Rhymer’s Blog on Life
|Come with me...I wanna discover the world, and I don’t wanna do it alone.|
|"30-Day Blogging Challenge" by Fivesixer Spice Latte prompt:
What room in your home do you use the most? The least?
The busiest room in the house, I think, is always gonna be the bathroom, and why not? Great things happen in there. Shaving, combing, the brushing of teeth, all while listening to music. Listening to music while I’m waking up, especially Kelly Clarkson, starts the day off right. Everybody should have a space where they can blare their morning anthem, a place to find the motivation to charge through the day, to conquer or die!
The least used room? Ugh…the kitchen. I mean, I use it, but not for cooking…I’m usually the one to clean up, and as long as I don’t have to put more insecurities into learning to cook, I’ll clean every chance I get.
Learning how to write is obliterating everything I ever knew. Of course I still love the craft; I adore what rush comes from working to create something decent. It doesn’t change that I now see aspects of life, mostly entertainment, with new eyes. Until the previous couple of months, I watched tv and movies like most people, sitting back and becoming one inside the story. Music was still had a musicality, and a good story was appreciated as just a good story. There was so much magic happening around me, and I loved it.
I think anyone that says writing comes easy isn’t trying hard enough. By showing the smallest spark of interest, the Universe (God, Mother Goddess, whatever your perception, I’m speaking of the same idea here) is sure to blast open status quo by offering lessons and tips everywhere, and one enlightenment leads to the next. It’s nothing to speak of plot as a thing, as if it was one aspect of writing a story. But as you delve deeper into the craft, it becomes clear plot is one idea comprised of so many moving parts including theme, characterization, story progression, etc. It becomes clear there is no “quick and easy way to plot”. I’m pretty sure a large part of becoming a writer is accepting there is no shortcut. Writers who can do things quickly can usually substantiate their notations by years of experience, something I don’t have. For me, there is no “easier way”. As the Universe has explained it to me, easier is just lazier, and if that’s the road I’m gonna take, then why waste my time at all? I could be playing Minecraft. But I like the feeling when I accomplish something I haven’t done before, such as using a literary device I’ve only read about or to produce something beyond my expectations.
Writing and reading are best friends, and when one is affected, so is the other. When one learns to write better, one learns to read better, also. Those tricks and sleights-of-hand we try for, those twists and points in the story written just for the author to know where she is or where he’s going…they become more evident, almost rising up from the page. The more we learn what we’re doing, the better the understanding of what others have done. In The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, the author changes his writing style between paragraphs based on the feeling he wants to pull from his reader. In the beginning of the second chapter, the writing is short and fragmentary: scary to build tension. And then as the scene progresses for two more paragraphs, Blatty begins to write differently. As he leans into the suspense, his sentences become longer, eventually turning into run-ons to fuel the fear of the inevitable. I’m thankful to see that now, to understand how something may be used with other parts to create something real from fiction…but it does remove some of the magic I saw from before.
I love binge-watching most series, but now, I’m looking for technical aspects. Ten minutes into the first episode, we should know who the main character is with a hint of what he or she is after. Between ten and twenty minutes, we generally see the beginning of plot, we get just enough of their previous situation to understand why they may be where they are. And as I watch, my mind is taking in the characterization, judging whether or not the actor is equal to the character, understanding where someone was coming from when they wrote this…where is it going? What’s the overall point, and where are we hoping to land when this is over? How are they using misdirection and still placing the information we need? I can’t just sit down and enjoy a visual story anymore. I can see the wires and the hands in the puppets.
I think I’m the most let down by music. On my chest, just over my heart, I have a tattoo of a music note. I’ve realized I don’t like the music on the radio today, not because I’m old, but because I need more than what most artists are giving, and my main disappointment lands on the lyrics. People no longer sing stories; they sing a small situation. Without a story, with no point, there’s no conviction. I don’t listen to the songs I like because I’m from Oklahoma and we listen to country music. I listen to 90’s country because they tell a story, an opening and an ending (think “Walkaway Joe” by Yearwood and “Fancy” by McEntire). The radio hurts my sensitivities these days.
But the one part of my life I never expected to be obliterated into a smoky and hot mess was my life. Those around me who deal with me on a daily basis don’t see it. It’s not like a blatant spiritual awakening, although it’s not far from that, either, to be honest. I’m trying to understand people a little more because I don’t know their backstory. I don’t know where they are in their plot, and I can’t be sure right away the characterizations are apt, so I’d rather not judge the middle of someone’s story. But take it even more abstract…writing has been a thing in which I can sometimes make out my reflection, philosophies that need to evolve, ugliness I need to trim, and maybe a hint of something good to hold onto while I sleep.
I’m onto something, something huge. It’s big enough that I can already tell it’s gonna change my writing and life. It hit me yesterday, a small whisper from the Universe sharing with me one of its secrets pertaining to this craft, and now I’m splashing about the waters of philosophy as they fill my mind way too fast for me to filter efficiently. If you find this is difficult to follow, I don’t blame you. As I said, I’m in the process of organizing and learning.
Yesterday, Jayne'll eat your brain🧟 sent me a really helpful review, one that pointed out things of which I should be aware. But my mind took it a little further, trying to define my job as a writer versus the job of the characters, unaware of the treasure I was about to discover instigated by her words about creating a hook.
It’s a secret, I think, because I’ve never read in detail what I’m about to try and explain. I learned the basics of writing on my own, reading books and guides about how to become the perfect writer. They were perfect when it came to vaguely explaining an abstract idea, but when it came to identifying these aspects of which they spoke, they failed. “Find your voice,” they repeat, but they never begin down that road of how or why.
The secret is this:
Telling a story has no relation to writing a story.
See, I’ve always heard about writers finding their voices. It’s one of those things they teach in guides and instructions on the craft, but they don’t really go into what that means. I think maybe I always thought that the result of the writing, the revised and better-told story was the voice. That’s not how it works at all. No, the voice comes when the writer figures how to ride that line between telling a good story well and allowing the characters to tell their story their way.
What does that mean? Why is that important?
You can’t tell a good story until you move beyond being a writer of a good story. And until you can tell story, all you’re doing is writing it. You might have a story that’s well-written, but is it art? Does it really touch someone? Can we really find ourselves?
I don’t know exactly what all this means for me, but I know it’s the biggest realization I’ve had since accepting my place as a writer. Even if she didn’t mean to, I have to thank Jayne for instigating this spark, what I feel could be an epiphany for me.
Stay tuned…we can do this together, if you’re in the same area as myself. And if not, hopefully I can learn something you can take with you.
|You know what? I’m proud of you, oh ye members of Writing.Com.
Too often, reviews of WDC are given by newbies who misunderstand what this site is for. These neophytes toss around an ill-qualified and mostly absent review because they don’t know how immense and helpful this tool can be. And even though I’ve been here for only five months and still haven’t gone much further than the downtown area, I’ve been out walking the streets of WDC on my own, taking in the landmarks and marking the places I like on my little map. I’ve started to create my own unique experience here, and it’s because I want to.
Sure, WDC is huge and daunting. There’s a competition for every interest with all types of rules and challenges. For me, these contests are vital to learning, new ways to force myself down that extra mile. I’ve entered seven competitions around this site; I’ve won one and placed second in a main competition. It feels good to place, and the rewards are really cool. Add to that the members stopping by to express their “Congrats!”, and it’s not hard for one to find a feeling of satisfying fullness. And, the most important part, at the end of a competition, I’m left with the questions: was it a good piece, was it strong, and will people out in the real world like it? Competitions help me figure out where I am and where I’m going, especially as a new writer who is trying to light up his dark way. I lose more often than I place, but in the end, I’ve created something I stand by, and I always learn something new to schlep with me to the next contest.
Of course, you can’t review WDC without realizing the metaphor of the stage upon which we act out the craziness in our heads. I’ve written for something like thirty-five years, but I knew I was no Stephen King, no Rod Serling, so what’s the point of trying to feel like a writer? And so now I have a large box of scraps of stories, pieces of things written but never really explored. When I signed on to WDC, it only took a few days to realize that I am a writer. The world doesn’t need another King or Serling; the world doesn’t have another Rhymer Reisen. WDC has allowed me to find validation for and from myself as a writer, and now it’s evolving to become a philosophy and spirituality.
While doing reviews is not my favorite activity on this site, I do understand how important they are. During the entire time I was writing before accepting that I am a writer, I never had feedback, never knew where I stood under the rainbow of reality concerning the craft. There’s little sunshine when it comes to writing pieces nobody will ever see. The point of the reviews is not to tear anyone down, but to build each other up, to teach each other how to grow. The more reviews I do, the more I realize what I’m looking for in a piece, the more I learn how to read. Yeah, you scanned that with your eyes correctly. I’ve been reading longer than I can remember, but there’s an art to reading and analyzing what a writer is trying to say. I can now recognize devices and sleights-of-hand that were only magic to me before. And I love that, because it’s another opportunity to grow.
And, look, the people have, to me, been amazing. Sure, there are a few cliques, and there are some jerks who aren’t looking to grow so much as they need their ego to shine, but whenever there are enough people to create a social situation, there will be cliques and jerks. These become easier to ignore. (Just a word of warning to those younger…don’t ever in your entire life mess with cliques…stay away if you value who you are.) My only real experiences concerning other people on WDC have been inspirational and eye-opening. I’m friends with a woman who is twenty years older than myself, and my heart is lifted when I think of her pouring her heart out, when I picture her reading grammar books so she can improve. In "Rising Stars Summer Camp" by Lilli Munster ☕ , there are a couple of high school students, there are a couple who speak a language native to them that isn’t English nor American, and everyone comes from a different experience. It’s so beautiful. One of my friends here has created more than a hundred pieces during the last three months, and they’re quality works. I wanna do that! But don’t forget the yellow-cases and moderators! I know some of these work around the clock to ensure this site moves smoothly, to encourage and push each other. They put so much of themselves into it, and they expect precious little. I believe people on this site are incredibly brave, and I feel as if The Universe smiled on me since the day I singed up.
If you’re a newbie with an account date after mine, go easy on your review of the site until you’ve explored and discovered your own version of this tool. There are so many resources around from "Writing.Com 101" by The StoryMistress to the moderators who are happy to answer questions, so there’s no reason to misunderstand nor misuse the site. It is not a pedestal upon which one thrusts an ego to be adored. It is not a permanent spotlight, not a place to come in and “take over”. It is a tool, and its effectiveness can only be achieved with the desire to learn . For me, just shoving my ego out of the way so I can jump in and learn is all it took, and I can see clearly I’m becoming better, both as a writer and a human.
And that’s worth five stars, to discover who I feel called to be.
(or, I Only Write for Rewards)
All the writing I participated in over the last forty years, all the works I started before losing interest because I was certain I am not a writer sit with heft on a table in my office. That illustrious and fast-paced world of literary fame was something I could never have hoped to jump into, a dream only for those who know what they’re doing and are destined for something great from the start. And, yet, one of my first memories is as a little boy, maybe three or four years old. I was excited when my mom received a typewriter, even if I didn’t have a clue what the machine was actually for. I sat in the kitchen in front of the heavy, black thing while the snow danced to the ground outside, but I used the entire day to peck out a one-page story on a piece of wide-ruled paper about a cat. When my step-dad came home and read it, he found a spelling error and proceeded to edit my work. All I knew for sure was that I had spent all day on this, and in just a few little clicks on the typewriter, he crossed out my misspelled word. I was infuriated. I yanked the paper from the antique, the damn thing offering more resistance than I had anticipated as I dramatically tugged the sheet of paper, and I ripped the story into pieces as I ran to my bedroom. I writhed on my bed, tears forced by the agony of artistry.
The whole experience should have been the first indication I am a writer.
Through the next thirty-five years or so, I began so many projects, so many stories with no real characterization or destination. I wrote anyway. I still have legal pads full of stories from when I was in high school, story after story because it was just what I did. I’m not trying to be cute here; without realizing it, in my free time, I wrote to amuse myself. I felt powerful having characters do what I wanted them to, living lives I could only dream of. In my office is a table full of notebooks and papers of stories started with no intent to finish them.
Still never realized I am a writer.
A few years ago, I set out to write my first book. It took eight months to write 70,000 words. Once completed, I put the first draft on the shelf to allow myself some distance for six weeks, then went back and read it.
I quickly felt this was not a good novel. I didn’t know why exactly, but something about the mechanics just didn’t work. It was a good start of something, or to something, but the seeds of magic hadn’t been properly planted. I began researching and reading everything I could find about how to actually write. The elements in my failed novel that wouldn’t work began to highlight themselves, beginning with the first four chapters of backstory. The more I studied the actual craft of writing, the more I realized there was no character arc, no real progression of an interesting story within my novel.
In short, I had created something that should serve as the poster-child for everything to avoid when writing a book.
Turns out, writing is much more difficult than I could have guessed. I think it may be true that everyone has the ability to sit down and write a book; only a fraction of those have the talent to write a good one. I imagine only the smallest piece of the fraction have the patience to learn how to use and be used by the art of writing. Not everyone has the ability to focus on the more difficult and mundane aspects of storytelling so the reader is left to enjoy the story without the task of editing typos or finding an obvious plot hole - work the author should have already done.
Doing research for a story can be overwhelming. For a reader to give twenty percent imagination to the book, the author has to give eighty percent realism, or so I believe, something so that the reader can jump into a world of imagination and wonder without feeling hindered, without being ripped from the story to contemplate the believability of the written situation. With the right amount of realism in a story, there’s nothing that can’t be believed. Eighty percent translates into a lot of research to ensure the reader has nothing to think about beyond the actual story, nothing to do but fall in love with or hate the characters they’ve invested in. Research is the key to believability which, in turn, yields the potential for magic.
The act of writing is grueling, a lonely environment causing mental exhaustion by day’s end. Forget typos and messed up chronological timelines; the real mental exercise comes from the juggling act a writer must perform as he or she balances between characterization, plot, and progression, all while attempting to maintain a freshness within the story to make it as interesting as possible. It’s an odd dance, to think without thinking, to allow the characters to become who they’re working toward while I hover overhead and monitor their progress, keeping it all on track.
I think, for me, the worst part of writing is trying to rest when my muse wants a job done. I don’t know if other writers experience this or not, so maybe I’m just creating conversation here, but there are days when, while I’m attempting to nap, I can feel an itching in my core, a desire to produce something. It feels much like I think ants in the pants do, except I call it “Muse in the Fuse”. It’s a drive to write even when I’m trying to stay away from such addictions. But it calls, and, for a writer – and maybe it’s true for art in general – there is no escape. The only way to please this feeling is to write something, anything. Get it out, and soothe the muse.
It does feel like the work is not worth whatever rewards might be reaped. A writer isn’t guaranteed fame or money, we aren’t even sure people will read the words we put to paper or screen. So why do it if nobody cares? What’s the point?
The hard work described above is the way one grows. The only alternative is to stop writing altogether, and it also the only way to fail. Once we quit writing, we stop being writers; we become scribblers and people who copy, but we are no longer writers and creators when we become too good to become better, especially in a world where, as Hemingway put it, nobody will ever master the art. The only way to truly fail in writing is to give up.
It seems perfectly obvious to me that a writer would want to strive to change and evolve into something better for the sake of him or herself. What do we do when, as babies, crawling becomes inefficient and falling down hurts? We figure out a way to be better, to move by walking and strengthening our muscles. We learn naturally how to be better humans. The same is true with writing. There’s a point where we do all we can as writers on our own, and then we need outside help, eyes foreign to our work. We can only become better by showing someone else what we’ve created. It stings to hear that a piece of work isn’t as perfect as I’d thought, but I love that pain, that slicing of my personal feelings because the story becoming better is far more important than my ego. I know that sting means the story is worth making better, worth putting in the work. It’s not about money or clout…the reward is that I’ve achieved something small during the creation process, and that keeps the process going, the desire to do the absolute best I can simply because I want to.
The hard work brings about a better quality of work, and, for me, it brings along a higher standard of what I want to be as a human being. Completing something and then making it better, and then stepping it up still…it feels good to do something for real that I’ve felt in my heart for so long. There’s a strength there fueling who I am.
The best reward is finishing a project, producing a more tangible version of a world I’ve ever only seen inside my head. To create a work I can believe in, to hold it in my hand and know it represents so many hours of research and typing, all the nights of lying awake and replaying a scene over and over until I feel nauseated from the stress, it feels good. It is the physical culmination of hopes and dreams and personal magic, and that’s the ultimate reward for me. To hold the manuscript, to know the ink and paper are so much more than their physical attributes, that’s where I find home.
There’s no way I can write without so many of my psychological truths surfacing. It’s a little easier to see who I am when I inspect the theme of my novel, when I can see what’s really me and what’s imaginary. It becomes a beacon of who I am right now, a testament of who I’ve become versus how I’d like to see myself. There is a list of psychological translations protruding from this story I’ve written, and that list seems to be eternal. It’s scary to think about what I might expose about myself, but it’s fun to see who I am because of the characters just doing what they do.
The more I accomplish, the more I achieve, and the easier it is to discover the strength of my desire to be better. With learning how to correct my current novel to near-perfection comes a yearning to deliver an even better performance next time. I like my book, I believe in the story, and I love some of the characters. I want to do everything to make sure they receive the best representation I can offer. But there’s always a next project just over the horizon, and if that’s the case, why not try to learn? If the first book is good, then shouldn’t the second one be kick-ass? And that’s the fire commencing the cycle of writing, with the end result, hopefully, translating into a human who wants to discover the magic within himself, someone who wants to grow.
Whether I knew or it not, I have always been some kind of writer with no real purpose or direction. Only in recent weeks have I begun to suspect the reality that maybe I can hold my own eventually in the realm of writing. Even more to the point, maybe I should be doing this, if not for any reason other than evolving from the inside. In that light, it turns into something more personal, more spiritual. I feel like I’m discovering new parts of myself. It’s like I’m coming out again, except instead of being gay, this time I’m a writer. Finding that bit of who I am, that hint of purpose, I think, is all I needed to figure out a bigger picture, a frame I’m honored to be in. I’ve already experienced just a little of the magic, a taste, and I now want to do everything I can to feel that magic again and again. To be a better person is why I write. It fills all the requirements I have defining a spirituality. It’s the altar upon which I’ve been sacrificed by the muse, not so I can experience the ego of martyrdom, but so I can pay my dues as a newbie, appreciative and eager to evolve.
(or, TF is That Knitting in the Corner of My Bedroom?)
Kelly Clarkson has labeled the year 2020 as a dumpster fire, and one only has to look as far as the inner workings of one’s heart to understand how the results of the year changed each of us in the form of ashes and half-burned debris. However, when we sift through the damage as one does after a disaster, it’s easy to find those things within the rubble that cause us joy and excitement, remnants of a former life that bring us happiness not comprehended by others. That’s our reward for living through the previous year: we find pieces here and there, scraps of life that help carry us into the next phase of our lives.
We all found hobbies during The Great Quarantine, we met with an art form that forced us to grow or accept failure. One treasure I found in the isolation while sorting through the destruction is writing. I did not discover the process of writing this year; I’ve been playing with words and stories for thirty-five years to amuse myself. Professionally, it always had the potential of turning into something more real, something that could happen, but I never saw it as a dream to pursue. I wrote a book a few years ago, and when the time came for the revisions, it was clear I had no choice but to literally rewrite the entire story. The thing had no structure, no real arc, and the first four chapters were backstory.
The realization was soon clear: this was a much larger task than I had anticipated, and I had only cleared the first hurdle of writing the actual story. Part of learning, for me, at least, is knowing when I haven’t done as well as I know I can. I took myself to the books and internet, reading as much information as the authors could produce. I learned everything I could about the elements that work together to create a story and to make it work.
I also learned how lonely the process of the art of writing really is. Even in the height of creation and use of magic by moving words around, the procedure is still little more than one person in front of a screen while banging on a keyboard. However, when in the presence of others, it’s difficult to communicate story development to someone who hasn’t yet read the story. And there is a reason for this secrecy, a logic as to why the author lives in a bubble while he or she is creating magic: any opinion from outside the author’s head has the power to alter or derail the entire process. With one criticism, a change could be made to a character, and, as a result, a story could differ from the original course, directing the plot toward a path antithetical from the initial ideas for the story. We generally keep silent when creating so we may produce something consistent and enjoyable, a result that is the psychological culmination the author, and it requires the steep price of loneliness concluding in a sense of detachment.
The universe of my mind introduced me to Reginald late one night after I had already settled into bed, the sheets threatening to carry me into the unknown as my body shut down for rest. I awoke in the bedroom of my mental capacities one morning, the light from my office escaping under the closed door. Not accustomed to someone else existing within the privacy of my mind, I left the comfort of my bed and walked toward the door, the sounds of frustrated grunting and exasperated laughter dominating over the noise of shuffling papers from beyond the wooden barricade. I turned the knob and pushed open the door, determined to find out who was disturbing my mental rest.
It was the only time we have interacted with each other personally. The sounds ceased, and I entered a quiet room. There, in my chair, was the muse about whom I have heard so much. His body stiffened, his eyes widened, and he stared. There was no question I had interrupted his work. I backed out with slow awkwardness, and within a few minutes, the clamor of creating and editing resumed.
I can’t be sure Reginald is he or she. For the sake of explanation to those who may not understand the muse, and because I am a pretty simple male, I identify with it as a male. I don’t even know his name, to be honest. He’s never left it anywhere, and our relationship doesn’t require that we speak. For all I know, where he’s from, his name is Maximus Potentate Artaxerxes the Eighth. But we both seem to accept the situation as it is with few labels. I don’t need to know his details, and it isn’t necessary for him to acknowledge my existence in order to function.
We work in opposite shifts. He waits until I’m sleeping, and then he creeps in from somewhere I’ve never heard of, nestles into the office (so I assume), and starts working without hesitation. Sometimes I awaken to the sounds of printing and typing and realize he’s there, and I try to fall back asleep so as not to disturb him nor his process. We have never occupied the same space at the same time. Maybe he’s a superhero.
By our natures, Reginald and I have different styles. I do the physical work by touching keys and placing words into the formula of syntax within the rules of grammar, and I organize the creation to its physical manifestation. He, however, does what I consider to be most of the real work, the hard work. I know this because he leaves his work in a light blue folder on my desk when his day is done, a file with bits and pieces of story, descriptions of characters, maybe some drawings…but the evidence is there, and it is the gusto to which I arrive at my keyboard.
He can be a bit of a diva, needy and demanding. His requirements are sometimes difficult to meet, but he seems to survive on four points.
Sleep is the prerequisite under which he best works. If I am not resting enough, if I’m not sleeping, he has less time to do his magic.
He demands a serious diet of art. I know writing and music, but I don’t understand the more visual arts. I believe he is the one with the better education, because he understands and appreciates a painting more than I do.
He insists on discipline. He is dependable, but only if the artist is, also. He puts in amazing work, but he only rises to the occasion if the author is willing to exert the same effort. Otherwise, why would he even show up if his work is ignored?
He demands dedication to the project. I learn as much as I can to ensure he has all the resources necessary for him to produce the brilliance for which he exists. He requires these four aspects, and he wants them offered with consistence. If I display laziness, he threatens absence. He is only as serious as I am.
These demands are more work than I could have ever imagined. With the introduction of Reginald, I was also introduced to Rhymer, the writer in me who has to meet the standards set forth by Reginald. And it is fair that I do all of the heavy work. When I do the labor and allow him the space to grow and function, he rewards me with more than I could have dreamed of. When it’s difficult for me to move the story from point L to point N, Reginald creates point M so I can get there. If I am writing dialogue that progresses as slowly as myself running a marathon through syrup and peanut butter, Reginald leaves his outline for the matter in his blue folder. Given what he needs, I find he opens my mind to inspiration. As I’m editing, he submits his own thoughts and critiques. He pushes the rewrites, and without him, creating would be improbable. He is the partner I need when I don’t even realize how much I depend on him.
There are many details of our relationship I still can’t explain. I’m unsure of what he does to fill his spare time. I don’t know what formal education he has (though he seems much more academic than myself), and I have no idea where his house or apartment is. Does he have a wife or a husband? What kind of schedule does he keep? I don’t have these answers. I don’t even know what he knows or thinks about me. These specifics, though interesting, are inconsequential regarding the more detailed picture. As long as he provides me what I need in order to find success within myself, he finds life to do what he loves. It’s symbiotic, and I appreciate him. And as long as he continues doing that which he loves, I can continue to do what I love. Until my dying day, I will do my best to feed him and make him happy.
Besides, I don’t want to wake up one night to find him at the foot of my bed staring down at me like a hungry cat waiting to fill his bowl. I already have five of those.