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In September I started a two year diploma at the Okanagan College. It has been fun, but there are several English courses required and English courses take a lot of writing. All those essays and other pieces take a lot of words. Two of the English courses have been creative writing, so there have been extra writing connected to those courses.
I have been able to write some that aren’t connected to my courses, but not much. Even the story that I wrote was connected to my creative writing class, as I chose to submit pieces from a novel for the critiquing done in class.
I am hoping that with the summer break my words can be refilled and I can write on other things. I never truly realized that it was possible to suffer from lack of words and hope recovery is fairly short.
In my creative writing class the teacher has been giving out multiple writing prompts per class. Usually the writing prompts are meant to illustrate the point of the lesson; like writing from a character sketch while talking about creating characters. But many of them, especially at the beginning of the year, were just to get us writing. I know that this is a first year English course and that many of my classmates are not used to writing. However, I do not need any writing prompts, I already have plenty of random bits sitting around my study. Some of it is sentences that came to my head, but all I have is the one sentence. Other pieces are full paragraphs, It was a scene in my head and so I wrote it out, but at this point in my life there is nothing more in my head to write down. On top of all that I usually have a novel that I am working on.
With all the bits I have sitting around I could probably put together a book of writing prompts. I’ve thought about it, but it isn’t high on my list of projects and thus not likely to happen in any time soon.
According to many people’s thinking all writing is the same, so if you are a writer than writing essays must be easy. Except that there is a vast difference between writing fiction and writing essays. Fiction writing I find much easier than essay writing. With fiction writing, I am making everything up as I go. A few things require research and when the story does the subject it usually something I am interested in. Essays are an argument written down with the evidence provided. This requires serious analysis and thought. And research. Usually the research is a lot of boring reading. Also as an assigned piece of writing so the subject is one I am not as interested in, which makes the whole thing harder.
There are different kinds of writing and they all take different sorts of energy and thought processes. A poem comes from a more emotional place. Stories come from escapism. Essays come from research and deep thought. Technical writing is logic based. Each uses parts of the brain that other do not. So, as I fiction writer I write essays only when necessary and usually in the stressed, adrenaline fueled last hours before it is due.
Sometimes a piece of writing requires a soundtrack. Music which inspire and helps move the story along. The reader may never connect the music to the finished product unless the writer provides that information. I tend to use music in two ways. The first is to keep up the inspiration for a story. I will find music that reminds me of things that have to do with the piece I am writing. So, I will find songs of the sea if I am working on a pirate story, or I will find older country music to help me write on a western. This is where I make a play list and just let to play as I write.
The second way I use music is as inspiration itself. A specific song will give me an idea for a story. This has happened a couple times this year and the result has been a couple short stories. The song Somewhere on a Beach by Dierks Bentley gave me the idea for the story What Happened. The song The Hanging Tree from the movie The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 inspired me to write the short story Innocence Hung. The right song can sometimes be just what a piece needs.
This September I went back to school with the goal of receiving a diploma at the end of two years. Aside from the moments when I am so stressed I can’t concentrate, I enjoy going to classes and learning new things. Though I’m not so good at English courses as non-literal meanings of works tend to escape me. And I’ve never been good at getting homework done since teachers started assigning it back in elementary school.
It has been a few years since I sat in classes and listened to lectures. I forgot how much writing I get done while going to school. During that time at the start of class when everyone else is talking, I will be writing. I know those five minutes don’t seem like enough time to get anything done, but for me that is half a page of handwritten material I wouldn’t have written otherwise. Those half pages add up of the course of a week.
The other time I write is between classes as going home for the hour is useless because I barely get home before I have turn around and come back. And it wastes gas. So, I just find a place to sit and I continue that half page from earlier. Overall going back to school has helped me increase the amount of writing I have been getting done and I am enjoying being a student again.
For some reason I have a fascination with pirates and westerns. They seem to hold an idealized fantasy that I am drawn into. I would never want to live during the time period most westerns are set in and I definitely don’t want to find myself on board a pirate ship. I understand these are not pleasant places to be. However, I keep being drawn to stories about them.
Movie western are my favourite type. I try occasionally to read western stories, but the only ones I really enjoy are Robert B. Parker’s Virgil Cole & Everett Hitch books. I didn’t really enjoy the movie made of the first one though. Most westerns I like. The stories of riding on a journey with gun duels somehow trigger my imagination.
Likewise stepping on board a ship and sailing for parts unknown in search of treasure are great. But with pirates I actually prefer books over movies, though I enjoy both. I fully understand that sailing with pirates was a dangerous and awful thing to endure, but without hardships a story wouldn’t be as exciting.
Sometimes characters quit behaving and decide they don’t want to do anything. This can be a problem when you are trying to get the story finished. But there is a solution if you have tried everything else. You just kill all the current characters off. This doesn’t get the story finished though as it stops things in their tracks, so you put in new characters to finish the story. You pick characters who are willing to talk to you and pick up where the last ones left off.
This solves all of the problems. The characters who are giving you issues are gone as well as fueling the continuation of the story. You get to work with new characters who could be a lot more fun than the original ones. Also the story will get finished, likely will be better than if you stuck to the first set of characters.
So, if you are having problems in your story kill off all your characters and start again with new ones. This should help move the story along. After all the new characters have to figure out what happened to the previous ones and finish what they started.
Currently Smashwords is having a summer sale, so all of my books are available for free until July 31, 2016. https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/bheathermantler If you read them please leave a review on Smashwords, Good Reads, or on a similar place.
Mothers are very important to writers. Some will encourage and support crazy writing habits. Others will cause the writers to succeed to prove the disparaging mother wrong. Either way these experiences are very important in a writer’s life and useful as they put their work out there for the world to see it.
My mom is a writer and didn’t realize that writing was an infectious disease that her children would catch. I am sure that if she was given a choice all of us would be doing something ‘useful’ with our lives. I fully understand her thoughts on this matter and would encourage my non-existent children to find other careers.
I just finished editing one of my mom’s books and am reminded just how good a writer she is. Lit-N-Laughter, who publish my books, also has published two of her novels. Math Troubles and Man or Monkey are both written under the penname Rosalyn Marie Francis. I highly recommend that as great books and that is not because I am her daughter, but because I enjoyed reading them.