Tag Archives: inspiration

Paperback Writer

‘Paperback Writer’ is one of my favorite Beatles’ songs and often serves as a source of both humor and inspiration to me. I listen to this one often, but didn’t think much about the lyrics until recently. If you’re not familiar with the song, you can check out the Wikipedia entry here.

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?

This is easy enough to understand. A simple question authors often send to someone they hope will be sympathetic to their work: an editor, a publisher, or a reader.

It took me years to write, will you take a look?

Again, simple and to the point. True, too, since a good book takes a long time to create. Writing is a huge commitment that isn’t for the faint of heart.

It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear

Many novels are based on the works of someone the author read and admired in the past. No surprise here.

And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer

This I find amusing. Many people feel they have at least one great novel in them. Most writers work a day job to pay the bills, so they’re considered hobbyists on the publishing front. Except for the ‘overnight successes’ who can give up the rat race to sit in their pajamas with a computer all day.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this so much is that I’ve been off track on the writing for a while now. My day job wears me out, which isn’t a good excuse if I truly want to write since the only writing time available to me is after work. People committed to writing and publishing will get in a few minutes of creative time no matter how hectic their schedules. My plan (again) is to commit to my art in the coming year.

My hope is to be able to ask you the immortal question from the beginning of this song some time this year: Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?

After all, I want to be a Paperback Writer!

Why Write? A Tale of Procrastination and Progress.

Why write?

Or, more specifically, why do I want to write?

I’ve asked myself this question a lot. Over the past few years, I’ve been trapped in a cycle of self-doubt. Disgust washes over me whenever I re-read any writing I’ve managed during that time. This has led me to a series of activities that I convinced myself were writing related: reading, watching AuthorTube videos, plotting, planning, daydreaming. You know…all the basics of procrastination.

Anything but writing. Even though I have an awesome work space (see below), complete with a sign warning away people who dare try to distract me – which honestly isn’t too hard to do!

why writeThe good news.

Watching YouTube videos (#authortube) helped me realize all writers suffer from self-doubt. I need to stop being so hard on myself. No first draft will ever match the masterpiece I imagine. Work needs to be done to hone the raw material into something worthy of publication. This is one reason to write: the challenge of turning a stone into a sparkling gem. And this is an enjoyable challenge. I just need to remember that the first things to flow from fingers to keyboard to screen aren’t the ones that may one day go out into the world. There’s no need to feel disgusted by a first draft. My new #authortube friends have been a great help in teaching me this important lesson, and for that I’m very grateful. This, in turn, helped me to answer the “why write” question.

Why else would I write?

As a child, I walked to school alone most every day. This gave me a lot of quiet time to create stories in my head. These tales were most often built upon a favorite TVshow and character. The habit of rewriting and expanding upon television programs carried over into adulthood, when I started typing some of these thoughts in manuscript form. In other words, I began creating fan fiction because I like to answer the eternal “what if” question. If a show didn’t quite end the way I liked, I could create an alternate version, which has become a very popular pastime for a lot of people. Chances are that you, dear reader, have done the same thing at one time or another.

Fun, isn’t it?

The problem.

I’ve come to realize one of the reasons I’ve had trouble writing is I’m now creating original fiction instead of building upon already-established characters. My new friends aren’t as fully-formed as the ones I once wrote about. So I’m having more trouble picturing how their stories might play out. This isn’t a bad thing, really. Bringing unknown characters to life can be quite a challenge (there’s that word again). With these new people, new situations, and sometimes even new worlds, I have the opportunity to share the stories important to me. This can be powerful and heady stuff when done right…or write, as the case may be.

Why write?

The short answer for me seems to be that I like a challenge. Of course, this challenge can also be so daunting as to lead to an extended period of writers’ block. The reason I want to write is also the reason I fear writing. Am I up to the challenge of creating something others might want to read?

That’s not the question I should have been asking myself. What I should ask is whether or not there’s a story I want to tell. Do I want to challenge myself to create characters and worlds I find entertaining? If so, that’s answer enough for the question. No one else need ever care about these stories, though some part of me will always hope others might also enjoy them.

What about you?

Why write? What inspires and motivates you?

If you’re having trouble with your own writing, think about those questions. Use some of your procrastination time to consider why writing is important to you. Check out the #authortube channel on YouTube. If you’re interested, try out some of my favorites: Kristen Martin, Vivian Reis, Kim Chance, Su Scribes, Joanne Mallory, and Jenna Moreci. These are only a few of the people I follow, and chances are you may find others that I haven’t yet discovered.

Most important of all…

Image result for writing quotes

Inspiration: A Global Search

Inspiration Around the World

Inspiration at Blarney Castle

Inspiration for my current writing project came in the form of second trip to the Emerald Isle where lush greenery abounds beneath often leaden skies. Castles and cathedrals dot the misty landscapes. History and romance go hand-in-hand wherever you turn.

The project mentioned above is the third piece of a travel romance series where the main novels follow the journey of self-discovery of Lilibet Travance. The offshoot books branch off into tales of others who relate to her in some way. Writing travel romances leads, of course, to more travel! A win/win for both me and my readers.

However, not all the future books may be based on recent trips. Another source of global background could be mined from my memories of living in Japan. My family’s experiences in the Land of the Rising Sun provide fascinating fodder for romance.

Inspiration Around the Block

Inspiration in Northern Nevada

While not as green as Ireland, northern Nevada also inspires creativity. The trail shown above is just a few miles from my house. Here the scent of sage and snow hang heavy on the air. Birds of prey circle overhead. Wind whistles through barren branches and pushes clouds across the endless sky.

These views define the bulk of the first portion of an epic series. Lil’s experiences in the Wild West and beyond underscore the changes she faces after leaving her home and family in the Midwest. Landscapes both at home and abroad serve not only as background, but as a means of self-exploration. In the end, physical travel serves as a metaphor for her emotional journey.

For more regular posts about my works-in-progress and inspiring landscapes, check out my social media. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys

Nancy Drew Mysteries
One of my favorites.

A librarian first introduced me to the Nancy Drew mysteries back when I was in elementary school in the 1970s. Once I’d caught up to that series, I started in on the Hardy Boys. This was in the days when the books were released as hardcovers and the stories continued to be set in the 1950s and 1960s so they were full of women wearing awesome dresses and getting their hair done, the men sometimes wearing suits and ties, and them all driving around in what I imagined to be cool classic cars.

Nancy Drew, an eighteen-year-old from River Heights, lived with her father Carson and their housekeeper Hannah Gruen. Nancy’s mother died when she was a young child and she’d grown up with her lawyer father and the motherly Hannah. I loved the fact that Nancy was able to go out and solve mysteries with her best friends, tomboy George Fayne and the more ladylike Bess Marvin, as well as her long-time boyfriend Ned NIckerson. Though I always felt I resembled Bess in stature (she’s often described as being a bit overweight), I loved that my hair color seemed to be close to Nancy’s, which is called ‘Titian’ (or strawberry blonde) in the books. The Nancy Drew series gave me my first glimpse into a world where kids weren’t always hanging around with their parents; the characters were young adults able to go out into the world on their own to explore and experience exciting adventures, which I wanted to do in the worst way. As I entered my pre-teen and early teen years, I also enjoyed the romantic element of Nancy and Ned as a couple and dreamed of finding my own version of Ned someday. The books also introduced me to an expanded vocabulary, such as the word ‘stentorian’ (uncommonly loud) from The Phantom of Pine Hill. 

Another favorite of mine.
Another favorite of mine.

The Hardy Boys, who lived in Bayport with their father Fenton, their mother Laura (who I don’t remember), and their Aunt Gertrude also went out in the world and got into trouble without much in the way of adult supervision. Like Nancy Drew, they often got in over their heads while trying to solve mysteries, and were sometimes in life-threatening situations. I was less interested in the romantic exploits of the brothers than I’d been with Nancy and Ned and tended to be jealous of any female who showed an interest in younger brother, Joe, a fact which carried over when I started watching the television version in the 1970s and developed a huge crush on Shaun Cassidy.

Both series of books were well-written and I always looked forward to either checking out or buying the most recent release. The stories held my attention and I got into trouble on many an occasion for reading past my bedtime and being too tired at school the following day. I admired authors Keene and Dixon and had a secret desire to write both experience and write about exciting adventures the way they did.

I admired the authors until the day I learned they were nothing more than a couple pseudonyms assigned to ghostwriters hired by the Stratemeyer Syndicate (which is a post for another time). Upon first learning this news, I felt a strong disappointment in both the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Mysteries, but I got over that when I revisited the books as an adult. When I went back and re-read them again, I found my nostalgia for what those books had meant to me cancelled out the sense of betrayal I’d felt at learning the truth about the authors. From Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys I learned the importance of the cliffhanger chapter ending and how I couldn’t put the book down until I’d learned what happened next. I also learned not to be afraid to use words that might be unfamiliar to some readers because that can help expand someone’s language by making them curious enough to look up the term. Most of all, I learned to love reading the continued adventures of a beloved and familiar character. All these things are important to the creation of a story that will be so loved by fans that they will be re-read over and over and over again.

 

Stuck Inside

Writing is an internalized process inspired by external stimuli. Everything experienced by the five senses in the course of day-to-day life can become fodder for a story: the smell of fresh-mown grass, the burning sting of a bee, fire engines screaming past, a bitter cup of morning coffee, or late-day sunlight bathing nearby mountains in a golden glow. The smallest of sensations or experiences may bubble to the surface during the writing process and become part of what may just be the next Great American Novel. That’s why a writer needs to get out and about on a regular basis. Someone who has had little experience with the world at large won’t have much source material with which to work.

I’ve gathered up plenty of these all-important sensations since the beginning of this year and now seem to have so much that it’s all stuck inside. Whenever I sit down to work on my current WIP I can’t figure out what to use so I play games while trying to organize my thoughts. I then ‘zone out’ to the point where time runs out and no actual work is done.

Away from my writing environment, of course, thoughts about how my story should progress flow like fine wine. My drawers are full of various slips of paper with random thoughts that sounded good in my head as I walked to work, but don’t fit with what I’ve got on paper, so that I once again end up stuck inside my head trying to figure out ways to get from point A to point B.

The best way to get past this is to just write. I know that. Getting anything down on paper is better than having all these random bits of inspiration floating free. I know that, too. At some point, I’ll be able to fit all the right pieces together to find the story waiting to be told. The logical part of my mind knows all this. Yet the part of my mind stuffed with all the sensory information waiting to be used has become so crammed that it’s pushing my logical thoughts into a dark corner where they’re struggling to find the light of day.

Discipline and determination are needed and I’m making a pledge to myself. This evening, I will start chipping away, using whatever thoughts break free. Tomorrow night, I’ll do the same…and I’ll continue with this routine on a daily basis until the words flow free. Making sense of them will come later. What’s important is that they escape onto the blank computer screen before me.

I’m tired of having this story stuck inside. Time for it to see the light of day.

 

 

 

Dragons in the Sunshine

My oldest grandson and I spent an enjoyable hour in the sunny backyard of his home with his family’s dog, an imaginary invading army of bad guys, two castles overlooking a wide valley containing a small village, and a large number of both fire- and ice-breathing dragons. My two grandsons are the offspring of my youngest daughter, a talented woman who lives off the proceeds of her writing career in the way I once imagined I would. Our entire family loves both reading and writing and my grandson enjoys not only having books read to him, but also making up stories the way his mother does for many hours every day.

So today he asked me to tell him a story. While I’m not bad at coming up with impromptu ideas when I’m walking around alone, my imagination shuts down when I’m put on the spot so I asked what he wanted to hear while thinking furiously about what to tell him.

“Dragons!” he said.

I’ve read some high fantasy in my day so I’ve got a good idea of how a dragon story could go. As the mother of three and grandmother of two, I also know that kids like hearing stories about themselves. So I started with “Once upon a time…”

“Ouch!” said the grandson.

“Once upon a time…ouch?” I said. “The end.”

He started giggling and repeating the “Once upon a time…ouch…the end” story over and over for the next few minutes. Four-year-old kids are amused by that kind of thing.

“Tell me another story, grama,” he said a few minutes later.

Again, I started with, “Once upon a time…” When he didn’t interject an “ouch,” I continued to spin a tale of two castles, each ruled by one of my grandsons, with an army of dragons carrying messages across the valley between them. At the side of King Oldest Grandson sat his majestic Royal Dog while King Youngest Grandson cuddled with his Royal Cat. The two Kings enjoyed their Royal lives until bad guys stormed the village and forced the dragons to breathe a wall of protective flame around the village. The dragon fire flamed so high the invaders couldn’t get past so they ran away from the intense heat. Unfortunately, the fire then threatened the village, so King Oldest Grandson called in his ice-breathing dragons to put out the inferno. Everyone then lived happily ever after. The end.

Making up stories with my grandson and daughters on this beautiful afternoon reminded me why I enjoy writing so much – the sheer joy of letting the imagination run wild. Over the years, I’ve gotten so caught up in mechanics that I’ve lost some of the fun. Next time I sit down to write I’ll remember the brother kings and their dragon army and the warmth of an afternoon in the sun with my grandson.

Once upon a time…ouch…the end.