Secretive Writing

Secretive Writing
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/islandsoft/

Are you one of those writers who can write almost any place? You find it easy to get your muse going in a coffee shop, at the mall, or while riding the bus? I’m jealous. I’d be so distracted by my irrational suspicions of someone looking over my shoulder.

I didn’t have this qualm when I was younger. During my school years, I usually sat in the first row not giving any thought to what the kid behind me was doing. When I was in my twenties, there were occasions where I’d plop my butt down at McDonald’s with a Coke and write for an hour or two in a personal journal, never thinking someone might see what I’m writing.

Now I find it hard to write when my husband is at home, even if he’s in a different room. Where did all of this covertness come from? Have I gotten more insecure in my old age? Or could it be I’ve gotten more stubborn about what I want–quiet? Or is it that I can’t get to that space where I’m ultimately comfortable writing? In truth, I think it’s a little of all.

It used to be my physical challenges were just that, challenges. As the years have gone by, these struggles have gotten a bit more severe making me apprehensive in more situations. Sure, there’s usually a kind person about whose willing to help me out, but I’m an independent soul, always have been. Me asking for help is like you asking someone to break your arm are for you. The thought of not being self-efficient is a pill I’m having problems swallowing. So instead of taking the risk of needing help at the local McDonald’s or coffee shop, I do all my writing at home where I know I can maneuver under my own power without assistance.

Well, that explains a little bit, but still, this need for solitude still gnaws at me.

I want my writing to be my own. I don’t want suggestions about what my story should be about. This isn’t to say I don’t want selected people to tell me where they think I’m flubbing up, although, as I stated, these people are ones I select. They’re special to me because I respect and trust their knowledge, opinions, and intentions. So far, there are only two people I feel this way about. If I ever get past a second draft, I’ll be calling on these two for critiques. Until then I’m held fast in keeping my “baby” with me.

Does this say I’m bullheaded? Probably. I come by it naturally.

My writing space is far from ideal. Sometimes I get so irked at this cramped corner in the computer room that I go browsing through the pages of the HGTV site to dream about my perfect writing space. Of course, HGTV doesn’t have what I really want. That look is only in my head. Anyway, what I have is barely sufficient, giving me feelings of inadequacy as a writer. I know, it shouldn’t make a difference. Tell that to the emotional side of my brain. It isn’t listening to me.

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And maybe that’s what it all boils down to. I’m secretive because I don’t think too much of myself as a writer. Oh sure, some of you will say I’m doing just fine with my abilities at the craft. I’d love to agree with you but when I look at what I write… It just doesn’t cut it.

Because I’m so stubborn, though, I’ll continue to pound on the keys. My preoccupation with it won’t allow me to do any less.

One of these days I’ll break through the wool of my cowardice and show what I work on so diligently.

“You have to stop and freeze the moment,” he told me I had told her. “You have to make yourself remember by repeating it in your head over and over. You have to write to preserve your sanity.” ― Jenny Hubbard, Paper Covers Rock

 

Describing the Doubt and Fear

Describing the Doubt and Fear
Image provided by Peter Nederlof
https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterned/

After reading Phoebe Quinn’s post at A Writing Path, I began to question how much effort I’m really putting into my writing. Her article wasn’t about effort, but somehow it triggered those types of thoughts in me. Do I give it my all?

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying I’ve been expecting great achievement with little effort. To be truthful, I’d be wondering what the point is of writing at all if it didn’t require that intense concentration and passion that puts me in a time warp feeling as thought I’ve been in outer space when I come to.

I’m questioning how I keep on wanting to rush through some of the writing. When I was younger, I used to love to do descriptions. It could be a regular object like a teacup, a person walking down the street, or an entire setting like a park. It seemed to come to me naturally. Anymore though, I rush straight through those parts getting to action and the feelings of the characters.

Why am I in such a hurry? True, I am not young anymore. In fact, I’ve been deemed a senior for a while now. Even so, unless I find myself getting blown up, I don’t think I’ll be dying anytime soon. This means there’s plenty of time for me to cultivate splendid descriptions of the scenes as I go through them one by one.

And when did I lose that natural touch for writing descriptions? While sitting at my desk, I can see out a window by turning my head slightly to the left. It’s a view of the street I live on so even though some things don’t change often, other things do. I look out this window every time I need a moment to think. And my mind isn’t so full that I don’t see what is out there either. I notice the breeze blowing the leaves in the trees. I see Jake [one of the residential cats] lumber across the street. The sound of a car will make me glance out to see if it’s one of the neighbors. Now, why am I not putting any of this into my writing?

It got me wondering if I’ve gotten stuck on the mechanics of writing. Rationally, I know I can write my first draft any old way I want. However, emotionally, my obsession for perfection and my fear of never ever being good enough plays havoc with me, making me doubt the adverbs I put at the end of sentences, the spelling of words I know but invariably spell wrong, the number of sentences I start with a prepositional phrase. And the list is a long one.

Is there a way to turn off the doubts and fears, but still keep the emotions going full blast while I write? No, I’m not expecting an answer to materialize. Sometimes though, it’s sensible to put these types of questions out there to examine and ponder on.

“It was one of those cases where you approve the broad, general principle of an idea but can’t help being in a bit of a twitter at the prospect of putting it into practical effect. I explained this to Jeeves, and he said much the same thing had bothered Hamlet.” ― P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Morning

 

#weekendcoffeeshare: Where Do the Stories Come From?

#weekendcoffeeshare: Quirks
Image provided by Dave White
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdestructicity/

Diana at Part Time Monster hosts a weekly link-up, where you can submit a link to your post and browse everything else that’s been submitted, or you can use the #weekendcoffeeshare hashtag on Twitter or Facebook.

If we were to have coffee, I’d want it to be at a quaint coffee shop. It would be one of those places off the main drag that probably only has about ten to fifteen tables scattered around within its four walls.

(Your dialogue is in purple. My dialogue is in green.)

I’ve ordered our coffee and have been sitting here for a while. The shop isn’t crowded today, which is surprising seeing it’s a holiday weekend. Of course, I’m not expecting many to sit at the tables. I just had it in my head there’d be more here requesting coffee to go. Chances are the reservoir seven miles outside of town is already filling up with campers, day trippers, fishermen, and the such.

I spot you walking through the door. Your face is flushed and it looks like your Capris are sticking to your legs.

Do you want anything else?

The man is polite but I wouldn’t categorize him friendly. The mugs are full but there isn’t a basket of goodies.

The waitresses must have the day off. Owners like him should never serve customers.

You hunch over the table slightly as if you’ve been working in the coal mines or something. I nod at your comment as I add some Hazelnut creamer to my coffee.

Is it that hot out there already? When I came in here, the breeze was cool.

No, it’s still okay out there. My inner thermostat isn’t working for some strange reason.

Hot flashes! I thought you were done.

So did I. Subject change–how’s your writing coming along?

Something’s bugging you but, obviously, you aren’t going to let it out.

I wish I knew why I get bored with a project so easily. And it isn’t because it gets a little difficult. Sometimes those are my most creative moments. Maybe I don’t reach far enough for the story idea.

You take a  tentative sip of your coffee. The grimace look appears on your face and you grab three sugar packets from the small rack next to the napkin holder.

We need to find another coffee shop for holiday weekends. This sucks. Okay, how do you reach for a story?

I take several sips while I formula how to explain.

I usually find my story ideas in real life. Often the idea is about someone I know well–a relative or a good friend.

Your eyes double in size. Your mug is slightly tipped towards your mouth but you suspend it there in midair.

You’re writing stories about me?

#weekendcoffeeshare - Where Do the Stories Come From?
Image provided by Andrea Carina
https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrea-carina/

Not yet. I always switch out names, a couple of the physical and personality traits, and the situation doesn’t end the way it did or would (possibly) in real life. If I was to use you as a character, the chances of you knowing it are slim to none.

Aren’t you afraid of lawsuits?

There isn’t any proof of using anything of a real person, so no–no fear.

We sit in silence for a few minutes. I can see the giant question mark presence coming into your eyes as your mouth pulls down at the sides while looking into your mug.

What is it?

This coffee is disgusting. Do you even do stories about yourself?

You seize still two more sugar packs, open them, and dump the content into your mug. My coffee is getting cold and the flavor is, as you said, disgusting. I fold my arms on the table.

Sure, I use myself. In fact, I have an unfinished story on a virtual shelf in my online cloud. The main character is basically me but with starts with circumstances I’d much rather be in than what I have in real life. It’s been sitting a while now. Now that I write more like I want, I should probably pull it down and work on it again. The thing is I don’t want to spread myself out too thin taking on too many writing projects. I’m afraid I won’t finish any of them.

Another silent moment separates our thoughts. I’m disappointed in the number of longings I’ve had that haven’t reach to accomplishment in my life. I can’t call many of them failures because they can still be realized. They’re unaccomplished dreams. Got to get off this subject.

What’s going on in your life these days?

My bike is finally fixed. On Monday I’m in that race that starts at the park. It isn’t a sponsored one, just one to begin the season I guess. And get this! I’m painting.

Expectation of reaction spills over your face.

I assume it’s the kind of painting that goes on canvas. I didn’t know you were into art.

I’ve wanted to try it for a while now, but until the kids were more on their own, the time just wasn’t there. I paid twenty dollars for a course at the recreation center. It goes through the basics of color, perception, and creativity. I didn’t know there were so many colors in a cloud before.

I try not to grin. I took some art classes in school. I remember being surprised by brown being in clouds.

How much are your supplies costing you?

They offered those dinky little tubs of color, a set costing twenty-seven dollars. I went for it. Was that a good price?

You probably could have gotten it for cheaper but you’d have to know where to shop. For this first time, you probably did the right thing.

I bought two brushes too. The teacher said I’d need more eventually but I could wait until I sign up for the second course.

Are you thinking about that already?

You gulp your coffee down making a glowering expression.

Yeh, I am. I like the way my clouds look. It’s just a hobby but you never know.

I need to get. Need to freshen up for the class. I’ll pay on the way out.

I almost take a sip of coffee but catch myself in time and place the mug on the table. I watch you at the cashier stand. My guess is you’re complaining about the yucky coffee. Good, that means I don’t have to say anything.

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Rules for #weekendcoffeeshare

  1. Posts should be framed as a chat over coffee or some other beverage.
  2. Posts should be current (written within the week).
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“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.” ― Roman Payne

 

 

The Blank Page

The Blank Page
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/the-wanderers-eye/

I’ve been doing some type of writing for years. Blogging has been the most consistent though. Despite this being so, the sort of writing I like the best is the kind when I’m penning a story. (The other forms of writing? Well, there’s journalism, letters, and the never-ending lists — and, indeed, fictional stories. I’m sure some would say there’s more, but I think most forms of writing can fall into these categories.) Whatever type of writing is being done, there’s the perpetual blank page to deal with at the start.

Going by what I’ve read and heard, most of us, as writers, dread this page, whether it be on a computer, word processor, typewriter, or the piece of paper. Somehow it terrifies us. Nothing is there for the writer to use as a launching point, which brings up images of disaster.

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Super Short Story

When I was a kid, my parents insisted that I learn how to swim. I loved swimming from the first class and tried to master the different strokes. But there was that day when the teacher wanted me to dive off the low diving board. All of a sudden that water looked  menacing. She wants me to jump head first from here? I’ll drowned! Of course, I didn’t even come close to drowning. According to the teacher, my launch was almost perfect.

Does that blank page feel like you’re looking at that treacherous water from the diving board?

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Some writers will still have that sensational idea stirring in their heads. Yet, once sitting before that blank page, the words have escaped and no matter what is put on that page, it isn’t right, at least not right enough for the writer.

Other writers aren’t so fortunate and find the superb idea has vanished or it suddenly sounds ludicrous. The person often ends up staring at all that whiteness before him/her, hoping and praying the idea will reappear somehow or a better idea will pop into his/her mind.

I’ve had these times myself, although not often. In fact, the times of this horror are rare. For unexplainable reasons, the blank page for me usually means a fresh start. Any mistakes from prior works are erased. My inspiration is renewed. My motivation is energized. I might not even have any ideas to start writing with, yet still feel the empowerment of having a new beginning laying before me.

In this era of technology, I have the luxury of getting online to find my writing ideas. They’re all over the place out here in cyber space. If you’re having difficulty finding a worthy idea, try a search. One of my favorite sites for writing ideas is Creative Writing Prompts that’s part of The Writer’s Digest.

The right words have always been a huge problem for me. It scarcely has stopped me from writing though. Long ago I always had the Thesaurus book sitting with me while I wrote. But then I found Thesaurus.Com. I could start with the most simplest of words and find so many other words that better described what I wanted to convey in my writing piece. The lack of my vocabulary skills was resolved.

This doesn’t mean I don’t agonize during my hours of writing. My trouble appears farther down the page after I’ve writing a couple or a few paragraphs. It’s at this point when doubt sets in and I’m reluctant to go any farther. Do I know what I’m doing here? Should I rework that second paragraph? Maybe I should just toss that paragraph. Is any of this making sense? Yes, misgivings about the entire project come flooding into my mind.

I have found something that works to alleviate this rush of dark apprehension. It doesn’t work every time, but often enough to spur me to try it. I put that page half done to the side and start where I left off on a clean blank page. I can normally continue the story I’m writing.

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Have you found some strategies that get you past your writing difficulties? Could you share them?

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

 

Writing Prompt from Daily Writing Tips

You can find Daily Writing Tips here.

 

Adriane woke, shivering, in the dark of the night.
Image provided by
Tracey Adams @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/bikracer/

Adriane woke, shivering, in the dark of the night. The wind moaned as it made its way through the trees, dipping into and rising from the underbrush. She could hear the house muttering it’s woes as it fought against the gale. The bedroom window threatened to crack as the branch from the tree on that side of the house thrashed against it. She wrapped herself up in the blanket like an old Indian woman. Beneath the cover, she clenched her hands in fear. The news on TV said the storm would be bad, but this was more than she had bargained for. She twisted the little plastic knob on the lamp that sat on her nightstand. The light flickered, and then was gone.

When she was a girl, her family lost their home in a squall like this. The roof and one side completely collapsed. They didn’t get hurt but the fear of such catastrophes stayed with her. Adriane felt around in the drawer for her flashlight. Once the beam was showing, she laid it on its side next to the lamp. She found her slippers way back under the bed. I thought I just barely shoved them under there. I hate when I have to go searching for these things — especially when the electricity isn’t working, Adriane said to herself. Her robe was half way off the foot of the bed. Usually she was still when she slept. Obviously, that wasn’t the case earlier.

Feeling a little warmer, she grabbed the flashlight and walked down the hall to the living room. The front window clattered and groaned in protest of the high winds. Adriane checked the lock on the front door. The metal was bitter cold against her fingers. Next, she took a closer look at the window that faced the street. The double pane was holding but she began to wish she had triple pane.

She made her way into the kitchen, going through the small dining area. Despite her feet being in slippers, she could feel the iciness of the tiled floor. The flashlight beam traveled around the kitchen. All looked neat and tidy. Then she noticed it; the backdoor was ajar. I closed and locked that — didn’t I? Her knuckles turned white around the flashlight in her hand. Her back stiffened as a chill ran down it.

She left the door as it was, and stole to the door adjacent from it, the utility closet. Cautiously, she opened the door. The electrical panel was to her left on the wall at eye level. Before checking the circuits, she aimed the beam of light around the small enclosure. There’s nothing here but cleaning stuff.

She pulled the lever for each circuit one by one, and then pushed each one back into their original place. It wasn’t until she performed the ritual on the second to last one that a response was found. “Presto,” she said with satisfaction. She reached up and pulled the string to turn on the light.

There in the corner on the floor was a baby raccoon.
Image provided by
Robin Zebrowski @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/firepile/

She looked around the closet one more time. The broom in the far corner on the right side moved. She warily picked it up. There in the corner on the floor was a baby raccoon.

Adriane delicately placed the broom behind the little animal and started pushing it out of the closet. She ushered it through the open door to the backyard. She, then, got a slice of bread from the bin and threw it out to the darling.

Closing the door, she made sure to lock it. She put her broom away, turned out the light and headed for bed.