Pressure

Shapeless. Tasteless. Scentless.
Though it carries an enormous weight.

Pushing down on your shoulders, your heart.
Squeezing the energy out of you,
acting out like an oil press.
Feeding the greedy entities around you,
sucking up your spirit into a black hole.

Be warned, be watchful.

Drain away the build-up before it overflows and floods all over your life.

(Dedicated to writers struggling to hold on to their dreams while trying to keep all their balls up in the air.)

On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen KingA friend recommended On Writing by Stephen King after I shared my challenge with plotting out the rest of my first book. Though I never read any of his books, I know he must be pretty good to keep his readers asking for more.

He shared two things that surprised me the most.

He is a slow reader

Since English is not my first language, I’ve always thought being a slow reader is one of the main reason why I may not ever be a good writer. I guess he just kicked the crutch I’ve been using to drag myself down.

He reads for the fun

Almost all the writing books tell me to “study” other books for the plot structures or the writing techniques. Something I could never do. If the book is good, I just want to read it, If the book is uninteresting, I’d stop to save myself time for work or another book. It’s good to know Stephen King, a great writer, reads for fun, too.

Some reviewers of this book did not like that Stephen spent good part of the book on his life journey to be the writer he is today, instead of going straight into the how-to-write part. I thought it is good to remind people to look further back than his successful career.

A Writer in Big Trouble

I’m in big trouble.

As I work on my plot,
I sense the story feels flat.

This morning,
I realized I am in big trouble.

I can’t stand seeing my heros in pain,
as if I’ll be in pain as well.

But in the end,
if my heros don’t suffer,
I, as a writer, will.

Ends Crush in 2 Steps

Sap Drop Cross CutAlways knew the crush wasn’t what it seemed,
Didn’t know how to fix it.

No choice but let it soak
Into
My mind,
My dreams,
My spine.

Learned about your goal,
I can help you,
We can make it real,
I thought.

Understanding struck,
You don’t need my help.

Rather,
I don’t need to help you.
You are and will do great on your own.

Step 1.
Recognize my pattern.

The tie of crush backing out,
Almost undetected.

Words from a wise friend,
Wrote reflections in journal.
Oh, up till this point,
I only wanted,
Wanted you,
Wanted you to need me.
But never what you wanted.

Step 2.
Recognize my ego.

The lake of crush drained,
A few puddles remained.
I still care,
Heart still smiles,
Feelings now logical.

Debunking Classic Writing Myths by William Kenower

You’ve been clicking away on the keyboard or leaving legible ink on paper but you keep hearing (from inside your head or from people around you) “writing is hard”, William Kenower says differently.

I had a chance to hear his talk on myths of writing, it was illuminating. As he spoke, I checked against my own experiences. Here is what I learned.

I’m most definitely a writer. I would write even if I won’t make money from doing it.

I was writing someone else’s book. Since last November, I’ve been trying to write a romance/sci-fi novel but I stopped completely in mid-January. At first, I thought that was because my heroine didn’t have a clear motive. Now I know I shouldn’t be writing romance since I will never love romance as much as mystery.

When I’m writing, I’m almost always writing. I seldom hear my inner critic when I write, especially during the first draft. I always know I’m in the zone when the world around me simply fades into the background. When I’m stuck usually it’s because the story feels wrong not that I feel wrong. Though I do get frustrated when English gets in my way.

At the end, William Kenower said not to be afraid of the publishers, they need good books to put out there, they want to love what we write.

He said things I’ve never heard from other writers or writing materials. I am glad to know someone out there also believes writing is not hard.

Joy of Writing Is Not Enough

“Isn’t the fun in the writing enough? Why do you dream about having fans?”

joy of writing is not enoughShe asked as I talked about the bio I wrote for my first assignment in “Shape, Write, and Sell Your Novel” (Offered by Long Ridge Writers Group).

“I want to share those fantastic worlds I created with people. It’d be too lonely to be the only one living in those worlds,” I said without having the time to consider more. After we parted, I thought about it some more. A better response I think would be to compare it with cooking.

I love to cook, not only for the process of making steam rolls or flans, the experiments I did to hit that perfect spot. I am the happiest when I see the first bite of my creation sends the taster to another dimension.

And like cooking, what will send me over the moon is to witness readers get transported into the pages, oblivious to the going ons around them, much like the state I am in when I write.

Am I seeking for approval? If my stores are real-life tales about my life, perhaps. But “my stores”, to me means the fictional places, people, and happenings I used to bring readers out of their usual realm and all without the danger of time or space travel at high speed.

So, I’ll say it again. Joy of writing is not good enough, good stories (by anyone) are best shared.

Tell Me. What Could He Be Thinking?

What could he be thinking? by Michael GurianThough part of writing a romance novel is to create fantasy, I still want the male lead to be someone we might know in real life. In my pursuit of understanding men (much easier to accept as a writer, not a girlfriend/wife), I read No More Mr. Nice Guy! and found examples of men who are not yet ready for a healthy relationships.

In What Could He Be Thinking? by Michael Gurian, he opened my eyes to things men do that seem strange and sometimes even illogical to women. Here are a few things that jumped out at me.

A marriage ends when both:

  1. lost their compassion for the other’s pain
  2. no longer have the knowledge of the other’s nature

That is sad to me because 1 tells me that they no longer to care for each other and 2 tells me they are married to a stranger. How did any couples get to this point from being close enough to get married? I cringe at the thought of it.

A man feels by DOING.

I guess that’s why they try to fix women’s problems instead of listening. The author suggests for the ladies to have a group of girlfriends to talk things out. This makes total sense to me. I think most women would appreciate a man who takes action than the one who doesn’t. Besides, by talking his ears off, he might not hear your request for him to jump into action for your sake.

Male Mode of Feeling

  • Delayed emotion reaction.

    Years ago, I asked my then boyfriend a serious question, he didn’t react. I thought he was ignoring me. After a few days, he answered and explained he needed time to consider his response because he didn’t want to take it lightly. So, I’d say this is true. Give him time to think is a really good tip.

  • Respond to emotion by being physical.

    When he’s emotional, he might go for a run, take a drive, or can’t stay put.

  • Masking emotion while processing emotion.
    • leave me along – needing time to recover
    • let’s fight – become dominating
    • it’s nothing to worry about – recalling amplifies the hurt. This should go for women as well. If all we do is retelling the same issue and not making any changes, what we are doing is the carving a deep groove into the pain we already feel. And still no actual improvement in the end.

I’m only half way through the book but I am already a bit more confident in writing more complete male characters.

No More Mr. Nice Guy!

No More Mr. Nice Guy! by Dr. Robert A. GloverA character has just arrived on the scene in a story I’m writing. He seems like a all around good guy who is liked by both men and woman. In a conversation with the leading lady, he reveals that he, as he is now, didn’t come easy. He was a Mr. Nice Guy who never says no to his girlfriends but they left him anyway.

I had to stop writing at that point. What is it about him that he allowed himself to be treated that way?

A friend mentioned the possibility of childhood trauma and suggested that he only got better after finding a new hobby or sport to develop his self-confidence. While I agree with his view, I needed to learn more about Mr. Nice Guy before I can complete the backstory of this character.

No More Mr. Nice Guy! by Dr. Robert A. Glover explained the making of a Mr. Nice Guy.

As it turned out, Mr. Nice Guys do and say nice things with strings attached, however unconscious their actions may be. They never voice their needs or wants, thinking that’s a sign of weakness. Mr. Nice Guy lives in a fantasy that by doing everything “right”, their life will be problem free and his needs will magically be fulfilled. Then he suggested ways to transform from being a Mr. Nice Guy to being a Mr. Real Guy.

The funny thing is, I can see a bit of myself in Mr. Nice Guy as well.

I’ve always pride myself as a “low maintenance” woman. Now I know I’m also a Mr. Nice Guy. We think having a need makes us bad. So, while we appear to have no needs, we were only denying that part of ourselves. It’s ironic that this behavior also kills the opportunity to receive love and kindness from others.

As I read on, I found more traits that I share with Mr. Nice Guy.

  1. Avoid new situations / Stay with the familiar
  2. Give what I want to give instead what’s needed
  3. Try harder to fix an old issue but use the same ineffective method (which Einstein defined as insanity, how fitting!)

I am pretty sure I’ve grown enough to repeat that last two patterns. Now I just need the courage to move away from my comfort zone.

No More Mr. Nice Guy! not only helped me create a character who had “lived”, I also gain some insight into my own unhealthy thinking and belief.

So to all the Mr. Nice Guy and Miss. Nice Gal, accept your imperfect self and you shall prosper!

Out of Ink

O, oh, I’m running out of ink.
The ink trail is fading fast.

Don’t die yet,
let me finish this heated conversation.

Ah, thank you for your service.
I’m so proud to have finished you off.
The end of you may not spell a bestselling book.

But, to me,
writing a pen out of it’s ink
is the best proof of my perseverance.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be taking it on with another pen.
I’ll not give up until I see the ink trail runs dry again.