Out of My Lazy Coma

After taking three months off, due to a severe case of writers block I am back to it. I swear though, finding your writing mojo is like digging for gold. I’m just waiting for a nugget of enlightenment to show up after chipping away at this petrified wall of bullshit.

 I will take my 5 new pages today and call my short-lived retirement from writing over.

Getting Into Character

I am learning that to successfully write from your character’s perspective, you must dive deep into who they are. I imagine it’s very similar to what actors have to do to get into character. You must dig deep into the character’s psyche and spend a long time there and report everything you see. Which, when you think about it, is really digging into the complete totality of your own mind, but that’s another blog post all together…

Today I am going to talk about exploring the outside influences of my foremost character Brian. Brian is born and raised in Alaska, but finds himself Washington bound at the age of 17 (against his choice). Brian knows all about surviving cold winters, hunting, fishing, and poaching. He understands how to sustain a farm without a lot foreign technology and influence. Washington is not mammoth in terms of change, but he learns quickly the reason for hunting, carrying guns, and knives is more of a trend for the kids he will meet in his new high school. They throw on a Carhart and watch a few episodes of Duck Dynasty and think they are set for life in the wild.

 I know zilch about guns, bow hunting, and my fishing skills are only slightly better. But these things are a way of life for Brian and I can’t imagine writing about his passions if I don’t experience some of them first hand. Coincidentally, my desire to connect with Brian through his survival skills is answered unexpectedly when a trip to my Dad’s house provides me with the tools I need.

I offhandedly mention to my dad that I want to learn how to shoot, and low and behold, sometimes you ask and you do receive. No more than ten minutes goes by and my dad comes back with his father’s .22 rifle and a .22 pistol both at least 60 years old. I am unprepared for the swell of emotion that hits me. My grandpa died when I was only 6, and holding the guns that belonged to a man I hadn’t seen in 20 years, is an unexpected gift of kinship. I don’t have any living grandparents and it is amazing to hold a piece of my grandpa’s history and share for a moment a hobby he loved. The smooth indentation in the wood lets me know he spent many hours with the rifle. I know both of my grandfathers would be ecstatic to know that their granddaughter has an interest in shooting. And almost as if he doesn’t want to be outdone, my father goes back into his room and retrieves a beautiful bow that my mother’s father gave to him. So my husband and I left my Dad’s house carrying pieces of family treasure from both of my grandfathers.

The following weekend my husband (Miles) and I travel to Sultan, Wa. with our friend Steven to his grandparent’s cabin. The house is beautiful, built by Ray, Steven’s grandfather. The property is surrounded by woods, with a river in the background. In a clearing there is a target already set up. His grandpa being an avid marksman is very helpful teaching us about our newly acquired guns. I am pretty nervous but also very excited to begin. I start with my grandpa’s bolt action .22 rifle.

Ready, aim, POW!

Next, we test out the Colt .22 revolver. I like shooting this much better, and actually it is a big hit with Miles, Steven, and Ray. It is easy to shoot and aim, and it makes me feel like a cowboy. I want to rapid fire the six shooter, slamming the hammer back repeatedly, but I am moving in slow motion today making sure I don’t make any mistakes. I like to get ahead of myself… but not today.

Loading the bullets

My friend Steven also lets me shoot his shotgun! Wow those things really do have a kick, but I love it!

As you can see from the picture below, I am quite amused.

Brian is going to be a bow hunter as well so I am really excited to try the Damon Howatt bow we got from my grandfather. But it is a 50lbs re-curve bow, meaning I will have to live vicariously through Miles because I can only pull the bow string back about half draw. And me trying to string the thing would be a joke.

Here is Miles stringing the bow. He uses mostly his leg muscles.

I am very jealous of him at this point. But the good thing is that Miles loves to shoot the bow, he went to Cabelas and bought a target for home. I will pester him with questions when I have them 🙂

It is a good day with great people. Good thing Steven and Ray were there to show us the basics. I feel much more comfortable going with people who know what they are doing.

Steven and his grandpa Ray

Now I can write about what it feels like to hold a gun, to anticipate that punch in your arm when you pull the trigger. I plan on doing a lot more target practice in the future. This is just the beginning of trying to understand Brian and what drives him, but hey at least it’s a start.

Discourse Discussion: Avoiding Disasters

Discourse in literature is fickle,and when you fail hard, it can be debilitating. One minute you are running freely with an idea, page after page you are flying through your story. Your characters are forming wonderful conclusions, they are growing through their conversations and observations with other, just as wonderful, characters. Life is good your story is going to inspire a generation, hell, maybe even the genre as a whole. Only to T-bone into the fatal, stone hard, self destructive wall your subconscious constructed while you were busy on your joy ride. You start to think “What the fuck am I talking about? My writing is awful!” And in a catastrophic, dramatic show of your own self-loathing you hit the backwards delete button page after page… gone…

So how do we, as writers move past this crippling experience? No really, if you have a suggestion tell me because I don’t have it figured out. This is my first attempt at writing since I graduated with a degree in English Literature.Which by the way, my diploma might as well say R.I.P. any imagination  this student may have had prior to entering our facility. Because NOTHING strangles your creative voice like writing scholarly essays for two years. So I am back to learning how to explore my emotions through writing and not give up.

Here is some advice from artistic rebels, who like me, need a break from their day job.

1) Stop caring so much and let shit go. I’m paraphrasing an amazing facebook status from a fellow graduate and friend named Danielle. And she wasn’t talking about wasp nests in her career as a writer, she was talking about her personal life with friends and family. What I gathered from this is that if you hold on to grudges and negativity it will show up in the creative aspects in your life. You need all the energy you can collect to devote to your creative outlook when you are working 40 hours/week and has god knows how many other responsibilities.

2) My co-worker David gave me this little gem, that you have to create a pile of poop in order to fertilize the foundation of literary greatness.  Just keep writing. Sometimes your discourse will fall flat, just keep going. Eventually that horrendously long, painful inner thought dialogue will end for your character and like a bumpy, organic path, it will lead to a field of wild flower ideas. You can go back and smooth out the path later for your readers, don’t get held up on this!

3) “Don’t be hard on yourself, that is what editors are for.” This brilliant quote cam from Ashley, another co-worker. And it is so true! You have to be your own advocate because noone else will be. When you complete your book your editor will find all of your mistakes (yes the ones you know about, and thousands you never realized). In fact, people will be slamming you left and right. Your job is to glean what you can from the criticism and accept varying tastes in literature… and try not to break their up-turned noses.

My guess is that the most important discourse you have as an author is the one you have with yourself. If you keep seeing failure in everything your characters say.. they will fail and so will your story. Keep the line of communication open and don’t let your self doubt bully what your heart is trying to say. And most important, don’t you dare touch that backwards delete button!

My Inspiration

I am writing a novel (which I don’t have a title for at the moment) because the characters are begging to tell their story. I have known my main character for two years now, and I must say Brian has been patiently waiting for me to begin. Why the name Brian? Well I guess now is a good time to share my inspirations.

I was CRAZY about this novel as a kid. I had no idea what Brian looked like, but I knew that I loved him. Brian was my first literary crush (I must admit I have probably had 100 since then). I admired his perseverance and determination. My Brian has similar attributes to Gary Paulsen’s, but mine will have a fierce character attribute that proves necessary when violent choices have to be made.

 Also, my story will be one of survival as well.

As for the heroine in my story (Sophia) I would like her to have a tough spirit as well. She will at first come off as a Cher from Clueless (as if!) and later transform into young woman you can actually admire, think Katniss Everdeen.

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This combo will prove interesting, I just hope in a good way.

The villain who I hate already, is a mix between Nils Bjurma from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and back country, ignorant asshole.

                                                                                 
      So that’s in on characters for now. Thank you for reading!