Something to Remember…

one moment of joy

One moment of joy can be like a shield against the world and all the hardships and adversity that seem all too common these days. That moment can sooth the soul and replenish the heart if we let it.

In the end it is our choice if we let it. Do we let go of the anger and hatred and negativity? Or do we cling to them and cloud our hearts so that we cannot see that single moment that could offer us a safe harbor?

The world may be harsh.

But we choose how we respond and what we keep in our hearts.

Seeing is Imagining

wall full of post it notes

I outline in a weird way. I have come to this epiphany after reading how other people do it and realized, the way that works for me is. . . .odd. I am a visual creature. When I am writing I see in my mind things and then try and describe what I am seeing. By the time a story is done or, hopefully, my first novel, I have seen it as a movie in my head over and over, each time with slight little tweaks and bits changed. But I see it and that is how my brain works.

I’ve tried the note card method, the free writing method, the rigidly formatted method and none work for me.

What does work for me are sizes, colors, and spreading things out. I start with rather large (11 x 14) paper. On these pieces are the main big fu-fu parts of the story, the things that must happen to propel the story to its end. This is not only the standard turning points of a three act story but also things that I want to be major that make the story make sense to me. Once I have those written down I begin to pin them in order on the wall with thumb tacks.

Next I take 8.5 x 11 sheets, usually a different color than the big white sheets. These are scenes and they are written out in a random order. I need to know why the story goes from point A (the beginning) to point Z (the ending) and for me that is not a linear process. Each big paper is looked at and I replay the things around it in the movie in my mind. I look to see what details I need to make it happen and make it logical (even in a non-logic based urban fantasy setting). I spread out my thoughts from there, slowly weaving what has to have happened prior to each point to what should happen after another point.

The reason I do this bit is to get the scenes as I want them in my head. It is not an absolute for me. Often I pull the tacks out and stuff them in another place. I am also usually too lazy to respreads all the papers so I can tend to get clumps of papers all shoved into one small place. That is ok for me. That visual lets me know that particular area is important to the movie in my head.

Once I have the scenes, the steps from one fu-fu to the next, done I take out the post it notes. Yellow is for name ideas or object ideas. Purple is for emotional aspects I want to bring out. Green is for important information I need to have expressed by then. Blue is for back story that needs to be told by that point for it to be logical. Pink is for action bits. Orange is for questions I have not answered yet.

Now I stand back and look at the chaotic mess I have made all over the living room. Thing is though, it is not chaotic to me. I see the sizes, shapes, colors as the thoughts I am trying to organize. I keep adding post-it notes until I can’t think of anything more but I don’t put them away. If I do, I will have to grab them out again in no time, never fails.

Now I start to tell myself the story, usually out loud. I tell the story just like you’d describe a movie you saw to someone else and I challenge myself on the validity of the logic for everything that is not based in physics or just common sense. Anything that is a dramatic element of the story is challenged like a parent questioning a late child about where they’ve been. I try and poke holes in my head-movie. I try and draw conclusions to spoil the ending. I try and tear the story apart and sometimes it works. Sometimes I realize “That is just stupid” and then I grab up the post its and start to figure out a way to make it not stupid.

Sometimes at this point I rip up some of the 8.5×11 sheets and figure out a different set of steps to get from fu-fu to fu-fu. Sometimes I rearrange things so they make more sense and line up more with the movie. I add post-its as needed until I feel “Ok, this is what I am seeing and it makes sense”.

Then I leave it alone. I go off and do something else and leave the mess tacked to the wall. When I return I start over and think of the movie in my head. I see how it lines up to the mess on the walls and I try and find big holes in the whole thing. I do this for days and I keep adding little bits or moving things or taking things away until one day I look at the mess and I see it. I see the movie in my head.

Then I start writing it all down in an outline to make sure I don’t lose anything.

But it is all seeing it for me. It is all about seeing what I see in my mind in a mass of colored paper and thumb tacks and only then, when I have poked at it for a long time can I start to write it down and make sure I remember it. I have to see it first.

That’s how I outline.

What We Keep, What We Carry and What We Think We Threw Away

a leather bound journalI always thought we were like a puzzle box. Intricate and crafted so as to be a challenge to understand but with a core secret little space inside us that we choose what we carry forward with us through life. I was sure of this as a matter of fact and would tell people this philosophy with confidence that what I was telling them was the absolute truth.

Then I was writing my first novel and things I wrote reminded me of things I had long ago forgotten. Emotions I was crafting into my character resonated within me and brought back echoes of phantoms from pages past. Not actual events but mirrors, shadows of things . . . Feelings and thoughts that I would have sworn I had thrown out years ago.

I was wrong.

Writing has been a catharsis in a way. Not that anything is lost or purged . . . Quite the contrary as a matter of fact. We are not a box to hold life experiences in like tiny bits of treasure hidden away but a notebook of all that has been. We are a notebook with a thousand different starting and stopping points and a multitude of covers and ways to open it from different angles and different sides. We carry it all with us.

Everything stays . . . we move on. Like reading a novel, the words at the start do not vanish as you read, we just turn the page. Life is like that. Except in life’s notebook the chapters can be inline or they can be at complete right angles or opposite sides or anything between. They can even be all of the above and other things we can’t describe. Forwards, backwards, sideways. . . we turn the pages however we want to.

The bad we turn the page on and leave behind. The good we carry forward to the next page with us to continue the narrative. Nothing is thrown away though. Blacken it with ink, color it with bright swirls or paste pictures over it. . .it will still be there. Rip it out and the absence will be there like a negative image. You will know what is there by seeing what is not and in that way, it will be there.

We need not look back at those things we prefer to leave behind and they need not color the next page if we choose to move on but, they are there.

So, I was wrong. We do not choose what we carry with us because it is all in the notebook of our life. Nothing is thrown out, nothing discarded, nothing erased. . . but . . .

We choose what we carry forward to the next page.

 

Rounding the bend

fountain-pen

At 62,500 words in my first novel and finally getting into the 3rd act. Written several thousand new words a day for the past few days. . . and several thousand more ripped out and rewritten. . .so averaging over 3500 words a day. . .watched a humorous side-note kind of character become a major influence on the story. . .didn’t see that coming. . . accidentally discovered the critical flaw of the hero and how he overcomes it. . . . but I am finally rounding the bend to the climax of the book where the big fu fu action happens and the really cool thing is. . . .my biggest problem now is not being able to type as fast as I see it play out in my mind. The pieces all fit in place and make sense.

I have come to a terrifyingly profound epiphany. . . .

. . . were it not for spell checker I would be basically, functionally illiterate

How the heck did Twain or Poe write all of this by hand? Dear God . . .this is just the first draft!

 

The Gift

A Locked Box

The man who taught me martial arts once gave me a box. A locked box to be precise but he did not give me the key. He told me that inside the box was something I would love and that would change my life, but I had to wait for 1 year top get the key for my next birthday. In the meantime, I should try and guess what was in the box.

At first I guessed the mundane things one might initially think of . . . money . . . treasure . . . a wide variety of material things. Then, I started to let my mind wander and began to imagine all kinds of fanciful things that might be hidden within the box. Secret and unexplainable things filled my mind . . . it could be anything within the box. There was no way of knowing. It was like some mirror view Schrodinger’s cat . . . it was nothing and anything all at once. Physics and pragmatism gave way to impossible possibilities and I imagined things that I could not even describe.

A year later he kept his word and offered me the key. I declined it. . . I knew what he had given me, I didn’t need to look in the box to see. He had given me dreams. . .

Monday coffee thoughts…

matter of perspective
Monday thought

Something I was thinking about while sipping coffee this morning

The Sound of Thunder

The sound of thunder. It is calming to me. The sound of relief, cooling, the promise that the heat of the day will soon fade. The world grows calm as the noise creeps closer. The bamboo stills and it is like the entire world is holding its breath. Butterflies hurry off to that secret place they hide. Birds quiet. The air so still. . . then more distant thunder, closer. The promise of the rain a tease as everything waits and hopes. The bamboo fidgets and my imagination gives them motivation like some eager toddlers waiting for Christmas morning, unable to stay perfectly still they twitch in expectation. Then a squall of the wind from the coming storm sets the bamboo to action. No longer toddlers, they are a raucous group flailing about, banging and clapping together in the excitement. Like some concert crowd, they clap and bap in some alien rhythm in time with some music only they can hear.

How many days of my life have I heard all this and never really heard it?

Some days remind me that the world is alive.

The first drops are falling. Tapping on metal and awning, tickling the world with the start of the rain.

The thunder is closer.

The cats are freaking out.

Soon the world around me will be washed.

The air cleansed of the oppressive heat.

The bamboo dancing in the wind will be soaked and will drip water for the rest of the night.

Sometimes I forget that it is not the rain I love so much, it is not the thunder. It is the way the storm changes the world. The way it makes everything seem new again for just a little while. That is why the sound of thunder is calming to me. It is a promise of change.

 

Things Forgotten

Things Forgotten
Things Forgotten

The Man, The Word, and Reason #678 I am going to hell

I once knew a man who had difficulty with words but didn’t know this fact. Truth be told, he found himself to amazingly witty and articulate. This same man bragged about having never read a book and still passing school because he must be some kind of special genius or something. He would blog periodically, angrily expounding upon ideas with a flat, bludgeoning wit that would pulverize any point he was trying to make into a wet, gooey mass of convoluted ideas and overly simplified logic.

All of this though was fairly acceptable especially in this day and age when using text speak is considered so acceptable that the president and our political leaders use an ever growing code of acronyms rather than take the extra 5 seconds to type a word. So if they do that, I could not fault this man for his cumbersome and somewhat bovine ranting. Except one thing. . . one very important thing that I tried to explain to him several times but he would not listen to my logic because he was, after all, a self edumacated genius-sort.

His problem was the lack of understanding between two words that may look somewhat similar at first glance are very different indeed. The words were Irreverent and irrelevant. Thinking he was saying that he was rude, off the wall, and caustic in his wording, i.e. irreverent, he would instead use the word meaning immaterial, extraneous, of no real consequence, irrelevant. So phrases such as:

“Some people say I am irrelevant and god damn it, I agree. I speak my mind and say what I think and what I think is a lot of the time irrelevant.”

I would try and explain to him and he would lash out that just because he didn’t have fancy words, he still had an opinion that he was free to voice whenever he wanted and if people found him irrelevant, so be it, that was on them. He liked being irrelevant and enjoyed shocking people with just how irrelevant he could be.

So the moral of the story is, sometimes spell checker is not enough, especially if you are a moron. There should be a moron checker that goes beyond there, their, they’re and to, too, two. . .then again. . .maybe not. Maybe these types of idiots are here as a divine “pull my finger” joke by god. Last time I talked to the man I suggested that he was irrelevant and that he should put in his will that he wanted that in big, huge letters on his gravestone when he dies. “HERE LIES A MAN WHO WAS TOTALLY IRRELEVANT”. He agreed, he liked that idea. . .

. . .And this is reason #678 that I am going to hell.

Flash Fiction – July 24th – Essay

This week’s flash fiction from Chuck Wendig’s Blog is an essay on why I write. . .what makes me a writer? What compels and drives me to do this? In contemplation of this I have come to understand something about myself hitherto unknown or at least unspoken. I am not a writer.

I am a storyteller.

Writing is one version of this but I also enjoy telling stories orally. My artwork tells a story . . .at least it does when it turns out right. That is what compels me, the need to tell stories. Though, I will admit, the “I can tell stories through interpretive dance” thought line was a bad idea from the get-go and I do apologize for that, it won’t happen again.

The reason why I write is that it is one way of telling stories and a way I can tell the stories to as many people as possible. So then, the question is not “why I write” for me but rather what drives me to tell stories? The answer to that is rather simplistic and straightforward. I tell stories because it makes me happy to tell stories.

The why’s and how-comes of that would keep a therapist in business for years trying to untangle. Was it a lack of attention when I was a child or a sense of narcissistic egotism that makes me feel that my stories are so important they must be told? I don’t know. One thing I have learned is that sometimes, it doesn’t matter why, it simply is what it is.

I write because I want to share my stories.

Where I get the stories is something I don’t know. My mind just works that way, it creates even when I don’t try and create. It fabricates from things I see ideas of what could be or what might be hidden right behind plain view. It just happens. It is just who I am. There is no poetics to it, just a simple fact of me. It is just how my mind works

So the final answer would be, I write because that is what I do. The why of it doesn’t matter except to my therapist. I do it because that is who I am.

Though I do feel in a strange way that I should now stand up and say, “Hi, my name is David. I’m a writer.” And wait for the twelve step crowd to welcome me. . .