Posts tagged art
Stay in the Game: Writing after Rejection

   I've heard people say that art is pain. And it's true, to an extent. To be an artist is to open yourself up to rejection, ridicule, and unwanted remarks. Everyone has something to say and oftentimes they focus on the negative. That hurts.  And don't even get me started on the publishing process. From querying agents to finally getting in with a publisher, the road is fraught with "no" after painful "no." Many times rejection isn't a reflection on you as a writer so much as a product of the circumstances—but it doesn't feel that way. Every "no" is like a tackle, knocking you off your feet.

When you're on the ground with the wind knocked out of you, bones and muscles aching, you have two choices: get up and make another play, or stay down. So what do you do? Well, you probably make the same choice every other writer makes. You stay in the game, not because you're a glutton for punishment or because you heal instantly, but because you love it. You love it so much, you're willing to be tackled again and again just for the sake of the game. In fact, if you're anything like me, you probably don't have a choice; sitting on the sidelines would be more painful than anything a publisher could throw at you. That's just how writers work.

So keep playing. Keep writing. Take the tackles: the rejection, the ridicule, the unwanted remarks. Continue to put yourself out there, no matter what the cost, and one day you'll make it past that goal line.

Today's Prompt: Write a story about an unlucky football player and how his luck finally changes.

Happy Writing!


Backyard Books: Using Reading to Enhance Your Writing

  Once, my backyard was Narnia. The trees had minds of their own; resident pets spoke in voices only I could hear. In my hot-and-cold Louisiana winter, snow never came because I had defeated the White Witch, the Pevensie children by my side. And in the fall, when our bonfire pile grew high with sticks and scraps, it wasn't just a pile. No, it was the Lonely Mountain, and my charge was to defend it from dragonfire. From the ground, Smaug looked like a harmless sparrow in the sky, but I knew better. The fate of the Lonely Mountain—even of Middle Earth—was in my hands. I wouldn't let it burn.

That was my creative reading, manifested in the veritable wonderland behind my one-story suburban house. Now that I'm older, I can't go scrambling up piles of sticks or whispering to the trees. I can't pass off pebbles as the dwarf-king's gold, but my mind still builds around the words I read, even if my body is at rest. When immersed in a book, I imagine the scene, the characters—even myself included in the pages. 

I am a creative reader, through and through. And that exercise of my imagination makes me a better writer. Creativity is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets. So when you read, don't resign yourself to being an outsider. Instead, take part in the story by accessing your imagination. Let yourself be transported to a different world and see if it doesn't make a difference in the world to which you belong. You might just find that the next world you create is just a little better than the one before.

Today's Prompt: Read a chapter in another author's book or a short story. Now imagine yourself as a key player in that story, and write it again from your perspective. How is the story different now that you're there?

Happy Writing!


Beyond Currency: Write for Yourself

  A simple truth from Stephen King for your Friday. Money and writing are always separate. Sure, you might get paid for some of your work; maybe you'll even make it big--books, movies, action figures, bobbleheads. But at the end of the day, "the act of writing is beyond currency." Money is a bonus, not a reason.  Write for yourself. If money comes, it comes. If it doesn't, well, your achievement is just as great; it just looks a little different.

Today's Prompt: Write a story about a person who is a bank teller by day, and something wildly different by night. Have someone from his/her "day life" catch him/her in the "night life."

Happy Writing!


Breathe, Cry Out, Sing (Communicating Through Art)

 Breathe. Cry out. Sing. Art is above all, a form of communication. Whether it's writing, painting, photography, dance, etc.—it's all about expressing what you need to say. It's a way of telling the world what's inside you; what's important to you; how you feel. And people consume art because they want to hear what's being told. We identify with art because we all have something to say—even if we don't know how to say it. Artists are just the people who have figured that out: how to express what's inside, whether through words, pictures, or action. When their art is experienced, we can hear the breaths, cries, and songs that went into it. That's what makes the art worthwhile. So as writers, that's what we should aspire to: to have readers experience our emotions through our words; to beathe; to cry out; to sing. If we can't do that, we might as well not write at all. Because otherwise, what good is our writing?

Today's Prompt: Recall a sample of writing that was very emotional for you to write. Locate it and post it in the comments below. Share your emotions with the rest of us through the sample.

Happy Writing (or rather, sharing)!


Redefining Literature (Quote of the Day)

I grew up considering literature to be the kind of works I read in English class: Romeo and Juliet, The Scarlet Letter, Catcher in the Rye. Even In my free time, I enjoyed similar works (and still do). My taste has always been broad, however, so I also liked other things. More "commercial" things, like Pendragon, Harry Potter, and pretty much anything else I could get my book-loving hands on. I loved to read. I would read toilet paper packages if there was nothing else around. Instruction manuals. Nutrition facts. And in my mind, I knew these things were "literature," but they weren't… Literature.  Please read that last word in a snobby-sounding, accented voice, because that's totally how I said it.

Merriam-Webster appears to agree with Growing-Up Me on that:

So there's literature, and then there's less-than-literature. We even make a distinction between "literary" and "commercial" fiction, as though one is related to literature and the other is simply business-based, somehow; as though their intrinsic value relates to different things.

Well. Since leaving the academic world, I've learned a thing or two, and I have to say to Merriam-Webster, Growing-Up Me, and most of my English teachers/professors:

Literature (snobby accent again) is not the only literature out there. It's not the only type of writing with literary value. I've seen blog posts more beautiful than some canonized works. There have been advertisements that made me cry. There's even been—yes—graffiti that made me think more intensely than Dickens or Hemingway could (not that I don't dig those two, because I do).

Don't get me wrong; I'm not one who thinks all art is created equal. Obviously there are some works that are better than others. But who decides that? And who decided that means that only the "best" are literature and the rest are tossed into the not-quite-literature-but-almost pile? The truth is that anything written can be beautiful and worthwhile, because language in itself is beautiful and worthwhile—no matter the format.

Today's Prompt (if you're brave enough): Go graffiti something. If you're not brave enough or have other constraints: Write a story in which someone graffitis something.

Happy Writing!


The Pain and Pleasure of Revision (Quote of the Day)

What I want to know is: what kind of crack was this guy smoking when he said this?

Just kidding.

Seriously though, anyone who has ever written a novel—heck, anyone who's ever written a postcard—knows that revising and editing can be tedious. Hellacious. Torturous. You stare at a screen or a piece of paper until your eyes are about to fall out, trying to decide whether you've used the word "is" too much and debating with yourself about comma usage. It can be absolute misery.

But then you reach the last page. You have one final battle with a semicolon, and you're done. The original word count has been whittled down by about 10,000, and when you go back to the beginning and start reading—by golly—it doesn't sound like a soap opera on paper anymore. Suddenly, that mess you wrote is a neat mess; a structured mess; perhaps even not a mess at all. It's become something enjoyable to read, and as you enjoy it, you realize: I did this. This is something I created and perfected: the culmination of all my hard work. And it's good.

That's where the "exquisite pleasure" comes in—not necessarily in the act of dismantling and repiecing your writing, but in the knowledge that with every change, you're crafting a better story. When you revise, you know you can handle the pain, drudgery, and exhaustion it so often takes to create beauty. Writing makes you feel like an artist, but revising makes you feel like a professional.

Isn't it wonderful that writers can be both?

Today's Prompt: Create your own superhero. In this hero's world, crime is at an all time low. For over a month, he/she has had nothing to do except his/her day job—no people to save; no bad guys to fight; no need to put on the cape. Write about this dry spell and how your superhero handles it.

Happy Writing!


Sharing through Writing (Quote of the Day)

Well I missed my quote of the day yesterday, but for good reason! In the wee hours of Sunday morning I had to take a trip to the emergency room. I had some stomach thing that left me severely dehydrated and with some kidney issues. Fortunately I'm okay; but it'll take me a while to get back to 100% capacity, so my blogs will probably be short and sweet for the next few days.

See what I did there? The whole "sharing" thing? That's human nature. Something happened to me and I wanted to share it, much like I want to share my thoughts—little pieces of myself—through my writing. We all share, in whatever way we can. For some of us it's through novels. For others it's poetry or visual art. We all have a story to tell. The question is, how do we tell it?

Today's Prompt: Write a story or poem based on an important event in your life—one that shaped who you are today.

Happy Writing!


Quote of the Day—F. Scott Fitzgerald

When I saw this quote this morning, I had an initial interpretation. But then as I thought about it more, I got another interpretation. And then another one. And for the life of me, I can't figure out which one I believe in the most. So, I'd like to turn this into a discussion. What do you think? How would you interpret and apply the above quote, as a writer? After I get some response, I'll comment with my own thoughts.

Today's Prompt: You are an undersea diver who has been hired by the government to retrieve some items from the wreckage of a naval vessel. Write a story detailing your experience, including the type of vessel, what you have been instructed to find, and why (to the best of your knowledge).

Post your response in the comments! Happy Writing!


Quote of the Day—Henry Ford

It's Good Friday. The sun is shining, my husband is off work, and my two littles are being especially cute. So I'm going to keep my thoughts short today: believe in yourself. No matter what other people think, believe you can,  and you will.

Today's Prompt: Imagine your life as you would like it to be in five years. What will your achievements be, where will you live, what job will you have, etc? Write a short story based on this future life of yours.

Happy writing!


Quote of the Day—Lucy Maud Montgomery

In yesterday's post, I said I would find a quote that inspired me. This is what I came up with. Lucy Maud Montgomery (through Anne Shirley) puts this desire perfectly into words. This is why I write or sing or do anything creative. Just reading this quote makes me want to sit down at my computer and "add some beauty to life." Color me inspired.

So (if you're creative) why do you pursue your art? 

Today's prompt: write a short fiction piece that takes place in a world in which laughter does not exist.

Post your story in the comments. Happy writing!