Monday, April 1, 2013

Anniversaries -- Inspirational Mondays

My inspiration for this month comes from the one year anniversary of the AtoZ blogging challenge I started in 2012. Although I will not be taking part in it this year, I am forever in debt to the shear luck I had in finding it in 2012. Last year I challenged myself to write twenty-six 600-1000 word stories all in the month of April.

I had no idea where the stories would come from or if I would even be able to finish what I started. I did finish. At times I was writing into the wee hours of the night, but I did it. And I am all the better for it. You can see a link of the stories on the side there. The whole challenge got me going and helped me find my writer's sea legs. From there I was able to springboard to more stories. I'm still writing and plotting and know it's a long haul.

I find the anniversary quite inspiring. It reminds me of where I started and where I thought I was headed. And I am not disappointed. Thinking about it allows me to dream the dream again. 

It has gotten pretty quiet around here (my blog), and it probably will remain that way. I just find I prefer to write instead of blog. I will probably keep the once a month schedule on the first Monday, but wh
en I have stories to show I will. Thanks for visiting.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Do Sweat the Small Stuff (Inspirational Monday)

In trying to improve my writing, I've been focusing on details. My mind naturally deals in platitudes and generalities. This was my pitfall as I wrote. So I've been retraining my mind to look for the small stuff.

I read in my current study of the craft that you must pull the reader outside their mind and into yours. I can't try to make connections with their experience, I have to make it so they make connections with mine. This can only be done with rich and vivid details.

For example I can say that Texas is a great place to live. This may be true but it does nothing to relate that feeling to the reader. For that I have to fall to the details. I have to talk about sitting in and old wooden Adirondack chair and watching my two Australian cattle dogs running around the back yard chasing squirrels up the pecan trees. I'm amazed by the sixty degree weather as I sit in the backyard with the sun warming my face. Sure the summers in Texas can be brutal, but is there a better way to spend January anywhere else?

The other thing I get out of focusing on details comes from the wide open possibilities it opens. When I focused on how great Texas is as a place to live, I tend to look for things that fit that mental state. I'm cornered into a box and that's all I'll see. Where as if I start with details, it can go in any direction.

So I'm inspired by details and the fact that now that I'm looking for them I see so much more of the big picture.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Writing in the New Year (Inspirational Monday)

The first Monday of every month I like to blog about something or someone that inspired me to write or continue writing.

Today my inspiration is new beginnings.

I've been self-educating over the last few weeks on the craft of creative writing as a way to get better. I am still writing as I do this. I have four 3000-4000 word short stories that I popped out since the holiday break started. It's exciting to get stuff done.

I have no intention on publishing them myself. Some of them may end up as submissions to places if and when I clean them up a bit. I did it more as an exercise.

It feels like a rebirth. I'm looking at my writing in a new light, a new beginning.

The other thing I plan on focusing on--again from the standpoint of developing my craft--is observation. I was always a naturally keen observer, it's what gravitated me to the sciences. But now I want to focus on the details. It is something that is missing in my writing. The finer tune has escaped me too many times. Therefore one of my exercises is to sit and write observations I make in random settings. Such as a grocery store, or at the bus stop.

I've been watching other people--not in a creepy way--and I find it fascinating. The other day I saw a woman doing the same thing I was doing. She would look up, roam her eyes around the room, and then write in her notebook. She did this repeatedly. I couldn't help but imagine she was doing the same thing I was.

Best of luck in the new year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Something Missing In My Writing

I've had no formal training in creative writing. I can tell when I sit to create that I'm missing something. I feel the knowledge gap as I type. I lack certain tools and knowledge on how to use them. I've decided what I need is a back-to-school moment.

I've order a highly recommended textbook on creative writing. It's used in a lot of creative writing classes at universities. I'll be spending my next couple of months self-educating and learning some aspects of the craft. It is something I know I need to do.

I heard it said that one can learn to bake. If you do it regularly your baking will improve. You learn from your own mistakes. But there's something to be said about learning tricks of the trade. Sure you may stumble on them yourself and your skills would develop. But there are tools and methods that cannot be stumbled upon. If you know you want to make muffins, you need a muffin pan. It's also good to know that spraying the pan with non-stick spray helps. That's what I'm missing. I don't have certain tools, nor do I know how to use them.

Currently, my writing is coming along slowly, but it's coming along. I need more self-discipline. I suffer from random distractions such as the election, football season, fantasy football, television. The world is screaming at me. Aside from time with my family, the instances where I feel like time wasn't wasted come after  a productive writing session.

I'm knee deep in what started as a short story. The plot thickened and it became a novelette. On my second run through it, I had to add a few more scenes. Now it's ballooned into a novella. There are some aspects of the plot which I need to tighten up. Ultimately, it's a side story to my bigger novel, which I hope to get back to when my writing improves.

One of my favorite distractions is making cover art for my stories. I would say this is wasted time, but it helps me visualize characters and settings. Here's a cover for the novella I'm currently working on. Let me know what you think. What works? What doesn't work? What does the cover say to you?

Meet Kolka (more about her later).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finishing (Inspirational Wednesday?)

My inspiration for this month is FINISHING. I missed my own Inspirational Monday post. (Many thanks to BRIAN WILKERSON for throwing me a reminder via twitter). I was in a zone and didn't want to break my concentration.

I printed out and am in the process of fixing typos and minor errors for a 2500 word short story contest. It's from a periodical in my town. I plan on printing out the final draft and putting it in the mail tomorrow.

Last year they received over 500 entries from in and out of state. If you have an unpublished 2500 word short story sitting around, Why not enter? Stories just have to be postmarked by Monday the 10th of December.

I had fun reading some of the winners from prior years. Whether or not it gets past any hurdles in the competition, I'm happy with the story and I can tell I learned about writing and learned even more about the human condition. I may publish it on this blog on a later date.

I started my story about a week ago and have been working on it since then. I've found that my creativity comes in streaks. Streaks that are often sparked by deadlines. My goal for December is to do final edits on a 12,000 word novelette I finished in October. I did one quick edit in early November and then let sit for a month.

So here's to FINISHING.