Earlier today, I shifted through a pile of newsletters, magazines, clippings, notes and miscellaneous mail that had been sitting around for weeks, and sadly to say, in some cases, months. (Hey, it wasn’t years at least.) This was my get-to-it-when-I’m-in-the-mood pile. Interesting stuff, full of information that spurs my imagination, bits of ideas and pieces of creativity. A pile. Gathered ideas and important information, as I see it because, well, I don’t want to miss anything. Let’s be honest: it’s hoarding. You know, I never got in the mood to read the stuff and so now, it feels like a steaming pile of waste haunting me until I DO SOMETHING. The choice of use it or throw it away was before me. With some pain and a small amount of anxiety, the something was to opt for the throw plan. (No worries. Any of my ideas, I kept.)
I can blame my lovely mom for her ever-so slight problem of information hoarding. I love you, Mom, but dang it. You gave me the love of collecting information and the desire to do something with it…someday. (Ideation is what I think it’s called.) We hoard because we don’t want to miss out, I guess. I know I hoard information because I want to use it for creative and useful purpose in the future.
But why not now?
The title of this post sounds a bit extreme, huh? It isn’t really. If you’re a procrastinator, like me, you’ll agree if you really look honestly at your life. I’ve killed dreams because I put them off. I’ve killed dreams because the good ideas I had (sometimes sitting in piles of magazines) are now a burden to me. I now spend time “cleaning out” my life, my office, my brain of the source of ideas that were once brilliant and now lie tarnished with the rest of the detritus cluttering my life. Ugh.
What’s the solution? Who knows? “Just do it”? Probably, but I’m not sure why that doesn’t work for me, at least consistently. I’m sure if you did a search, you’d find countless articles out there telling you how to avoid procrastination, all with better ideas to defeat it than I can give. Why get advice from a procrastinator? So I won’t attempt it. Here’s what I’ll give you: a few, raw insights that are enough to scare you away from procrastinating. Not sure it will work, but it’s worth a try…
Procrastination robs of you the time you thought you were saving—it just steals more later.
Procrastination steals you of hope because it highlights a lack of discipline and possible failure.
Procrastination ultimately causes discouragement…and may slip into depression, if you’re not careful.
Procrastination doesn’t work. You’re rarely “in the mood” later, so do it now even if it hurts.
Procrastination for some things is okay. You shouldn’t do them in the first place. The trick is knowing which to let go of.
The worst part: Procrastination from creative activities, steals you of dreams.
And don’t let procrastination rob others of that creative part of you. You owe it to everyone to share the results of your dreams.
Great advice for new writers (and those whom have been around a while).
I wrote my first collection of short stories at age 16. I have always loved writing. My mom still tells the tale about how on a car ride home at age 6 I made up an entire story (it involved a ghost watching his grieving wife, I believe) that she felt she had to write down when she immediately got home. For good, and many, many times bad, there was little else I saw myself doing with my life.
And when I was young and new to the field, I had hundreds of questions. For example, there was the time I met this professor at my undergrad college at orientation; well, he was a published writer (I read some of his books before going), and I pretty much stalked him, asking him question after question that afternoon. Embarrassingly, I believe I might’ve followed him all the way back to his…
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I thought this was great for those of us writing a series or trilogies. Thanks, KelliKillion for an awesome post. Check out her blog!
It’s no secret that the Indie book scene is rife with sequels these days. In the indie romance world, in particular, it seems like every author feels the need to write the same story from a different point of view, continue the story, or write a spin-off that focuses on another character from the original. Now, I’m certainly not saying there’s anything wrong with it, but I’ve read far too many sequels/spin-offs that have completely flopped. So, dear authors, over the next few days, I present you with a What Not to Do, of sorts. Ready?
1. Do not continue the plot line unless you’ve set us up for it.
Let’s take a look at some famous series for a moment. Probably the most famous is Harry Potter. JKR, while not the best writer around, certainly does weave a nice plot line. Each of the individual novels has…
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Much like I described in a previous post about the need to write what you love, I find that what haunts us has an equal pull on the motivations of most writers. Writing is considered cathartic to some, even therapy to others. I had been thinking about this subject for some time (apparently the entire few months between my last post and this one) when my mom sent me this great NYT article: Writing About What Haunts Us
(Why did she send me this article? What is the unfortunate childhood sin for which my mother wants me to admit my guilt? I didn’t steal any of my father’s gloves. Okay, Mom, if you’re reading this I’m just kidding, of course. There was that matter of suffocating our gerbils when I was three years old… Yes, my siblings, I was THREE!)
As I mentioned above, I had been ruminating on this subject for at least a few weeks–haunted, right?–thinking about how it applies to my writing. I realized there are certain themes in my life I have a hard time letting go, so I write about them. They haunt me in a sense, but I find the subjects enjoyable during the process of writing. It’s not that I obsess about these themes; if anything, they don’t seem to let me go. I’m moving on with life but they don’t, apparently. I’ve come to understand that they are powerful memories and emotions experienced in the past that don’t just go away without talking about them or writing about them. Heck, it is cathartic…and fun.
I naturally gravitate to writing YA stories. The teen years are replete with angst and romance, eh? How often have we read about a middle-school kid who moves to a new town where he has no friends? (That happened to me.) How often have we read about pain of a close relative dying? (That happened to me too.) How about the boy who just can’t seem to get a date in high school? (Umm…that wasn’t me.) And how often have we read about the crippling fears of a story’s protagonist? These examples are all too common, and in many cases, cliché when it comes to storytelling. But it’s interesting, it gives writing a depth of emotions, and we relate to it.
I’ll be your therapist: Write what doesn’t feel good. Write from your pain. You might feel better.
In case anyone else cares about my stolen Kindle–it’s back!
I mentioned this grievous situation in the comment of the post, Death of Reading? below. (Not new news; I had it back within a week of this comment.)
They fired the woman who stole it. Apparently, a theft of convenience. She snatched it in the 15 seconds I walked away from it. Was it worth losing your job over a Kindle?
Perhaps all this talk about the Death of Reading is proven wrong by the Kindle snatcher!
I think not. Read this article from the blog of Keirsey.com and see what you think.
My daughter told me I was a criminal for buying a Kindle. She has her face in a small screen all day long but manages to remain a Luddite when it comes to real, honest-to-goodness books. She loves to read and the idea of reading off a cold piece of plastic and glass is sacrilegious to her. I’m with her on that, in some ways. The feel of a book in the hand is one of life’s greatest pleasures, no doubt. Maybe it’s the dead tree from which we read the printed words that helps feel connected to…something. I don’t know. But then…I’m lovin’ the Kindle thing.
4 out of 5 stars
Other Press, 2009
304 pages, Fiction
The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal by Canadian author Sean Dixon is often a fun, irreverent, quirky, and wonderful stream-of-consciousness novel that lends itself to readers who like to invest themselves deeply into a story full of amusing—and often annoying—characters and their unusual, high-concept exploits. Other times, it holds on and won’t let go—even if you’d like it to.
Dixon’s novel, in the simplest terms—if that is at all possible!—is the story of a group of women (and a few men) who belong to the Lacuna Cabal Montreal Women’s Book Club. Their book club is no ordinary book club in that they choose to re-enact the books they read. Narrated in third person by two former members of the book club, we join the club as they begin, somewhat reluctantly, to read and live out the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest known pieces of literature in history. Yet one of their members, Runner Coghill, convinces the club to work from ancient clay tablets rather than a modern translation. This creates interesting challenges for the group as they question the authenticity of Runner’s interpretation of the text and the ultimate purpose of the club’s existence. The club begins to fall apart for various reasons, including the death of a very influential member, but the Epic re-enactment continues with strange results.
Dixon does a nice job of creating and displaying his characters for the reader: all hopelessly flawed but not beyond repair—definitely human, quirky and, yet sadly, not very sympathetic or likeable most of the time. In some ways, it felt that a few of the characters seemed so similar they were difficult to keep straight at times. That could be the reason Dixon introduced his characters at the beginning of the book with their names in boldface type as a way to quickly reference each character later (“…the reader can flip back and refer to them from time to time”).
Often I find myself melancholy as books end because I’ve just begun to find the characters engrossing and engaging (i.e., I develop a love for them?), but I can’t say that about Dixon’s characters or story. That’s not necessarily wrong. Dixon may have desired to leave you feeling that way. If so, he succeeded.
While Dixon paints his characters with various colors, they all seemed to have oddly the same…sameness. Like picking out colors for your master bedroom from Disney paint samples: no matter how many colors there are to choose from, it all comes down to pink, and that’s just wrong, isn’t it? Unfortunately, my favorite character died halfway through the book and left me with sympathizing with the robot (Yes, a robot. Didn’t I mention the robot?).
Overall, the book is an expressive bit of narrative, but there were many times I couldn’t help but say, “Can this book please end now,” only to be confronted with a remaining 200, 100, or 50 pages left to read. At times, Dixon swept me along with his tale but other times it would drag along waiting for the action or even the dialog to get more interesting.
Dixon is an incredibly talented writer whose imagination takes the reader to places few authors can or wish to travel. My mistake was to judge the book too early on and this only serves to hinder the reader of this “damaged masterpiece” to borrow the author’s own words.
Read it, but it may be an acquired taste.
Reviewed by David Stucki (Electric Eclectic)
You may also read this and other book reviews on Mark McGinty’s blog, The Boogle.
Let’s admit something immediately: Julie and Julia looks like a chick flick. And it is, really. Written and directed by Nora Ephron, it has to be one, no doubting your senses or the credits. Even so, Mr. Eclectic liked it.
Okay, maybe that’s an easy one for me since I grew up with a mother who happened to be a Child-ophile (nothing to do with pedophilia, I might strongly add), owned just about every Julia Child cookbook published, and watched Child’s cooking show religiously. My formative years included watching Julia for what seemed like every day on our local PBS station. (Somehow, I found Julia Child’s unique timbre oddly engaging—more so than Mr. Rogers, that’s for sure.)
If this movie does anything for you, it should at least get you to write in a blog…or cook. Or maybe not. Unless you no longer have a pulse that others can detect, it should inspire you to pursue once again that deep passion hidden within you. Sounds sappy, I know. But, crap, if a silly movie can help me write, dang gum it, I’ll gladly watch it. There’s a remote chance a Child-induced passion for cooking may take over my current child-induced apathy for cooking, but I still have my doubts. Gorton’s fishsticks are easier—and more appreciated—in my household than beef bourguignon.
Did I say I liked this movie? While it’s another Nora Ephron all-we-women-have-this-special-bond-with-each-other-that-men-just-don’t-get film and a film about cooking, it thankfully (and fairly) takes us beyond that to treat us to how the passion of two people can positively affect so many others. Many times passion–and the ambition that goes along with it–can really make things suck, but if you stick with that passion long enough, things might just fall into place because you’ve been able to bring others along with you in that passion. For Julie and Julia–the title characters–it was their passion for cooking and writing (specifically, sharing their passion through writing) that brought success. Was success their goal? I don’t think so. It was their need to do SOMETHING with the fire that burned within them. That fire was the passion for cooking.
Speaking of passion: You’ve got to love butter!