Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It Is What It Is

Sad to admit I’ve been blocked creatively for a while, uncertain what I should write or what I wish to accomplish. But I do plan to surge forward. While that may sound vague a person can only begin where one stands.

In many recent interviews I hear a lot of my aging music heroes following laments with the phrase “It is what it is.” That has become a mantra in my household. Seeing things as they are, realizing where we are, means we can move on from this current point in time. It's time to embrace the here and now. I hope you’ll do so with me.

Meanwhile, I have taken a creative step forward. Below is an image I wish to share that depicts my latest and atypically wordless art endeavor:

The Primordial Eye
I'll keep an eye out for whatever you create, dear reader. And in a serious note I must give thanks to Grace Kahlo for the ongoing workshop based on Julia Cameron's "Finding Water" that inspired me to pull out my pastel chalks for this fantasy creation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Writing Through Heartache

You must agree that current world news is an unending tale of terror. The mass murders in France and the obvious signs that war will escalate even further have me heart sick. I feel so helpless and hopeless that I almost want to dive into the ocean’s abyss and just disappear. Writing today, no matter how much I want to achieve fifty thousand words toward National Novel Writing Month, seems a petty and pointless endeavor.

But I’m alive. And I can’t disappear into a hole because there are a few precious souls on this ball of dirt who just might miss me.

So I’ve decided to try using advice heard many times through various sources. I’m going to channel these emotions into story. Maybe it will help me climb out of this pit. Maybe not. I don’t know.

I can say that my science fiction dystopia provides the perfect vehicle for despair. Empowering my protagonist beyond despondency, perhaps using anger as the impetus, seems an awfully good idea suddenly.

Wish me luck. I may even mix an unprecedented pre-writing cocktail first. What about you, dear reader? How are you coping with today's news?


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Darla's Writer Wednesday - Annual National Novel Writing Month Edition

One thousands, six hundred sixty seven words. Sounds like a lot to write in one day, doesn’t it? That’s the goal if you want to achieve fifty thousand in a month as per the NaNoWriMo challenge.

I’m proud to have succeeded for each of the last four years. This November I am right on target. I don’t need to get cocky, though. I need to put in the work, the time, the effort. Phrase it how you will. Also, I can’t stop to edit. I must keep forging ahead.

The notion daunted me originally to the point of believing success impossible. When A. Catherine Noon, ever enthusiastic and encouraging, first informed me of NaNoWriMo I balked. If memory serves correctly, I waited until the next year before accepting the challenge.

What helps me win is my old friend, the drabble. If you haven’t heard of them, they are basically one hundred word vignettes. My favorite fan fiction website sets up challenges. Each month a theme is decided and the fun begins.

Let me tell you, it’s not always easy to convey a scene with so few words. Yet I became prolific, sometimes connecting a series to tell a complete short story. And that realization, along with the recollection of having submitted sometimes a dozen drabbles in a day, encourages me to bring home the win.

National Novel Writing Month doesn’t require me to end with a polished product, either. Our goal is to produce a rough draft. If story encounters an obstacle, start a new scene and keep going. One hundred words at a time. That’s fewer than seventeen drabbles each day!

How about you? Want to try your hand at drabbles? It might just get your creative juices flowing.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Darla's Playtime

Well, I haven't been writing fiction lately. But I did have fun this week in a manner I think Julia Cameron would wholeheartedly endorse. You see, I have better success with outdoor gardening and so my indoor fairy garden died out over time. I didn't want to scrap it because of time spent designing the planter from a storage bin, building a 1/12 scale tiled patio, and buying cute little accent pieces.

After weeks of seeing me stare at the blasted miniature landscape wondering what to do next, my partner suggested incorporating my new zombie playset into the mix. Brilliant, I thought. We adore Halloween and it is October, after all. A few artificial trees supplemented the landscaping while the zombies swarm across. It's a huge hit in our household.

Further urging to share the results brought a new set of challenges. I have never taken a photography class in my life, so my original images looked utterly lifeless (excuse the bad pun). Today I took time to get my Canon PowerShot SX130 really up close and personal with my miniscule undead Americans. Success!

Notice He is Carrying His Own Arm
I Made the Banner From Scrapbooking Material and Chopsticks
Hey, Buddy, Can You Lend a Hand?
Zombie Dog with the Previous Guy's Hand...
I Love That She's Carrying Brains While Wearing Fuzzy Slippers

Is Halloween something you enjoy at your house? Please share your plans and/or decorating tips in the comments. Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Writer Wednesday – My Third Act Struggle

On August 26th my endeavor to follow Alan Watt’s workshop “The 90 Day Novel” stalled. For a time I blamed stress over various family concerns. I think now that was an empty excuse. After all, my dry spell totals a surprising eleven days while real life drama escalated months ago.

What has changed? I floundered my way into the story’s third act.

Was I lazy during my fallow period? No. But was I truly too busy to write? Not at all. Even a half hour can produce great results if I make the effort.

In all honesty I fear ending my novel. What if I don’t have a good story to tell? Alan Watt advises students to keep going despite such doubts. My job is to write to the end, even if the whole thing continues seeming vague and meandering.

A rough draft is meant to be just that – rough. Discrepancies can be fixed and storytelling tightened during rewrites. In fact, my hero’s conflict may be resolved differently than I can even now imagine. To get there I mustnotstop.

Doesn’t that sound easy?

So today I am a few hundred words further along. Yet I continue grappling with plot much more than my character. But that’s okay. I can transfer that tension to the page by showing up every day and letting my heroine’s needs versus wants show me the way. The clock is ticking, though, if I want to keep my new aim.

What is one goal you’d like to achieve as we edge toward mid September?


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Writer Wednesday - Writing In the Face of Life

Image ©2015 A. Catherine Noon
All Rights Reserved
Though John Lennon is credited with "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans," it's apparently Allen Saunders who first said it. Regardless of who it was who came up with it, they were right.  It's always something.  Which, coincidentally, is the title of a book by Gilda Radner, It's Always Something.

So how does one keep writing in the face of all this stuff?

Sometimes, life kicks us when we're down.  Other times, it's distractions that deter us from our path.  No matter the reason, the way back to the path is to just get on the path.

I know that sounds Zen, but that doesn't mean it's bad advice.

Just write three pages.

Pull out some paper from your printer tray, or grab a blank notebook. Raid the recycle bin, if you have to. Grab something to write on, and a pen to write with.  Put three pages down, longhand.  There's something magical that happens when we write - our breathing slows, we focus, and poof - we're in the moment.  It's moving meditation, without the discipline and discomfort of sitting in full lotus for an hour.

Write a "Dear Poopyhead" letter.

My good friend, author Dayna Hart, suggested this one to me when I was grousing about a particularly stinging response to a submission.  I felt gut-punched, angry, and sad.  I didn't know what to do, but I needed to get "it" off my chest.  "So, write a 'Dear Poopyhead' letter."

I grumped, bitched, and complained.  This is, after all, what I suggest to my students.  But *I* didn't need it, did I?  How could I?  I mean, I dutifully write my morning pages every morning, don't I?

She was unsympathetic.  "Write it anyway."

It worked.  

Which was her whole point.

Zen much?

Turn off the incoming stream.

We are way, way too connected in this modern world of ours.  We let all sorts of inbound, unfiltered crap into our brains without discrimination.  How many times have you gotten sucked into your Facebook stream, only to emerge soaking wet, wondering what the hell possessed you to go swimming in the river without a life preserver?

So, turn off your ringer on your smartphone.  Turn off your wifi on your laptop.  If that feels too drastic (and, let's face it, it does sometimes feel exactly that), set a timer and just do it for a half hour.  It's only 30 minutes.  

What do you do while it's silent?  
  • Write three pages longhand
  • Doodle
  • Open a blank document and start typing
  • Keep your fingers moving, don't worry about spelling or grammar
  • Listen to music and let your mind wander
Try it.  30 minutes of silence can restore all sorts of equilibrium.

if none of that works, take a bath and go to bed.  Your mother was right:  it'll be better in the morning.

What about you, Dear Reader?  What are your favorite coping mechanisms?

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
- E.E. Cummings

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Distracting Darla

Okay. Laptop battery is charged up, most of the day’s chores are done for now, and I found the perfect writing soundtrack.

All I need is a few uninterrupted minutes. But that just doesn’t seem to be happening lately.

Turning off the internet just does not appear to be enough. Not when someone else in the house is bored and determined to share every little thing. Apparently, my prime writing time must be shifted from early afternoon to evening. Soon, I’ll be forced to go on a grocery shopping expedition.

Joy. I’d rather spend time with my characters.

What can you do? I have to admit, one video my partner showed me was adorable. And on that note, let me entice you with that very distraction.

Miniature Horse Chasing People

Thanks to Time for the news article with video...