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A Writer Stuck Between Writing Jobs

I’ve reached one of these rare occasions when all of my writing is finished. Very strange indeed.

I typically am in the midst of many writing jobs, which constantly are vying for position, nudging each other out of the way as if to get my attention. And then suddenly, everything is finished.

I’ve been writing a musical for months. On Saturday I finished it with my team. It’s title is “Boardwalk Melody.”

My hometown newspaper, The Butler Eagle, asked me to write a short Christmas story for them. I finished it yesterday. It’s entitled “The Angel on the Courthouse.”

Now what’s a writer to do? Time to start on something else, but what?

Here’s my options:

1) Novel #4. I wrote chapter one for it at the end of the summer (2000 or so words). I could pick up that one. However …

2) Novel #5 – or at least the idea for novel #5 has intrigued me over the last couple of months. I might just bring this one to the top of the line … However …

3) I have another idea for a mini-musical that I want to write … However …

4) the art teacher at my school asked me to write some short dramatic sketches to go with a replica of the Sistine Chapel that they are creating. I could start working on that. However …

5) there possibly might be something else to work on that I haven’t even thought of.

The point is this: creativity never ends. Isn’t that a beautiful concept? No matter how many stories and characters and scenes and ideas have been written, there is always room for one more … or a thousand more because the human mind is a beautiful instrument capable of ideas far beyond what can be thought in just one day. So as the calendar continues to turn, likewise, the ideas continue to come and the few minutes we have are not nearly enough to write everything we want.

So a writer can only do one thing. Pick one idea, and start writing.

I wonder where I will begin.



The Best Comment About My Play (and it revealed something about writing)

After the Short & Sweet Theatre performance on Friday, a young Chinese woman in her 20s approached me and asked:

“Are you the writer of ‘Almighty Might’?”

I replied that I was, and then she looked at me intently and asked:

“How did you write that? I mean, when I first saw it I was just blown-away. And I wondered how anyone could think of that. I never could have thought of that. How did you go about writing that?”

I suddenly felt like that deer in the headlights. I didn’t know how to respond. I stuttered a little, shrugged my shoulders, and replied:

“I don’t know. It just came to me. I don’t know.”

She finished out her very nice compliment and then I began to think about it. Where did the idea come from? Why did it just work? It’s not a conventional script by any means. And I realized that I answered her correctly, I have no idea where it came from. It just came.

And I’m glad that it did.

Ideas are a writer’s live-line, and luckily, for whatever reason, it’s been a very fruitful season these last few years.

I’ve learned that when the ideas do come that you don’t question them, you go with them and discover where your creativity can take them.

It’s been fun!

Here’s hoping for many fruitful years to come!

Writer’s block or not?

This ARTICLE got me thinking a little bit about what writer’s block actually is. To me, writer’s block is just a matter of semantics. What one person calls ‘writer’s block’, I call just needing some time to let it sort itself out.

About two years ago I started writing a short play entitled “Jerome the Cruel and Merciless”. Actually, I choose the title long before I even knew what the play would be about. I do that sometimes – just pick a title or word and figure out what it means to me. So I started writing about Jerome and it quickly went nowhere. I let it sit for a while. Nothing. I passed it on to another writer friend and she added a few ideas to mine, but it still kept sitting there not doing much of anything. A year passed. Another year passed. In those past two years I have written a couple full length plays, a bunch of dramatic sketches and two full-length novels. No writer’s block there! But Jerome just kept sitting there in my writing folder. He wasn’t particularly annoying me; there was no mockery or name-calling; I just didn’t know what would eventually become of him.

Until about two days ago.

A simple image hit me. It completely changed the whole plot-line of Jerome. The image was so vivid that I knew it would work immediately. Yesterday, I started punching out the narration and dialogue and finished about half of it. The end is in sight and it’s coming together beautifully.

So did I have writer’s block for the past two years? I suppose you could look at it that way. For me, writing is the maturation of ideas. Sometimes my writing matures using dog years – very quickly. Other times it matures using the lifespan of a tortoise – slowly!

It kind of reminds me of this commercial from my childhood. Hollywood legend,Orson Welles, in his more plump elderly years, did a commercial for Paul Masson Mountain Winery. His tag line was: “We shall sell no wine before its time.”

That’s the way it is with writing for me.The ideas always come. Sometimes it completes itself before the the end of the life cycle of a gnat. Other times, it just requires the patience of Job. Is that still writer’s block?

I don’t know.


Writing and Driving

I was in Kuala Lumpur this weekend on an amazingly fun softball trip. During the 5-hour drive home, I decided to do some writing.

No pen or paper. No gadgets. No voice activated recordings. Just me in my thoughts, navigating a tricky plot sequence of my third novel.

Thinking is the part of writing that you can do anywhere, even when you are supposed to be doing something else. I must admit. My mind can often wander into that far off land I’m creating with my Scrivener software, and I often do so to the great detriment of what my present task actually is. Thoughts can be so vivid and distracting, can they not?

From my experience, I have two ways of thinking. Sometimes a thought will just come to me and it becomes an instant action item – I must write it down or I’ll forget it. But today’s writing (by thinking) and driving wasn’t like that at all. The process today emphasized more of a layered approach to writing. What do I mean by layered? Well, from the way I reckon, writing is all about having layers and layers of thoughts which eventually shake themselves through a tightly fitted mind sieve until only the most salient and beneficial elements emerge. Today, I was just throwing some possible ideas in the sieve. When I finally get back to actual writing, I’ll remember the general ideas of what I hashed out at the steering wheel and that will help me formulate my final direction.

Even without a computer, one can have a productive writing day.

By the way, I also had productive driving – quick trip, with no incidents. And a series win in softball. Productive all around.


Too many dreams in my head

Here’s the problem I have with writing – I have too much to write!

Status check:

1st novel published.

2nd novel finished. Publication date: 2013

3rd novel started. Finish date, summer 2013

4th novel in my head. Start date ?

5th novel?? (I’ll think of something, probably soon.)

There are so many possibilities. I feel inspired by unexpected places, and there are so many destinations yet to explore, so many characters yet to craft, so many settings yet to describe.

Ideas, I have. Time, I do not.

But I must admit that it is MUCH better than the alternative.

Imagine if it was like this: ‘Time, I have. Ideas, I do not.’

For now, I’m content to dream in my head and hope the percolating will enrich the content even more.  Someday, these dreams will be stories.

I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

PS: This doesn’t include my drama writing.  7 full-length plays and 15 short plays completed.  1 new short comedy and 1 short musical recently written. 6 more to go for our fall production.  Then full-length play number 8 to be written in fall 2013.  So much to do! I love it.

Writing ideas from any place

Have you ever been inspired by a squid?

I’m not a fantasy or, really, any genre writer. My novels are realistic human dramas. Fantasy is fine if that is what you like, and I have another post on genre writing coming up, but I just don’t like breaking the laws of this universe in my writing – EXCEPT in my play writing.

One of my absolute favorite things to do is to write and direct this wonderful dramatic group called the RLT Players. We do 10 minute plays of all genres. They are extremely fun, creative, wacky, serious, silly, all with a moral tucked in the plot for good measure. This is when I love to let the fantasy and unrealistic circumstances take over my brain – because they are meant to be performed live – and with live performances you can be so creative, and for me it works, because it’s a live theatrical experience.

Last night, it wasn’t particularly late, but I was nodding off when suddenly it hit me. A giant squid climbing over a sail boat. The idea of the squid went back to one of the Scrivener tutorial videos which used a squid in one of their make-believe stories. When I got the imagery of a person trying to act as a sail boat who kept arguing with his director, the squid popped in my head and then my new 10-minute play (about 1700 words) was bred, born, and completed in about 45 minutes. “The Giant Squid that Ate Georgetown.”

Yes, my actors are going to look at me strange when they see the title. But when we perform it live later this year, I guarantee you, it will be a blast!

There are ideas lurking everywhere.  If only I had more time to write.