Friday, February 27, 2009

Miss Maybel & The Monday Project

Sorry for being a bit forgetful yesterday. Have to thank Miss Maybel for leading me to The Monday Project.

On Miss Maybel: A nice lively place to visit. Especially love her ultimate-to-do-list. I'm reviewing mine and might post it later.

On The Monday Project: Absolutely love the idea of creative people from different disciplines come together to support each other. Just jonied the project and working to finish a short piece for the Monday gals.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Are Remarkable

Thanks to Miss Maybel and The Monday Project which led me to this wonderful blog: You Are Remarkable.

I still have to go back to check out more. But its postal revolution already stole my heart! At the core of the revolution is about Random Act of Kindness to all people. Imagine if each of us are to perform the random act often, we can transform this world into heaven.

Fellow bloggers, I urge you to join the revolution.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why Do You Write?

I remembered I used to think a lot about why I write.

There was the usual suspect like I have always wanted to be a writer even when I was very young. Or I want to write because I want to share with the world my stories. I came up with all these reasons prior to entering the writing arena. Since then, I stopped thinking about the why but concentrate on the how. I direct all my energy to learning and practicing the craft.

It seemed like I might have lost the reasons in the process. But I don't think so. The fact is I no longer have fixed reasons of why I write. If you ask me now, I'd say I don't know. And I enjoy the fact that I don't know. The not knowing is the best part of writing. The unknown motivates me to go further and deeper to discover what it is all about.

Come to think of it, I don't ever want to know why. I just write and write and write and write.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Word Count

Finished Stephen King's book on writing last week. I learn a lot but also there were things I just didn't get at all. Either I'm dumb or I'm just too talented to learn from one of the masters. (Psst - I'm sure I'm the latter one, but usually genius got shot pretty quickly, so I'm keeping a low profile here.)

It might sound trivial to others, but I haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I even had an hour long discussion with a friend yesterday.

The trivia is about word count as in output per day. Mr. King indicated that he wrote around 2000 words a day. When he said "a day", he meant mornings. His afternoons were reserved for nap and letters. Evenings were for reading and family etc. For beginner writers, he suggested us to start with 1000 words / day and gradually build up to 2000 a day.

When I read it, I became momentarily blind as my eyes fell out onto the floor. My dog got hold of it and we did a few minutes tug-at-war before I regained my sight.

Putting aside the argument of quantity vs. quality, 2000 or 1000 words a day to me is a huge demand. I would sell my soul to Mr. King to do that. For me, if I'm lucky and the stars are aligned at one straight line, to get 200 words a day is a miracle. On an average week, my output is around 500 words. And if I count the free writings I do to get rid of the crap in my system before I settle down to do proper story writing - my weekly output would then equal to Mr. King's daily word count.

After a week's long hard thinking, my view on Mr. King's advice is this: 2000 is a symbol which represents the "ideal" to work on.

I don't think all writers are working to a particular word count. Each writer has his / her own ways to develop his / her stories. From this, I'm more into the belief that the word count is about one's innate knowledge of one's own working rhythms. It is about a writer's own understanding of what works to unleash and sustain his / her creativity to write.

If mine is 2000 words a week, so be it. Rather than concentrating on the output, my responsibility is to ensure that I show up regularly and write the story to the best of my abilities. But of course, I'll also keep the ideal word count in sight and work my way to get there.

So let me tell you, my word count today is 1501. Mr. King, I'm coming ...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Victoria Bush Fire

My heart is heavy.

Many lives had been lost in the worst bush fire in Victoria. It is Hell on Earth.

I'm asking whoever read this, please spend a moment in silence to mourn for the deceased and remember how blessed we are to be alive far away from danger.

Thank you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Maze and Stephen King

I thought I was in The Maze but I wasn't.

I'm looking at the entrance of it right now. I refuse to go in there. But I could feel my fingers bleeding from grabbing the thorny bushes nearby.

Whisper: Come on, come on, just one more step and our jobs are done.

The Maze was built thousands of years ago. (I know, I know. I'm exaggerating. Hey, but that's what writers do, o.k.!) I never know who build it and don't care. I just know that it usually takes me about 0.18327 sec to jump from here to there.

Whisper: 0.18327 sec in your world, but it's 18.327 hours here. So come on, girl. It's been a while and we missed you.

I: Stop barging in and let me finish my thoughts, then, I might consider coming in. Oh, by the way, where're Little Sucker and Screamer? You usually send them after me.

Whisper: Ahhh, you missed them, my friend. Shall I call them out?

I: Nope. Just asking out of courtesy ... now where was I?

I'm summoning all the writers (published and unpbulished) before me to give me strength to walk away from this evil place.

I: Ouch, ouch, ouch ... (The Little Sucker just bites off a chunk of flesh from the back of my head and my hands are still bleeding.)

Screamer: Go, go, go Little Sucker. More, more, more.

Whisper: Are we done Hybrid J? Step right in, now!

I: Nooooooo (SFX: door bell) (Hybrid J walks out of scene and comes back in to continue the dialogue) Did you know what I just got from the mail?

Whisper: Don't tell me it's one of those How-To books again? They're a waste of time. Why struggle when you could just come in and chill.

I: They might not solve the problems now but at least I could use them to ward you off!

I held the book high and made the sacred sign.

The three creatures disappeared and I'm now sitting on the dried up lawn in front of The Maze reading Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Instinct ... Craft ... Where Am I?

The heat wave in Melbourne last week surely fried my brain. So far only written a sort of opening scene for one of my stories. Not really happy about it as I knew exactly what happened next but I was unable to get my character out of it, yet.

The above had happened zillions of time to zillions of my other half-written stories. From reading of all those How-To books, I reckon it's all related to my lack of knowledge to my characters, like why a character would act in such way. The why will lead to how the character carries himself / herself in the story.

It is extremely frustrating to notice how I could see where the faults are when I'm away from the story. But as soon as I'm inside the story, my instinct (or some called it intuition) takes over. And of course when I hit the block (like the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post), I stall. I ask myself why the character is doing this or that and to what result. I have three versions of the same answer:

I don't know! (on good day)

How the hell do I know!! (on bad day)

X#*@168fier&)_34!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (on my worst day) or simply silence

So just when do you follow the instinct and when do you drop it? O.K. maybe not to drop it totally, but let it runs along side and not right there in your face like a blind charging bull.

When I'm following instinct to create story and / or character, it feels "right". And when I step onto the wedge, I try my best to use the techniques I learn from the How-To books to kick the damn wedge away. I interrogate the character. I re-plot the story to make sure there's a beginning, middle and an ending. But I would find the end product not right, i.e. the character is "stiff" and "un-natural" to me. The story simply is a mess.

Are these common problems among beginner writers?

Or I'm too much of an intuitive writer that the instinct is blocking the craft work.

As much as I like to follow my gut for storytelling, I accept the importance of good solid writing skill. That's why I'm writing this post. That's why I'm here blogging in search for advice and comments.

Maybe I'm the problem:

It is Me who fail to integrate the two aspects of writing or I'm just not cut out to be a writer at all!

Here I'm again lost in the Maze … must find a way out … They are coming