Friday, June 26, 2015

Stay Stoned on Your Words

Does that word "stoned" date me? Now that states are flipping the switch on legalized marijuana sales, is my word choice old? I'm not a smoker, nor do I plan on becoming one if the voting public in my current state of North Carolina decides to legalize pot, but I want to use the right terminology.

Point is, writing should make you high. If you don't find a buzz in it, give it up, baby. It won't take you where you want to go. And, frankly, where you want to go is just royal-flush nirvana, 'cause nothing else about a writer's life will make you happy.

Stay put in the smoking-room desert, the one I've been personally wandering in for a few years now. Because the publishing territory on the outskirts of your royal-flush nirvana is wild and lawless. Breath deeply of that glorious smoke, those words of yours, because when the beautiful fog lifts and you're in the territory, because you've wandered so far off in your stupor, you'll develop a crazy-ass migraine called no-one-gives-a-shit-about-your-work.

It's then you'll start writing about getting stoned when you actually don't really get stoned. But you can't feed your habit enough, and that's how you'll know you're addicted and, wow, how did that happen?

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Trippy cycle. Crave your story, write, get stoned, fog clears, no one gives a shit. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I've met writers who go cold turkey, set aside the ink for years, and suddenly, one day, madly crave it, and go back. I understand, but goddamn it. They should have had the strength to stay away. They went and threw sobriety away. For what? A comic essay? A memoir? A god-forsaken novella? What a freakin' shame.

What they really should stay away from is the publishing territory. Vape to your heart's content, just don't ever come down. Stay in the stoned zone. Trust me, there's nothing in the territory you want. Nothing at all.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Writing As Its Own Inspiration

Writers write for different reasons. If you're good enough and lucky enough, you make money. The powerhouse gatekeepers in publishing will say, luck has nothing to do with success. Hard work and talent determine a writer's career. I tend to agree with them. And ignore the hell out of anything they say, including how to succeed as a writer, detriment be damned.

I'm tired of advice. Right? I hear you shaking your head. Everyone's got advice for writers. There's money to be made on giving advice to writers -- about how to write, what to write, fixes to write, salves to write, addenda addenda addenda. Maybe I'll patent The Writing Patch. Slap it on your derrière and you'll be bound for literary fame and fortune in no time. I'd make a bucketful of money. Now, not all writing advice is snake oil patches, but there are too many people giving advice, (hey, look, I'm one of them) and it all bleeds together and not in a beautiful Monet delicate-brush way.

Pack Square AshevilleI don't really count myself as one of the advice-givers. I'd count myself as a wandering seeker. My path is forged from trying out a new passion. Novel writing is a special brand of high. I'm not a stoner (although on one of my stray index cards around the house, this title hit me recently: One Nation Under Pot. Air lick it as one book to write), but creating a story is its own kind of inspiration.

Wait, you say. Advice about writing and inspiration are two different things. Yes, and no. If you're learning the craft, you still must take advice in good humor. Advice can have the tendency to induce writer's block. There's plenty of time (most likely a lifetime) for you to revise your work and improve. But if you let stinging or overwhelming or too-close-for-comfort advice keep you from writing, you'll never write enough to produce something good.

I don't have to go looking for advice. Of course, I study techniques and try them out. But the act of writing gives me all the fluffy cloud inspiration I need to blissfully (maybe just contentedly) keep going. Go to the page. Pour some words on it. Stamp your feet in the puddles. I'll meet you outside without an umbrella.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Writers Need Technology Breaks

The title of this post doesn't mean you should skip reading this post.

Being constantly connected through technology to info feeds and group posts and Facebook friends/family frustrates me. Not too long ago, six years or so, I wasn't frequently checking my smartphone to see if I had new email or a Facebook like or a retweet. Now, I do it at least once or twice an hour without thinking. Maybe more because I haven't quantified my use. Maybe much more. I wonder, as I've read lately, if this prompting by our computers and phones to stay on top of EVERYTHING is fragmenting our ability to concentrate and work in long stretches on ANYTHING. I think it is, in my case.

I've wanted to break this habit of being so available to people and to input. But I haven't had much will or motivation yet. Maybe I'd miss something. Someone might try to reach me or I'd miss an emergency text from my daughter. This feeling plagues me when I accidentally leave my phone at home by mistake. At a minimum, it irks me for a good five to ten minutes. Then I relax and realize the world is still in motion without my device telling me so by its whistles and pings.

I want my NYT.
On occasion, I just give up stalking the world or building my digital platform. Going dark lasts for a few hours, a half day. It's usually enough time to realize, hey, my life is just as good without all that distraction, because at its core, that's what it is to me. If I really want to talk to someone, I call. If I really want to know what is happening in the world, I turn on NPR or read any section of my Sunday NYT. Do I like having access to the world on my phone? The ability to Google questions like: How do you calculate the mean absolute deviation (which I did an hour ago for one child's homework)? Oh sure. My life is easier. But I'd prefer to feel like I wasn't doing research on the fly, and my phone encourages me to fly.

Writer friends of mine fall on a wide spectrum of technology addiction. Some of my friends use way less instant technology than I do, and lo, they write more. Other friends use just one app but use it so well (or obsessively), they don't need to do anything else. Or at least it seems that way.

I dream about going off-grid from technology like a generation of writers used to dream about retreating to a cabin in the woods to write. Does that work? Would I be a better writer if I let go of my BFF Samsung Galaxy Android? Would readers know the difference or are they too glued to their screens to care?

I want a little head space. But I'm the one who's going to have to make it. What works? Suggestions solicited.