Category Archives: Writing About Writing

#WhyIWrite

Today, NaNoWriMo’s writing prompt was a simple one: why I write. Even though I’m not planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year, it seemed like the perfect topic for today’s post. 

Why do I write?

I write because I have to. Words flow through me, bidden or unbidden. Simple morning walks, people watching, the silence of waiting for students to finish a test — all transform into narration whispered in my mind.

I write to understand what I’m facing. When I’m afraid, struggling, unsure, my characters face those fears along with me, and we work through them together. Sometimes I invite the characters in so we can confide in one another. But many times, they come on their own, knowing when I need them the most. Together, we fight through and find the answers.

I write because I have something to say. My mouth doesn’t always know the right words, but they flow out of the pen effortlessly. It’s as natural as breathing. I don’t always know if they’re words that others need to see too, but they’re the words that I need to express.

I write because I love it. It makes me feel alive. It’s what I was born to do.

Why do you write?

Advertisements

That Fantasy Element My Novel Is Missing

Years ago, when I thought my first novel was about done (hahahaha!), I gave it to the boy who would eventually become my brother-in-law. He is an avid reader of fantasy, so he seemed like a natural beta reader choice. What I didn’t realize is that he would eventually change some of my thoughts on my novel — though the major piece didn’t click until a couple weeks ago.

I’ll never forget how confused I was when he returned my manuscript, said it was good, and suggested that I read some of Brandon Sanderson’s work. Or at least hear a little about his philosophy on fantasy. I though to myself that I had learned from Tolkien, the lord of the genre. Why would I look to anyone else?

That Christmas, he introduced me to Brandon Sanderson. After a few reluctant pages, I started to get into it and I started to understand what he was saying. But what I didn’t realize at the time — what I haven’t realized for a few years — is that I was missing one of the things that he was sweetly and subtly trying to tell me: I needed some work on the magic in my world.

If you had asked me before, I would have told you there isn’t really any magic in the novel. There’s a supernatural element, but it’s not really magic. What I hadn’t realized, though, is that that supernatural element had slowly transformed from something that didn’t really affect the plot to a major piece, especially in the climax.

In the process of growing, it had taken on a magical role in the story. Certainly not to the degree of the different things that happen in Brandon Sanderson’s works, but it was very different from where I started.

It didn’t hit me until I was reading something — I can’t remember what now — that discussed Sanderson’s Three Laws of Magic. (Read about those here.) For the first time, I realized that there is a type of magic flowing through my novel’s world, and I had basically used it like a deus ex machina in the climax. Finally, I get what my brother-in-law was trying to tell me all those years ago.

What does that mean for my novel? Well, instead of writing, there’s been a lot of thinking going on. It might mean some adjustments to my world’s history and structure, but I think the end product will be much better than what I have now. Maybe this is the final adjustment that my novel has been waiting for before it really is actually done.

Have you ever found yourself in the same place with writing advice? What’s the best advice you’ve gotten for writing in your genre?


How to Make Me Hate a Book in Five Words or Less

Even though my husband and I are adults, we still enjoy bedtime stories. Usually, he picks the book and I read it aloud… though this was the sneaky way that I finally introduced him to The Lord of the Rings in its original form.

Over the years, we’ve read quite a few books. Right now, we’re working on the Myst series, which are all based on the video game world of the same name. He played the part puzzle, part exploration games when he was a kid, and he told me enough about the world while we were growing up that I was familiar with it too.

So far, we’ve finished the first book (The Book of Ti’Anna) and now we’re on to the second (The Book of Atrus). While they’re not the next classics, they have been fun.

That is, until a few nights ago.

Continue reading


Re-Awoken

I love stumbling into places that awaken the imagination. Mine has felt so sleepy lately — caught up in everyday life and planning for the future.

One of those moments happened during a day trip over the weekend.

WP_20170923_11_23_28_Pro

At first, this place felt like it belonged in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. One of the statues should be here, waiting to reward my hard work with another heart or some stamina.

But then I wondered what it would be like in the world I’ve spent most of my life creating. What would those people do in a place that mixes the beauty of nature and architecture, like this?

The dormant itch to work on those stories has re-awoken. It’s about time.

What places have you visited that have inspired your stories or inspired you to restart work on a long-term project?


A-Z Challenge: Complete (and May the 4th Be with You!)

This year’s A-Z challenge was a different experience, but I liked it. Sometimes in the whirlwind of lesson plans, grades, and housework, it’s easy to forget about spending some time every day (or at least a every few days) to do something creative. This put the pressure on to make it happen, and I feel some fresh inspiration.

Speaking of creativity, tomorrow is Intergalactic Star Wars Day!

It’s always one of my favorite days of the year, but it’s especially fun this year. Not only do I get to traipse around school wearing an homage to Star Wars (after all, there is still a dress code), but some friends found a Star Wars themed paint night. A picture of that will be up Monday!

So now, back to our regular posting schedule and more creative things — painting, poetry, stories, and otherwise — to come!

And May the fourth be with you… always.

How did your A-Z Challenge go? And are you celebrating May the 4th?


Why I Believe in the Oxford Comma and a Tidbit on Van Gogh

Today’s post feels very random, but these two links are too fascinating to pass up so why not post them together?

The first is on the importance of the Oxford comma. While some prefer to drop it (and I don’t judge), I prefer to use it for its clarity. As it turns out, the use of the comma has been helpful to some dairy drivers get overtime pay. Read more about that here. (Warning and apology: There’s a smidge of language in it.)

The second is about the Impressionists, specifically Van Gogh. If you thought “Starry Night” was a cool painting before, you’ll never be able to think of it quite the same way. It appears to capture fluid dynamics in action. Read that article here.

And since the video mentioned in the article isn’t linked, it’s here.

Enjoy!

What do you think of the Oxford comma? Are you a fan of “Starry Night”?


Musings on Storytelling

Story inspiration comes from everywhere. A trip to the grocery story. A conversation with a friend. People watching at a restaurant. But one of the most inspiring sources are often the stories I love most.

Obviously, Tolkien’s Middle-earth has had a huge impact on the stories I write, but it’s certainly not the only source. In fact, right now I’m playing through one of them: The Legend of Zelda. (And, yes, this means that Breath of the Wild is shaping up to be better than I anticipated.)

Like with The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars and so many other great tales, it all starts with someone who starts off (usually) rather ordinary, finds that he (or she) is the answer to a desperate need, and goes on an adventure to fulfill that need. The call to adventure, the selflessness of heroism, that touch of magic… they’re all the things that I love in a story.

One of the things that I think is most interesting about Zelda is the storytelling. According to The Hyrule Historia, there is a timeline and the stories do fit together. However, I have always had my own view on it.

Cultures around the world tell the same story over and over again. Tales of creation and great floods, faithfulness and betrayal, heroes and sacrifice. And that’s how I’ve always seen these stories. The hero and the princess face incredible evil and defeat it. It looks different every time it’s told, but it’s always, in essence, the same story. And that’s okay.

After all, that’s what we do. The stories come in different shapes and sizes, but most of the stories are retellings of things that have been told for years.

Years ago, I worried about this, but a CS Lewis quote fixed me of that fast: “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

That, and seeing that Zelda tells the same story over and over again and somehow it never gets old.