Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Recently in the Life of Jen Chandler

-Creative Writing class threw four (FOUR!!!) poem forms at her and demanded that she recreate each form before Sunday

-Said poem forms are being a pain in the butt

-Creative Writing class also demanding ONE short story, ONE collection of stream of consciousness writings, and ONE completed portfolio by next Friday

-Said class also demanding a 10 page term paper on E.A. Poe...by next Friday

-Christmas is looming and Jen braved traffic, crowds and staying up far too late to write poems and stories to purchase Christmas gifts

-Jen returned home unscathed

-Jen is now working on installing antivirus software, sipping Earl Grey tea with Irish cream creamer and trying to ignore the fact she has three more poems to write by Sunday


So. What have you guys been up to?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Insecure?

Is it wrong to state that I know I can write? I'm no Rowling or Tolkien or Poe. (Though I've been told I'm related to Poe in some odd, round about way. That would explain the vast collection of ravens about the house.) I'm not insecure in my ability to write.

Perhaps I'm insecure in the future reception of my work? No...not really. I mean, I'm a bit nervous as to how it will be received by the agents and publishers of the world. But I feel there's a market for what I write. I'm not insecure about that.

What am I insecure about? Easy. I'm insecure in my butt-in-chair technique. Meaning: I have a vast storehouse of ideas -story ideas, novel ideas- that I love and really feel good about but they will never get written if I don't write them. What causes this ambivalence toward my writing desk? Why do I shudder when I see my computer? Why do I rush past it as it blinks at me, whispering tales of magical worlds, haunted train stations and possessed paintings?

Maybe I don't believe in the stories themselves. Or maybe, just maybe my insecurity lies in my ability to tell them as true and raw as possible. I know I can tell a story. I know I have good story ideas. But to tell a good story in such a way that the reader, heck, the author herself, is THERE, in the story, as a character, a chair, a rock, the path down which the villain stomps. Do I have that in me? Am I strong enough to write the bones and blood and skin and guts that are necessary to bring these Frankenstein monsters to life?

There. I found it. My insecurity. Can I write the truth?

___
This post is a part of Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Find links to more inspiring posts HERE. Thanks again, Alex!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Writing Lesson

I read something wonderfully inspiring in my Creative Writing textbook this afternoon.

"Creative writing isn't about the writer. It's about the reader, having an experience, being somewhere, seeing through someone else. You don't report your emotions and thoughts, you activate your reader's. Creative writing serves readers. It's not a stage for show-offs." (The Practice of Creative Writing by Heather Sellers)

Why, I'm not sure, but this really got me thinking about why I write, how I write, and what I write about. My professor told me last week I'm a "storehouse of ideas" which, until now, I always lamented because I seem to have more ideas than time (or discipline...shh!)to write. This term I've been trying out different story excerpts, different voices all to find out where I best fit. The upcoming weeks will be poetry (not my strong suit) and I'm going to attempt to play on one more story idea in the form of a poem.

But...

My thoughts of what story to work on, you know, when I have some spare moments, are shifting. There's that gosh-darn trilogy that I've written five times and that still needs help. There's a handful of other ideas I feel just as strongly about. And there's the idea that's been germinating in my head for about a year now, all gears and cogs and hissing. What to do?

It's easy really. What story can I put myself into, really submerge myself in? What story can I drown in and pull my reader under the waves with me? That's the really question. Not "what do I feel like writing" but "what would a reader want to read more?" Better yet, "what story is trying to get my attention?"

I know that answer to that one. It's just...well...no excuses. Looks like it's time to hunker down and write with my future readers in mind. Not write to markets and trends. To write to that girl, that boy, that woman or man who will be sitting on their couch/bed/hammock/secret hideout who will turn the first page of my book, get sucked in and think, "O my word! I've finally found my way home!"

Happy Monday evening to you all...and to all a good night!
Jen

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls, Madeleine L'Engle and Steampunk

Cinnamon Rolls. Yes, a most appropriate topic for this blog. Seriously: we writers need our nourishment. Where else am I going to get all this nutrition wrapped up in one handy-dandy, finger licking meal? Doubt me? Grain-check! The roll is made of bread. Dairy-check! The frosting has cream in it...and butter. Cinnamon can help indigestion and is an anti-inflamatory. The sugar...er...well...that feeds the soul :D Hooray! All excuses relevent...

My favorite book is turning 50! "A Wrinkle in Time" is a book that I first read when I was around 8 years old. I remember enjoying it, but nothing else stood out. Then, when I was around 18, I was rummaging through the children's section in the library and I came across this battered hard back with a strangly familiar cover. I read it and was changed. This story rushes at you from all angles and never lets go. At least, that's what it did for me. I honestly can't explain why this book (or the other books in L'Engle's "Time Quartet") move me so. They do. Tor is doing a reread of L'Engle's books. You can read about HERE. Oh, and if you want to read Wrinkle but don't have it, you can borrow one of my copies. I have...er...several...

Steampunk. Ah, just the word conjures up warm fuzzies about goggles and mad scientests and air pirates and clock parts and...sorry. I tend to get a bit giddy whenever steampunk is mentioned. Don't know what it is? Go HERE: it's a pretty good description of steampunk. Oh, and Tor.com have the Steampunk 101 collection. Check it out! And if you really want some eye-candy, Google images of Steampunk: clothes, jewelry, cakes, computers, anything! Seriously. Anything.

Aaaand speaking (continually) of steampunk, has anyone read Cherie Priest's "Boneshaker"? I have not (for shame) but I keep seeing it at the book store and it keeps begging me to take it home. It seems this here steampunk novel has got itself a movie deal. Please oh please, movie producers whoever you may be, please get steampunk RIGHT. If the hoards of steampunkers come out in their goggle wearing droves, the lines at the premiere alone should be worth going to.

That's about all the damage I can do this morning! Enjoy you Friday, don't work too hard, eat lots of cinnamon rolls, and stay warm! Oh, and if you're bored, you can always wander over to The Manor. Yep. I've started posting there again :)

Be awesome!
Jen

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Doth a Little Cold Enlighten

Good morning! It's December first. I've been up since 7:30 and outside since 8:50. A brisk walk does wonders for the soul. It also chaps the knuckles and sends a siren's call to my brain chanting "cocoa, cocoa, cocoa". With cocoa now in possession, I am stationed at my new laptop (YIPPEE!!) and ready to post!


With warm cream and vanilla added to the cocoa, The Norse AND The Force are strong with me this winter morning

In class we've been discussing the fine line distinction between nonfiction and fiction. I never thought much about it until now, how the lines between the two genres can be blurred and indistinct. To me, nonfiction is anything based on real life. To write nonfiction, the author must be true to themselves, true to their life as they see it. There are those in my class who would argue (and have) and one in particular who argued that as long as anything is written by human hands, there can be no nonfiction. I find that opinion negative but it is his and in a way I understand it.

Fiction. Ah, the freedom to create worlds and bring down kingdoms. To write fiction, the author has to be true to the story. What? Not to themselves, what they want? No. In fact, the most damaging thing an author can do is write a story the way THEY want. Madeleine L'Engle once wrote that the best thing she can do when a story comes to her is get out of the way and let the story write itself. I agree. Stories are wise, much wiser than we are. We'd do better if we'd shut up, sit down, and let the story flow through us, our fingers, and onto the page.

What are your thoughts? To you, where does that distinction begin and end. Obvious genre distinctions aside, for you, where does "truth" begin and "fiction" end? Think carefully. Mrs. L'Engle also once wrote, "What is real?" and that wise wizard Albus Dumbledore, when asked by Harry Potter "Is this real? Or is this all happening in my head" replied: "Of course it's all happening in your head. But why should that make it any less real?"

Go forth and dazzle!
Jen

PS: Oh, and if you're up for it, I'm back at The Manor, posting about life, slowing down, and the random, mysterious things that make life beautiful. Do join me for tea! Sagewood Manor