owl in winter

owl in winter

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Some years ago, I said, out loud even, that I was not going to read another Nicholas Sparks book as long as I lived. I said it. I meant it. I did, although I don't take as much umbrage with Nicholas Sparks as I do with that Grisham guy, that guy, his writing is truly atrocious. I will give him the credit of allowing the little guy to win in the end, and that's good. I work for attorneys in my real life job, and so I get that angle. Other than that, hey dude writer man, you are not above being edited and if the reports I hear are correct, that your wife is your editor, well, you need to rethink that.

No, Nicholas Sparks, in my mind, writes the same book over and over again, the character names may change, but it's seriously always the same book.

But you know, Mr. Sparks is doing alright. Better than alright. Look at the movies his novels have wrought. Well, okay, I've swallowed my arrogant words, not that I think The Lucky One is such a great novel miracle, oh no. I don't.

What I was aching for when I picked up this book was, plain and simple, language that all of us can relate to. Easy, uncomplicated, unstuffy, common language. Stuff we would all say, language we would all recognize and relate to. It was an exercise of sorts for me, just to see again how Mr. Sparks writes.

What I found in reading this book, is that it's just so simple with him. Language is easy. No hidden agenda, no formalization, no fear about words, just write it out and let the words fall where they may and let them work. Easy, no big struggle.

Now, I'm reading and I am gauging it all; the words dropping out casually, willy nilly even, seem to work for Sparks. Yes, he has a dynamite agent, but still...

I have to tell you I am enjoying this book. It's not heavy; it's not burdensome, it's not overly-intellectual; it's enjoyable.

Hmmm...what are you reading this spring? Are you reading critically or for enjoyment or both?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Maintaining Your Writer Self

So, you've closed yourself in your office, put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, settled your rear end in the chair and you put your hands on the keyboard and nothing comes.
You look around for a minute and look back to the computer screen, little niggling thoughts creeping in. Did I shut the coffee pot off? Did I just hear the phone ring?
Something's off but you don't know what. Your fingers aren't moving. The works you know you need to do, it's just not coming.
Your well is dry.
I say this a lot, and it's true. As writers, we spend an awful lot of time in our own heads. We observe the world, dissect, listen, embellish, imagine, and generally carry our story arcs and charcters around everywhere we go. Sometimes it seems as if there is really nothing there.
When that happens, it's because external issues or pressures have locked down our internal workings. Juggling a job, kids, schedules, bills, worries about parents and other life concerns take over and wear us out.
Here are some ways to fill up the well again.
Take yourself somewhere you wouldn't ordinarily go. Motorcross? A Korean restaurant? An art museum? Wander in it, let yourself feel, smell, taste, every element of that activity. Take a little notebook, and write down what you experienced and how it made you feel.
Read. Writers tend to be readers. Read. Not only will you find it satisfying but you'll enrich yourn writing by seeing how others do it.
Take up a hobby. Photography, knitting, woodworking, ceramics, whatever it is, allow yourself to revel in it. Make it a big deal. Share it with friends and family, talk it up.
Join a charity and work. It will take you straight out of yourself and your life situation and make you more empathetic to the plight of others.
Exercise. Yes, exercise. Nothing can clear out the brain cobwebs and lift your spirits like a brisk walk. And walking is free!
Take time for yourself. Let the world go on without you for awhile and just rest.
Okay, let's get at it and fill up the well!