A Writer’s Halloween

As I turned, I saw no one. The sense that I could not cut the tension in an empty house. A writer with an imagination. A premonition, too.

That I would be dead before dawn, and that a character would seek revenge. My conjuring complete, effective writing, a plague.

I took refuge in my armchair. A pen, no armor. That I would perish before my bestseller, tragic. I needed to kill him. But, how?

Mastered cunning, heartless Golem. A villain bent on my destruction. But, I alone, the writer, had the power. I would take him. 

As darkness pressed, I smelled his dank sentiment, felt ember’d orbs baring down upon me. I pulled my pen, raised it, and..

..Struck the page. With ghastly wails, the spirit found me, its whirling vortex corseted me, then, I wrestled its essence to quiet. 

I resolved to write poetry. But, the cloud of Edgar Allen Poe unsettled. I resolved to cook, but the blood from meat, unnerved. 

Then, I found the solution. Like Beethoven to music, I would dim my senses. I would write in my dreams, my waking, safe.

I slept for days. My dreams, a first draft undertaking. When I woke, I was free and rested. Then, I spied a form in the chair. 

I approached the figure. She rocked back and forth, bolts of light, escaping. Bloody fingers reached for me. I could not resist.

Her spirit found me. To the mirror, my fears met confirmation. I had been consumed by the writer in me, and so it would be.

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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.

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.

Suprising Virtues of the Curtsy @VerbaVitae

Imagine:  You’re a Diva of some Court – a Monarchy at the height of its Culture.  You’re being passed by the Monarch in Court…or a Knight in the corridor…in either case, the Curtsy is your best bet.

I wondered at the hidden virtues of the Curtsy recently.  It’s a term used on Twitter to denote acknowledgement and appreciation.  That one word, denoting so much.  So, no wonder that this Pillar of Language found me in the shower one night – only figuratively mind you – it had followed me after reading the Twitter Feed of a certain Diva of the Twitter Tree.  I got to thinking – why was the Curtsy ever invented, and why is it as it is, in action?  And, then I wondered whether there were any hidden lessons clinging to the petticoat of the 18th Century French dress I imagined.  Oh my, yes, hidden lessons clinging, indeed.

Take note that the Curtsy is specific.  Bend one’s knees so as to lower to the floor.  At the same time, keep one’s back straight, and avert one’s gaze to the floor.

Here’s a modern interpretation.  Keep your crotch and your ass pointed to the floor with your back straight, lest your actions to the contrary give someone a chance to take advantage from behind.  Keep your back straight as you lower towards the floor to insure that your bosom will not flaunt itself in response to gravity, nor seem too proud.  And, whatever you do, don’t make eye contact while trying to remain unfettered for that moment, unless you want to risk that your eyes will work against the Power of the Curtsy.

Fast forward this little Gem into the daily life of a Working Writer.  Every business move, a Curtsy.  Every discussion about your work with the Spirit of the Curtsy.  Your plots, characters – moving towards or away from…the proverbial Curtsy.

Next time you have the chance to curtsy or bow, give it some thought.  There might be a good reason to bend at the knee, back straight, eyes lowered.

Transformation Prelude: The Cake’s In the Oven

I love the phrase “The cake’s in the oven.”  Not a darn thing you can do to make that cake bake to its best any faster.

This concept comes up a lot in appointments with clients about some part of their life – my work’s not the point of this blog.  But, what I hear that relates to the ‘cake’ is: “It’s taking so long!”  “What am I doing wrong?”  “It hasn’t come together.”  And, “Maybe I’m not good enough to…”

We’re all waiting on a cake – of some kind. I don’t care who you are, or what you do. If you are a writer, filmmaker, director, screenwriter, plumber, banker, gardener, salesperson, someone searching for some kind of fulfillment. We all wait on the cake.

If we rush the cake, its flavor may suffer from poor composition.  If we turn up the heat, it may get burned.  If we often open up the door of the oven to check on it, we slow its progress. If we take it out too early, it tastes like batter.

This is the great risk for any writer, filmmaker – even a seeker of love.  We rush the deal, the career, the publishing; we pinch, we look, we insist – the ART, the DREAM.  What we don’t realize is that as soon as we’ve conceived something and brought it into this world, it is orbiting around some planet in some solar system, that has to do much more with Itself than with us.  And yet, we act as if we can control it.

Enter the cake. The cake is the project, the intention.  Can we give it the time it needs in our head, in a drawer, in the mail, on a desk, in discussion, in production, in printing, in editing, in uploading – in time?   Can we wait with our blessings?

If we opt to wait and let it do its thing, then that work of ART, that realized DREAM will be the best version of Itself that you can deliver, like a midwife out into the world – whether viewed by only you, or by millions.

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