Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Tag

What Is Your Dream Worth?   6 comments

Hi, Gang.

You know, as writers and aspiring authors, this is a question we should often ask ourselves. Some of us do, I’m sure, but all too often I have a feeling we tend to answer it with a get-the-pain-over-ASAP answer instead of giving it the attention it deserves. You know, one of those quick, “Anything! Now, let me get back to my life,” answers we tend to forget all about just as soon as the dog craps on the carpet. Or until the latest episode of our new favorite popular TV show comes on. Truth is, they’re both about the same in value.

This kind of answer, in and of itself, is a perfect clue as to how much we really think our dream is worth. For one thing it’s absurd. I would give all I can for my dream of making a living writing fiction, but certainly not everything. It’s definitely not worth my family, my good friends, and if you think I’d give up the family jewels, guess again, chuckles… It ain’t about to happen. I’m too fond of the old boys for that.

So, now that we’ve established that the standard answer is a huge pile of steaming horse nuggets, let’s give the question the consideration it deserves.

In many ways this is a question that we must, and will have to answer for ourselves. The funny part, at least to this long-haired country boy, comes when we believe we can put next to nothing in, and get tons back in return. Where this notion came from I can’t begin to say, but I know it’s yet another outright lie. The amount of fuel needed to keep your body running for a month outweighs you by quite a few pounds, and don’t get me started on the internal combustion engine.

Now I’m not saying we have to spend a fortune to make one. But the plain fact is, we are going to have to invest heavily in our dream if we really want it. And some of the areas we have a tendency to waste our resources in can only make an outsider shaker their head in wonder when we give that standard answer, “Anything.”

We all know of aspiring writers who will say that, spend $85.95 on The Super Season Sports Package, and go for a ‘free’ site to set up their author’s web page. Or the wan’na be writer who will think nothing of spending $50.00 on the latest Playstation 3 game, but can’t seem to find the extra cash for a $24.99 book on how to write fiction that sells.

I don’t know about you, guys and gals, but it looks to me like that, “Anything,” is quickly turning into an, “Anything, but.” And you have to wonder just how seriously to take that answer, or the person making it. Worse, you have to wonder how seriously the people who count, (Agents, editors, readers.) are taking him/her?

Particularly when you consider the fact that neither one of those examples helped the writer so much as a micrometer towards their dream of becoming a successful author. But the latter of those two choices could have brought them one step further towards that cherished goal.

Those, of course, are just two of a blue-million other examples I could go on about. And the truth is, all of them are leaching precious resources away from your dream. The odds are, you might not even be aware of them. Thanks to the impulse buying, keep up with the Joneses attitude that our consumer culture has ingrained in us, they’re almost a knee-jerk reaction. But, fortunately, it is one we can take control of. Or I should say, those of us who really do want to make it in this business can take control of.

At least we can if we are aware of it, and that is the point to this whole post. Now, you are aware of it. The only question is: “What are you prepared to do about it?”

Before any of you smartypants out there start leaving comments about my being hypocritical and giving out advice I don’t follow myself… this post was inspired by exactly what I’m preaching above.

The reason my blog has fallen by the wayside more often than not was dial-up. I live in the country, there is no cable, and satellite internet is expensive. At least for me it is. But, I could not get away from the fact that the writing game is fast becoming dominated by the Internet. And if you don’t have broadband on the ‘Net, you just became a push-cart trying to win a NASCAR trophy. Ain’t a gonna happen.

Given that, I scrimped, saved, and was finally able to get broadband. It wasn’t easy. I had to deny many of the luxuries I hinted at above, but you know what. I thought about that question long and hard. My answer?

My dream is worth anything I can give to it, and those needless accessories are not.

Later, Gang. 😉


The Magic’s in The Music   17 comments

Being that I’m something of a complete musicphile, (I have, and listen to, everything from Alice Cooper to Vangelis), and that my last post dealt with imagery; it would be remiss of me not to blog about a very powerful aid to storytelling. Music. At least I find it to be the case.

The power of music over human beings is well documented, and pretty much universal. Which is why Hollywood makes such extensive use of it. How much more emotion is put into that love scene with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan when the soft romance tune is playing in the background? How much more frightening is it when the music turns ominous just before Jason leaps out at his next victim? Watch any scene you like without the soundtrack and it’s alright, but doesn’t have nearly the same impact.

That’s all cool for the movies, but with the exception of an enhanced e-book, how do you get the same impact into print. Most books don’t come with a soundtrack. Or, do they?

As with visualization, the author can imprint his, or her emotions onto their work. How that happens is as much a mystery to me as it is to anyone else, but it can, and does happen. Listening to the right music before, or even during the writing of a scene can be an immense help for an aspiring author.

It’s all a part of immersing yourself into the tale you are telling.

Atmosphere is very important for a writer, in my honest opinion. Very little has been able to help me become the story more than having the right atmosphere to write in. Music is perhaps the easiest, and cheapest way to do just that. You can change your mood, mindset, and feel just by changing the music playing in the background as you work, or listening to it before you sit down at the keyboard.

Now, I’m pretty sure that most of us wordsmiths do listen to music while we work. But, if your having a hard time writing that love scene, did it ever occur to you that it might just be the heavy metal flowing from your speakers? Are you trying to write that action sequence while listening to Celine Deon?

It’s not so much a case of listening to what you want to, although you should like the music you use, as it is setting up the wrong atmosphere by what you are listening to. Music goes straight to the subconscious mind, and if that part of your self isn’t agreeing with what your trying to accomplish… your in for a uphill battle of mammoth proportions.

The right kind of music can even break that dreaded scourge of authors everywhere: Writer’s block!

Just by taking the time to relax to the proper mood setting music, and casually thinking about your story can very often set off a dam bursting rush of ideas. Note I said casually there. Don’t force yourself, and fret over what you need, just let the atmosphere created by the music draw you along. Worry will prove to be your worst enemy when trying this.

So, how can we tell what the proper music is? That’s easy. How does it make you feel?

If your doing a romance scene, and the music you like for that sort of thing makes you feel like you did the first time you fell. That’s it! If your doing an action scene and the music you like makes you feel like you could whip King Kong, Godzilla, and half the Mongol horde of Genghis Khan on your lonesome. That’s it!

I’m kind of grateful that my range of musical taste is wide enough to make the Great Wall of China look like a picket fence. I rarely lack for ‘mood music’ to accomplish my goals. But, even if your own musical tastes are not quite as extensive, I’m sure you have something that will fit the mood you want. Why not put it to use for you?


Envisioning A Story   14 comments

Technical aspects of being a storyteller aside, one of the greatest talents a writer can develop is their ability to visualize a story. Now I’m not talking about spending hours with your legs crossed, visualizing a publishing contract, or best seller, landing in your mailbox while chanting, “O Mani Padme Hum”, here. Although if it does work out that way for you, let me know. I’ll be more than happy to risk major leg cramps to achieve the same effect.

No, what I mean about visualizing the story is bringing the tale to life in your own head. Why? Because that ability can, and often will transfer to your readers. And it’s not only aspiring authors who use it to achieve their goals.

How many times have we heard a great actor talk about living the part, or listened to a singer totally enthrall the audience with the emotional power they are putting into a song? It’s pretty much the same thing with telling a story. The more ‘alive’ you can make the tale, the more ‘alive’ it becomes to the reader.

Stage magicians, although they will be the first to pooh-pooh the idea of visualization, do the same thing. The good ones make themselves believe that they are really pulling coins out of thin air, or making doves suddenly appear under their handkerchiefs. And the more they believe it themselves, the more the audience believes it with them.

Think not?

Richard Osterlind, in his seminal book ‘Making Magic Real’ gives this bit of advice to the novice conjurer:

“If you can truly believe what you are pretending to do is really happening, then your audience will believe it, too.”

The same holds true for good story telling. It doesn’t matter if you are writing Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Romance. It doesn’t matter how implausible your circumstances are, as long as you can make it real for yourself first. That’s where visualization comes in.

When you can see, hear, smell, and feel the story in your own mind, you can write with an added measure of conviction. This allows you to develop an empathy with your readers, because you ‘lived’ the story as you developed it. Consequently, the reader will live the story as they read it.

Your story begins with you, and it will only be able to carry the life that you breathe into it.

I know there are a few who will say, “But, I can’t visualize.” The truth is, you are lying to yourself. Anyone can, and does, daydream. A daydream is simply an uncontrolled visualization. The trick is to take control and direct the daydream, and the New Age shelves are filled with books that teach just that.

I’m not saying you have to believe the metaphysical side of these books, but the techniques and exercises that develop your ability to visualize what you want to are invaluable. Barring that, Tony Robbins makes heavy use of visualization techniques in his self-help books and gives many exercises that do the same thing. So, if you are uncomfortable with New Age, at least you have an alternative.

No mater way you choose, developing your ability to visualize your story will make you a much better writer. Your tale will have life in it and be far more to your reader than just words on a page with a few sneaky plot twists.

You will still need all the technical aspects of writing such as grammar, spelling, style, etc. But, at the least your story will have more heart and that is probably the most important part of being a good storyteller.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go sit cross-legged on the floor and start chanting, “O Mani Padme Hum”, now. (Gee, I hope this works!)


Per-Severe-Ance   8 comments

You’ll probably notice a few things change on here from time to time. Mostly because, I’ve never administrated a blog before and I’m still learning WordPress. Oh sure, I ghosted a few, but all I had to do then was pretend to be someone else, write whatever they wanted me to, and make a couple of bucks. The administration stuff I left to them.

Fortunately, I had a bit of HTML, (Which in my case stands for Help This Moron Learn.), so posting wasn’t a problem. All it took was a little perseverance. The one quality that anyone looking to become a writer needs more than any other.

One of my fellow AgentQuery Connect members, Cherie, has a really inspiring quote by Richard Bach on her signature:

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

Truer words were never spoken. Especially for anyone wacky enough to attempt this career. But we’ll get back to that in a moment. Cherie also has a very proficient blog of her very own, and I think you’ll find it well worth your while to check it out. Ready. Write. Go at Blogspot.

Side note: You’ll notice that I mention AgentQuery Connect quite often in my blogs. The reason for that is, AQC is the best writer’s community on the web, bar none. Also, because the other great members there haven’t lynched my fanny for being a complete A-hole. Yet. 😉

Back to our subject.

While it is true that a writer needs the basics of the craft, such as good grammar and spelling, all the technical aspects of authorship won’t amount to a spit in the Pacific if you don’t have perseverance. (Please, don’t spit in the Pacific. It has enough trouble dealing with all the other crap we’ve dumped into it.)

Some of the harsh realities of this business should be enough to make any sane person walk away saying, “Oh, Hell NO!” Which, indecently, is why I’m still working at it.

You will encounter enough form letter rejections from agents to wallpaper the Whitehouse and the Senate building. Assuming they are into Avaunt Guarde. You will have every editor who so much as looks at your work mangle, uhhh… improve it. (Yes, that was a joke. A good editor is priceless, if you can afford one.) And should you be lucky enough to weave your way through all the myriad roadblocks between you and your dream, you’ll spend more time promoting and marketing than you ever did writing.

Hmmmm? Am I sure I want to do this? HELL YEAH!

Then to top it all off, if you think that every writer who makes it to a contract instantly becomes a wealthy upper class person. Sorry, but your dead wrong. For every name author out there, there a couple thousand who are published, but still barely making a living doing what we love to do.

And, really, that is the point for an aspiring author’s walk through Hades. I didn’t make much more than a couple dollars above minimum wage when I was a graphic artist. I made even less on the independent pro wrestling circuit. But, I did love doing both, and that made it all worth it to me. So what if I didn’t get to work on The New Yorker, or shill for Vince McMahon for mega bucks? I was still getting paid to do something I loved to do.

Now, all this isn’t meant to put anyone off of a career in writing. For all I know the next Steven King, or J.K. Rowling could be reading this right now. One thing I can guarantee; you’ll never know if you give up, or let any of these obstacles stand in you way. You’ll have to persevere to find out. 😉