Monday, September 24, 2012

Cut yourself some slack!

photo found HERE

I think I've found myself in everyone of those pictures at least once (some more than once, but I'm not saying which). 

Funny how people interpret "WRITER" in so many different ways.

Some see us as the brooding, artsy, romantic types, living alone, sipping coffee and pounding out brilliant prose while the rest of the world sleeps. Others see us as delusional and wish we'd grow up and leave writing to the "professionals". There are days when I feel like a genius! There are other days I'd just rather grab a drink with friends and forget I have ten dozen stories vying for my attention. And, of course, there are days I stare blankly at the computer screen or notebook, growl in frustration, and give up for another round of solitaire.

What's good about all this is that every one of these moments gives us something to write about. Yes, even the blank stares and solitaire. If you feel the urge to write, if you try to NOT tell stories in some way, shape, form, or fashion, you are a WRITER. Yes, writers write. But they also think, dream, hang out, brood, goof off, shine brilliantly, and play just one more game of connect four on their phones.

YOU are a writer. Cut yourself some slack this week. If all else fails, choose a picture above and run with it all week. Well, except for the first one. Staring at a typewriter for a week could do damage to your eyes and your sanity...

Monday, September 17, 2012

a long time a'comin'

picture found HERE
[this is how I've looked the past two weeks, reading two novels and four short stories a week...:)]

Good morning! It seems I've let another long lapse of time collect between posts. Blerg. Sorry about that! Just when I think I have a handle on time management...

No worries! I've appreciated all of your wonderful comments! Thank you, thank you for continuing to read my babblings. The comments regarding my villain rant were wonderful. I got a good chuckle from most of them and they all gave me a good smile. I discovered I'm not alone in loving a good villain! I apologize for not commenting individually; please accept a collective "THANK YOU" instead.

Enough sob stories, on with the post!

- The writer's Facebook page at my university posted a link to the Writer's Guild Foundation "Scribble to Screen" exhibit. I have yet to peruse the entire exhibit, but from what I've seen, it is an amazing romp through the creative, handwritten minds of those who have given us some of the most iconic stories and movie moments. It really is worth taking a peek at (especially the Han/Leia conversation from The Empire Strikes Back).

- The October issue of The Writer Magazine has some wonderful inspiration articles. In"On finding stories that need to be told", author and teacher John Dufresne tells us that place is paramount to good writing. "Place," he says, "is character and character is destiny, and every story should only be able to happen in one specific place". I'm not sure if I agree that every story should ONLY happen in one place, but I understand what he's saying: even if you have multiple plot lines going, each story will have its most important development in one specific place. Agree or Disagree?

Dufresne also says:

"A book should offer hope. It should lift up the reader. It should give the reader a reason to live - should he need one. Life is not easy for any of us, and the pain of loneliness is often unbearable. The writer is saying, among other things, 'You are not alone'." 

I just submitted an article that touches on this subject of the author/reader connection and the need for the author to be real, raw and available. No one likes a perfect protagonist; a seemingly perfect writer, untouched by the world is just as disenchanting. My one war cry for this week: Don't be afraid to let your skeletons out of the closet. Invite them in for tea, see what they have to teach you. Release them upon your characters and see what happens. Exposing your own struggles and challenges, triumphs and victories (especially those that are hard won) create a bond between reader and writer. Even if the reader never understands that your characters' tales are loosely based on your own, they will see something of themselves in your words. Give your readers something to hold on to, relate to, and they will cheer you on!

Any other personal battle cries being discovered? How do you feel about letting your skeletons out to play with your characters? Would you rather relate to a scarred character/author or do you prefer the omniscient narrator of old? Personally, I think they both have a role to play in literature. Perhaps that's another topic for another post!

Happy week.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

random thoughts on rocking comments, a link, a small rant regarding villains, and an apology

You guys have been posting some rocking comments! Seriously! My last post overflowed with comments steeped in awesome and I thank you :) The Avengers' picture (You Should be Writing) seems to have been a big hit! I found that at random while searching for writing related pictures. Maybe someone should turn that into a poster!

If any of you are considering an MFA program in Creative Writing, Poet's and Writer's Magazine just released an e-book on the top MFA programs in the country as well as some in depth information about choosing and applying to a program. I downloaded it this morning and look forward to perusing it before I begin the all too important task of narrowing down the schools and sending out those application fees....geez! I tell you, colleges just keep eating at the check book, don't they?! Speak of which, did you know it costs to graduate? No joke. I have to PAY to APPLY to graduate! HA! Oh my, my....

And now, for a small rant. I've posted on villains before. It was a while ago and I'm sure no one remembers it. Heck, I vaguely do! Barring a repeat of my rant on "no respect for bad guys" I'll just say this: after finding the Avengers' picture and reading the lovely comments about said dudes, I thought it would be far funnier to have a poster of the villain from said film telling me to write. I mean, come on! A dude wearing massive horns and carrying a staff that shoots out lightening would definitely get me to work far faster than a couple of guys in spandex pointing angry fingers. No offense; I mean, if Hawkeye showed up at my door demanding I write, I wouldn't complain. Still...what about the bad guy? 

I know, I have this weird crush on Loki. Don't ask. It started with "Thor" and my husband finds it very funny. He even pointed out a Lego Loki and said, "Hey, there's your man!" Maybe I'm weird (don't answer that). What do you think? Do villains in movies and literature get the respect they deserve? I LOVE writing my villains. They are way more fun than my heroes! And I usually enjoy the villains of a film more than the good guys. They're more complicated, more fun to try and dissect.

OH! And I TOTALLY missed the Insecure Writer's Support Group yesterday. School started and I lost track of days. Labor Day didn't help things along. If you have time, do wander over to Alex's fabulous blog and check out some of the posts from those more attentive to dates than I!

Like I said, maybe I'm just weird. Ah well! Back to school!
Have a wonderful Thursday!

Jen, the Geeky Villain Lover

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

you should be writing

Should I?

I mean, every time I sit down at my computer or in that soft, comfy chair with a notebook I draw a blank! Then, the minute I stand up and start cleaning, an idea of brilliant strikes. I rush back to said chair and BLAM! I'm hit with the wall of white: that white page or screen that stares at you, taunts you, sneers at you.

image found HERE

Off to classes I go and I'm forced to write: short stories, memoirs, reviews, reports. They roll off my fingers and I'm actually proud of them. They're good enough to get A's which, right now, is all I can ask.

A few minutes of blissful nothing and I creep up on my notebook and start jotting. There! I'm caught! My mind shrivels up like a raisin and I'm left with gasping for the right word to at least end the paragraph so I'll be able to come back tomorrow (later?) and pick up where I left off.

You should be writing because it's what you eat, drink, breathe, live. Every waking moment of the day is consumed by story, YOUR story. It haunts your mind as you work, play, eat, sleep. And yet, when faced with the prospect of a blank page or hour with which there's nothing else to do but write, you're frightened away at the monumental task of creating a world.

You SHOULD be writing because that world is yours to create. Don't look at the novel as a whole but in sections. Take it a scene, a page, a word at a time. And don't beat yourself up if all you can eek out is one sentence. Let that one sentence come and trust that another will follow. And another. And another. A novel is evidence that the writer didn't quit. There is no one out there telling you it MUST be finished by such-and-such a time...unless of course you have an agent (or a professor) and in that case, chop-chop! Get the words out, the world on paper. Then, and only then, worry about form and function.

YOU should be WRITING. Why? Because it's who you are, what you are, what you want.

Besides, these guys say so:

image SOURCE

Don't make the Hulk angry.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

rainy day in georgia...

Good morning! A big hello to all my new readers! There were quite a few new "faces" when I checked my comments this morning. Never fear, I'll be responding soon! Slow start this morning. I think my brain was subconsciously protesting the start of another school term. Ah well! The freedom of the last two weeks is gone, but...BUT...I am officially in my last year of my undergraduate career. Considering I started my undergrad degree 17 years ago, that's something I had begun to believe I would never, ever see! And yet, here I am, a testament to the truth that if you just keep at something, you WILL achieve your goals :)

And speaking of goals, I like to look on fall as the start of a new "year". I know, January is when people usually  choose goals and resolutions. Any time of year is a good time to pin down those hopes and dreams and come up with concrete ways to make them happen. For me, fall ushers in a change in weather, a change in scenery. Here in the south, getting rid of all the heat and humidity is such a blessing! Granted, it's early in September and Georgia is notorious for granting you a few weeks respite and then slamming you with a hot streak from Hades in mid-October...but right now, it's raining, I'm sitting on my patio in a sweater, and Starbucks has released the Pumpkin Spice Latte. All is right with the world at the moment :)

Back to goals: writing. I'm finishing up a Creative Writing/English degree. I HAVE to write at least five days a week in order to get all my assigned work completed (and keep up those "A's"). However, I have fallen short of the personal writing goals. Thanks to these past two weeks, I've had a renewal of my writing commitments and am ready to take on some stories that appeared to me during my break. Please feel free to ask me who they're coming...I need all the accountability I can get!

image found HERE

And speaking of writing, in order to accomplish those goals, be they to compose a poem or finish a 60,000+ word novel, we MUST be committed to the entire project. We must be willing to see the story through to the end. More often than not, I find myself excited at the beginning and then, sometime around the lull between the first and second wave of conflict, I get bored. This could mean that I need to close that gap and chock that book full of conflict. It also could me I'm lazy and need to plow through until I reach the next part that excites me. What I MUST do (and what we all as writers must do) is KNOW our story and where it's going.

I'll admit it, I'm guilty of skipping ahead with my eyes to make sure a character is still there on the next page, that nothing blows up, or that the spies aren't caught. We have an innate need to know the end of a tale and we aren't ashamed to peak ahead just to give ourselves a bit of relief! What I really liked about this little picture, is that it reminded me that as a writer, I MUST know where my story is going. I need to constantly be "flitting across the page in my book" to gain momentum and get my characters to the next chapter, the next scene. That's where outlining and brainstorming come in handy.

So what do you do when the lazy times set in? When you just don't want to finish? Easy. You plow through. Don't worry about getting the conflict so tight that there isn't a lull to be found. Not yet. Get to "The End". Once there, you can sit back, breathe a bit, then come back and do the editing. That's where you'll tighten up those scenes and gouge out those lulls.

Know thy story! Give yourself permission to suck while you get to the finish line. Make your way to "The End" and then bask in the relief of having completed a novel. Editing will come easier. You'll know what path your characters and plot are taking. The stones and bumps in the road will be easier to see and much, much easier to remove!

Happy writing!