Tag Archives: writing

Leaving your Writing Behind: Dilemmas and Outcomes

Introduction
Your written works are like your children. You witnessed their transition from youth to maturity. You can be very protective of them and do not want them under the care of those that will stunt their growth.

What are your Options?
Sooner or later, a slowly graying author has to deal with the unwelcome task of what happens to them after you pass away.

You could do nothing. Then they will be neglected and possibly thrown out. And soon it will be forgotten what you created.

Another option might be to leave them to your family or friend. Maybe you have dedicated family members like the children of Marx, Tolkien, and others. But the reality is, that is not often the case. Your family is very involved with their own lives. And that is to be expected.

What was my decision?
I left all of my works to a family member. After their passing, the College of William and Mary (my graduate schools) will own all of my works. I am not sure what if anything they will do with them. But at least, they have a home.

I hope that you too think carefully about this important decision and leave your works in good hands.

References:
Estate Planning for Writers
Robert Boyle Legacy Society (William & Mary).

Writing and Dealing With Personal Loss

Introduction

Many of us live happily and unaware in a self-created dream. We think that our lives will always go on the same and the people that we love and interact with daily will stay with us forever. But sometimes it is not meant to be. And the support system that we relied on is gone forever. Afterwards, we face a gnawing sense of loss and loneliness that was never anticipated. As one person said to me, this becomes the “new normal.” And life may never be the same again. There is no “moving on.”

What to Do About It

Personal loss is hard on everyone. But for the writers, it can be especially difficult. It could mean a writing paralysis. One may not have the inclination or words to write. The muse may have seen to have abandoned them. Emotions may be so heavily flowing that one cannot do nothing more than shed tears or pound the wall. Thoughts and feelings are kept tightly within.

But that is the time most needed to get out the pen or digital keyboard. Starting writing with no aim or time limit in mind. It doesn’t matter what it is:

– Memories of the person.
– Emotions you are feeling.
– Regrets that you may have.
– Something that you already had planned. (Which in my case is Olivia Plymouth Buys a House.)
– Anything!

Just get your words out!!!

Next Steps

Where one goes from there is not always our choice. But we should not stop writing the words that have given ourselves and others great comfort and entertainment. For in time if we keep at it, this will help us enjoy our lives again.
(Thanks to Pixabay for the image)

Why am I in ‘Writer’s Camp’ This Week?

Introduction
As part-time writers, it is good to change the length of your “writing sessions” every once in a while. For the Dhammapada Handbook, I am writing a chapter in one or two short sessions of a few hours. It makes the work seem fresh and is a good challenge. More on that in a future blog,

But from time to time, I check into “writer’s camp.” that is a three- to five-day period of writing. And I check out recharged. Like I am doing starting today.

Why “writer’s camp?”

Here are some of the reasons I ‘host’ a ‘writer’s camp.’

– No expectations. You produce what you can and feel like. The sole focus is on the journey rather than the outcome.
– More continuous time brings better results. It helps you develop a sense of craft as opposed to a factory approach. By not feeling rushed, you can explore a scene through multiple perspectives and time frames.
– A more relaxed time because there is no lack of hours or anything else. It is a moment of abundance rather than scarcity.
– You have time to try out a completely different technique or topic. It is encouraged to experiment and get sidetracked. Have a writer’s journey with no set destination.
– There is time to write something light or humorous. Or anything else that you have been procrastinating on creating.
– You can use the time to test out some new writing-related software. Or anything else that is a little different than the usual.

Where should I hold “writer’s camp?”
– “Camp” can be held in your usual ‘writing spot’, on a remote park bench, or wherever you feel comfortable and will be undisturbed. You can use a writer’s pad, or some sort of computer with a storage device.
– It can take place during night hours or the daytime depending on your personal preference.
– Never be too far away from the things that inspire us.

Other Suggestions for your ‘Camp’.
– Break as often that you feel is needed. This is not the time time to experience burnout.
– Also, this is not the time to make any judgments on the work. The goal is have a “writing storm” to explore and just write. There is plenty of time to review and edit after ‘camp’.
Have fun with it. Just write and relax. Nothing more.

I hope these series of blogs are of helpful. More are planned. Maybe in a future ‘writer’s camp’ near you.

Five Things Dig the Kid Taught Me about Writing

Introduction

(Thanks to Pixabay for the Photo)

From time to time, music from different countries and artists finds their way to me and resonate. Some weeks back, I was listening to a recorded concert with various musical groups. Then I heard three songs in from this one gig, and stopped everything saying  “WHO” Is this band?

They call themselves an alternative pop rock trio Dig the Kid.

I started listening to their interviews and found that I was doing some of the same things with my writing/authorship. Here are a few of the items that they mentioned

Five Factors For Authors and Lyricists

1. Each work is a project. Dig the Kid takes the time to explore the inner workings of a song rather than rushing it out the door. When I went to a craft approach, I did the same thing with each book and use wikidpad to organize my ‘project.’

Taking care and setting no time limit to get things right will lead to more fulfilling results. I have projects planned out for three years but coming from a perspective of abundance rather than scarcity, they will be each published when their time is right. Keep your scheduling loose to have plenty of time for explorations.  A few good songs/storied is more rewarding than a hundred rushed ones.

2. No two songs are alike. As I mentioned in writing about multiple genres, experimenting across multiple genres is more rewarding. Dig the Kid call themselves an alternative pop rock trio but are focused on the music rather than spending too much time labeling how to classify it. Authors should do the same way with their work. A good book or song is its own classification and creation. Repeating the same thing over again may build you a name but in the long term is a restrictive creatively. So that is something I consciously avoid,

3. Songs/Stories should have good stories about their subjects and should suck out all of the marrow of life as Arthur Rimbaud said. With songs like Bones and Still Breathing, Dig the Kid writes about surviving as a band and a human being. But they also write about being in love and the consequences of causing bad breakups. As well as much more. The stories about their songs are so vivid and interesting. They go far beyond their personal experienced to say something meaningful about human existence.

4, An important focus on finding and pleasing your audience. It took time for Dig the Kid to find an audience in Oakland and their adopted home in Los Angeles since they were not playing what was expected. But quality over time will shine forth and willing ears and eyes will find their way to a talented author or musical group.

5. Have fun with the process and keep it simple . This band is just a group of friends playing together for an audience that they adore. It is all about the music and the performance. Their performances are intimate, energetic, and dynamic. Give them a listen and see what I mean.

There is a lot more that I want to say about the writing process in the coming weeks. Please keep watching this space!

Writer’s Choice: Revealed vs. Uncovered Works

Introduction
“Sometimes a work is revealed and other times it is uncovered.” I wrote that in the Introduction of Missed Landing. But did not go into any explanation on what that meant. That is remedied here.

Revealed Works
Through dreams, ideas that pop suddenly into your head out of nowhere, or by the grace of your benevolent muse, a story begins. Time is spent writing down and expanding the epiphany. So the writing process for this is much more of following a quest or living a dream. Writing these types of works are generally very quick. Examples of this in my works are Killing Thoreau and Ghosts vs. Robots. Both started with a brainstorm and were fairly fast to write.

Uncovered Works
Other works are like a block of marble. You have to work and keep changing until the beauty inside is revealed. These works can be much harder to write especially is using a factory rather than a craft approach. But if completed can be more satisfactory than a revealed work. Personal examples include Saving Eddie and Missed Landing. Both went through multiple iterations until a framework was discovered and it just felt very right. This process included extensive editing, constant deliberations, various explorations, and much patience.

Whatever writing approach that you use, have fun with it. And enjoy the rare opportunity of expressing an interesting thought onto the digital page.

Why not Transition to a Full-Time Writer?

Introduction

Recently, a colleague asked “Since you are so happy writing, shouldn’t you be doing it full time when you ever retire?”

I answered when that day ever arrives, I would consider it  but would not likely to do so. This seems like a great topic for a blog.

Why full-time writing is a better option:

A full-time writer in theory would have the following advantages:

  • Some feel that this makes their efforts more real and gives them a higher status.
  • They can dedicate more time to their works or produce more works in a shorter time period.
  • They can do a deeper research on a topic.
  • They can take advantage of various social and online resources that part-time writers cannot.
  • It may be more rewarding in other ways for a few of us.

Why part-time writing is a better option:

A part-time writer in theory would have the following advantages:

  • Writing is seen as special and not as a job.
  • A part-time writer can do pretty much a full-time writer can in terms of output, research, and using online resources. It just takes longer.
  • Writing in smaller time periods keeps things fresh.
  • They have more time to do other things.

The advantage and disadvantage of this choice are different for each person depending on economic circumstances, personality, desire to write, self-discipline, and writing topics covered. Also, what may be a clear path to choose one day may look like a bad selection the next.

So reflect on what will work best for you. Because writing is always a journey, an ongoing process, and never a single point in time.

How Writing with Patience Yields Rich Fruit and an Accidental Book!

Introduction

It has been several months since I have produced a blog. I was getting Missed Landing out the door, and started on what will be the second edition of Simply Business/IT and that is when I got into deep trouble.

The Trap of a Scarcity Viewpoint

I thought it would be nice to add a new short story about business leadership and pirating, It was to be called Command & Control. Write it in 2-3 weeks and all would be good. But the writing did not yield itself to a timely completion. A first draft from one character’s viewpoint was initiated. Then a second draft was rewritten from another character’s worldview. Things were looking dire. The self-imposed deadline was not going to be met. And there was much more still to write in this story.

The Trap of Impatience

So due to an imaginary deadline and pre-conceived notions of what this story should be like, an impatient mind might think they were in trouble and scrap the work completely. That is what would be the likely outcome for some writers. But I took a different approach and came from a viewpoint of abundance and patience. I decided to split the two efforts:

  1. Complete the editing of Simply Business/IT without the story. This should be published in a few weeks.
  2. Take as much time as needed to write Command and Control. By doing so, I decided to transform the story into a book, and did a third rewrite with a new opening and making each of the previous rewrites into separate chapters. It has been going swimmingly ever since. And an accidental book came forth.

So the Lessons Learned are:

  1. You never really know what journey a work will take you on.
  2. Patience and dropping of pre-conceived notions on outcome or schedule will yield better and stronger results. Just write and write some more without expectations.

What a great way to start 2016. Wishing you nothing but success on your writing journeys!

The Mother of all Writing Crises: Disruptive Fiction

Introduction

Recently, I rode on Amtrak recreating Edgar Allan Poe’s last trip northward. (As covered in Saving Eddie.) Amtrak has a Writer’s Residency. However, I like writing when the mood strikes without conditions.

As discussed earlier, I enjoy using a steno pad when writing in the air or traveling by rail, This time was no exception. What came forth was an over a four thousand word work called tentatively Waverly. The title is a nod to Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly novels which includes Ivanhoe.

Two Types of Disruptive Fiction

This new story became a case of disruptive fiction of which there are two kinds.

The first type is a work that is so unique that it immediately catches your attention. Q by the Wu Ming Writers’ Collective is one possible example.

But the more interesting area is fiction that disrupts your writing schedule.

Questions Concerning Disruptive Fiction

The following are some of the questions that Waverly brought to the surface and their resolution to date:

  1. What do I do with it? It is too short to be part of a book. I don’t have a new short story collection planned to place it. It could easily grow into a series of related stories. (Which would be a first for me.) So right now it is my experiments folder. There is a strong possibility that it is never released.
  2. Do I want to publish this now? There is too much that I am already working on such as finishing up Missed Landing and second edition updates to Simply Business/IT and Transitions 1.  (Each with one new story.) So the earliest that this would be published is 2016.
  3. How do I classify it? Is it a simple story, a political fable, a fictionalized guidebook for the ruling elite, science fiction, or something else? Again, I am not sure yet. With rewrites, it could be expanded and go into many different directions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, even if you think things are settled with your writing schedule, ideas may unexpectedly spring forth that may need exploring. Sometimes I put things on the side and other times I switch and make this a primary focus. The latter path includes Saving Eddie, Killing Thoreau, Ghosts vs. Robots, and now Missed Landing.

But that is my story and I am sticking to it. Which will YOU choose when a creative idea wants to disrupt your writing life?

How I Wrote my Way out of Trouble with Missed Landing.

Recently, I completed the first draft of Missed Landing. But it did not always look so certain that I would get there. I knew that Missed Landing was a different type of book. So it was a higher bar to overcome.

Several months back, I was approaching my draft success metric of ten thousand words. The results were far from good. I was experiencing a new form of the writer’s shanks. The writing was okay but it was missing something. Some other writer may had kept  going.  But I stopped, reflected, and knew that drastic changes needed to be made. So what did I do?

  1. Brainstorming. I thought of what I wanted to include in the story. This included seven different aspects that were all used eventually.
  2. Writing from scratch. I kept the existing chapters and started to write them over completely. Once done, I took the best of the old and new content which made a stronger story.
  3. Change the time frame. Doing the work as historical fiction was hampering progress. Making it in the science fiction genre gave more flexibility and made plot possibilities unlimited and more likely to happen.
  4. Make it more emotional. Capturing more what the characters were feeling instead of only experiencing made it a more powerful and memorable book.
  5. Kept going and never lost faith in the process and myself. I never stopped believing that there was good story to tell and just kept pushing myself and the writing.

As a result of the above, I came out with a stronger more satisfactory book. Never give up expressing yourself. Inspiration is just around the corner.

 

5 Ways your Children Can Help you Become a Better Writer.

Introduction
Though the many eons of the written word, there are many examples of authors writing stories for children they knew. This often included their own children and relatives. The world is indebted with some great literature as a result.

But there is a question that ends up as part of my “mental traffic” from time to time. That is does being a parent help make you a better writer? If so, is this is still true if you do not write children’s stories?

Based on my experience, I would say an emphatic YES!

Five Ways How Children Positively Impact your Writing.

Some of the reasons for saying this include the following.

1.You have a ready test audience. Reading stories out loud is a tremendous laboratory. Children’s reactions will let you know if a story is on target on not. Obviously, don’t inflict on them the first drafts , very adult stories, and other faux pas or they may never forgive you.

2. They want to hear new and some old stories. This is a great opportunity to push the creative juices to the fullest. It may initiate a chain of brainstorms that may result in something completely different.

3. You have to explain things simply and clearly. This means use of examples, humor, strong mental images, and more. Explaining things in many different ways helped tremendously in thinking how to describe a scene to my reader.

4. They can help characters come alive. Children are great in exploring situations in stories. Asking questions such as What if this character did … They also have a strong sense whether words spoken are true to a character or not.

5. You can determine quickly the needed images to create for a work. The scenes that get the greatest reaction likely need an illustration to go with the text.

All of the above helped in putting down in writing an always changing special bedtime story/meditation called “The Floating Bed” that is part of In Small Doses 2. It was a culmination of multiple night time renditions each a little longer and a little more detailed.

I would be interested I hearing how your “little reviewer(s)” helped your writing.