Excuses, Excuses or ‘The Way Out’ by the Creative Mind

“Creative without strategy is called ‘art.’ Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising.'”
-Jef I. Richards

It has been nearly one month since I put words down on my story. I have tons of excuses, I don’t like any of them. It is true that we are harder on ourselves than on others. Except critics of course, when you’re occupation is based around telling people exactly how they are doing under the delusion of  bettering an industry as a whole, only to find out the collective masses don’t give a damn what you think, I imagine you end up rather bitter.

According to Mister Richards, up there, I would wager that ‘writing’ falls somewhere in between ‘art’ and ‘advertising.’ I know that I have a quasi planning scheme that doesn’t get fully fleshed out until the very end of the first draft. I only know this from assignments in English Lit. However, for myself, once the story is in place rewrites are minimal.

I gave myself a deadline for finishing this story, not because I have a publisher or agent that is demanding it. I haven’t even got an audience to satiate, yet. The reason for it is simply that I work better with a looming deadline. The problem with making it myself? I know it’s soft, mutable, and I can change it when I want, choose, or need.

I’m one of those that work best when I’ve procrastinated as long as I can, then try to fit in all the work in the smallest time frame before it is due. Many people with creative, less structured, minds probably describe themselves in this way. You probably knew someone like me in high school. You would turn to ask me for help on an assignment and I would probably respond with “I dunno” or “I’m not sure what the teacher wants from this assignment.” Then come the day we get the assignment handed back, graded, I would have an ‘A’ and you would have something like a ‘C+,’ then you would give me a disgusted look. Just so you know, on the day you asked that question I honestly had no idea what I was doing, but the day before we handed it in I read all the material and notes I mindlessly jotted down to catch myself up. After all that, I opened a word processor, typed some ‘B+’ material, then went back and followed all the rules of the English language that we learned to this point, argued with spell check, and click print.

I’m not going to apologize for getting a better grade. I put in the work, I just waited until Thursday night at 5:00 pm to start. I also knew, even then, that you have to engage the reader to sell a story, and everything is a story just waiting to be told. Except technical documents, that writing is meant to be dryer than a crouton in a fat free salad.

Now that I’m done with this distraction, the next distraction is my day job, maybe after that I’ll open up my story, read what I have down so far, and continue. Maybe not; but, as long as there is a tomorrow, I will continue.

I’m also still looking for feedback on The Return Of the Cult, not to mention needing to finish that story, but the conclusion is coming dramatically (sacrificial pun for the internet deities)  sooner than my other story.


(Relatively) Deep Thoughts: First Edition; March 31, 2015

Terra Fortitudo

Courtesy of haystaak.tumblr.com

I can’t stand being cramped up in the car for so long. We pulled over at an overlook to get our bearings. I opened the passenger door, greeted by the fresh air of North America, thinking, we could be anywhere right now.

Valarie was less enthusiastic, having been in the driver seat for the last four hours. Neither of us really knew where we were going, but we knew the direction was West. The Sun rose behind us only two hours ago, it was perfect for enjoying the scenery of the drive. Which was good, we had long needed something to take our minds off the past thousand miles.

“An old racetrack joke reminds you that your program contains all the winners’ names. I stare at my typewriter keys with the same thought.”
— Mignon McLaughlin

This was day three of our journey, the road had not been good to us. It was better than where we came from. The government had lost the fight, most people were out of their minds. The rumor we were following, like a fever dream, was that the chaos didn’t spread past the great plains. The relatively empty plains acted like a fire lane during the nihilist movement.

We truly didn’t know what awaited us out here, but just looking out at the land, I knew that everything we could possibly need to raise a family was out there, somewhere, just waiting for us to take it.

Can you write a narrative with just this picture and quote in 500 words or less? Include in the details something about the picture, and use the quote in the theme.

What did you think of my nano-story?

Weekend Edition – Writing When You Don’t Feel Creative plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

Thanks to @suddenlyjamie for giving us a look at the creative wall and some words to get around it.

Live to Write - Write to Live

Writing from the Gray Space

fog riverI had an entirely different post planned for today. I outlined it while watching my daughter ride, jotting notes during the down time between jumps and canters. I was happy with the way the ideas were coming together on the mind map and in my head. I was really looking forward to writing my first draft. That was Tuesday.

Today seems a world away from Tuesday.

It’s not that anything awful happened, but my energy has taken a bit of a nose dive, and I seem to have lost the wonderful groove that had me dancing almost effortlessly through the early part of the week. Now, my mood and outlook match the sluggish gray that hangs on the world outside my window. The crows that usually appear full of mischief and mirth now hunch along the telephone lines wearing a foreboding countenance. Their calls sound…

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou might have noticed I did a few reblogs. That’s not going to stop, it just may not be quite so “back-to-back,” if you will. I’m trying to be somewhere between manifest destiny and Canadian, when it comes to expanding my audience. I know there is a huge gap between selfishness and selflessness, but I intend to do the normal human thing and try to be the best of both.

Today’s photo comes from epicantus.tumblr.com. You will find that I’m also going to play with the layout a bit. I may even begin some new content ideas. In particular I’ve got an idea to try to bridge the photo with the quote I use in a narrative of 500 words or less. Something short, sweet, and to the point. Practice for me, little nuggets of entertainment for you; costs you nothing but five minutes of your time.

“The best kind of writing, and the biggest thrill in writing, is to suddenly read a line from your typewriter that you didn’t know was in you.”
– Larry L. King

Today however I’m going to skip that since I’m mostly playing with the layout and letting everyone know my nefarious plans. I’m also looking for participation, I want criticism. What do you like, what do you not like, why? Do you want more content, less content, longer content, shorter content (much shorter and I can just use twitter)? The more I know the better I can make this blog. If I get no response, then I must be making the most amazing and beautiful blog yet to exist. If that’s the case, then anyone looking for a content writer, please email me a job offer with salary and available benefits, you can go to my about page or even my about.me page found on the side bar.

Joking aside, anything I reblog will almost definitely be writing related, be it narrative or informational. In addition to all this I’m trying to write a novel (working title: Dawn Vernalis) and a short story (The Return Of the Cult), while trying to keep interesting/entertaining content here, maintaining a full time job, and having a family life. So basically like every other person in the world who has everything going on and trying to move into their desired career from their day job.

All I can say is, anybody can do it, you just need the drive and desire. Oh and the skill to work while mentally and/or physically exhausted.

The Economics of Book Deals

This reality of book writing is something I like to keep in mind as I try to write more.

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

moneyWhen I wrote about my own experience going freelance in my Ultimate Guide to Starting a Freelance Writing Business, I mentioned the specific development that allowed me to quit my day job: a six-figure book advance. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the mechanics of book advances/the state of the publishing industry in that post, which was long and involved enough. That said, a freelancer friend wisely pointed out that I might want to explain that further, in case anyone’s reading that and thinking, “Oh, okay! I’ll just get a six-figure book advance then.” There are a number of reasons that I could think this was a reasonable expectation for me at that time (and these reasons, not coincidentally, double as a list of ways I was lucky):

1. We are talking about the lowest end of “six figures.” (I feel like I’m supposed to be coy about…

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The Principles of Design: Clarity

The Daily Post

Hi bloggers! My name’s Kjell Reigstad, and I’m a designer at Automattic. I’m happy to introduce the first post in a new monthly series on “The Principles of Design.” In this series, I’ll share some of the basic tenets of design, and we’ll explore how to apply them to your blog.

This week, we start out with a simple design concept: telling a clear story.

The main goal of any design is to get a message across. It may be a straightforward message (“Buy this product!”), or it may be a complicated one, but in all cases, there’s a story to be told. In an excellent design, every shape, color, photograph, and font choice works together to create a strong, clear message. Great designers add elements that contribute, and (just as importantly!), they weed out elements that distract.

The classic Joseph Müller-Brockmann poster below is a great example of design elements…

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The Return Of the Cult, Part Three

Disclaimer in table of contents

 Part Three

 I was noticeably rattled by the headline. The elderly gentleman running the newsstand asked me “are you alright?” I responded in a dazed way, “yeah, it’s just…” I trailed off. He tried to make small talk “I know it’s just terrible that the police can’t catch this guy.” I put two quarters on the counter and put the newspaper under my arm, continuing towards the university.

I came in so shaken by the events that were unfolding under everyone’s nose that I didn’t even give notice to any of the students or other faculty members. I’m sure I received a few befuddled looks, but I was disturbed by the correlation of events leading me to this point I just kept walking. I entered my office and place my coat and hat on the rack just inside the door. I turned on the overhead light and shut the door.

Pouring myself a glass of water from last night’s pitcher, I began to collect my thoughts. All the events were getting difficult to piece together, so I grabbed the cork board by the book shelf and began pinning up all the information I have gathered so far. I pinned notes from the night of the murder, including the knife drawing. Photos and research papers were next, I had brought all of the papers from the house, in my briefcase, this morning. Finally, I clipped the headline and photos from today’s newspaper and pinned it, cautiously, on the board.

I spent the rest of my morning calling area libraries and universities. I asked everyone of them if they had, in their possession, any works by either Professor Logan or Professor Angell. My search was turning up nothing most of the morning, calls to Philadelphia and calls to Portland, Maine. It wasn’t until I called closer to home that I got an odd response.

I called the Arkham Public Library, a building of old architecture, it was one a colonial church. Built when only a few french trappers resided near by, they called the area Sombreaux, meaning dark water. After the revolution it was expanded upon and became Arkham City Hall. Later the city hall was moved and the old building became the local library.

The librarian that answered my call was hesitant to answer my questions. He insisted on asking me the reason for my inquiry. To avoid looking crazy I explained that I was doing a study on local history for the university. After nagging him into at least looking through the catalog, I finally heard the rustle of cards being thumbed. However, the rate of each “fwip” of a card was far too fast for anyone to actually gain the data written on the card. The librarian answered “No Logan or Angell in our inventory.” I knew this man was just trying to get me off the phone. I thanked him for his time and received an abrupt scoff before I hung up the phone

My suspicions were simply that this person was so loathe of their lot in life, sitting in a quite building, stamping the occasional card, and sorting book returns, that they just didn’t feel like performing their duties to the fullest. I grabbed my coat and left at once for the library.

I had been there before as a child, it was only a few blocks north of the campus. I remember it to be a fairly benign building, with mostly colonial and early American architecture. The front steps were wide with large columns at the top of the stairs. The front doors were big enough to accommodate many people ready to perform their civic duties. These days it was quieter, and today it appeared that no one was coming or going. The lights were off, but the door was unlocked.

I entered, cautious of the silence, but there was no one at the front desk. In fact, there was no one to be found in the library. I approached the front desk which was situated in the center of the room, directly above was a large domed skylight comprised of various pieces of stained glass. Light shined in from above, and revealed no one behind the counter. I looked around, verifying my initial observation, even in the mezzanine, that overlooked the center of the ground floor, this place of learning was deserted.

Since I was left to my own devices, I walked over to the card catalog to have a look for the either of the professors. First I looked for Angell, but nothing turned up. Then I looked for Logan. There was a small piece of a card, ripped as if the previous person to find the card removed it in haste. At the bottom of the ripped piece was one legible word, “cultists.” I immediately thought to go search the non-fiction section in the hopes of finding this book when I heard a sound.

It was the dry thud of a closed book hitting the floor. The sound came from the mezzanine over my shoulder. As I turned to look I glimpsed a shadow heading around to the back of the library. I was scared, excited, and angry as I gave chase, at first heading for the stairs at the front of the library, left of the entryway. Thinking better of it, I stopped, turned around and notice someone heading down the staircase at the back of the building.

Running as fast as my legs could take me, I headed for the back of the library. Just before I made it to the back I was startled by the slamming of a large metal door. It bounced off the jamb and puttered out like an echo. I approached the shut door that was barely illuminated by a dim red bulb, mounted on the wall just above it, I noticed the sign to the right of the door. It had that recognizable skewed chevron that indicated stairs and in big, white letters read the word “BASEMENT.”

I, having come this far, was not ready to give up my search. I reached my shaking hand out to give the door a push, it opened. In his haste, the scurrying little mouse, had forgot to bolt the door shut. As I swung the door open, looking into the abyss, I wondered what nightmarish rituals might be going on under the collective nose of Arkham while we went about our days and slept away our nights.

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