1:20 am -When Music Mirrors Your Story

Every once in a while a really great song will play from one of my Pandora stations, and when it does it triggers me to stop what I’m doing, close my eyes and listen. This doesn’t happen often. Most times the music I listen to becomes white noise as I write, but when a good one streams in, I ride the wave of the song and carefully listen  to the lyrics. Both the sound and words create a scene, a feeling and an emotion, a lot like a story.

Tonight, when this  particular song came up it reminded me of my protagonist and the internal struggle they are going through. Whenever this happens, music mirroring an aspect of my story, it feels really good. It reinforces that I just may be  capturing an idea, a feeling or an emotion in a way that is universal to a reader or group of readers that may also connect with the story I am creating…. at least that’s my hope.

Its a great song by funk and soul singer. It originally came out in 2001. I hope you enjoy  it.

‘Push & Pull’  -Nikka Costa

Mr. Nothing’s got a lot
He’s got a lot to say
He’s good at being what he’s not
Gives nothing away
Another day goes on by
And he never speaks his heart
He takes his chance with what he’s got
It’s too late now to stop

You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It’s tying you up while you’re fadin’
You give and you take and take what you got
Round and round ’till it breaks and
You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It’s tying you up while you’re fadin’ into your lie

Mr. Nothing is late
He’s running out of time
He questions whether chance or fate will ever show a sign
Looks to the sky above
For a glimpse of what it means
And never never never make
Make no sense to him

You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It’s tying you up while you’re fadin’
You give and you take and take what you got
Round and round ’till it breaks and
You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It’s tying you up while you’re fadin’ into your lie

You push and you pull it

Fiction Is My Truth

Image By-Antonio Bolfo/Reportage by Getty Images

Writing Too Close To The Truth

When I first began writing this novel I was moved by a person, a life and a family- the greatness of it, tragic and beautiful. I befriended a long time veteran of the police force, and in return I learned about a world and a life I had never given a second thought to. Each time we spoke I would quietly listen to stories of life altering experiences that dealt with two decades of witnessing the ugliest most part of people- both horrific and heroic.

With a new found respect, I was inspired by his strength and in awe of their steadfast dedication and endurance to keep waking up each morning to do it all over again, it became one of the many reasons why I began writing my novel.

Obviously I’m aware of the origins of my story, however not since the beginning stages of my writing had I really thought about the difficulty I had when trying to create fiction from something real. It wasn’t until one of my a brief #ROW80 updates that I thought about the muses that inspire so many of our stories.

We’ve all heard at least once in our life, in order to be great or begin to be successful you should write or talk about the things you know. This concept can be applied to many professions including writing.

Even during a fiction writing class, I recall my instructor saying that most first-time writers in some way shape or form often write stories and create characters that are composites of themselves and their own lives.

Knowing I could write about the experience that moved me enough to start writing again; I took to my computer and created the outline to my novel. The first few months of writing began as a page-by-page biography of sorts. I didn’t mean to be so literal as I didn’t want my story to be a work of non-fiction. The anonymity and trust of my Muse was and will always be extremely important to me.

With this in mind, I wanted my story to contain the seminal feelings and ideas that moved and inspired me when I first felt and heard them. I just didn’t know how to go about it.

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.-Stephen King

Take Stephen King as an example. The protagonists in a large number of his fictional worlds are writers, and the settings take place in and around Maine (where he lives). His writing tends to carry a constant theme of isolation, either through the physical state his characters live in or within the internal conflicts they struggle with; this can be seen as a parallel interpretation to a writers life as they create. But these are not literal translations of his own life. Even when you read his book “On Writing” you can see how both similar and dissimilar his works are to him as a person. However, they still carry the essence of who he is, almost like a marker that says hey “That’s a Stephen King story’.

So, a few months into my own writing I began to take a hard look at my inspiration. I started pulling apart the cogs that created the structure that stood in front of me. By doing so I began to understand the foundation that built the real world I felt inspired by. The concrete and mortar was made up of universal truths, most of which we have all experienced at one point or another in our own lives.

It was the idea of family and the potential dysfunction of it; the experience of love and betrayal, the concept of fear and regret; purpose and loss; identity and legacy. These were the ideas and feelings I wanted to write about.

Soon I realized that my story needed to be more than changing names and locations. I began creating a world and a cluster of people that contained their own realities. The causalities of my main character wouldn’t be the same as any one person I knew in my life, but of the experiences, thoughts and feelings that I knew could happen depending on the choices I decided he/she would make in the story.

Now I’m beginning to understand that we contain a full catalog of knowledge both real and imagined, each tucked away within the fibers of our brains waiting to be called upon. Our minds contain countless hopes, dreams, observations of life and experiences- each available to us as we create the worlds within our stories.

So, still using as an outline the initial inspiration that lit the fire under me to write, the story that I’m creating today has become a mosaic of all the people I’ve met, information that I’ve read, watched and learned over the span of my lifetime. The words that I write are ideas that I imagine and some things that I have been witnessed to. It contains small nuggets of experiences and feelings that I have felt as a child and as an adult.

Either through writing prompts, a picture, a song, a news article, a scent, a person we may meet or even through something we have touched, I believe we have most of the tools needed to begin creating a great fictional piece of literature…even if it’s based on something real.

Random Information About Me

Brought To You By: Versatile Blogger

I was nominated and given a new Versatile Blogger Award!!! A bit chain letter like but still very cool for a newbie like me :-)

Thank you Lillie McFerrin at Lillie McFerrin Writes, Jayrod at The First Original Garrett’s Writing Blog and Steven Watson at Stuck in My Own Mind for nominating me. You are awesome writers!!

MY (15) NOMINATIONS

OK- These are bloggers that I’ve come to respect their advice, love their sites, am grateful for the comradery. Honestly they are some of the best writing buddies to have.  Follow them on Twitter, they are really great people to connect with.

  1. Jayrod- The First Original Garrett’s Writing Blog
  2. Steven Watson- Stuck in My Own Mind
  3. Lillie McFerrin- Lillie McFerrin Writes
  4. Eden- Many Worlds From Many Minds
  5. Sarabeth- Confessions of a Thirty Something Teenager
  6. Melissa- The Undeveloped Story
  7. Gene Lempp- Gene Lempp Blog
  8. Jason Runnels- The Puzzling Mind of Jason Runnels
  9. Nubia- Unicorns Are Real
  10. Kate Spenser- Sordid Details
  11. Carl Brand- My Vogon Poetry
  12. Ian Carter- Fictian
  13. Dana- The Daily Dose
  14. Jeremy Kerr- Cur Made
  15. Megan McGibney

RANDOM INFORMATION ABOUT ME

  1. Although born in New York City, I was raised in the suburbs of Dutchess and Ulster County (Upstate New York). You know, its the kind of place where summers are filled with county fairs and teen flings. All the swimming was done within the cold mountain waters of Lake Minnewaska and Bear MountainIts the kind of place were high school rivalries against neighboring districts are taken very seriously only to be settled on the Basketball courts and Football fields (most times).   I was there during a time when most of my friends hung out at the local Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall, snuck into the movies and worked at The Gap & Express. Overall it was a great place to grow up in. Looking back now, had my family stood in NYC I think I would be a different person; not necessarily bad…. just different.
  1. My most favorite sound in the world is the sound of Cicadas singing during late summer nights in the country. The sound can instantly take me from an irritable or depressed mood to camping with my parents; to nighttime drives while coasting down the back roads of Route 32 with the windows down in my 84 Corolla; to being kissed by my teen love under the stars in Bowdoin Park. (Weird I know, but they said random information)
  1. I am a horrible, speller. I mean really bad. So much so that even when I tweet I try to make sure I am spelling everything correctly. And even then I miss a few and when I find out I go back and erase the Tweet praying no one noticed.
  1. I love to swim… or at least stay in the water for long periods of time. When I was younger I would swim at the local beaches and lakes until all my fingers and toes would wrinkle. Usually by that time I would be suffering from a leg cramp but still refusing to get out until my mom would yell at me. Even now as an adult I’m the same. My mother used to say I was a guppy in a previous life, I think she was right.
  1. I’ve come to dislike the City in a real way. The hustle, the overcrowding, the need to work in places where your salary anywhere else in the country would be enough to provide for a small family, but in New York City you barely get by. In Spanish they say “Nueva York es una bruja, cuando vives aqui no te suelta” Translation: New York is like a witch, she beckons you in with the allure of big city life but once you are here it will be hard for you to leave.
  1. I really do love music. It helps me get through really bad times, celebrate good ones and often makes me think of the people, places and experiences that at times hurts to relive, but also feels good to think about during a 4 min song
  1. I have rather large feet and tiny ears. Feet not that big, but big enough to match my 5′ 10 1/2″ height   LOL!!! Sorry, I couldn’t think of anything else in this moment.

She Had Given Him Her Entire Life In Those Final Moments…

(Snippet Of My Novel- A Work In Progress)

The game was running into overtime as his mind wandered. There were moments that seemed to blur. His thoughts, reality and not, all jumbled into one very real alternate universe. It was sometimes difficult to discern time.

“Look there, my son” he thought.

Seeing him now, a young man of fifteen. Fifteen? Juan shook his head as if to rewind back time. It was impossible to escape the ever lingering sensation he felt when looking at his son. It was the sense of accomplishment and one of awe. His son on the soccer field was the same 7 pound 5 ounce baby that once entered the world from his wife’s body to then be placed into his arms—both warm and small.

And now here was, his son gliding across the vast expanse of the green field and blue sky, confident and strong. Juan reminds himself how fortunate he is. He had finally brought something good into this world, uncorrupted and untainted.

Robbie had been born during a time when fathers had just been allowed into the delivery rooms. He could recall the mosaic of sounds that beeped from the many machines monitoring her and the baby’s heartbeat. The piercing smell of bleach and blood that seemed to linger in the air fueling the thought of life and death. Giving and taking, both intermingled together in one place.

It was their third try. It hadn’t been easy. She didn’t want this. He knew it. But he pushed just like he always did. They both believed they needed this to mend a marriage; to consummate something beautiful and permanent despite the obvious seams that had been fraying at the edges.

In some ways he knew it was over. The last battle for their love was won and lost by his wife Rosaline. Juan felt the moment during his son’s birth when she broke away from him. She was there, she was smiling, she was holding his son, but she had already left him.

She had given him her entire life in those final moments; each year passing with every push.

As she grasped his hand to bear down for the final time, out came the last string of love that lied between them both, now beating in the soul of his son.

Robbie was the last gift of her youth, her independence and her innocence, all given to him. Just as he had always received everything he had asked for, whether given freely or taken by demand.

Now, looking at the face of his son as he kicked the black and white paneled ball in mid-air, it didn’t matter anymore. It didn’t mean anything but what was in front of him in these moments.

The Quest Stands Upon the Edge of a Knife…

FINDING A FELLOWSHIP OF WRITERS

A New Year as I Identify My Goals


In my cramped New York City apartment the clock hit 12am. As the seconds ticked down, all the images and sounds, tastes and smells of 2011 fought for a space in my mind and heart- each taking refuge.

On the first chime I attempted to drive out the not so great memories of the year that past while on the second I savored in the good ones. By the twelfth chord my thoughts blended harmoniously on the people I wish to think of while recalling the ones I didn’t, often the same between the two.

Thankfully the war that was waging in my head and the tears that began to swell was interrupted by the sight of my self-absorbed Major kissing Lady Gaga, by the embrace of Dick Clark and his wife and finally in the vain of Alfred Eisenstaedt infamous V-J Day photograph, I watched as Jenny McCarthy made-out with a NYC Police Officer.

The last two years had been hard ones, plagued with a few of life’s hardships including the death of two family members and ending with a broken heart. Suffice it to say 2012 couldn’t have come any sooner.

I immediately began to wonder what the New Year would bring while seriously contemplating what I wanted to make of it. Above everything writing was and is going to be at the forefront of my goals. At the risk of sounding cliché my story…this story will be told and I’m going to kick ass at it.

So, during one of my many late night writing sessions I had the movie Lord of the Rings playing next to my Word document. I briefly glanced at the minimized screen just as Cate Blanchett spoke these words to her ‘Ring Bearer’

The Quest Stands Upon the Edge of a Knife. Stray but a little and it will fail.

– Galadriel

Almost instantly, I realized that I am the Ring Bearer in my own life. No, I’m not trying to defeat the Dark Lord and save Middle Earth. But in my own way (perhaps you as well) I am traveling and living within my own quest. Attempting to accomplish something I never thought I would.

But with that we sometimes need a little help. A fellowship perhaps. A fellowship of writers and artists alike.

More than anything, what has helped in my writing has been the connection with others. It started with creating my blogs and signing up for Twitter. Then National Novel Writing Month arrived and I participated fully. Each provided the push I needed each day to write.

Now that NANOWRIMO is over I went scouting for other challenges to connect with. In doing so I found A Round of Words in 80 Days. Unlike National Novel Writing Month you set your own writing goal for the 80-day stretch as you connect with other writers. You identify what you want to accomplish and post it. Fellow #ROW80 participants will connect on your blog and Twitter to see your progress and give a hand of encouragement. Sounded great to me so I started.

However, this had me thinking…how many other writing/ word count challenges are there? Quite a few (I’m sure many more that I’m missing)

  • National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO): Quoted from their site “Its a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.”
  • A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80): Run by Kait Nolan. Here you set your own writing goal for the 80 days. There are 4 rounds a year, each running 80 days. Thanks @JayrodPG for this one!!
  • 250, 500 or 1000 Words A Day: In this challenge you try to write 250, 500 or 1000 words a day (pick one of these goals), at least six days a week. Their website is also a great resource on Word Count meters to place on your blog no matter which challenge you participate in.
  • 100 Words: In this challenge you set out to write 100 words a day. A fellow blogger just informed me about this one. Since the word count is so small you have the time to really take a close look at what you are writing, how it is said and determine if what you have written is actually moving the story forward. In other words, does it have purpose. Thanks Nancy at http://wordsforgotten.com/ you rock!!!
  • May Novel Writing Month (MayNoWriMo) : The rules are simple: Name your word count goal for the month, begin writing at 12:00 AM on May 1st and reach your word count goal by 11:59:59 PM on May 31st to be called a winner.
  • Academic Book Writing Month (AcBoWriMo) Writing for an academic audience. Total word count goals you set – journals, book chapters, books, doctoral thesis, or academic reviews.
  • Six Sentence Sunday (SSS): BRILLIANT!! Its a way to share a tiny portion of your work with other writers, authors and readers as a means of gaining interest in your work or for feedback, support and encouragement! The idea of Six Sentence Sunday (SSS) began with Sara Brookes. Participating is easy. Pick any SIX sentences from your work from any genre, whether WIP or published (you don’t have to be published to participate) and post them on your blog on Sunday before 9 AM EST.

So, with my new writing schedule in one hand and a growing fellowship of writers in another I saddled up on my horse as I make my way to complete my ‘precious’…novel that is. ☺

I’m Not Quite a Loser

WHAT 38,344 WORDS LOOKS AND FEELS LIKE……

November 30, 2011- I didn’t even leave my desk at work because the ½ hour commute home meant I would lose more than 1,000 words in my writing. But by this point I knew I wouldn’t make the full 50,000, and honestly, it didn’t matter. What mattered was finishing and trying my best to the very end. I did just that.

Corny as it may sound….. I feel like a winner, kind of. I won’t lie as my phone alarm went off 11:59 November 30th I did feel like a loser- a big one.

But just as a fellow NaNoWriMo writing buddy said “Get as many words in as you can, especially in the beginning because life happens”. She wasn’t kidding. My ‘Life’ happening came in the form loosing a close family member 1 week before the Thanksgiving holiday. My 1,699 word per day goal was the last thing on my mind; my small world was temporarily turned upside down.

Breaking through the loss, I returned a few days before 30th determined to write until my fingers dropped. In the end I achieved something that may be small in some eyes but great in mine. I flexed a muscle I didn’t realize I had.

  • I didn’t go back to edit, edit again and re-edit the sentence I just wrote, thus wasting time and getting side tracked.
  • I didn’t stop and spend an entire day looking up a name for a character because it needed meaning in that very moment.
  • I didn’t spend hours and days researching the police radio codes for dispatching an officer to a crime scene.
  • I wrote even when I didn’t want to write.
  • I wrote when the small voice inside me said my story will never be seen or heard…I wrote.

In the end I pushed through. I made due with the temporary names, the fake dispatching codes. I made due and in return I have a story.

I’ve read countless blogs on winning and losing to National Novel Writing Month. Each an inspirational tale of late nights, blue computer screens, constant word count updates, music playlists, outlining gone wrong, story lines changed or chucked all together. I even ran into a site that blasted National Novel Writing Month. Calling it out as a dangerous community of ‘Charlie Nobodies” calling themselves authors.

For me it was one of the best things I’ve done for my novel. As I said it wasn’t a loss at all. I learned, I met great people along the way and above all I wrote. Now I need to continue….

THE BEST OF MY NANO EXPERIENCE

Some of the Best Writing buddies

@JayrodPG
@so_she_writes
@KateSpencer2go
@lumos_nox_
@raineerose
@MiykieQ
@ParentheticaLex

Best Online Writing Tool (Kicks your ass to just write)
Write or Die: http://writeordie.com/#Web+App

Best Post NaNoWriMo Blog
http://blog.deannaknippling.com/?p=3687#.TtVF_9Vksn8.twitter

Best Post NaNoWriMo Image
From @JasonRunnels http://pic.twitter.com/gWwJjNi7

Money & Fellowships: Creative Writing

Hi Fellow Artists, Writers and Creators!

As I mentioned before, I’ve been trying to transfer my skills as a 8 year grant writer and non-profit fundraising veteran to help myself obtain grants and find unique learning opportunities as I continue my path in becoming a professional writer.

Well, it hasn’t been easy. Give me 2 hours and a computer I can find a $500,000 grant for a youth program, domestic violence support services and even find donors for a community arts program; I could write the entire proposal, draw up logic models, breakdown process/ outcome objectives and create a full budget – but finding grants in the arts for individual people, well… it’s a B*#&%

In any case I found some great fellowships for Creative & Screen Writing. Why should I keep this information only to myself but share with others and save you some time? Just because they don’t work for me, they may help you.

I’m only posting updated and more comprehensive programs/ grants that I would want for myself and others. Submission dates may have passed but ALL the websites are active and grants are still being awarded. I went through each and tried to summarise to save you time.

CHECK OUT:

-QUESTIONS & COMMENTS: Although I am not an expert creative writer I am however, rather good with grants and soliciting for funds, so leave a comment or send email, I will try my best to help. OR if you have info to share GREAT!!!!

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I WILL BE UPDATING THIS EACH MONTH SO COME BACK !

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