I’m Running With It

When you have a good idea people tend to use the phrase “run with it” in order to encourage you.  I’ve yet to tell anyone my fantastic idea, and therefore have not gained such encouragement.  However, I am indeed “running with it” regardless of nobody telling me to do so.

This grand idea is in the form of a novel.  I know it will either turn out to be a romance novel, or a young adult novel.  Shockingly these two seem to be getting closer and closer these days.

My plan is for this to be my first novel length project to actually be finished.  I’ve generally been a flash fiction/short story kind of lady.  Every time I start a big project like a novella or novel, I tend to just rush straight into it then quickly burn myself out after the three chapters.

Why does this happen?  

Honestly, it’s because I can be impulsive, and impatient.  I also generally like doing my work in big chunks at a time to get everything done.  With homework, I would work for hours with no breaks to finish it.  Doing a new craft?  I’d be at my desk concentrating on only that until I finished it.  Writing?  I’ll sit there and write in a big chunk of time, blocking out the rest of the world.

If you’re the kind of person who can get up and walk around, answer a text, grab some water, go to the bathroom, and make lunch in the middle of a project, well, I envy you.

I know if I don’t take the time to pause and break from my writing, I will completely burn myself out.  I think, for once, I believe in this idea so much, that I need to step back and really plan this out.  Sure there’ll be a lot of free writing and re-writing, but I think for someone who rushes into everything, taking the time to plan and organize is exactly what I need.

And for everyone else out there like me, maybe try setting specific long-term goals that you can achieve.  Looking at the Big Picture of your grand idea can really keep you focused on the short term(chapters) writing that you’ll be doing.

Good luck, and happy writing everyone!

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Prioritizing

Being new to blogging, I’m still getting into the rhythm of consistently posting.  I must say, it takes a lot of work, and a lot of time.  To my fellow bloggers who can crank out consistently well written posts, I tip my hat to you!

So, prioritizing and blogging.  I probably could have picked a less busy time of the year to start my blog, but hey, I’m not going to let that stop me!  However, right now, this baby blog is still not top on my priority list.  In fact, as of right now, this is how it goes:

1. Clean the apartment before leaving for the holidays.

2. Pack my bags before leaving.

3. Finish making presents for my family from scratch.

4. Put my studded tires on my car.

5. Work on concepts for a new storyline.

6. Write.

7. Blog.

As you can tell, this is somewhat of a freebie post, but I am determined to be consistent in posting!  So here’s some advice that I’m still in the process of learning. Make sure your blog is in the top 3 of your to-do list.  Always.  Write posts ahead, so when you do get busy you can just post something that you have saved as a draft.  That way your blog doesn’t have to take the back burner just because you have more pressing/time consuming “real world” things to deal with.

What do you guys do in order to stay on top of posting?  Or do you sometimes find that blogging gets pushed down the to-do list as well?

Why the Discovery Channel is My New Best Friend

I’ve always had a love affair with documentaries and informative tv shows.  I blame watching all the Bill Nye the Science Guy videos for 5th grade science class.  But, I digress, this love probably would have happened anyways.  Thank heavens for the History Channel and Discovery Channel right?

Now I know many of those shows can’t be classified as real documentaries and many are over dramatized, but I assure you, that’s a good thing.

My boyfriend has recently started a Netflix binge, religiously watching such shows as Mythbusters and Man vs. Wild.  During an episode of Man vs. Wild Bear Grylls had to ‘survive’ and escape a completely abandoned city.  Within the first five minutes it immediately struck me that if I were to ever write a post apocalyptic story, I’d definitely re-watch that episode.

I had always liked the idea of watching well made documentaries as resources/inspiration for writing.  However, it had never actually occurred to me to watch these dramatized, over the top, shock-factor shows.

I started browsing what TV shows Netflix had from the Discovery Channel, and I can safely say, if you need to delve into a topic you don’t know much about, for the first time I’d recommend turning on the TV.

Are you writing about a story that in any way has a scene about surviving in the wilderness a la Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, indigenous peoples way of survival, even hardcore camping, try Man vs Wild or Survivor Man.  Are there two people in this situation? Man Woman Wild or Dual Survival.  Is it a group? Out of the Wild, Alaska Experiment.  You can even use that last for tidbits of useful information if you’re writing an Ice Age era story.

Are you writing about ancient/indigenous cultures and you need to add depth with a medicine man?  Try Medicine Men Go Wild.

Is the protagonist a fisherman, and you’re writing about tales on the sea? Go for Lobstermen or Deadliest Catch.

Are you writing a thriller about a detective chasing down a madwoman on a killing spree? Watch Deadly Women.

Or perhaps your character is caught in a huge storm that rampages across his rural town and he has to pick up the pieces.  Experience a storm for wild descriptions with Storm Chasers.

Even Mythbusters can help, if you look for specific episodes relating to what you are writing about.  There’s an episode about surviving being buried alive, an entire episode devoted to pirates, they explore many, many ways to break out of jail, and a whole lot more!

Branching out of the Discovery Channel, try the Food Network if your character is chef or baker, or TLC for some Cake Boss.  The first few episodes can be informative when Buddy explains what a lot of the terms mean to viewers who otherwise would not have known.  You could watch Pawn Stars on the History Channel that showcase a lot of very old, very neat items.  I was surprised at how much history the pawn stars know and how informative this one is.

So, my point for this article?  If you need more information about a topic, don’t be afraid to turn on the TV!  Are they over dramatized and sometimes scripted? Yes.  Are they sometimes cheesy and over done? Yes.  Do they have enough kernels of information to help you? Most definitely YES!

Don’t be afraid to use these for inspiration in your writing.  Even if you only get one tidbit of detail per episode, it will add so much more depth to your story. And hey, maybe you’ll be able to teach your readers a thing or two about how to survive if they got lost while hiking.

NOTE:  If you don’t have cable or satellite, like me, most of the shows mentioned are on Netflix, but you can also find various episodes/information about the shows online.  Also, considering the nature of the shows, and their educational/interest value, try your local library, if not specifically ones I’ve mentioned, they’ll at least have very good-actual- documentaries to check out.

Also, I haven’t watched all the shows I mentioned(most, but not all), they’re just here to be helpful suggestions.   Have any shows that have been useful for you?  Help your fellow writers out and post them in the comments section!

Do you remember?

Everyone has feelings of nostalgia from time to time.  It can be of memories either happy or sad.  This is a piece about a couple who are no longer together. It’s mostly fiction but drawn from some of my experiences.  I also wanted to play around with narrative styles.  This isn’t technically 2nd person since I still use the 1st person “I” predominantly, but it’s worth noting that I think it’s a very under-rated writing style.   I find the use of 2nd person very intimate and  when used well it can be a much better vehicle for transporting the reader into the scene.

**********

The warm kitchen lights were bright enough to light the tiny apartment. Chilly air crept through the opened window. I shivered, but refused to close the window because the room was still filled with cleaning chemicals, having just finished cleaning the place. I plopped down on the couch in victory- or defeat, I’m still not sure which. Conquering the dishes, piles of paper, books, and miscellaneous clutter took longer than we had counted on.

I was sitting on our broken blue couch, holding my camera that I thought I had lost. This time I vowed to keep everything clean. I couldn’t believe my camera had been in the apartment the entire two months.

You walked from the kitchen to the couch, a big smile on your face. “I told you it wasn’t gone forever! The apartment just ate it up,” you said to me. You wrapped your arms around me as we nestled into each other on the couch. Laying my head on your shoulder, I looked up at you and smiled. You always did know how to make me feel better.

I glanced back down at my hands. Browsing through the pictures on my camera, I finally came to the most recent one. I had taken it two months ago, right before I misplaced it in the black hole that was our apartment. That wouldn’t do. It was unacceptable to go over two months between pictures.

Spontaneously I reached out and snapped a quick photo of us. You were unprepared, and protested when the flash went off. “You need to warn me before you take a picture!” You said, pouting. I giggled and held the camera back up.

“Okay, ready?” I asked. You nodded and gave the camera your fake smile. I took another picture. We both looked at the results. Blurry. “Aww! That one would have been so good if my hand didn’t shake!” I was disappointed. I hit the back button on my camera to see the first picture. Surprisingly it wasn’t bad.

We were comfortably cuddling on the couch. You were looking down at me with nothing but love on your face. I wore a huge grin. We looked completely happy. We were completely happy. It was the perfect snapshot into our lives. In that moment it was just us. We didn’t have to worry about work, school, or even chores around the apartment. There was no distracting television or movie on. There wasn’t even music setting a mood, because we made the mood.

I suppose it was one of those rare moments where everything fit perfectly together. I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I wasn’t even trying to capture the moment. All I was doing was warming up my long forgotten camera. It’s funny how the world works that way. Everything comes together when you stop expecting it to.

If only it would have stayed that way.

There’s a dull ache when I look at this photo. Do you feel it too? Do you even remember this picture? But-I’m being too sentimental. It might be best for me to throw old photos out. My nostalgia weighs too greatly on my mind. But you never had that problem. And maybe that’s what hurts the most. The fact that you don’t think about me nearly as much as I think about you. You’ve moved on in ways that I can’t bring myself to. I don’t want to forget, to let go.

So I keep this photograph around. It reminds me that once upon a time, we were perfect together.

Finding Courage

While struggling to work on not only my novel, but also a short story to post on this blog, I came to a deep realization.  I was in a horrible rut, and not because of Writer’s Block.  I was actually being held up by my inner critic.

Now, I know there are numerous blog posts about how to get rid of your “inner editor” while writing.  Trust me, it feels like I’ve read them all!  And to be fair, I’d recommend checking them out.  As far as inspiring and encouraging goes, Jeff Goin’s article is my favorite.  http://goinswriter.com/never-good-enough/

But I feel a little left out in some of these articles.  Yes, I do still get caught up in thoughts about whether my work is good enough, but what if I think it’s great, but still can’t bring myself to share it?  It’s like the other side of the coin.  I’m satisfied with my writing, but too afraid to share it.  Besides sucking it up and biting the bullet, how does one overcome that?

I’ve been writing since I was about 10 years old.  Of course I was EVERYTHING short of being considered a prodigy, I assure you.  At the time most of what I wrote was poetry.  I even ventured into slight short stories, usually my friend and I would time ourselves writing then share our stories.  Eventually this developed into my great love of written Role Playing Games.   For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s basically an ongoing story on a forum board, where multiple people contribute to a story.  Generally each person controls their own characters and write their own posts to move a story along.  I’d definitely recommend people who are just starting out and figuring out their writing styles to look around for these.  They’re great fun, good for gaining experience, and you can make life-long friends with the people you write with.

Favorite past-time plug-in aside, I was confidant in my writing, and my enjoyment of the process.  That is, however, until I had the idea to work on my own novel.  It was to be a fantasy novel since back then the majority of the books I read were all fantasy or science fiction.  I had so many ideas and created this big world in my head.  I even drew pictures of what would have been the main characters.  I felt so intensely about this project that I shared it with my family, along with vague story outlines.

Well, if there’s one thing you can say about my family, it’s that we’re frank with each other.  I remember explaining it to my family when we were packed in to my dad’s suburban.  Although my mom encouraged me to write it, my older brothers immediately began to poke at plot holes, and make fun of my made-up names.

Let me be clear, constructive criticism is a good thing.  And at the age of 13 my ideas were far from stellar.  However, I can trace my fear of sharing my ideas back to that one moment.  Sure my brothers were just teasing, and being logical, but at such an impressionable age, the damage was done.

I immediately dropped that whole idea, and tossed out the idea of writing a novel.  In fact, my goals change entirely.  I went from wanting to be an author, to wanting to be an editor.  All through that fear of sharing my ideas and my writing with others.  Let it be said that my 13th year of existence was not a good one.

Eight years later and my goals have finally shifted back.  With more experience in this world, I’m beginning to come back to my childhood dreams.  Writing is just what I was meant to do, what I’ve always wanted to do.  It’s been difficult to put myself out there, especially with my stories, but it’s a battle I continue to fight.

This blog, I guess, is the next step for me as a writer.  It’s important to me and I am determined to follow through with it.

And yes, I’m going to be cheesy and say:  Remember why you started following your dreams in the first place.  There will be people who try to bring you down, some of them might not even realize that’s what they’re doing, but have the courage to overcome that.  It took me almost 10 years, but I finally got there.  I still have doubts and I’m sure a part of me always will.  It’s a slow and gradual process, but I know it will be worth it.

So here’s to finding courage and conquering your fears!  Best of luck to all of you.  🙂

The Projectionist

I had the amazing pleasure of watching the movie Hugo this weekend. It was equal parts magic, innocence, and wonder.

**********

A final click sounded as the crank reel stopped. The thick canvas screen which had grabbed the audiences attention with wonder, now became blank. A satisfied murmur filled the stuffy room. Slowly people began to trickle out of the theater.

The projectionist packed the reel away, being careful not to scratch the delicate film. Wrinkled fingers gingerly closed the hard leather case. The elderly man pushed his glasses up on his nose as he looked about the dim theater. His gaze paused when he saw a small tuft of hair sticking up behind one of the seats. Somebody must have fallen asleep and no one woke him up. He gently set the case down on the floor. The faded red carpet muffled his oxford shoes as he walked down the aisle.

“Excuse me, but the picture show has ended,” he said, approaching the seated figure. His eyebrows raised slightly as a child’s head popped up from behind the seat. Two eyes peered inquisitively at him. He filed his way down the row just behind the child, getting a better look as he moved closer. She sat on her knees facing him, little arms crossed over the back of the seat. The dim light did nothing to hide her dirty clothes. Her dark hair was matted and messy.

The projectionists gaze softened. “Do you have anywhere else to go?” he asked. His deep voice expanded in the air, filling the theater with its presence.

The girl shook her head. “But I’m not looking for somewhere else to go,” she piped in a timid voice. “I want to stay here and keep watching.”

A smile spread on the projectionists face. “I feel the same, child. But alas, it has ended, and we find ourselves back in the real world. We can’t keep living in the picture shows, you know that, don’t you?” He took the time to deliberately choose his words.

The girl gazed up thoughtfully at the old man. “I know we can’t, but I still want to,” she said. She tilted her head slightly, thinking hard. “I wish we could jump in the screen when a moving picture is playin’, and be a part of it. Then people could watch us runnin’ around on there, havin’ fun. And if they wanted to, they could come too.”

An earthy laugh rumbled through the air. “If everyone jumped into the canvas, then who would be here to run this world?”

“Who cares if we’re all in there?” She replied, pointing at the screen behind her. A smile graced her grubby face.

“I see your point, young lady,” the projectionist said, returning her smile. “Perhaps you will have to dream up your own picture show. You can write about your adventures in Film Land. I know the maker of these shows would love to hear your stories.”

The child’s eyes briefly lit up. However, as the idea sank in she slowly dropped her gaze, slumping in her seat. “I don’t know how to write. I’d never be able to get my stories to him,” she murmured morosely.

The devastated child caused the projectionists heart to swell. She sat before him, so hopeless. “Look at me, child,” he said softly. “Have you any parents?”

She shook her head, avoiding his gaze.

“Do you have a home, or anyone to look after you?”

Again, her small head shook. She trembled, on the verge of tears.

The projectionist fell silent. He saw something of himself in the girl. There was a wonderment about her, and he knew he had to help her. “Well, that is about to change, I’ve decided. If you’d like, you can come home with me. I’ll feed you, clothe you, and give you a home,” he stated, giving his chin a rub. “In return, I expect you to put forth an effort to learn to read and write under my supervision. Does that sound like something you would want?” He asked, eyeing the girl closely.

Her head shot up to look at him. A look of confusion clouded her face. “But…why?” she asked, stunned. “No one is ever nice to orphans like me. Why would you take me in?”

A smile pulled on the corner of his mouth. “I see great potential in you. You have the creative spark, I know it,” his voice was filled with warmth. “You could have a very bright future, and one day, you might even be making picture shows of your own.”

“Do you really think I could?” she asked. Her confusion caved under the excitement of the thought.

“Everything you can dream you can do,” he replied with a twinkle in his eyes. “All the people who were here, left the theater with excitement. If you work hard at it, you could be the one reaching out to them with your dreams and stories.”

“But how do you know they’ll want to listen to my stories? I don’t think I could imagine greater ones than the picture show you just played.”

He let out a hearty laugh. “My dear child, don’t you know? I am the creator of that film!” He paused for a moment, enjoying the surprise on the little girl’s face. “I think I ought to be able to decide whether or not people will come to see your shows. Now that I think about it, I may need someone with your expertise on my next show!”

The projectionist continued speaking, but his words never made it to the girl. She was too busy imagining what her first picture show would be. Maybe, just maybe, she could make one as captivating as the projectionist had.

Let me introduce myself.

To start off, my name is Aly.  At the reckless age of twenty-one I could be considered disappointingly docile.  Yet, despite my reclusive and non-assuming ways, the universe seems to have other plans for me.  I constantly find myself in precarious, awkward, and unique situations.  Having been asked to compare myself to a character from any novel of my choosing, the closest I could come up with was Nick Carraway from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  I always find myself in the thick of things, usually by someone else’s doing.

It is through my view of life as an observer, that I form my impressions.  My inspiration for writing, for chronicling, is based on my dramatic interpretations of the world around me.  This urge to capture the world through my lens is what pushes me to write openly, to share what I see.  Which directly lead me to the point of my creating this blog.

I created this blog to, hopefully, gain feedback for some of my sudden inspiration pieces.  At the very least, to those of you who wander here, I hope you enjoy some of my writings and musings.

Here’s to adventures in writing!

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