Why I Write

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Ah, the life of an inspiring writer… You wake, you write, you eat, you write, you sleep, you write – sometimes you sleep write. This is not recommended… personally, I’m a terrible speller and it’s really hard to use the dictionary when I’m asleep.

I sit and think about what I’m writing, and what I should blog about. One day I will post an excerpt from my book – I’m only holding off because I need to revamp the opening, and I haven’t had a chance because I’m writing a serialized story that I hope to post on here starting late next month. <- I typed the end of that sentence with a high pitch valley girl voice over in my head.

Honestly, everything I write has a voice over in my head. I feel like Doogie Howser – music and all.

Voice over aside, I’m very excited to post actual work of mine online that is something other than poetry. This is my way of coping. Coping with what? The stress of writing, and writing, and writing, and feeling like you’re just chasing your own tail and no one even notices your even in the room.

Three years ago when I committed to this goal to become an honest to god Author with a real live agent and a publishing contract there was a group of other aspiring writers I hung with. These days the people from that group have gotten their deals and moved on, or stopped writing all together.

Anymore I feel like the Little Engine that Could, but have yet to realize I’m filling in for the Orient Express and have been snowed in for a while now.

Dismal.

Very cup empty and questioning why you have a cup at all.

But here I am, and here you are – reading this. That’s what hope looks like.

I’ve given up on things before. I was in a band (or 3) and I walked away. I used to manage retail stores, but it wasn’t for me so I moved on. Even people – as crass as that sounds, but I feel everything has a life-cycle. Butterflies, creative outlets, even friendships – but I can’t let this one go. I’ve tried. I announced it to an entire diner one night, “I WILL WRITE NO MORE! DAMN THE WRITING!” Blah… I can’t.

So until I reach my dream – because I will (mark my words) – I will be on here, hopefully, entertaining you! Keep an eye out for my story! I’d tell you about it, but I really want it to be a surprise. The most I’ll say is that its Science Fiction. (~giddy dance~)

Remember all you aspiring writers – you’re not alone. Don’t give up simply because it’s hard. If it were easy you’d probably get lazy and then write crap – and the last thing we need is more crap. :)

Writer’s Research

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At the beginning of every project comes the planning phase. This goes for most things – a new job, a new place to live, or a new book to write. Yes, I know there are some out there who live the life of the “pants-ter” (you know, writing by the seat of your pants), but I’m a fan of the planner path. I prefer to know where my pile of characters want to go before I set out with them.

Either way you decided to write – there is one thing we all have to do, and that is research.

To be honest, I LOVE the research portion of writing. (Sometimes maybe a little too much… lets just say every employee of my local library knows me on sight…) In information age, researching has become both more convenient and riddle with sketchy information. Back in the day of push-carts and horse-drawn trolleys when I was writing research papers I remember receiving the following advice, “Avoid glossies.” What is a glossy bit of research?Think everything you see in the checkout line at your local grocery store. But with the internet these types of rags may be harder to spot. So here are my 4  ways to get the research you need without having to truck it to the library. (Unless you want to, then go ahead, because the library is a wonderful place. An oasis if you will.)

#1 – GOOGLE ALERTS: Who doesn’t love a search engine that does all of the work for you? Select topics you want to know more about and have them send you a daily email. Maybe its advancements in Space Exploration, or maybe it’s your own name (which is great for published authors because you can see who is talking about you). Then you can pick and choose articles to your liking.

#2 – THE RESOURCE SECTION ON WIKIPEDIA: As we all know, anyone can update a Wikipedia page. That said, at the bottom there are three sections that have a pile of breadcrumbs to help you further educate yourself: NOTES; REFERENCES; & EXTERNAL LINKS. Say you really want to write a historic romance set in Stalingrad during the battle of the same name and you think, “What would Stalin be thinking during this time?”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Stalin <-Check out the notes on this guy… ;)

#3 – ONLINE DIGITAL LIBRARIES: I’m still a fan of holding a book in my hand and running my fingers over sheets of paper -but buying books can get expensive, and while I love living in LA – sometimes its hard to find the books I need (and or want) at the local library. Lucky for me there are a ton of great online sites to visit – like Open Library and Google Books – these allow me access to titles I may other wise miss. Other sites that are worth looking into are: New York Public Library, Internet Archive, & University of Pittsburg Digital Library.

#4 – YOUTUBE, TWITTER, TUMBLR, INSTAGRAM, THE INTERNET IN GENERAL: For number four I’m looking at research for Character Development. I live in Los Angeles, but I’m originally from Cleveland – this gives me a general idea of how people talk in both places – but my next book I want to set it the UK. I have a pretty general idea of what a British accent is – I visited once 20 years ago, and I love me some Downton Abbey – but tat can really only take me so far. Dialects change from region, so its nice to hear the cadence of the accent so you can then interpret it into your story. Where do you go? Well, you could go to the UK and spend a ton of money and time traveling from place to place – or – you can go to YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyyT2jmVPAk And in five minutes you will have a tour of Great Britain in you living room.

Twitter is great because you can check out what’s trending. Writing a YA, but the last time you hung out with a teen was when you were a teen (5, 10, 35 years ago) then go on and see what teens are talking about. Watch their text and how they discuss whatever is popular to them.

Tumblr – the ultimate collection of just about everything. Most blogs are good for this – just search around until you find something that is similar to what you are trying to convey and then read, read, read.

Instagram – what’s it look like under a wave in Hawaii? Follow @ClarkLittle, then you can say, “The water was so clear I could see my friends waiting in the beach just before it crashed on my head…”

 

Research will make your story rich and opulent in a way doing general guess-work won’t and can’t. We can’t possibly know everything, but we live in an age where we can find things out at a flip of the switch and a press of a button. If you have any great researching ideas, I’d love to hear about them! The more you know, the easier it is to write.

Happy Writing!

Lists: Books to love

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And so it begins, the life I sat dreaming about for months and months on end – it is here, before me. Yes, that life I pondered on, drooled over, half cried, half begged for has arrived and now it’s time to take a hold of it. So, I thought I would start with a list! A list of books. There has been a challenge going around Facebook, “10 Books that have stayed with you.” What a better place to start than the books that have influenced me and molded me – propelling me forward – into this world of writing. I decided to do 15, because 10 isn’t enough – to be honest 15 isn’t either. I read a lot of books and many have influenced me one way or the other. But here is my list of 15 books that have “stayed” with me over the years.

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1. The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
I love how Hinton portrays the separation of class. I feel it was ground breaking in the 60s and is still relatable today.

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2. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
I love Ender. It’s a great character living in an interesting world. This book made me want to write sci-fi.

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3. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
This is the book that hooked me on sci-fi! It’s so much fun and Adams is hilarious. 42!

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4. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
In my early 20s I read this and Wuthering Heights. Loved Jane Eyre. Her strength and honesty make her one of my favorite characters. (I still don’t get why people like Wuthering Heights.)

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5. Ham in Rye – Charles Bukowski
Bukowski is a fan favorite all around. I’ve read most of his works, from poetry to short stories to novels – but Ham on Rye is my absolute favorite. The gradual growth of Hank is heart breaking.

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6. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
This book – mother of all things holy – the nightmares I had. Perfectly captures how volatile humans are.

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7. The Glass Castle – Jeanette Wallis
I could gush about this book for days. Beautifully written story about family, love, loss, and dealing with it all.

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8. Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
Most amazing anti-war book of all time.

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9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith
Written in omniscient 3rd, a point of view people rarely use these days, as the fly on a wall you watch the family grow. I randomly have scenes pop into my head on any given day.

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10. Sandman – Neil Gaiman
The reason I started reading comics.

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11. I am Legend – Richard Matheson
Incredible and interesting horror.

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12. Princess Bride – William Goldman
Just as funny, if not funnier, than the movie.

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13. And if I Perish… – Evenlyn M.Monahan & Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
It’s about WWII nurses. Follows American nurses from the states through all major WWII battles.

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14. Fat Kid Rules the World – K.L. Going
The movie adaptation of this book should be set on fire. This book is genius. Music, drugs, poverty, age appropriate awkwardness, true friends, and family.

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15. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Can’t describe it. Friendship, love, and life.

Champion

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In the house

There is a pony

A stuffed pony

Named champion

& on that pony

Is a boy

Who will one day

Be grown

& on that day

I’ll look back

To that stuffed pony

& wonder

How time went

By so fast

& the house

Won’t be this one

& the pony

Will be gone

& I will be

Someone I’m not now

But for now

In this house

There is a pony

& a boy

Riding him

Freedom and writers block…

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This week is my child’s first week of school. He is officially in kindergarten and I officially have time to write! And guess what? I CAN’T DO IT!!

It’s like my brain has been frozen by some klingon-esk ray gun that has fixed it in place so firmly words have ceased to exist. How cruel is that? Very. Very, very cruel. It is so cruel I would like to bounce the old noggin off the wall a few times to see if anything rattles loose. (Honestly, I won’t do that. I have a low pain threshold.)

So how does one deal with writers block? This is something new for me. Most days I’m like a well stocked waterfall, words pour out of me in one form or another.  I know that answer is simple, I need to wait and acclimate myself to this new life unfolding in front of me – but I’m about as patient as a kid in a Christmas checkout line. I want my toy, and I want my toy now.

Damn you words! How can you forsaken me when we have planed this rendezvous for so long? You have left me with nothing but half ass metaphors and a migraine… And with that – I’m going to nap.

 

 

Friday in Review – Ready Player One

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I am late this week, but alas… I will make it worth your while. I give you READY PLAYER ONE, a novel by Ernest Cline.

To be frank one of my biggest passions in all of the world is Science Fiction (and yes, some fantasy as well). The list of books I have been posting have not been in that genre, but that is about to end…

I now give you, by far, one of my new all time favorites – READY PLAYER ONE!

Here is my list of why:

#1 – The old adage, “Write what you know.” This book is an amazing example of writing what you know, but in a way that is fresh and new. Set in the future but ripped from out past – Rush (the band), acid washed jeans, pizza parlors, and video games all dropped into a Digital L.A.R.P.ing setting (Live action Role Play). Did you like Dungeons and Dragons growing up? Than read this book.

#2- Realism. This world could exist! It’s the notions of taking the truth and keeping it mostly intact to add to the terrifying idea of what’s to come. Such a wonderful way to add ambiance to a book.  This setting becomes its own character and you forget where you’re at. I was so absorbed I dreamt I was in OASIS (the digital LARPing game that dominates in this title.)

#3 – The Characters. Maybe you’re not a nerd. Maybe you weren’t in marching band in high school and didn’t play Dungeons and Dragons, and when you hear the word “Universe” you don’t automatically think of Marvel vs. DC, but all of that was part of my life. (And mostly still is.) For me I felt like I knew these kids. These are the people I spent a lot of my awkward teen years with, and even some of my twenties.

I loved this book SO MUCH I hijacked nearly every conversation I had for a week after I finished reading it to ask, “Have you read, Ready Player One? You really should – it’s amazing!” And now I ask you, have you read Ready Player One? Because you should!

 

I would love to hear from you! What are you reading?

Until next week! Happy reading!

Aryn

 

 

 

 

Friday in Review: Ham on Rye

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I visited Bukowski’s grave after moving to Los Angeles. It’s in San Pedro, about a 40 minute drive from my apartment. Better yet, my apartment is about a ten minute drive from the house he grew up in. Well, not better for Chuck ‘ol boy – it wasn’t really a happy home.

To put it mildly, I am a Bukowski fan and have been for years. Oddly, Ham on Rye is a book I’ve only read recently (because someone stole my copy). <- true story. The reason it is so odd is Ham on Rye is by far his best book. I liked Factotum, I loved Women and Hollywood, and I was even amused by Pulp (his last book published shortly before his death 20 years ago.) Say what you want about the man – hate him for all I care – but Ham on Rye is one of the most genuine coming of age stories I have read in a very long time. Starting from when he is 3 years old and ending at the beginning of World War II, Bukowski takes on his alter ego “Hank” and tells you his story like it was. (With a little embellishment here and there just to give it that extra flair.)

Are there women? Some.

Is there booze? Of course.

Why is this different from all of his other booze induced, women laced books?  Because it shows you the “why”. Why did he become the man he was? Why did he crawl inside a bottle? Why was he so obsessed with women and words? Every single answer is right there smashed between orange groves, high school angst, the great depression, and trolley rides to and from Pershing Square.

Loud, brash Bukowski is known for getting right in your face and saying, “What the hell are you going to do about it?” That quality is still there, but that’s not what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the spider. The small tiny moments that subsequently mould us into our adult selves.

So that’s why I pick this book. I pick Charles Bukowski for his poetry, for his soul, and for his courage to say out loud all those things that are very easily hidden behind booze and broads. Maybe you’ve read him, or maybe he is new to you – this is the place to start.

Ham on Rye won’t let you down.

“So, that’s what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That’s what they needed. People were fools. It was going to be easy for me.”

 

Maybe it wasn’t always easy, but it was totally worth it.

 

Please feel free to recommend books below!