CONCEIVE AND CRAFT – A WRITER’S SUCCESS COMES DOWN TO THIS

When you first realize you’re a Writer, it can be startling.  You look at a sentence or paragraph you just crafted, and it hits you just how good it is.

I had that kind of moment sometime in college.  And, when I was asked to draft a speech that would be read on the floor of the U.S. Congress, I thought, “Wow.  They must think I can write.”

Since then, I’ve never been without the awareness that I can create something meaningful with words.  But, I was also never oblivious to the point that writing takes practice.  It is a craft – like Woodworking.  And, not until recently, did I become aware of just how fundamental the craft of writing is.

It all happened a few weeks ago.  Someone sent me a note that a publisher was offering a Fast Track Submission, where they provide feedback to submissions in one month.  So, I decided to give it a go.  The only issue was that I didn’t have a book proposal ready.  And, the deadline was in three days.

But, for the last year, I have been deep in skill building for scriptwriting – classes with ScreenwritingU.  The most recent was a class that breaks a film down in eight parts, then takes you through the writing of the entire script in thirty days.

Thirty days.  It did not seem like a lot of time at first.  But, by the end of the second week, my brain evolved, and suddenly, I was crafting a tight script around a high concept easily and quickly.  CLICK.  Several years of working at my Writing Craft.  And, then, BAM!  A life changer for me, and a game changer for my Writing Craft.

These skills, built over many days, weeks, and hours, led to my being able to draft that book proposal, and complete the first chapter in an hour, a feat for me.  Of course, rewriting took another hour or so.  But, to be able to conceive and craft like that, a  priceless asset to my writing career.

The idea that we can, like a painter, just pick up a pen and sketch something brilliant out, well, we can.  And then, we can use our craft, trained, refined, and honed, to bring the project around the bases, and into home plate.

So, if you’re a Writer, and you’ve got talent, work, work, work, to hone your craft.  The cog and the wheel of excellence will meet, and you will be on your way.

When Waiting for the Dawn, Help the Twilight

I’m always amazed at the power of goodwill.  The world’s axis is not perched on the hands of Atlas, it’s supported by the hands of those who lend one to someone else.  Our goodwill is free much of the time.

When waiting for the dawn, how about helping the twilight?

I have had hands extended to me at important times.  Some I have accepted, and some I have declined.  But, each gave to me a seed of something more than the hand offered: the seed that goodwill is a positive contribution, no matter how or when we offer it, and no matter whether the gesture of giving is accepted.

Nothing says the power of goodwill more than when you’re working on building a new career.  You are aware that there are many doors in front of you.  You want to see the red ones open to you:

On occasion, someone new flashes in front of your path.  If you spy their goodwill quotient, you are most wise.

This quotient is the sense that the person likely offers goodwill.  The point is not that he or she might offer goodwill to you.  This could not be more distant from the point.  The issue is whether that person offers goodwill to people in the world in general.  This quotient is often found in the eyes or the smile.  Goodwill likes to hang out in open, twinkling places.

Sharing goodwill with people who have a high goodwill quotient means that in offering goodwill, you become more like what you find compelling in that person – their lighthearted good nature, their openness to growth and change, their willingness to engage with the world.

Recently, I became inspired to share my goodwill in a professional context.  It was gratefully received.  The rewards to me are immediate, and I’m sure, long term.

The benefits to extending goodwill and feeling the vibration of shared gratitude is one that I will not soon forget, and one that I believe now is the true fuel of success.

In order for goodwill to find you and flourish, you must be willing to give because the cause is worthwhile.  You must rally against any notion that you may benefit.  When you take this approach, you will not only find friends, but you will perhaps find the highest form of personally driven destiny.

Try it:  Give what you can to someone where a need exists.  And, watch the world turn, your hand at its base.

Hello, There. I’ve Missed You, But Then, I Haven’t Been Here

Perhaps, I required a cloudy day, full of needed rain, to bring the miracles..as they may be.  I was finally able to log into this site.  For the past few months, the Universe has been dangling the carrot of “How Bad Do You Want To Write?” as it relates to everything from this blog to screenplays, in front of my face.  As I would pull back to get a good look, that da*n carrot would get yanked up into the stars.

This Blog?  Well, believe it or not, since I have two blogsites, the default login system would not recognize this one, and I could not post here.

And, while I’ve been locked out from here, my waning professional world has called me to action – in a recent missing person’s case.  Sure, very valuable work.  But, not my first choice in terms of what makes me happiest.  And, then, today, the login for this Blog worked.  It’s nice to finally take my shoes off.

Where have I been?  What have I been doing?  Well, there are writing projects that demand one be present:  Follow the Protocols, Do the Work.  But, I have been in another world of writing for these past months:  The World of:  Find the Voice, Speak the Words and Sounds – even if you do not at first understand the language.

The process feels like this, the stack of Stacks I completed in real life recently – Wood like Words:

Sure, I’ve been in a 6-month screenwriting class through ScreenwritingU.  But, that hasn’t been what has colored my writing journey.

It’s that, this comic at heart, this serious goofball, longing to be more lighthearted, actually sits in the corner of a dim, proverbial watering hole (with a Shirley Temple), and pretends it’s aged whiskey that will garner some vast insight and unlocked paradigm..a paradigm that allows for a breakthrough – a right turn onto some fruitful biway.  And, such an undertaking yielded a gamechanger recently:

I was suddenly somewhere new to me, a winding wooded route that took me to:

Dark Water, Shadowed Trails, Lurking Unknowns

Then, to places that I could not at first, traverse.  The foreign landscapes called me down sheer rock faces and up the indigenous ancient ladder of a ghost tribe.  I roamed washes and canyons and excavated the cave dwellings of Lost Souls – of my heart, mind, and subconscious — to release the voices that have resided in Invisibility.  Thankfully, never wandering the desert in search of Writer’s Water.

I have discovered from within its eye, a swirling mass of wind, dusty mist, and unstable, changing pulses..The F-Meter of my Writing Twister, from 0-5 and back again.

The result of this vortex has been characters, dialog, and plot weaves that tickle and gobsmack this writer.

I will relish your squeals when my words from this trip finally find your eyes and ears.  And, the images find themselves perhaps etched to Digital, to score the retinas and gray matter that house the stored images you cherish and berate.

Where have I been?  In a writing funnel cloud, waiting for the house to fall.  And, Here I Am.  I have missed you.

Look for more to come from this Blogger, not too far behind this funnel cloud.

The Mirror According to Me @VerbaVitae

It’s true that if I were Snow White’s senior I might cringe at the commentary on my appearance. After all, no one likes a mirror that talks. Except, perhaps when we choose it ourselves.

I’ve done some soul-searching on this issue recently, as yet another rejection came via a Poetry Competition submission. It was not just any poem, but one that bared all – the sadness and shame that a human might feel as if reflecting on the Thing that is Life – from the view of the Cosmos. Being judged on this poem felt like – well – feeling judged… I had to reel myself back from that and remember that the poem is in my language, and ultimately speaks my truth back to me.

I’ve done some ‘Self-Work’ recently too, and have come to grips with certain truisms that require a face-to-face:  The mortality of my parents, the mortality of my sister, the subjective world of an Artist, and the reality of isolation vis-a-vis proximity to some of my closest friends.

What I’ve concluded this past week is that the only mirror that matters is the one I hold up on purpose – the one I look through and past. The one I tailor for compassion and honesty, with a hint of optimism.

This mirror is necessary for all of us. We can be honest with ourselves about everything. We can prevail over what we see that we’d like to change.

Just now, I have a query out to someone about something. I seem perfect for the job, so to speak. But, is the opportunity perfect for me – that is the true question. Our ideal mirror remembers that fate and chance regularly meet for coffee.

Professionally, I spend a lot of time helping other people sort out their own stuff. Surprising how many don’t realize that the mirror of another is one we can reject, in favor of our own chosen reflection.

As the creative process flows through and in me, this mirror I choose becomes not just happy-making, but success-making. Think about how many people in fields like screenwriting and fiction speak about the need for a person to find her/his own unique voice. And, to speak with that voice as one moves through the world of Creating:  This, the experts say, is the key to success as a writer.

I find that this is the key to happiness as well. My words, my mind. My mirror, my life.

~~

Feel free to share your thoughts. And, as usual, I’ll leave the Light on for ya.

Breathing Divine Life into our Golems – Characters with Soul @VerbaVitae

The Icon of the Golem has always fascinated me:  I’ve imagined how a Golem could come to life in real-time.  But, alas, I am left with the nearly as wonderful Icon of my fictional characters.

I recently observed a Speech Therapist work with my nephew:  He’s bright and loving and self-assured, but at two-years, has not developed an appreciation for the initiated value of speech.  This Therapist worked her magic – she simply allowed him to direct the play.  He responded by working at forming the sounds she offered, and Voila!  He’s off and running in the world of spoken language!

After, she offered a book on how Family can assist a child with learning and development.  This little book might just change my creative life forever, for it gives the formula for crafting characters like no other.  Based on a learning and development approach that allows the child to engage the adult rather than the other way around, it hit me like a train that characters in fictional works deserve the same treatment.

This approach should have hit me sooner, but it took a village of artists to deliver the message to me.  I heard something powerful on the issue of portraying Character when I recently interviewed the Actress, Amanda Reed.  She explained that in MOTHER’S RED DRESS, she portrayed her character by “surrendering over to her, and giving her the respect of allowing her story to be told.”

Amanda Reed on IMDb:

My Film Review and Trailer for MOTHER’S RED DRESS, a new film by No Restrictions Entertainment

A Writer who takes this approach, succeeds.  Enter the writer who’s looking to enchant a Character Form into a well-developed living and breathing Structure with Function.  This idea of Form, Structure, and Function is one that presents itself as a model in human anatomy and physiology, as each together describe the Form, the Structure, and the Function of the human body.

Bones, fibrous stuff and hoses are great, but how does it all work in real-time?  When we writers look to craft, we sometimes go right to Function and skip the rest – what does this character do?  Or, we focus on Form – what does the character look like inside and out – like the exoskeleton of an insect.  Or, we portray how this character acts in certain situations or think in certain moments – this is the Structure of the character.  With any one approach, we look to give our Audience what they crave – a living and breathing character that compels, repels, engages, and intrigues.  But if we do not include it all, do we succeed?  The litmus test here is whether our Audience could answer a series of trivia questions about our characters…

Using the child learning and development approach where the adult allows the child to lead the activity, how does a writer’s approach to character development look?

First, walk with my mind on the topic a bit.  I just read a poignant and essential Blog on this very thing by Twitter @princess_scribe – on her Blog Site http://www.princessscribe.com  She relays what it’s like to create her first Web Series THEY LIVE AMONG US, and how she’s decided to give the reins of character development and portrayal to the Actors, encouraging them to decide even the hobbies of their characters.  Set design will then be based on her actors’ insights.  Her Series has been immediately elevated by this approach.  THEY LIVE AMONG US Webpage:

This approach is key in my mind when a Writer crafts a character who will be unforgettable – one who will take up residence in the Readers’ / Viewers’ mind long after the words are seen, heard, or images have been received.  Can we as Writers be brave enough to let our characters determine our stories?

Last night on Twitter, @jeffdaviswrites said something so profound on this topic, I nearly flew out of my chair.  He said that he was working on a sequel to his novel PREYING ANGELS, and that the “…characters were leading him through now.”  Exactly.  Like the child who engages the adult, Jeff allows his characters to show him who they are and how their reality unfolds.  Jeff is experiencing the story in real-time with his characters.  This kind of writing can only mean one thing:  The Reader will be riveted by the story, and that real-time quality of believability, no matter the subject matter, will prevail!

My nephew had me at “Gah” – his favorite term for all things profound, just like Amanda Reed, @princess_scribe and @jeffdaviswrites had me with their insights.  Unveiling characters as they discover themselves and their world brings our Golems to Life that all Audiences will, with or without thought, invite into their minds.  These characters will then have a chance to take up residence like the great Icons of Worthy Fiction and Film.

~~

I welcome your Comments.  And, as always, I’ll leave the Light on for Ya.

Freaks and The Norm in the Post Office Line; A Primer on Pessimism @VerbaVitae

Scenarios amaze when a fabulous outcome comes down – as if it is other than expected. We ooh and aah; we revel over the event like it’s a miraculous anomaly. And yet, statistics tell us something else. Statistics tell us this: The chance of something unexpected happening on a timeline is  equal in likelihood with the chance that something expected will happen. At any point on that timeline, the most expected and the most unlikely are equally poised to occur in the next moment.

Strangely, we defer to statistics to proclaim that something common is likely. We point to the average and expect it. If we are pessimistic, perhaps we look to the part of the bell curve on the less ideal side. We listen to doctors, stock analysts, trend forecasters, and our own heads. So much support of the less than optimal, that I wouldn’t be surprised if we actually contribute to the next moment being ho-hum.

The previous comment is not just anecdotal. The “New Physics” stumbled on this very thing – the degree to which we can affect the next moment. The New Physics is a term used to describe the modern fields of Physics that explore the aspects of our world that function bizarrely according to traditional approaches, then observe and speculate on possible reasons for them. One fascinating observation drawn by Quantum Physics, a field that can be placed under the umbrella of New Physics, is that when scientists go to look for an electron’s location, they have to stop it from moving because it is so erratic. When they do that, they cannot observe its behavior. When they let the electron do its thing, they can only watch its behavior, but cannot pinpoint its location. It is a statistical mess – manic at best.  This is called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle – for the guy who put this into words.

Anyway, this is the backdrop for the following. Modern scientists took this principle and started to tweak it. They wondered: If they look for an electron where they expect to find it, will they find it more often? This, to determine whether intention has any bearing on the next moment. What they found shocked them and the world: Electrons showed up much more often where scientists  intended to find them than statistical norms suggest they should.

Science took this observation a step further. They asked a control group to intend certain numbers to a computer several hundred miles away – this computer’s sole job was to generate random numbers. The data, conclusive: numbers intended showed up much more often than should statistically.

With this in mind, I wish that we’d be taught this in school; I mean, how would it be if we understood that intention can have a bearing on outcome?

So, over to the discussion at the beginning of this post. We expect the average, or we expect the worst. When and how often do we expect the best outcome? Certainly, we try sometimes. In this regard, culturally, we’ve benefited from the urgings of our traditions. Weddings and births come to mind. We say “May You have a long and happy life together”, even though statistics on unions are not pretty. On births, we say “Congratulations!” before the birth and comment on how wonderful the experience will be from pregnancy to the child’s maturity. Our traditions do not focus on the pain, the risk, the fear, the teenage years. And, this brings up a very valuable point: As a culture, we have found a way to get optimistic, even ideal around things we can’t control that are fundamentally and ultimately risky. So, why don’t we do take this approach with everything?

I once taught as a school for Massage Therapy – largely a self-employment field. Teachers would complain at Staff meetings about the unlikely success of many students, and commented that perhaps, these students should have been barred from admission. Our Teaching Manager would look at them and say “Who are we to determine the outcome of someone else’s success?”

I never forgot that. I now look at the world this way:

Freaks and The Norm stand in the post office line. We live in a statistical stew. The ingredients of this statistical stew are just waiting for their turn at the counter.

The middle line, the 50% mark; image http://economicshelp.org

Whether we expect a wonderful or tragic moment next is up to us. Even if we have experienced tragedy, we can tell our brain that we reject the thought that something bad is coming, and replace that thought with one that gives the “official” position of our head: that we anticipate great things.

You can embrace the idea that your intention affects the next moment. If you decide to embrace this idea, you are set. Just intend good stuff.

If you are unwilling to embrace this idea, then remember that statistics shows us that in the next moment, all things are equally possible.

The orange and the white - equally possible the next moment

Either way, optimism becomes the logical conclusion. But, the choice is yours.

~~

Feel free to drop me a line about your thoughts on the issue. As always, I’ll leave the light on for ya.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

%d bloggers like this: