Monthly Archives: May 2013

Interference versus Inspiration

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I have conquered the writer’s block created by my indecision surrounding some of the names in my novel. In fact, I decided this week to change 3 of my characters names and after I made that decision, I was able to finish a whole chapter.

I didn’t reach my weekly goal of 5,000 words, but I feel like I’m making enough progress for now. I would say it was a lack of time that kept me from reaching my goal, but that would be a lie. In reality, it was choices that I made. I chose to spend my time doing other things, and so, the novel that will be has suffered. (But on a happier note, I managed to sell my car this week, so I checked that off my to do list).

These last few days as I’ve been writing, I have been thinking about how what I’m reading also seems to affect my writing.

When I read something that I both enjoy and find thought provoking, I tend to write more and feel like the ideas are more easily attainable.

The converse is also true though. If I’m reading something that doesn’t hold my interest and I feel like I’m struggling / forcing myself to read, I don’t feel as creative.

This week I have been reading a book that I didn’t really enjoy. (I am going to post a review of it after I give myself 24 hours to digest it completely, seeing as I just finished it about an hour ago).

I have also been reading some short stories that I wrote during my undergraduate years, and I can actually remember certain books or short stories that sparked my creativity and lead to the pieces I have been re-reading.

One short story in particular that I wrote “Bill’s Sporting Goods Bonanza” is the spawn of too many hours spent reading comic books one weekend.

This was written a long time ago, (2007 I think) and to this day it makes me laugh because it is rather cheesy, but here it is anyway…

Bill’s Sporting Goods Bonanza

            Tito Speed, a high school dropout who had just found this great job, mopped the floor of Bill’s Sporting Goods Bonanza very carefully, trying not to miss a spot. He used to be a star football player. He could have had any girl he wanted and he did. He was even thinking of going into modeling after high school, all the girls said he had the muscles for it. Then something happened, he’d gotten into a fight. He’d beaten the boy. He couldn’t even remember what for. They’d just starting arguing, and then he hit the boy. He didn’t realize he could hit that hard. Anyhow, it had gotten him a lot of enemies. He was kicked off the football team, and then he started to fight with his parents, and eventually he’d gotten kicked out. Now he was here, working as a janitor.

Shortly after midnight, Tito finished and was about to lock the store when he remembered he hadn’t locked the storage space. As he went down the stairs, he noticed movement amongst the boxes. He walked to the boxes but saw nothing, he looked around a bit longer, but only found more boxes, and he assumed it was just his imagination. Unbeknownst to him, Arthur Wart had gone up the stairs behind Tito’s back. Arthur was preparing to rob the store blind. He didn’t see Tito in the basement; he thought he’d heard the janitor lock up and so he prepared to make his move.

“Drop the shoes and put your hands up,” Tito said to the back of Arthur’s head.

“I don’t think you want to do that amigo,” said Arthur feeling what felt like a broomstick being shoved into his back. He quickly turned looking Tito in the eyes. Arthur tornado kicked the broom out of Tito’s hands and took off running.

“Oh, a tough guy,” said Tito as he chased after Arthur, who was heading for the indoor sports section.

By the time Tito caught Arthur, Arthur had picked his weapon of choice, a pool stick. Tito skidded to a halt just in time to see it swing by his face. He quickly made for a rack of sticks and chose one for himself.

“It’s like that, huh?” said Arthur as Tito turned around to face him.

“Yeah. Hope you’ve brushed up on your light-saber techniques,” said Tito as he and Arthur took turns swinging at each other. This came to an abrupt halt when Tito’s stick struck Arthur upside the head and broke in half.

Arthur shook his head a little and smiled. “How unfortunate for you,” said Arthur who, aimed his stick like a harpoon at Tito than then took off running to the left, headed for the snow sports section.

Tito followed Arthur. Soon Tito caught up with Arthur, Tito shoved Arthur as hard as possible, sending Arthur into a display of ice skates. “They didn’t make me night janitor for nothing, fool.”

“Perhaps, it was because of your wonderful people skills, loser.” Arthur, thinking quickly, removed the protective covering on one of the ice skates and sent one soaring towards Tito. The skate ripped deep into Tito’s leg causing the floor to become slippery with his blood. This stunned Tito long enough for Arthur to run once again, this time heading for the extreme sports section.

Tito gained some strength back momentarily and grabbed some darts as he headed for Arthur. Arthur had stumbled through the rock climbing gear and found some boots with spikes sticking out the front and quickly put these onto his feet and he high tailed it over to the ski equipment and grabbed some ski poles just as a dart stuck in the back of his thigh.

“Bull’s eye.” Tito threw dart after dart right for Arthur’s head and missed ten times in a row. As Arthur dodged this onslaught, he made for the direction of Tito and started to furiously swing his ski poles. One of them caught Tito in the leg and he fell to the ground and cracked his head on the tile. Arthur took advantage of the situation and kicked Tito in the side, sinking one of the spikes of his boots in between Tito’s ribs.

“You won’t get away with this, you were just a thief before,” Tito said as blood bubbled out of his mouth. “How does that make you feel?”

“Muy bien, how does that make you feel chump?”

“Well, not too good, seeing as I’m your first victim.”

“Not really, I’m just leaving you here to die, I’m not going to kill you, technically, you’ll die from blood lose.” Arthur turned and left grabbing a pair of tennis shoes on his way out.

Tito using all the strength he had to get up and make his way towards Arthur. “Not so fast, I got a croquet mallet here with your name on it,” said Tito as he smashed the mallet against the back of Arthur’s skull splattering blood on the freshly Windexed windows. “Damn it I’m going to have to scrub for an hour to get that off.”

A person walking their dog on the streets had heard the crashing inside the store and used their cell phone to call the police. The police arrived on the scene just in time to catch this last piece of violence.

“Drop the weapon and put your hands in the air! You, call an ambulance. You, handcuff the psycho and get him in the squad car. I’ll radio the chief, he’s gonna want to see this.” The cops quickly got to work and Tito was cuffed and when they realized he too needed medical attention, they rushed him and Arthur to the local emergency room.

Both of the men died from the wounds they sustained that evening. Bill, in a moment of entrepreneurial genius, sold DVD copies of the security footage from that night. He even hired a wanna-be filmmaker to add a soundtrack and subtle sound effects. And luckily for Bill, people love a good fight.

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The Name Game

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It’s been a few days since I’ve posted, and I admit that I have made little progress on my novel this week. I am actually stuck. I hit a block while working through my chapter 1 revision ideas.

I cannot decide what to name the main male character in my novel. When I originally wrote this story I named him Richard M. Deluka, but now I’m not sure I like the name and every time I sit down to write I find myself debating what to rename him rather than making any real progress.

I am pretty sure that I would like to keep the last name as Deluka, but I think I might change the first name. I have also considered the name Stoddard. What do you think?

Basically I have spent the last five days stuck on this problem and I can’t sort it out for myself. This may sound silly for someone who wants to write a novel, but I actually hate creating names for characters. I feel like their names carry with them connotations of past people and characters who they share a name with. Maybe I just need the following…

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In fact, the only time in my entire life that I have been sure about a name was after I read Zadie Smith’s novel White Teeth. I knew as soon as I read that book that if I ever had a daughter I was going to name her Zadie. (And I did).

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

In addition to moving past this issue, I am going to create a weekly goal for myself. I am thinking a certain word count would be good. Realistically speaking, I think I can manage 5000 words a week and still finish my novel this year. My ultimate goal is around 100000 words. (I did not pick this number arbitrarily). I did some research a while ago about the length of sci-fi novels and 100000 was the recommended number for a manuscript.

Narrative Decision

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It hasn’t been quite a week yet since I began reworking, but I am working on my novel again and now I’m determined to finish! (I keep saying this in my head to convince myself every day that it is true).

The creative break through that I had last week still resonates within me and I have been writing, editing, organizing, and thinking critically about the draft I have so far. I normally find it very hard to look at my own work analytically, but the time that we’ve had apart has made it easier to see my work with fresh eyes. It’s been so long since I began this story that I have actually surprised myself while reading it this time. Every once in a while I find myself thinking, “What a good detail to include.” And of course there are the other moments where I keep thinking it doesn’t make sense.

As far as actual progress goes, I haven’t done much adding to my story yet, but I have done some rearranging and serious editing. At the beginning of the week I found myself flummoxed by a narrative choice I made when I originally wrote this story. In my original draft I set my story up as a frame narrative, and I have been reconsidering whether that is the best path for me to take with this particular story. The solution…

When in doubt consult Literature that has stood the test of time!

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Cover via Amazon

It just so happens that Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is one of my favorite books and one of the few books I’ve actually reread several times. (This is probably why I chose a frame narrative to begin with). Anyway, as I was saying, I couldn’t decide whether the frame narrative set-up worked for me, so I pulled Conrad off the shelf and reread the first 20 pages or so.

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Cover via Amazon

 

After that, I pulled Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw off the shelf too because I remembered while reading Conrad that James’s novel was also a frame narrative. (By the way, I am not trying to say that my writing is anywhere on the same level as these two great works of Literary brilliance). I just think that seeing the literary device of the frame narrative (also called a framework story) used in other literature helped me to work out what tense and voice to use in my own novel.

So again I say, when in doubt consult Literature that has stood the test of time!

In addition to deciding to keep the frame structure on my novel, I have also been dealing with the doubts that all creative people face. I’m not sure why, but I picked up the book The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron and began to read it.

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I’ve had this book on my shelf for years and I haven’t gotten around to reading it. I have occasionally skimmed through it, but this time I actually started reading the introduction. Within the first two pages I came across something that helped me find the energy to refocus my efforts.

“Don’t be distracted by the opinions of others, real or imagined. Don’t worry about getting published – that’s a whole new topic, and one worth investigating if that’s your goal, but it’s a needless and potentially harmful distraction when you’re writing. Don’t worry about ‘getting better’ or fret whether you’re really any good. Read a lot. Write a lot.” (page 3).

That was exactly what I needed.

And then a few pages later, “If you want to write, you must begin by beginning, continue by continuing, finish by finishing. This is the great secret of it all. Tell no one.” (page 7).

I also came across this during the week, and it reminded me that there is magic in creating…

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