If I Had One Last Post

For the last few months I’ve been quietly writing… trying to get to a place in my novel where I can seriously begin editing it down to a tangible piece of fiction, one of which I can have edited for review.

Almost 3 years have past and every fiber of my body wants and needs this story to be told. Its unimaginable how much I want to see it printed, binded and know that people, even if it’s just one person, one person that will  feel the love, see the tragedy and witness the joy within the story I’m trying to tell.

No End in Site

While taking a few creative writing classes this fall I spoke with a few writers, those who are also writing books and have already completed one. One Instructor told me it took him 8 years to get their first one out, another said five! I freaked out when I heard that. In my mind I don’t want to take that long, in a way I can’t. But then I know I want to do it right, and I still have a lot of learning (editing) to do.

Part of my drive is stemming from the need for it to be over, not the process of writing- that has been an adventure and I’ve gained and continue to grow from it. It is the need for the story to be done.. A need to let it go. You see, the story I’m writing is very personal to me. For more reasons than one, the weight of my characters in my mind seem to be getting heavier, especially when at times it can be difficult to find a way out of the maze I’m creating.

I often wonder if its wrong for a writer to feel this way (wanting the story to be over). My guess, it’s a natural one, one that I suspect other writers at times feel. I also realize this feeling comes from being too close to the story and dwelling on it even on the days I attempt to give myself some respite from it.

For example, on one of those ‘days off’, I was online listening to music clicking on artists I love and am curious about. This was when I ran into the video below. I was so moved by it. At first I cried, then I watched it again, then again… then, I started feverishly writing. I made adjustments to the plot, emphasized things I knew I wanted to show but felt weren’t clear…… all inspired by the images I was seeing and the music I was hearing.

(Note: Expand the video so you can see it enlarged on your screen….trust me its better bigger)

The three minute and 55 second piece was created by a Videographer named Paulo. He mixed the modern electronic music of James Blake with a choreographed piece from the late Pina Bausch‘s stark depiction of the Rite of Springto make (in my mind) a piece of art in its own right. It exemplifies the second underling story within my novel… the discourse of love, loss, fear, anger and desire. It depicts the laborious requirement of it, both dirty and beautiful. I believe the quote from Marguerite Duras, author of The Lover and  The Malady of Death best describes the images within the video when she stated:

“…in heterosexual love there’s no solution. Man and woman are irreconcilable, and it’s the doomed attempt to do the impossible, repeated in each new affair, that lends love its grandeur.”

– Marguerite Duras

Clearly for me, its hard to see an end in site when I’m still making changes, editing huge chucks of narrative and still questioning the direction of my story. In my heart I know its not a bad thing to take this long, especially when I want to do it right- my story deserves it, they, my characters deserve it, I want to be proud. Truth be told, I know myself enough to know when I actually do finish, I will be upset for the loss of finally being done.

So, if I finished my book and had one last thing to post, it would be of this dance, this song, this art, this love that I’m trying to communicate…even to that one person that will eventually get to read it.

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Writing My First Sentence Took 12 Trys And It’s Still A WIP

Work In Progress, that is. This summer while on a mini hiatus from my novel I was asked by Potomac Review’s Andrea Pawley, a fantastic writer and author, to guest blog on their web site. I was honored, so of course I said YES!

Whenever I’m asked to guest write, I always like to explore and share the issues I struggle with as a writer. My hope is that other writers will benefit from my mini  Aha! Moments, thus gaining a little more sleep during those late nights staring at their computer screens.

This time around I shared my observations and learning experiences when developing the first sentence for my current novel.  I explored the why and how. Here’s a small peak into my post.

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The Hook: First Sentences Are Not Easy For a Reason

The truth is no one ever judges a book by its cover (We hope); they judge it by its first line. A Creative Writing teacher explained her method of book selection. She opens to the first page and scans the first line. If in those few seconds it doesn’t grab her, she walks away from it completely. She’s not alone. Most publishers take only 20 seconds to read the first paragraph of your story before they decide to either dump or read on through the next five pages. Your story is riding on that first sentence; make it memorable.

I Am The Queen of Run-on Sentences

When I first started my novel, there were two things I knew with clarity: how the story should begin and how it should end. At first, the task and responsibility of the first sentence was difficult for me to grasp. I knew I wanted the first sentence to convey cherished love, the innocence of a young boy on the cusp of adulthood, loneliness, a sense of time passing, urgency and sacrifice. My first reaction was to jam everything into one long monster run-on of a sentence. Staring at the page, I was heart broken. All of the words seemed to all collapse onto themselves. I had no first sentence, and there I stood stuck.

Until I read this….

“A good first line should be as good as your favorite film quote. Something that even when taken out of context has power – the power to make someone laugh, think, gasp or grimace.” – Christopher Jackson

You can read the full post at Potomac Review- A Journal of Arts and Humanities

Fiction Is My Truth

Image ByAntonio 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 or my nighttime drives 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.

A Writer, The Big Apple and the Great Escape

I was asked to be a guest writer on The Life of Riley, a fantastic New York driven blog that covers the literature and arts community of the city.  Here’s a great peek at the article.

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New York City is a hotbed continually producing world renown and influential writers; it is clear it’s the environment conducive to attaining resources to those who seek them out. So, over the last six months I decided to retool my artistic process strategy for better effectiveness. By doing so I’ve been able to meet inspirational people, find stimulating places write, share my work and participate in writing groups.  Wondering how I manged to completely overhaul my situation?It was exceedingly simple; I gave myself time to actually see what was right in front of me.

Once I started looking for opportunities finding them became easier….For the full article go to The Life of Riley

Quick Links To NYC Writer Resources (Click Below)

A month long of research, calling and visiting places- Take advantage of it!                      From one fellow writer to another. Hope it helps!

Music & Writing

The Push Pull of Love

Within my novel I’ve been  attempting to show the universal experience of pain, regret, love and family. Suffice it to say, far too often  these topics tend to drudge up my own personal experience with these same issues.  Essentially, this is where I use my poetry as a cathartic process of releasing the things that weigh heavy on me.

So, in between my novel-writing I’ve been working on one particular poem that speaks of my own intimate experience with the push-pull of love, anger, longing and desire. Honestly, I’ve been having a lot of difficulty with it. My words have been feeling like a tangled web of hair, unable to comb through. This is where music often helps me…it puts me in the right mindset.

Pandora, my iTunes and CD collection are always on or within reach. I’ve even gone as far as using my Sound machineapp on my iPhone to use as I write. Depending on the particular scene I’m working on (hospital setting, outdoors in a park) I pick from the various sounds they offer. There I have a sampling of thunder storms, forest sounds, rain falling on a tin rooftop, traffic and distant train sounds. It may be a bit weird but for me it helps.

For my novel and this particular poem the song below is always looping in the foreground. I feel like the music embodies the idea of  leaving behind while moving ahead. You can almost sense the movement as you listen… well at least I do 🙂

I hope you enjoy it.

“Untitled #4” (a.k.a. “Njósnavélin”)  -By Sigur Rós
The song had a Hollywood debut in the movie ‘Vanilla Sky’ during the final scene.