Good Morning

Good morning all! I am heading off to work in a few minutes, drinking coffee, preparing myself for the day ahead. I still need to decide what to bring for lunch… Hmmm.

I have been meaning to update everyone on a few things. First, I finished a couple books, so prepare yourself for a few book reviews! I have also watched a couple movies that I plan on throwing in my thoughts for your enjoyment. I have undertaken a new project (more on that later) and I have been working on my novel. I think it is going to be great (of course I do, otherwise, I would have trashed it).

The 4th of July was memorable, particularly the part where I lit a firework called the Piñata Buster and tried to guess whether a paper mâché unicorn was going to come out or if it was going to explode into candy… neither happened, but it was pretty.

One more thing, I live in Las Vegas and right now one of our greatest escapes, Mt. Charleston, is sadly on fire. It has been burning for about a week, no injuries are yet reported and no structural damage has occured, but with whole communities up there (all evacuated) and 700 people fighting to increase the 15% containment, it is a very scary and dangerous threat. So send your well wishes, prayers and if you have any extra, please send your rain.

And I’m off to work! Have a great Monday everybody! (Oh shoot, lunch!)

Realization, Writing is Necessary

Hi everyone! Did you guys miss my posts? Of course you did!! Well, I’m very happy to be back. I am hoping that I can post for each day to hit all of my categories, Monday Musings, Top Pick Tuesday, you know the rest, but I am still pretty darn busy at work, so my goal is to post at least 3 times, well to begin with and work up from there.

So, today is Thursday, but do I feel like throwing a virtual tantrum at you guys? Nope! I feel like being slightly philosophical.

Recently, I stopped by GameStop to meet up with my friend, David. We chatted, he traded in his Kinect, Justin bought Professor Layton and the Magical Mask and then we headed to Del Taco. While We all ate and David’s son demanded french fries that were way too hot for him, David asked me why I was not writing posts. I explained my work situation and he countered with, “but what about after work or on weekends?” I told him how drained I felt and again he countered. “There will always be things that get in the way of doing what you want to do, you just have to do it.”

And I thought about that.

David is right.

There will ALWAYS be reasons to not write.

So, the answer lies with how bad do I want it? And really, for a lot of writers it’s, “how bad do I need it?”

Writing needs to be apart of my life. I feel better when I write. I need to suck it up, because as crucial as my job is for money and stability, writing is as crucial for my well being, my soul.

So, I must change my outlook on writing.

Writing is not what I want to do.

It is what I must do.

Writing is not a hobby.

It is a lifestyle.

It is my dream, my passion, my key to a happy and fulfilled life. It is just as essential as eating, breathing.

Not writing is not an option.

Gasp! Some Air, Some Time, and a Post on Where the Heck I’ve Been

Alright guys, what has it been… closing in on 3 weeks with no posts? Yep, today marks 3 weeks exactly. I’m sure by now I seem like the every-writer-ever stereotype of high energy enthusiasm followed immediately by the typical depressed crash, resulting in weeks of shuttered windows, alcohol abusing, and dark writing that only ever ends crumpled or possibly on fire. Though I do consider myself slightly disturbed, very occasionally known for the abuse of alcohol, and certainly a drifter into near depression none of the above are a reason for my long absence. (I really wish any of those were, in that case I may have at least come out with something on paper). The truth of the matter, I have not written a sad single line.

So if depression, alcoholism, or other writer blocking woes are not the cause, what is?

Work. The day job. My legal assistant and file clerk position, now including fire fighter extraordinaire, superhero, and the trades master.

Here are some highlights of the past weeks. Our computer system went down. Upon restoring the servers, we encountered other issues. Our accounting and data program lost a years worth of information. Now, we back up everything hard copy, so it’s a matter of restoring the past years worth of data – a complicated process, but we are making progress.

But imagine trying to send out bills or explain to others how the accounting data is a year behind and we need to look things up manually, or how the balance forward is not an accurate depiction of the account. In this day, when people are accustomed to producing this info in a click or two, its extremely frustrating and fairly unnerving.

Throw in a few (very) heated office meetings, upset coworkers, and a robbery (just to spice it up) and I’ve got hell on the 16th floor.

My silver lining? I was praised for my contribution when it came to getting the system back in order (not that it’s all in order yet) but like I said, progress. The whole project could take a couple months.

So, I’ve spent my normal writing time either working or exhausted and trying to sleep and I’ve produced nada.

Hopefully, now that I can see the light and things are slightly slowing, I can pick back up and start writing more. I might give myself another week to just feel out the “could this really be true” emotion I’m feeling, but I’ll be posting on any day I have the time.

Glad to be out from under my rock 🙂

Homonyms Action

Ok, you all know homonyms (words with multiple meanings) – like suit – that suits you or the black tie suit. Now, take the same idea, but apply it to actions. Waving, for example can mean hello or goodbye.

Stevie Smith, a British poet, uses this idea in her poem, Not Waving but Drowning.

“Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way, They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.”

While the action of waving can look like a greeting, an attention getter, something welcoming, it actually also could be a goodbye or a drowning, an attempt to get help.

Thinking along these lines, are there any other actions that could have multiple meanings? Maybe, try to come with a time you did something that someone else misinterpreted.

Comments open for any thoughts, examples or whether you liked Stevie Smith’s poem.

It’s not one of my favorite poems, but I like it, and for some reason I find it funny.

Writing Sound

Today we have an exercise in sound. Now, there are several ways to incorporate sound in your writing; by way of similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, etc. In my opinion, I lean towards using similes or metaphors more often than onomatopoeia because I find that onomatopoeia tends seem more childish, the clock goes tick, the horse says neigh, the horn went honk. I think that if you want to use words that mimic their sound, the sentence has to be a bit more complicated. When your sentence is more complicated and uses more educated words, certain onomatopoeic words blend well and add that sound effect the writer is looking for. I still think when I see something like:

Crash! The car skidded into the power box and sparks illuminated the hood in brilliant flashes.

sounds a little young, simply because of “Crash!” I think the writer’s goal is to surprise the reader and by making a one word sound/action it hooks the reader, but from a readers stand point I think a little bit more subtle hits me harder and grabs me. Instead try:

That’s when they crashed. The car skidded into a power box and sparks illuminated the hood in brilliant flashes.

It’s a statement and although the reader will take more time allowing the to figure it out before they finish the sentence, it works to build tension.

In other cases onomatopoeia works very well. You could argue that “skidded” from that sentence is onomatopoeic, the skid mimicking the tire vibration when the car slides and in this case it serves the sentence very well. Other not quite so blatant words like “plop”, “giggle”, and “sizzle”, when used well transform the mundane sentence into a well rounded sensory expirience.

But in no sentence does the word “buzz” belong.

Do you know of any instances where an onomatopoeic word worked well, or did not work at all?

Imaginary Places Vs. Real Places You’ve Never Visited

This weeks writing workshop focuses on one question: How do you prepare to write about a real place that you have never visited?

I feel like there’s a difference when your setting is imaginary versus a real place you have never visited. In an imaginary world, your knowledge rules. You can make anything you want and the readers get to experience it. Not saying it’s easier to write imaginary settings, there’s a lot of foundation that needs to be set and a lot of remembering what it is what. However, when your world is a real city that you’ve never set foot in your knowledge bows to greater knowledge. Your goal is to sound like an expert in whatever city your characters are set, so that if a person from that city chooses to read your book they are convinced by your words and better enjoy the story. For me, that’s one of the major keys of becoming a great writer – being able to convince a reader, a smart reader who knows more about your setting or your subject, that you know what you’re talking about, and that they are going to gain something from reading your work. To break that connection, that trust between author and reader, by misplacing an adjective, incorrectly describing your setting, means that you loose all trust between author and reader, and now they can not believe your setting, your subject, your character, and your story. It’s a slippery slope that can cost you potential readers and potential sales.

The book I’m writing now is set in Seattle, Washington, tentatively. I’ve researched Seattle online and tried to dig up some depth of local culture or the mood of the city. I’ve spent time watching the weather, movies set in Seattle and tried out some sleepless nights, but since I constantly worry about “author/reader trust,” I fear that the only way to really convince my reader the characters are in Seattle is more research, possibly visiting the city or some other immersion.

So my question for you all is, how do you write about a real place you’ve never traveled to and what methods of research do you use?

Also, I spent a lot of time on google maps, checking out street names, lake names, green areas, places of interest, I think I might print them up and hang them around my working area to help. I may also look up some topography maps to get a more accurate feel of the elevation levels, terrain and land formations. Still, experiencing the city may just be the best way to go, at least for a desert dwelling, Las Vegas native.

Improper Words

Today’s writing exercise is a mind workout. It’s a simple process, that for me really opens my mind to new word choice possibilities.

Here we go:

  • First grab a dictionary.
  • Flip to any page you want.
  • Randomly choose a word from the page.
  • Now, use the word in a sentence, but change the part of speech it normally is to another one. So, if the word is a noun, use it as an adjective, or a preposition.
  • Do any part of speech, but try to maintain a similar meaning or at least a meaning you would expect that word to have in the new form.

Colors are a good example. You hear about a leaf greening, or a face yellowing, what would be oranging?

How about the sun oranging the street?

What about the word corolla – a noun meaning the petals of a flower?

What if a building had no windows on the first floor, but the higher up you looked the more windows there were and the tighter together they were built? What if they seemed to curve together and make up the whole top of the building. Could the windows be corolla windows?

Not only is it a word that evokes specific imagery but the vowels smooth over from one word to another. Corolla windows.

Words are limitless.

I always joke with Justin that my English degree certifies me to change the language at my will.

The truth is (I love this topic, if you can’t tell) language changes by anyone’s will.

Obviously, I think there is importance in the proper way of writing and using the language -proper spelling, grammar and all that, but I think about how fun it is to manipulate the language as well and really-how important it is too. Creatively changing the language to meet the needs of a writer wanting to express a very specific idea makes using words in uncommon ways important, as an exercise of the creative mind and a practice for writers pushing envelopes like e.e. Cummings and Shakespeare.

What are some of your favorite uncommon, improper uses of words?

 

Also, check out a review for my poetry collection by Michelle Proulx! A big thank you goes out to her for reading and letting people know about it.