Stories are Everywhere

Returning from the depths of the college world, I bring you a sparkly new blog post.

The "instructional" book I am reading for Intro to Creative Writing said that writer's block does not exist because stories are everywhere.

While I disagree with that statement, it also makes me think.

Stories are everywhere.

Take the short story I had to write for my creative writing class. We were told it had to be between 7-20 pages long and there were two rules. Rule number one it had to be real events happening to real people (basically no genre fiction) and rule number two, nobody could die in the story.

Taking those rules I started thinking about what was going on in my own life. I thought about the possibility of a move to the opposite end (north-south) of the country. I thought about my Nana with Alzheimer's and her struggle as well as my Granddad's struggle in helping her. I thought of my Dad's feelings about leaving a community that has become our home even though we've wandered far and wide.

I thought about family and what it means to love someone. In thinking about that I thought about a father's decision in who he loves more: his daughter or his dying, soon to be incoherent mother.

And that's when it hit me. I had a story to write.

My life became that of Zoey's. Zoey became an estranged college student who only talked to her mother. My father became Steve, the man who wanted to give everything to his daughter and failed in the one way she needed him to excel. My Nana became Ruth Hutchings, the woman who needed her son but barely recognized him.

The problem then became, not writing it, but deciding how the story should go since it is so symbolic. Should Steve not move to Alabama to be closer to his mother? Should he keep trying to reconcile with his daughter? Should he do somewhere halfway? (In case you were wondering, it's an eleven hour drive from Huntsville, Alabama to my university.)

Where should the ending be? Should there be a common theme throughout the story?

Finally, I finished. It took me three days. 1 day for the first draft, a day of rest and then 1 day for the second, longer draft. My tying together thread was Zoey and Steve sitting together at the local football games, stuffing themselves with peanuts and explaining over and over and over the rules of football.

See, maybe Mooring was wrong in that there is no such thing as writer's block. But they were definitely right when they said Stories are EVERYWHERE!

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Fitting it In

I start four classes tomorrow. I'm taking a total of 4 four-hour classes and 1 one-hour class. This means lots of non-recreational reading and note-taking. This also means I have less time to write.

Which brings me to the question, how do you fit in writing? What do you do when you are super busy? Go ahead, leave a comment. :)

Right now, I haven't had a whole lot of time to write. I've been busy with orientation, First Year Seminar homework, meetings and other fun things that make you feel ridiculously awkward. (Like walking into Opening Convocation serenaded by a bagpiper.) I've been trying to type up some journal entries but even that has taken a back seat to gelato parties for a floor mate's birthday.

But, if I'm going to be honest, I haven't been writing because I haven't had the muse. My muse is dead. Like, it decided to move to New Zealand and then died bungy jumping while I was moving into college. So that was the falling feeling when we were driving up to my dorm!

I tried writing something tonight and it just... it felt forced. Which brings up another problem. I am getting to where if I want to finish my WriYe goal (325,000 words) I need to get 890 words a day. 890 forced words a day are going to be torture, especially if I have three chapters of FYS reading and a poem to write for Intro to Creative Writing.

I'm sure my muse will return but for now, I'm not forcing myself to find time to write (other than my nightly journaling). And so, when my muse returns, (please return please!) I will have a nice time of balancing.

Anyone else experience this? Let me know what you think.

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As I think about moving into college tomorrow, it makes me think of building the anticipation in a novel. In many ways, they are similar.

Preparing for college comes with ups and downs. The past week I've had thoughts that this cannot come soon enough. When I read a novel I think at times that I want to race through it, wanting to get towards to the end as quickly as I can have resolution, closure. I want the author to keep the suspense up so that I continue to experience the rush to the end of the book. It is one of the biggest letdowns to me when the author doesn't keep the adrenaline and the plot flowly quickly. It's like the author just gave up.

I've also had the experience of not ever wanting to leave for college. A good novel makes it so you never want to leave the world. It's one of the reasons series are so popular. Harry Potter, for example, has seven books for the reader to indulge in, live in the author's world.

A good book has a combination of adrenaline and never wanting to leave. It is just like getting ready for college. So hopefully, authors will think about their experiences leaving for college when they plot out their novel and the level of suspense in it.

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I never travel without my diary.
One should always have something sensational to read on the train.
~ Oscar Wilde

Ever since the summer after my sixth grade year, I have journalled every night. This journaling habit has led me through a trans-Atlantic move, a sister away to college, a sister away to China, the hardships of high school, the decision to skip a grade... basically everything. In the span of thirteen journals, I have poured out my soul each and every night in addition to telling about how the day went.

I type up the entries as a way of keeping an electronic record of everything. However, I refuse to journal on a computer. First, because I have a love of smooth gel ink pens, and secondly, because there is nothing more soothing than pouring your heart out onto a page, not worrying about the circuit shorting when you cry on it. So, the electronic copies of my journals only serve as a smaller copy of the thirteen journals.

Every so often, I reread a particular journal to see what I was going through. I see the anguish I labored over my friends in seventh grade when I had the best friend in the world right there, unbeknowest to me. I see how I would obsess about asking that guy to the dance that nobody asked anyone to. That was just when I was starting out.

As I grew, my handwriting got better (I almost always write in cursive) and I thought I would learn eons about myself. Here's the thing - a relaxing habit does not lend itself to epiphanies unless one works at it.

I have to reread and reflect on my journals to really see the path I've travelled and how it can help me in the future. Reflecting allows me to see that I have already had one crazy life and I'm capable of handling much more than I ever thought possible. (My second year of high school should be a testament to this.)

I will start a new journal tomorrow night. And while I don't know how long it will take me to fill the pages or what it will contain, I do know I will come to it when things are good, when things are bad and when I am so confused I don't know what question to ask. Journaling has helped me become more introspective. Sometimes I think that's a bad thing. But then I remember, a little self reflection never hurt anyone.

Anyway, if I always travel with my journal and I record the funny moments in my life, I can always have a joke book with me. I can be like Oscar Wilde and have something sensational to read that is extremely personal.

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I have been trying to find a writing/organizing program that works with how I write and my lack of planning. However, I also needed a program that would let me plan when I needed it.

With a little help from Nicole Humphrey Cook , I found StoryBook. StoryBook was more time-line based and aggravatingly annoying if you've already wrote the novel and just want to revise it. So, I decided to uninstall the program.

I tried writing on paper - asking questions of something I had already written. That didn't work either.

So, I laid off programs or writing novels for awhile. That was, until I looked back at Nicole's article. I had heard of Liquid Story Binder. I have writing friends who love it, swear by it. Some hate it too so I was a little cautious.

I downloaded it when I decided to completely rewrite the 2008 NaNo novel I wrote (the one I constantly talk about that is giving me trouble). I decided to first plan everything out and then write the novel semi-from scratch.

I tried Liquid Story Binder's outlining tool - I love it! I have found a program that works with how I write. It's amazing. It's fairly easy to use and has many features that I'm sure I'll find useful.

As I use LSB more, I'll let everyone know what I think about it and its different components. But for now, I'm in love.

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Writing on the Computer

I have been on the hunt for my college laptop the past two weeks. I'm not a gamer so I didn't need fancy graphics. I don't store music on my computer so I don't need loads of storage. What I needed was a laptop that worked with what Carroll wanted and could withstand me hitting the backspace key repetitively in anger.

What I found was that Best Buy (one of the only places I trusted) covered the ITS requirements quite easily. They said they only had two computers that didn't qualify. That helped but, also didn't.

Apparently, it's weird for someone to just want a computer for writing.

So I poked around, did some research and decided it didn't really matter as long as I felt comfortable with it.

Which, I suppose, is like all things with writing. Do it so that it makes you comfortable. If that means a Mac, so be it. If it means, for me, an HP, oh well.

What type of computer do you use for your writing? Do you love it? Hate it? Let me know.

Seven days without...

Having my other half and getting re-addicted to E.R. can be fun, but also a strain on the writing relationship.

I do the majority of my writing on the family computer (some on iPod or on paper) since that's where my flashdrive is with my Master Files and my Excel Spreadsheet for my 2010 progress. The family computer, I might add, is downstairs, basically away from everything else except the junk room (the unfinished part of the basement). So that makes writing a pretty solitary activity.

It's been so nice having my sister home that I thought I would take a dy or two break from writing. That day or two stretched into a week. I still journaled at least one hundred words a night, as I always do, but I stayed away from heavy writing.

Today, I returned. My mind is refreshed. The plot bunnies have been silenced but that, actually, is wonderful. Now I can focus on one thing and not worry about having my attention diverted by the other muses.

This week break also allowed me to realize that I write because I love it. And when I'm forcing words (sorry JulNo) I'm not enjoying it. This should be an interesting experience in college, but I'm ready to get used to it. See, when I was not writing, I was thinking, "I should be writing." It was like an itch I couldn't scratch. Now, I'm back at it.

Albeit, slower this time. I will still try for my goal of 890 words a day, however, if I don't achieve that, I won't beat myself up.

Try a break sometime - you might find yourself more productive afterwards.

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