Dark, Dark, and a little darker. This is how someone described my writing recently. They’d picked up Here in the Silence.
I think I’ve lightened up a little since then. My writing is (as I am) more ironic or sarcastic. I’ve always been – it’s just coming out in the work more than ever before. (If you’re at all interested in reading both in a fun little story, try Of Strays and Exes).
I’ve always had a dark sense of humor. That’s how some of us make it through life. Someone once said to me, “it seems writers have more odd experiences than most.” I remember I wanted to pop her at the time. However, she was my best friend and she was trying to cheer me.
Some writers do share that common trait of strange and unusual backgrounds.
Writing out the darkness allows me to be the light and happy person I am.
An extremely good conversation in my literature class about intelligence (Inspired by Ted Chiang’s The Great Silence). We talked about other species that fall under the definition of intelligence, which is “the ability to understand and apply knowledge.” Considering Alex the Parrot and Koko the Gorilla, and other species: crows are problem solvers and remember faces. We discussed dogs, cats, and others. Is love, as an abstract idea, understood and applied by animals? And then – is intelligence found in showing love?
This is what good literature should do. Teach, delight, and create wonder.
Read The Great Silence here
If you’ve reached a point in your story where you’re stuck, or perhaps some small thing is niggling at you, tell yourself what it is before you go to sleep.
There’s a number of things I’ve done in order to enhance or forward my writing – and the above is one of the things. Margaret Atwood recommends the same.
But I’ve gone further. I was writing a poem and I knew one line wasn’t quite right. I kept going over it and over it and could not seem to find the right words in the right order to bring the poem together. As I went to bed that night – I told myself to dream about it.
At 4am, I woke up with the line! I scribbled it in the notebook (which sits next to my bed) and turned over to go back to sleep.
Not only do I tell myself the problem I’m dealing with in my writing before I go to sleep, but I also think about different story lines for my characters. This keeps me juiced, so to speak, with inspiration. The next morning, I’m ready to hop out of bed and write.
Sometimes, of course, this backfires and I want to write then and there – which I do. But most of it can and does wait for that dreaded blank page the next morning.
Don’t read other words like a critic looking for the good, bad, and ugly. Read to discover what the author did well and how they did it.
This is reading like a writer, like a wordsmith.
Atwood says she will only review something if she likes it. She is not a critic and won’t write a bad review.
One of my friends told me he won’t even write a bad yelp review. He says, I praise those who deserve it, but it’s not my place to criticize.
I thought this was a great idea.
If you feel you must say something to alert other readers, then be honest and specific, but do add at least one good thing about the book, story, movie, service etc.