On Writing: Breathing through the white space…

Memory makes history, and with time, the past becomes a collection of stories, some perhaps, better than others.

The bad ones – if you find a way to exorcise them – lose their power over you. Writing them down is one such way, breathing through that white space between the words.

Detachment – just enough to write in the third person – is looking outside of the experience, and hopefully, through a fresh pair of eyes, further embeds that stripping of power; seeing it play out from another perspective. Releasing.

Appreciate the white space – where you, your characters and your readers can breathe…

 

 

 

 

 

On Writing…all that you have

Writing is discovery. Discovery is inspiration. Inspiration leads to more writing.

Do yourself a favour today. Pull out one of those old notebooks that you treasure so much, yet haven’t looked into for an age. Click into a file folder that you haven’t opened for a while.

Rediscover that quote, note, concept, thought, script treatment or novel beginning that you find waiting there, and work on it.

Ideas have patience, but time does not.

Do it. Now.

Beyond the common eye…and being thankful for the writer’s ‘writing’ friends

I recently put out an SOS call to some writer buddies. A colourful, interesting bunch of talented scribes, men and women at varied stages of their own careers. Busy people, too busy to be putting hours aside to read my stuff.

And yet, for the most part, that is exactly what they took time to do.

You see, I had gotten stuck in the mire of whether to move forward with a project, a novel. A project that over the years, the writing of which could be likened to a long-term relationship of passion, nail-biting obsession, occasional bouts of frustration and even the odd period of apathy.

Until, that is, I lost it all. Every frigging word of approximately 45,000 so far written, non-retrievable in all its fledgling glory between the scratched layers of a burnt-out Hard Drive. [And that’s another story!]

Six months later, having finally made peace with my own stupidity [BACK UP YOUR FILES, PEOPLE!] and with a template from the screenplay drafts of the story, some retrieved from said writer friends, I set about starting from scratch, writing the first chapter, while my brain, all the while, niggled with thoughts akin to the words of W.C Fields.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”

And as the chapter developed, between the lines, the doubts went back and forth as the nagging lefty DEVIL and righty ANGEL, each digging into weary, laptop-hunched shoulders, continued the schizophrenic debate…

You loved it enough to begin, so begin again.  Let it lie, and quit flogging the proverbial dead horse. It’s in your system still, write it out and purge! You’re wasting precious writing time on this. You should be working on the other half-dozen concepts vying for your attention. Finish the goddamn thing and see where it takes itself! Pointless trying to revive something that should now be laid to rest...

Much like the smoking, smashed Hard Drive, the brain was deeply fried from it all. The squabbling might continue forever. I needed help!  And I needed that help in the form of honest and solid feedback.

And the ‘writers’ rallied to the cause, with practical, sensible, encouraging, truthful opinions and feedback – and enough of a nudge to spur me on for one more try. What they gave me was indeed beyond the common eye,  each, in their own way, reminding me of the heart and soul stuff that just refuses to QUIT!

 

 

Image/ quote sourced from Google images: Not the copyright of the author.

Journey of a storyteller: Balance? My arse!

This writing business can be fraught with personal challenges, and yes, sacrifices. I am always suspect of ‘writers’ who seem to be able to manage the work, rest, play routine; suspicious – or jealous!

For me, at times, the balancing of all of life’s elements often seem like an unreachable goal. The more I write, the more I struggle to keep it all going. The less I write, the harder my days become…

“All the time I’m not writing I feel like a criminal. It’s horrible to feel felonious every second of the day.

It’s much more relaxing to actually write.”

Fran Lebowitz

Having a full-time job must factor into the mix, of course, and I’ll admit, I am a bit of a perfectionist, an all or nothing kind of person anyway.

In other words, a pain in the backside!

Half-measures don’t suit me. Sloppy attempts don’t suit me – the curse of the Virgo child – and honestly, I’d rather not carry out a task, writing or otherwise, if it can’t be done with one hundred per cent commitment.

Frustrating, or what?

Yeah, but life is messy, I hear you say. Not everything can be methodical and organized and perfect. Chillax and get over yourself!!

Indeed, and I do agree. Which is why I so often feel like a square peg in a round hole – like the struggle to do it all becomes more of a struggle to avoid it all.

So what is the solution? Is there one? Has anyone cracked it yet?

Am I doomed to be a miserable, felonious, frustrated non-writer?

Or is it okay to be a happy, solitary eccentric, gleefully tapping away on the keyboard, or scribbling the chicken scratches on the pages of my very beautiful notebooks while the world and its woes float on by?

Now, where’s my favourite pen? Don’t you just hate it when people ‘borrow’ your favourite pen???

Featured image sourced from http://pinterest.com/linotype/with-their-typewriters/

On Writing: Don’t do it…unless…

I have no doubt that I am not alone in feeling that life in general seems to be getting more frantic, busier, louder and peppered with more stress than ever before. For those of us choosing to write, that quiet, creative time alone can literally become an elusive dream that reaches far off into next week, next month, and probably beyond.

So are you getting on with it?

And if you are finding a way to keep on top of it all,  how do you decide which projects to give your precious writing time to? Are you having trouble with that?

If so, check out this poem from Charles Bukowski — it’s definitely helping me to see the wood for the trees right now. Perhaps, it may even help me to make some crucial, life-changing career decisions in the not too distant future.

That’s the wonderful thing about good advice — there is no need to reinvent the wheel — just learn from the masters who’ve gone before, and heed the seasoned [and in this case, well-seasoned!] advice.

So you want to be a writer…

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Poem sourced from : http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16549

Sifting through the madness for the Word, the line, the way by Charles Bukowski. Copyright © 2003 by the Estate of Charles Bukowski. All Rights Reserved.

What is it that you do (or are!) exactly?

Too many times, I’ve met like-minded creatives, writers, to be more precise, but when I ask them what they do, nine times out of ten, they’ll describe some other aspect of their lives…like being a teacher, plumber, or a pen-pusher in a stuffy office, invariably telling me what it is that pays the bills and keeps the wolf from the door…and when I add… You write, right?… my second question is inevitably followed by a bit of word stumbling before a meek sounding Oh yeah, I write all the time emerges…

Maybe I’m asking the question in the wrong way… because in my opinion, if you are a writer, it is what you ARE…not just what you do.

I have my own theory on when someone can call themselves a writer, and here are my top five writer-defining traits:

1. Your day is not complete until you’ve scribbled or typed up something. And every day is the same.

2. You go deaf to the people around you because you are preoccupied with the characters in your head.

3. You have to be alone, a lot, because there is a story bursting to get out of your buzzing brain and onto the page.

4. You analyze human behaviour (including your own!) all the time!

5. No matter how many rejections, setbacks  or interference you experience, you cannot abandon your writing projects.

And even if it takes years to reap the rewards through the publication, production or the award that you have been striving for, unless you are back in the literary saddle the very next day, expressing and interpreting life in your own unique way, then what is it that you do (or are) exactly?

There is no magic formula as to how you do it, but the magic will emerge if you do it,  A LOT!