Friday, 29 July 2011

I dare you to move

I recently re-discovered Switchfoot.  I know - not everybody's cup of mint-laced tea.  Or cyanide-laced tea, whatever.  Gotta love the almond flavour.  Anyway, getting the derailment out of the way.

Switchfoot has a song called I Dare Your To Move.  I kind of like the song.  I won't say it is my favourite song, not by a long shot.  But it is good and thought-provoking.  They probably meant it to have bearing on living for more than yourself, and not settling for second best.  And that is great.  But I started thinking that it is more than that.  If your parents were anything like mine, then you would have had a constant struggle with doing well enough.  At school, university, wherever, I was always supposed to be able to do better.  Hell, getting 85% average in my last year at school wasn't even good enough.  They didn't expect me to actually do that well, I could tell.  But even when I exceeded their expectations, they said "so why didn't you get 90%?"

As you can imagine, I am kind of screwed up because of that.  I am scientifically inclined.  I like to analyse requirements and meet them.  Exceed them if I can.  But how am I supposed to meet or exceed expectations that are so fluid?  Not that that is the point of this post.

My point is this: what are your expectations for yourself?  What do you expect from your writing?  If you expect it to be excellent, it will be excellent because you will work had at making it excellent.  If you think your writing will be mediocre, that is what it will turn out to be.  Because you will work at it untill it meets your expectations.  And that is where it will stay.

I have realised that it is my responsibilty to set my expecations where I want them.  They don't have to be realistic.  But "if you shoot for the moon, you may land on the stars."  There's a reason why something becomes a cliché, by the way.

A final word on my academic exploits.  After seeing the reaction to my high school results, I stopped giving a stinky rat's ass about my marks.  I passed all my subjects the first time around.  I studied hard but it stopped ruling my life.  Why would I try my utmost to meet other people's expectations if it shifted all the time?

Other people's expectations of you can break you or it can help you gain the highest step.  I was so blessed to hear how some friends of ours encouraged their daughter to do what she loved.  She loves to write and they encouraged her to write.  She recently won a national essay writing comeptition hosted by the US embassy in South Africa.  She is 16 years old.  She won the competition.  She got to meet Mrs Obama, she is lauded everywhere as an awesome writer.  I am so proud of her.  More than that, I am proud of her parents.

I guess what I'm trying to say is be careful who you listen to.  Some people have good intentions but bad execution.  It hurts.  But don't let that stop you from being the best you can be.  If you are one of the really lucky ones like Carla, be very grateful that the people who surround you and have influence on you are encouraging you and building you up.

After all of this, I want to say one thing more: it does not matter if the people around you help you or harm you in your writing.  Or in anything that you set your mind to doing.  Your future is in your hands.  If you don't work at it, nobody is going to do it for you.  It's up to you.  Take God's help and input.  At least you can be sure that He has only the best advice.

I dare you to move.  I dare you to go out there and live above the expectations people put on you.  Even if those expectations are great, don't be limited by that.  Set your own expectations.  Go for it.  Move.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

It's time to be honest

I'm sorry for anyone who read the half of this post that was up earlier.  I had a bit of posting problems.  I see the post ended in half a sentence too.  I'm fixing that...

This weekend I attended a women's conference organised by our church.  A lot of things fell in place for me today.  Things about my life and things about my story.  I want to share some of it with you.

I have served God for most of my life.  I credit Him with everything I have, most of all my talent to write.  I have always written.  Not always on paper and not always structured.  But there have always been stories.  It's just that I never felt fulfilled in my writing. It never had a purpose beyond who I was.  That frustrated me immensely.  I always wrote for myself, to please myself.  Now I have found my purpose.  A seed that has always been inside me germinated today.  Today I know why God gave me the talent to write.

Human trafficking is a big problem all around the world.  It is abhorrent that one person can abuse and sell another for profit.  It is modern day slavery.  It is the evil of our society.  And God wants to put a stop to it.  He has a plan and I am part of it.

My story has a new purpose.  I realised that what I thought it was for was totally wrong.  I know that I don't have my talent for nothing.  I was selfish in my writing.  You will remember how I went on about it being MY writing and I will write the way I want to blah blah blah.  Whatever.

I also realised that I was trying to write in my own strength.  I was doing it my way without help from anyone.  If someone gave me advice I would listen, but I would still do it my way mostly.  Most of all I never prayed about my writing.  It was like I thought God had nothing to do with it or that He wasn't interested.  I know now how wrong I was.  God is interested in every little thing that you do.  I just never gave Him the opportunity to give His input into what I was doing.  Silly me.

I have a new idea of what my writing is about.  I was right about the theme and subject matter.  I wasn't sure about the story, though.  I have a much better idea of where it should go.  I even have the title.  I am well on my way to writing a Masterpiece.  Anything I do that is for God's Kingdom WILL be a masterpiece.  And yes, this book is for the glory of His Kingdom.

I'm not trying to make my writing sound extra super special!  I just know that whatever I do for God will prosper.  It may be a small purpose, but it is a purpose nonetheless.

Have you found the purpose of your writing yet?  How do you keep that in mind while you write?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

I'm writing backwards

A while ago I my character was interviewed by Misha.  In that interview I learned that my character once lived on a farm in a house next to a river.  To me, that is the start of the story.  I learned that she was taken by my main antagonist from her mother when she was young, etc.  All of this was the start of my story, at least chronologically.  But Chronos was defeated with one fell swoop of the pen!  I have now written what I have thought would be the end.  But no, my entire plan was thwarted by an old lady.

We all know someone like that.  The kindest, sweetest old lady.  She never rushes, she is slightly bent over from age, she holds all the wisdom of the world in the palm of her hand.  And she is one of those "Why, no, dear.  There was nothing in the tea.  It was in the brownies." -people.  The scariest people on earth are those old ladies who seem so meek and frail but who are very, very dangerous.  Kind of like Gandalf.  Just female.

My MC has a granny.  A granny who knows everything about her.  A granny who will probably turn out to know how to do the Jedi Mind Trick better than Yoda.  This granny boldly kidnapped my MC and took her to her childhood home.  Against my wishes.  And I am thrilled!  I couldn't have asked for it any other way.  My planning is absolutely stuffed, but I am so excited to see where everything goes from here.

I don't even want to ask if this has ever happened to you.  If probably has, lots of times.  I know I am new at writing, but it is really cool. :)

So have you had the experience?  What happened  Did it make the story better than you first thought it would be?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I rant!

I have ants in my pants.  I am getting so edgy that I can hardly sit still.  That feeling where you know that you’re not where you should be but you know you can’t move forward just yet.  I feel like I want to tear away and do something out of character, something crazy.  I want to take risks.  I want to go out there and change the world.  I want to make my mark.  I want to move.  I just don’t know where.

I write, I read, I cook, I study, I work.  I like learning new things.  I want to be challenged with new ideas.  I want new experiences.  I am tired of being content.  And yet what I am searching for is contentment.

I know that everybody fits somewhere.  I know that everything has its place but I feel like mine was moved.  I need space to grow and expand.  I want to expand.  Now.

I want to move and change and yet all I want is a quiet life.  I don’t want to climb mountains.  I want to be able to do what I love forever.  Yes, I want to be content.  But I don’t want to be complacent.  I don’t want to be satisfied with what I have just because that is what I have.  I know that there is something more out there; I just need to go out there and find it.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Being inspired

I started reading The Lord of the Rings again today.  Last time I read it only up to the second-to-last chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring.  This morning I picked up where I left off last time.  And Tolkien blows my mind.  Every.  Single.  Time.

I think any writer who has a block or who is not inspired to write should read LOTR.  It is by far the best-written, most inspired, best thought through, involved, in-depth (add more words of awe) book that exists.  Ever.  I know I might be a bit biased, but Tolkien is the most awesomest writer ever.  And I am not saying this just because I have read LOTR and maybe The Hobbit.  I have also read his Tales of a Perilous Realm and The Silmarillion and have The Book of Lost Tales is on my reading list.

This morning I *nearly* put down LOTR to go on writing my own story!  That is the power of inspiration.  I can't wait to finish work so that I can go on writing.  Or to continue reading.  Now, there is a bit of a problem...  How do I choose between reading the most awesome novel in the history of novels and writing my own?

Lucky for me my latest WiP is not a fantasy (at the moment *holds thumbs*).  I can't be too heabily influenced by the story line of LOTR.  And it is not really the story line that inspires me, I know that far too well by now.  What inspires me is the absolute unrelenting quality of the writing.  The flawless editing.  The years of love and lore that went into creating a masterpiece.

I am inspired to write.  I will write.  As soon as I can rip myself away from reading!

What about you?  What inspires you to write?  Who is your favourite author and how does his/her work influence your own?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Writing differently

You all would remember that I blogged about being stuck in my story last time.  I had a big revelation about that today.  I wish to share with the class.

I was stuck writing for quite a few reasons which I will list like a good scientist (that even rhymes!)
  • I don't have much time for writing.  I often have to work through lunch or I have meetings over lunchtime, etc.  My lunch hour is my primary writing time, by the way.  In the evenings I am home with my husband and since I am relatively newly married, I enjoy spending the evening with him without having to actually do something.  So evenings are usually not a good time for me to write either.
  • I had a blocky thing in my mind with my story.  I don't know if it is psychological or not, but every time any story of mine manages to get underway, I lose interest.  Not in the story as such but more in the way I am writing it.  I get tired of writing in third person or I get bored with the setting of my story.
  • Miscellaneous reasons here.
 Well, to the solving of the problem.  I said right from the beginning that I am writing this story for me, not for anyone else.  So why was I writing by everybody else's rules?  Writing is first a creative exercise and then a scientific one.  Not the other way around.  And I've been approaching all my writing in a scientific way.  I blame my brain.  I always had the formula.  My story will be:
  • Set in X time period.
  • Have X number of characters.
  • Will be written in X voice.
  • Will be narrated by X.
  • And so on and so forth.
In my newest story I decided I want to write in first person because I thought is would be, quote, easier.  I decided to keep to a topic that I am well-informed on.  I decided to keep to a time period that I don't have to research.  You know, keeping things simple for this attempt at a debut.

Once would think that having a well-defined guideline on "how it should be done" would help getting the story written.  Not true.  My most productive writing sessions have been when I throw all the rules out the window and write what I feel like writing.  I mean, I am not writing to please anyone but myself.  Why then should I write in the socially acceptable manner?  Even more important, why should I write parts that I don't feel like writing? 

One day when I decide to attempt publishing (not a major goal for me at this stage), I will get down to writing the book in the acceptable way.  I realise that no publisher will publish the mish-mash I've got going at the moment.  I don't care.  I am not writing to be published.  I am writing for the fun of it.  For me.

I realise this might be a controversial topic (or not, who knows?) but what do you think?  How do you manage wanting to write in different styles at different times?