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Writer’s process…or how my mind controls its creativity, part II: Writing for writing’s sake.

Last time, how I think through the inspiration led to me getting to write about something. Today, we talk about what comes next.

I don’t like to take an idea and control it from the start. For me, it stifles any hope of the characters, plot, and personalities to develop. Just because I can see what my female protagonist looks like, sounds like, or how she sits in the world I’m about to put on paper, doesn’t mean I know who she is. I don’t have characters that just appear to me fully revealed. They don’t trust easily. They want to be able to see the relationship to develop between us is worth it before showing me who they are. Outlining at an early stage makes me feel like I’ve put my characters in a certain personality construct, and they get loud when they get locked up. (Did I mention they’re a little like me? Stubborn as hell!)

So, I free write. I don’t know if they’re going to stay good. Maybe just maybe the evil bloke I saw at the beginning starts showing a softer, more vulnerable side. Maybe that character that everyone starts to like decides he feels like doing some really bad things. Heck, maybe the world explodes and they all end up in Central New York mooing at cows (see, just like me!). I want the story to tell me what’s important. I want to get to know my characters, and start to love or hate them the same way I want those reading to.

The best part of this, for me, is that I am constantly motivated to come back to the document I’m writing because the most curious part of me is waiting to see what comes next. The worst part is that when you go to further parts of the process, you sometimes are confronted with the reality that you might not always write some brilliant things.

So, I write. Chapter after chapter, thousands of words, deepening my understanding of current characters, watching new ones pop up. About a third of the way into what would end up the finished product, something changes, and I start changing with it. The mercurial Lauren, always true to her Gemini nature, decides it’s time to do it a little different.

Then, a new sort of fun begins.

This is when I start needing a direction to move in. My mind starts to realize that, like in most things, it can always run away with itself and this writing idea, and if I want any of it to make sense, I must make it make sense.

And so, now, I start to outline. It starts pretty simple. At this point, I can see the end game, even if it’s well off. I’ve started to see that this character loves to leap before looking, the other is too busy being a flirt to pay attention, and the personalities of all the others have developed to the point I start feeling they’re real people telling me their story. I know what sort they are; now, I just need to know where they’re going.

I plot out the plot as loosely as possible to allow for creativity to still flourish. I get nervous if I don’t know the story has a point. I also like that these ideas developed in the outlining lead on to bigger and better plot ideas. More often than not, the outline leads to future book ideas, and then I start overwhelming myself with the history involved.

During this outlining period, I’m still writing. However, now I feel like I’ve an actual purpose with it. I’m more determined than ever to have a productive output, and I feel rather manic. The ideas start pouring in because I know the structure they’ll be contained in is there. I also know that, as the architect, I’m still able to manipulate as the characters and stories need.

I’m probably my happiest, most productive, and best in this stage. I’m always that mercurial sort mentioned above. I do love being in control…and losing it. It’s so very hard to decide what I think on so many things because of this, the least of which is writing.

But, to where do I go after the outline?

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Posted by on 12/13/2013 in blogging, writing

 

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Realizing all the while, you’ve been doing it wrong.

Once upon a time, I wrote a fantasy novel. I haven’t spent too much time on my specific works in this blog, mostly because I had intended on having another blog serve to deal with my “I’M A WRITER, DAMNIT!” thoughts. However, I’ve been in a weird sort of mood lately, and I really just want to talk about stories.

I didn’t start out writing fantasy when I decided writing was the craft for me. In fact, I was just a little obsessed with a time period of history/country called Ancient Egypt and writing a story set there. I was so obsessed that some of my early internet usernames were based upon characters in that novel series. I started that series when I was 17, finished the first book when I was 21, and started up the prequel (because writing out of order is just awesome, let me tell you). Then, the story just crashed and burned.

It wasn’t because the plot couldn’t sustain itself. It could, and I still hope that it can. However, the time of life I was entering, I found myself consumed with other things that distracted me further from the closeness I had experienced with the characters.

Two years later, after writing hundreds of poems, reading a dear friend’s own fantasy work, and trying to work through some visions of plot that danced in my head, I decided to start working on a fantasy novel. It started a lot smaller in scope, and now it sits as a waiting trilogy, but I really believed in the storyline and I admit, it was a lot of fun to write.

That’s the background. Now, here’s what I’m trying to get at.

A few posts ago, I wrote about going through some old writing, finding that 23 year old me, and reliving the past relationships that have since faded with time. I have struggled for years to get myself back into a writing sort of mood, and that Monday was a trigger moment. The following weekend, I actually worked on my writing. I was happy, but a little sad, too.

Since I left high school, writing wasn’t just about me getting whatever thoughts in my head out on paper, but rather a sort of social interaction I held with classmates, friends, other writers, and often, I would just spend an entire night talking about plot points, worries, and directions I wanted to take. It wasn’t selfish. I listened just as much as I talked. I spent countless hours with other creative people, letting the pulse of their own exploration inspire and motivate me to be bigger, better, and stronger as an artist.

I really enjoyed myself, reading the words I wrote about a decade ago, edited seven years ago, and wrote in a very changeable winter. But, part of what I missed was knowing I couldn’t really share that with anyone. I couldn’t do anything but pace the rooms of my house, whispering my thoughts on working through the bad areas of writing. It was a lonely process. I really didn’t like it.

This isn’t a foreign feeling. I’ve been struggling with it for the past seven years. Every time I went to write, that beautiful urge faded as I felt so alone with it. I wasn’t comfortable with the change, so I’d give up.

Yeah, self-inflicted writer’s block.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t want to be that way. I’m sick of letting it be that way.

Time for a change.

 
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Posted by on 11/12/2013 in blogging, writing

 

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A spring and summer creating memories…

A few days ago, I updated my Facebook status describing how I found some old binders, notebooks, and folders with some writing and thoughts I had when I was finishing college, and learning how to move towards a goal of being a responsible adult. Now, over a decade later, I still can’t say I have figured out the adult thing, but I can say I’ve made progress.

I can admit I’m a bit of a pack rat. In some cases, I keep things because of sentimental value; maybe they remind me of an event, or maybe they just are things I believe I will eventually use. I tend to remember things vividly from years ago, and occasionally get a little too nostalgic due to that. So, if I have things that relate to a vivid memory, or signify a relationship of the past, I tend to keep it.

The other night, I came home from work and walked over to my overstuffed bookshelf. I thought I might have stashed some extra office/school supplies there that I could have taken to work to use for something. Instead, I started pulling out these binders, folders, and a notebook with a “title” written up on it in big sharpie handwriting. A part of me stared at disbelief as I had forgotten that I had stuffed these items away, intending to keep them for posterity.

I never found the supplies I thought I had. Instead, I found the 22/23 year old me, full of opinions, an awakening spirituality, and completely in love with writing. I found the imagination that I sometimes think has escaped from me as I’ve grown older, more mature, responsible. The kid part of me I strove to hold on to those years went down for a nap so long ago, and I wonder if she will ever wake up.

One of the notebooks was a journal a friend and I had kept my last summer at the job I had right out of college before the place went out of business. In the journal, my friend and I wrote about friendships (with coworkers and people we knew outside our little group), our philosophies and beliefs, poetry and short stories. Inside, I also used the notebook to detail out growing relationships I was making with people that, at the time, were consuming my world. In 2002, fresh out of college, optimistic that the world was at my feet, and boy, did I dream and want things bigger and grander than anything I ever did and got. Inside this one subject notebook, I poured out some of the biggest parts of who I was and what I wanted. Ironically, I also made promises and declarations in this notebook I later broke to myself. Ah, the mercurial me.

One of the best and worst parts of reading these materials this week was not the memory trip it conjured, but the realization that back then, so very few people knew me, or, for that matter, saw me. I have always been a bit of the quiet girl, keeping my feelings and emotions close. I can guarantee that some of the people closest to me in proximity knew nothing of what things I wrote, or believed, or hell, felt. The crushes, the falling in love, the intense spirituality building within me, centering me and giving me the confidence to believe, for once, I was okay. The knowledge that writing wasn’t just some hobby I liked to do on cold weather mornings, but an immense part of who I was as a person. And, the fact that writing brought to me so many connections to people so far away that matched my personality in ways I still can’t begin to explain to people. So many secrets back then. So much need for them.

Probably the best part of the trip down memory lane was the fact that I got to see my description of the beginning of one of the longest and fulfilling relationships of my adult life. Sure, living through that, I was aware of what I felt at the time, and what I personally saw, but writing it down for an audience outside of myself, I saw a bit of what I had forgotten about it. It was genuine, unintended, and fun. As it went, sometimes it hurt more than I could ever know things could hurt. But, it started as fun.

I need to get that back. That sort of fun. Ah, well…we shall see.

 
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Posted by on 11/08/2013 in blogging, writing

 

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Sometimes, life just controls you.

I think I’ve tried to write this entry about twelve times. I know I’ve struggled with what exactly to say and whether or not I really, truly care to say it. Writing, to me, has never been something I could treat as a chore or a listing that I must check off. It’s been a passion, a love, a friend, and until the last five years, a refuge from a lot of things I have been consistently struggling with since my last entry.

The big reason I stopped posting wasn’t for lack of ideas. It was a lack of energy. My job has become more of a time consumer in my life than ever, and I feel like I’m lost in a whirlwind of what I need to do to keep the income in because, ultimately, when you’re poor, that’s the main impetus for your life. Keep the income that keeps your life together.

To not give too many details: The company that I worked for was bought out by a bigger, global, and more successful company in the same type of “business.” They were nice: They “converted” stores rather than close or sell them, and a majority of the people who worked for the original company retained a position in the new company. But, switching companies means new rules, new hours, new job requirements, and in my case, a hell of a lot of new stress.

I spent a week fielding phone calls from corporate offices and bank customer service lines, and my own workplace in order to locate a missing fund of money (AKA my pay), I am spending nearly 3 x’s my old amount of money just trying to get to work (cause I’m the loser without the license), and I think I’ve gotten 30 hours of sleep total since October 4th.

I work three different shifts a week, which seems to be the normal for me, and I try my best to be accommodating and nice because ultimately, I know I work this because there isn’t anyone else to do it. I have about 40 people a day ask me how I like my new job, and I have to grin through explaining that it’s a lot of change. They don’t get why I’m not raving in my reviews. Maybe if I had some time to really stop, think, and contemplate, I could actually figure out how I feel. Instead, I’m busy just trying to figure out when I’m going to do laundry next, and OMG, Christmas is coming, I have gifts to buy and OMG I have no time to buy them. Thank goodness for online versions of stores. That is ONE thing not contributing to stress.

I feel backed into a corner, and I’m never at my best in these moments, and since I tend to write best when happy, writing hasn’t been a priority when not sleeping has.

Couple this with the election coming up. I’m not going to get political. I have too many friends and people I’m fans of flooding my Facebook wall with all of their opinions, whether I want them or not, and I don’t want to spend an entire post explaining why I feel the way I do.  But, I will, in a few days, make a decision. I will vote. Once, I was told by a family member that she didn’t vote because,  “It doesn’t matter. My vote doesn’t matter.” Sure, because of the electoral college and the basic “leaning” that states have, in some way, in NY, even if you vote Conservative, chances are you’re going Liberal as a state.  But, here’s a little factoid that some might not realize:

One day, after submitting my vote for President, and reading the local paper, there was a headline that gave a listing of the votes collected in my local county, counted for President of the United States. I, and my mother, voted Democrat.  It was a VERY close election, even in the conservative county. My choice, even though he didn’t win, won the county by 2 votes. 2 votes. Those two votes, those two voices, could have been mine and my mother.  That made voting more real to me than anything. It can, at times, come down to a vote. Things do so all the time. One vote in a battleground state, as they call them, could decide how the state goes. One vote. As optimistic as it might make me to believe in that, being raised to believe in the United States made me be that optimistic.

So, please, if you can, do vote. Your voice can only be heard if you open your mouth. Silence isn’t winning. Silence isn’t better. You may hate your friends for filling up your walls, and blogspace with political points with their point of view, but they, at the very least, are using their voice and to get all patriotic: The fact they are even able to have a voice about such things? THAT is the essence of what is great about this country. So, vote. Speak up.

That’s as political as I EVER hope to get in this blog.

So, here’s the deal with the morose post: I’ll hope to write more. After all, the holidays are coming up, and I’m sure I’ll have funky tales to talk about. But, I did want people to know I do not intend on walking away from this blog, even if I was forced to for the past few months. Silly Saturdays will be back. Crazy midnight, 2am, 6am (and out of work!) musings will be coming. I felt I had to say something and get this all off my chest, as rambling as it might be.

See ya’ll soon. 🙂

 
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Posted by on 11/05/2012 in blogging, Uncategorized, work

 

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The Versatile Blogger Award..

Okay, the entry from earlier today mentioned this award. While I don’t think I quite have the 15 blogs to recommend just yet, I will go ahead and do this.

To start, I was nominated by Chris who writes Introspections During Quiet Time. I started reading his blog after seeing it in the “Freshly Pressed” section of Word Press. The name of his blog grabbed my interest, and I read a few entries. Chris has a great voice and connects to a reader in the way a couple of friends would talk.  And yes, his blog’s name is quite accurate to his posts. 

The Rules are:

1. Add the award to your blog
2. Thank the blogger who gave it to you and include a link to their blog.
3. Mention 7 random things about yourself.
4. List the rules.
5. Give the award to 15 or more bloggers.

So, while I’ve done the first two, next we get to the 7 random things about myself. This should be interesting. I was the queen of random thoughts back in the day. Let’s see if I can make some more magic today.

1. I used to re-enact for the American Civil War time period. My father and brother participated in a regiment that would go to Civil War events and re-enact battles. My mother and I had dresses to wear to complement their participation. So, yes, I’ve worn a hoop skirt ,and yes, it’s very annoying to try to move around in it.

2. If I could go back and re-do my college career, I would probably end up in the anthropology/archaeology disciplines. Don’t get me wrong. I love my reading and my writing, but I do regret not taking a more in depth study of those disciplines.

3. I’m a Gemini born in the year of the Monkey. Look up both astrology descriptions and that might describe why I’m all over the place sometimes.

4. Anytime a website asks what my hero is or what inspires me, I always give the answer of my sister. She’s mentally and physically handicapped, but she’s the strongest, most defiant person I know. She has defied doctor’s expectations and won the hearts of multiple people within moments of meeting her. Every time I feel the “woe is me” feeling, I think about her and realize that I’ve actually had it pretty easy. It certainly changes my tune.

5. As a kid, I always thought I would own a restaurant. Why? I don’t know. I never cooked. Just always thought it.

6. Some of my favorite moments of the day are the ones that come just before I fall asleep. My mind may or may not be settling down, but the thoughts that sit there are some that have guided me into the beliefs I hold now. There’s something about feeling your body relax, listening to your own breathing, and letting the images in your head just play. Especially when they lead into the most amazing dreams.

7. I used to tell people that I am psychic all the time. It’s uncanny the times I’ve been right and the experiences I’ve had that relate to paranormal things. This is probably why the town of Gettysburg, PA is my second home. So, I love the paranormal. I just don’t write about it much anymore. Too much judgement and too much in the way of charlatans.

Alright, now onto the blogs I recommend. Like my prior entry said, I’m new to the following blogs thing. So, I’m doing my best.

Check out:

1. The above blog that recommended me. No joke. It’s easy to follow and pretty honest in its revelation. Jump into it!

2. Unsuccessful Twentysomething . First of all, I like quirky titles. Secondly, I just love this writer’s take on things. There’s an unblemished honesty in what is said, and I respect that.

3. Unsweetened Tea   Written by a childhood friend of mine that I reconnected with through the miracles of the site, Facebook, I find myself having even more in common with her thoughts now than when we were kids.  I find her writing refreshing. She, unlike me, is unabashed in how she comes across and doesn’t really care what you think.

4. Dating Dramas  I find if I look at what blogs the people whose blogs I follow follow (now there’s a mouthful!), I tend to find even more things I can relate to. Several on this list came from such an adventure. This is a very honest, tongue-in-cheek look at the modern world of dating. It’s also hilarious (and maybe a little sad, too) to see what you have to look forward to when it comes to joining dating websites. Wonderful, easy to read voice.

5. Upon Reflection  One of my writing friends, I’ve known the writer for a decade now. I would buy anything of his I could ever find in print, and I promise to do so once he achieves his publishing dream. One of my best friends, and someone who always pushes, supports, and even enjoys some of my writing, I would be remiss to leave him off.

6. Preble Road Crew  The writer of this blog is a friend I made in college. She’s an amazingly candid writer, and always has been. She writes mostly about life as a young, new mother, and it comes complete with amazing pictures of her daughter, significant other, and their pack of dogs. Her realism and honesty is wonderful.

7. Attacked By Heart For this one, I linked to a specific post because I identified with the post so much I followed immediately. Sometimes, you find someone who writes exactly what you’ve felt or want to write, and they do it so well you realize you don’t want to try. This is one of those entries.

8. black coffee, cigarettes, and romanticism Can’t do much more to attract my attention than have an image that mentions Sylvia Plath on your blog. The writer puts this blog firmly in the writing and rambling category, and that’s okay by me. While I try to stay focused in my blogs now, I really understand the value of just doing a thought dump and letting whatever’s sitting inside out and free.

So, I made it more than halfway through the required 15. I’m sure I’ll add more to my list the longer I explore the world of blogs. But, give these links a perusal and if you find something to like, I’m happy to help fellow bloggers find some new followers. If not, no sweat.

Thanks again for the nomination, and I will try my best to remain versatile. After all, I just think that’s another way to say random, and random’s fine in my book!

 
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Posted by on 07/19/2012 in blogging

 

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