An Introduction to the King-dom

59th Trial: Having your significant other read your novel can go either way. If he/she is your ideal reader, than by all means attempt it. As Jamie is not my ideal reader (I say lovingly), I struggle to navigate her critique without losing too much blood.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing: 12hr

Weekly Choice of Tea: Dragon Oolong

Biggest Success: I have read through Jane Austen’s “Emma.” I learned a lot from this novel – it is the first Austen book I read where character development and plot is largely through dialogue. I have never read something so dependent on dialogue – and how each character was so thoroughly understood. I would laugh when Miss Bates would go on for three pages, and then when you thought she had lost her breath, another three pages would maintain her voice; Ms. Austen did not attempt to cut her short. That stamina is remarkable.

I begin this blog with all that I have learned from not just Jane Austen, but dare I say – Steven King. There are many reasons why I have not picked up a Steven King novel: my childhood, for one, would not allow it. I have grown up afraid of him, as I have of clowns. The movie “IT” was enough for me to acknowledge that his stories are of a darker hue, and when picking up new novels, I do not look for those which will turn me blue.

I have taken solace in Jane Austen because I have never had the same desire that Mr. King has to look under the bed, or to follow that noise down into the sewers. He is, however, unavoidable when you begin reading books on the art of writing. From Atwood’s own instructive novel she recommended Stephen King’s non-fiction “On Writing,” and I felt it was due time I was introduced to the man who has truly built a kingdom of imagination – one that I have skirted around for years.

But this is where I was taken by surprise – I am ashamed to admit that I pegged him solely as the author of IT, and had no idea that he was the pen behind “The Shining,” “Carrie,” and “Shawshank Redemption” – all movies that I love and stories that I admire (for their own reasons). I have always known about a rabid dog name Cujo without questioning where it came from. Mr. King’s abundance of stories and the far reaches of his fantasy world was little known to me outside of cinema, and after reading his memoir “On Writing,” I am now more comfortable with him, and therefore more forgiving. I think I could even sit in the same room as him now. Alone – yet still not at night. Nor in a creaky house. He may, however, make my list of people to band together during a supernatural apocalypse. A mind like that will always take good measure when zombies are afoot.

But I digress. Mr. King’s (as I am apt to call him, more likely still out of fear than my hope for respect) novel was fun to read – his humor towards the world of writers is comforting, and his confidence is encouraging. There is no coddling, and you get inspiration in his unwavering esteem of the written word. I appreciated most his unorthodox approach in beginning any story – in his way, you do not start by being plot or theme heavy. You listen to the multitude of stories that come at you everyday and you just start writing those that stick, or that take on their own joyride. Because stories do take on their own momentum, just as characters who start in your voice begin to take on their own. Their actions begin to differ, and the plot, the themes, the symbolism come together in a most natural way. This is important to realize and accept, but can only be realized once you have written a novel. I wouldn’t have understood it if I were not standing on this side of the fence.

I also appreciate the simple definition he gives good writers: to improve your writing, you must read and write a lot. And without shame – just complete indulgence. Your writing is initially done with the door shut and only for your enjoyment. There is no pressure in that, and can be playful. Now, if I lived in place other than San Francisco, where apartment’s here are the size of parking spots (which ironically don’t even exist in this city to us trades-people), I would have an actual door to shut. But alas, my door must be figuratively speaking.

What I learned from Mr. King:

  1. “Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”
  2. “…prissy attention to detail that takes all the fun out of writing.” Prose is not an instruction manual, as he puts it : do not list what is on the table to set the scene. Instead, describe them with meaning that only your story can hold.
  3. On writing: “Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”
  4. “One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re a little bit ashamed of your short ones.” I applaud this statement – a simple sentence can cut with the sharpness of a knife. And one of the reason’s I cannot stand Stephanie Meyer.
  5. DON’TS: Passive Tense Verbs. Adverbs.
  6. “…fear is at the root of most bad writing.” If a writer feels the need that they have to spell it out for the reader, then they need to come to terms with their own way of writing.
  7. “…while to write adverbs is human, to write ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ is divine.”
  8. Paragraphs control the beat of the story.
  9. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
  10. Mr. King recommends to start with situation rather than a well thought out plot. Not knowing the outcome will allow the character’s to create their own.
  11. Description: it’s not how-to, it is how much to do. Keep the reader engaged, the ball rolling, and your ego in check.
  12. Tell the truth as a writer. Observe how people interact, and how situations unravel. Transcribe it with that same clarity.

Something More…Oriental!

33rd Trial: Putting it all aside to pursue a 4 month adventure around Southeast Asia

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 4 hrs. I was not able to conclude at a good stopping point, but time waits for no man.

Weekly Choice of Tea:  Mint Tea

Biggest Success:  Fitting everything I packed into one backpack. I have no idea how that was accomplished.

This week I travel to Southeast Asia, and shall continue to greet the adventures that await me for the following 4 months! I shall not forget my purpose in literary pursuit nor chiropractic philosophy, and expect my time in these countries to inspire me to create. How interesting it will be to see what influences I can bring to the humble neighborhood in my story, though an Indonesian volcano cannot be the backdrop in countryside Ohio. But at least in seeing new lands and new cultures I can focus on the story’s morale, the heart that beats within the pages. I will not be able to progressively write the chapters as I have been doing, but I can progress it in other ways.

I look forward to sharing with my blog what I see and what will translate in my writing. But also, the beauty and knowledge that new landscapes bring. Here is an introductory to the trip:  in Vietnam we will kayak Halong Bay’s islands, caves, and clear water. In Cambodia we will walk around the ruins of Angkor Wat. The vast beaches, islands, and monasteries will meet us in Thailand. We will see Malaysia’s large tea plantations and the world’s oldest forest. In Singapore, we will go on a night-time safari and see the incredible city. Indonesia will amaze us with an orangutan reserve, crater lakes, active volcanoes, and the best surfing spots available! Boo Radley really, really wanted to come, but she will be happy spending time with her grandparents!

Boo for SEAsia

I am happy to bring you along on the trip, as much as Wi-Fi spots and down time will allow! See you on the flip-side of the world!

Follow our trip at:  www.tofallup.com

Art, Love, Loss, and Literature

29th Trial:  Interpretation.

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 1hr. I am not sad about the lack of writing that has happened this past month–though any reader to this blog must be. I have decided that before Feb 1st, I will have completed chapter 5 and IDEALLY chapter 6.

Weekly Choice of “Tea”:  Gingerbread Latte

Biggest Success:  Jamie and I purchased tickets to visit Vietnam! Everything we own is now in boxes and storage…why not see the world before we have to be responsible adults again?

 

How does one interpret? Art, love, and the inevitable goodbye? Any absence or void leaves behind it a remembrance, just as any writer or painter leaves behind an echo of their voice. Do we look upon such voids or legacies with sadness and loss? Or with warmth and admiration? I had a very eventful visit with Jamie’s family over Christmas break, one in which I was left to ponder loss, love, and art. For one, Jersey their beloved husky, died the morning after Christmas after two emergency visits. The void was suffocating as it was quick and unexpected. While my heart was heavy with the feeling that something was taken that shouldn’t have been, others felt the memory of Jersey lived on and was enough to make their hearts light.

Secondly, we saw the Cleveland Museum of Art, where interpretation thrived in the whimsical strokes of Renoir and Degas, and hardened in the corners of Picasso. They created art that speaks volumes today, and still takes people by alarm and uncertainty.

Thirdly, we saw The Danish Girl, where I cried at any moment of love, longing, and insecurity. It was truly a story of acceptance, and the characters surrounding Eddie Redmayne were, to me, unparalleled in kindness and unprejudiced temperament. I was stunned by the attitudes and the beauty of each character we followed, and my interpretation, while my own, could not be more in favor.

Lastly, I have been so inspired by the aforementioned events, that I look toward the upcoming event in my chapter where I hope to illustrate my thoughts on reality and interpretation. To accomplish this, I reached back to 2014 where I stood in front of the infamous mural by Herakut while I was in Miami, FL.

This mural is pictured for you, and I would love to hear any interpretations you might have!

Herakut1Herakut2

At the Center of Detail

21th Trial: What do you see when you look at art?

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 0 hours

Weekly choice of tea: Pumpkin Spice Chai

Greatest Success:  Swam Three miles! I’ve got a couple more to go, then St. Croix open swim race here I come!

I see this portrait of a husky that Jamie painted, and already its image steadies itself within my mind. You understand art, or you search within other’s interpretations and understand theirs. Within a minute or an hour, the observation of art brings balance with its ability to create knowledge. Look at the Husky’s eyes, the colors of contrast within its mane, and you understand Jamie more. How she views the beauty of her art, how she creates beyond the boundaries of reality.

I find that the time I have spent away from my novel, I look at it as of a stranger’s painting on a wall. In a second I know it–as naturally, it has my strings! However, the question arises of what I am trying to create. Alas! What does happen when the artist puts the art brush down, only to then pick it up again? Creation will ensue, however to what cost? I already am itching to retrace my steps. I see what could be inserted into this section, or maybe an event could be placed between such-and-such paragraph to foreshadow where we are now. Like the painted accents of gold that fleck through the mane of the Husky, the artist must know when to start adding, editing, changing, and knowing when to stop. Already I have not yet concluded chapter four–it seems much too soon to go back now and focus on what could be inserted. I find that the most assure way to not re-edit the same passages a thousand times is to blunder forward, and once I know the conclusion (or course for that matter) of my novel, then can I bend and alter the scenes that have led up to it. I just hope that the words penetrate in the future as they do now, as if to hope the blue eyes of the dog maintain their mystery, or that the calm yellow around it’s eyes bring balance to the fierce reds of it’s fur.

What I see when I look at my novel may not be the understanding that years of progressing it will induce. I can only rely on my taste changing ten-fold as I weave through the lives of my characters, and allow the unfolding plot to give direction on how to retrace the path back to chapter one. Like this artwork, I see my story’s center. Yet I cannot tell how I will accent it, or exactly how much gold I should use. Placing detail where it ought not be can be very distracting, and bring failure to the finished artwork. Does the same apply to a novel? Can one add too much detail? My answer changes depending on who I cannel!