Tag Archives: library

Writing Life: On Muses and Writing

Salut, all!  Today’s Writing Life post comes from my fellow writer-friend, Jessi, over at A BA in BS.  We’ve been through a lot together, me and this chick!  We’ve been friends for 13 years, created, hosted, and nurtured a writing group together, and even served as Municipal Liaisons in Massachusetts for NaNoWriMo 2010!  So, enjoy!

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Inspiration. The ever illusive and always floating around us phantom that seems to slip through our fingers whenever we’re searching for it in earnest. I’m not sure about you, but my muse is a bit of a nudge. She shows herself when she feels it’s appropriate and no other time. I’ve tried coaxing her out. Leave some cookies and a mug of coffee by her door and hope she’ll want to play. I even made the cookies myself… No dice. ‘Fine. I’ll write this without her’, I convince myself and crack my knuckles to sit back and write.

It was a dark and stereotypical night when our hero found himself caught in a rain storm

“Really?” I sigh, delete and try again for the perfect first set of sentences. The truth of the matter is however, it’s not happening. Whether it’s a lack of inspiration or the lack of perfect, non-cliched writing ; the truth is, no quality writing is happening. So what do you or I do in that case?

Take a break

Maybe you’ve been starring at the computer screen for just about as long as you can remember. The hours have ticked by and your poor eyes are weary, dry and less than welcoming to the bright white of the empty page of text. Time to get up. Let the dog out, get a fresh cup of coffee, or go outside to smoke a cigarette. Whatever it is that you do to take your mind and eyes off the computer screen for a five minute break, do it. Sometimes all it takes is a momentary change of environment.

Try a writing exercise

It sounds silly. You’re working on your masterpiece, why would you stray from that? Well for starters, it may give you a new perspective on your hero/heroines current predicament. Also it could give you a new idea for a setting or character design. The point is to get your mind working on something else, and potentially, allowing it to then tangent back to your original, with something completely unexpected in tow.

Music

Ok. I’ll admit. This sounds a little stereotypical but at the same time, stop and give it a thought. How is your character reacting in the scene you’re imagining. Is it high stress? Are they about to valiantly save the love of their life? Are they relaxing by a stream? Where are they located?

Having some sort of soundtrack to your writing can save you in more than one instance. Sometimes listening to your characters theme song (assuming they have one) can trigger memories that you haven’t yet created for them, giving them purpose for being in the scene. Give it a shot, worse comes to worse, it doesn’t work and you’re still here.

Your inspiration comes from…

So where does your inspiration come from? Did you get the idea for the novel through a conversation? A walk in the park? Or did it pop up and become a pile of notes at a coffee shop, scribbled all over napkins? It may sound simple, but revisit that moment. Have a conversation with someone that understands the writing process and it’s inherent quirks. We all have writer friends that see how our brains work even if they don’t quite see through all our gauzy thought processes. Try to relive that moment, or go back through those piles of notes, seeing if something comes back to you, or even spurs on your muse.

So your muse is back or at least on speaking terms with you. Huzzah! The point however, of all of this is to try to gather on the inspiring moments in your life. Try something different and see what happens. I’ve always been a fan of writing to write, even when you’re in the middle of a project. Sometimes those bits of tangent lead you in a direction you never imagined and bring you to brand new conclusions. Even if it’s something you don’t want to use, you’re thinking and bringing your storyline forward.

And then again… there’s always the backspace and delete keys. Nothing is forever, and you can change it all as much as you want. You are all my biggest inspiration. You who keep writing, even knowing that this may all lead to nothing.

Keep it up and tell your muse to stop being such a pain in the tush.

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Jessica is a tenacious, twenty something with big dreams of becoming a published novelist. She enjoys sitting in between the stacks at libraries, pulling inspiration from texts there in. She is a Municipal Liason for National Novel Writing Month (Worcester, MA) and the co-founder of Inkwell Imaginings, a writing group settled in Southbridge,MA at the Jacob Edwards Library.  Visit A BA in BS.

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WOO!

NaNoWriMo site launch was today!  I’m still waiting on my profile to be updated to give me my very handy-awesome ML powers, but it seems like everything is coming along steadily.

Anyone participating in NaNo is free to add me as a friend.  <3  I’m super excited.  I’ve even got my novel concept finally coming together.  I had three or four in the running last month, but I decided.  =P

My very awesome relationship with the Southbridge public library is  only getting awesomer!  (Awesomer– new word.  Check it out.)  Margaret and Ashley loved our ideas for Inkwell Imaginings, and they’re excited about NaNoWriMo and the write-ins we’ll be holding there.  They even mentioned that they were sorry they couldn’t PAY Jess and I for the workshops we’re presenting!  PAY!  I never thought the work was worth that, but now that I think about it, I am working harder on this than anything I’ve ever been paid for. Lol.

Anyway, excitement aside, I’m going to be super busy over the next two months.  I’ll keep everyone updated!  I might even start my NaNoWriMo video blog again this year.  It’s faster than typing, but we shall see.  Those might be posted here instead of text updates.

I loveth you all!

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Inkwell Imaginings Workshop Schedule

We’ve got the schedule for II made up!  Anyone interested in being present via Skype, let me know, and we can get this all situated.  All meetings start at 6pm EST.  Inkwell Imaginings is also on Facebook, if anyone is interested in joining the group for updates.

Inkwell Imaginings

Writing Workshop Schedule

October 25th: Character Creation and Development. A workshop to create believable heroes, villains, and supporting characters, and bring depth to your story through them.

November 8th: Outlines. A rundown on outlines, how to use them, the pros and cons, and the many ways of making use of organization and prewriting.

November 22nd: World Building. A workshop to discuss how far world building should be taken, detail levels, and creating a believable world from the ground up.

December 6th: Grammar. A crash course in basic grammar and the big “no-nos” an editor will slap you for making.

December 20th: Dialog. How to create dialog that flows naturally. No one likes reading a book and thinking, “People don’t talk like that.” Make use of dialog and what it can bring to your story.

January 3rd: Building a Scene. Bring your story to life by learning how to create a scene that’s compelling and moves your story forward. “The basic unit of fiction is not the sentence or the paragraph, but the scene.” — Unknown

January 17th: No Inkwell Imaginings due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

January 24th: Writing Flow and Style. A crash course in how to find your style and gain an ear for the flow of language in your fiction.

February 7th: Contacts, Resources, and the Publishing Industry. Learn the importance of networking, the process of submitting your fiction to various markets, and what’s expected of a writer in the world of publishing.

Any questions, email:

Kit —> katiemacconnell@gmail.com

Jessi–> jessipeterson@gmail.com

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Celebrations!

Well, to add one more project to my growing list, I’ve just got some very fun news!  I’ve just been confirmed as a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo 2010!

Woo!  *dancedancedance!* (refer to the webcomic below)

This is how I feel right now.

Watch out, Elsewhere, MA!  WOO!

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Opening Myself to the Terror of Submitting My Work

I mentioned in my last post that I’d be working on a submission for Steampunk Tales, and I was hoping to have it finished by the end of last week.  So did not work out that way.  I’m still working on the details and hammering it to death, but I feel like the piece I’m submitting will be worth something, even if that ‘something’ isn’t what they’re looking for.

Also, Fantasy Magazine is opening their doors for submission of fiction starting October 1st, and my good friend Pat has challenged me to write a piece and submit with him.  I highly doubt I can make it before October 1st, but I’ll make the effort.  After all of this, I think I’m going to take a break from taking on challenges for awhile.  Whew.

Also, Inkwell Imaginings, the writing group I run with Jess, will be expanding to every Monday night staring October 4th.  We’ll be running workshops every other week, with the first scheduled for October 25th with focus on character creation and development.  We’re working on obtaining guest speakers for our critique circle nights, whether it be for a physical visit and interview or Skype chat.  Also, if anyone wants to JOIN II on Monday nights, but isn’t in the area, we are working on setting up a video chat conference to allow for it.  Feel free to let me know if you’re interested.  It might get our butts in gear on that front.  =P

Once again, looking for published writers or people in ‘the business’ who wouldn’t mind chatting with a library writing group and answering a few questions over Skype or a chat client.  We can’t offer compensation, except for our love…. which we hold in very high regard. <3  =P

Attendees interested in joining through Skype, also let me know.  We need motivation to get this going, but we really haven’t got the need for it yet.  Don’t be shy!

Any questions, feel free to email me at katiemacconnell[at]gmail[dot]com.

Love you, guys.  =]

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Steampunk Tales and Kit’s Busy-ness.

WELL WELL WELL!  I suppose I should update you guys, since my posts haven’t been very quality-oriented lately.  I do apologize, and I apologize even harder for sporadic/lack of comments to all of your blogs.  I have NOT stopped reading, or stopped loving you guys.  I’m just swamped to hell and back.

Here’s my list of crap I’m trying to accomplish:

1.  Job hunting. This might kill me.  I’ll keep you posted.  I’m poor and sad and ready to shankabitch.

2.  Ossuarium. I know I owe you guys chapter 4.  I am working on it, though I’m also considering taking it down after I let everyone read chapter 5.  Following Mckenzie’s lead, since I also intend to get this published.  I appreciate everyone’s feedback thus far, and if you want to keep reading through chapter 5, you’re welcome to.  =]

3.  My initial WiP. Which is not going anywhere right now.  I need to get back into gear with that one.  I may put it aside for a few months.

4.  NaNoWriMo. November approacheth.  I’m working on a vague outline for my NaNo project, just so I can fuck about in October without worrying I’m wasting time.

5.  Submission for Steampunk Tales. Hoping to have this short story done and submitted by the end of the week.  Working my ass off on it.

This list isn’t in any particular order, since certain things take priority at certain times, usually with job hunting always sitting pretty at the top.  I’ve also gotten back into reading comic books with the 13 issue run of Quicksilver and the House of M series.

Busy, busy, busy.  I’ll attempt to keep you kids updated, but I’ll probably continue my sporadic and random postings in between. <3

I LOVE YOU ALL!

<3 Kit.

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New Page – Bits of Random Fiction

Added to the navigation bar to the left.  <3  It’s called “Bits of Random Fiction.”

Not a very interesting post, I know.  I think most of my regulars have already read these pieces, but I plan on adding more fiction to the page.  Gradually.  So… at least I have the list started. <3

Woot and such. <3

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Award Number Three! Woah.

I love my blog friends.  ^-^

Emily at Slightly Ignorant and Heather over at Heather S. Ingemar (writes) has given me the Prolific Blogger award!  I say yay.  =]

Thank you, Emily & Heather! <3

And now, for seven people who deserve this award (there will be overlaps, I’m sorry):

Mckenzie at Unabridged Girl

Erin at Wild Archaic

Rosemary at Miss Rosemary’s Novel Ideas

Lua at Bowl of Oranges

Brown Paper Bag Girl at Thoughts from a Brown Paper Bag Girl

Ollin Morales at {Courage 2 Create}

June H. at Miss Blue Stocking

You guys are fantastic, as I attempt to express fairly regularly.  My internet would be a dim place without you all. <3

~~~

On a weirdly half-related note: Inkwell Imaginings is going fantastically.  I actually shared an excerpt this week, and it was fun. <3 Yay constructive feed back!

Now… I have to work on reading aloud without sucking.  Woot.

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Write What You DON’T Know!

Back on the third of June, Miss Rosemary posted a blog entry entitled Write What You Know. I’m here, not to counter it exactly, but to expand upon it.   I know, it’s taken me a lifetime getting this posted, but life exploded, and let me tell you… the hunt for the article I got this from was a nightmare.  I give full credit to Ms. Holly Lisle, who has taught me so many things over my years trying to write seriously.  Her site, wisdom, and encouragement has been with me since I was a sophomore in high school, and I appreciate everything that she’s offered the writing community.

Write what you know.  Seriously.  It’s absolutely critical that you draw from your own experience when you’re writing.  It makes your characters, settings, senses, and story so much more believable when there’s a human connection and experience linked to it.  I would never tell anyone to abandon writing what they know.  That would be ignorant and stupid.

What I do want to say is that: what you know is incredibly limited. I don’t care who you are, you can’t possibly know everything to muddle through certain parts of writing.  You don’t have to have been a corrupt general of the US Army to write about a corrupt general of the US Army.  One of the many amazing things I love about writing is that it forces you to learn, to research, to better yourself intellectually to take that leap into believable fiction.

Combine your experiences with research.  If you aren’t willing to research, you’re going to look stupid.  You’ll end up showing a 14th century Scottish Highland woman drinking coffee one morning as she stands looking out of her door.  We don’t want that ridiculosity, do we?

‘Ridiculosity’ is a word.  I penciled it into the dictionary myself.  You’re welcome.

In any case, a writer’s job is not just to write, but to give the reader a sense of reality beyond their own.  (Holly Lisle even suggests reading quantum physics books to build a better system of magic.  I’m not quite so gung-ho, but you get the idea. =P)  Read fiction and non-fiction.  Science, history, and philosophy.  Religion, romance, plays, and poetry.

Read and research so that writing what you don’t know once again falls into the realm of writing what you do know.

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CPR from Other Artists to Get Your Creative Flow Going

At a recent gathering of friends, my best friend’s fiance made a statement at breakfast that made me think about how I get my inspiration.  He said:

“Writers never read in their own genre for fear of contaminating their writing.  It’s a fact.”

Um.  Is it a fact?  Because I don’t see any statistics posted on this topic.  Let me just make a few points from my OWN experience.

1.  I’ve never met a writer who has only written in one genre.

2.  I’ve met at least a handful of writers who get irritated that their writing has to be classified as a genre.  (Mostly because certain bits of fiction are hard to categorize, not so much for a hatred of labels. Labels aid in marketing after all.)

3.  As far as I’ve experienced, it’s essential for a writer to read within and outside of the genre s/he is currently writing, if only just to see what’s been done to death.  Combining and twisting genre barriers is a great way to get a fresh spin on something that has been done to death, and how can you do that if you don’t get a wide sampling of what’s out there?

Books are not the be all and end all of inspiration, either!

Movies, music, art, and life are all massive contributors to my plot soup!  And why shouldn’t they be?

For instance, I’m watching Inkheart right now because I loved the book, and I have a ridiculous crush on Paul Bettany — the movie gives me the best of both worlds.  It inspires me, not to plagiarize the story or the bare idea, but to breathe that kind of believability, conviction, and life into my characters!  Sometimes I watch a movie or read a book, and think, “This is the feel I’m going for–if I strike out this, this, and this, and add a little this, that, and the other thing.”

Crushes on Paul Bettany are inspiring, too, right?

Artists, writers, musicians… they create to inspire. I see no reason to deny them that because I’m too afraid I’m not capable of creating something of my own mind and heart.

After all:

“I’d rather be caught holding up a bank than stealing so much as a two-word phrase from another writer.”

~Jack Smith

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