Posts Tagged ‘writing’

FanstRAvaganza 2 is supposedly over, but I’m cheered by the fact RAFrenzy continues on her blog.  I know she’s playing catch-up due to logistics last week, but I get to squee just a few days longer.  She’s focusing on The Voice.  This is totally a win-win situation. Maybe we can get Traxy to contribute her edits, just to lend moral support, yes?

Oddly the biggest thing I miss after the initial rush of the event is – the banner.

This banner headed all the event posts.  This is fantastic photoshopping.  I understand enough about graphics to know a lot of effort was put into this banner.  The composition,choice of profiles,  font, design, color, everything – work beautifully together.  Clients would pay good money for a product like this.  The creator expressly does not want credit, but I just have to acknowledge her work and say, BRAVO.

Because of the length of the event, inspiration was everything.  I derived a certain pleasure of inserting this banner into each day’s post, and admiring its artistry as I brainstormed ideas.  Art can be inspirational and this banner was for me.  It came in flavors of big, small colored and black and white too which I didn’t get to use.  Alas.

I also miss how the event allowed me to experiment with blog composition more than I ordinarily would or even anticipated.  The increased use of images meant paying close attention to the balance of negative and positive space.  A reader is more likely to stop and read something aesthetically pleasing, than a jarring mash-up of words and pictures thrown onto the page without careful thought.  So in addition to the topic, I had to consider which images were relevant to the post, how many, what size, how to place them and where, how did they look in comparison with the words and blank space on the page, and what would the captions say.   Different arrangements created different tones.  For example, Ann Marie’s ficlet required center stage, so specific images had to sparingly highlight the prose, not detract from it.   Interestingly I spent more time editing the posts’ compositions than composing the topics. I suppose this is what its like to be your own copy editor.

I suppose in a way I was trying to turn each post into its own little work of art, to do justice to the banner it followed.  Or it could be me, simply being anal and knowing the posts will be out there on the internet, cached in perpetuity.  I hope for the first, but suspect the last.  Heh, Mr.  Muse is amused, the git.

Oh, almost forgot – shiney!


Richard Armitage at promotional event, courtesy richarmitagenet.com

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After the eight day orgy of pondering, analyzing, ogling and downright perving Guy, I wondered if I would respect myself in the morning.  After the initial rush over having actually completed the project, I feel conflicted: glad it’s done, relieved to take a break, yet  anxious to continue writing.  My thoughts are a whirl.  As the writers have all stated during FanstRAvaganza, it’s important to hone your craft by writing, writing, writing.  Yes, I thought, I want to be like you when I grow up. I shall rise the day after and court my muse.

Sadly my muse isn’t feeling helpful.  He grudgingly returned after I criticized his appearance, looking maddeningly the same.  He peered over my shoulder throughout the fest, emitting smug grunts of approval as I toiled. He’s again sprawled, silent and juggling that Bag of Goodies.  I wrack my brains for A Topic having nothing to do with all the fest reading I haven’t finished, my writing I haven’t dissected, and feelings I’ve yet to analyze.  I recall a famous author once mentioning the curious letdown after a project is finished.  What do writers do to revive themselves, to get the literary juices flowing again.  They don’t really say.   Apparently they don’t have arrogant silent muses convinced it’s all about them.

So bear with me Dear Reader.  I probably fried my brain pawing through tens of Guy pictures and videos.  Damn, that was a tough job.  I anticipate spinning my wheels a bit until my gears slip back into place, sanity returns, and I plow through over 40 posts.

Meanwhile, here’s a another shiney.

Richard Armitage, 2009 photoshoot

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Looking for Mr. Muse

Stephen King in his writing manual said his muse was a shady guy who lived in the basement, drinking all his beer, smoking like a chimney and hoarding a bag of goodies.  King didn’t really like the guy but he respected him.  So anytime he needed new stories, he would leave his comfortable writing den,  journey to that basement and court his obnoxius muse for that bag.

This imagery tickled me and seemed quite fitting for Stephen King.  Still caught up in existential angst over My Writing and the Meaning of It All, I pondered whether making my muse more tangible by putting a face, clothes and personality to it, would also help ideas become more tangible.  My notion of a muse has been insubstantial and wispy like smoke, much like some of my ideas.  King is a successful writer, loves his craft and it doesn’t hurt that he has money in the bank to boot.  If he could dream up a muse, could I do it?   And if I could think it, would it come?    So I sat in my own writing den, closed my eyes, and imagined my muse taking form behind me on the futon.  What would she look like?  What would I say to her?  How do you court a muse anyway?

Things didn’t bode well when my first thought on beholding my muse was, “Oh, hell no,”  for there he sprawled, clad in black leather and offering a splendid profile and coifed black locks. This was no ephemeral spirit ready to wave its magic wand.   He was Guy of Gisborne, S2, not too much guyliner, just enough stubble.  Clearly I had the FanstRAvaganza project on the brain, but I was looking for my muse, not a character.  I wondered about the significance of conjuring S2 Guy over S3 but that wasn’t important at the moment.  

“What are you doing here?,” I thought. “There’s no way I’m writing you fanfic!”

He turned amused blue eyes towards me and then back at a red velvet bag bouncing lightly in his hand.  The bag of goodies!  Surmising that lunging for it wouldn’t work, I changed tactics. 

“Say,” I thought, “you and I should talk but maybe after you change into something a little more muse-y like Cate Blanchett in The Ring.” 

A brow arched. 

“Or maybe like Halle Berry in that organza number she wore to the Oscars.” 

 The brow arched higher.   

“You can even be Gollum, but this is really too much.” 

The bag stopped bouncing.  He glared, unfurled from the futon and stepped into nothingness with the bag of goodies being the last to disappear like the Cheshire cat’s smile.

Maybe criticising my muse’s appearance wasn’t the best way to handle the situation.  After all, it’s all about the experiment, regaining my creativity and getting that bag of goodies, right?  My fevered imaginings don’t matter.  I’ll have to get him back somehow.

But I’m not writing him any fanfic.

My muse is not amused; Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood; richardarmitagenet.com

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I was an avid reader as child.  I consumed reams of books, first for the pictures, then for the stories.  I craved a good ripping yarn that transported me away from my troubled world.  I recall reading very little children’s books but hit the ground reading books for tweens and young adults.  I was inspired to write my own stories, although I never thought to get them published.     Teachers and relatives reacted favorably to my efforts, and truth be told, I felt quite puffed up.  So I dreamed of writing The Great American Novel because that’s what great writers did.

Then when I was 17 years old, I perversely asked for a book for Christmas, any book.  My parents scratched their heads, grilled a sales person and gave The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.  I was floored.  Her prose leaped off the page from the first paragraph.  The words were smooth, lyrical and rich without getting in the way of the story, and, to me, enhanced the telling.  I found myself stopping to savor phrases like good wine (as if I had any taste in wine) and then deconstrusting sentences to learn how she did it. Did words flow from her brain that way or was it an acquired skill?  In my mind, this was a true wordsmith and I wanted to write like that.  Then I understood that I’d fallen in love with her lyrical style and realized every good writer had his or her own distinct style.  I devoured more books and reread others, looking for style.  (I’ve seen learned that lyrical prose can be taken too far.  For example, I adored Toni Morrison’s work until it seemed she’d become so enamored of her own lyricism that it drowned the storytelling.) 

As I reread books, the question hit me like a shot out of the dark: what was my style?  How was I to compose deathless prose with no style?  I didn’t have a clue, and as I’ve gotten away from writing, still don’t have a clue.  Maybe I’m not clear on the concept and simply can’t see mine. I’m just not sure. It’s part of what this experiment is all about.  There’s this feeling that with better understanding, I can remove an obstacle blocking my creativity.

RA had a similar revelation.  He had trouble at auditions until he once arrived for one completely in character.  Then he realized the immersive method style worked for him and best showcased his talent.  He’s been honing that skill every since.

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) gets his total crazy on in Robin Hood, S3.1; richardarmitagenet.com

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My writing hiatus had given me time to read old posts and take stock in my progress.  The original purpose of this blog was to regain the ability to write tight creative prose.  As I dissected each post, I realized the biggest problem wasn’t so much about finding the right action verb, or active tense or pithy adjective.  Something else has been getting in the way.

The problem is one of the pitfalls of intropspective writing: how to discuss thoughts and feelings without talking so much about oneself.  I’m sure Dear Reader has encountered that writer whose navel gazing prose is so intense and relentless that it crosses the line between introspection and narcissism, leaving a bad taste.   I want posts to be at least interesting, not insufferable.

This worry has led to increasing self-consciousness.  How many “I’s” can I cut out and still make sense?  Was the story overstated in the haste to emphasis a point?  Did I understate something else?  Is it organized and flowing or babbling?   Do those words accurate reflect my thoughts?  What’s the point to this?

Having made a pact with myself not to rescind a post once it’s published, I then lapse into a heap of insecurity the instant I click the button.  Is it too personal?  Is it too much?   Will readers understand or is it simply more I, me and myself?  Then I anxiously watch for replies and realize it’s not as bad as envisioned.  Things didn’t blow up in my face; I avoided looking a fool.   And then I start drafting another post and the agonizing starts again.  I realize the self-consciousness and insecurity is caused by the vulnerability in revealing parts of myself, but it never gets any easier.

For these reasons, I’ve turned to closely reading blogger, Roger Ebert, the famous film critic.  He still critiques movies but now writes about everything from soup to nuts.  He’s a gifted writer with a simple elegant style and a penchant for just the right turn of phrase.  I’m reading him for not only the technical, expressive aspects of writing, but also for how he deals with posts that have backfired on him.  He treats these occasions as learning experiences, apologies,  clarifies or corrects and then moves on.  (For the creative side, I’m also reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.)

So in essence I have to deal with the ongoing issues on the process of introspecive writing in addition to the techinical presentation and the topic being discussed.  Had this dawned on me at the beginning, I might have thought better of the whole experiment.  But I’m in for a penny, in for a pound, so the blog goes on.

John Thornton (Richard Armitage) has no choice but to be in for a pound in North & South; richardarmitagenet.com

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So my experiment truly begins, which begs the question: what is this blog about?  Writing about the process of learning to write again doesn’t strike me as particularly interesting to anybody but me at the moment.  So what else?   Well, I joined WordPress to comment on a ring of fan blogs about British actor Richard Armitage.  These blogs are written by older highly educated women whose styles and level of fandom are fascinating.  Some make passing references to RA on the way to talking about something else.   It’s the something else part that intrigues me; it gives a window into their worlds and fleshes them out as complex people, more than the usual SQUEE! post on a forum.  The comment section discussions can be more interesting than the original post.  I imagine some blogs sprang up so the commenters can discuss further in their own space.

(Oh, WordPress says I should stop here and hold your interest with SHINEY! so how about this?


Prince John really liked Glamor Guy

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood, my cap

Ahem. As I was saying, this space will be about my experiences in fandom, fandom gone wrong, and the cult of celebrity.  This idea grew out of Servetus asking me on her blog how I arrived at my current attitude as a fan of certain celebrity hunks.  I answered it didn’t spring forth fully formed but evolved through trial and error.   I can’t link to the comment but will discuss it more later on. Having been part of different groups for almost 20 years, I’ve seen a lot up close and personal and hope I can offer some insight and humor about my journey.

As the title of the blog says, I’ve been a watcher, an observer all my life.  It stemmed from a chaotic childhood where psychological warfare was the norm.  I had to constantly watch for cues and clues to defuse situations or stay out of the fallout.  This carried over into adulthood where I spent years sorting out my own head.  But this still has left a fascination for why people do what they do.  I have another blog on LiveJournal which is basically a long version of Twitter.  Those posts were dashed off, without particular thought to composition, style or shamefully, editing.

So this blog will be dedicated to reflection and introspection while exercising that flabby creative writing muscle.  I’ll make passing waves at RA since it’s his fan blog ring that started this and we will need have some pretty and fun here.  I’ll also throw in a few other hunks as well to keep things fair.

Oh, I might be tempted to veer off at times but will try to make it worth the reading.

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Laying the Groundwork

Just realized the month is almost over and the new year’s resolution to start writing again is just about DOA.  So I’ve resolved once more to get it together.  The only way to do it is just START.  Pulling together the technical aspects for the blog is interesting; everything is now prepackaged.  I can barely know what CSS is although back in the dark ages of the early 1990’s, I could do HTML by hand.  Time has certainly marched on.

My writing skills have suffered too although ironically it’s all I do all day as a lawyer.  However that is highly specialized, dry and canned.  I fear the creative part of my brain has atrophied.  Thoughts do not easily flow from my pen (or keyboard now) anymore.  In college, I could pound out short stories fully formed on a typewriter with no editing and still get  “A’s.”   In retrospect, I realize that was pretty damn amazing and should have nurtured that skill.  I was told I had talent, so I dreamed of writing the Great American Novel.   But I went to law school where as Professor Kingsfield said in the Paper Chase,  “you come in here with a skull full of mush and you leave thinking like a lawyer”.  Well, part of that mush contains the spark of creativity needed for the mind to soar.   After over 25 years of thinking inside that legal box, the muscular analytical left side of my brain can hammer you to the ground.  The creative right side needs paddles to keep going.

I realized things had gotten very bad when a year ago I wrote a very short story for the first time in 13 years.  I couldn’t keep it simple; oh no, not me.  It was a complicated little piece of fanfic.  My mind instantly jumped to popping this baby out and it took three days to match words on paper to images in my mind.  It felt like mental labor.  I intended a follow-up story but felt so spent I could not transform a vague idea into a coherent outline.  I asked a blogger who seems to effortlessly write reams every day how she does it.  You know,  the kind who dashes off a post and you think:  “that’s EXACTLY what I was trying to say!”  She said simply, ” write every day and write some more.”

So here I am, writing.

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