Influence

Billy Collins (poet) believes we must read to be influenced, and suggests young people mimic their favorite writers in order to develop their skills and to develop their own voice.

I think many young writers do this. It’s a natural form of development.

Other writers are afraid to read when they’re lion.jpgwriting; they don’t want to be influenced. I think by the point you develop your own voice, you won’t so easily be influenced.

I think reading Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion was imperative for me to stumble across. I’d never attempted to intimate him – but he took my understanding of writing and voice to a whole new level. The storyline, the use of language, and the originality of his voice was unlike anything I’ve ever read and it blew my mind.

What reading Ondaatje did for me was to help launch my voice and style. I say this because at the time, I was mired in instructors and writers telling me no, no, no. They so strongly believed in their own way of doing things, they didn’t allow other writers to develop in other ways. It was limiting.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – read far and wide! Do not be afraid of being influenced – open yourself to learning something new!

 

Motivation Vs Inspiration

inspiratin.jpgI hear a number of writer’s ask about how to get inspired or keep inspiration. I think they’re confusing inspiration with motivation.

We are inspired by the things around us, an odd phrase, a beautiful scene, a great idea. The motivation comes to write it down. You must keep motivated long after the inspiration abates.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where dedication comes in.

With dedication to the craft, even when motivation and/or inspiration fail you – you will not fail.

Inspiration is just the beginning! Stay dedicated. Motivation will follow.

Approaching Authenticity – Creativity, Psychology, and Christian Faith by Bozena Zawisz

bozenaSomething I often hear as a counselor is clients speaking about the weight of expectations they feel they’re carrying on their shoulders; and the frustration, guilt, or resentment they feel in relation to them.

Many of these expectations are often tied to a particular role they “fall into,” that contains within it: unexamined assumptions relating to some action(s) they feel they should be doing, rules for communicating (what they feel they should be saying, and how), pressures to take on board “shared” viewpoints…

Often they express feeling as if they lost their center or connection with themselves.

Some roles are consciously/purposefully chosen. I choose to relate to clients within the boundaries of a counselors’ role. At other times, individuals can fall into an interaction where there is an expectation/pressure to engage in a “role-play”… mindlessly… pulled by some emotional pathway, deeply engraved by a lifetime’s worth of conditioning… For example, many adults continue to feel strongly affected by their parents’ perceived expectations of them…

Sometimes individuals’ roles within relationships include assumptions about hierarchy (in some cultures more than others), expectations relating to distributions of privileges, expectations relating to the division of weight that is placed on the inner experience of each individual. Often, the language which does not fit an expected role-script is unwelcome, discouraged…

One of my favorite historical examples of a figure who modeled the importance of rising beyond roles and cultural expectations, and embodied authenticity and inner strength, was Jesus. I admire the way he kept right away from describing himself via popular roles or politically loaded terms of the time, which he perceived as a poor fit with his life’s journey and purpose.

I love the way Jesus preferred to describe his inner experience and communion with God using creative metaphors-that beautifully made use of people’s familiar associations (e.g. used imagery such as harvests, laborers, etc.) yet transcended the language of the well established familiar social and political roles, traditions, expectations, and their underlying beliefs and perceptions.

Jesus had a hard time with the Pharisees. Perhaps they perceived his non-compliance with the established roles that reinforced their power and privileges-most unsettling. Jesus smacked too much of personal power, disregard for the authority of political/social pecking order…

Possibly to connect with a sense of inner peace, he was documented to withdraw into solitude oftentimes, perhaps in this way he restored his strength by nurturing his connection with God. Just as in his case, I believe that it is a helpful first step in our journey towards authenticity to find ways to connect with a loving place of self-care and strength within ourselves.

Given the powerful focus our society (and at times other people) have on trying to hijack strong within_frontour attention and encourage us to look to the outside of ourselves for fulfillment–creative expression of, and reflection on, our inner experience allows us to re-center and reconnect with our inner journey of transformation.

And, support us in reclaiming control over reconstructing our experience so that it resonates with our values, faith, the direction of our journey, and more closely aligns with our truth.

Bozena Zawisz

Website

Neither Innocent or Guilty

 

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Many Thanks for sharing!

noreen

A Tribute to Poe on his Birthday

January 19th, is the 210th anniversary of Poe’s Birth.

poe4Although many people are content with the reason of Poe’s continued relevance in our society is the stereotypical tortured artist.  There is no doubt he was tortured, and for reasons of which we are all familiar; he was an orphan who lost every women he ever loved.

His battles with alcohol, I believe, are highly exaggerated. But it makes for a good story. I’m not saying he never drank – he drank to excess plenty of times, he may have officially been an alcoholic as we understand the word today; however, it was not a constant. There were many years through his marriage to Virginia that he did not drink or drink to excess. Before his death in 1849, he’d joined the Sons of Temperance Movement – to get people to stop drinking.

The reason Poe has remained relevant throughout the years is his work touchespoe our deepest fears and deepest desires. He has continued to inspire other writers

 

 

 

 

 

poe2and artists of all types.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He wrote far more than what we, today, consider horror. He wrote essays, literary analysis, investigative pieces. He wrote about street paving, Stonehenge, and he was inspired by what he read in newspapers.  Berenice and others were inspired by stories of grave robbers in local papers.

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The famed portrait of Edgar Allan Poe was taken three days after his suicide attempt in 1848.

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And, Eddy, my imaginative fiction, was inspired by that suicide attempt. He bought two bottles of laudanum on a cold winter night meaning to do himself in. He’d lost Virginia and felt he had no one. (Laudanum contained opium and derivatives of morphine and codeine.)

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For Poe’s Birthday, I offer an excerpt from the novella:

   He stumbles from the pub, slips, and falls on the iced over bricks of Boston’s November streets. Save for the muddled voices beyond the closed door, the street is quiet as his body thuds to the ground. His breath billows in front of him as he gasps and grumbles and struggles to his knees, then his feet, to regain his drunken balance.

   The gaslamp on the corner offers a wavering yellow glow for the struggling figure on the lonely winter night. Thin strands of hair blow in the chilled breeze; he runs his hands over his head, straightens himself before he pulls at the sagging overcoat and tugs it closed.

     Remembering the tinctures of laudanum pried from the chary pharmacist, he hurriedly shoves his hands in his pockets, retrieves the bottles.

   His heavy breath mounds in front of him and, for a moment, he can’t see; then the luminous cloud of brandy scented air dissipates. The medicines are intact. Relieved, he stuffs them back in his pocket and buttons his jacket.

   “Edgar,” someone calls from the corner; the noise from the pub trails the swarthy figure out until the door slams to a close behind him. “You alright?”

   Edgar waves him off without turning around.

   The thick shadow chuckles as he staggers in the opposite direction.

   The winter is freezing cold, but the snow hasn’t endured. Small white crystals pile in corners and fill the air. The icy rain soaks him before he reaches his chamber on the second floor of the boarding house. The room is small, impersonal, but warmer than the street. An unlit lantern shimmies on the desk as he unsteadily seats himself, glances out the window.

   A barely discernable outline disquiets the otherwise muted darkness on the corner of the street below. He knows it’s the black dog that’s stalked him his whole life. Suddenly angered, he shoves himself forward, pushes the unlit lamp aside and topples the ink jar.

   “Get outta here, you wretched creature.” The incensed command lost in the night.

      Recovering the secreted bottles of opium from his coat pocket, he sets them side by side in front of him. Unsteadily he tugs the lid from one and snorts in a single gulp.

For More Posts on Poe – click this link.

To get the book at 3.99 – this weekend only – click this link.

To get the ebook at .99 – today only – click this link.

 

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Much love and luck.

 

How much time should it take?

Don’t focus on the time, the weeks, or the future. Focus on the now.

Meaning: Don’t focus on the end of your story or the concerns about editing, about rewriting, publishing, stay with the here and now. Work on your story one page at a time, one day at a time, and go at your own pace.

The tortoise actually wins the race, kids!

Feed Your Creativity

According to science, exercise can feed creativity. Before you turn away, click the blog.gifunfollow button or run off screaming – oh no, she’s telling us to exercise, I knew it! – they say just getting out of the chair, walking for twenty minutes, or even (gasp) cleaning, just moving our bodies can get some juices flowing and give us a fresh outlook to come back to our writing.

So, no, you don’t have to go to the gym, learn kickboxing, or twist yourself into a pretzel, just take a deep breath and walk around in a circle for a few moments.  Who knows, dizziness of the circling might give you some great ideas!

Guest Author: Paul White and Love

41530671_446651229159319_7854224569849085952_n - CopyWhen Noreen asked me to write a guest post for this blog, I was happy to oblige. However, I had no idea what I should write, until she suggested I write about the love, my love, of writing.

You see, Noreen picked upon a paragraph from a post from my own blog ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind’, this is it…

In my heart of hearts, I believe the soul of the writer, the artist that lays within, is the greatest asset of all. No one can learn to write unwillingly; the writer must have love and passion above teaching and education.

A writer must want to write, above all else.

So, with the introduction over, I’ll wander through my thoughts about this subject as they come to mind.

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Personally, I believe the passion for writing starts early in life when a child begins to compose stories, poems or simple essays.

My own first ‘published‘ work was a poem called ‘The Angel of Death’, which may seem a rather disturbing title for an eight-year-old boy to use, until you relate it to the Bible. Now, I am not a religious person, but back then, in 1966, the world was a very different place and religious studies in schools here in England were almost exclusively Christian.

At the tender age of eight, I was just beginning to understand the descriptive power of words and, even though I could not yet meld and mould them as a wordsmith, I still found their basic meanings influential.

The following is that poem, written by an eight-year-old me in 1966.

It is as basic and childish as one would expect but, looking back with the knowledge and understanding I now have, I can see what my teacher saw in the writing and why she insisted it is printed in the school’s annual magazine.

The Angle of Death

In Egypt, there was a quiet night.

But when the velvet sky turned grey,

A sword, gleaming, white,

And blood dripping.

A cry, a scream from every Egyptian house.

The sky turns back into starry velvet.

Sobs come from the Egyptian houses.

***

I think once the passion for writing gets a hold of you, once it is deeply buried under your skin, it is an affliction which stays with you for the rest of your life.

Is it an addiction?

Is it some sort of a hormone imbalance?

All types of weird answers can be found on the Internet.

Some claim the motivation is all about money. Others insist on fame and popularity. Still, others mention egotism.

All of us are different and, in all honesty, there are probably just as many reasons for writing as there are people on earth.

Some of us hope to win awards. Others want to influence people’s thinking, maybe by teaching, or to inspire or motivate.

But they all miss the point.

The passion, the love for writing in the first instance is something, I am certain, you are born with.

I do not think the individual reasons matter. The important thing is to discover the root for your own reasons, discover where your love began so you can use that strength, utilize it.

Never be frightened of revealing your passion through your writings.

***

The pursuit of the writing life through the love of the pen is nothing new.

Many people rise at the crack of dawn to write before going to their day job. Some burn the midnight oil and beyond, often watching the sunrise on a new day.

Anthony Trollope, the prolific and well-known Victorian novelist was, in the daytime, a post office clerk. As was Charles Bukowski and Franz Kafka worked for an insurance company.

These are a few authors we know of because they became famous, but there were, and still are, a thousand more writers who we will probably never know about, ones who wrote just as passionately and with just as much love for the written word.

In years to come, in the future, I may be one of those forgotten souls. But even that thought will not stop me writing because I have my own reasons, a reason I voiced once before in an old blog I used to have.

 

 

These are the words I posted on that blog.

But it’s just a dream, I guess.

I write to leave a trace of my being, however faint that may be.

I hope, or dream, at some point in the future, someone somewhere will dust off the cover of one of my books and open it. Turning the yellowing, fragile pages for the first time in a millennium.

As they read my words, they shall hear my voice echo through the centuries, be touched by my narrative. I wish them to become one with my story, lost in the world of fantasy and fiction which inhabited my mind generations before… Then, I would not have lived for nothing.

But it’s is just a dream, I guess.

***

I know I am not alone in the love of writing from the heart, from the soul, from the very epicentre of my being. Here are what some other writers express.

“My writing tools were my most precious belongings. My best quill pen was made from a raven’s feather . . . I was often so poor that I could not pay my mantua-maker, but I always invested in the best ink and parchment. I smoothed it with pumice stone till it was as white and fine as my own skin, ready to absorb the rapid scratching of my quill”

Kate Forsyth

 

“Writing is making love under a crescent moon: I see shadows of what’s to come, and it’s enough; I have faith in what I can’t see and it’s substantiated by a beginning, a climax, an ending. And if it’s an epic novel in hand, I watch the sunrise amid the twigs and dewing grass; the wordplay is what matters.

Simply put, I’m in love, and any inconvenience is merely an afterthought.

The sun tips the horizon; the manuscript is complete. The author, full of profound exhaustion, lays his stylus aside. His labour of love stretches before him, beautiful, content, sleeping until the next crescent moon stars the evening sky.”

Chila Woychik, On Being a Rat and Other Observations

 

Since I was a child, the only time I was really happy was when I was lost in the pages of a really good book. I loved everything about it. The print, the paper, the intricately designed covers. And most importantly the stories held between the covers. Books were an act of love. Nothing more. Some beautiful soul had taken time and effort to pour out their thoughts. Someone had taken the time to cultivate an entirely new experience for you to immerse in. Get lost in. Feel a sense of wonder in.

Sakshi Samtani, the writing cooperative.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that it has given you something in return for your efforts.

This is the link to my blog, Ramblings from a Writers Mind, https://ramblingsfromawritersmind.wordpress.com/

This one is for my website, http://bit.ly/paulswebsite  please come and visit, take your time browsing and say hello.

In the meanwhile, Keep Happy.

Paul White

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