Tag Archives: Arts

The Best Thing About Writing

Last night I put the finishing touches on my 2nd novel this year (first draft that is). After writing two novels and several flash fiction stories this year, I feel like I’ve discovered the stage of writing that hits me the truest.

Of course,  it’s the ending.

I know, I know there are writers/critics who say writers are full of shit when they talk about how a story finds its legs and starts to walk on its own–I understand that. But anyone that’s ever said that has never written the ending to a novel. Yes, I’ve felt this way about some short fiction that I’ve done in the past, but this hit me much harder when putting on the finishing touches of my first two novels.

Something came over me.

Both days, I wrote substantially more than I’d ever written before. This wasn’t because I was trying to hit some sort of imaginary deadline, but because the words flowed like never before. The two instances when my typing speed couldn’t keep up with the pictures in my imagination happened to be when finishing my two novels. It felt as if a snowball had rolled downhill for months, and it got to the point where I could stop it no longer. It went past the point where I usually say, “That’s it for the day.” In some deep area of my subconscious, I thought I had to finish right then and there.

I usually have a hard time seeing vivid pictures of what I’m writing about. But in the end everything is crystal clear. It’s amazing. I’ve never heard the dialogue clearer, nor seen the pictures clearer.

It becomes its own person, develops its own mind, and sweeps you away as the writer–much like you hope it will the reader. In the end you lose all control and have to let the cards fall where they may.

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Flash Fiction Thursday–Four Random Objects

Here’s another flash fiction prompt from terribleminds.com that I participated in:

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/07/26/flash-fiction-challenge-four-random-items/

I chose:

A unopened envelope

A Rocking chair

A road sign

A child’s toy

Enjoy!

Breaking a Seal

“Are you talking about the Bryant’s place?”

Erik nodded.

“It’s only about three more miles up University, then a left on Pine. It’s the last house on the street. If you drive off the road, you’ve went too far,” the clerk said.

Erik looked down at his phone’s Google Maps image. “Are you sure, man? It says it’s right around here.”

The clerk shook his head. “There’s not but three hundred people in this town. I know where most of ‘em are. The Bryant’s house is on Pine. If you don’t find it come back and hit me in the face.” The clerk grinned at this.

Erik countered the clerk’s sick sense of humor with a grimace. “Whatever you say. I still want this coke, though.”

Erik paid the clerk and walked back to his car. His nine-hundred and fifteen mile journey was coming to a close, yet there was still no relief. His anxiety rose the closer the blue triangle indicator got to New Cannon, Texas. A first time meeting with a father who abandoned you would do just that, he figured.

He put the car in drive and started on the last four miles of his journey.

When Erik reached the sign that said Pine, he stopped in the middle of the road. Normally he’d worry about getting flipped off by a mob of traffic for doing this, but in New Cannon, he figured he’d have a better chance of coming across an angry coyote.

Staring at the small green sign that said Pine Rd., Erik couldn’t help but think about the past. His mind went to the memory of his fifth birthday. His mom did her best to set the timer on the camera in order to get a shot with him as he blew out the candles. Time and time again she couldn’t get back to the cake in time to catch the magical moment. When the candles finally burned all of the way down, she gave up and cried. It took Erik twenty years to figure out that she didn’t shed tears of frustration on that muggy August evening. She cried because there was nobody else there to hold the camera. She cried because raising a boy by herself was so damn hard.

For some reason, that image stuck with Erik for years. After thirty seconds or so of staring at the sign that said Pine Rd., he took a left to face his past.

Sitting in the passenger’s seat was a letter that was near and dear to Erik’s heart; a letter he wrote his father in college. It was a heart felt message accompanied with his Senior college football picture. Erik remembered the joy of sending it USPS priority, knowing he’d finally open the first lines of communication with the man who forgot he existed. When the letter came back several weeks later, he was devastated to the point that he couldn’t bear to open it. He remembered staring at the yellow ‘return to sender’ label that rested just below the lime green delivery confirmation. He splurged on the confirmation because he just wanted to know that his father did, in fact, receive it. To Erik, that green label seemed to be the saddest memory of his absent father.

Well I’m hand delivering it today, he thought.

Sure enough, the mailbox claimed the house belonged to the Bryant’s.

The Bryant’s, he mused. Finally, a place that has my last name on it. I’m home.

Erik walked up the white steps, past a rocking chair with a stuffed animal sitting on it. He smiled, realizing the stuffed animal likely belonged to one of his nieces or nephews. According to the ancestry website, he had four brothers and sisters that he had never met. Only for a second did he stop to wonder why he was the only one that his father abandoned.

He knocked on the door. Within fifteen seconds, he came face to face with the father he’d never seen.

“Can I help you, son?” Frank Bryant asked.

Did he just call me son? As in his son? He wondered.

When he saw the puzzled look on his father’s face, he thought not.

“I, uh—” Erik broke off. After twenty-nine years and a drive across the country, he had no idea what to say.

He composed himself. “I found this package. I hear it belongs to you.” He handed Frank the package face down. For whatever reason, Erik didn’t want to see his reaction when reading who it was from.

Frank looked down at the package with a dubious grimace on his face. “Where’d you get this?”

“I found it. It looks old. I’m gonna take off, I have my wife waiting on me at home.” Erik didn’t know why he was afraid of sticking around for a discussion with his father, but he was. When Erik came face to face with Frank, his father seemed like less of a mythical figure and more like an irresponsible asshole. For the first time in his life, he cringed at the idea of getting to know the man.

“Alright—what’s your name, son.”

“The name is Erik Bradley,” he said, and stuck out his hand to shake with his father.

“Frank Bryant.”

You don’t deserve to have my last name, pops.

“Well, nice to meet you sir—I better get going.”

Erik turned toward his car. More importantly, he turned away from his past for the first time in his life.

Six Things I’ve Learned from Writing a Novel

Deadly Colors medium1. I’m completely garbage when it comes to spelling.

  • It’s embarrassing! I ought to be ashamed of myself. If you could only see the words I misspell on a regular basis, you’d think I was a moron (I just misspelled the word misspell for the record). I don’t know how I made it past the third grade sometimes. Thank god for spell-check, or this entire post would be unreadable.

2. Your book will be ruined by passive voice.

  • Shout out to my eleventh grade English teacher for telling us we shouldn’t use passive voice. I never saw the problem with it, though. Then I read my own writing—it sounds awful, weak, awkward, stale, [insert other negative adjectives]. It’s hard to avoid it entirely. I still live in a glass house when it comes to b*%#$ing about passive voice, but I try to avoid it like the plague.

3. It’s not as difficult as you think.

  • I went into it thinking it would be a near impossible task that I’d struggle with for the better part of a year. Then I read a book called On Writing by my favorite author Stephen King which changed my whole mindset. He said it shouldn’t take your more than three months to write your first draft. Challenge Accepted! It’s all about setting word count goals. Mine happened to be 1,000 words a day which put me at a finishing time of 80 days. But I found words come easy once you get going, and I finished in a little over two months. If you keep showing up every day, you’ll get it done. It won’t seem like an impossible task, once you get going.

That being said…

4. Rewriting is the real work.

  • My mindset going in: Writing the first draft would take ages. Then, after a couple passes through my novel for spelling and grammar, it’s all set to go. Wrong. Rewriting is exactly that. You have to go through the book, make sure it’s paced correctly for your genre. You need to make sure you develop the characters well, so they don’t become corny, cardboard cutout caricatures—easier said than done. You have to move scenes around, get rid of others, write new ones, and fill every plot hole you originally missed.  Then you send it to other people to look for more problems in the plot (there will be more), and finally someone has to check spelling, grammar and punctuation, as well. Rewriting/editing is the real challenge.

5. If you try really hard, you can come up with all kinds of crazy story ideas.

  • I never thought of myself as a creative person at all. Yet, when I put my mind to it, I create fake people, places, events, brand download (1)names, slogans, etc. Has all of this crap always in my head? I have no idea. Either everyone has the ability to come up with crazy stories straight from their imagination, or I’m a little insane—only time will tell. I like to think the former is true, but you never know, do you?

The picture above is the digital voice recorder I keep on my nightstand. Need story/plot ideas? They seem to come much easier when you’re half asleep for some reason. However, around a third of the recordings on there are inarticulate ramblings from my subconscious (which is a good title for a book, in and of itself).

6. The hardest part about writing is that voice in your head that doesn’t stop screaming, “You suck!”

  • Everyone has an inner critic. I don’t know about you—but mine just won’t shut the #$@& up! It’s sooo easy to give up because you feel you’re not good enough; because you fear what others will say; because you’re afraid of being wrong or standing out; because you don’t want people to think you’re a sociopath—whatever it may be. I’ve managed to overcome those thoughts (for the time being), but it’s a constant struggle.