Thursday, September 25, 2008

Writing Through UpHeaval

How many of us only write when we have the time and everything is set? For example, for me the perfect writing environment would be a quiet morning or afternoon, a fresh cup of coffee in my favorite cup (well, really any cup would do) and a head full of stories just busting to get out. No worries, no background fighting from the rivaling siblings, no "honey, did you pay that electric bill", and no one interrupting me to play mom or "honey". Yeah, that would be nice. And on occasion, when the kids are in school, it actually happens.

But then there are weeks like this week. Where my schedule is all flipped around and I have so many "commitments outside the home and office" that I'm beginning to seriously doubt that the little green man was correct in calling me "superwoman". And then of course, there was that proverbial "other shoe" dropping moment of yesterday. Yeah, those times when life just sticks it in and twists. How fun it that?!

That's when all the ideas waiting in the writer's lounge of my brain are forced to continue flipping through their outdated magazines while the big bully of worry occupies my front office. It sucks for both of us, really. But you know what I found? Sure you do. You probably discovered this eons ago. That when I'm under stress....if I make myself sit down and write "for an hour", I free myself. That's right. Maybe it is just an hour, but it's cathartic. Many times, it ends up being a full writing session (3-4 hours). It may be late night or even the wee hours of the morning. Writing everyday, no matter what, gives structure and continuity to my life. And when the entire world is a chaotic sea around you, it's the one piece of drifting wood you need.

Keep writing,


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Writing Non-Fiction; Will They Read it?

When does one decide what they have to say is interesting enough to write down and share with everyone? What makes a true life account, one event or a lifetime's work worth telling? How narcissitic must one be to say literally, "Hey, listen to this!"?

I have wondered this myself. I have written one novel about the field of nursing, full of true stories and little human lessons I learned along the way. I am now starting to write about the struggles of raising an Asperger's Syndrome child. Why? Do I fashion myself on the next competition show of "So You Think You Can Write?". Do I seriously think my writing skills so sublime that no matter what I write, people will flock to read it? No, not even close.

As with any writer, I'm sure, I am quite positive that a "real writer" would tear my pathetic peices apart. But I can't help myself. I have to write and a daily journal entry just won't suffice. So, what do I do? I let all those stories bouncing around in my head come out to play in a Word document. That space will never be empty; although those in the know would claim it already is, perhaps. Because with all five senses up and operating daily, my mind is continuously playing the "what if" game.

And the true to life stuff? They were the bullies of my mind's playground. They were big undertakings and very, very scary. But every once in awhile, you have to face up to your bullies, maybe even try to befriend them. And maybe, just maybe, you'll find they are interesting enough to introduce them to everyone else. Maybe just interesting enough to start to line up speaking engagements!

So, will the non-fiction be read? That's not the question, after all. The question is really: is the non-fiction work worth the telling? Will it in some way benefit the reader and/or targeted audience? If you can answer "yes" to those questions, then take a minute to really look at that bully of an idea that's been pestering you. Is it time to make friends?

Keep writing ~ Karen

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sweet Inspiration

Have you ever read anything like a complete novel or short story or even a magazine article and thought to yourself "Damn, I wish I'd have thought of that!"? Similar to an invention on a late night infomercial, it seems so obvious. "A little robotic floor vacuum that cleans continuously requiring little to no work for the owner?", you say, "Man! It was such a small jump from the remote control car my son keeps running into my feet. Why didn't I think of that?"

It's called inspiration. Yeah, think about it. Some woman or man was sitting there thinking "I spend too much time vacuuming up this house because of this family. Every day, I have to lug that thing out of the closet and vacuum (or sweep the floor). I'm tired of it. There has to be a better way - Ouch! Timothy, please stop running that dadblasted car into my---Heyyyy. Let me see that thing!" Of course I have no clue how that idea came to fruition. I play to prove my point.

Here are some pointers on coming up with fresh ideas from inspiration:

1. Think of an ordinary situation; fixing up an old car, catching a cold, going hiking in the woods. Then think of what would make that an extraordinary situation. The old car is a live thing that once fixed takes on an evil life of it's own and possesses the owner (Christine by Stephen King). Or it's not a cold but a biochemical weapon let loose on an unsuspecting US and only 5% of the population is immune and still manages to divide into good and evil (The Stand by Stephen King). Or it's a little girl hiking with her family that gets separated and lost in the woods and she survives by losing her mind a little (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King). Okay, I'm a Stephen King fan, but you get my drift I hope.

2. What's your favorite story and why? What made that a good story? Was it the twist ending, the irony, the good conquering evil.....what? Now, can you duplicate that with an idea of your own? Take that "feature" that you admired or that hooked you and use it in the world you know and can write about.

3. Is there a true story from your life that makes people laugh till they cry, mist up with emotion or gasp in empathetic horror? Turn it into a fictional story and hey, here's the best can change the ending to suit you if the original wasn't your best moment. It's called fiction for a reason and you, as the author, have what they call creative license.

4. Is your life or work stranger than fiction? Would your memoirs be worth a read? Willing to share it? Write it down!

In short, there are ideas out there. I've said it before, ask yourself "what if?". When I ask myself that question and my imagination answers, I've got a story in the making everytime.

Keep writing,


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Time to Pause

The kids are back in school and I am given the freedom (when not working at my real job) to sit in front of a blank screen and create. And sit.....and sit...and....sit. *sigh*

Wouldn't it be great if we could turn our creativity on and off like our kitchen taps filling up an empty glass. Empty glass, time for a drink, turn on tap, fill with water and drink. Ahhhhhh. Empty house, uninterrupted time to write, turn on creative juices, flowing freely, fill page after page and 2-3 chapters written. Ahhhhhhh.

But, no. Here I am with a fresh cup of coffee sitting by the keyboard or laptop at 9:00am, kids at school until 3:30pm, cell phone on vibrate and an unknown number of chapters left to write on my novel in progress. Nothing. So, what do I do.

What I used to do was "take a break" and read other's work "for just a few minutes", do a household chore hoping creative lightning would strike somewhere between the rinse and spin cycle or play (blushes guiltily) computer games.

But then, I just started to write anything....whether it was good or not, typos and all, just nonsensical rambling. After all, this is the computer age and we have "delete" and "cut". And you know what, nothing happened at first - the first couple of times I did this (slow learner, I guess). But then, it did! I'd be typing along and "well, whaddya know, I think this is going somewhere. Because for me it's the getting started that's the hard part. Once I start, I can't shut up!

Give it a try, when you're blocked and let me know what happens. Who knows, there could be a story in that somewhere