Posts from the ‘On Writing’ Category

Results are Important – On Quitting or Fueling Creativity

It is human nature to expect award or recognition. It makes us feel good. As kids we looked forward to hear our parents praise. We felt good when our good grades were recognized as an achievement. If we did as expected our parents would say “good boy/girl.” We are conditioned to expect good results from our efforts; that is, until you become a writer or an artist.

Writers put on long hours and much effort when writing and publishing a novel. We expect results, good results, and the reward for all our hard work. When it doesn’t materialize in the form of income, recognition, good reviews (or any reviews), our faith and confidence may dwindle, and so does our motivation. I think most writers have gone through this, but not all writers have conquered the disillusion and loneliness that a writing career may offer at some point. Some writers quit for good, others may become angry, cynical, or depressed, thus their writing being affected by this state of mind and soul. The point is that results are important, however we measure them. In the absence of these measured results, we must fuel our motivation to go on writing, otherwise quitting becomes an option.

If you write for the love of it and could care less if your work touches (or not) a soul or two, then continue writing for the love of it. It is a valid goal as any other. However, if you want to inspire, reach out to people, entertain, educate, earn a living, and touch a few hearts, or whatever your goal might be, then you should think about riding the wave while getting wet in the process, even in the ocean of your tears. If results are few, then fuel your creativity as the only way to keep on writing. It is up to us to inspire and maintain a level of creativity that will carry us through the dark hours. It may sound macabre, but if you are a writer you know well how much of your soul you put into your work, and that is why many writers and artists take it very personal. After all, there are bits and pieces of you all over the pages.

During the dark hours, it may seem impossible to maintain creativity, but if you keep nourishing ideas, playing with them, and foreseeing projects, this becomes part of the process and you will get through. Results are also part of the process, only a small part; they are a measuring tool, but they do not define you as a writer, or as a person (when you take your craft very personal). As long as you realize this, you will continue creating and will not quit. Fuel your creativity, fuel your writing.

I wrote this poem on one of my darkest hours, and I want to share it alongside this post.

 

The Day I Quit

 

Breathless. Exhaustion of the soul

Fearless. What else is there to fear?

Weak from thriving

Strength in hiding.

Relentless search

to nowhere leads

Passionate failures

Death from within.

The Soul, the heart

Dim light, a beat

Beneath the darkness

life still exists.

A fire within

the ice melts slow

thawing the heart

and a frozen soul.

No faith, no hope

To live, to die

Not without a fight

For I will quit only after I die.

Handling a Dry Season

On a previous post I wrote about how I nourish my writing, and this topic is very close to it. When I approach the subject of writing I write about my experience and how I do things that have work for me. It is not intended as a “to do” or as teaching; it relates to my journey as a writer.

A dry season may or may not qualify as writer’s block. It depends on the circumstances, and when the well is dry, it is dry, and it is a soul’s feeling. This is why I find it important to nourish and reconnect with my writing. However, these are times when I might be producing material but it seems “automated” and as if  it lacked soul; as if something is missing, and I cannot find it – I cannot get the spirit back.

In my experience, there are two ways in which I handle a dry season, and it depends on the circumstances prior, and during the dry season. The first is to keep writing and work through it, even if I write only for myself, keeping productive, but resting as needed. The second deals with resting. Resting does not mean taking a break from writing, although sometimes that is all I need to end a dry season – a soul-searching inspirational break. Resting also means finding other ways to reconnect or find what is missing, whether I meditate, pray, study other authors, or practice any activity that inspires me for a longer period. Usually as long as it takes for my well to feel full again and awaken my soul. Sometimes, it is the simplest of things what sparks creativity.

What works for other writers may or may not work for you, and the length of time it takes will depend on your personal circumstances. I’ve found that the longer I wait to reconnect, the more challenging it becomes. When I feel that my inkwell is drying, I step aside, take a serious look, and put myself in motion to do what is necessary to capture the spark again. I don’t ignore the feeling; it is the voice of my soul calling me into action.

On Nourishing My Writing

I ‘ve noticed that writers, in general, are tuned to their surroundings, emotions, and feelings. This is true for me. Although I don’t necessarily strive for drama (low tolerance) my emotions drain me at times. It is then that I must nourish my writing the most. Even when emotions run high (and this is good for my writing), if I don’t pay attention the well is exhausted.

How do I nourish my writing? By recharging myself. From slowing down my pace to eating a favorite meal, or doing anything that lifts my spirits; it is all welcomed. I may read something new or reread a favorite book, enjoy nature… I take a short break from writing and reconnect with life. I spend more time with my cats, call a friend, treat myself to a new writing gadget, and so on. Such activities may seem mundane but these certainly help me. How you nourish your writing is a personal ritual, and of course, different for every writer. Nourish the writer, nourish the craft.

My Writing Process

Every writer develops a writing process, a routine, a style. There is no ” one size fits all” in writing, and the same reason why I stay away from “the how to’s” and “the must do’s.” Certain guidelines, tips, and recommendations have worked for me and many other authors, but it does not mean that it will work for everyone. I follow my own heart and mind when establishing my writing process and developing my style. I welcome what will benefit it and discard what will not. I am grateful that there is so much information out there to help me widen my point of view. This was not available many years ago.

When I commit to a story its development starts – ideas, images, dreams, and serendipity make themselves a part of my daily living. When I write and I put myself in a receiving state, inspiration will come in many forms and from many sources. In that receiving state I don’t pass judgement, however,  it helps me recognize when something is not working or just doesn’t feel right. Some writers can edit as they write, or as they finish a page, a chapter, or the day’s work. I cannot do that. It seems to interfere with the receiving state, and degree of inspiration, as well with the flow of ideas.

My first draft is truly a rough draft. After it is done, I must take a break from the story, and then editing can begin, in several rounds from one draft to the next. Only when something does not feel right will I go back and change it during the first draft, and only because it will influence the rest of the story, and it becomes a mental road block for me. Point of view is a perfect example of something that might feel wrong in the beginning of a story, and must be dealt with right away. Another example is a character that defied me until I had to change everything about him – his looks, his demeanor, personality, and even role, from secondary to primary. It was not what I had intended, but I became aware in the very early stage of writing the story. Awareness came in the form of this character refusing to be written in a certain way, and even shutting up. This may sound weird to some people, but if you are a writer immersed in your craft you get the point, and understand it.

I believe that the more you write the more you grow and evolve, and so does your process. It is a living endeavor that does not stay the same, and it should not. Never the less, it has to be nourished and developed. The love of a lifetime.

 

On Saying Goodbye

Losing a loved one is never easy. Whether a partner in life, a friend, or family member, it is one of the most painful experiences. Having to say goodbye when one is not ready is devastating, and it may render a person numb out of an unexpected dose of pain. One of the secondary themes in my novel The Five-dollar Miracle is the loss of a spouse, and the feelings and emotions that go with it.

Last year I experienced the loss of loved ones, and just a few weeks after I had finished writing a chapter dealing with this topic, a friend died unexpectedly leaving her partner experiencing the feelings of pain, loss, desolation, and so many other emotions that can only be described by someone who has gone through it.

As writers, we draw from our experiences when we try to convey through our writing, and the rest we imagine or draw from observation; we try to do the best we can when portraying what we have not experienced. Many times, we place ourselves in those situations fictionally, and try to understand or visualize the array of emotions surrounding a particular situation. At other times, inspiration seems to take our hand and guide us in our writing. We try our best, and as writers that is all we can do, but I can say with certainty that our writing will only match the synergy of our experience.

What’s Next?

What’s next? It seems to be the perpetual question. It is our human nature to want to keep on going, do better, achieve, evolve … . It seems that as soon as something is achieved, another goal appears in the mind, as if there was no time to enjoy the prize and celebrate the achievement. Whether you are an overachiever or not, the desire presents itself, sometimes as a burning fire to the next level, or as discontent with the present. We forget about the sweetness of the now, and about enjoying the fruits of our hard labor.

As a writer, I focus on the story at hand; however, other stories are brewing or are waiting to be written. It is tempting to hear the plea and to attempt to start writing them, although I have found that I can only write one story at a time, unlike other authors. Instead, I dismiss it and concentrate on the current story, blocking everything else. If a new idea crosses my mind, I jot it down for later consideration, when the timing is right. I don’t succumb to the urge of developing it further.

To each story I pledge my undivided attention, until it is written, edited, and published. Not until then, do I consider my next story. That is another process, which I will write about on a future post – how to select which story to write next. At the moment my focus is in editing The Five-dollar Miracle, and hopefully publish it by the end of this year.

I would like to hear about your writing process and experience – do you write one story at a time or do you split your effort into several?

The Novella – New Attention Span Trend?

It has been said that the new generation of readers prefer to consume stories fast, and many favor stories that are not too long, as an example the novella. As new readers devour stories at a fast pace thanks to e-reading, authors may feel the pressure of writing more, faster, and put out more works. Whether you have a huge readership or not, the thought of catering to readers is a legitimate one. Even if you set out to write a novella, there is no guarantee that you will end up achieving so.

As far as my experience, when I write a story, I don’t know how long it will be. It is a living process, one of the mind, the heart, the soul, and one of spirit. Currently, I am editing my next story – The Five-dollar Miracle – and it took a life of its own, not quite as I had planned, so I let the process be and the story flowed taking me where it wanted. As an author I have control of the story, but its birth and development sometimes challenges preconceived ideas, and for me, letting it unfold by putting aside those ideas works.

As I have said before I don’t outline, other than a few scribbles of a basic idea for a story, in no particular order, and pretty much all over the place. Later on, the story develops and things fall into place adequately. In Moonlit Valley the ending came as a single sentence on my mind. At that moment, I wrote it down and I knew it was the ending, however, I was at the beginning of the story, and didn’t know how I was going to get to that point. I may have an idea for a story (whether it starts with a line, a word, or a paragraph scribbled down when it hits my mind) but its development is a living process that takes me along with it until its completion, in which length is unimaginable. It may turn out to be a short story, a novella, or an epic. I am done when the story has been told.

Please feel free to comment on your writing process. I would love to hear about your experience.