Friday, January 27, 2012

Cool Stream to Dark Forest

     The best part of writing is, well, writing.  Yes, there are times when I feel like shouting at the moon because sentences aren't working, scenes aren't coming together, or the rhythmic flow of the paragraph that I just spent two hours writing is all wrong, but mostly writing is the good part.  It's where I get to immerse myself in a cool stream of imagination. When I write, I am transported to another place, become another person, live in another context.  Once the writing is flowing, I can escape into that world, similar to traveling from London to Narnia.  This is one of the best parts of writing: living in an alternate universe that I actually have some control over.  If I don't like what just happened, I can erase or delete it and have the ultimate do-over that real life never gives.

    Still, while the alternate universe can be entertaining, on its own, it is rather empty.  I need to share that other world and the people in it with the people who populate this world.  Sharing what I've written is an essential for me.  Watching the characters and their story entertaining someone else gives me a joy beyond description.

    Needing to share my creations with others means that I need to find an audience, and that means I have to market the work.  For me, this is the most challenging part of the writing process.  It is a journey through a dark forest.  In the next blog, I'll share some of my experiences of the journey.  Although I don't have a map to get through the forest, I have come across some road signs and have been given directions by friendly inhabitants.
These I'll share next time.

Thanks for reading!  C.F.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Creativity Crisis

     Being creative is a natural high for me.  I love to create. Usually I love anything that allows me to use my imagination and the freedom to express who I am.  It is puzzling to me, then, how I can turn a creative activity into a stress event.  But that is exactly what I do at times, for example, when I sat down to design this webpage.  Setting up the blog site should have been an artist's dream. There were numerous templates to choose from, and even better, I could customize the template I chose.  Creative freedom!  Surely a situation for pure artistic bliss.  Instead, I found myself stressing over world-changing decisions such as what the link color should be.  Seriously, I found myself thinking things such as I can't put purple on this green background; it will look like Mardi Gras and I like this crimson but red and green?  Isn't that too Christmas?  These actually might be legitimate questions, but I spent hours worrying over these details.  I did enjoy some of the time I spent putting the website together, but for too much of the time, I stressed over design decisions as if the fate of the universe rested on my choices.  Why do I do this?  Part of the answer is that I am a recovering perfectionist, and some days I free-fall back into perfectionism. There may be more to it. I'm not sure. What I do know is that this is the kind of thing that gets in the way of the artistic process.  It is the kind of thing that causes writer's block.  For years, I have taught my writing students to deal with writer's block by messing up the paper.  If it's loose leaf, I tell them to scribble all over the page.  If they are typing, I tell them to type nonsense -- anything from lalalalala to I have no idea what to write or fuzzlebuzzle little pea bug.  Whatever.  This works.  Once the page is messed up, the writer no longer needs to worry about finding the perfect word or writing brilliant sentences, so the writer can just write.  It really works. Try it the next time you need to write something and you find yourself staring at the page, not knowing how to start.  After all, what you write initially doesn't matter that much.  You're going to refine it later.  Just let the creativity flow first.  Afterwards, you can shape and shave it into a piece of art.  With the website, once I got through my head that I could change a color after I got the page set up, I began to relax and have fun.  And isn't that the essential part of a creative endeavor?  I'm not denying that good art requires work.  I'm saying that if you don't enjoy doing it, what's the point?  So be creative.  Mess it up and enjoy!  C.F.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why Fragments?

     So many people have a novel that they are "working on."  Because of this,  I hesitate to admit that I have one too.  Whenever I say it, I feel like the cliche writer wannabe.  But it's the truth.  I have a novel that I am working on--and have been working on for longer than I will say.  What I will say is that I am on the fifth draft.  I had hoped that this would be the final draft, but it won't.  I already know that.  Getting close though.  Almost publishable.  A successful mystery writer (I won't say who because I haven't seen her for a while and don't have permission to use her name) told me that both the story and my writing of it are at the publishing level in terms of quality.  That was encouraging.  But it is hard to write a novel and live a full time life at the same time.  So that final push to the top has been a slow-go.  The reason I bring up the novel is because I promised yesterday to explain the title of this blog.  It is derived from the novel's title: Fragments.  The novel won't be the main subject of the blog, though.  Instead, I plan to talk about other writing projects, such as the short story I've just finished, the creative journey of writing, the difficulties and joys of trying to get published, and life in general.  Thus I've titled the blog "Fragments and Friends," the friends being anything and everything other than the novel.  After I got my domain name I discovered that Fragments really is not a good name for a book.  Apparently writers, especially poets, like this word.  There are a number of websites and books with the word fragments in the title.  Curious.  I'm not sure what's so attractive about the word, but the abundance of fragment titles has left me with the concern that my little blog and my cherished novel will get lost among all the other fragments. Still, I have hope. I hope the word fragments is as attractive to publishers and readers as it is to writers because I'm not changing the name of the novel.  This is not simple obstinacy.  The word fragments is integral to the plot of my novel.  Why? I'll save that for a future blog.

     Thanks for reading.  Blessings on your day.  C.F.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Me--a Blogger?

Have you ever devoted hours to something that you never thought you'd do?  I never thought I would blog.  Being the jump-to-an-immediate-opinion sort of person that I sometimes can be, I decided years ago that blogging was for self-centered people who felt that the world could not continue spinning around the sun unless they shared their perspectives on the IMPORTANT topic of the day.  Over the years, I have come to learn that I was wrong.  Oh, there are some bloggers who fit my original image, but I've read many others whose blogs are thoughtful and thought-provoking.  So, to twist a quote from the wonderful Irish song, "Johnny McEldoo," I stand "a-trite" and now am joining the ranks of bloggers.  Why?  In all honesty, for self-serving reasons.  I want to become a professional writer and recently discovered that most agents and publishers won't look at a writer's work if the writer doesn't have a blog.  I got this bit of information from something connected with The Writer's Digest -- top ten tips or an ad for a workshop. ( I get so many emails from The Writer's Digest that that's the best I can do to give credit for the idea.)  At any rate, am I a hypocrite for starting a blog just to get published?  I don't think so since I changed my opinion of blogs and bloggers long before reading about the blogging / publishing connection. So I decided to go for it.  Start the adventure of writing a blog.  Next came the question of what to blog about.  The decision: writing, specifically the journey from working on an idea to working on getting it published.  Since you have to draw from life in order to write, some scenes of   my life might show up in the blog from time to time too.  For example, this evening, my life was spent putting  hours into setting up the look of the blog.  I mean, I literally spent hours just choosing colors!  There were so many decisions to make before I wrote the first word of this blog.

Why do I call the blog "Fragments and Friends"?  I'll write about that tomorrow.  I hope that you will check back to see.  Please join me on this journey through writing and life.  C.F.