Journals

Do you keep a journal?

At one time I kept a journal that I wrote all my feelings in, dreams, strange ideas, thoughts, opened myself up and let it all flow…

…then someone I trusted read it…and got very angry with me because of the words I had written. So I deleted everything from my computer, I burned the notebook, and I made a resolution:  NEVER KEEP A JOURNAL AGAIN!

But,

over the years, the need to get some fuzzy stuff down, to jot story ideas, excerpts of fiction or poetry that feed my soul, notes on what I saw that day, or people I witnessed being people, human’s who carried a story around with them, one I could imagine if I took the time and let my mind run, run, run….so journaling has become part of my life again for the past few years. I do not use it to express inner feelings, disenchantments with every-day life or any of the like, except if it has to do with writing my novel or my short stories.

The journal has become more of an expression that keeps the momentum of writing going, no matter what my frame of mind might be. I hate my story, I love my story, it doesn’t matter, this will help me get by. For a few weeks I’ve let it slip by, not adding to the blank pages anything but my hollow stares. And my novel writing had slowed down to a decrepit pace, of like zero to none words a day with only one or two passing thoughts added. But I picked it up this weekend with new resolve. It feels heavy and real, the journal itself, which makes me feel like the words I’ve hand-written within have some weight that will make a difference somewhere…or maybe none at all. And it doesn’t matter.

Sometimes I let some personal stuff slip in, the stuff I know no one will hate me for after I’ve gone and they take this black book out and decide to look into me. Like this morning’s entry which went something like this:

July 18.2012

Could not sleep during the night, partly because of the heat (even though the air was on) and partly because I just wasn’t tired. My mind wasn’t racing, my legs felt fine (sometimes they itch or twitch) so I’m not sure what it was, but I got up around 1 am or so and came downstairs and read and wrote into my novel manuscript. I feel I may have focus now. My daughter, words of wisdom from a 16-year-old, said to me last night, “Why don’t you finish that story? Don’t give up on it, it’s really good.” (She’d read my first draft in progress a few months ago). “Even if you get another job, you could do both.”

And so I can.

Feel a bit more inspired to dig into blogs again too, especially Disenchanted Twilight, which I sometimes feel I should rename, though disenchantment is part of me, so perhaps it is fine.

~End of entry

If you keep a journal, what do you put into it? Feel free to share.

image: Disenchanted Twilight

Writing the Duomatic Monologue

Okay, so I absolutely don’t know what the title has to do with this post…but I found it in my journal, and hell, I kind of like it, must have liked it, since it’s written in my beautiful handwriting back in May of last year. And during the writing of this, I hear this:

So, my point is that I’m in this really cool writing groove. We all get in one occasionally, hopefully often, or constantly. I wish I could take more time for this blog too. It’s becoming hard to find the time, which is a good thing, I guess.  But today I’d just want to express what it’s like to be in the groove, that dynamic place where all the words come into our heads and fall through our fingertips and onto the paper (or computer screen) like ethereal dictation.

And there’s that synch that happens also. You know the one. You come across all this stuff that reminds you of your story, or your character, or the setting of your novel. Or you come across a piece in a book, like I did today:

You see I have been here a long time now
And though the work I came for was years ago finished
It is an easy country to stay on in

I have got used to the way of certain things here.
They can be absurdly irritating at times
But I get on quite well, really quite well with the people.
And then, they take you for granted. And there’s the sun
And the night air in Summer. There are the Southern roses.
I am at ease in these frequented ruins
And here at least i have my place as exile.

[From Man in a Bar by Jenny Joseph]

So here is something: we open a book and discover, a pieces so appropriate for our eyes to witness, slipping into our thoughts, our writing.  Our story. Maybe that’s my duomatic monologue.

 

Why do I write?

I freaking ask myself this all the time. One time I quit, long ago, my kids were little…it actually felt great.

Of course, it didn’t last…this writing bug grabs you in unique and unexpected ways, it slathers your soul and you brain with ideas that just keep coming, then if you’re crazy enough, you mention this to a loved one and they actually say: That would make such a good story.

So there you go…you’re off again.

I love when the groove of writing is found…not the rut, mind you, but the slickest groove that’s covered in oil and you can just barely hear the hum of the creativity train’s wheels, just slightly, and it’s oh, so soothing…I love it when everything flows. Story. Words. Characters. Descriptions.

I hate it when I look back and see how “less-than” it really was. I try not to compare. I try, like Kerouac, to make it all perfect the first time around or why bother, but I can’t.
Who can really?
Except Jack Kerouac.
Was it he who said that? That a writer shouldn’t need to rewrite, that the original inspiration was all there should ever be. I think it was.

Hold on, like Nora Ephron I’ll have to Google it…be right back…

Bloody hell, I couldn’t find that quote, but I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere, that he said that. If he did, he sucks.

So, why do I write? If you’re a writer, why do you? Is it some sort of inner self talk, or story, or whatever, that needs to burst out? Do we really need others’ approvals? Do you read a book, any good book, and say to yourself, I have a story something like this, I have to write it? Do you lay awake thinking of that little piece of something new to add to your character? Do you find yourself jotting notes down in the oddest of places, like the paper coffee cup you just drank from, because you just might forget before you get back to your desk or computer?

Are you someone like me who would rather do nothing else as a job?

Then we are the same my dear reader.

Making Time

This week has been a writing frenzy for me…or a change. I’m so happy. Of course, blogging time has been non-existent. Still trying to get a schedule together to include that.  I am presently working on a second draft of a young adult paranormal novel, which is being co-written with my daughter.  I’ve been so overwhelmed with her responses, which, of course, keep me motivated. She has the rest of it outlined and noted, and we’ve worked on visualizing the way things happen, the way the characters look, act, the rhythms of speech, etc.  Having her input has a tremendous joy, though we are not at all times in perfect agreement on the text. She also plans to do some Manga-type drawings for the story, which I hopefully be able to share here.

The bottom line? Writing productivity has been up. Like William Hazlitt says: The more a man writes, the more he can write.

It is brilliantly strange and enchanting when one makes writing a habit (in some way) that it becomes…dare I say the word, easier.  Not that it’s easy…don’t yell at me. I know it’s not an easy task all the time…okay, most of the time, but there is something to getting a certain number of pages done, or a certain amount of hours at the desk jotting or tapping away that feeds the writer’s soul, makes the images flow easier, and also brings about those surges in writing genius that we delude ourselves into thinking that we really have. All in all, it makes us keep going, and that my friends and fellow writers is the reason we are here.

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. ~Agatha Christie

And once we are sunk in deep into our story, old, new, or in the re-write stage, I wonder is some of you find yourselves zoning off at any given moment in your life, like when doing dishes, or taking a walk, or a shower, driving in the car, or before you fall asleep, with your story in your head, a scene you’re working on visualized while doing something else?

I love this little story on productivity from For Writers Only by Sophie Burnham:

Emile Zola sat ten hours a day at his desk. Much of this
time was spent staring out the window in a brooding effort

to call up a certain scene. It was work. Zola claimed that
at times the struggle with a certain passage was so intense
it caused an erection.
But sitting ten hours is hard on the back. Another writer
walks. “Three miles a page,” he says.

Give me your opinions on how you keep the writer’s pace at a productive level. You can leave out the erection records if you want.

Confessions of a Writing Reader

I must confess…I love to read about writing more than I love to write.

Okay, wait, that’s not completely true. No, never mind. It is. What I mean to say is that I love reading great articles about how to write as much as I actually do the process, which means that I have spent enormous amounts of writing time reading articles like, Bring Your Characters to Life, How to Create Your Story Outline, or Tips on Getting Your Novel Published, or What’s the Best Point of View for Your Story, How to Create Riveting Action…You get the picture?

This past weekend we were in Barnes & Noble. I first went to the magazine shelves, the writing section, and breezed through every writer and poetry magazine while sitting in the window seat with my Hazlenut Frap. That done, I selected two magazines and headed for the back of the store where the reference and writing section was. I grabbed one of those step stools, not for stepping, but for my bum, which I purposefully placed in front of the section of writing books. I hauled out all the titles that caught my eye. A lot of the books I’d seen before, of course, and had them dutifully noted on the notes page of my iPhone for further purchasing opportunities. There were three stacks of books at my feet, or sideways on the shelves sticking out, waiting my final approval. The lady who works in the store (who’s actually a man transformed into a woman, I complimented her shoes, which were pretty cool looking black heels, which made me wonder how he, I mean she, walked all day in them) leaned over and asked me if I wanted a book cart to get to the register. We laughed. I asked, How big is your cart?

About two hours later my dear husband tracked me down. He knew where to look by now. I had narrowed my selections down to ten, and I was adding up the ultimate charge to the credit card with the phone’s calculator, when he said, “You’re buying all of those? You have a three book shelves full of writing books at home.”  Ah, yes, a voice of reason. One of the perks of being married. And when exactly would I find the time to read all these books?  So I ended up with one magazine.

*!*

I read and re-read writing articles. I keep all my Writers Digests and The Writer magazines. My collection stretches back to 1989. I’ve used highlighters and ink pens of various shades to underline passages. Page upon page are tattooed with ink arrows at paragraphs to look at again, some with stars next to them to spark my eye when I return, or exclamation marks near a quote to keep my writing ambition up to speed.

It is a painstaking process – all this reading about writing that one simply has to do. I could make a career out of it (oh, if someone would only pay me to read!) and the reading and noting of articles I could easily fill and replace a day of actual writing work.

So, is anything wrong with me? Can anyone relate to this? Hell, you’re doing it now, reading this article about writing, so I guess part of you can relate.

So how does one get some efficient, publishable writing done when one likes to read about it more than actually doing said writing? By setting a time limit. One half hour of article – if I feel the urge – then get writing! A prompt, a short piece, or into the novel in progress.

I’ve come to limit my reading about writing time with great practicality. It hasn’t been easy. This means avoiding news stands, limiting online searches (especially tough since I love so many great writer’s websites, a list I’ll create in a later post) and filing away my magazines for the time being.

Now I believe that I can finally write more than I read about it. I do keep one well underlined, starred, and exclamation pointed magazine around as an idea sparkler. I use articles for writing prompts and exercises to keep my writer’s spirit from falling off the pyramid. This magazine presently is The Writer’s Guide to Creativity, a Writer’s Digest supplement, issued back in November 2011. And one precious, awesome, book I can’t get enough of on manuscript revision, called Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon.

Manuscript Makeover delves not only into revision techniques, which I desperately need, but also helps with my current novel’s inspiration, helps me to think of my story in new insightful ways, and puts creativity at its peak, both in writing first drafts, and revising stories as a whole.

So there is my confession.

I’m still a writing reader. I’ve taken a step program to free myself for the loss of precious writing time due to this reading addiction. I now am revising a novel for publication, and writing two different shorter stories for this sweet blog I started. And I can safely stay away from my shelves of books and magazines…

I think…

 

You Do Not even have to leave your room…

“You do not even have to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen.  Do not even listen, simply wait.  Do not even wait, be still and solitary.  The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”  ~Franz Kafka

 

Okay….I’m still waiting….what is happening?  The heat has turned on and the plant is in the warm stream of air and is moving back and forth and I’m thinking, I should move that plant, it may be too hot for it in that spot.

And so I sit.  It’s not like I don’t have any writing projects to work on. I have three going right now, which may be why I sit here. Too many things pulling me around, scattering my focus.  I believe when we write we have to become part of the story. We have to live, eat and breath as one or all the characters we’ve created do. With this focus comes and unending stream of scenes that we can sit and witness, and with some creative luck get those images down on paper with just the right, most publishable words that will send readers into another world that they’ll never want to leave.

It’s not easy of course. Often we sit and try over and over again. Some days I write all nonsense. I look at it the next day and think, what the fuck was I thinking yesterday.  Other days, I look at what I’ve written and think it’s brilliant. (Okay, maybe not brilliant, brilliant, but that sort-of kinda almost brilliant that my favorite writers have).  Still, the main thing, is that we have to set the time down and try, no, do the writing and what will come of it is a moment of brilliant. Without doing it regularly, well, the slump sets in.

As Sophy Burnham says: “When I am happiest, I write every almost every day.”

Me too.