Week 13 Recap

It’s nearing Christmas… Excited, right?

I am too.

I will be working extremely hard to make sure I get out a decent number of weekly posts. I think in week 11 I only did one and last week, I only did two. I had an idea to write predated material and post when I didn’t have the time to actually write, but for some reason that doesn’t work for me. By the time I get to use something in a stockpile, I rarely find something that fits what I’m feeling like at the time and would rather just write something completely new. Even so, going forward, I’m going to get it back to at least three per week; even through the holidays. If I worked 40 hours a week doing this though, you guys would be tired of me. 🙂

So on Tuesday, December 9th, I wrote complications of writing despite your emotions and what you may feel like… writing against the grain. I’m sure it is a common occurrence for 99% of writers, but for me, it is so common that I have different methods around the barricades of sentiment based on the degree of the oppression. The first and easiest is to sidetrack to some poetry just to release and put in on the paper. My biggest thing these days is all about productivity, so I try not to let any emotion block any production. I will settle for a different product, but something will be created. No time for down time. If I’m working a story, I will fast forward to a part to write something that fits what I’m feeling. Now that method is a bit tricky and can result in a lot of wasted time. So which is why I tend to end up writing a short short story of some sort. This is my favorite because with less than a thousand words, I instantly change how I feel and my outlook on whatever it is that I’m facing. With poetry, you tend to submerse yourself into the situation. In a short short story though, you can fantastically create something, read it, and tell yourself, “Oh yeah, I’m a writer! It’s all good!”

On Friday, December 12th, I wrote about my selfish ways of traveling alone. It’s not a bad selfish though; if a good selfish even exists. It’s more of the fact that I would rather do things alone, rather than do things with groups sometimes. I’m one of those people who like for everything to go as planned. Even when the unexpected happens, if things are properly planned, we can still continue on the trip without it being a major disaster. But I cannot tolerate having to stop 45 minutes into the trip because the gas light just came on. That will leave me quietly doing breathing exercises to calm whatever ulcers that might try to develop on what is sure to be an aggravating drive into Crazyville. Just the thought of it now gives me the heebee jeebees. So when I want to get up and go somewhere, I just do. I can go to the same place and do the same thing with family and friends and still have the same fun; but not if it prohibits me from enjoying what we went to do or see. Geesh!

So with that being said, enjoy your week ahead. I hope that at any level, you gain a new perspective from reading and I always look forward to the feedback; whether it be negative or positive. You can’t go through life always thinking you’re right. Someone will eventually disagree and you will eventually have to be corrected. The best thing to do is it take it and grow from it. Perspective is key to learning and growth and we should all welcome and embrace it.

P.S. – I believe you’ll be hearing from me tonight. This feels like a two post kind of day.

Moody Writer?

Unless you are writing poetry, emotions will often betray the point of whatever it is that you are writing. It is a problem that writers often go through during the creative process. One minute you could be in an upbeat mood and pressing your story through a cheery line of events. If for whatever reason your mood changes though, it can be difficult to keep that story on the same pace. So what do you do when you don’t feel what it is that you want to portray?

Personally, if my mood takes a dive for whatever reason, I use that energy to practice poetry. However, while in such a mood, editing and rewording is not a priority! So if there is any display of skill that is presented as “above average”, it is simply luck, or raw talent; either way, I am still not interested enough to invest my good moods in honing the craft.

Hypocritically of me, I am not a fan of sad poetry. I do enjoy heartbroken verses from time to time though; as long as though they stay within the bounds of staying alive. (Say no to suicide!) With an art as diverse and boundless as poetry, it is hard to legitimately critique a poem. But if your poems can provoke an internal fear of being alone, I will probably avoid reading it. It was years ago when I first read Langston Hughes’ “Suicide’s Note”:

The calm,

Cool face of the river

Asked me for a kiss.

It still creeps me out. I mean, it’s cool. I guess it’s good. I just don’t like the feeling that I got after I read it. I remember thinking, “He must have been in a really bad mood.”

Another method that I try when when my mood isn’t up to par is skipping forward in the story that I’m working on. I will fast forward to where I think the story could go, and write a whole scene or chapter based solely on how I feel at the time. Then when I am back to myself, I will start back writing at the original stopping point and hope that the two sections will connect. If you are a writer, you know that everything is subject to change; so either the part written preemptively can be a checkpoint or it will be scrapped and that will be time wasted. So I try not to practice that route and use that energy editing — if I must work on the same project.

What I often turn to though, is the short story. I may write something that reflects solitude. In Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”, I felt a sense of loneliness in his writing. I’m not saying that this is the case, but it is definitely the vibe that I picked up from it. As I got older and began to read more about Hemingway as a man rather than just an author, I can just about be sure that he was not a very “happy” man when he wrote that. Writing in a wishful state of desire can also be method of cheering myself up. So it may be rather difficult to distinguish what was being felt by the author when he or she wrote it. The feeling of my reader takes precedence over my own when writing. If I think too much emotional is bleeding into the work and could possibly deter what I want the read to get, I will scrap it altogether; or journal it.

I’m sure the methodologies for moody writing are infinite, but those are the three that I use. Whatever method you use is just fine as long as you push through and produce something. Writer’s block can only beat you if you let it. 🙂

Week 12 Recap

So we have come to the close of the twelfth week. I was only able to publish one post this week. Time was scare. My mind was a so occupied with the social occurrences rippling through the United States that every time I sat down to type, it was all I could think about. So my apologies for the absence. However, I did get a chance to read a bit, which was much needed. Te reading produced a backlog of topics that I would like to cover, so next week will be back to normal.

On Tuesday, December 2, I wrote about the lack of gear that writer’s have to show off. I also stated that the lack thereof may be the part of the relevance behind the typewriter in present day  writing. After posting, a reader sent me a screenshot of this cool Weapons of Mass Creation t-shirt from Pinterest; I will be wearing one soon.

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I also had a chance to write a couple short short stories this week that I may share. They are completely fiction and I believe they were prompted by the stress that has been going on around me, the stresses of the nation and the fact that I think I may be coming down with a cold. Writing is what gives a temporary way of escape to a perfect world that you create; but hopefully every writer knows their fantasy limit. 🙂

With that being said, I will write to you all next week. Hopefully it will grant another perspective for some of you, inspire some of you, and encourage some of you. Remember keep an open perspective and to show compassion wherever you can. Laugh a little and smile a lot and spread positivity and encouragement everywhere you go (if possible; I know how it is sometimes).

I’m going to find the NyQuil. 🙂

Writers’ Tools

One of the best things about being a writer is that I can pretty much do it anywhere. I carry a pocket notebook, ink pen, and phone at all times; and all three items can fit into the same pocket. So whether I want to jot notes, blog or even work on larger projects, all of it is within a very short reach. That has to be one of the best, if not the best, feature of the profession.

However, when I look at other artistry professions, there is a “gear envy” that I find myself battling against. What I’m trying to say is that with my pen, notebook and phone, I could be a student, businessman or any other organized human being in America. Think about a guitarist. Not only is he going to have a guitar, but there are different types of guitars that produce different types of sounds. Let’s say we have a barber; there a different blades and clippers to produce different cuts. Photographers use different cameras and lenses. Painters use different types of paints and brushes. It seems like every other creative art have a gear package that you can build to do whatever it is that you do… And only that!

It’s not like I hate the other artists, it’s just that there is nothing a writer carries or uses that only a writer would have; except a typewriter. The typewriter is the only thing that only a writer would have. Everybody uses pens. It doesn’t matter what brand you buy or how many you have; it’s still a pen. Notebooks and paper are used by everyone. Softwares don’t count because that’s not physical equipment. I doubt if anyone that is not a writer want to hear about the capabilities of White Smoke… because it’s software… and software is boring and non-tangible. The only thing that I can think of that means writer, and writer only, is a typewriter. You’re not going to have a typewriter to do anything else with besides writing. That’s all you can do with it. This is why in December 2014, typewriters are still relevant (in my personal opinion); because it is all we have that we can brag on that no one else would ever use. Besides that little weird lady with the glasses who types everything during court, no other profession would ever use a typewriter! That’s our thing; but I feel like we should have at least one other thing. Or maybe I’m just looking for a reason to have more gadgets.

Anyway, it’s not that I want people to see me and say, “Oh that guy has a _______. He’s a writer.” I simply wish there was some tool or object that we could carry around and compare with each other like other artists do. We just have to admire the complete work… Unless we type it on and read it from a typewriter.

(And this was a writer’s temper tantrum.)

Week 11 Recap

Well, week 11 is done. I really enjoy this time of year, but it can get ridiculously busy — especially if you stick a major holiday in the middle of the week. I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving giving thanks to God and enjoying it with family and friends.

The week started with the Ferguson decision. Darren Wilson was held completely unaccountable for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. NFL football player and outspoken Christian, Benjamin Watson, shared his thoughts on the situation. I don’t think there were better words to describe the overall feeling of myself and probably a large percentage of people across the United States. There was also some CCN footage which was cut short for some unknown reason as well while he was explaining that the state of the nation may be because of the lack of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe it was coincidence. Nonetheless, I gained a role model as a Christian. If he can preach and stand by the Gospel as a professional football player in the spotlight and with millions to lose, if he becomes subject to attack for his views, there is no reason I should not be able to do the same with the little I have. I would rather stand for what I believe with the little I have, than to gain the whole world and compromise on Christ. If only one person is saved from the example that Benjamin Watson set on behalf of Michael Brown, his death will not have been in vain. However, we will continue to keep the city and families involved in our prayers.

On November 26th and 28th I wrote on Quality and Quantity. I had fun with these; discussing what writers have to deal with All. Of. The. Time! I got some good feedback from other writers who checked in on the topics. In the first post I wrote based on the fact that I prefer quality every time over quantity. The post was short; only slightly more that 600 words, but it took two hours for me to complete. However, the post I wrote to illustrate the disadvantage of quantity writing only took about forty minutes to complete. It was more words, but it was so poorly written that I almost recanted on the idea. I got excellent feedback though, and I believe it really did a great job at getting my point across.

I realized though, that I did not get the usual feedback from my regular readers. Then I realized I had I only addressed an audience of writers this week. That’s one of the downsides of having multiple interests though. There is never enough time to address everything. I learned a little bit from the other writers though, and I really enjoyed it — probably because I write. Another thing too, that I will probably address this week, is that writers have to read! That’s how we get better at our craft and stay inspired. Reading is just as necessary to a writer as writing is, and I think it’s overlooked most of the time. The problem is though, that it’s hard enough to find time to write, so unfortunately, I may have to take some time off just to catch up on reading.

Well that is all for this week. I can never thank you all enough for reading, the encouragement and support. I am really looking forward to 2015 and the support that I get from everyone on a weekly basis makes anything seem possible. I had someone tell me this week that they read the entire Thirty Seconds Ago… series. Even though it may not be the core of who I am as a writer, the fact that I captured their attention and held it throughout the entire series means a lot to me; and I appreciate them telling me that.

Thank you guys for another great week. Remember to keep an open perspective next week and look to show some compassion and love. You may change someone else’s perspective on life with just a smile or a kind word.

Quality or Quantity – Part 2

The other night I posted on the topic of quality or quantity. That short post took a little over two hours to write, even after I had noted and thought about the topic throughout the day. (Check it out HERE.) It didn’t matter though because i have to go over everything over and over again before I’m comfortable with it.

After I wrote part one, I had the idea to defend my position on why I take as much time as I do when editing even something as small as a 600 word blog post. To do so, I decided to write this showing the difference in what a few extra minutes of revisions can make. Even though the length of these two posts are about the same, the time that it took to produce this one is on a limit of thirty minutes. I’m cutting the time. Like I said in part one of this topic, I would love to improve on the time that it takes me to write and complete a project. However, until I get to that point, these are the type of things that you will be reading if I start focusing on quantity before I have developed an acceptable quality that matches that desired speed. It’s called efficiency, I think. Because I know if you had to force yourself to read pass all of this grammatical nonsense every time you read something with my name on it, it would not be long before you just gave up on me all together… and I wouldn’t blame you. I can’t read crap either. Anything worth appreciation takes time. If you can produce something worth appreciation quickly, it took time for you to grow develop that efficiency. It’s called patience, I think.

This is just an example of what you would be subjected to if I put myself on a limit that is too demanding for my skill level. It produces crap. I’m not ashamed of this post because it’s an illustration of what writers go through before they share something with their readers. As a matter of fact, I’m sure this is a lot better simply because I know there will be people reading it. Some times I write from scraps of paper that I took notes on throughout the day. Once I put it on paper, it’s still the same crap, now just consolidated to one editable location. Then I have to cut out the useless and insert better word and sometimes by the time I’m finished, not that was on those scraps of paper is in the completed work, but the ideas are the same. I am very curious to see how that process works for artists in other areas, but I’m sure 99% of writers can relate to what I’m saying now. If you think you can just grab some notes from a writer and follow what he or she is thinking from those notes, you are wrong. Half the time, I don’t even know what my notes are pertaining to; I have to think and remember.

Useless image to back up the tangent that I just went on
Useless image to back up the tangent that I just went on

I’m going to wrap it up now. Notice that the title of this post is “Quality or Quantity – Part 2”, when it should be “Quality vs. Quantity – Part Two” so that it stays consistent. When focusing on quantity though, inconsistencies happen. In the previous paragraph, I went on a tangent about drafting, that had nothing to do with quality or quantity in the context that I am focusing on. I hope this provides a better illustration of how easy it is for a writer to produce crap. I did very little backspacing in this post and change only a few words to help get my point across.

END (because there has not been a lot of structure, and I want you to know that I’m done)

Quality vs. Quantity – Part One

As a writer, a type of artist if you will, I constantly have to revisit the theories of Quality vs. Quantity in regards to productivity. Anyone who practice anything will probably cross this path more often than they would like — I know I do.

For me, I have to decide whether or not I’m satisfied with the quality of what I have written before labeling it as completed. Quantity has never been a concern of my personal writings. I never consider word count; but I need for every word I write to count. I have only cared about quality. However, now that I blog, I try to stay consistent in posting. This keeps me on my toes about scheduling times to produce since I already know that I will not post anything thrown together. If I expect anyone to read and enjoy anything that I have written, I should at least see to it that I give them a level of coherency that makes the ready relatable and enjoyable. That’s what quality is for me in my art. It is very time consuming, but it’s worth my satisfaction in having just one appreciative reader.

I appreciate other peoples’ arts and the time that they put into what they do. More than anything else, I always look for the prep work. The prep work is what shows how serious a person is about their craft. Take a painter for example, at the end of the day all we see is the finished piece, and we may envision them painting it as we ask, “So what inspired you for this piece?” But consider the newspaper they collect to spread over the floors. Think about the fact that the room may have to be a certain temperature for the paints that they used. Think about all of what goes into an art before it is actually completed. That’s where the quality happens. You could just throw the turkey into an oven and let it cook; but consider the chef that prepares a brine for the turkey to soak in for sixteen hours BEFORE the cooking even starts. That’s where the quality happens. Think about the barber who cuts you a really nice hair cut; but then consider the barber who washes and conditions your hair first for more precise styling. That’s where the quality happens. Preparation is what I always look for in a completed work of any standard; that might have started when I started cooking though, to be honest.

The fact of the matter is that if I wrote one hundred books a year, and ninety of them were trash, the chances of the ten good ones making the best sellers list is still going to be pretty slim. However, if I produced twelve quality books a years, the chances of one of those twelve making it on the list would be pretty slim. The key is producing quality in large quantities. By the time your work has been filtered through to find only the good stuff that you have produced, those works may be considered lucky because of the low percentage. That’s why I refuse to label anything as complete if I am not satisfied with it. In the meantime I will focus on speeding up my methodology without sacrificing and quality.

So for this argument, I have to choose quality. I believe quantity without quality is simply a waste of time; shooting in the dark. I believe that discovered quality in a mound of quantity is luck; and I refuse to place my success in luck.

Week 9 Recap

Well I believe an apology is in order. We’re into week 10 and I’m just getting to the Week 9 Recap.

Last week was short for posting. Material was abundant; time was not.

Monday, November 10, I worked all day Googling, YouTubing, theorizing, note taking and drafting, only to lose confidence in what I was writing about and going to bed. That was actually a first. There have been instances, where I substituted one essay for another, but I had not scrapped an idea and produced nothing. Nonetheless, I learned a lot and found out a to that I would not have otherwise known, so I count that as progress.

Tuesday, November 11, I wrote about the competitive attitudes of people. I believe most people’s competitive attitudes stem from being “better than”, rather than being the best. I feel as though any time you want to be better than a particular individual, that gives room for jealousy, rivalry, strife and contentions that would be avoided it your aim was to simply be the best at whatever it is that you do. There’s is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best, but let it not be directed at of someone else. That may sound like a contradiction, but I promise it’s not. Just a simple example, Venus and Serena both want to be the best, but they do not want invoke the pain of defeat on each other, but it’s would to happen because there can only be one 1st place (hopefully that sums it up a bit).

Friday, November 14, I tried to differentiate between arrogance and confidence. I finally decided that most of it lies within the intent of the statements and actions of the person in question. “I’m the best” from a confident person can simply mean just what he has said. However, that same statement — “I’m the best” — can mean, “I’m better than all of y’all” when spoken from an arrogant person. Confidence lies within the abilities and qualities of a person. Whereas arrogance feeds off the perceptions of abilities and qualities. None of these are stone facts, but I would like to think that I’m somewhere in the ballpark… I’m always open for correcting and another perspective.

Last night, November 15, I was motivated by an act of kindness between two groups of black men, to revisit the essay that I had scrapped on Monday night. Even though the outcome of both last night’s essay was completely different from what would have been written on Monday, I am convinced that what I concluded was the proper perspective. I am very hopeful for black American men and will not be convinced by the media that we are the lost cause that we have been portrayed to be. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16, KJV). It is easy to apply scriptures like these to ourselves and the things we want, but while writing this particular essay, I realized that we should probably focus some of that prayer on those who can not, or do not know, to pray for themselves. It’s easier to start with those you can relate to first, but I love EVERYBODY! (Just in case I have a brother or sister from another ethnicity read this and feel as though I am negligent of others; I’m not) 🙂

Well, that was all for last week. I’m into week 10 and will probably be working some less stressful material this week. I encourage everyone to seek out their passion and go head first into it. The emotional liberty that writing in this fashion has granted me over the last few weeks has taken me by surprise. I believe the factor of sharing has broken through a barrier in my personality that has opened me up to freely be who I am apart from writing it. So if you ever see me in person, don’t be creeped out if I go mushy on you. 🙂 I’m sincerely enjoying the feedback and shares that I’ve been getting and just knowing that I may be helping someone in some way. Never take my word, completely though… Always bounce them off an elder, Pastor or a trusted person that you know before acting on anything. Most importantly, if it refers to the faith, make sure it checks out with the Bible, and if it does not, let me know and I will address it immediately.

With that being said, smile, enjoy your week, keep an open perspective and show compassion!

Schizophrenia and Writing

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”  -E. L. Doctorow

As a writer, I see the validity in this quote and have to agree… To an extent, because I will not admit to schizophrenia in any form.

But…

Writing does expose much of who you truly are. Often your work will not be a reflection of the life you live on a daily basis. Even if it does reflect how you live, it will still advertise why you live the way you do. For example, I live a pretty quiet life. My words are few, but my opinions are strong. So if you take this combination, any of my acquaintances may be taken aback by some views that I have on racism, classism, sexism or any other ism. While I do not share my views and opinions on everything and with everyone, I do feel as though everyone should hold a view and opinion on everything; and if not everything, as much as possible.

I believe that most of the world’s problems come from simply an extreme excess of  talking and advising and not nearly enough listening and reasoning. This is not a new theory though; and is in fact a common one among writers and philosophers. Most of each profession will rarely be outspoken because they spend most of their time observing. So when they write, the belligerence and boldness in their tones and styles will starkly contrast the quiet persona that you may be more accustomed to. The writer, takes a topic in question, analyze it, writes it out, revises it and then publishes it for public reading. For that writing to relevant or influential, it may have to go against general perception. Whereas a banker may think the exact same thing, his job is not display his personal thoughts to the world. That can be an intimidating place to put yourself in.

There is a fear that accompanies writers that few other professions will experience. We put our thoughts, feelings, hopes, desires, dreams, fears and everything else that you can think of on paper for the world to indulge in; then await a sign of a approval. The first thing is to realize, is that there is no way everyone will agree with the way you view things; hence “Perspective” Park. The second thing is that the more truthful you are with yourself, the more you will speak out on those perspectives and views, no matter how personal they are to you. Then, the more you do that, the more your daily life and written life will start to merge; streamlining into an unashamed and complete individual, needing less approval now having more confidence.

The next time you ask a writer to share, consider that every written word belongs to a thought in that writer’s mind. Every page belongs to a day in his/her life. Each chapter uncovers another layer of what would have been unknown emotions and every character has a real face despite the words describing them. The way a writer values their works is indicative of the how much of themselves went into it. The more of themselves went into it, the harder it can be open up to sharing. Until that long bridge of fear can be crossed and the fact that the paper is fused with the life of the person does not matter, there will always reluctance.

I like to think of Ernest Hemingway, the author of The Old Man and the Sea. When he published that classic he had become an old man who simply enjoyed fishing, and from that came one of the greatest literary works in American history. But would he have been able to publish that as a young man? Would he have been comfortable displaying or could he even properly conveyed all of the insecurities and frailties which he had faced in aging? As a writer myself, I don’t think so. The emotions conveyed by any character in any story all come from a single person’s mind and heart, and usually that mind and heart has experienced what is being read. So even though society may accept, the schizophrenia that is a writer, the writer does not always readily accept the separation of life and literature. It takes years of practice before the two are one and the same, and it takes patience and courage to do so.

I Suck At Poetry

The worst critic of any literary piece is normally the author. Hardly ever can I, or any other writer I’ve met, complete a piece of any size, and just be done. I understand that editing is a necessary part of the process, but seems to be hard to finish and be completely happy with what you’ve done. The more you read, the more you find better words to fit in place of another word. Even so, changing that word would possibly give a different meaning to that sentence, do you have to decide to keep the original word or remove the sentence.

“But if I keep the original word, does that make it really the better?”

It gets to the point where I have to tell myself, “It clearly gets my point across in the style that I wanted. I can’t find any grammatical errors. I’m happy with it.” At that point, I’m only ninety-nine percent happy at best. I close that essay, chapter or poem and leave it to the rest of the critics.

Now with all of that being said, once I close the case on any project, I have reached a point of overall satisfactory; unless I attempt to write poetry.

I suck at poetry. The realization takes away from the desire to properly convey the feelings of disgust I’m having right now. So I’m settling for, “I suck at poetry” to simply say what I mean and get it over with. Growing up, my dad hated the term “suck” and would have much rather preferred my siblings and I use a substitute with a bit more tact. This only led me to use “suck” when I really felt something could not get any worse than its current state. Therefore, I suck at poetry.

The good thing about this is that I actually enjoy writing poetry. I love translating my emotional stresses and joys into literary coherency that can be felt by others through reading. I love transcribing nature’s scenes into words that attempt to convey what is beheld in the eyes. Unfortunately, poetry is the only form of writing that I feel can make a decent attempt at getting these feelings across. The good thing about poetry is that most of it is first-person based. There is no standard form to my feelings or how I convey them. The fashions, styles, techniques and even grammatical choices are normally left to the writer.

I guess at this point, you may ask, “How then, can one suck at poetry?” My response would be the same way someone can suck at painting. Then there is the argument of abstract art, and that every viewer sees something different, even from what the artist may have portrayed. Is that what poetry is? Abstract? I’m asking as I write.

Literally, I have started to change my argument as I am typing. I read Robert Frost again and again and again. Have I started to compare mine to his and in the process lost my individuality? Or am I really not as good as I think?

Nope. Even when I try standardized forms, it just does not flow as well as I know it should. Even some of my peers write some of the most elegant pieces with ease, whereas I sweat over bumbling lines of trash before labeling it “100% Effort”.

I feel as though I have poetic thoughts. I can write poetic lines. I can say a poetic phrase. I do not think I’m good at poetry as a genre though. The realization that you may not be good at something that you love, can really put a damper on your mood. However, I love it to the point where I’ll continue writing it and sharing it as though it’s the best in the world.

It’s the equivalent of knowing that I lack the looks of Denzel Washington, the physique of Idris Elba and the charm of Will Smith; but I still feel like their little brother and will eventually grow into my own. I may not be the very best at it, but I’m the best I can be at it right now. I’ll get better.