writing

Writing the Hard Stuff

Writing the Hard Stuff

Time for a glass of wine.

When I say hard stuff, I don’t mean porn or description or character or plot. The most difficult things to write are those things that come from our deepest, darkest places. The places we hide from most of the time.

I recently wrote a scene meant to tap into that place in myself. An hour and a half later, a mere 550 words had me trembling with fatigue and sick to my stomach. Yup. It was that dark of a place. Inside me!

We all have those places. That side of us that we like to pretend doesn’t exist. It’s dangerous to touch those places of fear, loathing, hate, or even fierce love. Most of us like to think we are genuinely nice people. I know I do. Yet, I have dark corners in my psyche.

So what do you do? First, do you like to read about characters who have to face a piece of their own darkness, their own demons? Is that the kind of story you aspire to write? To write that kind of scene, to make the scene come alive, you have to be willing to write the hard stuff. You have to be willing to expose yourself to your readers.

You may want to journal about that dark corner of your psyche first. That allows you to be very personal. Give yourself a break–chocolate and buying something sparkly can help. (I don’t know where I got that idea!) After some time passes, re-read your journal entry and re-imagine it in terms of how it applies to your character. Then write.

I’ve put off writing my scene FOREVER. It was a scary place to go. Having written the scene I can say that it is dark and awful and . . . not 100% me. How can that be? Because while I drew from my experiences to create my characters, I gave them traits I do not have. Those traits subtly change my dark thoughts and memories into something different. It will work that way for you, too.

What about the feeling vulnerable and exposed? Will someone ask if you actually lived that scene? Maybe. What should you do or say? I can’t really tell you how to protect yourself. As for me . . . I plan to smile and say “Only in my nightmares.” And, “If you thought that one was bad, wait ’till you read the next one!”

Do you visit dark places in your reading? Do you reach into the dark corners of your psyche when you write? How do you get through it? Or do you shy away from the dark side entirely?

Image:”Life is Hard” via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anne Helmond

Walking on Sunshine

I am “Walking on Sunshine” thanks to Pat O’Dea Rosen. Pat honored me with the Sunshine Blog Award. The Sunshine Blog Award is passed from bloggers to bloggers who ‘positively and creatively’ inspire others. Thank you so much Pat!

Let me tell you about Pat.  Pat writes women’s fiction and a wonderful blog called Writing, Reading, and Rambling on which she discusses, yup, you guessed it Writing and Reading and food and travel and other interesting things she ‘rambles’ about in the most fascinating way. Gateway Purse is one of my recent favorites from her. I can’t list all my favorites here, there are far too many. If you haven’t visited Pat’s site, I encourage you to do so. (And not just ’cause she honors me with this award – I am certain you will find delightful posts all over her blog.)

Here’s the award:Lynette M Burrows, science fiction author; Lynette M. Burrows action-suspense science fiction; Lynette M. Burrows, author

Here are the rules:

  • Include the award’s logo (and rules) in a post on your blog. Simply cut and paste the photo at the top left into your own blog post. (*check*)
  • Link to the person who nominated you. (*check*)
  • Answer the ten questions below with your answers instead of mine. (*check*)
  • Pass the award on to a bunch of “Sunshine Inspiring” bloggers. (*check*)

Here are the questions:

Favorite Color:  Purple – I wear it, clothing and eye shadow, even my house is painted a shade of purple

Favorite Animal: depends, are we talking two-legged or four-legged? Hmm, I think I’ll stick to the four-legged variety: yorkshire terriers, miniature schnauzers, and horses are the top three.

Favorite Number: 2 (2 is better than 1, you know)

Favorite Non Alcoholic Drink: coffee

Favorite Alcoholic Drink: Tumbleweed (vanilla ice cream, Kahlua, Vodka, crème de Cacao and half & half) yummy!

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook

Passions: Writing, Reading, Dogs, Family, friends, music, stained glass, art, puzzles (crossword, soduku, jigsaw, etc), and whatever else new and different I can learn.

Prefer Getting or Giving Gifts: Giving

Favorite City: the next city I visit in my travels – really, I don’t think I’ve visited a city that I don’t like to visit.  

Favorite TV Show: This was harder than I expected. I watch a fair number of TV shows but very few are on the I-can’t-miss list. When I asked hubby which ones he thought was my favorite he listed these two, and he’s not wrong: Charmed (I know, I know) and Sherlock.

And now, for the best part of getting this award: I get to pass it on!  Here are my nominations for the Sunshine Award:

Karen Huber Karen swears a beagle taught her zen. She is a poet who writes beautiful inspirations teaching us to appreciate each moment. One of my many favorites was titled “Like Water Through Rock.”

Pauline Baird  In her bio, Pauline says she has had a hard time with reality from the get go. I’d say today, Pauline has one foot solidly placed in reality and the other in the fascinating science fiction, romantic suspense, and steampunk worlds of her stories. Not a bad place to be. Her blog, Taking the Scenic Route, is entertaining, thought provoking, and fun. She talks about everything from strange trees to the moon. Stop by and say hello to Pauline.

Children’s fiction author Lynn Kelley calls herself a goofball. I don’t know about that, but I do know she has a blog that is always fun. Her parenting plights and delights are oh so familiar to every parent. She’s warm, funny, fun, and a little unpredictable. You’ll like Lynn.

Coleen Patrick  writes teen fiction and has a blog that inspires me with nearly every post. She’s into crafts, what she calls doodling that’s more like art, and she’s an amazing photographer. Her photo essays are beautiful and touching. You won’t regret visiting her site.

You need to read Diana Beebe’s blog just because of its title: Mermaids Don’t Do Windows.  Diana’s blog relates her adventures with technology from a misbehaving dishwasher, to her love of a certain vehicle, to vacations, blogging and writing. There’a always something interesting to read.

Happy Sunshine Awards, to all of you. Thank you for all the wonderful posts you’ve written.

There’s one more thing I’d like to leave with you today. A bit of inspirational video shared with me by Larry Brooks at storyfix.com. Now, this video was written for athelets, but Larry shared it because he thought it was apropos for writers. I LOVED it.

What about you? Do you think the video relates to writing or creativity? Or do you think it’s sports and only sports?

Your comments make me walk on sunshine. Thank you!

Perfection, Failure and Inspiration

I had another post in mind for today, but Monday morning I read a friend’s blog post and I knew it was something I had to share. Colin Falconer suggested that every writer should watch the video called The Benefits of Failure. I say everyone should watch this video. For everyone has something, someplace in which they have felt the pain of failure. That pain has given failure a black mark. It’s something most of us avoid, but perhaps we shouldn’t.

Take a short break right now and visit Colin’s website, Looking for Mr Goodstory, read his post and watch the commencement speech called The Benefits of Failure . Go on, I’ll wait.

Interesting speech, yes? Now, no one is encouraging you to go out and deliberately fail. What Ms. Rollins suggests is that we shouldn’t be so afraid of failure that we don’t take risks.

If that Ms. Rollins’ speech hasn’t convinced you that failure can be a good thing, that failure is part of life, read KM Huber’s blog, The Way to Fall Apart. It’s a lovely post and reminds us all that falling apart is necessary for things to come together.

But failing and falling apart are scary. So we look for some way to make it come together. Aren’t we all guilty of sometimes avoiding the possibility of failure by trying to make everything perfect? And wouldn’t you know it, Seth Godin had something to say about Polishing Perfect.

Has this post made you uncomfortable? Talking about, thinking about, much less experiencing failure is uncomfortable. But remind yourself, failure is just one way that didn’t work. Dare to risk failure. You never know what you might discover.

Lynette M. Burrows author,Lynette M. Burrows science fiction author, Lynette M. Burrows author action-suspense science fiction

image courtesy of pixabay.com

I’m risking failure with an epic rewrite of an imperfect novel that I can’t let go.

Do you avoid failure at all costs?
Or do you embrace the risk of failure?

Fools Risk Magic

Happy April Fools’ or, if you prefer the older name, Happy All Fools’ Day!  This is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Not because of the silly tricks and deceptions people pull on each other, but because it reminds me to take risks. I’m not talking of risking money or life and limb but about risking your heart and soul. The kind of risk that might mean pain and rejection. You might end up feeling foolish or stupid. But if you don’t take the risk you will miss the opportunity to make magic happen in your writing and in your life.

TAKE THE RISK

Years ago, after an acrimonious divorce, I was a single parent struggling to balance a job, parenting, and a life.  I decided that meant I had to protect myself from risks. But centering everything around my middle-grade son meant I was holding him too close and denying myself adult-level conversations. So I took my first risk and joined a brick and mortar dating service.

I chose a service where I could keep the risk low. All members of this service underwent background checks and no one got my last name or phone number unless I first approved it. First dates were arrange via snail-mail notes sent through the service. And I had a lot of dates. No commitments, just dinner and a movie. That was the way I wanted it. Low risk.

Then, I received a note illustrated by an artist. His invitation to meet also included a suggestion that we could tell stories together. I was intrigued.

I met him at a local Tex-Mex restaurant. His name was Bob. The awkward ‘tell-me-a-little-about-yourself’ exchange segued into a discussion of the creative process. I was amazed that he ‘got it.’  We talked until we were the last remaining customers and the restaurant was locking the doors.

I knew our next conversation would be equally fascinating. But days passed into a week and he didn’t call. I bemoaned this fact to my girlfriend who suggested that I ask him for a date. Oh, no. I couldn’t risk it. I wasn’t that progressive, nor that confident. But when she suggested I write him a thank you note for the lovely dinner, that was a risk I could take. And I did.

He called the day he got the note. He’d also enjoyed the conversation and had thought we’d had a lovely time, until the evening ended. We had left the table and gone to the front desk, where he had paused to pay the bill. When he turned around, I was gone.  Vanished.

When he told me that I realized I could not remember saying goodnight. Yup. My risk-aversion had raised its fearful head and ‘we’ skedaddled out of there!

Fortunately, Bob risked a second chance. More dates followed. We risked showing each other our true hearts, our fears, and our dreams. And by taking that risk, the magic began to happen.

RISK YOUR HEART & SOUL

Having been foolish enough to think that I could live a life without risk, it seemed only natural to marry on April Fools’ day. And, of course, it was only natural to share our story with our friends.

Lynette M. Burrows science fiction author; Lynette M. Burrows action-suspense science fiction author.

Written by Lynette M. and Robert W. Burrows. Illustrated by R. W. Burrows. We partied after the honeymoon.

That was the beginning of our story. We’re still writing and illustrating. And it’s still magic. But we couldn’t live this story until we each took a few risks.

Writing is a lot like that. Your scribbles (or pixelated words) can fill volumes, but until you risk your heart and soul your story won’t come alive.

EMBRACE THE RISK

Be willing to be a fool.  Don’t let your fear of showing too much censor your words.  Unfetter your emotions, your memories, your pain, and your joy. Let it spill onto the page. Put your heart and soul on the line. Embrace the risk. It will change your life. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll make . . . magic.

 ~oOo~

Share the magic!

What risks have you taken in your life?  In your writing?

P.S. Because this post was date related, the next “Going to Mars: Word by Word” post featuring Greg Bear’s _Forge of God_ will be presented Monday, April 8th.

Oh, and  I won’t respond to your comments until April 2nd.  I’ve got an anniversary to celebrate!