Monday, November 16, 2009

The Happy Writer, Part Deux

So, have all of you been inspired to do the creative writing exercise I blogged about last time? I hope it inspired you the way it did me. I've been gone a couple of days, or I would have posted this sooner. Without further ado, Things I Like and Things I Don't Like in books.

Things I Like:
Rich Descriptions
Evocative, Imaginative Descriptions
Nature as a metaphor for emotions
Historical Settings
Stories involving sisters
"Hint" of Fantasy
Multi-layered Narrative
Witty humor
Stories involving Native American Cultures
Stories involving chefs or descriptions of food
Stories set in 19th century Britain

Things I Dislike:
Bad Writing
Racism/Sexism prevalent in undertones
Multiple Narrators
Endings too "neat"
Endings too ambiguous
Too much violence or gore
Stories with no sense of humor in them whatsoever
Books set in Australia
Pompous morality tales (I'm looking at you, Charles Dickens)
First-person address to the reader

What about y'all?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Happy Writer

I don't really write for fun anymore, and that's a shame, because I used to really enjoy fiction writing as a creative outlet. I was reminded of this long-ignored hobby this week while reading the online work of Cleolinda Jones (her work can be found here). She's most well-known for her hilarious commentary on the "Twilight" series and other works in the fantasy genre. She's often self-deprecating about being known as an expert/commentator on "tween" literature. However, in an interview I read, she talks about the importance of writing about what you love. Later, she re-tweeted an article about the same subject written by author Rosemary Clement Moore on Moore divulges a writing exercise found in the book, "No Plot, No Problem," to help you determine what you really love to write. Here's her description of the exercise:
Draw a line down the middle of a page to make two columns . . . At the top of one put: Things I love in books. List all the things that you love in a story. Do not edit yourself. No matter how trite, cliché, cheesy, un-feminist, un-macho, or what your mother would say about it… put that on your list. (For example, I love witty verbal fencing between the hero and heroine. Also, books with dogs.)
Got it? Okay. Title the second column: Things I hate in books. List all the things that turn you off, bore you, or make you throw the book against the wall. No matter how classic and erudite, or how popular or trendy, write them down. (My example: I have an arbitrary dislike of present tense, despite many wonderful books being written that way.)
Remember! These aren’t things that are bad writing, just things that you don’t like. The whole point is, these are subjective. Your may love something your best friend hates, and that’s okay. Neither one is “wrong.” (For both lists, it’s more useful to list general things rather than specific books/authors. If you dislike a book, try and figure out why.)
Okay, so now here’s the complicated part. Sit down and write your book. Put in everything (well, maybe not everything) you have on your “love” list and don’t put in what’s on your “hate” list.
What happens sometimes when we write–All of us!–is the inner editor says: That’s a dumb idea. That’s cliché, no one likes that but you, you freak. And in the other ear, the inner English Teacher speaks from the part of your subconscious where she’s been living since the ninth grade and says, “These things you hate make great literature. They are Worthy and Important. You just hate these things because they’re Good For You.
     Reading all this has really made me reflect on my own writing. I've realized that I suppressed myself in my writing because the voice of my inner critic is so loud. Even my "fun" writing has been limited because of what some hypothetical person might say in some hypothetical situation in which my stories would see the light of day. I've been inspired this week to reclaim this part of my life, and also challenged to make my own list. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jane Fonda Quick Hits

I just got back from working at the annual Planned Parenthood Action Fund fundraiser. It was a great time spent with a group of lovely, intelligent and passionate people. And Jane Fonda spoke, y'all! I have to admit, I've never been celebrity-struck too much by her. But, man! After hearing her speak I might just have to "netflix" all her movies! There's so much that could be said about her message, the evening, and the work of PP in general. But for now, here are just a few of the amazing, insightful, funny things she said.
  • (On Ted Turner, her "favorite ex-husband") "Ted has spent tens of millions of dollars to prevent female genital multilation around the world. He's a man who really puts his money where his mouth is (joke)."

  • "Women's health brings out right-wing stealth."

  • "Georgia has the 4th highest school drop-out rate in the country, and teen pregnancy is the #1 cause of school drop-outs
  • "I'm always surprised that people are surprised we're still fighting this issue. I'm not surprised . . . this issue is about power."

Friday, November 6, 2009

That Time of the Year

Not holiday season. That time near the end of the semester where I have a zillion things to do, but get behind because I'm so stressed I get laid out by a migraine for about a week. That fun time. I have about 6 different posts that I have started to write (all totally brilliant, natch), but have other things to write or edit or stare at for about 45 minutes, so I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. Truth be told, I'm not doing so hot. Greek is really testing me, and senioritis has kicked in, so I'm just dog-tired most of the time. Please pray for me. A lot of times I question why I'm here; what I'm doing; what the heck does God want from me? Did I just make up this whole "call" thing? In those times when I really want to eat a whole pan of brownies, queue up the 7th season of Gilmore Girls and just give up, I know that the only  thing that gets me through the day is prayer and chapel. Thank you for your prayers, dear ones. It may not seem like much to you, but I feel it. It helps. I know it does. So please keep praying. Pray I can hold on to this wack-a-doo dream by my little fingernail, that I won't fail any of my classes this semester, and can do it all with a little bit of faith, hope and grace still intact. Thank you from my heart. Love, W.