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Spinning Wheels April 12, 2013

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials.
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I haven’t written in a while. I imagine my thoughts would be as boring to other people as they are to me. The truth is there are too many thoughts…the act of trying to streamline everything into a focused conversation seems…arduous. I’ve remarked, over the years, the various changes I see in myself. Lately I’ve expanded the circular quality of the reference to those around me. To those that are nowhere near me. Just wondering. Do other people look inward as I do and remark upon the changes? Am I one in 7-billion? I’m not suggesting I’m unique, please don’t think so. My morphing is obvious if you ever have cause to come to my home. Over the years my changing interests make themselves visible on my bookshelves. I remember the day I bought “The Girl’s Guide to Absolutely Everything” by Melissa Kirsch. It was at Barnes and Noble in Plano in 2007. I was newly single, likely the reason why it’s so memorable a purchase. I got married right outside of high school and had kids…stayed that way for 10 years. How the hell does one be a single girl?? At the time I was struggling to figure myself out. I loved Dr. Pepper. But…I figured out I loved it because my husband of 10 years loved it and I had acquired the taste. Before him…I was a Pepsi girl. I liked rock and roll. Did I? I don’t know. My husband did. I spent two years ironing myself out. This girl’s guide book was a necessary purchase. In 2008 I expanded my single girl book collection to include “Life is Short, Wear Your Party Pants” which was a fun read and made me feel like a fun girl again. In 2009 I bought a book called “Anthropology Explored” because I’d watched a mini-series on tv about anthropology and decided I loved it. I also bought a book called Walking with Cavemen. Very interestingly realistic photographs of said cavemen. I even looked into a degree in the subject. But…that was a short-lived phase. I have most of the Allison Weir books on the King Henry’s, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Anne…because in 2011 I became fascinated with the British Monarchy. This year I’m reading “The Warmth of Other Suns” and “The History of the Ancient World”. Historical books. Naturally they have nothing to do with anything. But less frou-frou party-types. You know if you have to tell people you’re a fun person…you’re probably not. As in the case of me. I consistently work on my goals, increase my skills, work on learning new tasks like hemming pants and putting puzzles together. But…for the most part, it feels like spinning wheels. And no one wants to hear about that.

Take note...I'm the one on the right...

Take note…I’m the one on the right…

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Writer’s Block May 13, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011, Thoughts on People, Writing.
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People of the world have various no-no subjects. They don’t talk about abuse, or drugs, or the devil. They don’t talk about interracial relationships, or sex, or the end of the world. And perhaps its weird, when compared to these other life-effecting subjects, that some people won’t talk about writer‘s block.

WRITERS BLOCK.

Big no-no subject. At least it is for writers. When I stare at a blank page desperate for the fledgling of an idea to take root…to grow legs and become words on that blank page, I never ever refer to my issue as writer’s block. No, I’m just thinking. Brainstorming. Waiting for the right way to express my thoughts. It’s not writer’s block. *shudder*

But why isn’t it? Why do I sit here spending my ‘thinking’ time coming up with excuses for why I can’t put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were) instead of really coming up with the story? I would like to think it’s the amount of pressure we put on ourselves as writers — especially if you have ever taken a writing course or attended a writer’s group. We know how important that first paragraph is…indeed the first sentence of your story could mean the difference between overwhelming success…and a dusty manuscript in an equally dusty box in a ridiculously dusty attic. So we stare at the blank page waiting for some absolutely fascinating sentence to appear there.

They say when you begin to write your story you should write as the words appear in your mind. Drawing a picture of the images, of the characters, of their trials, so that readers can see what you see. After your manuscript is complete then go back and edit it for perfection’s purpose. How many people manage to write this way? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that I wrote a 850-page manuscript that is accumulating dust in a box beneath my bed. Why? Because I wrote it as I felt it and saw it and thought it. Then I went back and edited it. And edited it again, which is tiresome. And eventually…it is boring. So I set it aside and, taking with me all that I know now about the right way to write a novel, forged ahead.

Forged onward to the next story that can be written correctly the first time around with few editing and changes necessary afterwards. It’s a great idea in theory. So…a great theory (because they’ll tell you in the writer’s group that you can remove the ‘idea in’ and be more concise. But I’ve sat in front of my bright white computer screen now for a month watching the cursor blink, blink, blink at me blankly like a deer in the headlights. And instead of writing that opening sentence, I’m staring off into space thinking about writer’s block

I’ve read books about how to get past this anomaly, which I find humorous…writing a book about how to write a book when you can’t write a single word. But it isn’t really an anomaly at all…in fact it’s pretty damn common. But the suggestion for moving past the blinking cursor is to start typing. Type anything because as long as you’re typing, the story will shape itself and you can go back and edit it later. I like editing almost as much as I despise its necessity. 

How boring a book would it be if I began it in the same manner most of my childhood books began? How must dust would that manuscript accumulate? Tons. No one wants to hear “once upon a time…” because well, obviously it was once upon a time and you’re really not supposed to state the obvious. So, what isn’t obvious? “Jane Doe turned out to be Sara Crawford, who single-handedly ran the city prostitute ring for almost 50 years, and was probably recognized the moment she was brought into the morgue but her body decomposed for two weeks because no one wanted to admit they knew her face.”

Fine. So I can type nonsense. 

So, which is worse? Writer’s block, or typing nonsense?

Descent of Silence May 5, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in Writing.
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I wrote this in February when I was stuck indoors for a week during the snowstorm….

The true character of man makes itself evident in a disaster. Neighbors either pull together or steal from each other — they take food and blankets, firewood if there is any left, and clothes. They will slice their neighbor’s throat to steal these things and justify it by calling it survival. No one believes it and the blood, no matter how vigorously scrubbed away, remains.

Friends forget each other unless a whimsical memory reminds them of that time they went to the local club and danced all night to the raging beat of a disco jockey. Sometimes, when the wind whistles just right, I can still hear that song in my head, the drum beat so loud it seems those around me can hear as well. But I know it is just a memory. Friends abandon each other in a disaster because it is easier to move without encumbrance. Travel is easier to manage single-file as opposed to large groups and criminals cannot find you when you travel alone.

Family sticks together. Most of the families died together because they stuck together because the damning truth is, it is easier to travel alone. I saw families, once I ventured out, lumbering down frozen streets. They traveled slow and hunched together for body heat, with small children carried on backs, in arms, or wept over beside a twisted tree representing the edge of the road.

The end of the road.

Had I seen every instance of the world falling to pieces, and the subsequent betrayal of one man against another, it would have shriveled my soul to some dark recess that, perhaps, would have turned me into one of the betrayers. But it was impossible to watch, because the first thing to dissipate into the darkness was not the character of man, but power.

Electricity was not something I ever took for granted as I found it necessary for heat or cooling and the refrigerator depended upon it as well. Power never became some unseen entity in my life. When it was gone, I mourned the loss but was hopeful of its return in a few hours, days even. I did not know that its return would never come.

We were told by the news anchors and meteorologists that an epic ice storm would hit the country with a blast of wintry air the likes we had never seen. We bought firewood, canned goods, and bottled water to withstand the hours or days the storm would last. The grocery stores had been a madhouse of shoppers, some desperate to stock up what they could, but most were laughing and conversing with other shoppers who were strangers to them. They mocked the storm and were grateful for the days of work they would be required to miss. Snow days, they said, and promised hot chocolate and Wii marathons with their kids.

The neighborhood kids were gleeful, playing in the streets and yards, building snowmen, sliding on sleds, and making the typical nuisances by people who rarely saw such gleaming product fall from the sky and linger long enough to play in. After a few days, the cold became unbearable and the children were noticeably absent outside. The passing of cars, the overhead hum of plane engines, and the noise made by electrical items in the house — all became noticeably absent. The descent of silence was unnerving.

The firewood, canned goods, and bottled water only lasted a few days and by then the roads disappeared beneath feet of snow and ice, making travel to a grocery store impossible, assuming the store would be open once you made it. I remember longing for a hot bath in a way that people long for food today; I stood in my bathroom door staring at the leaping shadows of candle-lit flames as the muted light bounced around the tiled room, wishing I could boil a pot of water on the stove in order to have that hot bath. I could not feel my toes and my fingers ached. My fingers. I consoled myself with the possibility of taking a bath in a few days and moved on.

The last television news broadcast, before the power went out four days into the storm, was a grave picture painted by meteorologist of their gross miscalculation of the coming storm.

Epic did not begin to cover it.

The snow flurries, expected to make their way north, continued to fall during the afternoon, followed by shards of ice carried on nearly horizontal wind in the evenings, a deep freeze of below zero temperatures during the night, and more sleet in the morning. Sometimes the speed in which they fell would slow to a crawl and there were complete afternoons with nothing falling at all, presenting a clear view of the world. A white world. Sometimes the speed was so terrible and fast, it proved fatal to step foot outside, where the mournful wailing wind carried invisible ice.

When the sun appeared, when an occasional break of the white clouds afforded view of the sun, I stood near a window pane to gaze at it until my eyes burned, allowing what little heat emanating from it to reach my frozen cheeks. My hallowed cheeks. We were starving to death in the blizzard. I would stand staring at the crystal-like sparkles flashing on the ground, ignoring the cold seeping through the window glass in favor of feeling those rays of sunlight. It gave me hope, when the sun appeared.

If the sun appeared.

Many months passed in global silence and I had no idea, at the time, of what went on beyond my front door for I refused to unlock the door to leave. I had enough food, blankets, and firewood to last six months — not because I planned it that way but because when one of my neighbors left “for warmer climates”, they left me their goods.

Every day I wondered about that warmer climate and if my neighbor made it. I wondered if it was only my street, only my town, only my state. I wrote in my journal every day about what I could see from my windows — about my fears and the strangeness of the silence. I wrote because I am a writer. The same reason why my people asked I write this bloody account of the change to mankind’s historical timeline.

Ice Age II.

Richard and Kahlan April 27, 2011

Posted by sarahsfate in My Own Personal Trials, PostADay2011.
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 There’s a well-known book series by Terry Goodkind about a war waged between light and dark but it is not your typical good versus evil story line plot. What begins as a simple demarcation between right and wrong becomes blurred during the trials of Richard Rahl and Kahlan Amnell. Within seconds of turning the first page of the first book in this series the characters had blown up into full 3D human beings and I pictured Richard in the woods. I pictured the vine. And the red cloud. And the girl in white. How could I not keep turning pages?

Goodkind never makes the good versus evil so black and white as many people would like to have it but instead wove truth and belief and faith and genetics and life itself in and out of the good, and in and out of the evil. Throughout the series I was conflicted with feelings of both support and dislike for the same character, true for many characters, — at once understanding their motives while disapproving of  their behavior. A little like family, I think.

Throughout the Wizard’s Rule series (originally housed 11 novels but has published additional stories as well as a prime-time TV show I refused to watch) we are dragged, nails scraping ground, through the painful ordeals caused by Richard’s magical family ties and though, as a reader, I spent most of my time rooting for him and Kahlan, there were so many times in which I thought he should give up. But that’s good writing. And Richard has a good spirit.

One thing he says that has stuck with me for years and years now is the phrase, don’t think of the problem, think of the solution. The phrase has not only stuck with me, I have incorporated it into my life. Because…when isn’t this concept useful? It simply is.

I recommend this series to anyone and everyone. In fact, I was saddened to see the last of Richard and Kahlan in Goodkind’s finale The Confessor but then apparently the uproar of loss from his readers convinced him that more stories were necessary. And so we also have Law of Nines and (coming this August) Omen Machine.

I love stories for the art of escapism. Among many other reasons. We have this perfect opportunity to learn more about life and people when we read stories — even fiction, or…especially fiction. Writers take a different viewpoint of historical events, even present-day events, and they twist the viewpoint into this absolute magical dream. And then they take a backseat to the characters in the story as those created lives become something altogether different. Most people cannot dream the way a writer does. Or if they do dream in such colorful concepts, they are unable to put pen to paper.

Richard and Kahlan are like this. Two characters who never expected to meet each other but without the meeting, the world would never have been the same — their world. Ours.