Monday, 29 April 2013

Self Loathing

Lately it seems as though everything I write is brutal. Even things I wrote in the moment that I thought were brilliant, now I think are horrendous. With each word I transfer from the page into type, I feel this self loathing for my writing I rarely experience. I always have a feeling here and there that something is not my best work but never quite to this extreme. It's annoying but I'm not really too worried about it

I figure that it's  a pretty standard artist thing to hate your own work at some point. Eventually you're faced with a moment where you think your art is not what it once was, or seeing it in a different light, or that it never was what you imagined. However, I will not let this defeat me. I will power through because I know what I am capable of, I know what I can write and if that means having to go back through my entire manuscript and trade everything back in for third person (which is what I've been feeling the need to do lately again) I will do it despite the insanity of leafing through 38,000 words and completely reworking them....again.

Why, the third person is calling to me again I'll never know but I think a lot of it is based on the fact that most of my day to day writing is done in the third person. I'm experienced with it, I know what to do, how to make things flow. I have little to no experience in first person aside from journal keeping, which let me tell you is not so difficult when you're writing about yourself and knowing that likely no one is ever going to lay eyes on it except for maybe you, in the future.

I think I'm slowly becoming aware of the fact that if I want this to succeed it needs to be the best that I can do and for whatever reason I'm suddenly looking back and thinking, some of this is not the best I can do. Annoying, frustrating and hopefully I'm not the only self loathing writer out there right now. I know that I should finish the story first completely before I start to worry about any sort of re-writes at least that way I'll have my full completed fundamental base and from there I can go about editing and changing things, it's just so hard to get myself to that point when I can't stand anything that I'm writing.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

One or the Other

Writing, in itself is not necessarily difficult for me. Writing however in specifics, or with purpose to one specific thing can either be ridiculously easy, or one of the hardest things to do, depending on the day. If I am suddenly on a roll with my novel writing flowing with no stop, I seem to come to a mental block in my other works. My sites, my poetry, I can't get a decent word written edgewise for those while I'm inspired for my novel.

Unfortunately it goes both ways. When I am inspired for my other forms my novel remains untouched.  It isn't as though I am unable to multi-task. I can watch a show, listen to music, edit a graphic and write all at the same time, sometimes throw reading into there as well. Never a problem here, but with my creative mind, it's as though I need to be immersed in their specific 'world'. They of course being the characters I create on the page.

The Dalton family (written in my short story) exist in the human world, they are the silent protectors of human, they fight daily battles for the greater good. All things magical and supernatural that oppose them are the enemy, and to be destroyed. This is the same world that exists when I'm writing for my site, so it's easy to be in that place more often than not on a day to day basis. I'm doing all this writing base in third person.

The world in which I write my novel however, the Supernatural...are the heroes. Their battles currently are somewhat selfish contained within their own families, their own concerns. There is a concern for greater good in the long run but the family betrayals, history and ties manipulate the story. It, is written strictly in first person.

They're two different worlds and my brain seems to only be able to handle one at a time so they don't some how cross over. The different perspectives could easily play a part in the separation as well considering I generally write everything in third person, it is a little more thought provoking and difficult to do otherwise.

What I wouldn't for just a week of nothingness, to relax and think and just allow the ideas to form and be free without the distraction of a phone call, or a request, without stressing over anything but writing. Would it help? I've always found my best bits of writing seem to come when I SHOULD be concentrating on something else, So it makes me wonder if it would be a wasted week (aside from the relaxing of course)  What's your best method? Complete submersion? or Multitasking.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A Daltons short story.

Lia sat behind the wheel of her 1969 Dodge charger waiting in the shadows for the signal, or at least a sign that something was wrong. Her brothers had been in there too long already, they were supposed to go ahead, check the perimeter then give her the signal to follow. The waiting was agony, she was dying for a hunt, they hadn't had one in weeks and she was getting restless. As she flicked the stared on her lighter she watched the flame flicked as her mind filled with thoughts. This hadn’t always been her life, lurking in the shadows of night in abandoned parts of town, but she couldn’t really remember doing anything else. For most 22 year old girls this would probably have been deemed unsafe, insane even, but the fact of the matter was, she wasn’t like other girls, not even close. She let out a bored sigh and leaned her head back against the seat her long blond hair pulled back tightly off her face to keep it out of her way, keep her line of sight clear, her instincts ready. Glancing carefully at her phone she saw there were still no message from either of her brothers, that either meant they hadn’t found anything in the warehouse, or something was horribly wrong. Either way they had five minutes until she followed them in. Sitting on the sidelines had never been her strong suit, the same stubborn, take on the world, attitude had gotten her in trouble before, and had been the main reason for her grandfather’s death. Sean Dalton had been a tough old man; harsh, determined, and stubborn, a lot like her unfortunately which had almost always been a problem. A few days after her 16th birthday she’d been itching for a solo hunt, she’d been trained since 8 years old, her first kill at 12, it wasn’t like she hadn’t known what she was doing, but he’d refused, of course he had because he always refused and Jake, her oldest brother always agreed with him. So, she hadn’t really given them much of a choice she went anyway. It was something she would regret for the rest of her life. She was a soldier she was supposed to take orders she had been raised that way and instead she’d disobeyed orders and gotten another person she loved killed. She was really beginning to get used to the idea of deaths of her loved ones though it didn’t make it any easier. She had been 8 years old when she’d come home from school to find her parents’ bodies. The nightmares…they still came, every night without fail. It was traumatizing for any child she was sure to experience something like that, but the way they’d been… it hadn’t been natural. Of course she’d never known the truth of her father’s hunting past, his family's past, none of them had and with good reason. He had purposely tried to keep it from them, to keep them from the life. His father, Grandpa Sean, had disagreed which was why, they knew now they were never allowed to see him. James Sr had feared that he would drop hints, secretly train them. The one thing he father hadn’t prepared himself for was the attack. With both her parents dead, her mother an orphan and the rest of her father’s family still in Ireland, Sean Dalton, the only next of kin left for them, had become their guardian. In turn, she and her two brothers had become everything her father had never wanted them to be, Demon hunters.  “Screw this” She muttered shoving her phone into the pocket of her leather jacket she stood from her car grabbed her weapons and made her way to the building. Vampires in this town were being stupid, too stupid actually which was what had initially had her brothers on guard, making her keep watch in the car before they summoned her in. They were overprotective, both of them but none so much as Jake. 5 years her senior he had always taken it upon himself to be the parent, even before their Grandfather had died, but it had become worse since then. Jake had been worried that his was a trap, the careless actions of this clan seemed like an invitation as if a big ‘come find us’ banner was hung above this old abandoned factory. If this was a trap, she did not have a good feeling about what was to come when she entered. Carefully, and quietly she crept her way through the darkness to the opposite entrance her brothers had taken and squeezed through the opening. She hadn’t been inside 10 minutes before she heard a huge commotion coming from the center of the building. Her guard went up quickly and she swiftly moved through the old building before she entered the main room of the factory. “Jesus…” she started but didn’t even bother to finish as she whipped her knife around clear cutting the head off the vampire headed straight towards her.  This was a full on ambush… and admittedly it was stupid of Jake to plan the raid in the middle of the night when the creatures were at their strongest but The blood spatter flecked her skin as she let her eyes search around for her brothers. Jake, she could see was handling four in the far left corner of the room and Jimmy seemed to be surrounded in the centre. Running she jumping using the beam above for leverage swung herself over the wall of vampires to land beside her brother. “Starting the party without me Jim?” she asked putting her back to his to cover. “Can’t believe you were seriously going to leave me out there” She snapped.

“Please… I knew you’d show up eventually” he assured her a slight tone of amusement in his voice if she’d been looking at him she would have sworn he was smiling. Jimmy, most days was her favorite brother, not that she would ever say it out loud. She and Jake…they got along when she listened but on the best of times they were at war with each other and she knew it was probably because they were so much alike, in mannerism as well as appearances. She and her eldest brother had the same blond where her eyes were pale green his were a striking deep blue, but they were the same shape, if she hadn’t been so much younger she might have guessed they were twins. Jimmy on the other hand looked like neither of them. His hair was dark, the lightest it got in the summer was a medium brown his skin tanned with ease, his eyes while blue like Jake's, were different, pale blue and rimmed in thick dark lashes, and he was a lot more relaxed. They used to tease him about being adopted but in reality if she had to guess she’d assume that she and Jake looked like their mother while Jimmy took after his namesake. Of course, it wasn’t like she could remember either way. What few memories she had left of her parents were buried deep in the back of her mind and their appearances was not really one of them. She had no pictures, if they’d had any in the house she wasn’t sure what had happened to them. She assumed their Grandfather had just destroyed everything, or left it behind to be given away, either way he had made it his mission in life that they wouldn't remember. Her eyes took in the Vampires and tried to count but she felt like each time she tried two or three more appeared. Jake seemed to have finished off what creatures had him fenced in and quickly appeared by her side the three of them back to back.

“Smooth moves old man" she joked, a careful and somewhat cocky smile forming on her face "So what's the plan big brother” she asked twirling her knife in her left hand. Everyone knew there was one way to kill a vampire, cut off its head. The problem with murdering a factory full of vampires was the fact that they looked, so much like humans; their fangs even retracted enough to keep them hidden. If the bodies were found in plain sight there was a chance they'd be taken in for...what was this now, a massacre? 

“Kill them” he said as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. She didn't have to be told twice. She lunged forward and caught two in one swipe watching as the bodies dropped to the floor with ease. It was sick, really that she didn't even react anymore. She'd gone so numb inside, it was so ritualistic, so routine that it was just something to do as if she had sat down and watched a movie. Rolling across the floor to her feet she dropped three more in a matter of seconds and as she turned she saw her brothers finishing off the final two. As she stood there a eerie silence settled over the room, the only sound she could hear was her own heartbeat pounding. She stared at her brothers their forms covered in blood, just as much as she was certain her own was.

“Burn it?” she asked

“You got it” Jake said with a nod and within minutes they were dousing the place in exhilarant. They'd left no evidence of themselves behind, they were used to covering their tracks by now and this factory was so remote by the time anyone realized it was burning it would be too late to do anything about it. “Let’s go” he said as they stood at the door he dropped the match and watched the building erupt in flames.

Reader to Author Superiority complex

This is nothing new but lately It has been an exceptionally annoying topic of conversation. Authors being attacked mostly about books to movie casting.

Since when, is anyone superior to the author? The Author of the work is the end all be all of the world, the story, the characters. These are all something they created from their hearts and minds, hours of hard work and dedication. Do you think an Author would willing choose someone who they didn't think could portray their art how they imagined it. THEY imagined. That's the real issue isn't it, not how YOU imagined.

Yes, I will admit there have been times where I've had a slight disappointment at a casting choice just because it's not how I pictured the character but I get over it relatively quickly because I accept the fact that Firstly, there's absolutely nothing I can do about it, and secondly, the author obviously pictured them in this way in which case I accept and enjoy it for what it is. 

I am speaking more of currently circulating books and book series where the authors are in hand involved with the casting process. (I.E Suzanne Collins for Hunger Games, or Cassandra Clare for City of Bones) Of course there are book to film adaptations where the author is long dead and gone and I sympathize with fans of book classics where the story of character essence isn't quite captured in the way generations have imagined it. The Great Gatsby, I imagine is going to be one of these as was The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit for many dedicated book lovers and scholars. 

I'm just really sick and tired of hearing complaints about someone 'looking wrong' or something 'happening wrong' Book and Film are too very contracting media art forms... I would know because I studied both of them for 4 years of University and long before that. It is unrealistic for anyone to expect a perfect conversion, not to mention the fact that if we put 25 people in a room and had them read the same three chapters of a novel, each and every one of them could describe a different vision of a character they've read about, how they think he looks and it could also be completely different than what the author had initially intended. There is no winning, I learned that a long time ago so my solution?

Separate. One word. I love the books, if they're making a movie out of it I get really excited just because I enjoy seeing an adaptation, and I know it will appeal to a different fan base and may even attract fans to the books who may not have heard of them before which I love. As a writer maybe I'm feeling protective of authors or maybe this has been discussed at me far too much lately.

We're all guilty of it... I'm not saying that I haven't been guilty of it in the past. There have even been times where I've seen a movie first (Such as I Am Number Four) and been inspired to read the series. Wow, talk about different, but the book was just like...bonus features, extra bits of information, answers to questions I'd had. Sure some of the character descriptions didn't exactly match but it wasn't something I was more curious about the lengths of taking a specifically described brunette character and making them blond when it would have been just as easy to dye their hair or put a wig on them but it was easy to let go.

That's the point. Let it go. Leave the authors alone they're doing their best. I hope to be so lucky as to have a novel adapted into film one day and I know that I would fight and work my hardest to pick actors I thought could and would portray my characters as closely as I imagined them, and I'd hate to disappoint fans but... I have no doubt I would. You can't please everyone, in art or life and I don't see why we as fans expect that each and every one of us needs to be catered to individually.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

And I thought I was a writing addict...

This reading business is becoming problematic. I thought I had a writing problem, it is clear now that I in fact also have a reading problem. Is there rehab for that? When I get into a book that thing doesn't seem to leave my hand until I have completely finished the series. It's funny actually because there are series that I absolutely enjoy reading that I'm not in any particular rush to finish, I take my time reading them bit by bit.

I seem to get completely lost in the books that provoke rage in me the most. Okay, rage is possibly not the right word but that definitely get my interests high in one way or another. I'll read a book the fastest when something in the story line has really managed to piss me off. Since Friday I have finished two and a half books of a series. I finished the first book Sunday afternoon, then had the second completely read by yesterday afternoon, and now the third one, this afternoon is half finished.

This is up til 3 am, in the bath, brushing my teeth, at the bus stop, on the bus, walking in the mall obsessive reading. I don't have a problem with the idea of reading of course... I obviously enjoy it despite the rage certain stories seem to be causing me (I seriously don't have an anger issue I swear). It's the obsessive extent. Of which I'm doing it because, I know (as has happened several times before) one I've quickly read through them all to see the outcome of the outrageous situation I'll sit there with that empty 'now what?' feeling.

Thank god there were about 175 Nancy Drew novels. You never had to worry about 'Now What' because there was always another book to read, or a Hardy Boys crossover. However, I do at least know this series has...three more books and about 3 or four prequels to get through so hopefully I wont read like a completely insane person and manage to finish all of those in the matter of a week. Plus I hear there's a new book coming out next March this settles my nerves.

Am I in common company? I know a few of my cousins and friends seem to have a similar reading addiction when it comes to certain stories but it is wide spread? How many of you get into 'don't talk to me until I'm done' mode when you're reading a series, or even just a single book.

I'm so absorbed with reading right now I haven't managed to write a single word. Ah, I'll call it research.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Emotionally Involved Readers

This weekend I spent a lot less time writing and a lot more time reading. I simultaneously started, finished and started the sequel to a book series that everyone has been begging me to read for what seems like years. Here's how it ended with me, finishing the last few chapters I was so angry. Why? Because I had been completely sucked into this story and relationship only to find out something so horrifying between the two it was bound to ruin any potential of a relationship they could ever have. I kept reading to hope that something would remedy it before the book finished but with each new page I read, my upset just grew.

Yes, I'm some what too emotionally involved in my reading, and my movies, and television shows. I pretty much get emotionally involved in everything I do, I started tearing up at the trailer for Long Island Medium yesterday. I am so easily drawn into the story line that I empathize with the characters. I'm actually horrified for them. Fortunately this time around I'm not reading a series on my own and I had some people to rant to who ensured me that if I continued on reading the next few books this horrifying event would remedy itself. They better be right!

I think this may have also come as such a blow given the fact another one of my crush worthy and interesting characters on Once Upon a Time was killed off. I was so angry again, granted it was 1:30 in the morning and I may have been slightly over tired and overreacting... though I'm quite certain I'm not, overreacting that is. I even took to facebook and twitter to rant my rage.

All this rage however, did inspire me into my own reading and some curiosity. How much of a shock is too much? If I didn't have some what of a hint that this remedied itself would I continue reading? Or would I be too upset to bother thinking one of the things I'd loved so much about the story would be ruined, would I have never known the truth because I hadn't bothered to continue.

What sort of loopholes can a reader handle while still being intrigued enough to continue reading. It drew me back to my own story. I've thrown in quite a shocker but it was in an effort to continue the story of good versus evil, it wasn't quite a soul shattering relationship killer! (Clearly still harboring some feelings of resentment here)

I know I'm not the only person in the world who gets so drawn into a story they start to feel a part of it, so I can't be the only one who has felt this reaction. I wonder if gauging my own reaction if enough to determine what is just the right amount of surprise. However, I am impressed at how strong of a reaction I had to this revelation which also makes me wonder if the extremes are worth it in the end, it is certainly unforgettable.

Any other emotionally involved readers out there? What's your book moment that really got you upset, angry, annoyed, but never forgotten?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Titling my work

Alright, so it's not exactly completed yet but I'd say it's a decent enough way into the story that I should have some basic idea of what I want it to be called. That's the problem. I don't. I have no idea in fact and it's driving me a little insane as I sit and think on it. It's difficult to be original in the case of something that should be quite brief a hook and somehow still capture the essence of the story.

I also have a continuation on from this so it should be something that can flow into other stories, or at least have a base brand name with a subtitle of some sort, or maybe I'm really just over thinking it and should just leave it untitled. I don't want to settle on a title I'm really attached to just to have it tossed out the window by an editor.

Is there a method? Will it just eventually jump out at me as I'm writing?  I've been throwing around a few ideas, trying to glance at others series and how they've gone about it. Twilight (though it really annoying me to keep referring back to this) picked a particular theme and stayed with it. I saw one yesterday that had gone with similar sounding/spelled words as their titles. Delirium, Pandemonium, Requiem etc. Picking one work and alternating what follows Beautiful Creatures, Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos and so on.

Then there's the iconic character.... Harry Potter and _______ any title to follow.

Since my character goes through a bit of a name change that simple wouldn't work. I want something that has a hook, that is attention catching that can be thrown around in conversation without confusion. I want to tap into the history of the novel, the legacy these characters are faced to live up to, not only from their parents but for the main character especially hundreds of years of ancestry before her.

I had been thinking of The Legacy.  Then I had thought of The Legacy of Ard  (a-rd rig) which literally means High King (which ties into the historical aspect but seems to pass over the fact that the characters despite their status are modern day teens). An additional issue, here poses the pronunciation problem and the fact that I can't picture that flowing into multiple continuations which, i currently have in my head.
Uniformity, is what I'm looking for within the story itself and the stories to follow. I know I should just finish writing the manuscript and let it go, just hoping that something will present itself. Or let some people read it and offer suggestions, maybe have a brain storming session. The fight continues.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Carpe Diem

Seize the day. After the events that took place at the Boston Marathon just shook me, as I'm sure it did everyone who heard about it. So many horrible things have happened in the news in the past year but this really got me to the core. Potentially because we were evacuated from work last week on reports of bombs in the building. At the time it was some what unsettling but I've seen so many threats called in that were just that, threats, or bad practical jokes. I had told someone that if someone really was really going to try and make a statement that way I doubt they'd call it in first and give people a chance to stop it.

Now those words are sitting in the forefront of my mind and just that happened no warning no indications. Aside from the heartbreak I feel for everyone involved, the injured, the dead. The overwhelming response of kindness really gave me faith in humanity. Also made me realise that life is short. I have to do what I want and need to do now before I may not have the chance again. It's not the first time I've had a 'life is short' mantra shoved down my throat but this time it's really hit home.

So I'm back in the research game because I want to do this now, and do it right. After searching through my shelves (after a few weeks of organizing the insane mess that was my over flowing bookshelf)

 I found a book of Irish legends (a book that was also purchased with a book on tape that I'm sure I have somewhere). Hopefully aside from the legend I have already borrowed I may find some further inspiration in these pages and buckle this work down. I also found my book A short history of Ireland which I had purchased a long time ago, for both interest and a protect I was doing in Church History. Hopefully together they'll offer a little something more to the backstory.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

You there! Get on with it!

First, I wanted to give a shout out of thanks to my Facebook and Twitter readers. I posted my first link on Facebook yesterday and got 70 hits in a matter of hours which is triple my usually daily reads. I'm hoping now that it's out there people will keep tuning in for more, and the numbers will keep climbing. You are awesome, all of my readers no matter where you found me!

So here's the real deal though, there's good news, for me at least, my writers block has officially passed on. Another, semi-dream/semi-reality sequence of the story inspired another few pages of text this morning that I am eager to continue on when I get a moment. Again, another perfect example of starting with one idea and as you begin to write it down, the creative process turning it into something else entirely. What had started with the idea of  another appearance on the same cliff that's made itself known twice already in my story quickly transformed into a case of mistaken identity (at least as far as the cliffs are concerned) and an astral projection thousands of miles away from home.
Acadia National Park Cliffs
Cliffs of Moher

Intrigued? I certainly am. I love when there is this loss of control in my writing. Sometimes the result is completely ridiculous and I have to do a rewrite but most times it's this incredible flow of ideas that I hadn't even entertained before. That is the beautiful power of the brain, it's yours and somehow can do things you don't even realise it's doing, or even capable of. The complexity of the human brain and psyche will never cease to amaze me and I can only hope that it continues to inspire the ideas that it has been so far.

The issue, that comes along with the brilliant ideas is the need for more research. I don't mind it I love to learn, especially when the topic interests me. Four years of University later, psychology, Biology, human nature, world religions, physical and theoretical theatre, film, mythology, apocalyptic literature (which I will admit was a mistakenly taken class but proved to be thought provoking). I find it's all sneaking its way into my writing, things I've thought I'd simply forgotten about or hadn't even thought I learned push their way through and make themselves useful.

I will stand by this statement and say that I have yet to use any Calculus in my journey, in work, life or writing. Go figure. I was never a great tester, especially in Psychology. I could understand and explain a concept but getting tested on it never seemed to translate my real knowledge (which is somewhat ironic considering my love of writing) This is why I stick to fiction, writing make believe seems to serve me better.

Let's hope that this writing muse continues and I don't have another drought anytime soon because I'd really love to have a well rounded story by the time summer rolls around, a solid beginning, middle and end, to print off and be able to go through by hand to really edit and take a good hands on look at. There's just something different about having the words on the desk in your hands rather than just glancing at them on the computer screen. That way I can have help looking through it, editing it, preparing it for publishing I hope.

So, on goes the journey. I'll likely be back tomorrow ranting about how I can't get a word down on the page edgewise, lets hope not.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A tell tale prologue

I'm not one who is usually comfortable sharing my creative writing before I feel that it's finished, but I wanted to give people a glimpse of my creative work as opposed to the struggles I've had with creating it to begin with. I've told the story of getting there however, I  have yet to share any of my creation. So, I've decided to include an excerpt of my writing, the prologue of my currently untitled novel.

The dark dreary sky hung over the coast like a heavy curtain. I was still, frozen in time as my eyes glanced to take in the scene. The nearby forest was the only shelter for miles. Through the darkness the only thing visible was the faint light of the moon and the occasional glimmer of something through the trees. As I gazed harder I soon saw the glimmer was the moon reflecting off the hair of a young woman. She looked as though she'd just barely past her twentieth birthday. It was unclear what she was running from but she was moving so quickly and with something wrapped up in her arms. I followed, without choice; my feet took me quickly after her. Her heartbeat was racing, I could hear it, I could feel it, but she was trying to appear calm on the surface as she swiftly weaved between the trees. Finally, she reached the clearing which lead to a high cliff overlooking the ocean. I stopped, watching from a distance. The waters below crashed onto the rocks but the moonlight shed on. I watched as she turned to the hooded figure standing next to her, I hadn't noticed him until just then, I'd been too focused on the woman, I continued to watch as she handed the wrapped bundle over to the man. Taking her pace slowly now she moved forward, there was nowhere for her to run, and someone obviously knew she was out there, and the sounds of footsteps were closing in quickly with each second I could hear the pounding on the hard ground growing closer and closer." Take her, it doesn't matter where, just get her far away from here" the woman suddenly stated sternly her blue eyes glowing with certainty. The figure nodded taking the wrapped bundle from her arms. I wanted to say something to let them know how close the footsteps were, but nothing came out, I had no voice, no sound. “Go... “She continued, a pleading in her voice sounded strange, as though it wasn't a tone she used often “Now! they don't know you're here you can still get away" she stated but she saw he was hesitant to leave. “Please..." she begged. The man went to say something but stopped and nodded turning and just as swiftly as she had arrived there, they disappeared back into the trees, directly past me as though I weren't even there, running as fast as his legs could carry them, he turned back only once, and it was only then I saw a faint glint of emerald eyes, just in time to see a bright white flash coming from behind us and to hear the distant sounds of a woman's scream.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Taken too seriously?

Is my writing to be taken as an exact replica of who I am and what I believe. Just because I say something does that make it true? Fiction is just that, untrue. Just because I write about witches and mythology doesn't make me any less of a Christian at heart. Because I explore the study of other religions doesn't necessarily mean that I am part of them. I respect them, their aspects, I disagree and agree with some of their teachings but I make a point of learning what I can about several different topics so that If necessary I can include the knowledge in my stories.

I create a story with my mind, I make it up. I may draw from other inspirations I've seen, read, heard, experienced and some of the things I might just...create. Just because I write a book about a murder mystery doesn't mean I'm a murderer, or a detective. If I'm writing about witches doesn't make me one.

I hate writing something and someone jumping down my throat about it before they've even asked me to explain, or questioned the idea in the first place may just be made up. It's not fair, but it is life and it's always easy to be misunderstood, especially in writing.

 I try to be an equal opportunist in all aspects of my life. I may not be interested in, or particularly like a certain authors style, or genre base which is fine, but generally I will at least give it a shot before I make that rash judgement based on what the genre is.

The old, don't judge a book  by it's cover? Cliché yes, but ironically relevant. I was once told there is no such thing as an absolute statement, I think that also applies to judgement.  Not all fantasy novels are the same, not all mystery novels are the same. Every individual is different and brilliantly creative in their own way, that's what makes us individuals. I never used to like Science Fiction or Post-Apocalyptic novels, or thought I didn't but it was only because the few I'd been presented with hadn't caught my attention. Now some of my favorite books fall into those genres.

This hasn't necessarily happened with my writing...yet, but I have heard time and time again people being told not to read certain fictional stories because it encourages bad ideals that don't even exist! I.E Witchcraft/Harry Potter. I don't know about you but I'm still waiting for my Letter to Hogwarts.

My point? Don't take us so seriously! Read, Judge, Think, Enjoy but consider the very real possibility's just pretend. Don't be afraid to be opened minded to something you think you might not like.

The Fight

My biggest fear in this endeavor, hands down is the fight it's going to take to get what I want done. To get my book seen, into the right hands and to have it succeed. There's so many published works out there that only get seen by a select few people, which is fantastic, but I know that it's not enough for me to just want my book to be out there, I want it to circulate to succeed, gain a fan base. It's the basics of what every author wants, to succeed, and to be read.

My fears are putting the effort time and passion into this piece and it flopping. This is what I want to do with my life and I know that like a lot of things in the arts it's a big fight to succeed. Having faith in myself and my own work. However, it's great to think my work is the next J.K Rowling (it's not even close) but wherein comes the reality check. How do you measure the worth of your writing when there's no one around really willing to give it the effort.

I have one friend putting in the effort to actually reading it, most others are just waving the idea off as a hobby or not getting why I'm writing at all. I don't think they're entertaining the possible idea that I'm actually trying to give this thing a real honest shot.

I'm some what of a passive and private personality. I feel as though the things I write are very personal (not that they're about me just hard to let someone else see my art), and it's difficult to share that with people who may not have an interest in the topics I'm exploring. It's fair to allow judgement but if they're not my target audience then what's the point.

I have a few writing friends but none live nearby and one that I did dare share with, said too much detail not enough dialogue. Problems of switching perspective. At the point I'd initially shared with her I had quite literally only begun to share the 'shes and her'' to 'I and my' without really touching the rest of the text. I've gone through it a few times since then and with that in mind tried to re-evaluate how it sounds, reads, flows.

Another I've yet to share anything of my novel has told me countless times I should start writing because the characters I create in our story exchanges are 'detailed' and 'exactly the guy I'd want to read about in my ideal novel' it's been inspiring but still with the praise and constructive criticisms but still sitting in the back of my mind wonders how to go about this.

 How I am going to get my book into the hands of those who need to have it. I've only recently decided I wanted to do this seriously and I know there is a lot to learn about the business and I want to try to avoid making the mistakes many young, amateur writers make in the publishing endeavor. I've done research which  honestly can only get you so far until you're right in the experience. Just because I read about it doesn't necessarily mean I have the knowledge to actually accomplish.

Having Mentors would be useful and I'm considering attending presentations are McNally Robinson, our local book chain that mostly specializes in presenting local authors. Attend a few book launches, readings, presentations see what, if anything that I can learn from these writers who have made the journey.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Necessity vs Overkill

The delicate balance between writing too much detail and not enough. I think I have a habit of doing both depending on the situation and it takes being away from the text for a while and reading it over again, feeling almost removed from it to be able to really see and make the right changes. The right balance of words is art, it's like the balance of colour in a painting, though just like a painting, writing is open for scrutiny.

Opinions are great and they change with the wind, what one person may think is brilliant another will absolutely despise. It's hard to deal with negativity but the truth is I can't please everyone, I have to work on pleasing myself first.

Taking criticism and making it constructive is import but I feel like at the end of the day I have to write what I love, and write what I want. Taking an extended break from my writing to come back and re-experience it is amazing. Some times it's not so pleasent when I realise I've rushed through a section and it reads horribly. However, it offers the opportunity to re-write and change it which can turn it into something I'm proud of.

At the end of the day, I want to write a novel that I love, that I could read easily over and over again. Love the characters, the intrigue, the relationships. So far I do love it, the few that I've trusted enough to share what I have with seem to enjoy the read as well intrigued for more of the story, so it gives me hope but there's still a writer block plaguing my mind, not only for this story but for a lot of my stories. When I am getting a page or two out it seems to be winded and descriptive without a happy balance.

It's difficult to gauge when it's too much, or just enough without a consistent or reliable constant feedback especially since when I do release bits of my writing it's in pieces. Maybe 15-20 word pages have gone out of the 60 I have written.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Jail bound

Not really... Yesterday I officially booked a stay in a hostel that is a converted federal jail. Why? Because, well, I needed a place to stay on my trip to visit my good friend and as the jail is now converted into a hostel it's relatively inexpensive for a long stay. So, looks as though I'll be sharing a former jail cell with 5 other girls. Not expecting comfort but it will definitely be a life experience which is good, maybe it will even inspire my novel in some way.

The building itself is old, stone and brick, covered in moss and vines. Simply looking at pictures has been somewhat inspiring in itself I can only imagine what actually seeing in and being inside will do. Hopefully things go smoothly but at the end of the day it's really just a place to lay your head, better than a park bench. It just so happens I'm hoping that along with now having a place to stay on my trip I may be hauled up in my cell with a flow of writing inspiration. No laptop with me so I'll have my trusty journal along side to take down any or all experiences that offer relevance to my story, or better yet may even inspire a whole new idea.

And, even better than all of this, I only recently realised ( quite literally just a few seconds ago) I will be living the exact Experience of one of my favorite Canadian Literary characters mystery solver Liz Austen, who just happens to be from the same home town as me. I'll be reliving (only somewhat I hope) her experiences in the Eric Wilson novel Vampires of Ottawa the novel starts out with her description of being put in a cell on death row at the hostel. It's described in the first chapter.

" This place, called the Nicholas Street Youth Hostel, had once been a prison, but now is a place for travelers to stay.  I suppose it may be an adventure for some people to sleep on death row, but I'm not sure I recommend it! Glancing into the cells gave me the creeps. " - Wilson, Eric: Vampires of Ottawa  Chapter 1 

Well she may not have recommended the experience but we'll see what I have to say about it when it's all said and done. For now, I'm just excited and maybe I'll give that novel another read to see exactly what sort of experience she had, I think I was in the 5th grade when I fell in love with that book so it's likely my memory on the details is probably vague. Hopefully I don't get put on death row, I'll try to behave.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Writers Block

Seriously. 59 word document pages, or 35,000 words typed and I hit writers block? It comes in waves it seems, one simple thread of inspiration and suddenly before I even realise it I've written 5,000 words in one night, as though that were even possible. Then a spell like this comes and I couldn't write a decent sentence if someone paid me. I can't help but wonder if it's the lack of technical knowledge I have about the locations the characters are embarking on their journeys. It was easy enough to describe their home towns because, well, I made them up. I went on basic geographical similarities to a state or area and created these fictional towns that could have everything I needed ( which may change depending on my research if it turns up any perfect locations or not)

However, seeing as I still want the novel to exist in real time their destinations are real places. Boston is one, problem is aside from what I've seen in Boondock Saints and other films, I have little to no actual knowledge about the city. Other than a handful of great performers hail from there and it's home to the Red Sox and the Celtics. Not very helpful. I don't know anyone from there (other than the cousins of a friend) so it's not like I can get the help I need anywhere other than the internet, or first hand experience.

I won't lie an adventure to Boston would be fun, and a dream come true,  but currently, not exactly in the cards as far as finances are concerned. The flight, the hotel, getting around.... $$$ that's currently going to the student loans of a theatre student. However, using the internet to simply create an experience of a place I've never been doesn't seem true. I get it, part of being a writer is making things up, obviously, but someone one say write what you know. See, I would but no one wants to read about a panicked mysterious trip to.... Manitoba, in fact I'm pretty sure if you asked the majority of the world what or where Manitoba was they wouldn't be able to tell you. Not saying I haven't read some great books by local authors that have really intrigued me and drawn me into their stories such as Margaret Buffie's Who is Francis Rain? or Someone Else's Ghost but, there's a bit of a difference when you're from somewhere and reading about it, there's a certain pride in thinking, hey I know exactly where that is. For most, that is not usually the case.

Besides you have to have a certain talent as a writer to paint the pictures well enough that people don't need to know, because they can visualize exactly where they are. I'm not sure I have that talent just yet, or whether or not I'll ever develop it. Just looking for a way to stop caging my mind in the fears to at least get the basic ideas I want on paper and worry about the rest of the details later. I just want to write!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Research Galore.

So I came to an crossroads with my plot idea when I had 5 characters. My initial plot idea had been a character to represent each one of the old Kingdoms (Current provinces) of Ireland. Connacht, Ulster, Munster, Leinster. It was only four, granted two of my characters come from the same bloodline (their parents were siblings) my main character was supposed to be a product of two Kingdoms but I was stuck on what to do.

As I looked further into the history, into the Kings of Ireland and the ancient Kingdoms I came to a brilliant and all too convenient discovery. I stumbled across this map (which I've now pasted to the inside of my writing journal) and discovered there was actually a fifth Kingdom, and It was considered the 'High King' of the rest of them. Safe to say I dug further it and found exactly what I needed to complete my story. I know lots of writers have people who do this sort of research for them but there's something satisfying about doing it yourself and getting the exact results you need! Especially considering the fact I don't have anyone to do it other than myself.

Names, Planes and Automobiles

Naming my characters has in itself been quite a long process. I wanted to be creative, unique, but I also wanted to make sure they had significance to their personalities and their heritage. After all descents of the ancient royal kingdoms of Ireland wouldn't be Joe, or Billy-Bob. Or maybe they would, who knows.

The last names, after long hours of research were simple. The five ancient kingdoms have give direct descendant lines and family names, hah, done, it was almost too easy they even had Anglicized versions. Once that was over and done with I picked names for the main characters. At first I went with names I liked, or that had some sort of Mythological reference. I had Fionnuala and Fiachra and Conn from Children of Lir. Callum, just because I liked the sound. Neely, because it was unique Eoghan, Cian, and Braden.

After getting about halfway into writing it I started to worry that too many complicated names in one story might develop into frustration for the reader. So, then I decided to simplify, keep the culture ditch the complicated pronunciations. I'd settled on Liam, Owen, Niall, Sapphire  Brendan, Patrick. After changing them a second time I felt like they were too common... I know about 10 Liam's, My cousin's name is Liam... not to mention Liam Neeson,  Liam Hemsworth, Liam of 90210. Niall didn't feel as fun and different as  and kept taking my mind back to One Direction which was not where I wanted it to go at all.

How unique is too unique? Hunger Games pulled a lot of new names out of the woodwork like Katniss, Finnick, Cinna, but they were all relatively easy to pronounce. Harry Potter had Sirius and Hermoine... pronunciations of which, despite their mythological context,  were in debate until finally the movie seemed to set it straight (not that it's stopped the arguments). I've settled on a final name list most of which I've chosen based on their meaning and relevance to each character, but there is still a worry hanging in my mind on a few of the choices, is simple boring? Is cultural too difficult to grasp. I've even considered a pronunciation guide at the beginning of the novel but that seems almost verging on ridiculous.

Another issue is the branding, too specific descriptions of cars, technology, places. So far I've been vague in phone, computer, plane or car descriptions because I want the novel to exist over an unspecified time from now, to a few years ago, perhaps a few years into the future. I know sometimes the car someone drives can define who they are, it can also become some what of an iconic symbol or a character of its own. e.g. The '67 Chevy Impala of Supernatural, or The Silver Volvo of Twilight. Does my male lead simply drive an SUV or does he drive a 2012 green Range Rover with grey interior? So far I haven't even said he drives an SUV at all, in fact other than the point that the car runs, has a backseat and has a trunk that's as far as the description has gone. Is it enough? Should I envision a specific type of car, or is it just a matter of whether or not I think it will add or remove from the story.

I want a reader to be able to relate and envision a world which I've created that is part of the world they live in but I also want their imagination to prosper on their own terms.

Perils of First Person

So part of my writing confusion has been in which perspective to write. The novel started in third person which was great I was the all knowing narrator controlling the fates and reactions of my characters.

Part of the way through I decided the freedom of third person was drawing far too much attention from the Heroine of the story, I was getting to caught up in presenting everyone's thoughts and reactions equally that it was taking away from the actual story telling process.

So I decided to switch to first person. Simple enough except for the fact that I had already typed 35 word pages of the story! It was safe to say going back and editing that was not exactly fun and I'm pretty sure I will still find the odd 'her' when I proof read it again. But, now that its finished I have found a whole new writing issue.

Telling the story from one persons potentially ignorant point of view completely removes the beautiful inner monologuing of some of the other interesting characters. Their reactions or thoughts of the situation are suddenly gone, unimportant. In the case of my broody, sometimes snarky or even angry male lead. Is he really just being seen as a jerk? Are my readers missing the entire internal struggle within him to maintain this safe emotional distance, the protective wall he has built around himself.

It's part of the trouble of portraying your characters I suppose, the only indication you get is how the main character perceives their actions and dialogue.

I was pretty certain of my first person choice but as I develop further into the story and the characters become their own I start to wonder if its the right choice and wondering if changing it at this rate is just completely insane!

Writing, Pen or Keyboard?

Obviously the easiest and most practical way to make changes to a story is through a word processor. You type your story, if you don't like it you just...delete and change it to something you do like. Definitely a lot easier than the old scratch out, white out process of pen and paper or type writers.

Strangely enough, I find pen and paper lets my idea process flow easier than a computer. I even had a journal specifically dedicated just to jotting down names, ideas, or even sometimes complete chapters in its pages. Of course if anyone were to stumble across the book on its own and try to read it, the chances are it would made zero sense to them, but to me it may as well be made of gold.

After having several computers crash and burn on me the book also provides some sense of security, though I don't record everything in its pages the basic foundations are there. People argue, especially in my case, there is just as good a chance I'll lose the book as there is my laptop crashing, but somehow a solid book in hand just feels more secure.

The journal is also the best place for me to start my writing process when I'm stuck, the chapter or scene I write in the book may take a completely different form once it hits the word document but that's the magic of starting with the base and letting my creative mind take over.

Actually seeing the process in which my story can completely change from the page to the computer really gives me an immense amount of respect for the classic writers who had to hand write their manuscripts over and over again until it was finished. It's true art and dedication but makes me wonder how many other writers, like me, write down a hard copy before they transfer it into technology? Is it a lost art? Or something fairly common. Are we Writers, or Typers.

A very confused writer

Not really sure how many Tall Tales I'll be telling, at least not about myself. I will admit I have a habit of starting to write a story and getting a good ways through it before I abandon the idea entirely. This time around however is not the case, my current project has been in the works for quite a while and admittedly, has taken several wonky turns along the way.

It went from a story inspired by a young Canadian West Coast girl discovering her magical abilities and has now transformed into a story of ancient Celtic royal lineage. What? Not exactly the idea I'd started with certainly, but after; name changes, location changes, country changes, physical description changes, and even tense changes, I think I've finally settled on the story I'm trying to tell.

A little, or rather a lot of research into the old Irish folk lore and legends I grew up hearing as bedtime stories has inspired a fresh new, and I'm hoping creative, story of its own. Irish history and location has played a lot into my writing as well. I'm of Irish descent quite literally off the boat as they'd say My Dad a proud Dubliner and my Mother's father hailing from Belfast, so the stories, the history was in my blood it seemed only natural to take that turn.

My method has been somewhat unorthodox , or so I'm told, as I started with a beginning (as most good stories often do) and quickly jumped to write the end of the novel... now it's been a process of filling in the blanks, writing the journey, which in my opinion is the best part.

Confusion, I think that's a pretty standard for a new writer especially for someone as young as myself. I'm 22 and this is my first real shot at writing for anything other than just amusement or school work  aside from a brief two year stint as my high school Newspaper Features Editor.