A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘Creative writing

For my Sunday ROW80 post, I mentioned a bit of how day seem to become a blur that I mostly note only in my travel journal and how this is sometimes a good thing.  I stand by that, though to be honest, sometimes I wish I didn’t.

For writing, the blur feels especially useful, but it only works in tandem with a solid journaling practice.  With the blur, days pass by allowing regular stresses and annoyances to fade to a dull roar at worst, and often into obscurity.   The recorded bits in the journal highlight remarkable or otherwise somehow significant moments which come to life once more in the words and images I’d created.

Pretty much like a book should come across, imho.

Yes, there are occasional great stories out there that describe a character’s daily actions in explicit detail, but rarely do even these dwell on the minutiae for long.  Once the significance of the action the author wants us to recognize is made clear, the action moves on wooshing past the little things and onto what really matters to the story.

Likewise, the journal entries record those things that matter.  The smile that stood out of a crowd and made a day feel so much nicer, the raw moment when everything seemed to just fall apart, but stuff needed to be done no matter what, so that’s what I did.

These are the things that I know I read for, be the moment as fantastic as a life or death escape from a rampaging dragon or dealing with a tween whose heart is breaking because the cute girl in class didn’t sit with him a second time in a row.

The rest is merely a blur.

Returning to the ROW80…  it’s time for a check-in.

I wish I could say everything is roses, but actually, I staggered on my daily writing (did two days of three) and, beyond some serious daydream planning, haven’t touched the outlining for ‘Listii’s new story (fortunately he’s a pretty easy-going guy).  All else seems on track.  Will see you all on Sunday.

I forgot my last few weeks of posting (I know!  but at least the break in between wasn’t almost a year like I had done).  Who’d have thought it would be so hard to come up with single weekly blog post?

Thing is…  it hasn’t been a single post.  Just a single one here.

I’ve been busy, busy, busy over at my writing progress blog Many Worlds from Many Minds, and have been either posting there or commenting on the many wonderful participants of the Writing challenges I have been involved with: the Round of Words in 80 Days; Ready. Set. Write!; and the JuNoWriMo.  It was also the end of school for me at BCS (and homeschooling), so there were progress reports to make and assignments to review….

The plan this summer is to merge this blog with Many Worlds so I can dedicate my attention to maintaining one online home.  Or rather one blogging home…  with Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and… well, you get the idea.

But that’s for later this summer.  For now…  I just really wanted to both apologize to you all for being absent and to note a small change to the First Friday Photo blog hop I hold here on the 1st Friday of every month.

From now on, I’ll be opening the FFP linky up the week before the first Friday of each month so people have time to post their links.  The links should go active on the Friday.  This way people can schedule their posts somewhat, and they can have something to look forward to on First Fridays.  😀

Waiting for laughter

Waiting for laughter (cred: Eden Mabee)

Hope you’ll all join in.

jayce_and_the_wheeled_warriors_by_noender-d5zi9mh

credit NOENDER via Deviant Art

Kid TV is for adults

I wasn’t planning on this topic for a blog post this morning.  Actually, I was going to continue along the theme I’d started for my ROW80 Check-in and try writing a piece of flash fiction about a cat and his/her human.  After all, cats do make up a good portion of the internet… and my personal life.

But, I tried something different today…  mostly because I wasn’t finding the words.  I needed help, and I didn’t want to spend too long finding it.  So I hopped over to the One Minute Writer site for a kick in the writer butt.

But the prompt today had nothing to do with cats….

It’s okay though, because Approval Cat said if I could come up with an idea about Kids TV during a one minute writing session, then I should write a post about that instead of cats.  Approval Cat is so very understanding…  especially after some catnip and sardines.

So I’m going to write about inspiration, and how some of the silliest things can trigger one’s imagination and drive her to create stories and art.   I’m going to write about an 80’s cartoon.

Back in high school, I wasn’t the best student.  Bored often, distracted always…  I gave my teachers (and parents) no end of despair when homework was involved.  I liked to draw, but had stopped doing that for a few years because my father had thrown all my work away in a (failed) attempt to get me to focus on schoolwork and not obsess over horses and fantasy worlds.

I firmly believed I couldn’t write.  My grades in English were abysmal, and my best friend seemed to know everything about the subject, could write perfect sentences, spell perfectly, etc., so that felt like her thing, not mine.   And because I had been above-middling in arithmetic all through school without any effort, I listened when people said I should do that instead.

…fade out to middle school and earlier…

Thing was, I’d always created stories.  In the early days, I had created nations with my horse models and Barbies, scribbled little notes and plot lines of an Arabian princess (quite literally an Arabian) named Anocka-Jenay and a helpful rapscallion named Coca-nora helped the queen of the humans find a way to make peace with the equine people against the dangers of…  well, all sorts of kid fears, but usually the “bad” humans.

When my horses were taken away, for a time I still tried to make those stories, but my confidence had never been that high, and I didn’t have the same connection to a lot of other ‘kid things”.  Most of my childhood entertainment had been dismissed by my parents as too juvenile; most of my age peers didn’t talk about Jacques Cousteau, Walter Kronkite, and Quincy M.E. with the same passion I did (if at all).

… fade back in to high school…

There was Star Trek…  I liked it, a lot.  Like a lot of girls (born a decade before me), I thought Walter Koenig was incredibly cute as Chekov, and I did have a short phase of idolizing Spock, though mostly it was a fondness for Leonard Nimoy himself, since In Search Of was also one of my favorite shows, and the “Spock makeup job” made my skin itch.

But for me, Star Trek wasn’t unique.  My parents were avid sci-fi and fantasy readers and watchers, and every weekend there was something genre on the television, either the original Battlestar Galactica, Lost In Space, Buck Rogers, and so many others.  I used to fall asleep listening to Rod Serling’s silken voice drifting up through the floor because it was on so late in syndication.

So, when Shan Jeniah encouraged me (or I encouraged her…  or it was mutual encouragement, I forget now) to start creating a fictional world based on Star Trek because she’d fallen in love with it…  I definitely didn’t refuse.  I did love the show, and I definitely needed an outlet for some of that creative (and often very silly) energy I’d been building up.

But while I enjoyed the show and the writing, I didn’t love it.  And I hadn’t really found something that connected quite right.

Then, one morning while getting ready for school (I often watched cartoons in the morning while eating breakfast), I passed an odd show…  a bit Star Wars-like, a bit corny (okay, a bit more than a bit), with better than average art and cool music.  And, without even knowing why…  I was hooked.  I saw so much potential in these characters for more.  Questions like: why did Gillian have a domed garden before the Monster Minds came; what sort of magic was he using in such a technologically advanced world, flying fish(!), space ships that looked like ancient sailing vessels…  what kind of name for a powerfully intelligent plant creature was “Saw Boss” anyway?!

And..  it didn’t hurt that one of the first real episodes of the show was this one: Final Ride at Journey’s End.  It wowed me.  In the 80’s, it seemed pretty much impossible to find a cartoon that pushed boundaries the way this episode did, leaving viewers wondering if one of the heroes (or somewhat anti-hero) of the story might have died in a suicidal assault on the enemy.

Okay, so it wasn’t that unusual.  But at the time, even my cartoon experience had been severely limited, and though I loved what I’d seen of Robotech, I hadn’t yet seen a whole episode of it, and so didn’t know how dramatic a cartoon could be.  I liked knowing there wasn’t an answer…  answers were offered everywhere in kid’s shows, reassurances like the constant parachutes in G.I. Joe (not that I ever watched that show) or the friendly (read: annoying) commentary of 7-Zark-7 in G-Force that filled in the blank spaces with comforting words about how a town was going to be rebuilt soon or so-and-so was recovering in the hospital and doing well.

As if children needed constant protection against the truths of the world without a huge sugar-coating…

I liked the ambiguity that Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors left me with.  I could work with that ambiguity, and I did.  I created worlds upon worlds based on that ambiguity.

While most of my fiction has moved far away from its roots in Star Trek and JatWW fanfiction (most, not all…  the Was Long Variation and The Dots get regular doses of word love), this show in particular sparked a passion in me that has lasted to this day.  And I don’t see it fading soon.

So, thank you, One Minute Writer, for giving me a chance to speak about an inspiration.  And…  thank you too, Approval Cat, for letting me write about something non-feline.  And thank you most of all, DIC Audiovisuel, for producing this great show.

approvalcat2

Today’s a hard one.  As fellow challenge poet said in her piece The Cure, how does one write freely and not write as one’s self?  I’m still a bit stumped, but I’m willing to wing it and see what happens.

 

For those interested in joining in, there’s still time on the linky.  The “rules” as they are, are here: Poets on the Page Day 3

 

Image taken from page 133 of 'The Cure of Soul...

Image taken from page 133 of ‘The Cure of Souls. A novel’ (Photo credit: The British Library)

 

Silence

 

Downstairs,
voices murmur,
accusations,
chiding,
doors slam,
a phone rings.

I sit,
in my chair,
alone in our room
Upstairs,
my tea is nearly finished
so I set it down instead.
I want to stay here.

It’s too loud down there
with your television show
droning,
raging on
as you type away
on your computer
watching,
but not.

 

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I don’t know how long I’ll continue posting these pieces–certainly for the rest of the week of the Poets on the Page challenge.  As I said: the words need.

For day two, Julie Jordan Scott asked people to choose five things they could see from the vantage point of their reading the original challenge post (at least that’s the impression I took from the post).  Then we were to choose one to write a poem about without naming it.

Of my five items (the Green Man, a peacock feather, fossils, rough wood paneling, and old ribbons from chocolate boxes), only one called out for a poem today:

So cold to touch
you warm
as
I trace you
slowly inward.

The saw laid bare youth,
old age,
death,
left points and sharp edges,
bands of color to abraid my fingers.

Now you shine, polished,
smooth peaks,
miniature valleys of ice.

Were you ever so warm
when you yet lived?

If you’d like to see a picture of my inspiration, click here.  Oddly enough, it’s been almost a year since I posted a piece featuring this on my writing blog Many Worlds Many Minds.

Signing in late today…  it’s been a long day of time spent at DMV and driving, driving and more driving.  Oh, and more driving…

Cover of Green Memory

Green Memory Cover (photo courtesy of BA Chepaitis

But I could not let the day close out without welcoming author Barbara Chepaitis to the Garden of Delights as my guest blogger for the week.  Writer, reader, English professor, and interpretive artist among so many other things, Barbara Chepaitis also is a creative cook who blogs about life and pets and recipes on her blog: A Literary Lunch.  She just recently finished a virtual book tour and graciously took some time out to leave the clay soil of her own garden to spend time in ours.  And oddly, both have clay, clay, shale and more clay….

Please welcome, Ms. Barbara Chepaitis.

INSPIRATION HAS NO EXPIRATION DATE

    When I’m asked about the source of inspiration for my writing, I don’t want to just say inspiration is everywhere, it’s all material, and so on.  That’s true, but not very helpful.  Maybe the better question is how do I access it?  How do I get just the thought I need, just when I need it?      

       That’s simple.  I get it by keeping myself in a state of open awareness, ready to filter any events, flitting images and thoughts, swirls of song or bits of conversation, into the needs of my work.  I think that’s true of most artists.  We’re always ready for inspiration, because we know that if we’re ready, it always shows up.  

      Here’s an example.  When Jaguar Addams, my protagonist in the ‘Fear’ series of novels, first appeared, I was on my way to visit a friend who’d just had a baby, and my thoughts roamed as they do when you’re driving.  I was asking myself what I might write next.  I was also asking myself if I wanted to have another child.  I was wondering rather than worrying, open to guidance rather than needing answers.  In my tape player the Eurythmics song “No Fear, No Hate, No Broken Hearts,” was playing the opening lines – well, in the morning when our day begins/ and it feels like cold, dark steel. 

     Immediately, a woman with oceanic green eyes rose up, fixed me with her intent and told me quite clearly, “What you’ll do next is write me.”

      She was Jaguar Addams, and I did exactly as she asked.  

      So you could say the source of inspiration was the song, but it had to combine with specific personal questions, and a state of open wondering. 

      In short, I was listening, both internally and externally.   

     Our culture gives more kudos to smooth talkers than good listeners, but for writers – perhaps all artists – that skill is the underpinning of inspiration.  In fact, in the graduate writing classes I teach, one of the first things I make students do is spend ten minutes silently observing their environment.  I tell them to listen with their eyes, their skin, and their heart as well as their ears. They’re always amazed at how much material they come away with.

     Once they catch on, they can put themselves in that state more readily, and so inspiration falls into their waiting, open, hands.

     Simple, right?  Yes, but in our busy, frantic, noisy and cluttered world, it takes practice. Consummate artists practice it, literally, to the end of their lives.  The great Irish harpist and composer, Carolan, composed his last piece on his deathbed – Carolan’s Farewell.  Alan Ginsberg’s obituary said he spent his last hours with family and friends, and wrote six poems.  They’d become so good at it, even the spectre of death didn’t chase their inspiration away.  

       So if you’re a writer seeking inspiration, or a reader wondering where it comes from, go sit on your front stoop or in your yard.  Relax, and give all your attention to what’s around you. Then listen to your own heart.  Reflect on what you’ve observed, and write about it. 

      And keep writing.  Keep listening.  

Barbara Chepaitis is author of eight published novels and two nonfiction books.  Her most recent novel is The Green Memory of Fear, fifth book in the ‘fear’ series featuring Jaguar Addams.  She is also director of the fiction writing program at Western College of Colorado’s Master’s program in creative writing.

Her Jaguar Addams novels can be found at Wildside Books, http://www.wildsidebooks.com/CHEPAITIS-B-A_c_315.html

Website:  http://www.wildreads.com

blog: aliterarylunch.blogspot.com

facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jaguar-Addams-and-the-Fear-Series/135879429815445

delight

delight (Photo credit: paloetic)

With many apologies to our guest, Janet Parfitt, for being a week late with posting this piece, I wish to offer her a warm welcome to the Garden of Delights as she shares one of her writing inspirations with us.  I especially enjoy reading things that Janet posts, because (barring becoming a rock star), we share so many common interests.  It always fascinates me to see the differences that occur even among common threads.

So, without further ado, please welcome, Janet Parfitt:

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...

         You only have to look in your local bookshop or go to Amazon to see that there are thousands, if not millions, of books about creative writing.  An amazing amount of people have written on the subject with a lot of conflicting advice.  There are those who tell you basically to just sit down and start writing and then there are those who say you should plan out every scene, character, setting and plot twist before you start.

You might wonder who all these people are and what makes them qualified to give you advice on writing.  But there is one guy who I don’t think anyone in their right mind would question because he is the best-selling writer in the entire universe and his name is Steven King.

King’s book entitled “On Writing” is the best book ever written about the process of creative writing.  I mean, what he doesn’t know can’t be worth knowing, right?  And, as you would expect, it’s very well written; part biography and part writing manual, it’s all good.  My favourite bit is the first sentence of the second foreword which goes “This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit.[1]”  You got to love the man for writing that!

He goes on to say that “If you want to be a writer, then you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.  There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.[2]”  This is not a book padded out with lists or the same writing tips given out over and over, just phrased slightly differently.  And it doesn’t have that school-marm slightly superior tone that says ‘I know better than you do.’  What he does is tell it to you straight; here’s another excerpt to show you what I mean.  “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends.  In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.[3]

Thank you Steven!


[1] Steven King – On Writing.  P. xiii.  Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.

[2] Steven King – On Writing.  P. 164.  Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.

[3] Steven King – On Writing.  P. 326.  Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.

On Writing

Now in her late 40’s, Janet Parfitt has filled her creative reservoirs with the labors of many crafts.  Diverse jobs such as filing clerk in a tax office, chamber maid in a hotel, vending machine maintenance in the (now closed) Kodak factory in Harrow and Wealdstone (UK) and sous chef in a restaurant supplemented her reading to inspire stories, poems, songs and dreams of becoming a rock star.  Led Zeppelin, animal welfare, words of beauty, the mysteries of the occult stir her passions almost as much as her family and lovely husband.  Raised in North London, she has a degree in history.  She runs a writing related magazine Writing With Fire, a blog Mrs. Bongle, and can be found on Twitter at @MrsBongle.  She is a practising witch.  


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