Your Mind Can Get Hungry, Too!

Today’s post is a quick one. A little note on one of my favorite concepts.

When your body is hungry, what do you do? Easy, right? You feed and sustain it with food. But what about when your mind is hungry?

Do you know the feeling? I think you do. You’ve spent a while watching TV, a movie, the kind without substance, imbibing a tad too much, perhaps; your mind turned off to the world. And then, from its edges, the deepest alcove, the farthest outskirt, there’s a quiet but persistent voice.

I’m hungry, it says. I need to be fed. Teach me something. Let’s read a novel. Let’s find out something we never thought we’d know. We can do it together.

Always keep your mind hungry, and satiate that hunger in whatever way is best for you. For me, it’s reading and writing. For you, it might be math (those people do exist, and I’ve met them; I’m glad for them, because only with math could we have computers and the like, but I’ll stay firmly over here in the literature aisle, thank you very much).

A New Project

As a writer, one of the things that can really get my heart pumping, my creative juices flowing, is the knowledge that I am at work on a new project. Something I really believe in that, if done well, could be a wonderful piece. Probably a short story, though it could stretch to novella-length.

Yet, I’m not going to lie. Lingering doubts remain. Can I see this thing through? Do I have the talent?

On days like this, I find myself relying on the words of those who came before me. My grandfather, or Papa, once turned to my brother and said, “You’re my actor.” He looked at me next and said, “You’re my writer.”

We smiled. We believed him, and we were determined to prove him right. I got right to it, inspired, and churned out a poem and a short story that very Easter; his last.

Whatever doubts I may feel trying to overwhelm me at times–and they’re much more prominent than I’d like to admit–I will keep going. I will have faith that my writing, my talent, my belief in myself, and my constant desire to get better will see me through.

I am his writer. I hear you, Pop. That phrase of his has more pull over me than any naysayer, any rejection note, be they written on literary agency stationary or pumped out through an automated e-mail program.

 

Bet On Yourself

Welcome to Wednesday.

After just short of a week’s worth of blogging, I have already learned so much about myself. Mainly that, in my creative writing, I have been holding myself back; telling myself, “Nope. You can’t write that sentence or that paragraph.” (Thanks to my own worst critic for those nonsensical gems.)

When I ask why, the response always differs just a little, but it’s always pretty much the same deal. “People won’t get it. They won’t get you. They’ll tell you you’re writing wrong.”

I don’t know about you, but many writers I know–heck, many people I know–have, at least once in their lives, not written out in full, or (in the case of non-writer folks) not had the guts to do something they later wished they had, and they looked back on the missed opportunity with regret. Why do these writers not write, these people not do as they wish?

They’re afraid of doing–or writing–wrong.

Think about this, if you’re feeling kind of stuck and wondering if you should write that novel, go for that new job, take that leap of faith, etc. What is the worst that will happen if you give yourself permission to say, “Yes, I want to do that” or if you jump in headfirst with blinders on and say, “I’ll trust myself and write that book”?

If the answer is, someone might say you did it all wrong, do it, anyway. Because you have just as much chance of getting it right.

Bet on yourself.

Now let’s see if, going forward, I can take my own advice. *Grin.*

 

The Blank Page

There is nothing scarier than the blank page. It can bring on paralyzing fear. And it is a writer’s worst.

“That page is blank. What if it stays blank forever?” Believe it or not, some writers do worry about stuff like this. Most, actually.

For me, the beginning of any piece is its toughest portion (aside from editing, which is a whole other ball game entirely). For only with a proper start will work flourish the way it’s supposed to, in the end.

My go-to when I can’t seem to overcome that endless expanse of white: A poem. Write a poem. Let the wonder of language, its simplicity, complexity, its coarse edges, its smooth underbelly calling for a good vocal rub–let them all dance in concert on your ready tongue. Accept what the Gods of Poetry give you. Throw nothing back. What’s meant to come will come. That’s what I’m going to do, now.

A poem, written without concern for what it shall become, and entitled An Endless Expanse Of White.

 

I come awake to a

Snow-sky gray

Sweet Christmas Day,

Find the presents waiting.

As a child my night

 Drifted away right,

A moment fading from sight,

Replaced by this wonderful morn

Yet to be warm with hot chocolate and cheer,

Nor is it light,

Though the freshly fallen snow shimmers the immediate vicinity.

So that all is clear and bright.

That endless expanse of white.

 

 

 

 

Who Do You Write Like?

I know, it’s a strange title. But it’s a question I get a lot (my high school English teacher would bristle at that use of a lot: “A lot is a place where a house is built, ladies and gentlemen!”). Often. It’s a question I get often. There. Much better.

Some people write mysteries. Others write thrillers. Suspense, perhaps. Then there’s literary fiction, where the use of language is almost more important than what that language actually says.

There are so many different genres—YA (young adult), magical realism, fantasy (which differs slightly from the broad sci-fi designation)–that to pigeonhole a writer into one, and only one, is not fair to them. Yet it’s done all the time.

I write stories I would want to read. I think every writer does. Mine do tend to land in the fantasy genre (though rarely, if ever, do they contain mythological creatures).

A conversation I’m very used to having when I’ve just met someone:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Oh. That’s great! What do you write?”

“Fiction. Short stories. I’m working on a novel.”

“Ah,” says the interested party. “Who do you write like?”

I write like me. My books are my books. But the potential reader doesn’t know my work. So I have to take a shot in the dark that they might know the work of someone else.

“Do you know Mitch Albom?” I ask.

“The Tuesdays With Morrie guy?”

We’re off-track just a bit. “He’s written novels, too. The Five People You Meet In Heaven?”

“Oh, sure,” says the bookworm. “I like that one. So you write like that, huh?”

“Kind of.”

It’ll be confusing if I tell the guy, “I have cerebral palsy. You might have noticed I walk a little differently? I write stories about people who are just like you. They experience life just like you, and have wants and hopes and dreams like you. Only, like me, they have palsy.”  He might think my stories are only for people with palsy, as opposed to what they really are: Stories I–and hopefully many–would want to read about interesting characters in fantastical situations, one of whom might just happen to have what I have and walk like I walk and experience life the way I experience life. I’ll just let the Albom comparison stand.

When It was suggested that I keep this blog, I gave a firm “no” at first. I feared blogging would be like shouting into a dark void and hoping to hear my words echo back in the mouths and minds of actual readers. But I changed my mind when I realized that, through this blog, people who were truly interested could discover “who I write like”.

I write like Mitch Albom, preferring his secular slant on things to another of my favorite authors, Richard Paul Evans’ more obviously religious style. That is not a comment on either writer. I enjoy both. Personally, I believe in a higher power (though I know people who don’t), and I would like to believe that, when the time comes, I’ll be able to ask Him (or Her) why I was given my exact obstacles in life. God’s plan might be enough for some. It isn’t, for me. There has to be more.

I write with just a bit of the sarcasm my grandfather gave me. I write with humor that isn’t mean but can be biting sometimes, if it’s done right. I write characters who aren’t perfect, because no one is perfect. I do prefer Frank Capra films over scary movies that stay with you at night, and that preference leaks into my words and work.

Put simply, I. Write. Like. Me. And I’m as proud of that now, as a novelist seeking representation, as I will be should I find it. I hope you will want to read what I have to say, because I’ve got a lot to tell you!

*Grin.*

 

Dreams

Dreams (not the night-time diversions, but the dreams that stretch deep into our souls and sometimes help us discover who we really are) are those wondrous things that we humans hope for, wish for, cling to. Or–if we’re lucky–they’re the goals we not only set for ourselves but realize.

One of life’s greatest lessons–and one of the toughest to take to heart, I’ve found–is this one:

Do not let other people tell you when your dream should die. Those who don’t understand a dream will want you to give it up because your dream isn’t their dream. Do something practical, they’ll say. They are sure to end said dream prematurely, if allowed. Instead, let the imagination that gave birth to a particular dream be its judge.

In other words, don’t give up on something if it matters to you. If it matters to you, it’s worth the fight.

Always.