Sunday, July 25, 2010

True Midnight Ramblings

Ah, July.  Normally a time of constant celebration, this month has been especially trying and filled with sleepless nights and wandering days.  I am looking forward to August when friends return from far off places, grief will be a little closer to subdued, and life will begin to return to normalcy (I hope).

In a fit of sleeplessness spurred from a sorrow filled day on the horizon, a late-night emergency and lots of random thoughts and feelings I decided to hover around the internets a while until my eyes start to feel a little more heavy.  I had received a notification that there have been some updates here on Blogger/Blogspot and so I decided to check them out now that I am left with very little to do for the next 8 hours or so.

You may notice that this blog, as well as my other two blogs (A Smaller Bottom and Meet Your Marker), has received a sudden face-lift.  I was really surprised at the new backgrounds and customizations on the templates toolbar, and had a lot of fun putting the new backgrounds and color schemes together.  The new setup makes it easy to have blogs that are not only more attractive as a whole, but also creating a more professional and polished appearance.  Impressive.

And now that the clock is nearing the 1:00 hour, I shall bid you readers out there adieu.  Here's to hoping that I can get to sleep before the day really begins.

Currently Reading:
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Good Writer

It occurred to me this morning on the way to the office (out of bed, detour to the kitchen for some Chai Tea, across the living room in kitty rush-hour traffic) that there is no real and true way to define what makes a "good" writer, other than the words written on paper.

When we read a good book, rarely do we find ourselves lost in thought over what the author's motivation was for writing it.  We don't wonder when we read an interesting news article if the writer was passionate about the topic, or if they were just trying to make their next car payment.  We don't search the words to try to discover if their creator was steady and dependable, writing each day from 6am to 4pm without fail; or if they were steeped in a fury of sudden inspiration and spent 5 days eating little and sleeping less with only the keyboard and furious fingers for company.

From the reader's perspective, what makes a good writer has nothing to do with the company the author keeps, the color of their skin, the religion they follow, the rigid structure or lack thereof that guides their daily lives.  For the reader, all that matters is the story and the words chosen to tell it.

As a writer, we often get caught up in the "How To" of writing.  When someone we know or aspire to be like meets success, we jump up and ask how they did it.  We writers suddenly begin to wonder, "How many hours a day do you write? What is your schedule? How do you know just the right phrase to use? Do you use a Thesaurus? What version of Dictionary are you using? How many copies did you sell, and how much were your royalties?"

As I have asked those questions, read the memoirs of famous authors and happened to meet one or two not-so-famous but perfectly wonderful writers who are a joy to read, I have discovered that the answers to all those questions are different for everyone.  Writing does not guarantee an audience of readers, and especially doesn't guarantee an abundance of royalty payments.  The hours can be many, or they can be few.  A person could write a novel in a month, or a decade.  They may choose to write because they aspire to be read by millions; or they may just be writing for themselves, tucking their treasures away under mattresses and in drawers to not be discovered until they have passed on from this life.

As readers, it is important for us to not take the words we read for granted.  Chances are the person who wrote those words were not rich or famous, suffered the ridicule of friends and family who couldn't see them ever "making it" as a writer, and scribbled their thoughts in the dead of night when no one was awake to look over their shoulders.

As writers, the same things are important.  Very rarely is any writer an instant success, and many of the authors we read are writing their next book or article between shifts at a crappy job, during a child's nap-time, or in the dim light at 3a.m. because something they dreamed was too good to not be put on paper.

Writing is not a science, and there is no magic formula to make it all work.  The best that we can do as writers is to put our ideas down on paper in a way that makes them interesting (even if they're only interesting to us) and hope for the best; because you never know if the next sentence you write is the beginning of something great.

Currently Reading:
Psychology Today

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Time To Write Is Now

Happy 7th of July everyone.  These past few weeks have been a challenge of highs and lows for the Kawaii family, and this past week has been especially trying.  Filled with the celebration of birthdays, the grief and sadness of hospital visits, the changes and trials of helping someone start a new chapter of their life and all the regular comings and goings of good news and bad have made June and the start of July a muddle of emotion and exhaustion.

It is in these particularly trying times when I begin to feel the urge to either curl into a corner and vegetate, or become inspired by the current collage of events to write until sleep finds me or my fingers fall off (luckily the latter doesn't happen very often).  Currently I am looking over a mass of writing projects and ideas, an almost-finished novel coupled with an almost-finished short story, article ideas and assignments... and wondering where the drive is going to come from to complete them all.  It is good to have so much work scattered over my desk, which has been empty for several weeks, and at the same time it is overwhelming to think that I just might be able to make a living at stringing words into sentences.

The whole adventure of writing is such a unique experience and to be able to do it is something that only a few get to experience outside of hidden journals and spiral-bound notebooks.  I am blessed to have so many friends and family rooting for me, to have met such wonderful writers throughout my ventures who are not only in the same boat as me but who are also trying to find the oars and outboard motor to move forward, and to have such an amazing friend and husband rooting me on and encouraging me to stick with it.

As we sat by the lake on Independence Day and watched the fireworks with family, I realized that although there is much sadness, grief and stress around us, I have been granted the gift of my own independence.  I have the freedom to be, do and say exactly what I want and have found many readers who find my thoughts to be comforting, humerus and a welcome break from their own tedious lives.  It is an amazing thing to be able to live one's dream, and while the whole endeavor seems daunting when you're standing at the beginning and trying to discover which of the millions of opportunities you should pluck from the skies and call your own, it is an amazingly wonderful problem to have.

I hope each of you find those things that you were born to love and do them as freely and often as possible.

Currently Reading:
The Last Dragon
The Last Dragon