Archive | July 2014

What inspires you?

Writers need not be knitters, says Rachel Randall, a Managing Editor at Writer’s Digest, but they do need to seek out those things that energize them creatively. In the July/ August 2014 edition of Writer’s Digest, Ms. Randall explains how important it is to take time to refuel. Whether you are a writer, like me, or like Rachel Randall, or not, you must have your own goals or dreams lingering around in your head. I will guess that some of you , well most of you probably, actually have talent laying dormant inside you waiting to erupt, yet either you don’t believe it, think you have other “more important things to do.. like feeding your kids, or just haven’t been able to tap into it yet.
Writing is not just about writing itself.. its about finding those tasks that allow us to open the flood gate of ideas to come forward, just as Rachel Randall says in her article:
” We need to find tasks that relax us- be they gardening, cooking or hiking- to encourage and foster creative thought. We need to train our minds to recognize inspiration in even the most ordinary details of our lives, and we need to give ourselves the license to just play with our writing, to unleash our wildest notions on the page.”
Ms. Randall makes a very valid point.
As in everything we do, from cooking to wall-papering a nursery, its the ideas that fuel us, that empower us and give us confidence to put it out there. Without the seed, the flower will not grow and without the idea, the story will not bloom.

The key is to understand how your story will shine a new light on our world today.

Each of us has a story to tell. Whether we are writers, painters, designers, engineers, musicians or anything else, we have a past that has formed who we are and a present that allows us to reflect and dream, and a future that draws us forward. Each of these places, whether a place we have been, are in now or hope to be one day, adds a chapter to our story. It is up to each of us to share it.
In a dystopian story (one of my favorite genres), we explore social and political structures within a dehumanized, doomed society.
J. Gabriel Gates stated the following in the June 2014 “The Writer” edition when asked to describe the key elements to a dystopian story:
“Figure out how your story is relevant. Sure, premise, plot and character are all important in dystopian fiction, but the key is to understand how your story will shine a new light on our world today, and use that understanding to guide your writing.”

In addition, Gennifer Albin states ” It’s important to keep in mind that the dystopian elements of a story are merely a framework for your world and characters. When you focus on the struggle of people to love, to progress and to evolve within these at times outlandish constructs, you create a story that’s vivid while remaining relatable to readers.”

Finally, we hear the following from Samantha Shannon:
“For me, a good dystopian story, no matter how fantastical the setting, should be shaded with reality. It should dissect, defamiliarize and interrogate the world.”

Dystopian stories, such as George Orwell’s 1984 or Animal Farm, Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” and even Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games”, convey a message mixed with warning and potential doom as the authors weave together a story not only to entertain but certainly to forewarn.
As our world today in 2014 continues to change for the worse, tearing apart at the seams, each of us has the opportunity to pay attention, understand what role each incident contributes and do whatever we can to stop the unraveling in its tracks. No matter how small a part we play, each individual act has the power to build upon another until an army of believers is able to change the course of history.
A dystopian story is like one of those emergency broadcasts that interrupt a television program with the latest whether alert or other warning that can not wait. Mixed with a fantastical story to entertain us and a forewarning of inevitable disaster, it jolts us awake from our ignorance.
The dystopian story opens up our minds to the potential and empowers us to become engaged and to be aware at the very least or even perhaps to shine a new light on our dark world today.

The meeting ground between an author and a reader…

A story is like a painting; it’s the culmination of talent put forth on a blank slate- whether paper or canvas (or digital screen these days…) with the purpose to:
1. convey an emotion or dream or desire or thought
2. to please or affect its admirer, skeptic or critic in some way (entertain, interest, teach, guide, prove right or wrong, …) and finally
3. to release something inside the artist whether it is to cleanse herself, heal herself or share her experience.
And all the while, it is a meeting ground between an author and a reader.
In Meagan Kaplon’s interview with Jean Kwok in June 2014 The Writer magazine, she questions Ms. Kwok about how she would describe herself as a writer. “I want to communicate with people. ” she continues ” It’s this meeting ground between an author and the reader. It’s a two way street. What you put out there are objects for the reader to interact with and to make their own.” Ms. Kwok explains that she is always aware of the reader walking with her through the story and she says ” It’s like when you’re having a conversation, and you wonder if you are droning on and on. Are they falling asleep?… Just as when I write I’m always thinking: Is my reader still with me? Is she being entertained while she is hopefully learning something interesting? ”
For me, its important to express what I am feeling or thinking about while entertaining and subconsciously helping my readers get through their own experiences that may be similar to my own or someone else’s, while teaching those readers something new or perhaps while delivering a lesson or moral.
For example, perhaps my reader is having problems with her faith; questioning it, doubting it, because she just lost her cherished parent or has recently been widowed, or worse: lost her child. She wants to believe in God and Jesus and Heaven, if not for her loved one, but for her own desire to see him or her again. Struggling with her own demons, she picks up my story with hope to find answers and if not answers, then at the very least similar questions and doubts to her own so that she does not have to feel so alone in the world anymore.
If I could meet with that reader and comfort her with my story, sharing my own doubts with her while I subtly install some hope in her heart and mind, wouldn’t that be wonderful? Yet, it is not physically possible for me to meet one on one with all of the potential people out there who go through traumatic situations and therefore, sharing a story could possibly serve nearly the same purpose. The story IS a meeting ground between an author and a reader and the only thing missing is perhaps a shared pot of tea and some biscuits.