talk on the phone, and I find it more fun to have a movie night or a game night than to go out partying. So, in order for me to understand, I often just sit back and watch. I listen in on what people say and how it is interpreted.

What I find most useful, though, is body language. I find that the best way to communicate is face to face because so much of the conversation is lost without body language. The shifting of a person’s weight, the slight fidget of a hand, or a raised eyebrow better reveals a person’s true thought than any words can.

So keep this in mind when writing. As important as dialogue is, sometimes body language is even more so. People often have silent conversations with each other with just a shared look or broadcast how uncomfortable they are by shifting their weight back so they are slightly farther away from others. Even if you aren’t totally aware of it happening around you, you still respond to other people’s unspoken cues, and so should your characters.

Dreamy Inspiration

Sometimes, after waking from a particularly vivid dream, I feel like something is missing. I’ll find myself reaching for objects that aren’t there, trying to accomplish tasks that are beyond my ability, and searching for thought processes that I’m sure I was thinking just a moment ago, though I don’t know what they are. I just feel my mind reaching for something and whenever it isn’t able to grasp it, I find myself feeling confused and sad, like I’ve lost something important.

I have come to suspect that my mind is looking for creation, the power of changing the world around me to create something more that is only possible to attain in a dream. When nothing changes, that is when I realize what I am doing. The realization doesn’t end the feeling, though. Instead, it intensifies as I actively search for it along with my subconscious.

The lure of writing grabs me best at such times. Throughout the day, all I will want to do is write as I go to classes or work and run errands. I spend the day as though I am still dreaming and the world around me becomes secondary. It is times like this that I understand how some people could become lost in their dreams. When dreams become so similar to, or even take precedence over, reality, it is hard to break free. So I just take advantage of my extreme introversion at such times and use my wildest imaginings as inspiration.

Take A Break

I am an easily stressed person. Even if my life is going considerably easily, I still find ways to become stressed. I’ll worry about things coming up in a couple of months or how tired my parents are starting to look. When I have a reason to be stressed, it consumes my thoughts and I have trouble sitting still even if there isn’t anything I can do about right at that very second.

So, sometimes, I just have to find a way to escape.

Now, normally my escape is books but when I’m in college, reading for fun is not an option. It instantly consumes me and the option of actually doing my homework becomes more of a suggestion. So, I’ve turned to coloring. For Christmas, I asked for some coloring books and now, whenever the stress becomes too much, I turn on some instrumental music and color.

There isn’t much that can make my mind go blank, but coloring manages splendidly. It takes the knot of frustration, fear, and… just general angst and smooths it out gently, as I’m rocking slowly in a boat out on a lake with the sun shining down and warming my skin and a light breeze wafting past my cheek. It gives me the inner peace that escapes me most days.

So today that is what I want you to do. No, not color (unless you are inclined to do so, in which case I heartily support you). Today, I want you to stop and take some time for yourself. Do whatever it takes for your inner peace to smooth over your soul. We all need a break sometimes.

Random Scene 3

For one of my classes, we were asked to describe ourselves as a hotel. Simple enough task, but I found it… intriguing. In the example we were given, the author eventually tied the hotel back to himself. It has been fun to write and an interesting exercise that I encourage you to do as well. It will challenge you as a writer and you have to look at yourself as well. Are you a ritzy, New York hotel, a small Super 8, or, in my case, a bed and breakfast?

On the back roads, surrounded by forest and backed by a pond, is a three-story bed and breakfast. The outside is a drab brown, with disjointed sides as if each new owner decided to add another level. The uninformed pass by with barely a glance, overlooking its existence at first. Others seek it out for the escape and relaxation it provides.

Inside, the bed and breakfast holds unexpected surprises. It is the kind of hotel that works around a theme, in this case books. Books line all of the walls, even the spiral staircase, and only the bedroom walls are bare. Every month, the books change so that visitors can never find the same book twice. Ladders roll around the shelves, even up and down the stairs, allowing patrons the chance to browse at their leisure. Unbeknownst to the proprietors, the ladders are sometimes put to use as a fast way down the stairs, so a long walk turns into a quick ride. Children have often been heard screaming with joy as they rush downwards and then scramble up to the top to start again.

The bedrooms are quaint, with functional furniture, striped red and orange bedcovers, and walls painted an earthy brown or green. Boring upon first glance. But the pictures in each room make even the most traveled art enthusiast stop and stare. They are all landscapes, some with castles, others mountains, and even one or two of the sea. But it isn’t the subject matter that makes people stop. It is the color and the detail. The white crest of the wave as it slams against a ship and the clear drop of rain that tantalizingly hangs upon a leaf are so clearly depicted that many guests find themselves reaching out to see if it is real.

The proprietors are an older couple, congenial and happy for visitors. They make the best lasagna in town; just ask anybody. The man is always quick to regale others in tales of how he fought in the war while the woman snaps at him to stop his tomfoolery, he never served in a war, and you look tired, would you like some fresh chocolate chip cookies, dear?

I happily take one as a tromp slowly up the spiral staircase to the very top where there is a room that most guests don’t know about, mainly due to their unwillingness to climb three sets of stairs. The ceiling is made entirely of windows and I often come here to just lie and stare at the sky. But it is nighttime now and my eyes fix upon the Big Dipper as I slowly fall asleep to the chorus of croaking frogs, knowing that in the morning I will wake up to the chirrups of songbirds and the sun warming my face.

The Origins of Holidays

First, I wish to apologize for skipping time between postings. I hope that, in the holiday spirit, you can forgive me and understand that the holidays are a busy time. If you can’t understand that, then I hope you can realize the power of procrastination on a college student visiting home.

Now, as we have passed Christmas and New Years I thought it would be an apt time to discuss holidays. If you are creating a fantasy world, one where every facet has been created and analyzed, you need to look beyond what is important towards your story. Little details, such as clothing, superstitions, farming equipment, or the style of architecture, can help your reader place themselves within your world. Look at it this way: if you are watching an animated movie, or playing a video game, don’t you find yourself analyzing it? Would they have worn those types of clothing? Why is that person making a weird hand gesture? Similarly, your readers will analyze what you create and the details you provide can help them to relax and enjoy.

One such detail that I think is sometimes forgotten is holidays. Even though in daily life we look forward to searching for Easter eggs, giving Christmas presents, eating Thanksgiving turkey and Valentine chocolate, and dressing up as monsters for Halloween, writers tend to consider it a trivial fact when writing.The possibilities that holidays project are easily overlooked.

For instance, during the Revolutionary War, Christmas rolled around and the British decided to take the time to party, since it was a holiday and they figured that the Americans would be taking time off as well. In the midst of the celebrations, the Americans attacked their camp full of drunken soldiers and decimated them. Now, think of what a great twist this would add to your story if you put it in. After all, holidays are well established as times of merriment and relaxation so if you story includes a war you can use this to your advantage.

Even if your story is not a gory fest of violence and war, holidays are still advantageous. Holidays represent traditions and traditions represent centuries-old civilizations and societies and the traditions that have been created over time. They make your world old. If you want to establish that the world you have created is old, put in traditions. Prejudice against a certain type of worker, alien, or magic. Hatred for another country that is so old no one can trace its origins. A holiday celebrating the triumph of a battle or war or the passing of the seasons.

Think about where most holidays originate. Christmas may be the celebration of Christ’s birth, but there is more to its history. The date for Christmas was used as a tool for the conversion of pagans and barbarians by coinciding with one of their holidays. Halloween used to be a time of fear, when all that was wicked joined the world of the living, thus being called All Hallows Eve. Groundhog day celebrates the coming of spring, even as centuries ago the equinox was celebrated.

A lot of holidays are associated with the change of seasons and religion. It’s easy to forget how much religion affects our daily life, even if we ourselves are not religious. So, when creating your holidays it is important to keep this in mind. No holiday is started without a reason and there is always a purpose. A chance to relax after crops are harvested, a happy time full of alcohol and food as the new year rolls in, and a time to drink beer and kiss the Irish are just a few examples. Holidays are a time to look forward to and as you send your protagonist  on his or her quest, time will pass and, even if you don’t use the holiday for anything else, you can have him or her long for the past.