Thursday, March 13, 2008

Not Really Long, Long Thoughts


Three Boys in a Dory,
Winslow Homer,
watercolor, 1880.


Surely, Homer read My Lost Youth by Longfellow (Henry Wadsworth), since this painting captures that poem.

I don't believe in writer's block (my problem is often not what, but which of the 49 possible ways to do a scene, relay a concept, solve a problem)... but for those who do the usual remedies often work.

To wit:
1. Physical activity -- other than banging one's head against the nearest wall -- gives one a sense of accomplishment and produces visible results to positive effect.

Of course, vacuuming dog hair is temporary and futile, but I lie to myself about that.

2. Read poetry. May spark ideas for one thing. Great source for titles for another. How does Akin to Pain (another line from Longfellow) grab you?

Which reminds me of something I've been meaning to mention -- Bill of the Chapter and Verse blog is one hellofa fine poet.

3. Research. One discovers the most fascinating things. Which may instigate ideas.

Have you every heard of the fear gortach? The hungry grass? It grows where an unenclosed (or unshriven) corpse is laid on its way to burial.

Related to this Irish legend is the fear gorta, a skeletal phantom sometimes seen as a harbinger of famine as in the Apocalyptic Horsemen. However, simulacrums of this spirit occur in many cultures. Some versions are decidedly cannibalistic.

Brains...

4. Read the news. You may find items like the two nice ladies from Sao Paulo who packed their brother's skeleton in a suitcase and boarded a flight on their way to Italy. Ideal take-off for a story called Last Wishes...

I become excessively nervous when the genre of my WIP is touted as the Next Big Thing in publishing. See myself trampled by a stampeding horde of write-for-the-market lemmings who, unfortunately, write both faster and better than I.

And I just heard that Stone Child scared my doctor. Huh?

NB:
1. Angie has a contest. Nice prizes. Easy rules.Tomorrow is last day.
2.Watch December's blog. Heh, heh.


42 comments:

BernardL said...

LOL! Very enlightening post. :)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Bernard.
I felt rather dim, really.

writtenwyrdd said...

Great thoughts, Bernita. I don't have trouble with ideas, I have trouble sticking to the writing. Flighty mind, bad habits, laziness, whatever; but I just have trouble writing in big enough chunks ON THE SAME PROJECT. So I guess the moral for me is to recognize we all have our own self destructive issues. Except for those folks I want to maim, the write for the newest market lemmings who likely do indeed write better and faster than I do. ;)

Bernita said...

Written, while I have dearly loved the few excepts you've provided from your novel, maybe your natural bent is toward short stories or novellas?
They do say shorter works are becoming more popular...

Robyn said...

I start strong, then I succumb to Sagging Middle Syndrome.

Bernita said...

Robyn, just to carry on the thought above, maybe SMS is sometimes the result of stretching out the labor, ie. the story wants to be shorter than we try to make it?

Robyn said...

That may be quite true; I adore writing shorts. I hate padding the word count.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I pick up the books from the shelf behind me or catch up on blogs. Hmm. Rather like now.

Most of the time I tell myself to keep writing, damn it. Come hell or high water, you're writing for the next hour solid.

As for frightening your readers: I get that all the time. Once the husband even looked at me and said, "Who ARE you?"

Carla said...

Scared a doctor? That usually takes some doing :-)

Charles Gramlich said...

I sometimes suffer from the lack of discipline to write, but never from lack of ideas. The main problem for me is that I have too many ideas. There are so many stories, and not enough energy.

Bernita said...

I've often found inspiration in other people's blogs, SS.
Writing, even if we fear it's crap does work for some people.
"Who ARE you?"
- Hee!
It's just that I don't see the story as the slightest bit terrifying.Mild, actually.

Carla,I would think so. Really.
I can only suspect she hasn't read urban fantasy before.
(Now, we'll see if she drops me as a patient...)

Bernita said...

Industry doomsayers are more likely to sap my creativity than any lack of ideas, Charles.

Bernita said...

Robyn, you should write what you like to write.

Billy said...

Bernita, thank you so much! I am honored at the kind mention. May all of your snow melt immediately and may all of your stories be happily piblished -:)

Dave F. said...

Good post.
Some days I look at the page and nothing happens -- no thoughts, no ideas, no words. That's not any kind of a block, just ordinary "something" (I have no idea what to call it). I know what I have to do to write but it ain't pretty. It's work. I retired so I wouldn't have to do work.

Research isn't work for me. Research is fun. I know where and how to find information.I know how to organize the search and the results. I did research and I had to be up on the literature. Think of obscure things like single atom distributions on silica-alumina substrates, Mossbauer effects on iron-sulfur compounds. I get chills just thinking about that fun stuff.

And I'm lazy enough to know that household activities are distracting. I love to cook because it is so mindless and automatic. I hate to do dishes.

No, when I have to find the next part of the story, the next scene or the next plot, it sit and THINK HARD. Thinking is hard work. Writing is fun. Editing is goofy, silly, drunken fun. What happens in the next 1500 words is hard.

Bernita said...

Bill, your poems are like sweet water.

Lisa said...

I too have been inspired by Billy's poetry. And as for the lemmings, they may write faster, but I doubt they write better.

Bernita said...

I call it the black screen effect, Dave.
Yes, research is much fun.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Lisa. That's kind.
Magic is there in his poems.

raine said...

Bill's poetry is, indeed, exceptional.

Scared your doctor?
Huzzah!! :D

Lol at the lemming stampede. But I'm sure that, even among lemmings, there are those that stand out.

And I LOVE writing short. It would be nice to see them increase in popularity.

ChristineEldin said...

Heh heh! I didn't think research for Dave would really be work!

Great post! And I went over to December's. Great news, and congratulations for her!

Jennifer said...

LOL!!

Banging your head against the keyboard helps too, and it's not as hard as the wall...

Bernita said...

"even among lemmings, there are those that stand out."
"Sadly, yes, Raine," she said, limping far behind.

Thank you, Chris.
I thought she might announce it today.
Such wonderful news!

Bernita said...

Jennifer, the QWERTY tattoo on the forehead...

Gabriele C. said...

Writtenwyrd, that's exactly my problem. Let's see, I have that Roman Empire trilogy busy developing into more than a trilogy, the epic Fantasy novel busy developing into at least a trilogy, and three standalone books (two Romans, one Saxon), plus a bunch of notes for several other projects.

I should write the first book of the Roman trilogy, and maybe work on the Fantasy one besides, but not more. Brain, do you listen?

December/Stacia said...

*sniffle* Thanks Bernita!

Being in love with the whole world doesn't mean you don't mean what you say.

Totally know how you feel about your genre being touted as the Next Big Thing. But I think NBTs are sticking around a lot longer. This isn't chick lit, where publishers rushed to get tons of it out because it was NEW. UF's been around for a long time--the agents selling it know what's good and what isn't. Chick lit died because the quality of the books declined--but it's still being published, they're just not calling it chick lit.

JMO, because this is something I panicked about for months before that occurred to me.

Jon M said...

vacuuming dog hair...temporary and futile??? Nooooo!

Actually you don't need to vacuum, just put your finest clothes on and walk through the afflicted room. Somehow by the time you get to a public place you'll find them on shoulders, backside...you name it!

Scott from Oregon said...

An electric leaf blower is most effctive for dog hair. But you can't have a knick-knacky house.

Open all windows, and put a couple of large fans at your open front door. Blow. This method also works for hard to reach cobwebs in rough-wood ceilings...

Bernita said...

You also have the "not what but which" problem, Gabriele.
Ah, those plot bunnies, they are so beautiful...

December, I am so pleased for you.

Yes, I know, Jon,and I wear black a lot, but make that "rooms."

Bernita said...

Interesting man solution, Scott, but I'm afraid it wouldn't work here.
I use a ShopVac.

Ello said...

Scaring your doctor is very good! I'm off to sign up for Angie's contest!

Bernita said...

Still shaking my head over it, Ello!

Travis Erwin said...

Nothing gets my creative juices going like a long drive by myself on a desolate Texas farm-to-market road.

Steve Malley said...

I had a wicked case of writer's block with my just-finished novel. I got past it by doing all of the above and also 'playing through the injury'-- continuing to write even though I hated every word I put on the page.

Actually did end up throwing all that stuff out too, but I did get to THE END!

Bernita said...

A soothing solitude, Travis.

'playing through the injury' - I like that description,Steve.

Suzanne Perazzini said...

I try not to read the news or watch it on TV. At a certain point in life, I decided there was enough grief within the family and immediate neighborhood without inviting more into my home. Our emotional beings are made to endure the happenings of our immediate villages (as in the past) but not to have the whole world's woes bow us down as well. Somehow I always know what's going on in the world anyway because you can't avoid it completely but I don't deliberately read about the little boy who was kidnapped and killed, for example or about another squabble in parliament.

Bernita said...

Perhaps I should have said skim the news for intriguing subjects, Suzanne.
One's interest in certain events may depend on one's genre.

M.E Ellis said...

HAHAHAHAHAH @ the scared doctor.

:o)

Bernita said...

I can't see it, Michelle.

Angie said...

I'm running way behind on blog reading but I wanted to thank you for mentioning my contest. I got a nice spike of visitors on Friday and was wondering where they'd come from. :)

Angie

Bernita said...

Angie, I just wish I had thought to mention your contest sooner.

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