Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nearly a year later...

It has been almost a year since I decided that I had some "wisdom" worthy to be what I will roughly deem as "published" on the internet. In that time, life has gotten busier, I have gotten old, and I have officially become a "writer" - yes, it is true, I sold my very first completed article to INSIGHT magazine. It will be published in July.
While it seems this amazing news would encourage me, or just plain make me want to jump out of my skin for joy, the truth is, I am about as discouraged as I could possibly get right now. My last year has been wasted in almost everyway except one - I have met some amazing new friends and have been matured as a person through their investments in my life.
But my writing has been almost non-exsistant since August, when I sucessfully finished the Apprenticeship level of the Christian Writers Guild Journeyman course. It was an amazing experience, teaching me far more than I had ever expected to learn, but now here I sit. 2008, twenty-two years old, bombarded with fifty-million doubts about if I was ever really meant to be a writer.

BUT this week has changed a little of that. And for all of you would-be writers out there, who are getting discouraged that maybe, just maybe, this isn't their "thing", perhaps that desire to write was just a one-time fluke, here are a few things to get you back to that notebook/computer/journal/etc.

Watch 'You've Got Mail' - Yep, you heard me. Now be happy! I just gave you a tremendously easy task to go watch a movie! So rent it or pull it out of your DVD cabinet (because like 82% of the population owns You've Got Mail, right?) and sit in front of that TV screen you've been trying to get away from with a mug of hot coffee or cocoa for TWO WHOLE VALUBLE HOURS. If you really ARE a writer, your time will have been well spent: no writer could sit through that movie without the almost overwhelming urge to write "nothings" for the whole world to read. And if you AREN'T a writer, well, at least you enjoyed yourself.

Read 'Do Hard Things' - Written by teenagers Brett & Alex Harris, this book is sure to get to even the twenty-somethings. I have been reading it all day and it is killing me that I have wasted so much of my life. Trust me, this book will get to you, no matter what age you are. It is time to REBEL against low expectations that say just keep "living" in your rut and get off your butt and do HARD things! (And we all know that writing is anything but easy!)

OK, so I've got you writing and reading, but of course we all know the most important thing:

WRITE! - Write! Write! Write! Until your hand falls asleep and you are sick of words and your computer is as hot as a 400' preheated oven - WRITE! If you are like me and haven't written in a while, it will be tough going: my writers brain and writers hands are rusty. I hate almost everything that comes out of my slow-dripping faucet of connected words. But is won't be long, and you will start to recognize a little polish, a little flair, a little glimpse of your former writing self that you used to be proud of.
God promises that with dilligence comes results, and His results are worth having. He will not be able to speak to or through the lazy, rusty, undiciplined writer.

So that's it. I have nothing more to say. It is time for me to get back to work. You too! Get going!

What are you still doing here??? Its over! Go home! :)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

On Writing - by me

It is a terrible thing to be lazy when you have writing to do. True boredom sets in over those days, weeks, (months for me) that you have SO much to do and just never want to do it.

I am behind 4 lessons now. These lessons are suppose to be submitted at the very liberal rate of every two weeks, but, due to excessive "boredom" and a prolonged sickness (going on 6 weeks now), I have let my writing notebook be buried under a stack of Bronte books from the library, 2 weeks worth of newspapers to go through and clip, and a month's worth of receipts, bank statements & withdraw slips, and denied credit card applications that I mean to contest one day.

BUT, last night, I became convinced that it was time to buckle down and get to work.
Dad had asked me his every month question "How is writing going?". Last month I faked a coughing fit, but this time my throat just hurt too bad. I was forced to tell the truth. "It is nonexistent, as of two months ago."
Dad left it at that (the dissapointed look on his face working wonders), and then Mom took over - "But you know Dad paid a ton of money for this course. And aren't you supposed to have book written by the time you are done? When is that, by the way?"
"End of July," I answered reluctantly, "But I don't know where you got the idea that I'm supposed to have a whole BOOK finished."
"That's what you told me when you wanted us to pay for the course. And that's what I've been telling all of my friends."
I was stricken silent, trying to remember back to a year and a half ago.
"I never said that, you must have misunderstood. I said I would know HOW to write a book. And I paid for half of the course myself Mom, but thanks very much for the other half." Trying to pave the subject with gratefulness didn't seem to work: Mom ignored that part and continued with her wisdom.
"Even I know how to write a book, Trina. I thought you were working on one."
Once again, I was stricken to silence, until I finally muttered my parting words -
"Well, maybe I can do a kids book..."

AND SO, that is why today finds me working on "a kids book" that I started sometime last month after an idea stoked by Gail Carson Levine's awesome writing book (written for kids/teens, but WONDERFUL, review to come!) 'Writing Magic' (nothing about magic, like my shocked older sister originally thought).

How does a relatively new writer sit at a laptop and strive to write for many hours without breaks (except to cough, blow her nose, and occasionally check her facebook and email)?

Lets take this a little at a time:

1. Go over your first draft - print it out and pen all over it. Be ruthless. Write every little thought that pops into your head.
(Should this story be set in middle school or early high school? Too long to go without telling about this main character? SHOW, DON'T TELL - written above every other sentence. UGH, cut that, what was I doing when I wrote THAT? Character background notes - Mike:school bully, mother left, father a drunk. Gives up easily. He is surprisingly good with words - possibly becomes a writer later on? School newspaper?
Parts of the story that need to come eventually, always rough - write the ENTIRE idea that comes in your head - get it out on paper, don't ever trust your memory - it fails you every time!) Lines of dialogue that strike you as funny...

2. Pull up your first draft on your hard-drive (hopefully that is where it is), and start writing.
If you need to, write a journal entry about what you are going to do (as I am doing now) to get the words started flying out of your fingers. Put all of your penned notes to use - do a second draft version implementing all of your ideas into the story/article.

3. Write, write, write!
Now you should have enough ideas to keep you going for a couple of hours until the story line upsets you again. Take a break, have some ice cream (or in my cough's case, a cup of hot coffee), watch a morning talk show or write on a facebook wall or two). You may be done with writing for the day at this stage (if you aren't behind 2 months like I am).

4. Sleep on it.
If I have a really tough problem with beginning problems, plot problems, middle problems, character problems, or end problems, I sleep thinking about them. (If you can fall asleep - sometimes the problem is just too terrible - if that is the case, meditate on some verses you learned in your baby/childhood.

5. Do the same thing again tomorrow!

I hope that helped somebody besides me. Now that the words are flying out at the rate of 40-something words per second, I am off to write some more of that kids story!
Please don't discourage me and tell me that a modern-day Beauty & the Beast story is a terrible idea especially when it involves a very ugly girl and the school bully. I couldn't handle the truth.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

REVIEW: The Phantom of the Opera

'The Phantom of the Opera' by Gaston Leroux

This gothic and sometimes dark detective story has been termed a "classic" by some, but purely only for its unforgettable title character. The quality of the writing is nothing spectacular, (ok, I’ll say it – it’s just plain bad!) - switching narrators, genres, styles like a freaky dream.
Still, the character of "Erik" (The Phantom) is an unforgettable and fascinating case in character study (almost a hundred years later, this character was explored expertly in ‘Phantom’ by Susan Kay, which I can’t recommend due to some sensual content).

‘Phantom of the Opera’ isn’t a bad plot, but it is confusing at times and silly at others. The best element is the opera house itself, and the Phantom’s hidden liar underneath. You get the feeling that the author had more to the story than he gave us.

I saw Andrew Lloyd Webber’s film version of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ before knowing anything about The Phantom, the history-making Broadway musical, or even the original book, so my opinion of this book, being very unlike the movie, may be biased. The movie was very enjoyable - a great example that "good" musicals are possible for the 21st Century!

Only recommended for the very loyal ‘Phantom Phans’, or someone who wants to catch of glimpse of the history of the phenomenon.

Objectionable Content: There are some minor cuss words scattered throughout. A bit violent at times. Recommended ages: 15 and up.