Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's that time of year again...

Tomorrow my summer vacation is officially over.  Not that I've had a lot of vacation time per se.  I was doing intern work at a Center for  Domestic Violence over most of the summer.  I had a couple of weeks to myself, but tomorrow I go back to college.  And what a way to start things.  I have 4 classes tomorrow.  The first one starts at 9:30AM and the last one ends at 9:00PM.  I'll be taking a heavier load this time.  This is so that I can finish my major and get a B. S. in Human Services and several certificates by December.  Great way to end the year and give myself an early X-mas present.

But even then it's not over.  Oh no.  I'm already approved for more Pell Grant money for another semester so I'll be taking some evening courses in order to make myself prepped to transfer to a four year college IF I choose to do so.  In the meantime I'll be looking for a regular job.  UNLESS of course I get an agent and my books take off like gangbusters and Hollywood starts beating on my door for the rights to them.  Yes, I like to dream in Technicolor, with a wide-screen, HD quality, and Dolby Surround-Sound.

But more than likely if I get an agent and my books get grabbed up, I'll be working part-time so I can still write more often than if I were full-time.  This is something I've picked up from a lot of established writers.  You may wish to write full-time and do nothing else, but until you have a big enough audience following your work, you need a regular job.  Keeping a roof over your, head and eating regularly makes it a lot easier to continue the creative process.

I'm still waiting on the agent in New York who has my manuscript (may she and her family be safe along with all my other family and friends back east).  But for most of this week I kept waking up with a feeling that I'm going to hear something positive when the time comes.  I don't know why, I just do.  So, fingers crossed and we'll see what happens when she does contact me. 

In the meantime, I'll be writing between classes.  I intend to take my laptop with me to school everyday and save everything on back up sticks and discs.  A little trick I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs so if God forbid something happens to your computer you haven't lost everything.  Homework will take precedence over writing, but I've always been good about getting my homework and reading done quickly.  Hey, I've been carrying a 4.0 grade average for the last year and half, so I musts be doing something right.

So stay tuned and keep writing everyone.  I'll try to be better about updating than I have in recent months.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Musings on writing and a Rubik's cube...

Any other writers out there feel like when you're trying to do a scene you keep working and reworking it because something just isn't right.  To me it feels like my novel is a Rubik's Cube.  I know all the parts and where I think they should go but they're just not in the right place.  And trying to get them in the proper place is a BI*** and a half sometimes.  Because every so often I do something in one area of the test and it messes up something I had planned for later.  Or I wind up hitting a dead end and have to go back restart the whole section entirely.

Now this has happened to me on a number of occasions.  Some people tell me to have an outline ready but that never works for me.  This is usually because my characters start going in other directions by saying or doing things I hadn't originally planned.  Admittedly I let them get away with it but only if what they want to do seems to be working way better than what I originally planned.  But most of the time I can see where they are going won't work so I scrap or save the scene for another time and place.  On those occasions I get to point and laugh at the characters saying, "See?  I told you I knew what I was doing... NEENER-NEENER."

Unfortunately, I tend to do this out loud and get some really strange looks from anyone in a 30 foot radius.  At this point, it's my main characters who are doing the pointing and laughing.  Now this is really quite annoying because I can't kill any of them off and they know it.

Anyway, getting back to my original point.  Writing a scene can be quite frustrating and difficult at times.  But, if you keep at it by looking at what's not working try some of the following.  Change who's in the scene, keep the ones who are most poignant and add someone else from the cast, or even eliminate one or two others if they're not vital at that moment.  Change the location of what's happening.  Maybe the setting is the problem and you can get more out of a different location.  If something major is about to be revealed, how much of it do you really have to unveil at this moment?  Maybe only a portion that whets the appetite of the characters and the audience.  The characters can go off half-cocked or aware that something is still missing and they head off in pursuit of that information.  If they go off half-cocked they'll make mistakes which can lead to other interesting scenes.  Remember, a character who isn't perfect is far more interesting than the most competent, wonderful, knows everything Mary Sue.

So, don't be afraid to tear apart a scene that's frustrating you.  Rework it again and again until you get the results you're looking for.  You may wind up with something that opens new avenues for later scenes or even storylines. 

Oh, and for the record, I did finally defeat the dreaded Rubik's Cube in my own creative way.  No I didn't remove the decals and change them around (my wife's solution).  Nor did I take it apart and reassemble it so the colors matched up.  I spray painted the entire thing silver and used it for a paperweight.  A very creative solution, don't you think?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How do you spell Writer's Block? A-A-A-R-R-R-G-G-G-H-H-H!!!

I recently started a second blog with WordPress, not sure how well it's going over so I may keep that for samples of my writing and just day-to-day musings.  I want to keep this one to share my writing experiences with others I think.  So I copied this from my other blog, so in case you didn't see it before here it is.  I hope it helps and I'd love to hear from some of you about how you deal with this problem.

Writer’s block:  We’ve all had it at one time or another.  I’ve heard many suggestions on how to deal with it.  Here’s a few of my own:

1-Uncontrollable sobbing in the nearest corner.  This does not necessarily solve the problem, but it gets some of your frustrations and emotions out of the way.  NOTE: Doing this for two or more days straight may signal a bigger problem, men in white coats with big nets come to take to you to a much happier place.  At least they did with me.  You know, I always picture Disneyland a lot bigger and more colorful.  The white padding in that room just didn’t really scream Mickey Mouse to me.

Okay that got the silly out of the way.  Here are some real suggestions.

Go out and exercise.  Take a walk, swim, do some kind of physical activity that gets you away from the computer.  Your brain will still be working quietly on the story mind you.  I’ve had more than one occasion to be hitting the treadmill when a path suddenly becomes clear in the story and I keep working it while I’m exercising.  As soon as I’m done I hit the laptop and move on.

A change of scenery, go to a beach, a mall, a forest, a mountain… whatever’s available where you live.  A different perspective can trigger ideas.

Work on a different or later scene in the story.  Sometimes this can help lay groundwork for ideas of how to reach this later part of your story.  You may inadvertently come up with some background ideas that can suddenly get you past whatever’s got you stumped.

Another suggestion is look at the section your on.  How important is it to the story that it remains in this form.  I’ve written several pages in a scene only to hit a roadblock and finally come to the conclusion that the scene just isn’t  working.  I’ve revealed too much or some of what’s going on in it does nothing for the rest of the story.  Or certain revelations I’ve put down here might work better elsewhere.  So I’ve literally torn sections up and did them over from scratch in a totally different manner that led to a better story arc.

So there are a few of my ideas.  How about you all?  I’d love to see and hear what you folks have found to work for getting past the dreaded “Writer’s Block”.  Please leave comments and thanks for reading.