Honesty in Writing

Life is chock full of deception. Little white lies, black fibs and colorless lies of omission are all over the place. You tell people they look nice when they don’t, you tell them you had fun when you didn’t,  and for the most part these are harmless half-truths, not even full-blown lies really. These everyday dishonesties are just the cordial terms or communications needed to keep out society civil, and I’ll be the first to say they’re all desperately needed. Imagine if you told your boss what you really think about his tie, or if you told your wife that that dress does make her look fat (of course there is no dress in the world that has ever made my wife look fat, she’s perfect she looks good in everything… (hi honey!)). Point is, if we didn’t keep up appearances the world would descend into chaos, a chaos of petty insults and minor injuries, made all the more painful because we know they’re true. We’d kill each other inside of a week if everyone expressed honest opinions openly and freely.

But not in writing, as cliché as it may sound, on the page honesty is the best policy. The writer is liberated, completely free to be as honest and as forth coming as they would like, as a matter of fact I have found that the more honest the more unrestricted the writer is, the more fulfilling the text. When writing, you don’t just say a character stinks (or neglect to say a character stinks when the characters does in fact ‘stink’) No, you describe, in raw unadulterated detail how the character smells. How your olfactory receptors are being attacked by the stench, how you can smell the  buckets of sweat that have dried and transformed themselves into layer after layer of caked on dirt and grime. You would not hesitate to mention how the unnatural body odor intermingled with the ever-present scent of sour clothing have now joined forces with what is undeniably the smell of trace amounts of urine and human feces which have not only invaded your nose and sense of smell but have now crossed the threshold of the senses and have gotten into your mouth and sense of taste and now have you seriously considering how to remove both your nose and tongue from your face if you are not able to breathe fresh air immediately.

Real life would never allow you the opportunity to be that honest. But in writing you’re free. Everything that goes unsaid in reality can be openly expressed in writing. What I find interesting is that I write fiction, which is all lies, large over arching lies, but they’re honest lies. So I guess that makes me an honest lair and since we’re being honest… I can live with that.

 

Till the next lie,

 

Lefty.

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Fear is an Illusion

Fear is an illusion, a fancy trick crafted by the mind in an attempt to protect you from a failure that could never exist if you eliminate those fears and go forward.

Fear is an illusion, a psychological side effect of one’s most basic and primal instinct for survival. It  is a means to an end, a metaphorical trigger to a very simple two part FIGHT or FLIGHT response system, and since we all know men do not fly, you are now left with but one option.

Fear is an illusion. It is not a sign of weakness. It is not a sign of cowardice. It is not a sign of anything. It is a nonexistent apparition in a realm of make-believe. It is a dream, non-contextual, without merit, and often forgotten before it can even be truly understood. Fear is not real, it is an impulse. It is the action taken afterwards that is real. The action or the inaction, the victory or the surrender, the awe inspiring, death defying, dream commanding, illusion shattering leap that follows, or the long silent walk home that is real.

But the Fear is just an illusion, a means to an end, a trick of the mind, an impulse, a dream. The Fear is not real. You are.

A Writer’s Greatest Foe

Self-doubt is the greatest enemy of any writer, greater than any critic, any naysayer, any editor, any nit-picky reader, any grammar fanatic, any Nazi spellchecker, any publisher, literary agent, or pessimistic friend. Self-doubt will crush an author before an author can even become an author.

Self-doubt is the mind-killer. Self-doubt is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my Self-doubt. I will permit it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the self-doubt has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Okay so that last part is actually “The Litany against Fear” from Dune. I just took out the word fear and replaced it with the word Self-doubt. I stole it, so what. My point remains.

The biggest thing for any writer to overcome are his/her own doubts, fears and self imposed limitations. I know for me personally this hindrance has at times seemed insurmountable. “What you’re writing is no good, your plot is weak (full of holes) and your characters flat (not to mention dumb), you’d be better off stopping now and saving what little dignity you have left.” And yep I know what you’re thinking, my voice of doubt is a real dick, and your right, but that’s how Self-doubt rolls. It gets under your skin and its hard to shake, but you have to shake it, because the truth of the matter is you have nothing to lose.

Self-doubt is a defense mechanism, intended to save you from embarrassment or rejection or whatever you’re afraid will or won’t happen once you’re done, but what you have to realize, and what I have to constantly remind myself  is that no matter what happens once you’ve written the last word or punctuated the last mark, the sun is still going to come up the next day. The world is not going to end. Time is not going to stop. You are not going to die if you don’t get published.

Worst case scenario is you don’t get published, you don’t get the hundred thousand dollar book deal, you don’t get picked up by some big shot Hollywood producer, and you never get that million dollar movie deal. So what, in the end, IF the worst case scenario does happen, you’re no worse off than you are now, but at least you can say you wrote a book.

So keep writing, show self-doubt who’s boss!

Till next time,

Lefty

My Ambitions as a Writer

Stay diligent. Stay focused. Do not succumb to self pity or doubt.

That nagging feeling in the back of your mind, the one that whispers to you “Give up.”
The one that so plainly points out the irrationality of your actions.
The one so adamant to convince you that, you are merely wasting time you do not have.
Ignore that. That is only your fear.

Your insincere Fear.

Your fear of Rejection, your fear of Disappointment, your fear of Failure, your fear of Success.

It is only your insincere fear.

It, by no means, truly believes a single thing that it has said.

So write on, write on, the chapter is almost finished, that paragraph almost done, that sentence is almost perfect.
Don’t stop! GO!

Go!
Move!
Grow!
Crawl!
Push!
Pull!
Beg!
Plead!
Pray!
Cry!
Laugh!
Love!

Live, and die… but do it all on that page.

And when you’re done… do it again.

Tell your story.

Books on Writing Books

I tend to obsess. A lot. Especially when I’m embarking on a new endeavor our starting an journey that’s new territory for me. And though I’ve been a storyteller for most of my life (mostly in the form of random and unnecessary lies)  novel writing is still very much uncharted territory for me, so I did what I always do when I’m not sure about something, I research it until my eyes bleed. This lead me to purchasing a lot of books about writing books.
Now most bookstores have a full section for books on writing books, usually it just marked as reference though. Now essentially the books all say the same thing and most of them don’t even do that well. In my opinion most books on writing books aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, and that’s saying a lot, because I don’t usually say such things, but I feel it has to be said. Now there are a few good writing reference books out there, but those are usually the one that offer insight into the writing process of already established authors, the books that offer and step by step instructional on how to write a book are worthless, because in the end you’re not actually writing a book you’re feeling in a worksheet with some fancy details.
There is no formula for writing a successful novel and there is no magic book out there that’s going to show you how to do it, the only thing you can really do is write. One of the biggest obstacles of writing a novel is the pursuit of publishing, and unfortunately most books on writing books are just someone else’s successful attempt to get published, but just because it was put in print doesn’t always make it helpful or even relevant in most cases its just an attempt to get 20 bucks out of an over enthusiastic aspiring writer.
Now there are some great books on writing books out there, but they are the exception rather than the norm. As a matter of fact everything I come across a good one I’ll come back here and let you guys know about it (since we’re pals and all)
Till next time,
Lefty

Name Collecting

What’s in a name?
In fiction writing, I believe a character’s name is the most important part of their being. A character’s name is its soul, it is the essence of who that character is, or who they are to become.
For my current project I basically took an old nickname and built a character around it, pretty soon the character had taken on a life of his own, becoming even larger and more complex than I could have originally imagined, and  it all started from his name.
There was a point in this character’s development where I considered changing his name. I had imagined it would seem self indulgent to name a character after myself, even if it was only a nickname and not truly my name in full, but by the time I had considered making this change it was too late. My character had already became who he was to be, and to attempt to change his name at that stage would have meant changing everything about him.I found this odd at first, I mean in reality people change their names all the time and it has no grand psychological effect on who they are. I mean if the guy sitting next to you at work, comes in one day and says “I needed a fresh start so I’ve legally changed my name from Steve to Donald.” that’s not really going to stimulate any great change in who he is as a person. To you, he’ll still be the guy in the next cube, albeit a bit more strange, but still, same guy, different name.
But see with literary character’s its different, The name is the culmination of everything that character will ever say, do and experience. Rather if it’s bestowed upon them before a single word is written, or if they don’t actually receive a name until you’ve thought out every detail of their personality, either way throughout their literary life span they will have not one single more important characteristic than their name.
So my question is: Where do you get your names?

As stated earlier the protagonist of my current project derived his name from a modified form of my own, but come on, a man can only have so many nicknames. Conveniently enough, I currently work in a Call Center, and though I hate it, it does supply me with a near endless amount of odd, new and exciting names to reference use and develop as my writing career continues to grow. That’s right, you read correctly, I collect names.

And honestly I rather enjoy it. I hear a name I like and I scribble it down on a sticky note or some random scrap of paper and store it away happily like a squirrel hoarding acorns for the winter. Its like a pastime of mine now, everywhere I go, my ears and eyes are open for the next great name that I can gobble up and add to my collection.
So I guess if I had to answer Juliet’s (great name don’t you think?) question of ‘What’s in a name?’ then truthfully I’d have to say, everything.

til next time,

Sincerely yours,

Lefty