Writer, Don’t Take your Words for Granted

Photo by M.A.D.

Most people I have talked with seem to misunderstand what a writer does. Either they think that words are cheap a dozen or that writing a story is easy. A common suggestion is, “Why don’t you write about this or that?” As writers, we tend to draw inspiration from many places, but inspiration is all it is. The original idea must mean something, entice the pen, allure us, arouse our curiosity in order to proceed into the crafting of a story. Sometimes, we agonize over a character, a chapter, or even a single word. Although these suggestions might be well intended, I compare it to asking a farmer how many acres he/she has; you just don’t go there. It is like me asking you how much money is in your bank account.

For some, writing a book is all about money, for others, about fame and recognition, but for a true story lover, it is about everything. That might be hard to explain. If you have ever had an encounter with writer’s block, you know how soul-sucking it is, and how debilitating it is to the mind of a writer. A torment that ink and paper cannot cure. Only the return of the missing word can alleviate the tormented heart and soul of the afflicted writer. There is no time or expectation, only hope and desire. It is a mystery of mysteries, a black hole that consumes words, pen, and writer, for time does not exist anymore, only days without words, empty pages, a crusty dried pen, and innumerable cups of coffee. Days come and go blending into one another, a timeless punishment by the muse who refuses to sprinkle the miraculous ink that will cure the ailment. Until one day … And until then, making peace with writer’s block is a sensible solution.

The Simple Life – Balance

Sometimes, living simply requires certain balance, and the simple acknowledgement that too much of something wrecks equilibrium. Dealing with the sense that what’s on the right does not equal what’s on the left, in whatever circumstance or area in our life, puts us off, and it reflects in everything we do. The past two years left me off balance, and I have been trying to find that golden nugget that will get the scale back in equilibrium, and it hasn’t been easy. It has reflected in my writing, especially on the current novel that I am still trying to write but have put aside. Faith has been my comfort blanket, and counting blessings always seem to put things into perspective. Simple living has been a source of joy and contentment. Gardening an escape that offers many delights, especially when everything around seems to be screaming silently – new beginnings. I have found refuge in such things, meaningless to many, therapeutic for others. Sometimes, balance can be pursued in the simplest of things, and found in the least expected places. For me, I have found it in God’s word, in the garden, and even in the mundane chores of daily living. Where there’s a constant, there’s peace of mind, and peace of mind is the closest thing to that golden nugget.

I have been working in the garden and setting up new areas, planning other areas, and just enjoying the good weather, but in the back of my mind there is always that untouched novel, like a ghostly thought that lingers in the crevices of the brain and the depths of the soul. When? Who knows? One day I will wake up with a little golden nugget on my hand.

Here’s a new area I started in the fairy garden.

This is a shade area, and it has been hard to plant anything, even hostas. It is part of the faerie garden and is covered in moss. Right now, moss is starting to change color to green; I love when it turns thick and green, like nature’s carpet. We have been invaded by moth caterpillars; they are everywhere. Can you spot three of them in the tree trunk at the left?

Intermittent Writing

No one expected last year, and certainly, this year is already showing up as challenging in many ways for this country. It has affected people in many different ways and aspects of their lives. No one the same. This post is about an update on my latest novel, The Girl Who Could Not Love. What’s up with my novel? The quick answer is nothing is up. I have had to put it aside for a while, after periods of long intermittent writing. The past year has affected my writing in ways that I did not expect, after all, as a writer I enjoyed solitude, and it helped my writing in the past. However, I find myself with a dry inkwell and no desire to tackle my current novel, something very unusual for me. Everything that last year brought, which hasn’t changed much this year, played a number on my “little psyche” thus affecting my writing disposition. I have been busy with many other projects, but not with what I consider my most important and precious endeavor (it is to me). If you have been able to finish a novel during the past year until now, I congratulate you, and please, give yourself a pat in the back, because I know it has not been an easy task. God bless you. You are a Warrior Writer.

So what now? This post serves (me) as an outlet, a source of release, a sort of permission, a passing ritual, and an acknowledgement to myself – the writer – that it is fine to feel this way, that is is ok to put the guilt feelings of a writer aside, and to pick up that novel again sometime in the future, when the writer has healed the soul. For now, all previous self-imposed deadlines are released, and each day will be received and acknowledged with a grateful heart.

Totally unrelated – Find the bird in this picture.

Can you find the bird? (Photo by M.A.D.)

On the Writing Front

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Photo by M.A.D.

What is happening on the writing front? Not much these days. The state of our country, protests, the pandemic, and the political turmoil, have influenced my writing mode, and mood. My mind and heart have not been in the right place, and I have not been able to write my latest novel – The Girl Who Could Not Love – after the first five chapters. I feel as if I am not connecting with my novel, my writing, and my thoughts have been scattered. This presents a reality; I will not be able to meet my original deadline. If I do, it would be a miracle.

Many of you are going through similar writing experiences. It is called being human, and not a writing machine. Many of us draw from our inner emotions when we write. It is understandable that there might be a storm in the sea of emotions during this time. I am allowing myself the necessary time to work through this period. I am being creative in many other ways, which helps my state of mind and heart. I have decided to approach the writing of this novel in a different way.

Usually, I write the first draft by pen and paper. It is my preferred method. My thoughts flow freely, easily, and at times it feels as dictation. This is not working at this time. it is rare that I start a first draft on the computer, although my first novel, Moonlit Valley, was a combination of pen/paper and screen time. This time, I feel I need grounding, a way to slow down my feelings, so my mind can connect with the story. At this moment, it feels as if the story is somewhere out there, floating in the air (or my brain) and I cannot access it. All I know is that it is there, present, and waiting on me to find a way.

While I was planning my work the other day, I happened to glance at the old typewriter in front of me. I have not written on it for sometime, and it occurred to me that it could be the tool I need to write this story. It could slow down my thoughts enough that I might be able to listen to the story, and it may provide an audible rhythm, which could be beneficial in harnessing my focus. I am going to give it a try. Maybe it will be the bridge between me and the story.

If you are struggling with your writing due to the present worldwide (or local) climate, see if you can find a way to jumpstart your focus, but allow yourself enough time to work through your feelings/emotions.

The Story of Your Life

Photo by Maria Diaz

I believe we are open books, living stories. I believe that there is a book (the book of life) with our story and name in it, and we are free to fulfill that story or not (free will). Sometimes, it feels as if we are on track, everything goes so well and things flow accordingly. At other times, it feels as if every step we take is met by a struggle, a stumble, or a road block. Sometimes, it may feel as if one cannot move at all. Life block, I call it, similar to writer’s block.

The flow of life may not be smooth at times, but it is always constant. From the minute we open our eyes in the morning (or at night) we are making choices/decisions. From what to wear, eat for breakfast, or even if we will get up at all, get to work … to more complicated choices such as career, marriage, and many other issues. Every time we take a step forward (or backward) by deciding, whichever that might be, we are writing the story of our lives. However, it is not only about “me” because those choices/decisions cross over to other people’s lives. I may think that I am living “my life” but my story is intertwined with the story of others. It is happening right now, as I write this post. Someone out there will read it eventually, and will think about these words – our stories have crossed. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31 Could not have said it better.

As writers, we love to make up stories; its is the air we breathe. However, the most important story we’ll ever write is our own.

Handling a Dry Season

On a previous post I wrote about how I nourish my writing, and this topic is very close to it. When I approach the subject of writing I write about my experience and how I do things that have work for me. It is not intended as a “to do” or as teaching; it relates to my journey as a writer.

A dry season may or may not qualify as writer’s block. It depends on the circumstances, and when the well is dry, it is dry, and it is a soul’s feeling. This is why I find it important to nourish and reconnect with my writing. However, these are times when I might be producing material but it seems “automated” and as if  it lacked soul; as if something is missing, and I cannot find it – I cannot get the spirit back.

In my experience, there are two ways in which I handle a dry season, and it depends on the circumstances prior, and during the dry season. The first is to keep writing and work through it, even if I write only for myself, keeping productive, but resting as needed. The second deals with resting. Resting does not mean taking a break from writing, although sometimes that is all I need to end a dry season – a soul-searching inspirational break. Resting also means finding other ways to reconnect or find what is missing, whether I meditate, pray, study other authors, or practice any activity that inspires me for a longer period. Usually as long as it takes for my well to feel full again and awaken my soul. Sometimes, it is the simplest of things what sparks creativity.

What works for other writers may or may not work for you, and the length of time it takes will depend on your personal circumstances. I’ve found that the longer I wait to reconnect, the more challenging it becomes. When I feel that my inkwell is drying, I step aside, take a serious look, and put myself in motion to do what is necessary to capture the spark again. I don’t ignore the feeling; it is the voice of my soul calling me into action.

Writer’s Self Doubt

Am I good enough? It is the question that haunts our minds at one point or another, and if you have written for some time, you know what I mean. You might have 4,5,6 … 15 books under your belt, and that moment of weakness can take your breath away, and with it, chisel a bit of confidence. If you let it, it will keep chiseling until it creates a masterpiece of doubt, and at its worst, of fear. It is at that moment of balancing the writer-self with the ego when one wonders (or wanders), and even dares to question if it all makes sense. If you have been there (or are there), it is normal. Artists, whether writers, painters, sculptors … and any human that is passionate about something, passionate enough to doubt that is, will go through this act of balancing. The image of a circus clown crossed my mind.

Am I good enough? The only way to answer this is to keep going and find out. This is not the time to stop and wonder, but to keep pressing the dream, and regain your breath. At each breath of the pen, the air clears out, and with it any hints of fear that might try to creep up in the writer’s soul. After all, we are in a game of souls, and the mind chooses the setting, and the words flow.

Am I good enough? You’ll never know unless you press on.

 

*Sunrise Souls update – I am in the last revision phase, and almost ready for publication. This one has taken my breath away.

Writer’s Predicament – WWTT?

WWTT?What would they think?

At one point in our writing we will ask ourselves that question. It comes from the concern that readers will associate what is written with our personality and think that we are it. Some readers will, some will not. That is a chance that the writer will have to weigh, and decide. I think that the work speaks of the writer, however, it does not define him/her.

As writers we decide how far we want to go with our writing, and how true to it we want to be. As an example – If I am writing a murder scene, you bet that I am going to be as descriptive and gross as I can be with the pen to capture the scene and translate it into a visual picture to readers. If I am writing about the killer, I will want to get as deep into his/her psychological persona as I can, to give the character life. Does that make me a psycho or a murderer? I don’t think so. Then, why do we hesitate to write? Out of concern – WWTT?  It is the predicament that stops the pen, the mind, the Muse.

Fiction writers have the “peace of mind” (do they?) that readers will take their works as fiction, but sometimes interpretation goes beyond, and the lines become a bit blurred, not so much for the author but for the readers. A latest example of this is the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James. A fiction novel that stirred so much controversy and continues to do so with its movie incarnation. I have not read the book but you would have to live under a rock not to know what is going on with it, that is, if you are an active reader or movie lover. J K Rowling had to deal with the witchcraft criticism of her Harry Potter series, and I am sure that you can think of many other examples.

In the end, a writer decides how far to go with the pen, and how important WWTT is to him/her. To be or not to be, that is the question – Shakespeare.

 

In Retrospect

As the end of the year approaches it is natural to look back and contemplate all the things that we could have done better, and those that were accomplished, but usually, as human nature dictates, we focus on the first. As writers, many times we are hard on ourselves for not producing more, faster, even when we have dedicated an entire year to the craft. It is as if madness had taken over our souls, that is, the madness of the pen, and for a while the only thing that may count, absorbing all our energy and persona. Is it madness of the soul or of the mind? Maybe a bit of both, maybe none. Maybe of the heart. And we dare to follow our heart where it will take us because we are writers, and mad at it.

Well, for me this year has been a bit of a surprise in many areas but one thing that is a constant is my love for the story. I am still working on trying to meet the deadline for Sunrise Souls, however insane that may seem.

One thing I learned over the past year is that inspiration listens to mood, and mood to no one, however I control my mood – allow the mood in understanding – to regain inspiration. Many times, we take inspiration for granted, and it lets us know that it lives in us but we must give it life. It doesn’t flutter around like the Muse we call it, or resides outside ourselves, in another realm – no, it is a part of us, one that is to be summoned by will and faith, and even by desire, one that must be respected and encouraged, and dignify. When we respect ourselves, our work, our surroundings, we are summoning inspiration, our Muse of all sorts, and with it Creativity and audacity. Writing is not for the faint of heart or spirit; in it many souls have gone mad or desolate, but also in it others have grown wings to other realities, paths to other worlds, the solace of the word, inkblood to the soul, inkspear to the heart, and freedom to the mind, but overall essence of the soul.

I will continue to try to meet my goal this year, and await the next with joyful anticipation of good things to come, although these have always been in the now. I wish you all a happy and healthy Holiday Season, and beyond, and a very Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it. May you inspire this new year.

Love,

Inkspeare

On Falling Behind and a Carton of Eggs

Today, the dreary feeling that has haunted me for weeks grew stronger as I made my morning cup of coffee. The thought blinded my conscience as if plastered in large neon green letters all over my head – I AM BEHIND! Worry settled in another day and inspiration took cover behind my wishful thinking. One thought led to another and before I was aware a feeling of guilt creeped inside my heart. Desperation fluttered inside my gut and I gasped for air as I stared at the carton of eggs that I had just emptied. Somehow, the printed cursive blue letters called on me, and I read – “This is the Day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalms 118:24  What an oddity, I thought, printed on the inside of the egg carton I found the perfect words that I needed to hear. I decided to make those words my inspiration today and every time I might feel that I AM BEHIND. Because it does not matter if I am behind or not, or my perception of it – my truth is that behind or not, “this is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And that is what I decided to do.

I realized that my perception of time and reality has nothing to do with God’s timing and plan; and that even when I might feel that I am behind (on work, on chores, on projects, on life … fill the blank) I might not be at all – I might be just where I am supposed to be on my journey. Although I have heard and read these words many times, it took a carton of eggs at the right time to make them meaningful when I needed them. I grabbed the scissors and cut out the words from the egg carton and placed them in front of me, at eye level near the computer screen, as a daily reminder. Somehow, breakfast tasted better. Here is a picture of the cut-out. I hope it inspires you as well.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.