Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Havisham Corners -- Home of the Weird, Creepy and Insanely Creative

Welcome to Havisham Corners -- it is where I have spent a large amount of time over the last few months and promises to be my home away from home over the next two months. No, I'm not relocating or taking an extended vacation and I am not going to some weird Charles Dickens fantasy camp (which would be quite the fantasy camp. Fantasy camp for the seriously depressed maybe???). Havisham Corners is the town my writing group will be exploring and creating for our third annual anthology. The reason I will be spending so much time there is that I am the editor of said anthology as well as a contributing author.

Before I get into the anthology itself, let me first talk about my fellow residents -- the contributing authors and co-creators of the town. I am not exaggerating when I say that they are insanely creative. I approached the group with my idea a few months back for a shared world in which we could all write. I came up with the basics -- town name, location, story behind the town and a mostly blank map. I gave my presentation, my palms slightly sweaty, and sat back, waiting for the reactions. To say that they were excited is an understatement. Within a few weeks, the group had effectively made this small, eccentric town come to life with stories and myths and an eagerness to put this town on the map -- and I mean that as literally as I can given that it is indeed a fictitious town...a fictitious town with its own website that is. All I can say is that my cohorts in the Creative Minds Collective rock! I am so eager to read all of the finished works and put this anthology together!

So, on to Havisham Corners! Havisham Corners is a small, ocean side town in New England. Brimming with history, the town is a tourist mecca for all those interested in salty sea air, antiques and rustic old town charm. So stop by, peruse the shops, and soak in the rich atmosphere, but be sure to leave by sundown. As the stories in the book will tell you, life after sundown in Havisham Corners is not for the faint of heart and definitely not for the tourists. Anything that can go bump in the night can and does in this haven for the eerie.

So...are you intrigued? Want to read more? Be sure to catch the 3rd volume of the Creative Mind's Collective anthology, available in mid-October on Amazon. More details to follow!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

WADD -- Writers' Attention Deficit Disorder

When I started writing over a year ago, I never thought I'd be able to come up with anything to write. I always wanted to be a writer, I could just never come up with anything substantial. My issue was never the characters as I've never had an issue coming up with people to write about (I attribute this to a steady diet of soap operas from a very young age). The problem has always been coming up with something for the characters to do. Thanks to my incredibly creative writing group, writing prompts, and my love of reading, the ideas are a little easier to come by. The problem now? I am pretty sure that I am developing ADD.

Currently in the writing queue are two novels (which I started a year ago), a short story, and my flash fiction story. Other projects requiring attention are my NaNoWriMo novel which needs editing, and short story for the anthology I am editing this summer which still needs developed. This may sound like a lot, but the number of projects isn't the issue. The issue at hand is that I cannot focus long enough to finish any one task.

Surely one reason for this is the lack of time that I have to devote to my new-found obsession. If I am lucky, I have maybe 1 to 1.5 hours daily to write. I am seldom that lucky. After getting up at the crack of dawn with my early bird son, running around like a maniac all day, and working all afternoon and into the night, sitting down at ten o'clock is not the easiest thing to accomplish. In fact, there are many times that I actually fall asleep as soon as I set the old laptop on my lap. Luckily, there have not been any laptop fatalities from this action. So, exhaustion is definitely one reason why I seem to be accumulating more projects and finishing none.

Another reason for this inability to focus is that I have too many ideas. The plight of most writers is writer's block. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to write but not being able to come up with any ideas. I am fortunate in that this is not my issue. But, probably because I'm new at the whole writing thing, ideas flow fast and furious. Despite my attempts to push them off, they demand be written. You may think I am joking, but once an idea for a story takes up residence in your mind, you have no choice but to, if nothing else, jot down at least some of the idea. If you don't the concept kicks around inside of your head and drives you nuts. So, you just add another story to the queue and lament that it also is partial and nowhere close to complete. What can I say? It is a vicious cycle.

So, the question is, how do I remedy this issue? I wish I knew. A few techniques in particular have proven to be somewhat helpful. Outlining has been key. The only way that I was able to finish my NaNo novel was that I thought about it ahead of time, created an outline of events and stuck it for the thirty days of NaNoWriMo. I have tried this tactic with the two novels and have had less success as I keep deviating from the outline and moving the stories into new directions. But the frame of the outline has helped.

Also, I have been paying as little attention to the new ideas as possible. I try to write down the idea, perhaps also in outline form, and then put it aside for a later date. The ideas still ping around in my head, but the fact that I at least have something written down seems to help. If nothing else, I won't forget the idea when I finally have time to address it.

And, last, I am trying to write more. This, of course, is the hardest part. There has been a lot more coffee and a little less sleep the last few weeks as I attempt to do this, but it is still a struggle. But, to appropriate a phrase I have heard many many times (and believe wholeheartedly), nothing worth having comes easy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I, She, They, We -- The Difficult Decision that is POV

When you sit down to read a book, the thought of POV (Point of View) rarely crosses your mind. You may note that the story is in 1st or 3rd person as you read, but all in all, it isn't something that becomes central to your focus.

As silly as it sounds, for every story I create, that one decision plagues me every time I sit down to write. I mull it over when I start, make a decision, and then inevitably end up waffling back and forth over whether I chose correctly. It is really annoying.

My general M.O. is as follows: I begin the story in 3rd person POV, as I only have an idea of my character. Other than a vague description and maybe a few personality traits, I don't know enough about them that I feel comfortable writing in their voice. So, I write around 10,000 words and then begin to think that maybe I should have written it in 1st person POV. By this point I know my character better and begin to see that the story may be more interesting if they were the narrator instead of me. I then switch POV to 1st person and resume writing where I left off, all the while realizing that I am going to have to go back eventually and fix the beginning. Another 10,000 to 20,000 words later, I begin to wonder if I had it right the first time and consider switching back to 3rd person POV. And on it goes.

Now, you may wonder if it really makes that much of a difference. In my opinion, it does, hence my indecision. It is true that the POV really doesn't effect the plot. The same circumstances are going to occur regardless. In fact much of the dialogue stays the same as well. But it is the insight from the narrator that differs. It is whether you experience the events through the main character's eyes or a third party's point of view that colors your experience as you read the book. Think about your favorite book. Try to imagine that story if the POV were different. It boggles the mind to think just how different major works of literature would be if the author chose differently.

So that's my struggle. I actually turned the corner with this issue a few months back by writing a story that contained both 1st and 3rd person. I am currently editing that story, so we'll see what happens. Maybe that story will break me out of the POV rut.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Trials and Tribulations of Writing

So, here goes. I am a writer...or at least trying to be. I used to think that I had great skill in writing and that it was only the formulation of ideas where I was lacking. After a year, I've learned that it is definitely the other way around.

I've always known that this is what I wanted to do, I just wasn't sure how to get started. Enter The Creative Minds Collective. I went to my first meeting in January of 2009 just looking for something to do that would get me out of the house for a while a few times a month. I'd never put one word on paper in a creative capacity, but I thought I'd give it a go. A year later, writing is my passion and the ideas seem to flow fast and furious. What I was unprepared for was how difficult it is to put them on paper in a way that is true to the vision in my head. Some days, it is quite a struggle. But, in the end, when you have something to show for all of your hard work, something you created in your mind and was able to put to paper, there isn't a feeling like it. It is totally worth it.

So starts my blog outlining the trials and tribulations of being a writer. It won't be all gloom and doom. I will share the good times as well as the bad times and everything in between. And hopefully, somewhere along the journey, some success stories will emerge. Here's hoping...