I Am Not Necessarily Me

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I use first person narrator in many of my stories.  I find the level of intimacy I can connect with in the character makes the experience feel more authentic.

I also enjoy the unreliability of the first person narrator. Although I don’t intend to make my main characters questionable, all first person accounts must be met with skepticism.

There’s one possible downside to the first person narrator and I’m certain many writers have experienced the fan who believes they understand the author based on a story which utilized the “I”.

dadshiningOne reader contacted me convinced Dad Shining was about me. “This is a true story, I bet!” He wrote.

This is complimentary in the fact that the story must have been realistic enough for this reader to believe and enjoy it.

However, Dad Shining (originally published in The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal) is written from a male point of view experiencing a life event incomparable to what a woman could experience.

There’s not much a writer can do about being mistaken for their narrator except to gently correct the reader without offending them or merely thank them. I said, “thank you for reading.”

My main character in West End is a young woman, and I did use an area close to where I grew up. A number of readers have attempted to call me out on that. One reader wrote, “I know most of this is you, except for the part of leaving the boy.” Another reader, convinced it was me believed I’d been married before and left them to change my name and start a new life incognito.

This did bother me to some extent; the woman in West End is in some ways stuck in west end coverlife, and while that might be my fear, it is not me.

Still others found the first person narrator unreliable enough to question her sanity and ask me if she was seeing spirits. These questions I rather enjoyed. One character I had intended to be questionable, but when asked about another – I don’t want to say as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone! – I was blown away!

And that is the benefit and, perhaps, curse of first person narrator. The connection is so authentically intimate that you might convince readers it’s you; And you might just convince them the narrator is a little off her rocker!

Fear of …?

istock_000012625357xsmall1There’s a theory that we don’t fear failure, we fear success.

A researcher gave graduating students an impromptu essay prompt: “After finding out Joe/Jane aced their medical exams for graduation, he/she …..”

It’s reported that the vast majority of students set up a scenario in which Joe or Jane went out and partied, got in some sort of trouble, an accident, arrested, or in some cases just gave up and “decided to do something else with their lives.”

The researchers decided this was not an indication of the fear of failure, because they’d set up a scenario in which the person(Joe/Jane) had already succeeded, yet the students then wrecked the plan. Therefore, they surmised it a fear of success.fear

This possible fear of success comes from anxiety, which is rampant in society today. People stay where they are comfortable, where they are familiar, and their habits serve them. Moving on to the next level, success, will bring about different challenges, and the fear of the unknown wins out.

It occurs to me that this happens to writers. People write, and write, and write, but then don’t submit. Is it really the rejection they fear? or is it the success?  Think of all the anxiety that comes with the next level of publishing. You’ll be expected to do well, to do it again. And, what else might change?

What do you think? What do you fear?

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Writing Exercise

malcolm-gladwell.jpgI’m a big fan of Malcom Gladwell, writer for the New Yorker and author of The Turning Point, Outliers, and many others.

A writing exercise from Malcom Gladwell:

Begin a correspondence with another writer. Each of you take turns sending and responding – and respond immediately with something interesting or intriguing.

It’s a good way to practice intelligent conversations so you can learn to chat with just about anyone.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Infused Writing

365day5Hobbies can reinforce our writing. I like hiking, being out in the natural world absorbing scents and sounds as well as images. I use hiking and nature to recharge my soul and in my writing by way of description.

Everyone needs something to recharge their soul. And adding authenticity to writing is always a benefit.

365day5aSome writers have hobbies, such as fencing, they use in their story. The descriptions of actual movements, aches, pains, body benefits, makes the story feel authentic.

Do you have any hobbies which feeds your creativity?