The Concept of Today’s Flat Writers

nirvana

What do you do when you feel as though words are coming out of you sounding flat? As though they have no air. No color. No vibrancy which attracts the reader to the page. I have finished with a chapter for my book and I dare say that I’m glad with it, however the ending has stupefied me. I look over and ask, how should this be ended? I can see my character climbing into her car and saying farewell. But the words don’t surface in the correct order. They are all jumbled messes spilling from me in ink blots.

When I’m usually stuck in a rut like this, I open a good book and start reading. If a book is thrilling and the writing terrific, my power of words returns to me sharply. I feel inspired and a fresh flame of passion. I can write again, aha! Is what I say. My problem happens to be I’m extremely picky. It’s difficult for me to choose or even to find a good book. Sometimes, I scour the web for something smashing and mostly come up empty. Last night, I started reading a few stories on the New Yorker but eventually fell asleep half way through them.

I feel there are few good writers today. All of their writing has gone flat. Why is that? Sure, there are quite a few compelling stories that have and are being told, yet many of them have seem to forgotten the art of writing. The art of putting words together just so. I believe the poets have a better concept of it than us writers.

One great, amazing piece I have recently discovered and read is Nirvana by Adam Johnson. The story quite literary knocked my socks off. It was that brilliant. The artistry which Adam uses to convey his thoughts. The emotional context of the story. The beauty of the sentences so cleverly put together. And, the descriptions that leave me speech less. My favorite description Adam uses is when he describes the skin of a character as the color of refrigerator light. It’s a unique way of saying pale and weak. In my writing, I’ve tried find unique ways to describe things too. Sometimes I’ve succeeded and other times…

My point is, writing seems to have become flat. And I wish for somebody to prove me wrong. To show me all of the miraculous stories which have been written but never entered my radar. I believe finding a brilliantly written story will guide me out of my own quandary.

A Rather Blustery Day

blusteryHum dum dum ditty dum Hum dum dum. Oh the wind is lashing lustily And the trees are thrashing thrustily And the leaves are rustling gustily So it’s rather safe to say That it seems that it may turn out to be It feels that it will undoubtedly It looks like a rather blustery day, today.

Winnie the Pooh’s song a Hum for a Blustery Day comes to mind at this moment. It smartly sums up my bleak Monday. For the past hour, I’ve been sitting in front of my computer screen with hands poised over keyboard. My fingers twitch with energy to type down a word but nothing happens. I’ve been attempting and failing to write a particular scene for my book. Words aren’t coming and I’m sure my mind is tired of writing. It feels painful to put words down.

Outside is gloomy. The weather is terrible. It’s rather blustery which is why Pooh’s song is rattling around in my brain. It seems like a painfully slow day of miserable weather. This has dampened my mood and made my writing powers freeze up. It’s a miracle that I’ve actually been able to write this post. Huzzah for Mondays! Or in Eeyore’s words, “It’s just another gloomy day. Don’t mind me.”

Genius isn’t Instant

Genius isn’t instant. It’s not inherited either. Vivaldi didn’t dream up his operas all in one moment. He wrote them over the course of a year. Like all great artists, he probably suffered from writers block at times. Albert Einstein didn’t discover the theory of relatively in one day. He struggled for years with his calculations as the theory took shape over years. I don’t believe these men were the only ones with genius born inside of them..

Genius is gained through time and effort. You have to work for genius. Geniuses aren’t people who suddenly get an ‘aha’ moment. It can happen but not often. They’re workaholics. They don’t quit until they achieve their dream. They fight. They never say ‘never’.
Take Walt Disney for example, when Bambi was in the works, he was millions of dollars in debt. But he had a dream. He dreamed of the future. He had a vision and he achieved that vision. The future probably didn’t turn out to be exactly how he imagined it but I have a feeling it turned out better. Jon Bon Jovi had a dream to play music and rock crowds. He had a vision of where he wanted to take his music and he succeeded his goals. When things got hard, he didn’t give up. He struggled until he won.
I don’t claim to be a genius. I’m not overly smart. Heck, I never graduated from college. I don’t have a degree. But I’m willing to work. I’m willing to do the time and effort. The late nights filled with coffee runs. The early mornings with even more coffee runs. I’ve always heard from successful geniuses that in the beginning when you’re building your dream, it’s the most exciting. It’s the most fulfilling time of your life. And I believe them.
It’s thrilling to pull a late night and work your ass off. It’s thrilling to feel on the edge of getting somewhere. I love the crazy days filled with challenge. It’s what shapes you. It’s what changes you. It’s what pushes you forward. To be successful you must have motivation. You must visualize your dream and make it happen.
Everyone defines success differently. Some see it as a CEO running their own business. Others view it as helping those in need. And, some see it as finding inner peace. Some of you might know who Christopher Robin. He is the son of the author A.A. Milne and also one of the main characters of the very much loved children stories Winnie the Pooh. Christopher Robin was the hero of those stories. He was the one who helped the animals in their time of need. In reality, he wasn’t so happy. He struggled through his teen and adult years as people gave him endless criticism. Once he tried to join the army and other men there teased him about his childhood fame. They viewed him as a wuss.
Christopher Robin didn’t have an easy growing up. But he overcame it. He struggled to find himself and be something other than the Christopher Robin in the childhood books. In the end, he found himself and peace. This was his success. He never claimed the same fame or fortune as his father but I believe he found greater success than his father. He discovered himself. He knew his place in the world and accepted it. So many of us can’t claim to have achieved as much. Not even I. I’m still figuring life out.
Whatever you claim success to be, go find it. Have the courage to achieve whatever road blocks life puts in your life. Be who you want. And as Pumbaa from the Lion King would say, “Hakuna Matata”. Have no worries. Things will be fine.

Back Story Isn’t the Backbone of America

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Back story isn’t the back bone of America… It’s the back bone of Writing.

I hate writing back stories. I can’t stress how absolutely frustrating it is. Am I alone here? Am I only the one who feels this way? I’m currently in the process of reworking or tweaking a few chapters of my book. I had a character who I’ve recently added and am currently exploring. Without giving anything away, I can say he is not a very likable person. He is complex. He is confusing to me. And here lies my problem.

When you create a character, you must know him/her inside out. Otherwise, he’ll always remain aloof and ambiguous to your audience. Creating a character your audience can connect with is what’s story telling is all about, right? People don’t want the boring white guy who goes to Starbucks and orders a foamy latte every morning before work. They want the guy who goes to Starbucks and orders the Dirty Hippie. And yes, that drink does exist.

I’ve been through the web a dozen times looking up great tips for the writer. In the end, I’m probably procrastinating but it can’t be helped. I’m stuck with this scene. What I’ve found is that when I’m stuck with a scene it’s because the scene is no good. But unfortunately this part is needed. I love writing the back story as a flashback and it’s a mechanism that I use religiously in my writing, but for this particular scene/character it won’t do.

Google, the one with all the answers, has promptly told me that perhaps I should sit down with a notebook and scribble whatever comes to mind. For non-writers, this is called freewriting. Typically, it has helped immensely in the past here it seems to be very dry. I take up pen in my hand and doodle a few pretty flowers and then some words. But my pencil feels heavy and I find words won’t come.

An hour swiftly follows and I’m staring madly at the colorless wall in front. My eyes trace patterns in the plaster before me as my imagination keeps turning. Recently, I watched Fight Club. That is a great movie with a load of awesome characters. What makes a great character? As I watched the movie, I came to realize a few things.

Firstly, a great character has flaws. Deep flaws. They’re fucked up people. It’s their fucked up-ness that attaches us to them. We crave their drama. Their horrible terribleness. Their self-loathing or severe confusion. We feed on it like piranhas. This character who is giving me such a terrible time is very messed up. At first, you don’t realize it but then it slowly dawns on you. He’s so awful your dad would have a heart attack if he found you with him. In fact, your dad would take his baseball bat and smash this guy’s head in for talking to you.

Another attribute of this character is his snarkiness. He is a damn asshole. He doesn’t give a crap about you or anyone else for that matter. If you came up to him and asked for a cigarette, he might help your nicotine craving or he just might smirk and walk away. A snarky person thinks he is better than everyone else and this sets him drastically apart from the world. His attitude of indifference makes him an absolute loner. Not a loser. Just a loner. We’re not talking about the loner who always eats his lunch alone in the school cafeteria and looks terrible sad. We’re talking about the loner who chooses to eat alone because people are just to dumb to deal with. He’s frustrated with humanity’s idiocy and separates himself from the rest.

My character is a terrible person. He pretty much screws everyone in the book, but that’s giving away too much for now. For those who’ll eventually read my book and then find this post, you can probably guess who I’m talking about. So far, it’s been a thrilling ride working with the characters in my book. I’m sure this will turn into an adventure as well.