Letters of Note

On which Hemingway puts the beatdown on Fitzgerald in a letter.

If you are like me, then you love hearing what people have to say to each other.  Admittedly, I have on several occasions turned the music off on my headphones and listened to conversations around me.  (Really, the things people say in public are astonishing!)  I also belong to the small group that laments the downfall of good old-fashioned snail mail letter writing.

Which is probably why I fell in love immediately with Letters of Note.  From the website itself:

Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. Scans/photos where possible. Fakes will be sneered at. Updated as often as possible; usually each weekday.

So far there are 752 letters on the website, and I’ve yet to reach 100, I’m sure.  Several letters appear by fantastic writers including JRR Tolkien in regards to being English,  Kurt Vonnegut on being a POW at Schlachthof Fünf (Slaughterhouse Five), and most deliciously Aldous Huxley to George Orwell on 1984(Orwell) compared to Brave New World(Huxley).

All of those are interesting reads, as well as plenty others on the site that don’t involve authors.  However, there is one letter in particular that I wish to share with fellow writers.

Ernest Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald had requested Hemingway’s opinion on his novel Tender Is the Night, and boy does Hemingway let him have it.   However it’s not all about put-downs or insults.  Hemingway gives Fitzgerald some very sound writing advice.

And if I haven’t convinced you to read this letter yet, here’s just a small excerpt:

For Christ sake write and don’t worry about what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece nor what. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.  -Ernest Hemingway

(So stop reading my blog and go read Hemingway’s letter!)

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Words Pour Like Rain

Ideas roll like thunder,
Miles deep
And full of wonder.

Inspiration strikes like lightning,
All at once
My vision’s blinding.

Words pour like rain,
Down my throat
And through my veins.

I love nature, whether it brings sunny days or raging storms.  This past weekend it has brought both to me.  On Sunday it reached 80°F (27°C).  This was rather startling considering two weeks ago it was still snowing/blizzarding. And then Sunday night there was a huge, raging thunder and lightning storm.  For at least a half hour it was averaging 10+ lightning strikes per minute.  The storm lasted several hours.

Yesterday, Monday, it was again 80°F, and again, last night brought a fantastic thunder and lightning show.  Today isn’t quite as hot, however tonight there is scheduled….you guessed it…Thunder and lightning!   And do you know what’s supposed to happen tomorrow night?  THUNDER AND LIGHTNING!

Have I mentioned how much I love this weather?

The downpour of rain always helps me feel creative.  Maybe that’s because I grew up in the rainy, drizzly, Pacific Northwest.  Or maybe it’s because my mothers name is Raeni.   Or maybe I’m just a little odd.

At any rate, the universe seems to have aligned to promote inspiration for me to write.  Who am I to argue?

What helps inspire you guys?  Is there a certain environment your writing thrives better in?

(For those of you who follow, and posted such kind words in regards to my fathers health: He’s doing much better, and is now out of the hospital and back home with my mom.  Thank you all, again, for the concern and well wishes.)

Writer Vs. Person

I’ve always had a fear of sharing my writing with others.  As I’ve found, this is a fear shared by most creative people when putting forth their works into the world.  You pour your heart and soul into a physical, tangible thing, and suddenly there is nothing left to hide behind.

I’ve talked before about how a part of myself is imprinted in every character, setting, and subject in my writing.  So when I’m in a dark place in my life, my stories will take on a darker theme, and the same can be said when I’m doing well.

But what makes me hesitate sharing my work with close family or friends, is that I don’t want them to read too much of me into my writing.  Which is an utter contradiction to the fact that I admitted to pouring my heart and soul into my writing.   Bear with me!

I want to be able to bring my own experiences and thoughts into my work.  For better or worse it can take quite a dark turn.  And that bitterness is what I will write about.  However, in expressing myself in that way, it will be the only side of me people are seeing.  A mere hand full of puzzle pieces in a 1,000 piece puzzle.

That is definitely not my goal in imparting myself into my writing.  I almost feel like I need a disclaimer before sharing with my friends and family.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, and themes expressed in this writing, are not necessarily a lens in which to view the writer.  Please keep in mind, there is a difference between Aly the writer and Aly the person.

And yet, I sometimes feel that it’s almost an insult to try to separate my personal self from my writer self.  Because in reality, there is nothing to separate. They are one and the same.  I am writer, hear me roar!

I guess it’s just a matter of trying to explain and find common ground with those close to me, who don’t understand the whole ‘writing thing’ that I do.  Out of my family, I am the only creative type.  My brothers and my parents are more logical and realistic.  The majority of my friends are that way as well.  It’s hard for them to understand the nuances of me in my writing, but I won’t hold it against them.

It’s the few friends, and many friendly bloggers I know, that encourage me to continue being my creative self.

Do you guys distinguish between a writer vs personal self?  Do you think it’s bad  to try to separate/downplay a side of you that close friends or family don’t understand?

Nothing Motivates Me To Write More Than Mortality

The past few days have not been particularly kind to me.  But it takes a big scare to remind you what’s really important.

Over the past three days I have:

  • had my lawn chairs stolen off of my patio
  • sold my books to afford to pay the bills
  • taped a garbage bag over a window that won’t roll up in my car
  • been rejected for a job I thought for sure I would get
  • had a relationship-changing fight with my boyfriend

Suffice it to say, I was equals parts angry and disheartened.  Then my mom texted me, saying that my dad is in the hospital…again.

And suddenly, none of that other stuff mattered.

The lawn chairs were mildewy and moldy anyways.  I was never going to re-read those books.  It’s supposed to be sunny the next few days, so no rain will get in my open window.  I have a different job interview next week.  And if anything, my boyfriend and I have grown closer since then.

But my dad suffered a stroke a while back.  And he’s been having bad chest pains, so my mom took him to the ER.

As bad as I thought everything was before, it is nothing compared to a mortality check.  I can sit and stress over things that, honestly, won’t have a huge affect on me.  Or, I can deal with them as best I can, then move on and use my energy more productively.

In this case, my writing has been kick-started with a singular thought:  What if my Dad (or another loved one) isn’t around to see my first novel finished?  

Motivation to write, indeed.

So when life gets difficult, and all the bad things pile up, just think of what’s really important.  It’s okay to take a day or two to recharge, to cry, to deal with everything, but don’t let it stop you completely.  And remember, you WILL make it through!  (And blog readers make great cheerleaders!)

All the best,

Stories Within Stories

I have quite the addiction to stories.  Which is probably why I love movies, books, or plays that are centered around storytelling.

The most recent of these treasures came rather unexpectedly.  I was meandering through the lines of movies on Netflix, looking for something to entertain me while I ate lunch.  A rather surrealist movie cover caught my attention.

The FallDescription via IMDB:

In a hospital on the outskirts of 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman begins to tell a fellow patient, a little girl with a broken arm, a fantastical story about 5 mythical heroes. Thanks to his fractured state of mind and her vivid imagination, the line between fiction and reality starts to blur as the tale advances.

What I love about this type of plot, is the blending of fantasy and reality.  These stories especially capture my attention when in the form of film.  The visual aspects of blending realities is much easier to follow than in books.  Although I must say I haven’t read too many books like this.  Inkspell by Cornelia Funke, being the only one I can think of off the top of my head.

As far as movies go I can think of  The Fall, Big Fish, The Science of Sleep, Pan’s Labyrinth, MirrorMask, The Wizard of Oz, The Pagemaster, and Alice in Wonderland, as well as many others I’m sure I’m missing/haven’t watched.

I think what draws me in most to these stories, is that when I was little I so wished I could become a part of a story.  I wanted all the fantastical things to be true, and happen to me.  So when I see a film where the characters have become a part of a story or another fantasy world, I can’t help but enjoy it.

What kind of stories draw you in?

 

How to Get More Likes on Facebook

While I’m working on a new blog post or two, I thought I’d share this awesome graphic by The Oatmeal called How to Get more Likes on Facebook.   And as funny as it is, it’s actually very true and honest. So to all the writers out there testing out the social media waters, be sure to check this out.  http://theoatmeal.com/comics/facebook_likes

The Oatmeal is Seattle based webcomic artist.  Sometimes vulgar and alarming, but rather hilarious.  He also has a few comics/posters about common grammar mistakes such as: How to use a semicolon, and When to use i.e. in a sentence.

Okay, enough promoting my favorite webcomic artist!  I promise I’ll have a new, original post up soon!

In the meantime: Happy writing, everyone!

A Guest Post and An Update

I am thrilled to announce that my very first Guest Post has gone live today!  I am deeply honored to be hosted by Rebecca T. Dickinson on A Word or More.   Be sure to check out her warm & welcoming blog, as well as my guest post, Our Personal Lenses.

Fantastic news aside, my writing, blogging, and twittering has taken a seat on the back burner for the past few days.  (I promise I’ll get to everyone’s comments on my previous post in the near future!)  Mostly this is due to a little thing called Life.  Of which, I won’t bore you with details, but let’s just say, I’m busy.

Hopefully, it won’t be long before I’ll be back in the swing of things in regards to my blog.  At least I plan on it in time for the Sunday Versus.   But in the meantime, here are a few noteworthy things:

  • Sara Flower(who is currently doing a blog tour for her book By the Sword) is hosting an Amazon Gift Card Give-away here.  Submissions are free and they close April 8th, so there’s still time left to enter!
  • I’m considering updating my layout to something…more welcoming.  I love this layout because it’s very clean and easy to navigate.   I like the grey scale because it reminds me of the grey, cloud covered, rainy, dreary place I used to call home.  But I wonder if it seems too “cold” and unwelcoming.  Thoughts?
  • Also, I’ve seen a few people with ‘signatures’ at the bottom of their posts, and I thought it was really fun.  A great way to leave a more lasting/unique impression.  So here I am, trying it out.  What do you guys think?  Is it too cheesy, or just cheesy enough? 🙂

Happy writing, everyone!

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