Experience: Writing From It

People get their inspiration from all kinds of sources. Anyone familiar with this blog would know that I often recommend folks to go out and do things. But often enough it’s not so much the things we do that give us perspective and life experience, but rather the things that happen to us.

I’ve been debating on tackling a short story idea that has sort of manifested as a result some Life Circumstances I’ve had to wad through. On one hand, they say write what you know, and on the other, the Writer within me observes the world at all times with one of two thoughts happening: “How can I use this?” and, preferably “I can use this.”

It is my rudimentary understanding that people don’t really write all that much if they’re happy, or more to the point, write so much about happy things. Lack of conflict is boring, every storyteller knows that. The question is, how can one utilize their emotions, their tribulations, their experience, constructively.

I once did work for someone who took this idea by the reigns and went and wrote a book about some serious relationship turmoil she had been going through for a year. Not long ago, I met up with an old friend-of-the-family who was in the process of her own autobiographical novel. I confess having done something similar once – a rather specific scene – in a yet-to-be-refined-and-published work of mine, but the entirety of that scene was fictionalize. The only part that was true to experience was the emotion involved.

So my short story idea has in part been inspired by what these folks I know have done (and do), as well as the Life Circumstances themselves. The tricky part is, for me, that my goal is not to tell a believable human interest story set in the Real World. My goal is to express myself, but through the filter/lens of my adored medium: Fantasy.

I have read that whenever a writer writes and an author authorizes, every character they create has some piece of the creator in them. Makes sense, yea? How much or little is up to you, but in the case of this short story – sort of a standalone origin story for a non-protagonist character in my novels – there’ll be just enough to make the person expressive for my own therapeutic purposes, but also (hopefully) interesting enough to give the character unforeseen depth.

On the other hand, I could just end up churning out another rag. But I prefer to be optimistic. After all, as of this post, I’ve got a month to see if I can pull it off in time for Writers of the Future.

Happy writing, dear readers. As a closing, here is an excellent and optimistic chiptune track I discovered recently.

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Event: WotF 2014 1/4

So if a month after the bells, turkey-silence and ball-dropping has not been reminder enough, it is in fact a new year. That means the Writers and Illustrators of the Future is back, starting with a fresh new quarter. As of this post, the current quarter runs from the January 1st to March 30th … nice three months, as the word quarter might imply.

Yes, I’m aware I’m writing this at the end of January.

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Those of you familiar with WotF, feel free to skip this paragraph.

So to those of you unfamiliar with Writers of the Future, we’re talking about an annual event that consists of a four-part contest, one held each quarter of the year, where “new and amateur” writers and artists submit their work. What makes this different from other contests is that entries are free, the submissions are international, and winning the contest is really quite a big deal. An entrant can enter for each quarter, and award ceremonies are held in Los Angeles, where one has an opportunity to meet leading fantasy artists and writers of the day. Got some pieces laying around but nowhere to send ’em? You may as well check this out.

Triva: You may find it amusing that the individual who founded the contest, L. Ron Hubbard (deceased), a prolific writer of science fiction and fantasy, was also responsible for the foundations of Scientology.

Thankfully the contest itself doesn’t have anything to do with them, but there is a little bit of controversy.

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As for me, a story is coming along, placeholder-named “The Telescope,” and I’ll be refining it for entry shortly after this very post. To date, I’ve only entered this contest once, but as part of a New Year’s resolution, I intend to submit an entry every quarter. Three months is ample time to invent and write a short story of 17,000 words or less, and besides, they accept novel portions.

This is going to be a good year. Whether or not I actually win, this is a healthy goal, and according to Wikipedia:

Often writers will repeatedly enter the contest, quarter after quarter, until they either win or become ineligible due to publications elsewhere.

I find this encouraging. In a later post, I might talk a little about my own story, but in the meantime, what of you, dear readers? Are you familiar with WotF? How was your experience, and, do you have ideas for what you’ll have ready for this – or next – quarter?

Inspire: Birds (Part 1)

So today, I shall tell you, dear readers, about my latest project.

As some of you may know, the Writer’s of the Future contest deadline is approaching, and only recently did I have a story concept developed enough that I wanted to really pursue it. Lo and behold, 1.5 weeks later and with about one week left, I’m on a roll, spinning this tale like a potter atop a merry-go-round.

One of the fun things about writing stories, for me anyway, is some of the back research needed to set the tone and detail the setting well. The story I am writing for the contest, which I’m torn between entitling “What Happens To Dead Vultures?” and “The Phoenix Pearl,” is, as you might have inferred, about birds. When it’s complete, perhaps I’ll shamelessly make a link to a post somewhere online for public viewage.

The story is more or less a creation myth, as told by what we know today as vultures. There are some familiar characters – cranes, eagles, a condor and hell, even a goose. This is not Animal Farm, this is more along the lines of Hero’s Journey myth.

But what I’ve had a grand old time researching was a variety of birds, and in my internet travels I came across this beauty:

Image

One can never run out of cool stuff on Wikipedia.

I was astounded by this thing. Why haven’t I heard about a hoatzin before?

Now, I suppose I could dedicate an entire post to birds – I have a sort of thing for animals and science – but looking at this creature, I could invent a myth about it. There’s something awfully phoenix-y about it, eh? Despite the fact that it makes its home in the branches of Amazonian trees.

Birds symbolize things we’ve all heard before: grace, freedom, flight, pride and all that. But they’re often misunderstood, or simply not understood at all. You know all that lovely singing you hear when going for a stroll in the woods? Those sparrows and larks aren’t singing because they’re happy, they’re essentially shouting off rivals and cat-calling mates. I’ve seen similar behavior on the streets of New York near a construction zone.

There are thousands of birds to choose from for any amount of reasons. The hoatzin I displayed above is not necessarily my favorite bird, but it makes the list of newly discovered Top Ten. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually post a list.

During part 2 of this Inspire: Birds series, though, we will discuss birds that inspire fear in yours truly, and I’ll talk about how I harnessed that and use it in my writing.

Until next time, consider from what birds might you derive inspiration. Let me know if you’ve a favorite, even!