Tag Archives: inspiration

reading the thirst away

This is a post that I’ve been meaning to write for ages then the muse came to visit and demanded I work on my novel and who am I to argue with her?  I love my muse, but man does she get bitchy.

Now seems like I good time to bring this up since I’ve finished the novel’s 1st draft and I’m gearing up for the edits.  Except, I don’t feel ready.  I’m too thirsty to edit.  I need a nice, long, invigorating cup of book.  I’ve got books.  Lots of them–most of which are packed away in storage because my family and I don’t actually have our own place to live.  I go through the stack of books I do have and to my amazement every single one of them is non-fiction.  Books on writing, on spirituality, on culture… what in the world.  How do I not have a single piece of fiction?

This calls for a trip to the used bookstore with my two-year-old.  First thing I do is dig through the kids’ section to buy the boy a book, a picture encyclopedia because it contains the vital element: choo-choo trains.  It takes a lot less time to pick out my book, a 1st edition copy of Gerald’s Game.

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I’m a sucker for Stephen King.  Always have been. I still remember vividly the first time I read him.  It was Night Shift, a collection of short stories, and for some odd reason I found it on the 6th grade classroom bookshelf.

Last night I opened that bad boy up and sank right into its creamy, delicious folds.  Sigh.  Bliss.  I am not even kidding.

The thing is, I rarely read fiction these days.  I did read Life of Pi a few months ago, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t related to my genre.  It inspired me to write, but I was fast forgetting how my genre sounded, felt, smelled, tasted, looked. You know what I mean, the particular five senses captured in a genre by an amazing writer.  I am not going to refer to myself as an amazing writer.  Heaven knows I have years and miles before I earn those stripes, if I ever do.  Stephen King, however, is an amazing writer.  And if I want to know how he does it, I have to read him and I have to do it in the moment.

I’ve read lots of Stephen King.  Not even close to all of his works by any means, and most definitely not to Annie Wilkes levels, but perhaps more than the casual reader.  I read other writers and genres of course, but Stephen King most closely encapsulates the mood that I want to achieve in my own writing.  If I want a fair shot at capturing a similar feel to my work then I’ve got to read him.

The reason I wanted to write this post so bad, had it on my mind for months in fact, stems from a conversation I had with a fellow writer about three years ago. She wrote short stories with dark themes. I really wanted to keep meeting with her because we were in South Korea and I didn’t have a lot of options when it came to writing partners.

When I asked her who her writing influences were she looked right at me and said, “I don’t like to read.”

I thought I must’ve misunderstood and asked for clarification.  She followed it up by explaining that other writers bored her and she had yet to pick up a book that she could finish.

“Since you write short stories, what about looking for anthologies?”

She demurred and said something along the lines that she might find something.  It was evident she wasn’t that interested.

I was blown away.  Really.  I couldn’t wrap my head around this.  How does a writer who doesn’t read know what good writing is?  That killed our writing relationship right there. If a person writes and isn’t willing to pick up a single book, we can’t hang out. It’s as simple as that. And the entire reason is that I can’t let her read my writing in good conscience since she won’t read anyone else.

It goes beyond that of course. Even if someone can’t find a writer who blows her away, then I’d urge her to at least pick up something in her genre anyway to see what she doesn’t like, what she ought to avoid.  This way she can be familiar with what other writers of her genre are doing and see what affect those techniques are having on her as a reader. At the very least, when she hits the inevitable, dreaded Writer’s Block, she’ll have nourishment to sustain her as she performs the hard work of tearing that asshole down.

I could feel the dryness of not reading while working through my first draft. Now that I’ve got a book in hand, I’m no longer working through a dry, gaping, text-less void. I’m invigorated. I’m inspired. I’m nourished. I’m ready to break open that manuscript and start on the journey ahead.


it’s raining words

My blog has collected a fine coating of dust. It turns out that I can’t balance my time between this and a novel.

The good news is that I’m working on the novel again, and even though I’m not in love with anything I’m writing at the moment, it’s broken the dry spell.

The only way novel writing was going to happen was if I rearranged my day. In my case this has meant going to bed and waking up earlier, regardless of the rest of the household’s schedule.

Actually, I might have to thank the cold virus I’m fighting for making it so easy to follow the early to bed, early to rise schedule. My body hasn’t been letting me stay up late. It’s awesome. I get a full night’s rest and then I get up and have plenty of time to work. The trick will be in maintaining this schedule once I’m healthy.

It’s a short post today. I just wanted to get something up here so I don’t let this blog go to rubbish.

One day I’ll blog something of substance but for now I’ve got a novel to write!


honesty then it flows

It’s some of the most common advice given to writers: Write what you know.

I’ve read that so many times, across so many writing books, that it’s practically hammered into to me and then I became afraid to stray from its path.

Well… what do I know?  Not a great lot actually because I’ve led a fairly sheltered, adventure less life.

That’s fine.  That’s why we have google and TV.

I do stand behind “write what you know” and it’s true that it makes writing a heckuva lot easier, but I want to tweak it just a tad.  How about we say “write what you want“?

Confession: I’ve been working on a novel with the exact same characters for the past twenty years.  I have tweaked and fussed with and prodded that stupid thing until it’s barely recognizable in its original form.   I’ve even come close to finishing it before demolishing the whole thing because I simply didn’t like it.  Oh us writers with our thin, brittle skin.

While living in Korea (all right, I’ve had a few adventures), something incredible happened.  I met some of the most free-spirited, authentic people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.  It’s not saying there aren’t a lot of this sort out there, but I don’t get out much and socializing isn’t my forte, so yeah, it was pretty eye-opening.  What this did for me is to take a second look at that novel that had been giving me trouble since I was in middle school and to ask myself, what gives?  What’s stopping me from completing this when I’ve invested so much of myself into it?

Wait.  So much of myself?  Really?

It was wrong.  Completely wrong.  I looked at the main male character, Adrian, and then I looked at his (male) best friend and his (female) love interest and thought, ‘I’ve never been particularly interested in her.  He doesn’t act all that interested in her.  She’s boring to write.’  But the best friend, he inspired me.  I’ve always been a little in love with him and… hold up… so has Adrian.

Wow.  That’s what happened.  I wasn’t writing what I really wanted and I knew it.  I wasn’t telling the story that I had been itching to tell.  That’s how I was sabotaging the story.  It wasn’t the story that needed to be told.  It wasn’t the story I even wanted to tell.  Instead I was writing what was safe, what would be acceptable to general mainstream audiences and that isn’t fair to me, the book, or my characters.

And this is all a little scary when you want to write something that could receive backlash, or goes against the grain of how you were raised, and come out and admit it.  I have to admit it though.  The only way the story will be completed is that I’m honest to myself about what I want to write.

As soon as I admitted who the characters are, I was able to write a full detailed outline, enough that I now have a thorough idea of the story from start to finish.  Once I get a desk and more than thirty minutes in the morning to write, I’m into that book like a stay at home mom with her red wine.  That wine is sure to make me all the more honest after all.


finding the time to write

To open up this blog, I’m going to begin with the biggest issue I know that I’m going to face in maintaining it–namely time.

I would say that life gets in the way of writing, but writing should also be my life.  It shouldn’t be put on the same level as sitting down to watch an hour of TV.  Sure, I’m pretty obsessed with Supernatural (I mean, c’mon, the Winchester brothers? hel-lo) but remove it and nothing else changes.  Take writing from me and I’ve been emotionally, mentally, and spiritually affected.

What this says then is that I have to make room for it.

There’s no need for me to get into why I don’t have time.  I talk to plenty others whose schedules are just as packed as mine and for completely different reasons.  It doesn’t matter why.  The time isn’t there which tells me that something’s gotta change.

And the only one in my life who can bring that change about is me.

That means I have to look at how my day runs and what moments I might have stolen an opportunity to write.  Now, in the past I’ve expected an hour at minimum to write anything of substance and usually when it comes to novel writing I need at least an hour just to get into the zone.  This hasn’t exactly changed.  To write a halfway decent blog post I need about an hour and any interruptions during that time severely grate on my nerves.

The elusive hour is then what I have to find and if I can’t find an hour, I have to make use of what I can grab.

Now, when my son was first born it wasn’t going to happen.  In fact, for several months after his birth it wasn’t going to happen. Then I went back to work and I snatched chunks of time here and there.  It was a different world.  I lived in South Korea and I worked at a university with a weekly trip to an hour away factory that left me there all day.  It was ideal for writing.

That setup is gone.  I’m still in search of a job and I’m living with my husband, son, and grandparents, all who beg my time and attention.  Finding time then means asking me to sacrifice something precious.

The only precious thing I’m willing to give is sleep.  So, that’s what I’m sacrificing: precious, blessed sleep in order to do something vital to my well being.  It’s not ideal and I’m probably going to run up on mornings where the night was long and tortured but if my eyes open, my body isn’t screaming, and my thoughts are semi-coherent, this is what I’m going to do.  Up and at ’em, brew that cup of coffee, sit and write.

That’s what writing asks of us, isn’t it?  Give it what time, attention, and care we can afford and know that the benefits will be worth it.