Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I'm still trying to figure out the purpose of blogging.

   Why do I blog? Because my publisher said I needed to develop an online presence, and start a blog so readers can get to know me. But I haven't published anything yet, and have no readers. Someday you will, and with an established blog, it will be easy to find you. OK, what do I blog about? Tell people about your writing process, how you get your ideas, why you write, that kind of thing. Well, I did that already, even though I have no idea why anyone would be interested in a writer who hasn't published anything yet. So now what? Share something about who you are. Your likes and dislikes. Let folks know what kind of a person you are.
   Well now, this post has certainly taken a different path than what I had planned. Should I share stories of growing up in the fifties that people may not believe? Like the fact that most families had a shotgun or rifle next to the front door, and a loaded handgun in a dresser drawer, yet gun violence was totally unheard of. Arguments and fights were handled with your fists, since guns were for cowards. Nobody locked their homes or cars as we all learned to respect each others possessions.
   On the weekends, it was my job to stoke up the fire in the kitchen before I left to go play with my friends. If we got together and decided to spend the day in the swamp, everyone would grab a machete or hatchet to protect us from water moccasins, and large snapping turtles. The only thing you had to worry about when stepping in the mud under the water, was a catfish. They had some nasty spikes that could punch a hole in your foot or ankle.
   Well, I could go on and on about the 'good ole days' compared to the hell this society has become over the last fifty years, but what does that have to do with fantasy? Imagination. We had to use our imagination for everything. We made our own toys or imaginary weapons out of whatever was available. The woods were filled with all kinds of evil creatures that we had to battle. There was always a princess who needed rescuing, or a buried treasure waiting to be found. Fantasy abounded, and everyone had their part. I never grew out of my fantasies or the world of 'make believe'. The hard part is getting those fantasies down on paper so they make sense to others.
   I may regret posting this, but oh well, I am who I am.
   Have a wonderful day, and remember, "Life is a fantasy, make it yours".

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Are 'Formulas' or 'Secrets' to writing worth anything?

   Over the last couple of years, I've noticed a number of posts that claim to know the 'Formula', or have discovered the 'Secret' to writing a successful book, and or scenes. It seems a little pretentious to me when some of these posts are written by authors who haven't published a book yet. There are as many ways to write a successful scene as there are authors to write them. I believe that most writers are greatly influenced by the way scenes are described in their favorite work of fiction, or how they are presented in a favorite movie. Will everyone enjoy those scenes the same way you do? Probably not, but there will always be a number who do. Your style and voice are what's important, not whether you have followed some formula.
   Certainly, there are basic guidelines to follow if you plan to write a successful novel. A fantasy where the hero never reaches his/her goal, a mystery that is never solved, or a romance without any, probably won't do very well. You know the particular style of story you enjoy reading the most, so write that story. Odds are, a large number of other readers enjoy the same style. Don't worry about formulas, or secrets that were discovered hundreds of years ago.

   I do subscribe to several newsletters written by successful authors. Not because they claim to know a secret formula, but because they share some of the mistakes they made, and what works for them. Some of what they've learned works for me, and some does not. Maybe someday, when I'm rich and famous (ha ha), I'll be tempted to write a "My Secret to Success" post. If I do, please beat me on the head with an ugly stick, and send me to my room!

   Just some random thoughts for the week, so thanks for indulging the ramblings of an old man.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

On The Road To Finding My Joy.

   This is a follow up to last week's post.
   First of all, I would like to thank everyone who commented, and offered suggestions or encouragement. It's been a tremendous lift to my spirits, knowing that people care.
   I have tried to take some of those suggestions to heart this last week, focusing on things not related to reading and writing. Since it's spring, the flower beds needed attention, so I have been weeding and planting new flowers. My wife and I have spent our evenings playing old Xbox and PS2 games. I'm one of those people who dislike watching TV or movies. However, I did dig out a bunch of old home movies of us doing things that I enjoyed, like drag racing, going to the ocean, and spending time with the grandkids when they were little.
   To be honest, I began to worry that writing was not something I really wanted to do. But over the last couple of days, story ideas kept popping up in my head, and the temptation was there to write them down. Maybe tomorrow or Friday, I will try and write down one of those ideas while ignoring my inner editor, and just write it the way I want to. If I do, it'll show up as my Saturdayscene.
   I've also decided to make an effort to write a blog post every week, just to engage with others. These will be thoughts on my life or past, and nothing to do with writing. Maybe once I've actually published something that others have read, I will have a reason to talk about my writing, and interact with those readers. I have made a commitment to post a new chapter every week on WattPad in the novella I'm writing, so that will continue.
   Again, I want to thank everyone who responded to my post last week. It helped!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The 'Rules'; of writing have stolen my joy.

   I no longer enjoy writing or reading, which is extremely frustrating because reading was one of the few things I've loved for over fifty years. I wish I'd never read a single "How To" book on writing, or paid attention to posts claiming to know the secrets of great writing. My writing has come to a standstill because those 'rules' keep popping up telling me I shouldn't use that word, or that sentence is passive, etc. The same thing happens when I try to read now. My mind keeps focusing on all the little grammatical errors instead of on the story.
   Several years ago, I decided it might be fun to take some of the fantasies floating around in my head, and put them down on paper. I entered a short story/first chapter in a major writing contest for fantasy/scifi, and placed in the top eight out of over eight thousand entries. This was an un-edited, first draft, since I didn't know any different. I thought to myself that if I knew more about writing, I might have won.
   I grew up with the notion that if you're going to do something, do it right or not at all. So off I went on the road to knowledge, reading everything I could find on writing, and subscribed to several writer magazines. Some of what I read made sense, and some of it went right over my head. If I'd waited to write my story after reading those books, and then entered it in the competition, it would have ended up in their large slush pile of grammatically correct, but generic submissions. I believe that my entry stood out from the crowd because I wrote it from the heart and not from my head.
   I'm seriously considering the idea of abandoning writing altogether, and search for a way to enjoy reading again. Maybe if I fill my Kindle with some of the worst e-books I can find, and force myself to read them, I will exorcise the editing demon from my mind.
   Those of you who have been following me on Saturdayscenes have probably noticed that I haven't shared anything new for a while. Even though I've written several new chapters in both my WIPs, I'm reluctant to share them. Maybe I'll dig out some scenes from the fanfic I started several years ago.
   Of course it's possible that my publisher, and the people who have supported and encouraged me the last couple of years, have just been blowing smoke up my butt, and this has all been a waste of time. All I know is that I no longer enjoy writing, and it shows.
   Some of you will probably feel that this has just been a whining session, and that's okay. I'm an old man, and I can whine if I want to.