Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ten Hazards of Writing

Here is a satirical chart on the ten most dangerous obstacles that writers face today.  This list includes a threat level scale number.  One is not too hazardous and ten is so hazardous that you will need to find a solution.

1.  Retina Damage:  Coffee + reading and writing all day= eyes sticking shut.  When I began profusely writing again; I didn't think this would be an issue.  Get a pack of eye drops, you'll be fine, I told myself.  I was wrong.  If you are prone to migraines or belong to several social media networks the severity of this hazard will undoubtedly increase.

Threat level: 10 because it is hard to read or write without your eyes if you are used to using them!

2.  Flip-Flopping:  Either you or your character is making an opinion on a topic.  All of the sudden, you realize that you or your character has drastically changed their opinion or become out of character midway through.  How did this happen?  Was it by having too many counter arguments or playing both sides of an issue?   The worst thing that can happen is if you change the way you perceive a topic.  Let's entertain the notion that you have completely changed your mind about a topic you previously wanted to address .  A complete flip-flop in point of view will require either massive rewrites or an entirely new topic. Thankfully, this usually occurs only on the small-scale. 

Threat level:  This is a 7, depending, because you can revise this.  The negative is that if it keeps happening you might need a new topic altogether.  On the opposite end, if it's a trivial character's flip-flop, not your own, it might only be a 2.

3.  Junk Writing:  You're on overdrive but you want to meet your writing deadline(s).  You produce something that is unsatisfactory.  Runners call this type of plowing-onward action "junk mileage".  This translates and is something all its own.  Akin to when runners over-train themselves in logging junk mileage; this action can lead to multiple hazards or injuries.  A writer's injuries can include flip-flopping or changes of voice that might not have otherwise occurred under less-rigid deadlines.

Threat level:  An unavoidable 6. There's no quick fix. However, with this junk you acquire some building-blocks and pieces that can be adapted into your final written-work.

4.  Character Voice:  This is not to be confused with your overall narrating technique, or stylistic voice.  At some point in your story, like flip-flopping, you realize there is an unintentional inconsistency in the presentation of one of your characters.  It's in their dialogue.  Did a character from Texas forget his or her twang?  Consistency is key.  Perhaps, the character was supposed to be a teenage boy and came out sounding like a raspy old man in a conversation.  What ever the case may be, your character needs to stay his or herself. It is unlikely they aged sixty years unless you followed this character over a large time period.

Threat level:  A simple 4.  Voice is typically easier to rewrite than flip-flopping assuming you have a thorough knowledge of your characters.

5.  General Paranoia:  Reasons aside, you're to some degree introverted.  You have a lot of time to yourself when you're writing.  You lead a quiet life, others tell you.  There are times you're not shy and times that you are.  However, as you write you notice the "quietness" is slowly leaving your life after others read it because they are an audience.  As much as you want to close yourself off; opening yourself up through your characters is inevitable for good writers.  It is.  You're providing a worthwhile concept and your audience is appreciative.  The more people who read your work and the more you open yourself up; the more you unintentionally begin some delusional thinking.  It's instinct.  You envision a chilling scene from Misery. You imagine people or things inhibiting you from writing.

Threat level: Unpredictable at best. This is a 2-3 if it is no real concern, as in you've only thought of it once. The solution is, of course, to shake off the nightmare mentality.  If you are a bestselling author this will be more difficult and the "paranoia" may be more of a legit concern.

6.  Entertainment Deprivation:  Yes, your writing is its own entertainment.  You are human though and boredom wears many hats.  You are having to sacrifice some time spent with your friends or family.  You might need to DVR your favorite television show or movies.  In fact, they are practically full in the recording line-up because you haven't had the opportunity and won't watch them any time soon.  Luckily, you love writing.  It never occurred to you to count reading in the mix because you can't go without that for long.  Although, truth be told, you sometimes put that on hold as well to meet writing deadlines.

Threat level: This is a 2-3. Once you finish that deadline, you'll find that Kindle or remote. Right, Right?!

7.  Physical Breakdown or Carpal Tunnel:  It's not your eyes; it's that one shoulder.  Your back hates sitting.  Maybe you need a rest but you're not finished yet.  Now you're just hoping you can keep your specific physical ailment at bay.  As you type the last word of the day, your fingers curl and resign into a gnarly, knotted mass, not unlike tree roots.

Threat level: This varies with age and specific condition.  Anyone above 30 will likely be over the 5 point mark.

8.  Inner Narration:  You thought all the mental awkwardness was gone because you've passed the stage of General Paranoia. Well, think again. Now you're just trying to enjoy an evening with friends and you realize you might have described that restaurant you are all going to with way too much precision.  Perhaps, it was laden with detail.  Either way, someone noticed before you could catch it and threw a glance your way.  Time to tone it down?   If you're in good company; friends or family might react the other way and enable your harmless narrating shenanigans.  They might even join in.  This is when your excessive inner narration shines outwardly.

Threat level:  If you're walking down the street muttering to yourself; you're an 8.  If your friends join in you're down to a 5 or below.  Pare down your narrations when you can.  You'll still have muttering in your mind which comes with its own set of issues like daydreaming and "forgetting" what others just told you.

9.  Relationships:  Remember all those writing deadlines that kept you from television?  Now, they are running over into your personal life a smidgen.  You family and friends miss you and not in a social media "miss you" way.  Okay, so your social media friends do truly miss you.  At any rate, the ones that are there for you, the humans, genuinely need your attention.

Threat level:  If you have kids under 18; your rate is automatically over 5.  Your rate with relationships depends mostly on how much contact and presence you demand or need. 

10.  Deja`vu:  You're writing is finished for the time being.  You sit down to watch one of those movies from your overstocked line-up.  The movie is a new release, a box-office smash.  Yet, you sense something familiar.  It might begin like deja` vu until you realize that in the movie it's your setting location and two of your character's names from your novel.  Then you write an article and find a few of the ideas are already "out there".  Of course there is a chance that some of your ideas are already out there somewhere.  This world had lots of people with lots of fascinating ideas crammed in their brains.  Plus, add the cliche` that "great minds think alike".  You'll just have to get over it.  Yes, I know, we are all still unique little snowflakes.

Threat level:  It depends on the amount of repetition and the type.  Was the plot or theme completely taken and thus tanked.  Or did the writer, author, or artist take your idea and put a separate spin on it?  Once you get a few overlapped ideas on one piece of writing you are at about a 4.  It is correctable.  Revise and re-word where necessary.  Writers have various subjects to unravel and methods of doing such.  Repetition can be odd, but, turnabout is fair play.  Bear in mind exceptions like carbon-copies or possible legal issues.  Luckily, these are rare. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Haiku and Haiku Riddles

Writing haiku is an excellent practice for transforming your ideas and concepts into a few concentrated words.

Here are a few spring and summer inspired haiku:

March and hear the slosh 
Children dance at winter's end
drumming up flowers

The first flowers grow-
bright violets and daffodils
spring up from the rain
How long does it take-
leaf-crunching caterpillar
to unfold and fly?

Bushes of roses
the bumblebee moseys through
abundant bounties
These are literary haiku riddles. Guess the author, book, or character they are written about.

Explosion of jazz
recklessness and wealth excels
Young man in sorrow-
run away with me sister
everyone is fake
They make me burn books
I can't do it anymore
store them, keep them safe
Found a shiny thing
I took it from some creature-
back to simple life
If you pee blue-green
don't take the meds they give you
you will be sterile

I'm a prankster boy
I see my own funeral
friends gawk, family weeps

Love conquers, divides
our families are enemies
eternally young

Troubled southern town
Justice waiting on your wings
child's epiphany

Paul Simon Quotes

 Paul Simon deserves his own quote page.  He not only has a melodic voice, but is a savvy lyricist as well.  Enjoy these quotes; I think some of them will increase in popularity in years to come.

Sometimes I see your face as if through reading glasses and your smile seems softer than it was.

We've survived by believing our life is going to get better.

Listen to the sounds of silence.

Who am I to blow against the wind?

If you can get humor and seriousness at the same time, you've created a special little thing, and that's what I'm looking for because if you get pompous, you've lost everything.

You want to be a writer, don't know how or when?  Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.

I've got nothing to do today but smile.

You know the nearer your destination the more you're slip slidin' away.

Losing love is like a window in your heart, everybody sees you're blown apart, everybody feels the wind blow.

And after it rains, there's a rainbow and all the colors are black. It's not that the colors aren't there; it's just the imagination they lack. Every thing's the same back in my little town.

Home is where my thought's escaping. Home is where my music's playing. Home is where my love lies waiting silently for me.

I'm more interested in what I discover than what I invent.