Monthly Archives: October 2015

Shut The World Away

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I’ve been trying to shut the world away for a minute and write.

It’s not easy, of course. Distractions abound, habits ingrained so deeply, the mind constantly drifts away from the task at hand, wondering about social media, email.

I was just reading someplace that Maya Angelou never wrote at home. She had a beautiful house, serene garden, plenty of room, but she preferred to go someplace quiet where she’d be difficult to reach.

No wonder her writing sang, and she produced a plethora of works.

Staying focused is a struggle.

But this discipline is non-negotiable for writers. It’s essential for anyone serious about completing work. It doesn’t matter if we have to trick ourselves into focusing — like Maya Angelou did, to a degree. If we’re going to complete works that matter, we have to stop chasing shiny objects and do the work.

Half-finished paintings don’t make it into museums.

Half-drawn blueprints don’t make for well-constructed buildings (or any buildings).

Half-finished songs are soon forgotten.

And half-finished manuscripts don’t make for much of a story.

Paraphrasing from an article I’ve read some time back above, but everything resonates. 

So, absence is presence of mind elsewhere — in the story slowly coming together. Sometimes, the only way to focus is to turn off the noise, shut the proverbial door. Live in a different world where the story lives.

 As The Seekers sang in A World of Our Own:

Close the doors, light the lights/We’re stayin’ home tonight/Far away from the bustle and the bright city lights/Let them all fade away/And we’ll live in a world of our own.

~ When life and worldly forces pull you in so many different directions, how do you stay focused?

Image courtesy: brokenbelievers.com

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Forever Entwined

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The relationship between reader and writer is complex and forever entwined.

Sure, a writer can write without a reader, but if her words remain unread and unexplored, do the words mean anything? I suppose it depends on what we write — journals, novels — but I would imagine those words mean less if they linger in literary oblivion.

Different from speech, writing is a personal form of communication. While the writer should not preach or try to persuade ad nauseam, we are human; much of who we are comes through in a novel. And for $2.99 or some such, the reader steps inside the inner sanctum to explore at will.

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Before I started writing seriously, I viewed the writer as someone who worked for my pleasure. Now I know is for the pleasure of both, reader and writer. One cannot offer pleasure without feeling the same.  No matter how hard she tries. It would come across fake; the trust would be broken.

That is the opposite of what the writer is aiming for when constructing the novel.

What a reader takes from a novel may not be in accord with the writer’s intention. And that’s perfectly all right. A reader’s view is directed by his experiences, his interpretation of the words may be different to that of the writer or another reader who has had a different life experience. It’s what makes the whole process beautiful.

I once heard mystery writer Harlan Coben say he has no books until he has readers. I didn’t know what to make of it until my book was sent into the worlds of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and I started hearing back from readers.

Though I controlled the text as it took shape, I was no longer in control of how the reader might interpret it. And the more I heard back the more I delighted in the fact that readers cared enough to interpret away, to ask questions about my characters.

That is so much more than a writer can hope for. It really is what keeps me going back to writing, even on the occasional, devoid-of-inspiration day.

Whatever your creative passion, how does hearing back from your audience feel?

Images: wallpaperswide.com, genius.com