Friday, March 29, 2013

Putting Everything on Pause

Sometimes life hands you those metaphorical lemons and you can work with them. They drive you to create to deal with the problems. And sometimes, those lemons squirt juice in your eye, and you stop, because it stings so much that you can't function. Writing seems like the last thing you want to do.

The last few days I've been walking around with lemon juice in my eyes. We had to put down my dog tonight. He was twelve years old, but he always acted like a puppy, until a few nights ago. He started to fail, and he failed fast. The vet said it was more than likely prostate cancer.

It sucks because he was a member of the family. It sucks because he was my best friend. It sucks because he always made everything better. If I was having a bad day, he made it better. If I was feeling bad, he made things better. He would look at me and wag his tail. He would roll onto his back so I could rub his belly. He would sit on my foot so I couldn't go anywhere without him. He would lay his head on me or my laptop so that I would pet him. My dad always said he had a special bond with me that he didn't have with anyone else.

Twelve years. That's over half of my life. Not only that, this is the first time in my life that I have not had a dog. I've always had one because any time one died before, we had more than one dog at that point. This is tough. For me, for my dad, even my mom had a tough time and she hadn't seen the dog in a while.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do without him, but I do know that right now I'm on Pause. My latest work in progress had a major plot point revolving around death and loss, and while you'd think that this would be the perfect drive and inspiration, it's not. So it's being pushed away for a little while. Hopefully not too long. And chances are, Tucker will play a part in this work in progress, in some way.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

On Using those Odd Times to Write

I did have a list of things I wanted to blog about, but I'm pretty sure I threw it away. But I did remember this, so here it goes.

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ― Saul Bellow 

As of late, I've found that quote to ring (for the most part) true. And maybe that comes from the whole idea that when inspiration strikes, it's good. And when inspiration strikes, it has to be written down. It doesn't matter if it's 2am, and you're just crawling into bed even though you have to work first thing in the morning. Yet you find yourself turning on your bedside lamp over and over again because the next sentence keeps popping into your head.

Maybe that's just me? Okay.

It just seems to be likely though, that it is the real inspiration kick. That's when it's clear that something is good because it couldn't wait to be written. Sure, it'll probably go through a thousand or so rewrites, but the core of it will remain. That whole reason why sleep was sacrificed will continue to drive the story forward.

On top of that, I've been discovering the best times to write. I'm probably just lucky lately, but in addition to that late night writing, I've been slipping it in at odd times. (As the title suggests.)

Here's a little story: Since January, my car has been to the mechanic three times for transmission problems. First it broke down, then it started making noise, and then I was merely paranoid and needed reassurance. Regardless, with it at the mechanic time and time again, my father has been driving me into work. He needs to be at work about 45 minutes before I do, which puts me at work a full hour before I have to be there. I'm not allowed to work, so what do I do?

That's right, I whipped out my gray, spiral-bound notebook, and I wrote page after page. Sometimes the best time to write is when you have nothing better to do and you're too tired to read a book.

Finally, something is making its way out of my head and onto paper and it's one of the most satisfying feelings I've felt, which I haven't felt in a long time. I can only hope I keep it up. And I'm partly hoping that my newly discovered love of hard cider has something to do with it, solely because apple juice was my go to for my first completed manuscript, and now that I'm 21, I needed a kick in the pants... or the drink.

But whatever the reason, I'm writing, and I'm taking advantage of the odd times to do it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Woes of Research

I'm done making excuses; I am a terrible blogger. But I have something to say, so here we go.

Research, it's something that anybody who has been to high school is familiar with, but any writer can tell you it comes with the job. Love it or hate it, it's there. And researching things can be fun? Anybody else ever get caught in that endless Wikipedia trap? You start off checking a quick fact about sign language, and before you know it you have twenty tabs open and you're reading about different types of tornadoes.

Then you realize two hours have gone by, and the cursor in your word document is left off blinking in the middle of a sentence.

But tell me that isn't fun. There is a less fun side to researching though. There's that research that completely destroys the plot. By that I mean, in the middle of writing, you take the time to check something for realism, and then you find out that the truth is completely different, and your plot no longer works. Your main character can't put an end to the war because the cell phone didn't exist in the eighteenth century.

That might be just a slight exaggeration. But sometimes research really can be hindrance. The story of the character with a mental disorder might be portrayed wrong if there isn't enough research -- people may get offended -- but so much research, and so many things learned, can destroy the desire to write the piece, or it could paralyze the writer from fear of not fitting enough information in the piece. Or worse: the writer might include a dreaded info-dump.

There is the argument of "fiction." That is, "It's fiction. It's made up. Write something because it's not true anyway!" That may work in some cases, but sometimes it's just not enough. Most of the time. Most of the time the story needs to be rooted in reality to draw in the reader.

So where's that fine line of balance between too much research and just enough? Probably somewhere in the editing stage, as long as the writer can push his or her way there.