Writing it Wrong.

You know how sometimes you think “that’s it, life is about to slow down and go back to normal…”

And then it doesn’t?

Well, that’s the way it’s been for me, anyway. I thought that after my brother completed his teacher certification, I’d be able to get back on an even keel, but that’s not what life had in store for me. So apologies if my blogging remains somewhat erratic for a while; I’m done making promises.

Although I can’t entirely blame my lack of a Tuesday blog post on the things that are keeping life weird right now… my only excuse for that, besides the fact that I have simply dropped my brain, is that I ended up taking my dad to see Dr. Strange for his birthday, and I completely forgot the significance of that day of the week.

I wish I could do that time-warp-y thing he does.

dr-stephen-strange-doctor-strange-2016-39801012-500-208

But I can’t, and I’m digressing…

What I really want to talk to you about today is this thing that I discovered for myself the day after Christmas. It may not be a mind-blowing new idea for any of you amazing, intelligent people, but for me it was a little epiphany.

My resident poet / brother set an exercise for the two of us, where he picked a poetic meter and form, as well as a rhetorical device that we had to work into our poems. Now, I am not a natural poet, but as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I like to use poetry as an exercise because I think it does a fantastic job of teaching an economical and potent use of language. So I did the exercise with him.

It wasn’t going well at first, and I was tempted to just scrap the thing and start fresh.

And that’s when I had that little epiphany, so I burbled a bit in my idea notebook:

When you write something and it doesn’t work, a common tendency is to crumple it into a ball and chuck it in the garbage. Understandable, but don’t do it! If you can tell something isn’t working, figure out why. You’ll be that much closer to knowing what will work. For instance, if the bouncy rhythm of the words you chose don’t lend themselves to the smoky atmosphere you’re trying to convey, what rhythm will?

Does that make sense? Even if you can sense* that the best place for the piece you’re working on is inside the bin, don’t just toss it in without taking the time to learn whatever you can from it. Sometimes, writing is a process of elimination. It’s like Thomas Edison said:

“But the student will find that experience is the best teacher. The reason why I get along with comparative ease now is because I know from experience the enormous number of things that won’t work. For instance, I start on a new invention to-morrow. From the great number of experiments I have made, and the vast amount of information I have stored up, I am saved a great deal of time and trouble in not having to travel over barren ground.”

There. I gave you an inspirational quote to make up for Tuesday. Hope it helps!


 

*That was Polyptoton, incidentally, which happens to be the rhetorical device I used in my poem. Basically, Polyptoton is when you use the same word with a different meaning. I used it here purely on accident, because I was writing lazily. When I caught it, I was about to find a different word for the second instance, but then I realized that I could use the clumsiness to pass myself off as being very clever. So there you have the secret to any success I will ever have.

 

Second Annual Christmas Post.

It sounds strange to call something “annual” when you’ve only done it once before.

I’m banking on it becoming a legitimately annual thing, however, so it works.

But I digress from the festive point. Last year, I was feeling distinctly Scrooge-ish. This year, I’m pleased to report, I’ve been feeling much more Cratchitty. So in the spirit of celebrating the holiday, here are a few of the things I’ve been enjoying lately:

In the first place, we had our annual Young Life White Elephant Gift Exchange last night.

Meet Didien Razzmatazz, everyone.

didienrazzmatazz

Honestly, this picture does not do him justice. He’s like three feet tall (ish. I haven’t actually measured him), and he can slow dance.

Beat that, fellas.

Next, @thiscitylifeldn on Instagram has been posting pictures of Christmassy London:

I’m firmly convinced that London does Christmas far better than any American city. Jealous.

So that takes care of the parties and the visuals. Now there is only one thing left: The music.

This song goes out to all you unhappy people who have last-minute gift shopping to finish.

 

Merry Christmas, everybody!

 

 

The Loyalty of Water.

“Of this there can be no question — creative work requires a loyalty as complete as the loyalty of water to the force of gravity. A person trudging through the wilderness of creation who does not know this — who does not swallow this — is lost.”

–Mary Oliver, “Of Power and Time”

Apparently, the poet Mary Oliver has written a book of essays, entitled Upstream.

I must find this book.

Sorry.

Okay, some of you might have noticed that I didn’t post a blog on Tuesday, and I never even tweeted to let you know. I’m assuming your faces looked something like this:

tumblr_mp2uxrr63m1rmvfheo1_400

Or maybe you didn’t even notice. Which is fine. Absolutely fine. It’s not like my feelings are irreparably hurt or anything.

tumblr_o9pzy0eric1uqwl43o1_500

But anyway, this is just a quick update to tell you that I have been up to my ears helping my live-in poet / brother complete his giant teacher’s certification test, and therefore I don’t have time to post anything thought-provoking today, either.

john-are-you-serious

Yes. I am serious. “But someday, when the world is ready for a new and better life… all this will someday come to pass… In God’s good time…”

As in, I’ll be back on Tuesday as usual.

Bonus game: If anybody can tell me where that last quote came from, you can pick a topic for a forthcoming blog post. Any topic. Completely up to you. Just comment down below, or tweet me, or shout through a megaphone, or whatever your preferred method of communication may be.

Get With the Group.

A writing group, that is.

I know, probably a lot of you out there are already part of one, and if you are, congratulations, you may skip the rest of this post.

But there are probably a few of you die-hard introverts out there (like me) who are thinking… naaaaahhhh, I’m good.

No. No, you really aren’t.

Here’s the thing: I always thought, psh, I was HOMESCHOOLED. And I managed to pull off a 4.0 GPA all the way through high school. And two years of college. All without any groups of any description. So ha.

And okay, so maybe I don’t technically need a group. But when one formed on my little island, comprised of some of my favorite people, well… I wasn’t going to turn them down, was I?

Darn good thing, too. We’ve only had a couple of meetings, so far, but let me tell you. They’re massively helpful. In the first place, it’s super inspiring to hear what we’re all working on. Secondarily, reading my own work out loud to an audience is good practice for the fame that is coming. Sixth and lastly, It’s pretty affirming when they have good things to say about my work. Thirdly, good golly Miss Molly, it’s EXCELLENT motivation to get words down. And, to conclude, just find one and join it. Or start one.

Yes, I did that Dogberry thing again. I think it’s going to become one of my “things.”

Anywhoo, all that being said, I have a writing group meeting tomorrow, and nothing that’s in a shareable state as of yet. Time to get to work. See what I mean about that motivation thing?

TTFN.

 

Music for Winter Dreaming.

Well, it’s the final month of 2016, which means it’s time for the final Adam Young film score.

This one is based on Ernest Shackleton’s fateful voyage to Antarctica in The Endurance.

It genuinely has a track for every writing mood, from the quirky waltz of “Hoist Sail,” through the slow dreams of “Ocean Camp,” to the excitement of “The March.”

Highly recommended.

As always, you can find it on his website, download it from iTunes or Apple Play, or you can listen to it right here via Spotify.

Enjoy!

Nothing is “Not Worth It.”

Well, as mentioned last week, I finished NaNoWriMo early. For two days I didn’t even want to think about computers, or pens, or paper. But then on the third morning, I woke up just feeling excited to write. Partly, it was the influence of my new fountain pen. Partly, it was the idea that I had a fresh new notebook to use. I grabbed my lovely new tools and snuggled down to write in my bed. (Yes, I write in bed in the mornings. It makes writing much more likely to happen if I know I can be comfy for a while longer.)

And then I froze up. Want to know why? Because I felt like I had to have something worth saying. Like I couldn’t use a pretty pen on the first page of a notebook without a profound statement to justify the waste of paper. It got so bad that I almost gave up and got breakfast.

Luckily, I was more motivated when it occurred to me that I didn’t want to let the habit of daily writing get away from me. I wasn’t ready to start revising the NaNovel yet, but I knew I had to write something, so finally I said, rather elegantly, “screw profundity, I’m gonna write about… well, not having anything worth saying.”

It turned out rather profound, if I do say so myself. I’ll spare you all my rambling, but basically what I brought it down to, in the end, was this:

The greatest literature in the world started out as an idle thought in someone’s mind. If the writers had stopped to consider whether it was “worth writing down,” how much of what we now consider to be great wisdom might have been lost?

The truth is, anything we think may have important seeds buried within it. Any thought that we can share with others; that might contain something universal… is worth writing down. We never know the possibilities of a thing until we get it out of our heads and into the world.

Does that make any sense at all? Hope so, because it’s really all I’ve got for you today. One of the best things that NaNo does is teach us how to put our Inner Editor in their place, and I don’t intend to allow that lesson to go unheeded in the upcoming year. I’m going to be operating on the idea that nothing I have to say is worthless, even if it is silly. I won’t allow myself to be taken over by self-doubt this time.