Archive | March 2014

Curiosity a most important trait for a writer

Most writers seem to have a healthy curiosity. We ask ourselves what if, how about or really? We examine and re-examine things to get a better understanding of whatever it is that has caught our interest at the moment. I believe this can change rapidly with writers in a very short time.

After taking one of those Facebook quizzes that define you in some way, I was told my main trait is curiosity. Well, I do love to try new things, meet different people and constantly learn something new. I guess that starts with a basic curiosity and a desire to experience all we can every day.

We can read things and then say that was great, but wouldn’t it have been interesting if the main character was a goat instead of a quiet female gardener or the plot included dragons or flying saucers? It is the same bizarre ideas that could be fruitful in one way or another. It may start you thinking about something totally unrelated that at one point could end up in a book. Your imagination, running wild as it should be, never to be fenced in or limited is the starting point.

If we let our minds run wild because our curiosity wants to know what if or how about, we open up new worlds that we have never visited before. I admire imagination, creativity and not only thinking out of the box, but thinking out of this world and maybe the next one. The results might be mind boggling resulting in an explosion of words, images and feelings that deserve our attention regardless of how strange or silly they might be to us.

This process of following your curiosity is much like the brainstorming one does to solve a problem. At first the answers seem ridiculous, but after examining them, they most likely have a bit of truth and credibility also. They may actually be worth something. Stimulation of the imagination and curiosity of the world we live in can lead to some wonderful ideas or if you’re like me more crazy thoughts born of the last ones.

Whatever we do, as writers, don’t ever shut that trait of curiosity down. Use it to explore feelings, people and what they are thinking. Explore whole new worlds with it, even if they just exist in your mind.

Personal Reflections: Really knowing people – the passing of our friend, David

Saturday I attended a memorial service for a pretty good friend. He   only reached the age of 57 before he was taken home. He was very ill and seemed lost most of the time. He had a very tough life at the end, though it was never all that easy. He struggled with many demons and we all felt rather sorry for him, but maybe we shouldn’t have felt that way.

David was evidently someone we never knew. The small church that held his memorial was absolutely overwhelmed with folks there to celebrate his life. They kept putting up more and more folding chairs. People kept coming and the church was about to burst at the seams. Everyone was so surprised by the turnout. People kept remarking about how many folks were there. People kept shaking their heads in amazement. Even the family, whom we knew were not always on good terms with our dear friend, was shocked at the continued arrival of people.I don’t think I even know that many people, much less would expect them at a memorial for me.

Even more shocking was the outpouring of love that these people had for our lost, troubled friend. We knew David had a good heart. We knew in spite of some of his argumentative ways and boasting of knowledge, he often really did have, he was a good person who cared deeply for other people. We just did not know the extent of this caring. He loved his family and talked of them often.

When person after person got up front to talk about David it was with such feeling as to constantly bring those tears we just got under control to the surface once more. The people talked about him as though he were a brother to them all. They said of David, he saved my life. They talked of how he was always there for them. They mentioned the nightly meetings and the daily phone calls to keep in touch and see if they were okay. This man riddled with sickness and infection, fighting so many demons of his own, lifted others up and held them up to the Lord in prayer and in actions. He was responsible for also bringing many souls to the Lord.

Whatever, you were unsure of about David, the fact that he loved his family and friends deeply and embraced his spirituality and Christianity with all he had was never questioned. He made every person feel like they were very special to him. He said often, if no-one had told you today they loved you, he loved you.

David adored music of all kinds and constantly raised his voice in song. He had a beautiful voice and shared his love of music all the time. In church, he would not let us hear his beautiful voice, but instead just closed his eyes in worship and listened.

The only thing David loved as much as music was probably food. He could certainly eat and he enjoyed every morsel. As one who occasionally cooked for him, I know how much he appreciated home cooking.

David was a pretty gentle soul trapped in a body at war, but he was a friend to Dan and I and we loved him. But as I said, I don’t think we ever really knew him. That was our loss.

Characters stepping in and out of your life

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Characters stepping in and out of your life

Every living day, characters step in and out of our lives. They may be brief encounters, but they leave an impression of one thing or another. The whole of the human race is there to observe and to listen to all the time. There are so many reasons that characters are there and then gone again. It does not matter. Each person leaves something behind. Writers must use whatever it is they left.

We have characters enter our lives by way of film, TV or books. We get to know them almost like family after enough exposure to them. We can almost predict what they will do in certain situations. We may be able to finish their sentences much like we do those whom we know best. To us they are every bit as much a living, breathing person as the person living under our roof.

Sometimes we do not know the characters well whether in real life or in the media, but they are real enough to us to observe and learn from them. Often, in real life, the encounter is so short, that the briefest of impressions is left, just enough to analyze later.

Maybe it was a thought about their appearance that started you on another train of thought that led to something more revealing about human nature. Maybe it was the outfit they wore that made you consider that this was an outrageous outfit and you would be frightened to look so bizarre. Note-this person seems to know they look strange but, they do not care. What’s up with that? You might wonder how that young person got away with wearing something so risqué, where were their parents or why hasn’t the school stopped such an outfit at the door?

The impressions might not be visual, but an overheard snatch of conversation that indicated this stranger was about to do something scary or commit a crime of epic proportions. What is left behind is an idea spawned when you watched this character and determined he was very nervous and edgy like he was afraid to be caught at something bad. Maybe, this person is on the run.

The characters that step into your life from reality could be the postman, an elderly couple across the street, a young bully and his victim or maybe a picture perfect beauty that seems so lost. We find these folks all around us and many are characters in their own right, but possibly the quirks of a neighbor or the nervous tics of the grocery store bagger are what tidbits we are left with. These are the stuff that stories are made with and small traits that can flesh out those characters we want to write.

With this much raw material at our disposal it should be easy to create characters. Of course a writer rarely uses every trait of one person to actually form the character, but the reality or perceived notion of that person is what the character can be based upon.

When we people watch we are gleaning information to be stored in our subconscious till we need it. It is the ideas that will stimulate thinking and help us elaborate on what has been left us. However, we will never use it as a whole character unless the person’s biography is what is being written, and then the truth should be followed to a “T”.

Most of us waste what we are given daily as a writer. We rarely hold onto as much as we should. We probably, should be keeping diaries, notebooks or journals in order to have the ability to recall those magnificent characters that walk in and out of our lives. They’re everywhere, use them.

How to start what I want to write

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How to start what I want to write

My first instinct is to write things that I know and can accomplish. Usually I love a challenge, but I keep putting off trying fiction since I look at it as too hard. It is very easy to produce non-fiction informative articles or those that just express my opinion.

It is difficult to pit myself up against the millions of wonderful writers when I know I’ll come out lacking. I know that some of you have been writing fiction for as long, probably longer than I have been writing non-fiction which is a considerable time. I took off writing completely for a few years as I was busy dealing with painful health issues and just was in survival mode most of the time. I have written off and on since I was a teen and am now 67 years old. I recently returned and have been able to keep production up for the articles I use to learn writing skills, get followers and make a buck or two.

Every time I tell myself that now is the time to start fiction, I manufacture some kind of excuse to put it off. I can be quite a procrastinator when I wish to be. I find my focus is not good and ideas slip in and out of my brain like trains at a station.

When I try to go back and examine them for possible extension till they become something worth considering, I find excuses and tell myself that that idea is really crap and ask myself why I should waste time on it at all.

I could use advice in this area. Do writing prompts help you get started? Does reading other authors give you the most ideas? Where do you start and what is your most effective way to actually produce work? I could use comments if I ever can move on with this.

My blog is more about sharing questions with writers rather than giving advice all the time since much of it will be on a beginner’s level rather than an expert, which I never claim to be.

Colorado Springs Sunrise

Colorado has some of the most beautiful skies and I’ve been able to see more sunrises lately. Nature can be very inspiring for writers and also provide relaxation that enables one to think.Colorado Springs Sunrise

Nature Inspiring Writers

Nature can really inspire writers from the beauty of a sunrise to the wonder of animals.It presents us with an ever changing vista from which to draw creativity and strength, pleasure and relaxation.God has provided us with beauty to take our breath away in every natural setting and all a writer has to do is enjoy it and take something away from it.

Natural settings bring on an amazing peace that cannot help but be felt when we are surrounded by God’s creation.The wonder of it all is overwhelming as we try to describe colors for which we have no name.

Our curious nature, and I think all writers have that, is challenged to understand the things that are not understandable, but just accepted if you are a believer. We try to bend our mind so as to understand and we fail miserably because what we wish to know is divine. We are not supposed to know everything. We do not need to understand everything in order to be aware that this scheme of the Almighty is unbelievably beautiful.

We are left with just feelings that catch the heart in our throat or make us gasp at the serenity most of us need so badly in today’s world.The intricacy of a flower or the pattern of a spider’s web causes us to be astonished and at a loss for words. But that moment, the one filled with overflowing emotions, but no words, will pass and a writer will glean much from those impressions and feelings.The words will eventually come.The feelings and impressions may last a lifetime.

The natural world can seem cruel or cold to people, but the beauty of this innate and beautiful arrangement is beyond anything people could ever devise.The simple complexity is revealed to us and suddenly we know everything natural is as it should be at this time.

We can breathe in an aroma of a flower and be surprised at the perfect perfume it emits.The variety in nature astounds us. How could all these blooms each have their own individual scent? The colors, few exactly like another, the variety is endless. How can people see all this and still not believe?

It is no accident that the world is filled with beautiful sights that nourish our souls. We are fed with visions in the skies and our thirst quenched with lakes and streams.The songs of birds and calls of animals are sweet notes that make us smile.

The writer first must recognize the natural world outside in order to understand the inner world of man. They are connected, but one serves the other as example and hope.

Writing as therapy

There are so many reasons to write. To express your self is one of the most common. Making money for writers must be put far down on the list since it takes a long time to make any amount of the green stuff; unless you become famous and number one.

Another reason to write is it provides a person with therapy. It costs nothing, so the therapy bills don’t need to be considered. When you write private thoughts, they can remain private if you wish. It is the perfect therapist since nothing you write will shock you and if the plan is to share it with an audience; you only need to pick the right one.

Writing can be journaling or like keeping a diary. Some may be necessary to keep under lock and key depending on its topic. If your journal is personal and reveals your deepest thoughts, maybe it should not be considered ready for prime time and should not be shared. There are some things everyone once to keep a secret. Your secrets may be much different than mine, but we all have them.

Maybe your secret is a wish to commit a crime or be unfaithful, lock it up. It can cause you and others much harm and pain. Your therapy writing need not be made public, but it should be heartfelt and come from the depths of your soul to be effective.

Sometimes, our writing was never meant to be therapeutic but becomes so as it releases stress and anger, pain and grief from our bodies. It might be a piece you wrote that just expresses how you felt cheated or unimportant while growing up. Maybe what provides therapy is a character sketch that after some time creating it, you discover a family member you recognize in that sketch. Writing how that person really made you feel can be soul healing.

We have unexpressed feelings every day that can be so harmful to a person that they cannot function. While some strive to be politically correct, others just attempt to not be too blunt. Even writers keep something back when they think if written, they may have gone too far. Sometimes the answer is to go too far and write what we think, but other times we must weigh the risk of being completely truthful about our feelings.

If what we produce for content is harmful to anyone, should we be reluctant to use it and omit it from the piece we have written? Is it better to bare all the bones when writing or find a way to use the feelings without the real people or experiences? When we create, we should not destroy in the process, but what if the information, emotion or character is so compelling we cannot resist? Then what do we do? Did you ever need to wrestle with this question?