Characters, I think I just rambled, On Writing

writing wrestling – failure, me, and my characters

Of all the scenes I’ve ever written, there’s one that stands particularly vivid in my memory. It’s part of a trilogy that I wrote and the character – Nefna – is just having an awful time. Not an ‘arghhh I forgot that my tea was cold and also this isn’t my tea this is old mouthwash and WHAT HAVE I DONE’ day. But a ‘I HAVE BEEN MISTAKEN FOR THE WRONG PERSON AND I AM GOING TO DIE but on the plus side the snow’s dope’ day.

She’s kneeling on some flagstones and her blood is staining the snow and it’s just SO dramatic and terrible. I think I may have had tears in my eyes; it felt very real and vivid. One of those magic moments that happens when you truly connect to the story you’re weaving.

But despite that, that’s something that happens to Nefna. It’s not her fault. It’s just a huge misunderstanding that she’s going along with because of VERY VALID REASONS. It’s not a personal failure. (THE JUSTICE SYSTEM AND SOMEONE’S EYESIGHT – THOSE HAS FAILED HER.) but she hasn’t.

And I think, that I don’t let my characters fail as much as I should. As someone who hates failure – I mean, who doesn’t? and takes it to a dramatic level …

PAUSE FOR EXPLANATION:

There was this one time that I was doing this work and I did it WRONG and basically it was awful and no good. Did I react maturely?

NO. You bet your sainted peanut I DID NOT.

I ran up the garden and climbed a tree. And considered a life of nomadic Tarzan-ing but with more clothes and FAR LESS MUSCLE. And so much shame and guilt.

That’s me. And yes, that was young me. But my gosh, I still do that inside.

If anyone else fails – you bet I’ll be there, thrusting both hands out to help them up. I can’t bear to see people fail. I can’t bear it because when they do it, I feel it. And it sucks. Because it does.

I think I have this issue with my characters – I can’t bear to let them fail. I can’t let them because it’s painful and killmenow to write. I haven’t noticed properly until quite recently, but I can see how it has seeped into my subconscious and oozed out of my fingertips.

(Also. That analogy was icky. I beg your pardon.)

But I think I’m going to let them fail a little more. And perhaps – be kinder to myself when I fail as well. After all, it’s pretty prideful to expect constant perfection of myself. Or, like, any perfection.

We’re flawed and we fail but we’ve got God and so it’s okay.

And my characters … they’re going to fail, and it will hurt and I won’t enjoy writing it. But perhaps it will help me a little as well. I wouldn’t say writing is therapy, but I would say that I look back and see myself reflected. Glinting at me through the sentences. A little piece here and there.

I’ve always thought that I was disassociated – even divorced – from my stories. That they and I were different things entirely. Ha! But I WAS WRONG.

I look back and see – hopes, dreams, bad spelling – all of it.

And maybe I’ll look back and see failure and won’t be horrified. Won’t want to bury myself in a pit of dark duvets. Or travel to the tip-top of a high mountain and be a monk, looking serene and untroubled and having my meals delivered by an elaborate system of pulleys that I’ve already have-planned.

So, here’s to failure.

To forgiving and learning and dusting yourself off and continuing on regardless.

Life, On Writing

How To Write When You’d Really Rather Not

howtowritewhenyoudreallyrathernot
once more a wordy post title by one who is clearly an expert on the matter *cough, cough*

When you want to write, but can’t – that’s writer’s block. When you can write, but can’t muster the motivation – that’s … also a bit of writer’s block, but with a pinch of ‘Alas-I-Don’t-Feel-Like-It’.

You can write, but you don’t want to. Motivation has dried up, vanished. You want to read, or get up off your chair and explore the world, and do Life Things. But alas, you cannot – you’ve got a word count to reach, and by golly, you want to reach it.

Have no fear, my friend! I’ve thrown together a few pointers that have helped me, and hopefully will aid you …

Exit Your Web Browser

I’m sorry, but it must be done. Bookmark tabs you want to keep, but by all means, exit. You have to. (And you can always Restore Previous Session should everything be Terribly Important.)

Sit Yourself Down

… if you weren’t already. But by this I mean, sit yourself down mentally. Stare at the screen or paper and be ready to write. Don’t fidget or berate your mind for coming up with a dry-as-bone story. Nope. Don’t do that.

One writer I know tells me that he sits down every morning and says to himself nicely, “It’s not like you don’t have a choice, because you do – you can either type or kill yourself”

-Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

All right, the above may be a little drastic, but my point in using it is this: don’t give yourself a choice. You are writing. Right. Now.

Remember Why

Put all thoughts of comparisons, word count aims and what you wish to eat for lunch out of your brain. Recall what sparked this story in the first place, remember what got you excited and whip yourself up into a state of perpetual enthusiasm.

Don’t wait for the writing mood to come to you, go and seize the little imp with your own hands.

… and lastly

Before you is the blank screen or the lined paper, both devoid of words. Don’t panic. Set that first word down, follow it by another and another … and trust me, soon enough, you’ll be swept up in a scene. And you’ll be writing.

Dear Character

Dear Character … A Loincloth is an Impractical Piece of Clothing

How often have you created characters who are simply cardboard cutouts? What if … what if one of those poor, defenceless characters decided to protest his ill-treatment? Following on from Part One.

[Extracts from] Requests to the Author, from the Promoting Character Development Society on behalf of Character 42b

Character 42b, who prefers to be known as Tom, requests that he be given more facial features. He considers that the only thing you find worth noting about his face – ‘dark eyes’ – to be extremely insulting, not to mention distressing. He does not wish to have too many wrinkles, and insists that he has the right to have a youthful air about him. You have, after all, forgotten to give him an age.

– paragraph six of page two

He would like a well-defined chin and ears that are not too large; he does not want the nickname of ‘Big Ears’, though he would like a nickname as you have neglected to give him one. He would wish to suggest the title of ‘Tall, Dark and a Mighty Warrior’ or ‘the Extremely Fierce and Magnificently Brave Wolf-Fang’. Either would be appropriate.

– paragraph eight of page four

Tom is weary of being the book’s joker and has suggested that he be placed in the role of ‘He Who Broods’ instead.

– paragraph three of page twenty

… he finds the insinuation that he has an obnoxiously loud laugh to be hurtful, and detrimental to his self-esteem.

– paragraph one, line four, of page twenty-three

Tom regrets to say that, though he is sure that wearing only a loincloth and war paint is the correct attire for a brave warrior of the blood, it is impractical in winter. And autumn. And spring. In fact, he would very much like more clothing.

– paragraph four of page twenty-three

I think I just rambled, Life

Owl Are You?

(I know. It’s a bad pun)

.secondowl

Our Intrepid Heroine: They Sang (A Lot) is inching forwards. It is going to be a wee bit longer than the first one, as the adventure is quite the riot.

“And when your unicorn abandons you, you become officially Aware of the fact that All Hope Is Lost.”

I have another project that pounced into my brain and must, of course, be written down. I’m not sure if it’s got enough to go the whole hog, but perhaps it does. Let us see (or lettuce see, if we’re going with the puns).

I bought ten Alistair MacLeans this week. Ten! Each for a pound. Charity Shops, I love thee.

Do you know, I think the trees are an unsung tragedy of this Election; countless trees butchered for countless – countless! – pamphlets. It seemed that you couldn’t go a day without something being put through the letter box.

Anyway, this is me. It’s been raining, I’ve got coffee and there’s writing to be done – owl are you?

owl
puntastic? *wiggles eyebrows*

Life, On Writing

In Which I have Another Guest

tea
pictured: a cuppa

If you have a moment, put your feet up, grab a cuppa and a biscuit and settle down as I have another guest on this blog. Today, on this slightly overcast English morn’, I am joined by E. Kaiser Writes, author of Jeweler’s Apprentice and the new Thaw series.

Tell me a little about your writing journey.

As a homeschooled child I was given the gift of being an early reader, so I was into the abridged version of Little Women at nine years old. When Jo March tried writing stories and books I had an epiphany; I had no idea books were written by people.  Suddenly I knew that was what I wanted to do when I grew up!

I asked Mom how I should go about that, and she advised reading a lot; (pretty good advice from someone who was guessing!) So I did, to the detriment of my chores, sometimes!

 In my teens I started trying to wrangle my thoughts on paper and that was very difficult. I went through a tumultuous period all through there where I’d get discouraged that I’d “never be published, so why spend so much time on a dead-end?” as my brother put it. But I couldn’t endure not writing, and so I’d be back at it.

I rarely finished anything, sometimes only brushing out a scene with no story; but it was all great practice.

I wrote my first complete novel draft as a gift for my youngest sister in ’07, and she liked it so much she encouraged me to make a sequel. The first ms of Jeweler’s Apprentice took four years of improvements and tweaking, then we put it out as an e-book in 2011. Met several great fans through that, and they also encouraged a sequel, so I wrote Traitor’s Knife and we released that in July 2013.

What inspired you to write the Thaw series?

I’d wanted to write a Winter Queen piece for some time, but was galvanized into action by all the things Frozen did wrong. It was just wrenching to see how many themes and deep meanings were just SKIPPED by Disney. There was soo much that could have, SHOULD have been done… and once I get mad at someone doing a story wrong, it can be like rocket fuel to my own version ; ). I include summaries of the source tales at the beginnings of the Thaw: books, educating readers on the original tales to prime them for my versions. : )

We do borrow from the Disney version, (it is a universal truth that as soon as Disney does something that becomes America’s version of the tale!) Some of the ideas were too cute to toss, one of them being the family with 13 princes. Having recently met a family with 8 kids under the age of ten, and hearing of the derogatory remarks their mother receives, that opportunity to contrast Noran’s two-daughter family with Demargen’s 13-son one was too good to pass up.

And the spin-offs are irresistible! : )

And Anderson seems a little stuck on roses… they populate his tales quite a lot! In fact a quick search of “Roses Hans Christian Anderson” produces interesting results! So, those definitely needed to feature prominently, and it was actually a little fun to stick rose cameos all over the place. : )

Do you have a favourite character in the series? If so, who is it and why?

Ilise would probably be my favorite because she is so like me… her faults are my own flaws, her triumph what I hope to be someday! Magnifying each for dramatic affect was actually fun, after I pushed past the tough decision to just write deeply honestly. (When writing her argument with her mother as a teen, I could just hear the echoes of my own daughter/mother outbursts!)

But they are all very real and near and dear to my heart.

Can you sum up each book with a single word?

Oh, no!!! That is just too cruel of a question to ask. There’s a REASON I wrote two 100k novels + a novella when I tried to get this story out of my head!! I couldn’t do it any shorter! But, just to humor you, I’ll give it a go:

 Thaw: Winter’s Child – Disappointment
Thaw: Winter Queen – Emergence
Thaw: Prince of Demargen – Victory
Thaw: Reindeer King – Culmination
Thaw: Princess of Noran – Wrap-up

Coffee or Tea?

Definitely not a tea drinker, I only love it if it is nice and sweet, and too much sweet makes my teeth hurt. (True story! My teeth get sensitive to hot of cold, I cut back on sugary stuff, and my teeth get fine again.)

I do like a bit of coffee in my milk and honey : )

Paper or Computer?

My stories come to me snippet by snippet, and Word programs are the greatest thing! I can type loads faster than hand write, as well as rearranging sentences and words a ton quicker! My writing time is often limited, so I have a keen sense of urgency when I sit down to my keyboard.

I am total non-chronological writer, so I sit down the get the scenes out from my head, and let the story grow like that. It can be incredibly frustrating because it’s so obviously out of my control. But if I don’t panic, relax and trust the process: it’s fantastic! I love the stories that come, and I love being a part of writing them.

And I’m super grateful to the Master Writer for letting me join in on the process

Thank you very much for joining me today, Elizabeth, and all the best for your series launch : )

E. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mtns, the Smoky Mtns, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north.

 She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence & fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and… authoress!

You can find her on her website, Twitter, Pinterest, and her books at Amazon and Goodreads.