Writing

Never Take Yes For an Answer

Mr. Holloway has given me a lot to think about. I hope you get as much from this as I did.

dan holloway

Never take yes for an answer. Yes comes with conditions. Yes stakes ownership. Yes is the devil whispering “you can have everything I show you” while it cups one hand gently to your ear and with the other draws a veil over the most beautiful, untrammelled, unimagined parts of the landscape. Yes is the sweet hit of heroine that shrinks your horizons to the size of your eyeballs.

Whether I have achieved a lot, or a little, or something in between, is a question to which there will never be a simple answer. It’s the same for you. And that’s because it’s not a single question. Against what are you measuring yourself? For every different answer, there is a correspondingly different question about your success. But only one of them actually matters.

What do you want from your writing?

You think you know. Good. Now take a pause, and a…

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Writing a good story…

Writing while drinking wine from a Tardis mug.

I regret nothing.

Writing a good story involves setting yourself aside. At least, for me it does. Maybe that’s why so many writers drink. It’s tough playing Frankenstein and giving life to so many different personalities in your head. Combine that with the art of crafting a story with a definite ending and throw in some discouraging remarks from an asshole professor and you’ve got a masterpiece. The asshole professor at least made me realize that I couldn’t write a good story without at least trying to access some emotions.

One of the challenges I face is not writing the same story over and over. That’s a trap that some writers can fall into when they only read one type of story, or when they don’t read anything at all. In my case, it comes from lack of imagination. I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m not convinced I’m as creative as I seem. I think I just like making things happen to people. On paper, at least. I couldn’t do it in real life. Not the things I write about. That kind of thing results in legal disputes.

Vale at Night

Image

I look at the trees—they’re black clouds against the dim gray sky. No stars tonight, no breeze; even with the roaring engine nearby I could be the only person on Earth. There is a light from the forest; it illuminates every spider’s web that I didn’t see before. I lean closer; the intricate weave is suddenly a beauty to my eye. I sit and stare until dew settles on the delicate silk; I watch it become a galaxy, billions of twinkling celestial bodies all netted in a single entity, a universe, vulnerable to the slightest breeze, yet capable of harnessing life and destroying it all in the name of its creator. I’ve never been so close to the stars. I tend to long for things that are too far from my reach.

Why everyone should write - the first edition of Runeswept

Why Everyone Should Write

The Red Journal - the real first edition of my first novel.

Red Snakeskin Journal – the real first edition of my first novel.

When I was in high school, my father gave me a journal. It was a red snakeskin design with narrow lines – perfect for a big project. I knew when I got it that I couldn’t fill it with my stupid poetry. This journal needed something special.

It took a few days, but I finallly found inspiration. I imagined a young man in a strange new world, encountering strange creatures and a stranger system of government. Admittedly not my most original idea, but that story was the first novel I ever completed. It opened a floodgate of brilliance and creativity.

It took two years, but I hand-wrote an entire novel. Afterwards, after some encouraging reviews (which I now suspect might’ve been total hogwash), I began to write nonstop. I lived in my dad’s poolhouse and I’d graduated from high school. Without a job, I was able to dedicate my entire summer to writing books. I’d wake up, go to my computer, and write from 9 to 5 with no pauses, no breaks, not even a glance at the clock. I saw very few people. Just my dad. I wasn’t interested in seeing anyone else. Friends, to me, would be a terrible waste of time. Friends would interfere with my writing. Even in times when I was forced to be around others, I resented it and thought only of my books.

I’m telling you this because, during those months in which I did nothing but write, I changed. I was no longer interested in performing roles for other people. I was no longer interested in trivial things like relationships and gaming with friends. I became boring. I became serious.

Not that I thought I was boring. I didn’t. Still don’t. I happen to think – no, know I’m awesome. But my friends didn’t think so. I spent so much time inside my own head, organizing my stream of thought, reflecting on hypotheticals, characteristics, psychology, and ethics that I’d matured far beyond others my age. Without distractions and influences, I grew.

Writing is valuable. It helps us on the path to discover who we are. Since the consensus is that none of my stories are similar to one another, I guess “who I am” isn’t definable, but I’m happy with that.

A sociology professor once asked how I define success, and I basically said that success, to me, is when you’re doing what you love, when you’re on a path that you’re happy with. You never want to reach the end of that path. That’s why everything I write is different from the last. I’m still exploring my mind. If everyone else took to time to delve into their own minds and organize their thoughts the way a writer does, they could be well on the path to achieving clarity. They can grow.