Advice 2

So, I had to give up on NanoWrimo. School decided that this semester wasn’t quite hard enough, so it procured three research papers and a creative writing portfolio for me to put together and then lumped on top of the pile of misfortune two final cumulative exams on the same day.

Great.

So, I have a partly finished novel that I am forced to put aside until the semester stops dogging my heels. In the mean time, I am also taking a larger hiatus from here. Don’t worry, it is only three weeks. I will be back before you know it. I do, however, want to offer this to you until then.

So, my creative writing professor here at college is Dr. Robert Vivian, a man who walks around the world in perpetual wonder. He is amazing and offers some of the best advice when it comes to writing that I have ever received. This is my third semester in a row with him and I regret nothing except that I have taken all of his creative writing classes and can no longer continue (though, I am currently trying to devise a way to change that… we shall see). His curiosity about the world can never be fulfilled and he is continually astonished by the beauty he is surrounded by.

Seriously. You may think I am exaggerating, but I am not in the slightest. He refuses to hold his creative writing in a normal classroom because he feels his mind is too confined and moves them permanently to a corner in the library where we are surrounded by books and that unique smell they give off or the basement of the chapel where occasionally piano music drifts through the floorboards as we work. He offers assignments where he simply gives us a list of characteristics and asks us to write a story where they are all included, has us create a fictional town and then insists we propagate characters to fit inside, takes us outside to sit in the sunlight on the lawn and write about a ray of light on some object, or sends us on a scavenger hunt for the last half of the class period to find the oldest book in the library and then write about it (by the way… I highly suggest you do these prompts. They are quite engaging.).

So, I have decided to share a bit of his wisdom with you. He is a firm believer that writing comes from a place of other, a dream space that sends us inspiration to the point where we are simply a conduit of words and phrases to place upon the page… sound familiar? Yeah… kind of like my theory about my Muse. That probably explains why I like him so much. The following link is a paper he wrote about the writing process and I do hope you will take the time to read it. He wrote it several years ago, but it is still relevant to what he teaches and the writing process in general. He explains his theory in more detail within and I think it will help those of you who are actually managing to finish NanoWrimo or simply write and are looking for some new inspiration/writing advice.

http://www.sosyalarastirmalar.com/cilt1/sayi3/sayi3_pdf/vivian_robert.pdf

Godspeed!

Advice

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/the-ultimate-guide-to-writing-better-than-you-normally-do

This is a link to some good writing advice. I know, I’m due for you to read some of my reading, but the pieces I’ve been working on aren’t quite ready for public viewing. They’ll be done soon, but in the interim I thought I would give you something to check out.

I think that, of all the advice given in this, the most important is that writing is a baring of your soul. Every character, every impossibility, every suggestion was deliberately placed upon the page and contains a piece of you inside. The characters, I feel, are even more like this. Whenever I create a character, I place a piece of myself inside of them to ground myself in their reality. They are real the moment I place them upon the page because they are me in some form. It’s important to remember this not only when writing but also when reading. Delicacy is always important when critiquing a work, as it is special to the writer.

So… yup. That is my thought for the day. If all goes well I will actually have one of my pieces finished soon to let you look at, but at the rate they are going the page length is going to be ridiculous. I might just have to think of something else to post.

Getting to the Meat of Me

It’s a ball of quills

quivering in constant motion

that I hold tightly in my hands,

trying to contain it,

and the more I squeeze

the deeper each quill digs,

parting my flesh to get to the meat of me

and its’ poison seeps,

slowly at first and then

quicker, faster, rapidly

growing closer, nearer,

following the vines of my veins

until it reaches my heart.

The sound beating grows erratic,

spasmodic,

losing natural rhythm until my cells

are replaced with apprehensions

and each desperate beat of my heart

ticks a clock’s time,

and I squeeze tighter in my pain,

enhancing the quill’s power

in the act of suppressing.

I would really like an opinion on this. I wrote it in the middle of pre-exam stress, but I feel like it can relate to more than that. I’m also having trouble with the title, so any input on that would also be greatly appreciated. What I have right now is spur of the moment… I’m not really sure what title really fits.

Brain Dead Muse

If you will recall, I once wrote a post about how my Muse sometimes goes into a coma and no amount of poking or prodding will awaken her twitching form?

That is how it has gone for me for the last two weeks, and she is still passed out cold even as I write this.

So, I apologize for the wait to those of you who loyally follow me and thank you for your kindness. Those of you who are new… sorry for wasting your time when you want to read a blog post from someone you randomly found. Hello, nice to meet you, and here is the meat of the matter.

And the fact of that matter is… I don’t know what to talk about. After all, didn’t you just read that my muse is passed out cold, slowly dying without any hope of resuscitation? But you still kept reading, expecting some wonderful post about life, writing, whatever. Silly reader, tricks are for kids… sorry, off topic.

Anyway, a brain dead muse is a common thing we all deal with, but lately my prescribed methods are not working. Caffeine is a bust, inspiration is dead, and I’m basically only writing this because I’m avoiding a 5-page paper due tomorrow that I can’t figure out how to write either.

Yup. There you go. A summation of my current writing failure and inability to focus. I truly cannot wait for my muse to wake up.

I’ve even been mulling over a new book idea the last week but whenever I sit down to write down ideas I draw a blank. It’s like the bucket from which I draw water from my well of inspiration has a hole in the bottom and no matter how fast I work or how hard I try, by the time I draw it up all of the water is gone.

This does happen sometimes, of course. Every writer deals with it, the famed ‘Writer’s Block,’ the nemesis of every author, writer, blogger, and student. The Joker to our Batman, kryptonite to our Superman, etc., etc. That which can never be entirely beaten, only tolerated and worked around.

Right now, I just want to get a gun and kill it, though. I’m tired of the games and the constant match ups and quarreling… I just want to end it. I want to sit down and have the words flow naturally to my mind, without having to take tweezers and pull it like a splinter from my mind.

Sorry, I’ll stop my whining and go and write my paper now. I just felt bad since I haven’t written to you for a while. I promise that the next post will be more than me griping about how I can’t write right now. Until next week, then, have a wonderful day and godspeed in all of your endeavors.

Stories From Our Pasts

Imagine a six-foot tall, broad shouldered imposing man riding a unicycle down a city block, holding a baby underneath his arm and laughing while his short, five foot four dumpy Italian wife runs after him screaming.

It’s one of my parent’s favorite stories, how he carried me down half the block while my mother panicked and shouted, “Give me back that baby!” My father’s face always transforms with the telling, his cheeks growing rosy and his eyes sparkling at the recalled mischief while my mother huffs in remembered frustration. It goes hand in hand with the story of my father taking me to the neighbor’s house to get my diaper changed in fear of the poop, or of him throwing up off the front porch after I threw up in my crib and, upon smelling the vomit when reentering the house, continuing to the back porch to throw up there. These stories inevitably bring another to all of our minds, one that I can actually remember and still makes me laugh upon thinking back upon it.

When I was growing up, we lived in a small suburb and my aunt and uncle were six blocks down the street. It was common for a family bike ride to culminate there. We spent enough time visiting that I still feel comfortable walking in without asking and could probably find anything you were looking for in the house.

In this case, though, the trip to visit was via unicycle and it was just my father and me.

I was probably four or five years old, still small enough to ride on my father’s shoulders. He placed me up there, warned me not to pull his hair, and popped up onto the unicycle. After carefully balancing back and forth by the porch so he could grab a beer for each hand, since he didn’t want to impose when we arrived, we cycled off down the street.

Now, unicycles are trickier than bicycles. In order to get off, you have to fall forward and reach back to catch the unicycle with one hand, and the problem with this particular incident is that my father’s hands were full.

I remember that we were at a point in the sidewalk where I had to duck a little to avoid some low-lying, bright green branches and the movement must have triggered something in my body, because I farted.

Naturally, I did what any child would do upon thinking about farting while sitting on her father’s shoulders: I snickered. And as I did, I started to fart more, which then induced me to greater hilarity and more farts. With each laugh, I rocked back and forth and yanked on my father’s head, causing him to turn this way and that as he tried to balance.

My father started off asking me what was so funny, but soon he started to laugh with me, so that he was teetering back and forth on the unicycle with two beers in his hands while I clutched at his head and he couldn’t get off because he couldn’t catch the unicycle.

When he asks me what was so funny today, I just shrug and say, “It was.” In fact, it still is, even more so when I picture what we must have looked like. Can you imagine seeing a six-foot, broad shouldered man riding a unicycle with a farting young girl on his shoulders yanking on his head and both laughing hard enough to induce tears?

Then the conversation will move on to the hole that my brother dug in the sandbox that was as deep as he was tall, the giant snow pile my father made in our front yard after plowing one year that caused my brother to bust his lip or how my parrot fell down the stairs while yelling for my mother. One guarantee I can always give is that if you place my parents in a relaxed, stress-and–worry-free-guaranteed atmosphere with friends, they will start telling stories. It is one of the few times I can see them smile so much and the flashbacks to the past are a welcome release to happier times after so much focus on the future.

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.

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.