Tag Archives: writing

The Write Stuff

If you’ve tuned in lately to all our Twisted Writer posts, you may have noticed an inadvertent recurring theme cropping up in some of our posts. We all seem to be touching on challenges writers including ourselves can be (or are) battling against. You’ve seen “Writer’s Angst” from Joe; “Getting Back into the Swing of Things” by Amanda; “The Hardest Part of Being a Writer” by Jesi and now you have me chiming in here with this post which touches a bit on all of those topics.

This week I posted on my personal blog about how in the last few months I have really been out of it with my writing, my blogging, my Twitter, my writing group attendance and well, pretty much anything besides work, back to school, and the new football season for my oldest. Despite getting off track, I am fortunate to have people around me who can help remind me of where I want to be and/or kick me in the behind to help me get back on track.

At this week’s critique group, our Fearless Leader prompted all of us to share our goals. I haven’t really been thinking about or following any real goals for my writing lately. No wonder I am so off my game! Without setting some clear goals and then following through with achieving them, how do I expect to ever have any success with my writing? Have I just been thinking if I kept ignoring the writing that I would just magically have a finished novel?

Sadly there is no  magic shortcut to getting to something I am proud to have written. To get where I want to go, I need to force myself to set some solid goals along with an action plans go with them.

I imagine I am not the only one out there who has reached a snag like this before. Maybe you are there too. Maybe you got mired down in the muck of a difficult work in progress and let things slide like I have. Maybe you have been busy and overwhelmed like I have been. Maybe you just fell out of the good habits like I have done. Whatever the case may be, the good news is that it isn’t too late to get back on track. It’s not too late to get back in the swing of things. It’s not too late to tackle our writer’s angst. It’s not too late to do that hardest thing about writing and just show up. It’s not too late to show that we have the “write stuff”. 😉

I will keep you posted on my progress. Please feel free to let me know where you are at, if you are struggling too, or how you have managed to get past the times you get off track. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Thanks and have a great week!

~CJS

The Hardest Part of Writing

This past Thursday I began the annual October Poetry Writing Month Challenge (OctPoWriMo). CJ got me started on it last year and I couldn’t wait for it to begin this year. And boy, did it ever start. I’ve already had two challenges that gave me pause. One was to write cinematically and the other was to write a shape poem on the subject of showing up. And BOOM, baby! I knew what to use as my subject for today’s post here.

Writing is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different. To sit down in a chair and write for a set period of time is not natural, and the inclination is to procrastinate. To find anything else other than what you should be doing, i.e. writing. So, the hardest part of writing is showing up.

What I mean is to be focused on what you are doing. It’s relatively easy to become distracted. Let’s see, there’s Facebook, or Twitter, or, oh yeah, what was that thing on Amazon you were looking at? Or maybe there’s some housework that needs to be done, or you really should take that walk you’re supposed to be taking. Guess what…you aren’t showing up. In fact, there’s nothing being written because other things have taken your time and attention.

Now, I’m not talking about those things that really need taking care of, e.g. kids needing to be fed, dogs needing to be walked, the tire changed on the car. Obviously, family (and laundry) is important. But, I’m fairly certain that you can do without all the drama on Facebook for at least thirty minutes.

This is why I like doing writing challenges. They force me to show up, and that, in turn, sharpens my skills and strengthens my weaknesses. Especially when I’m doing an online blog challenge. I get immediate feedback from different readers and their viewpoints are invaluable. In minutes I can tell if I need to change POV or if I’ve missed something. Is the poem I wrote subpar or should I consider adding it to a future collection folder? What needs tweaking and what did I do right?

The two prompts that I was especially challenged by nearly had me stumped. Writing cinematically was a prompt where we had to view our favorite movie, scene, or video, mute it, and view it without sound. We then had to write a poem in such a way as to express the way the scene came across to us. Well, I don’t have a particularly favorite movie or video so I chose a scene from Sir Ian McKellen’s 2008 performance of King Lear. The scene itself had moved me to torrential sobbing. Sir Ian is like a grandfather figure to me and so the end scene is heart-wrenching. I didn’t much like the poem I wrote (read here), but I was surprised by how many people were moved by my words. I showed up and put a lot of thought and focus into it, even using two phrases from the play to emphasize Lear’s frame of mind. (By the by, this is an excellent exercise to utilize sensory perception-take away all sound and write only what you see.)

The other prompt was difficult only because I really do not like writing shape poetry. That’s where you write a poem whose form is a visual shape on the page. Think Shel Silverstein:

shel

The day I was supposed to write for this prompt ended up being incredibly busy, but I still pushed it off for as long as I could. I REALLY don’t like writing shape poetry (probably because my illustrative skills suck-Joe, feel like giving me some lessons?). But still, I showed up and completed the challenge:

Uncomfortably Numb 10-3-2015

Yes, I wanted to make you cross-eyed. No, not really. The spiral itself is central to the idea/theme of the poem. Here is the actual poem:

Uncomfortably Numb

By Jesi Scott

 

Those eternal days of not being enough

not having it all together

lost hopeless

small cry-yourself-to-sleep days

when even your heart doesn’t show up but hides

in the endless pit of hell on earth-

What brimstone scorches worse than this black hole named despair?

Sucked dry and spit back out into chaos where

the best you can do is show up but

your best isn’t good enough

and so you spiral down and down and down…but still, you show up.

The poem itself can stand alone but is definitely more impactful when utilizing the shape (spiral). It gives the sense I wanted to convey of falling in and spinning out of control.

I wouldn’t have come up with either of these poems if I hadn’t shown up. You have to make the time to write. You have to give it your complete attention.

Showing up is half the battle.

Have a great week!

Jesi

 

 

Getting back into the swing of things

There are times in everyone’s life when everything has to come to a screeching halt. It doesn’t matter what the cause. The result is always the same. You have to focus on something important for a period of time to the exclusion of almost everything else. That’s been my life for the last month or more. Finally, it looks as if things are getting back to normal. Now the challenge is getting back into the swing of things and getting back on course.

So how do you do it? Me, it’s a struggle. I am having to train myself not to jump at every sound that isn’t quite ordinary. I’m more attuned to what is going on around me — having a loved one seriously ill will do that to you — and that means the distraction level is off the chart. All the usual techniques to getting into my writing and editing aren’t working. So I’ve had to find workarounds and, in at least one instance, they have me shaking my head, wondering how long before things get back to normal.

Of course, that assumes the life of any writer could be classified as normal.

The first thing I’ve had to do is get my work laptop back up and running. I’m one of those folks who love tech and who have multiple laptops and tablets. My work laptop is an Acer that I’ve had for about four years now. It’s a great machine. Or it has been. But in the middle of everything going on with my mom, the hard drive decided to start failing. Before I could pull everything off, it went kaput. Fortunately, most of my work was backed up. Unfortunately, a couple of things weren’t completely backed up and I now have to redo them. It’s my own fault. I’m usually obsessive about doing multiple backups but real life interfered.

The new hard drive arrives today. So, by Sunday, everything should be back up and running. That’s step one. Until then, I’ve been working on a different laptop, a MacBook Air. It’s a good machine but the screen is smaller and for someone who doesn’t use a Mac all the time, I have to stop and think about what the hotkeys are. That interrupts the flow and frustrates me.

That means I have to get back into the habit or work. Oh, I’ve scribbled notes here and there. I’ve tried to sit and write or edit. But, as I said, the distraction level is high, especially at the house. I’ve tried changing the time and location in the house I work. Nope, that hasn’t helped. I’ve tried changing the music, TV on/off, etc. Nothing has seemed to work. That’s left me with one choice, find someplace nearby I can go and try to work for at least an hour or two a day.

Again, I’ve found the distraction level high when I’ve gone to my usual haunts. The other day, I wound up at the last place I would normally go, no matter what the reason. I stopped at the local McDonalds for a Coke. You have to understand just how rare that is. I doubt I’ve been to a McDs more than half a dozen times in the last 10 years. So you can imagine my surprise to walk in and find it comfortable, quiet and not overrun by screaming kids.

Instead of taking my Coke and retreating to my car, I sat down and pulled out my tablet and an hour later had written more than I had in the last three weeks. I’ve been back a couple of times since then with the same result. I have also discovered that it isn’t the little kids who are the problem now. It is the middle school and high school kids who come in after school and who seem completely unaware of others being there. That just means I don’t go when they will be there, at least not if I want to work.

I guess the whole point of this rambling post is to remind each of us that we have to be flexible. Flexible in our writing — and in accepting that the more we write, the more our craft will improve and that, in itself, is sometimes scary. Flexible in how and where we write. Flexible in understanding that sometimes we have to change our habits in order to help the words flow.

I’ve talked with too many writers who have suddenly hit the wall and can’t seem to find a way to get the words to flow. Instead of altering what they are doing — whether it is when or where they write or simply working on something else for awhile — they continue to try doing the same thing, day in, day out. When nothing happens, they claim they have writer’s block and use that to excuse the fact they aren’t producing anything.

That’s the easy thing to do. But it is also an excuse. Yes, writer’s block does happen from time to time. However, when we usually claim we’re experiencing it, we aren’t. We’ve simply hit a point in our work where it is difficult but not impossible to push the story forward. It could be because we are uncomfortable with what we know is about to happen. It could be our subconscious telling us that we’ve taken a wrong turn and need to go back and look to see how to fix it. It could be that our craft has taken a step forward and the change scares the crap out of us because our writing no longer feels familiar. That is when you just have to push through, listen to your gut and not give in to the call to give up.

It is the same thing with the no time to write argument. Yes, we all have those points in our life when there simply isn’t a spare moment to do anything other than what is necessary to put food on the table and make money for rent. But usually when we say there isn’t time to write, it’s an excuse. We might not recognize it as one and we won’t until we start turning a critical eye to what we are actually doing each day.

I can hear some of you — heck, myself included — saying that there is no wasted time in your day. Really? How much time do you spend playing video games? How about Candy Crush on your phone? That is time you could spend writing. Do you take walks each day? If so, and if you have a digital voice recorder or a smartphone, you can record notes or even dictate your story as you walk. There are programs that will then convert your dictation into text. You can do the same.

So here’s the challenge: how many of you are willing to get back into the swing of things with me? Set a goal of how many words or how much time each day/week you want to write. There is no right or wrong number. It is something you feel is doable. Keep track of your progress. Use it as preparation for NaNoWriMo which starts next month. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your goal, just renew your determination to do what you can when you can and then carve out the time. However, if you see that you are writing more than you thought, increase your goal.

Now get back to work. That’s what I’m going to do.

Brings Back Memories

My family and I just recently tried a local restaurant, Babes, famous in the area for down-home fried chicken and all the fixins served family style in a really homey setting. As soon as we walked in, the smell alone brought back memories of meals shared at my grandmother and grandfather’s house. The food was pretty yummy, but couldn’t quite compare of course to what I had growing up.

It is just remarkable how the smell or taste or sound or sight or feel of something can carry such a powerful memory. The smell of the food took me back to sitting in the kitchen while my grandmother fried chicken. I could have been sitting at the small table next to my Paw-Paw cutting up small bites of potatoes to boil and cream to go with the chicken, which by the way we always snuck a few bites of the raw potato when my grandmother wasn’t looking.  Did anyone else ever do that?  I could see the tomatoes fresh from the garden sitting on the shelf behind the kitchen sink that we might cut up to go with dinner or just sneak a bite of as a snack while we were waiting. I could hear the pop of the grease as my grandmother would put a new piece of chicken into the pan. I was back in those moments with just the little smell of the food at the restaurant.

When I write I have to be careful to remember details like the tomatoes on the shelf, or the kitchen sink facing a window that looks out to the garden, or the process of cutting up the potatoes. I don’t want to get lost in the details, but those type of little sensory details can help paint a much larger picture in a simple way that the reader may later color in with their own memories.

I could also fill in a character’s backstory with what he/she may remember based on a certain taste or smell or other sensory detail. Does the character deal with grief by listening to a song that he used to listen to with his wife? Does the character buy the house that is the setting for our story because the yard makes him think of the one he had growing up? Does the character hate the taste of beans because that’s all she ate growing up since beans and rice was all they could afford? Sensory triggers could be a starting point for a whole character sketch.

A solid go-to writing prompt can be taking one of the five senses and throwing it at your character. What is my character smelling in this scene? How does that smell affect her? Does the smell make her think of anything? It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it could be. How might your character react to the taste of a dish offered to him? And why? Does your villain try to torment your character with the sound of a certain song? Why might that impact your character?

For me, I am going to think some more about the beauty of the simple moments like sitting in my grandparent’s kitchen and wish I could somehow take a time travel moment back in time to be with them again. Perhaps someday I will write about that. 😉

What sensory details always trigger memories for you? Is there a certain smell or taste that takes you back? Have you ever read something that really did a good job capturing a sensory detail? Do you try to include these details in your writing? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week!

 

~CJ

To Blurb or Not To Blurb

I subscribe to a blog called The Passive Voice, and if you are a writer you should be subscribing and reading this fantastic blog. Yesterday there was a post about blurbs that I found fascinating.

What is a blurb?

blurb    /blərb/
noun
a short description of a book, movie, or other product written for promotional purposes and appearing on the cover of a book or in an advertisement.
or
verb
write or contribute a blurb for (a book, movie, or other product). 
The article was about the second definition.
What we’re basically talking about here are endorsements from other authors and/or celebrities, those compelling “reviews” popped onto a book’s back cover or first few pages, to get the reading public to buy the book.
For a self-publishing writer these acclaims can help sell books, and when you are talking about having to self-promote, every little bit helps. Including blurbs.
For example? Go Google The Martian by Andy Weir. Completely self-published beginning as an online serial then going onto Amazon at $.99 then selling 35,000 copies in four months in 2013. That’s when it got Hollywood’s attention. In March of 2014 the book was no. 12 on the New York Times bestseller list, and by November that same year the book sold 180,000 copies. A huge coup for self-publishers.
But what happens when you get people to read your book and leave reviews on sites such as Goodreads and Amazon?
This became a huge concern of mine just before summer. You see, Amazon, in all its amazing glory, decided to take down any reviews if it was discovered that these reveiws were written by friends of the author. I have put up reviews for writers who, at the time, were not my friends. I met them through blogging and became a source to them for helping their promotion efforts. Eventually, through further interaction we did become friends but does that make my blurb/review of their work any less credible?
What about those well-known authors who seem to write blockbuster after blockbuster? Do blurbs really help them since they are well-known already in the industry? I mean, honestly, what more can you say about a famous author that hasn’t already been said, or read? Critiquing their current work is one thing, but seriously, how many times do we need to hear how he/she is today’s  Tolstoy, Austen, or Shakespeare? And let’s be honest, they aren’t those writers, and their writing resembles the classics the way a goose resembles a swan. They may be birds and have feathers and can swim and fly, but one look tells the truth.
Personally, when I buy a book, whether it is self-published or traditionally published, I ignore the blurbs. I don’t care for them. I’m looking for word of mouth and my own interests. If someone I know tells me I should read a certain book then I am more likely to do so than reading an endorsement from a celebrity or well-known author. Those people do not know me, but my friends and people I talk to often know my tastes or can guess easily. And if there are people I know personally endorsing a book then you can bet I’ll be reading that book. In fact, I have a lengthy list of books on my Goodreads Want-To-Read list thanks to those friends whose books I have read and heartily endorse.
To blurb or not to blurb, that is today’s question? Should blurbs be done away with and the writing stand on it’s own? Or do we like blurbs and think they are a useful marketing tool? Sound off in the comments.
Jesi

Writing to Come Alive

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because  what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

I saw this quote this week and just loved it. “Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that.” It seems simple enough, but how many of us find a way to do this?

For me, there are quite a few things that really make me come to life. My family, of course, is my life in many ways, and in moments with my family I come alive. Traveling has also always made me come alive and I know this is something I would love to do more often. But one of the things that has always consistently allowed me to come alive has been writing.

Whether I am re-tooling a current work in progress, or creating something entirely new, writing helps me come alive. Whether the work is poetry, or prose, or even a new blog post, writing helps me come alive. Whether I write for five minutes or several hours, writing helps me come alive. Whether the writing is good or downright awful, writing helps me come alive.

I imagine I am not the only one who has felt this way. If you are a writer, I suspect putting pen to paper has a similiar effect for you as well. I’ve seen quotes from writers that lead me to believe they have felt the same as well. Here are some of my favorites.

Gloria Steinem:

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.

Russell T. Davies:

“Writing isn’t a job that stops at six-thirty…It’s a mad, sexy, sad, scary, ruthless, joyful and utterly, utterly personal thing. There’s not the writer and then me. There’s just me. All of my life connects to the writing. All of it.”

Anne Frank

I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.

Neil Gaiman

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.”

(And one more because I can’t resist and love it so much.)

William Wordsworth

Fill the paper with the breathings of your heart.”

Can you think of something in your life that makes you come alive? Is it writing, like those of us “Twisted Writers” who share our writing adventures and thoughts with you here? Or is it something else? Painting? Yoga? Music? Monster Truck Rallies? 🙂 Feel free to share with me in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

~CJS

The Problem With Poetry

“Hang there, my verse, in witness of my love.”

~Shakespeare, As You Like It

I love poetry. Everyone who knows me can tell you that, and those who don’t know me, well, they learn that fact quickly. The ironic thing is that I don’t go around quoting it or throwing lines around like they’re party favors. For me, poetry is something I hold gently inside to ponder in awe at its beauty, then release back into the world in my own way. I try my best not to force it on those who don’t appreciate it as much as I do. But oh, how my heart beats wildly when I meet someone who “gets it.”

But I have an issue with you self-acclaimed poetry dislikers. Stop apologizing to me for not liking it. I don’t expect you to get it. We live in an age where poetry is not looked upon kindly. The majority of people do their very best to avoid it if they can. So I don’t expect you to like my poetry, and I don’t expect you to change your attitude about it. I do, however, expect you to respect that poetry is writing, and not something separate and vile and “not real writing.”

Poetry gets a terrible rap because most poetry that we’re taught in school uses outdated language that’s hard to understand in our society. Who wants to try and figure out what hidden meanings might lie behind all those “thee’s” and “thou’s”? Why can’t it be written in plain English?

Because it isn’t prose, poetry seems to fall into the same category as, say, finger painting compared to Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating. Nah…it really does seem to be pushed off into that comparison sometimes. Ask a perfect stranger on the street what the last poem was that they read then pay close attention to the look that crosses their face. Was that a look of horror, or perhaps they were bemused? Wait, did they actually laugh out loud?

Not all poetry is hard to read. In fact, some can be rather fun. A lady in my writing group wrote a poem about coffee. I myself have written one about a sore throat. Some poetry does contain meanings, both abstract and concrete, but most comtemporary poetry isn’t hard to understand anymore. For example, read We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks. Better yet…listen to it. Today, Amanda made a statement today in group that poetry is like Shakespeare in that it wasn’t made, really, to be read but to be seen and heard. That’s a fairly accurate statement. Poetry was not usually written down but memorized and performed then passed down verbally. Most was accompanied by music. Which is why I find it incredibly amusing when people tell me they don’t like poetry. What do you think songs are? They are poems set to music. Granted, they are not all that great but what do you make of these lyrics?

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

In my life I love you more

This is poetry. And I bet you didn’t make it through it without the music chiming in your brain.

And the idea that poetry is dead amuses me to no end because poetry was never on its deathbed. It hasn’t breathed its last yet. It sits quietly in the background, patient and observant. Its disciples seek it out, and, sometimes, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Sometimes it hits you with the force of a sledgehammer, while other people are led to it through the love of something, or someone, else. But it isn’t dead.

So stop apologizing to me for not liking poetry. If it doesn’t speak to you then I’m okay with that. But do not make the mistake of telling me it isn’t “real writing.” Because I will take up the gauntlet you throw down.

Jesi

Writing As Therapy

In Amanda’s last post, she wrote about 9/11 and an online thread she’d seen about whether or not world events shape our writing. She then went on to talk about the events of 9/11 and how they affected her, and how she hoped it had changed the way her characters react. Last Monday, I missed my post here at Twisted Writers. I’m sorry. I apologize sincerely. Unfortunately, there was no way I was able to write that day. I did not write on my home blog, nor did I get on Facebook except once to check in with my brother. In fact, I stayed away from the computer and most things electronic. Not because it was Labor Day, but because it was the second anniversary of my father’s 64th birthday-the last one I ever spent with him. While it may not have been a world event, for me my dad’s passing shook my world to its core.

November 23, 2013 my father succumbed to the pancreatic cancer he was diagnosed with in August that same year. On his birthday, a few weeks after he was diagnosed, I packed my kids into a rented Jeep Compass and made the six to seven hour trip from Dallas to Amarillo to surprise him. He didn’t know I was coming. And I’ll never forget the way his face lit up when he saw me. We stayed for a few days then came back home only to make one more trip a few weeks later, the last time I ever saw my dad.

The night before he died I got the call that I should come and say goodbye but it was impossible. My personal circumstances prevented me from being able to leave. I was heartbroken. The next 24 hours were hell. I tried every means open to me to find some way to go but there was nothing. So I turned to poetry. I opened up books and tried to drown my heartache in words. But I didn’t write.

Truth be told, I hadn’t written anything besides my signature for three years. Not one blessed thing. But I could read, and I could listen, and I did. I listened to beautifully trained voices reading the same feelings I was having, experiencing the same anguish I was going through, and it helped to a degree. And then the thought occurred to me that my dad didn’t even know I wrote. I never told, never let him read one word. How sad is that? It wasn’t that I didn’t love my dad or even that I thought he’d hate it. It just never occurred to me that he would want to know. Now he was dying and would never know. I couldn’t live with that. And so, I wrote the first poem I’d written in three years. Five minutes after I posted it to Facebook, my father breathed his last breath. He may not have read it but my family did, and I know it meant something to them to know how much I loved him.

Little did I know it would be the poem that led me to being here, writing for you.

The last two years have been hard. My personal life has been going through upheaval and change. It still is, but my writing is what is getting me through it. Writing is therapy. I know it firsthand. Writing is what got me through the days after my dad passed away and what gets me through even now. No, I didn’t write on his birthday. Instead, I read and spent time with my kids. So, I hope you’ll forgive the lapse and remember that when life gets to be too much to handle, write it down. Those emotions will make you a better writer in the end.

So how has this affected my writing? Apparently, I’m very good with anguish. 😉

Jesi

My Heart Hurts

by Jesi Scott

 

My heart hurts.

 

The cold, the wind, the rain:

The weather of my soul.

 

You lie there, unaware

Of my pain, my misery.

 

My heart hurts

More as the night goes on,

And with every passing moment,

Every second you grow weaker,

I grow weaker too.

 

When you are gone my heart will cry,

the pain may fade,

but my love will not die.

Writing What You Would Want To Read

The most important thing is you can’t write what you wouldn’t read for pleasure. – Nora Roberts

 

Happy belated Labor Day. Hopefully everyone had a great holiday. I did really enjoy having a little time off, but I also made myself tackle a chore I had long been putting off. I began cleaning out my office. Sadly my office has become something like the junk drawer of rooms in my house. It was filled with boxes of random things we have no other place for and which we told ourselves we will get to sorting eventually.

“Eventually” happened to be most of my Saturday and Sunday. While sorting through the madness, I stumbled upon several of my old notebooks where I had brainstormed several stories and part of a book. It was very cool to look at some beginnings to work that now has become more fleshed out, but also to see others I had forgotten about years ago.

One thing I noticed was that almost all of them had the same basic theme. They all had a romantic storyline of some sort. For a minute I was thinking how unoriginal I seemed, but then considered how that is what I like to read, so why shouldn’t I be writing that?

The Nora Roberts quote at the beginning of this post about writing what you would enjoy reading may seem obvious, but I know I am not the only one who has had a friend try to write a book unlike something they read just because they think that genre will make money. While pushing yourself to try new things may be good at times, making sure that you not only read but respect the genre you are trying to write is essential to the success of writing in the genre.

I’ve know people to try to write YA (young adult) because that is what was selling or another person who wanted to write romance since that would make more money than the genre he was writing. I support taking advantage of a chance to expand your range and hey, we all would like a little extra money I assume, but to do so without respect for the type of book you say you want to write is a quick path to failure.

Do we have to love everything about the genre? No. I love romance but do not always love the cliches that can crop up at times. Of course there are examples where few, if any, of these cliches occur, just as there are others that are so full of them you couldn’t possibly finish reading them. But there are still so many other things about the genre that I truly enjoy so I will always find myself drifting back for fun reading.

On the other hand, I am a big chicken who loves Stephen King for his book On Writing and for fun pop culture commentary, but cannot possibly bring myself to read his horror novels. I don’t go to horror movies ( though there is one I am going to give a try because it has my fangirl favorite as the lead actor ). I don’t like scary TV shows or video games. So basically just no scary anything, right? Right! I could challenge myself to write horror, but I would have to make myself read some in the genre and learn what horror usually offers before I could do a credible job writing a true horror novel/story. Knowing me, I would write a romantic story line with a scary moment and try to call it horror. My attempt at horror might be the true horror. 😉

We’ve all heard the advice to write what you know, but I would also add in that we should write what we have read and enjoy reading.  The reader will know. Readers are smart and they have more than enough to choose from out there to stick with a book that doesn’t seem to be written by someone who likes what they are writing.

What do you think? Have you ever tried to write something outside of what you would read for fun? How did it go? Was it difficult? Was it successful? Or do you, like me, seem to keep going back to what you would read? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week. 🙂

~CJS

An Exercise In Sensory Imagery

(Life took a wild turn this weekend past and left me exhausted so I’m reblogging this post from my home blog. – Jesi)

An Exercise in Sensory Imagery

The story I’m currently writing is taking an emotional toll. It’s a hard write because it’s fairly personal, and with the research I’m still continuing to do for it, even though it’s just a short story, I’m really having a rough go with the subject. I have to often take breaks so I don’t drown in the emotional current of the piece. I’ve also begun to prepare myself before I begin by doing some practice writing exercises. In fact, I’ve gone back to basics. So, how about a writing lesson today?

It’s a simple one: all you have to do is sit down and write a paragraph using sound imagery. Think of a noisy place and describe it. You might find yourself using alliteration (same letter or sounds at the beginning of adjacent or connected words) and onomatopoeia (words that sound like what they are-e.g., sizzle, crash).

Don’t worry; this is just for fun. No grades or criticisms. Just free write for twenty minutes.

Here is my practice piece:

It is three in the afternoon on a sweltering summer day. Somewhere, in an air-conditioned house, a dishwasher hums and sloshes its contents into cleanliness while an industrious little bird chirps and splashes in the birdbath outside the kitchen window. A delivery truck rumbles by on its way to some unknown destination. It seems like such a peaceful day, with the sun shining and all relatively quiet in the suburbs. Then a door slams. CRASH! Baby elephants galumph down the stairs, pictures rattling on the walls in the wake of the beasties, and immediate cries of “MOM, can I play Minecraft?”, “MOM, can I have some cookies?”, “MOM, he hit me!” resound through a house in what can only be described as the equivalent of a grenade exploding. Soon, too soon, pips and pops, bashes, slashes, and angry riotous conversation issues from the family room. From somewhere nearby a sigh of resignation escapes a throat but it is barely audible among the cacophony. A woman sits at a table, pens and paper and other writing implements scattered around, and marvels for the umpteenth time at the genius of Mother Nature’s survival instincts, which causes a mother to strongly attach to her young.

 

What can you write using sound imagery? Feel free to share in the comments.

x Jesi