19 October 2013

The Secret to Unlocking My Creativity Revealed

One thing I've heard/read a lot in various books and blogs about writing is that authors (or those aspiring to the title) should read, rabidly, ravenously. On face value the advice makes perfect sense -- it's a form of competitive analysis. We all do it (or should) when trying to achieve almost any goal. Want to repaint your house? Look around your neighborhood, see what others are doing, maybe check out HGTV. Looking to redesign your website? Do some surfing, check out your competitors, visit a designer's online portfolio. It makes sense that authors would want, no need, to see what's out there in order to do their very best.

But in trying to live with more intention and turn my writing "hobby" into a "career," I've discovered another use for devouring the written word: inspiration.

And I don't even mean the inspiration that comes from a mood or phrase in someone else's work that sparks an idea to life in yours. I mean inspiration to write.

This realization dawned on me last week when I returned to my desk from my lunch break and wanted more time... to write. Why was I suddenly so jazzed to write? I hadn't talked with my lunch buddy about my stories at all. In fact, the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games series had dominated our conversation. My mind instantly started running through memories like an old film reel, highlighting all the times I could recall being genuinely excited, desperate even, to write. I could finally see a common theme, and it wasn't what I'd thought for the past decade of my life.

Sure, many of those times included lengthy, sometimes hours-long, conversations about whatever idea was at the front of my queue. But some of them didn't; that couldn't be the link. They did, however, all include discussions of the works of others -- mostly whichever writing partner I was plotting with at that time. I've spent years thinking that I didn't do my best work, couldn't get truly invested in writing, without someone to hear me out and help my process along. I was mistaken. I need these friends because hearing about their ideas and their processes fans whatever fire in me fuels my creativity.

To write, I must read. And then discuss. Especially discuss. Blame it on my degree in literature, whose power to draw me in despite the dire warnings of a financially challenged future from my professors suddenly makes a lot more sense.

Either way, now that I've discovered what works, I'm excited to once again allow myself to explore the thoughts and ideas of others. Without fear of procrastination (everything in moderation, right?), and without fear of contamination. I'm going to be inspired. And I'll learn a little more about the world through the words of others while doing it.

What lights your fire? To write, to scrapbook, to garden... to pursue whatever makes you happiest? Let me know in the comments below. And then go do it!

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14 October 2013

After Three Long Years...

I have gotten my writing act together, more or less. And while it may have taken a little (or a lot) longer than I'd envisioned in my New Year's zeal of 2011, I'm proud to say that I'm putting my written work out there -- in the form of an online serial called, Cut-throats and Cut-purses (C&C)!

About the Story:
Born in an internet cafe in Seoul, South Korea, when one friend introduced another to the wonders of Terry Pratchett's Discworld* and the "wouldn't it be cool if"s began, Cut-throats and Cut-purses follows the journey of a pair of assassins and a pair of thieves whose tangled lives lead to magic, murders (lots of those, actually), and an egomaniacal plot to take over the world.
Basically, my roommate (aka writing partner) and I decided that for accountability's sake we should publish a novel that we've been working on for nearly five years. Both of us being in the website-building industry... well, an online serial seemed the way to go. Think of it like a webcomic, but without the pretty pictures. I can't draw to save my life, and I don't know that she's ever tried.

Along with editing old and writing new C&C chapters, I'll be getting back into the blogging routine so stay tuned for musings and behind-the-scenes details from me, as well as teasers to the latest chapter posted over at the C&C site. And if you want to see what my co-author is saying, she'll be blogging with me over at the C&C site! (She's a pretty damn fine writer, if I do say so myself.)

And in case you need further enticing, here's the opening of C&C, Chapter One: Meet Cristophina Gloryfeather.
Cristophina Gloryfeather had prepared herself, upon arriving in the big city, for almost any situation. She had devoured four books on etiquette, recording notes in the margins that would no doubt serve her well when she came back for further study. She had practiced her curtsy in front of the mirror until not even the Plutocrat himself could find fault in it, not that he would, because Cristophina Gloryfeather wore the type of corsets that would keep his eyes on her assets. She had straightened her spine from the once-slumping posture it had adopted on her family's farm until it made a rigid, elegant T with her pale shoulders, so no one would ever confuse her for the clumsy stable hand/gardener/sheep-wrangler that she most certainly had never been. Perhaps most importantly, she had polished her skills of communication until they sparkled and gleamed before the inspection of her fiancé's most important friends.

Cristophina Gloryfeather was determined never to be caught by surprise.

"Maaaaaa," said the goat.

"Toffee!" said the Bastard.

"Are we having another?" cried one of the excitable young women. This one was wrapped around the Bastard's hips and wearing -- half-wearing, at this point -- a corset and panty set that Cristophina was especially fond of.

Keep reading...