Inspiration

It’s finally Sring time! The first official day of Spring was Friday, March 20 and I know I’m not the only one who was excited about that.

sunny_daffodils-2This is a time of renewal and rebirth. And allergies. So many allergies.

Do you find inspiration in this time? In the yellow daffodils and your ability to walk outside without a jacket? I feel like this is the poets’ time. Or, at least a time for those poets who have a passion or attachment to nature.

I know that the weather has inspired me to shave my legs for the first time in months and also to contemplate an attempt at gardening on my apartment balcony. And part of me keeps contemplating tackling the idea of Spring cleaning, but it seems that I’d rather cook and go to the gym.

My fiction writing tends to be affected by the season in which I’m writing it. Is anybody else like this?

I typically start a work off in the season that I’m currently living. I’m sure this doesn’t always hold true, but it’s so much easier to look out the window and be inspired by my surroundings to create a scene than to try to remember what the world looked like before that particular temperature change hit.

Take my novel, Collecting Humanity as an example. I currently too buried in track changes to remember what scene I start it off in, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t the Fall. I did, after all, write the entire thing in November.

The Importance of First Lines

The somber group of men sat in a large room that rested far belowground, accessed by only a single, high-speed elevator.

David Baldacci

In case you missed it, I really like first lines. There is such a graveness and beauty about their importance. Some readers judge a book by those first lines instead of by its cover. Imagine, a stranger picks up your novel in a bookstore, reads the first few lines, and crinkles their nose as they place it back in the shelf…what a nightmare!

Baldacci, David. Saving Faith. New York: Warner, 1999. Print.

Citations

I know, I can’t bring another Story Piece today, but I can find time to give you two posts in one day instead? We already knew that I was strange.

I recently realized that I haven’t been citing from the book that I’ve been using to find quotes from. And, because I think it’s important for you to use citations in work, it must also be important for me to use citations in my work. This posts is simply giving you a head up that whenever you see some words in magenta at the end of one of my posts, that is a citation from Son of Citation Machine.

ExampleofMagentaCitation

Above is a better example of the magenta that will be happening. I know that it looks pink, but if you have a WordPress account, you can look at your color options and this one is, in fact, known as magenta.

Anyways, I’m going to go through the other few Weekly Quotes that I have and make sure that I have MLA citations for each of them.

QuotationaryThe book that I was referring to is the Quotationary put together by Leonard Roy Frank. This is a wonderful book that I’m pretty sure my grandma found for me somewhere at some point some years ago–it’s been a while. It’s also a book that I think you should make a part of your collection because it is wonderful and also because it is apparently only $0.98 on Amazon.

I’ve always found quotes to be fun to look at it and they can also be an inspiration for your writing. I find that it’s a great way to spark poetry, in particular.

And this book is designed wonderfully. For one thing, it’s huge! It’s filled to the brim with so many wonderfully easy to read and find quotes.

Frank did a great job when he decided to separate the quotes by subject, making it easy to flip through your ABCs until you find the type of quote you might be looking for. The index is also broken up into topic and author, making it even easier to find what you’re looking for. Each quote has the speaker of said quote along with what they might have said it in, be it a novel or speech or letter. There are even some classic, anonymous quotes at the end of each section.

Procrastination

Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination, never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Lord Chesterfield

Believe it or not, I didn’t intentionally pick another Lord Chesterfield quote! I actually didn’t even realize that it was until I was glancing back at last week’s quote to see how I had formatted the post.

The reason I picked this quote is because it really applies to how I should be looking at life. This past year, I’ve discovered the art of laziness and I’ve been working on slapping myself out of it. Hopefully, this adventure away from laziness with continue on into the next year.

This quote also has a lot to do with writing. You have to “snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment” of writing that you’re able to get your hands on because sometimes a few moments might be all you get in day to let your creativity flow.

And when you do get your hands on it, you need to dig in with all of your focus.

I.e. it probably isn’t the best idea to write while watching Guy Fieri‘s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Which is not what I am currently doing. At all.

Frank, Leonard Roy. Random House Webster’s Quotationary. New York: Random House, 1999. Print.

My Notebook Editing Process

I mentioned last week that I’ve come up with a new way to organize the scenes of my novel so that I can see what needs work. With the hope that it will be helpful, I’ve decided to break it down for you here.

So far, I’ve been writing down recaps of each scene with as few words as possible and then writing down little captions of what point in time they’re taking place. If said point in time needs to be fixed or if I think the scene needs series work, I’m going to write myself a note saying so. Later, once I have all of the scenes’ captions written out, I’m going to work on numbering them–figuring out what order they should be in and what chapters they should be in.

Maybe I should have been giving each scene an entire page instead of just three blank lines. Too late for that!

Anyways, I’m also planning on adding more sections to this notebook, including one for the characters that includes their description and character traits. There will more than likely be a section dedicated to scene too.

As of right now, the pen colors are:

  • Black –> Initial scene recap
  • Purple –> Points in time that the scene takes place
  • Red –> Notes about major editing fixes that need to happen

Those are the only colors that I’ve needed so far. Eventually, there will more than likely be at least one more color with the purpose of marking the order and chapter of every scene.

Slightly Random Note

I mentioned before that I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d spend the money on keeping this domain for another year. Well, while in the spirit of Christmas shopping over the weekend, I decided to buy it for myself.

Lord Chesterfield

Take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.

I feel like this quote by Lord Chesterfield, a man who was born in 1694, really applies to what I’ve been talking about these past couple of weeks. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with time management, and focusing on what I’m going to do for a couple of minutes instead of the stretching hours, days, years ahead makes it much easier to focus and get things done.

This is something that I learned during NaNoWriMo because of my success in focusing on the 1,667 words every day instead of the 50,000 words that I ultimately had to have written.

Frank, Leonard Roy. Random House Webster’s Quotationary. New York: Random House, 1999. Print.

Surround Yourself

I’ve steadily come to the realization that I’m currently reading and watching fiction that’s similar to the mood of my main writing project.

Last week, I finished the first draft of a short story that I’ve been working, which is on a much lighter note than the novel I started in November. Shortly after, I finished reading “The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I” by Stephen King and then picked up Dan Brown‘s “Angels & Demons” off my shelf. I also became invested in the TV show The Following.

43615All three of these stories, if you will, are rather dark in nature. I’ve written a review of The Following, but have yet to do so for “The Gunslinger.” And, since I’ve barely started “Angels & Demons,” of course I haven’t written a review for Brown’s work yet. Check out their websites or do some Google-ing of your own, but the point that I’m trying to make is that each of these works can, in some way, be classified in the horror genre.

I can’t stand horror or slasher movies, but I enjoy reading the same genre in book form. (Yes, I’m aware that I’m strange). And I can handle TV shows that freak me out as long as there’s enough plot to pull me in and I have something to distract me before bedtime.

So, if horror isn’t my favorite thing to read or watch, why do I suddenly find myself surrounded by it?

I think it was subconscious’ way of telling me to get back into writing my novel. And yesterday I did start the next chapter of what is already the longest work I’ve ever written. Whether or not King and Brown and Kevin Bacon inspired me to get back to it, I think that it’s benefiting me to immerse myself in this world.

To me, it’s important for every writer to devote as much time as possible to 1) writing and 2) reading. How best do we learn our craft than by practicing it and observing the success of other master crafters? And, especially if you find your self delving into a topic you aren’t used to writing, I think that it’s a good idea to read and watch works that are at least somewhat similar to what you’re working on. I’m not telling you to plagiarize. All I’m trying to say is that it might get you in the right mindset or mood for what you’re working on.