Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Renewal Through Research

I've been blogging about my struggles with my WIP.  Yesterday, in an attempt to renew the fire for my WIP, I decided to do some research. 

When I first thought of the idea for my story I had to do quite a bit of research and I absolutely loved the process.  I've had to do small bits of research throughout as well, but it's been quite some time.

My story takes place in two different time periods, one being the early 1900's.  Yesterday, I got online and found some amazing things that indeed renewed that fire. 

When in doubt I shall research from now on because knowledge is power, or so says the saying, and I would have to agree, power over the looming mythical 'writers block'. 

I was able to find, which I hadn't before, a real town that my fictional town could be based on, giving me new ways to expand on the writing.  I also was able to find out further foundations for my characters so that they could parallel each other even more. 

Research, research, research!  Even if that information I find never makes it into the story, it gives me insight and power over my story.  Power that I have been lacking for a long time.  Research is Power!!!

What renews your fire when you've encountered that ghost we call 'writers block'?

My Key to Writing Happiness

I woke up this morning to a quiet house.  Husband and son left for work, my daughter fast asleep in her bed.  Just me, the dog, and a pot of coffee.  Perfect time for me to work on my WIP that I'm always talking about. 

Sitting at my computer, at the kitchen table, I had a thought.  What is the key to my happiness?  I'm not talking about the grandiose kind of happiness that one strives for in life...but the happiness that comes with my writing life. Writing happiness that makes me feel whole and fulfilled, each and every day. 

I composed a list.  Here it is and these are in no particular order:

1) fresh flowers in my home

2) coffee

3) my dog lying at my feet while I write

4) colored pens

5) soft music in an otherwise quiet house

6) a clean house

7) being able to write each and every day, even if it's only 250 words

8) books

9) a variety of journals/notebooks to write in

10) researching for my plot and characters

What makes you happy in your writing life? Or your creative outlet life?

Share please!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Writing is Oxymoronic

Writing is oxymoronic. At times it’s debilitating, filling you with misery and self doubt. Not just normal, do I have the talent to do this, but the sort of self doubt that makes you question your existence on this planet. Other times, it's fantastic, as if you’re floating, weightless, among the clouds, as high as humanly possible.

When you are a stay at home mother, your days are filled with small, sometimes crazed, mundane actions, cleaning, laundry, cooking, shopping, feeding, changing, and entertaining. Not the kind of entertaining that is filled with intellectual conversation over goblets of wine, no. I’m talking about finger painting and reading the same children’s book twenty times with in the span of an hour, making up songs to occupy your toddler while you try and make a nutritious meal or while doing some quick grocery shopping.

The very last thing you feel that you have time for is starting your life long passionate dream of becoming a novelist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about being a stay at home mom. I love that I’m able to do that and in reality would crumble to a million pieces if I had to work outside the home, away from my daughter. (Even though, the thought of a few short hours a day spent among grownups sounds divine.) For this I will wait until she starts school.  All things at the proper time, right? Right!

So I steal away a few moments here and there to try and write on my WIP, which is coming up on its, wait for it, tenth year in the making. Yes, it’s sad, but sorry to admit, true, and now I’m starting to feel as though the story I set out to write has disappeared entirely.

Now, with that said, I also feel as though a new story is taking flight, but I’m not so sure of its destination. Sometimes, this is an exhilarating time for writing, feeling a story emerge without knowing its full scope yet. It’s a time for exploration and realization. But for me, at this stage with these characters, it feels frustrating and breads for much anxiety and again, self doubt.

How can a story I thought I was writing turn out to feel so wrong? When I say wrong, I mean, it feels bogus, unreal, and pushed. It feels as if I’ve been trying to shove my characters into a small box when all they want is an open field. How could I just now be realizing this and why does it make me feel like a hack?

I started this WIP (in hopes of it being a novel) in 2001 and had a clear view as to what I wanted the story to be. I wrote ferociously on it for about five months, at the time I worked full time so I wasn’t able to write all day, but I did write each day, and then I hit a giant wall.

I suddenly felt as though the characters were standing still even though I was trying to push them forward. I thought, "maybe I just needed a breather from it". I know now, I should have pushed through it, and went back to fix the kinks later. But I didn’t.  I stopped, set it aside, and didn’t return to it for over a year, for no other reason than fear. When I tried to go back, I was stuck, each time I tried to get back to it, it was harder to hear my characters voices.

That’s how it’s been for several years now. I have always wanted to finish it, a draft at least, but fear and that ugly troll, self doubt, prevented me.

So, recently I’ve been talking with some good friends, also writers, about it and they helped me to realize that I’m just making excuses. That I need to either put it away for good or bite the bullet, get off my rear and finish it. Since the story itself feels like something I need to tell, I’ve decided to finish.

That’s where I am now. Determined to finish, yes, feeling any less self doubt? NO! I’m afraid of the process, worried of the outcome, scared that after all of this time and all of the excuses it won’t be any good.

In my new found determination I re-read it and removed, upon years of thinking about it, approximately 10,000 words. They felt like they belonged to someone else, to another story entirely. Then in my renewed spirit I wrote over 2,000 new words. It felt amazing! “I can totally do this!” I thought. Then, I hit that wall, again.

I don’t know if I want to cry and scream, burn it, or continue…well in all honesty, I want to do all three, two out of three will do. So I cry and scream and continue.

This is where I find myself today, at this very moment. Trying to figure out how to continue, where to go from here, and all while only having those small increments of stolen time away from my beloved daughter.

Like I said, Writing is oxymoronic!

However, the light at the end of the tunnel?  The moral of the story, or in this case, blog post?  It's to continue, always go forward, push through it.  A close friend told me today, there is no other option other than to keep at it. 

And so I shall.  With a firm hold on the end game, a novel.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Paper Books VS Electronic Devices

I'm all for technological advancements and admit that some gadgets seem very appealing.  I get that the Kindle or Nook for example take reading to another level in the way that you can take it where ever you go.  However, I'm sad and afraid of what this will eventually mean for the actual paper books that we all so dearly love. 

I am a lover of books, even if I haven't read all of them, I like to have them around me.  Something about the way they feel in my hands, look, and even smell brings me peace.  I could literally pitch a tent inside a bookstore and be happy to reside in it. 

I had the opportunity to work for a small bookstore on the coast of Oregon several years back.  All I did was stock the shelves and make sure everything was in order.  It was a new and used bookstore.  When people brought in books I was the one who filed them away in the appropriate section.  I adored that job.  I made pennies and it was time consuming but something about being in a world of books for hours at a time was overwhelmingly calming.  I would smell like books when I left, a fragrance I feel should be marketed. 

Kidding aside, books are magical and important. 

I have fond memories as a child holding those books that I loved, one being The Frog and The Toad series.  Rich text and original artwork.  Again, I found them comforting.  It's rare for me to leave my house with out a book in my purse.  Most of the time I don't have the time to actually read it, but just knowing it's there gives me a feel of satisfaction.  Just like having a notebook and pen available with me at all times. 

My point to this post is this.  If Kindle and Nook are so popular, overselling actual paper book sells, what will come of all our beloved books and does this mean that for me, as an aspiring novelist, that it's a possibility that I may never see my words in paper book form?  Will they only go to computer land, never giving those readers the opportunity to feel and smell my words in addition to reading them? Also, what will come of book stores and libraries?

Chef's say that before you eat a meal, you see and smell it, meaning that presentation is just as important as the actual meal itself.  That's how I feel about books.  The act of perusing a bookstore, a cover catches your eye, you pick it up, flip through the pages, the font, the cover art, the blurb on the back cover.  All of this is in essence seeing and smelling the book before you actually eat it.  All important and enjoyable parts of reading.  

The thought or prospect that this will cease is extremely sad to me.  So if you're wondering if I own a reading device of my own, the answer is no.  I thought I wanted one and hinted to my husband, but after realizing what it would rob me of, I went back to my husband and told him I would much rather have a gift certificate to a bookstore.    

Reading, regardless of how you go about it, is an important part of gaining education and molding yourself as a human.  I just hope that the world of paper books never ceases to exist and that book stores, both new and used, thrive forever so that my children won't miss out on the entire meal.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Of Sex And Men

Statistics prove that men think about sex every 5.3 seconds. Others argue that it's more along the line of 60 to 90 seconds. Regardless of the exact numbers, we can all agree men think about sex ALOT. This means just (lets just say) 90 seconds after the moment of climax, men are already thinking about when and where they're going to get it next. Tell me honestly then, is there any way at all that a woman can entirely fulfill her man?

This isn't what disturbs me though. What does, is that females are the ones stereotyped as "high maintenance" or "emotional."

Statistically, 40% of all women have hurled footwear at a man. Men, if you had to worry about satisfying your woman every 90 seconds, in a non-sexual way, how would your mood be? I dare you to say you wouldn't be just a little unstable, even occasionally hurling a shoe or two.

Yet, we women have to constantly defend the way that we react to your relentless needs. Unfortunately, not a word is spoken of this plain and simple truth before two people are to be married, or, even before they date. All you women out there who aren't aware of the male obsession, beware and be for warned. It will be a life-long struggle, and one with absolutely no light at the end of the tunnel.

For you men, cut us some slack. We're trying even if you don't think we are, and chances are you don't.

We do not function the same way you do, nor do we think the same way. If we did, we wouldn't give a damn what you wanted and everyone on Earth would continually want without satisfaction, always waiting for the other to instigate and fulfill.

I feel for you men, I really do. It must be difficult and frustrating to live in your shoes. Always wanting, never fulfilled, thinking away each day on moments that may never come. If only there was a way to compromise, a way to keep every 90 second desire met, while making the lives of each and every woman in a sexual relationship more about love, kindness, understanding, and giving rather than about your constant, never-ending want of sex.

Sex and men are different for everyone. My hope is that during the other 30 seconds of every two minute interval, men think of more important issues.

But keep in mind, assuming it took you about five minutes to read this article and you're statistically a "male," you thought about sex over 3 times, if we went with the original statistic of 5.3 seconds, well I don't even want to mention how many times, okay you asked for it: over 56 times!

With that said, I suppose I can't be all that hard on men because we all live in the country that provided me with my final statistic: What is the number of Americans who are injured by their toilets every year? The answer is 45,000.

Lydia R. LeRoy-Williams Copywriter 2008-2009