Kowalewicz!

Some or you may or may not know this about me, but Music is my life. I’ve been playing music since I was still learning my ABC’s and I actually went to University to study music. I guess given that little bit of information, it should seem not that strange that I turn to music to inspire and help me write.

When I listen to music, after i’ve finished listening to the words, and the actual music, I think about how this song could be used to describe a situation I’ve been in, or one I can come up with in my head.

As I said in my last post, my story is based on a repetitive dream that I was having, but during it, the people weren’t clear. What I mean by that is, I couldn’t say “Oh Female role A actually looked like dah dah dah dah dah” or “Male role B” etc, you get my point. It wasn’t until I decided to write it down, I had to think “hang on, what did they look like” and without a moment to spare the image popped in my head. I’m sure it was probably just my own sneaky way of living vicariously through my character, being with someone who looks like a singer I’ve loved since… 2003?

I happened to, while writing, click one of the many film clips I have by this band on my computer and literally didn’t move while I watched it. While the images of the film clip flashed in front of my face, inside my mind all I could see was my two characters forming. Though I’m sure my “look” for a perfect guy isn’t the same as everyone else, it is fun to daydream successfully about him, no?

I find that listening to music actually brings up new ideas in my writing, or even gives me something to get to. For example, I heard a song the other day at work that was more of a pop/dance track (so not my normal type of music) about how he was watching her and admiring her from afar, but knew that he could get her. Given what I said about what I do with music, it gave me the idea to put a scene where he would see her dance, possibly out with her friends, so on and so forth – so it gave me somewhere to lead the story, I knew where one particular section had to get it, all I had to do now was work out how?!

Weird, or Un-weird as it may sound, my iTunes is actually split up into play-lists depending on what I’m doing. I have the playlist for my main “story” then another for this off-story I write when I get writer’s block with the first one… That’s probably silly, but it works so shh!

I’m curious how many of you use Music as a help, idea, support, or just need the noise in the background while you do your writing.

I know this is a short post, but I just wanted to talk about that for some unknown reason. Enjoy the film clip that brought my story to life :)

PS: I’m going to Marry the lead singer some day , you watch!

http://www.youtube.c…h?v=QPabKxzcy6o

-Anna

Hurdles Through Quicksand

Waking up, day in and day, out… as my eyes open upon what light shines on or though, my mind mentally jots down ideas. Driving home and surveying how the moonlight shines on God’s green earth or the creation of human technology, my eyes take note. However, when i sit in front of a blank canvas, my mental notes start caving in.

Not enough time, need to process more other important work….

Sitting there with the paintbrush in hand, the smell of turpentine surrounding me, i become numb. Is this what writer’s block is but from a different artistic angle? Is it, maybe my insecurities are taking the best of my judgment?

Everything surrounding my conscience can’t seem to put it down on canvas! Damn you Lee! Damn you Silvestri! Damn you Adams! It’s not their fault, it’s my own.

Sitting again in front of the canvas, i start imagining all the endless possibilities. All the countless colors or non colors that can be shared within each other. The abstracts can take outside the canvas and maybe through a lens. Yes a lens!

The lens captures everything in an instant and can be used whenever the mind forgets. But sometimes, the mind considers that cheating.

The right hand for stroking the paint across the stretch cloth. The smudging of blacks and whites to emphasis depth and perception. No, paint.. paint… !! The smell of triumph. The countless inner criticisms. The countless inner errors only the eyes will pick up. Those damn imperfections! … NO! The good ole saying .. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” … Continues pushing the camel fine hair across the smell of canvas… the reds, yellows, blues… turning into oranges and greens… all blending together. Yes, this has to be the accomplishment!

And maybe at the end of the inner battle, a Rembrandt could be created.

-Vin

Blah de Blah Blah

One of my biggest problems I seem to stumble across day in and day out is having absolutely NO idea what i’m doing. In all honesty, I woke up one day and said “You know what, I feel like writing down all these stupid scenarios that keep playing in my head, and that damn pesky dream that keeps showing up every night”.

I never really thought much about writing, till I got into reading, which didn’t really start till I was long out of school. I guess I never came across the right TYPE of book, but when I found it – I was hooked.

Though I don’t ever curse the day I started reading, I do frown at myself and wonder why I never bothered to write, even if it was bad, earlier. I’ve always been able to sit there and make up a story in my head, then giggle at it, sometimes jot it down to tell a friend about the weird dream, or daydream I had, though the actual writing down… just never seemed to happen!

I sometimes think that maybe I should go and take a class or two, push me in the right direction, but then I think “Stuff it! If this will ever happen, it’ll be because I have the ability, not because someone managed to teach me” (Though that is just me, I’m not trying to offend anyone who does take courses, or has been to them and found them useful – my mind is just weird).

Anyway, I’ll stop talking about that and move right along.

The idea for my first story that i’ve been tackling head on was brought on by this really short recurring dream I kept having. By the forth day of the exact same dream I decided to write it down, just incase it never happened again and i’d lose it. I was becoming quite fond of it. I woke up, walked straight to my computer and began to write. The next few nights the dream seemed to start as usual, but then add more, and more, even replay different parts and then change them giving me a different ending to a scenario. Since then I haven’t had anymore dreams about it, but I no longer need them to keep the story going. I knew them like they were actually a part of me, and when I speak to the few people i’ve shared my story with, I refer to them as people, not just characters. (Is that weird? Lol)

This post is really boring… I apologize! I will try to make an entry (boring or not) frequently and if anyone is interested i’ll talk about the story… if not i’ll just complain about how I have no idea what i’m doing! ha!

– Anna

Interference

I sometimes wonder if the only way I’ll ever be able to finish a writing project would be to maroon myself on Gilligan’s Isle, with nothing more than a pencil and a pad of paper.

You know those moments. You’re in the shower, soaping away and singing at the top of your lungs, “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall! Oh-whoa, ninety-nine bottle of beer! You, yes you, ta-yake one down, pass it around, ninety-eight…” Suddenly, you trail off, an idea forming in your mind. That awful scene you have been stumped about for ages plays about before you. You picture your characters in a whole new light. What if Janice killed Roger Rabbit? It would all make sense!

Flinging the shower curtain aside, you make your way to the computer, tripping over the dog in front of the doorway. But, he matters not- you are on a mission! You have finally figured your characters out and can move ahead in your story! You grab your furry bathrobe from the desk chair and sit down. You can hardly wait to get typing! This scene has had you stumped for months!

You giggle to yourself as your Word Processor loads. Everything is finally going to work out. Your story loads with ease and you scroll down to begin. Just as your fingers hit the keys, you hear a knock at the door. “A momentary delay!” You think to yourself.

“Mommy?” Your youngest child asks, rosy cheeks aglow. You turn to answer, your smile sagging somewhat as you notice what appears to be four packs of chewed bubble gum sticking out of her hair.

Before you can process the horror, a crash emits from the other room. Ah, it appear your other two darlings have awoken. You shoot a quick, longing glance at the computer screen and head for the living room… and just that simply, what started as a perfectly good writing session, ended without a word being typed.

Book those plane tickets! Gilligan’s Isle, here we come!

-Sara

The Writer’s Life

If you think of yourself as a writer, no time is ever wasted. Seriously. Consider any thing you do, it can all be filed as either research, inspiration, practice, or studying.

If you go for a walk, you clear your head to let the new ideas come in.

If you read any book, you study plotlines, styles, character design, descriptions.

If you read the morning paper, you may easily get an idea for a new story, or some info you can use for your current one.

If you travel, it is always a business trip. You need to research places to set yor stuff in.

If you talk to other people, you file away a variety of voices. So that your characters don’t all sound alike.

If you have a love affair, it can be counted as inspiration and research. Even if it ends badly. You should be thankful, pay the guy some royalties later: heartache often yields great art.

So being a writer is not a job, it’s a way of life. And don’t despair when you should be writing but are doing something else: It’s all part of the profession. No time is ever wasted. And if it is really in you, the time to do nothing else, but write write write, will eventually come. After you had your fill of inspiration, research, study and practice. Or inbetween. Or now. Or later.

Claudia

Harbingers of Spring

Forget Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow – I’ve got something better to let me know that spring is on its way. My toes.  My pink toenails, to be more precise.

 You see, even though winters here in Houston aren’t nearly as rough as they are in other parts of the world (Buffalo, NY, anyone?), natives like myself don’t handle the cold terribly well.  I was born to withstand the heat and humidity of a subtropical climate, NOT be bundled up for weeks on end with temps in the 30s and 40s and windchills even lower. I know, some of you are wishing for such balmy winter weather, but  my family and I have been going ever so slightly insane with the colder-than-normal winter we’ve had here.

 In late October we’re wishing for some cooler weather because we see the color changes happening in other places, and we’d like to see some changes too. And then in November and December the colder weather is welcome because it helps to make the holiday season that much more special. A little bit of snow helps this as well (got that December 4th, I think).

 But after Christmas? I’m more than ready for the cold and dreary weather to be a distant memory – out with the old and in with the new and all that, right?

 Unfortunately, this year has been different and the colder stuff lingered. It may not have been the coldest winter here ever, but it sure felt that way.

 But the past few days have seen a wonderful trend that I hope sticks around for a while – warmer temperatures and sunny skies. It’s amazing how much happier everyone seems to be around here!

 And that’s where my toes come in – I’m back to wearing flip flops, after what seems like forever of having to stuff my poor feet in socks and boots. My feet are so very happy! And in celebration of that happiness, I painted my toenails pink. Not just pink, but BRIGHT pink. It’s my way of telling myself, “You’ve survived winter again and spring is clearly on its way.”

 So, what are YOUR harbingers of spring? What around you tells you that the dreary days of winter are almost over and hope is just around the corner, full of flowers, sunshine, and hearts?

 Jennifer

 PS – My apologies to those of you who may still be mired in the muck of winter and who might be horribly offended by the idea of my pink and exposed toes. Just consider this my way of letting you know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Plot-a-phobic

I have a confession to make. I am afraid to plot.

Stuffed inside a rolling, manila-colored filing cabinet in the back corner of my room, lies a giant tattered folder, its contents huddled together quietly within their dark quarters. Every great once in awhile, when I want a laugh, or am feeling frisky, I dig the folder out to browse through its contents. My Idea Folder.

From a simple sentence scratched onto a torn napkin to neatly typed pages, the folder contains random thoughts that have popped into my head over the years. I had always meant for them to become actual stories, but, many, as they say, never made it past the drawing board.

That has always been my biggest problem with writing. The ideas come with ease, the discipline and motivation to turn them into a story is the tricky part. A character or scene will pop into my head- sometimes, several scenes, and I will madly type, falling in love with what I have. On a good day, I’ll have several chapters finished before I even know it. Then, I stall. I start to brainstorm possible ideas for the continuation of the story. What will the conflicts be? How will they be resolved? Will she kiss her next-door neighbor? Who dunnit?

Before long, the questions become over-whelming. I start to second-guess myself. “I like what I have written- what if I lead myself down a tangent that turns out to be crap? I don’t want to have to scrap my initial idea!” I think. “I love these characters!” And, just like that, my great idea finds its way into the shadowed confines of the Idea Folder.

I live in fear of plotting. I walk down the sidewalk, hiding my face, afraid of running into a former English teacher. They did their jobs, after all. I need to figure out how to do mine! I must conquer my Plot-a-Phobia!

-Sara

Writing for the Dinner Table

I can’t remember the exact motivation behind my first story, but I do know that it led to a life-long obsession with writing. The Hole in the Road, my second grader attempt at a New York Times Best-seller, led me into a whole new world. I can still vaguely recall the hours spent in my room with my dictionary, scratching out the story on notebook paper- the piles of wadded up mistakes around the trash can, the bin full of markers for my illustrations, the pink yarn that I used to bind the pages together… I surely grinned with pride when I unveiled my work at the dinner table.

There’s nothing quite like that feeling for me- pouring myself onto paper. As the words come out, I not only explore myself, I explore the world. The galaxies I cannot travel to, the people I will never meet, the history I was not present to witness… nothing is off limits. I can create whatever universe I please and become whoever I wish to be. Writing is the “Welcome” doormat to my creativity.

Whether or not my work ever ends up making it beyond the dinner table, I know that writing will always be something I cherish (even when my characters stubbornly refuse to cooperate with the plot or my computer mysteriously loses the story I spent the entire afternoon working on…) The sense of accomplishment and pride writing brings will long keep me coming back for more!

Sara

Inspiration works in mysterious ways

I’ve only half come to terms with the fact that I can start writing a story in my head as a way to fall asleep. Since I’ve written really good stuff – well, I think so, anyway – during the day and get all keyed up about it, I don’t fully understand why it doesn’t work the same way at night.

Somehow, when I’m laying in bed and trying to ignore dog/husband/child snoring or get my mind to stop composing to-do lists for the following day, it’s easy to find characters and dialogue that not only fit for a story (either new or one in progress) but also lull me to Dreamland.

I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s great to have a strategy for those moments when sleep eludes me – they come far too often with a toddler and small baby – and if there’s no other opportunity during the day to let my mind wander to storywriting, at least I’ve got a bit of a creative outlet built in.

Now to solve the mystery of how my brain remembers what I create late at night…

Becca

Kaleidoscope

            I was a sophomore in college when Kate and I had an apartment together; it was one of those classic college friendships of opposites.  Newly moved from Dallas, I laughed at Kate’s fear of crossing the street in the “big city”.  She was a stranger in a strange land.  Austin, Texas was a world away from her childhood home in rural Pennsylvania, and we had many long conversations about culture as she tried to take in the big sky, the obsession with pick-up trucks, and the giant glasses of sweet iced tea that seemed to appear at every meal.

            She swore you could read latitude just by the size of the tea glasses in the restaurants.

            We had more fundamental differences, as well.  She was struggling with identity as a child of a parent who had just ended a marriage and come out of the closet, her defenses of this newly discovered sore spot scanning every comment that I, raised by strictly religious protestants not known for their tolerance, made.  In spite of all this, we were great friends.

            One autumn day we were walking across the campus when she asked me, “Why do you always look at the ground when you walk?”

            The question startled me.  To be honest, I’d never noticed that I did this, but I instantly knew the answer.  “Because you never know what you might find on the ground.”

            Unsatisfied, she persisted.  “But you’re missing so much!”  She pointed out the birds in the trees, the group of young men playing frisbee, the world in general that she was obviously afraid was passing me by as I kept my eyes scanning the ground ahead of me.  “What do you think you’re going to find, anyway?”

            I probably would not remember this conversation with such clarity, but the universe has a sense of humor, and it chose that moment to deposit a dollar bill at my feet.  I pounced, held it up triumphantly in lieu of an answer, and we argued over it through the rest of the walk to the bus stop.

            The wonderful thing is that both of us were right.  I probably did miss many things by constantly staring at the ground, and from that day forward I made a point to look up more often.  Kate missed things as well, and not just of a monetary nature… fallen leaves, the scurry of a lizard sliding into a crack in the sidewalk, even the rainbow sheen on a puddle of oil had beauty if you looked closely enough.  

            I tell you this story as an introduction to our blog.  Among many things I learned in college was this life lesson:  We’re all different, we come from different places, we’re headed to different places, and we see the world in different ways.  I won’t pretend this was a new lesson, that no one else has stumbled upon it before or since, or that it was the last time I had to learn it. 

             But it remains important, because sharing our stories and viewpoints is one of the foundations of the human experience.  Read, remember, speak and tell, and see how we are all different and all the same.  I hope you enjoy this peek at the world through our kaleidoscope.

– Janet

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