Friday, April 21, 2017

All Dried Up: Short Story Inspiration

Here’s the deal: I’ve been busy of late.
Very busy.
19.5 credits of an engineering course load do that to a person. Therefore, I haven’t had much time for writing. It’s a big reason why I’m pulling back from this blog a bit, and only writing posts I mean.

When I’m busy, I don’t have time to write anything. Novels, blog posts, anything. It’s been a dry spell for about two months.
Sure, I’ve written a few things, but I’ve certainly not written enough for the creative part of me to be content. I’ve been filling it with theatre-related art and creativity, but the part of me that desires to write and tell stories has been slowly shriveling up.

I’ve got a prune for a writer’s heart, right now.

Everyone has these times. Everyone has a phase in their life where their creative spark turns into a prune. It’s not something to panic about or worry over, but it is something you have to overcome.

Today, I’d like to offer a potential solution, a simple and easy way to water that prune and let it flesh back out into a full emotive spark: the short story.

Building Muscle

When you’re not feeling creative, it’s hard to dig into a full-blown novel. It’s hard to be… well… creative.
So when you’re feeling prune-ish, don’t expect yourself to be able to handle one of the most difficult tasks of the mind right off the instance. Creativity is a muscle. It’s only as strong as the application you give it and the consistency with which you use it. When you’ve had a long break from working out, you don’t go and lift the heaviest weights you can: you start out smaller, lighter, easier.
Then you work your way back up to where you were before, and then continue to lift heavier and heavier weights.

So it is with creativity.

While writing short stories can’t be said to be easy, it is easier. It takes less effort to come up with a storyline and characters for a short story than it is to come up with, fall into, and keep with characters, plots, and themes for an entire novel.

In short, writing short stories builds confidence and awakens your creative muscles.

Creating Art

Novels take a long time to write. It takes most writers months or even years to finish a rough draft manuscript (especially when the plot is complicated and when the book itself is going to be long). That’s a long time for the final payoff. Delayed gratification is good, yes, but when you’re a prune it’s hard to be patient.

Short stories, on the other hand, can be written in a day or two. You can write flash fiction in two minutes. These shorter time spans allow you to create art and prove to yourself that art is worth creating.
Short stories create immediate results, which can inspire more creativity for the long-run.

Moving Onward

Of course, it’s hard to stay writing short stories for very long. I’ve never been able to write more than two short stories before being drawn in by some other longer project. And that’s okay.

Short stories aren’t meant to be dwelt on. If you end up publishing or sharing your short story, people aren’t going to devote hours to reading it. They’ll spend time reading it, then move on.
They’re not an investment. They’re a brief moment of escape into a world of “what-ifs”. They’re a chance to really pursue what it means to be a writer. Through these short stories, you don’t have to be a prune anymore.

Take a drink. Write a story.
Fill yourself with creative inspiration and exercise your creative muscles.
Then move forward.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Truth Of Life

Here’s the deal: I’m a busy human. I’m attempting to write a novel, edit another one, find an internship for this summer, work, participate in college-level theatre, and get a chemical engineering degree.
For the last six or seven months, this blog has not been a large part of my life.
I’ve been scheduling posts and writing them as far as a month ahead of time.
I hardly know what’s going on here, and that makes me sad.
Back when I started this, I had all the time in the world to write posts and really invest in what I was doing. Sadly, that time is now gone. I have a life. A lot of it.

Ruining the Surprise

Before we go any further, I want to ruin the tension (although the writer in me protests, I feel it for the best): I’m not ending this blog.
Everything’s going to be fine.

Except maybe it won’t.
Here’s the deal: writing has and always be a huge part of my life. Once I’m out of college, I’m going to start work on slowly finding a publisher. I’ll attend writer’s conferences, practice pitching, write and edit the crap out of novels (when I’m not working an actual job, that is), and someday be published.
Who knows, maybe I’ll become a full-time writer in twenty or thirty years, after working for a while in the line of my planned degree.

Except… that’s in twenty years. For now, I’m just writing. I’m writing because it’s my passion and I love it and will never give it up.
So I’m just going to say it: I don’t want to write something I don’t have passion for.
Of late, I’ve not had passion for this blog. I don’t have the passion for it. I’m not motivated enough to put effort into this place. The evidence is found in the lousy graphics for the posts, the cliché template of fire, and the fact that I still don’t have my own domain although when I first started I wanted to get one within a few months.
I’m just not as passionate about this blog as I could be.
And I figure out why.

The Importance of Caring

I tend to write long posts. Well, long-ish. They range from 600-1,800 words, and you know which ones I’m proud of most?
The longest ones.
Posts like “The Importance of Color” and “The One About Gender” and “Why A Mental Illness is Killing Your Novel” and so forth.
I’m proud of those.
I enjoyed writing them.

If a post is going to be good, I am going to enjoy it.
As soon as it becomes a chore, it stops being the best I can be.
I don’t want to give my readers that. I don’t want to give them the mediocre versions of my writing. I’m better than that, or at least I should be.

So here’s what’s going down:
I’m only posting what I care about.
This may seem stupid, but it’s an actual thing. I’ve written posts for this blog that I didn’t really care about, but I wrote them because I came up with the idea as a possibility and needed to write the next post.

I can’t do that, not anymore.

Instead, I’m going to become picky about what I write.
I want to write quality things. Things that, in ten years, I can say “maybe I’ve matured since then, but I still stand behind younger me at least in theme.”

Stepping Back, Learning to Care

I’m here today to announce that I’m pulling back. I’m slowing down. I’m taking time to really enjoy what’s happening in the now.

I’m no longer going to be planning out what I post two months from now. I’m not going to have seven or eight posts scheduled at one time. I’ll have one or two so I can miss a week without affecting you guys, but I’m not going to pump them out like I’m some freaking robot.

Therefore, I’ll only be posting once a week.
Every Friday.
Yup. I’m going back to old-school Story Forger, where posts were only on Friday.
And hopefully, hopefully, they’ll all be fantastic.

What this Does NOT Mean

Before anyone freaks, I want to say this: I’m not getting rid of LIAA. These posts will still happen. Perhaps not as frequently, since this is primarily a writing blog, but they will still happen.

This does not mean I’m ending this blog. I’m not. I’m just taking the time to actually care about it so that it’s actually excellent.

This does not mean I won’t post any less regularly. It will still be every single week, every Friday. Just not Mondays. And who knows, maybe I’ll post on Mondays for special announcements or something like that.

This does not mean I’m stopping writing altogether. I’m still writing. I’ve got Slaves to Prophecy to write, as well as A Pelican’s Flight, The Confessions of a Grilgen Priest, and half a dozen other stories I want to write.

The Truth of Life

The truth is, I’m busy.
The truth is, everyone is busy.

This is me taking the advice I want to give all of you: take time, slow down. Enjoy the small things. Enjoy those around you.
Enjoy the art you create. Whether it’s physical art or just the art of life.
Take time.
Enjoy it.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Power in Poetry

People like poetry.
Even if we don’t like to read books of poetry, even if E.E. Cummings isn’t our favorite poet, we still like poetry.

Poetry is all around us: it’s in the music we listen to, in the inspirational speeches given in movies, as well as in actual books with actual poetry in them.
If nothing else, we like the idea behind poetry. Even if it’s the technical ideas of rhyming. Rhymes please us.
And even poetry doesn’t rhyme, we still enjoy it. We still thirst for poetry.

What gives poetry its power?
I’d like to take a short while today looking into the power that poetry has, and why it matters to us.

Power in Simplicity

Poems are short.
Unless you’re reading Paradise Lost, The Iliad, and those other “Epics”, most poems can be read in less than three minutes.
Most of us, in our regular lives, don’t have a lot of time for leisure. A poem affords us something that can take only minutes to consume while providing a lot of enjoyment. Now, most poems take a lot more than three minutes to fully grasp all the implications of, but they still take less time than a movie or a book. I can read a poem and then spend ten minutes thinking about it and then move on.
That’s powerful.

If I have two hours of down-time to just read poetry and really ponder it, I can read twelve poems and thoroughly understand and enjoy them.
If I have two hours of down-time to just watch a movie or read a book, I probably won’t finish either, and I certainly won’t be able to finish one and then ponder the meaning of it as well.

Poetry is concise. Many forms of poetry are limited by word count, line count, or syllable count. Every single letter counts in poetry. It’s easy to be verbose in prose, but everything must be tight and orderly in poetry. Unnecessary words cannot exist in a good poem.
And that’s where it gains its power. Every word must be packed with meaning if it’s going to be a worthwhile poem. It has to point to things outside itself and that drives the reader to do more than just read the words, but to also understand them.

Power in Emotion

Poetry is usually written to inspire emotion. Sometimes it will tell a concrete story (especially in song form), but most often poetry will tell about emotion and let the reader apply it to their own story.
When you read poems, you don’t necessarily see a concrete scene. Instead, you see ideas and emotions and possibilities. That allows you the freedom to construct those ideas on your own time and polish them into something that gives you immense joy or pain or revelation.
Everyone can empathize with any poem, given enough time to ponder it. Not everyone, however, can or ever will empathize with the characters in, say, Divergent or Lord of the Rings. And that’s okay.
Poetry is made to be emotive. It drives us to feel.

Writing Poetry

I’m not really the one to give advice about poetry because I haven’t done much outside free-form, but I will say this: write poetry.
Don’t just say “oh, that’s for poets”, because it’s not. Anyone can write poetry with practice. Will you be amazing at it?
Maybe not.

But the chance to create emotion, even if it’s just for yourself, is well worth it.
Write free-verse. Write structure poetry.

Create emotion.