Win (a poem)

The heart beats
For who it thinks
It wants and needs.
A love and a lover,
And if you’re lucky,
A friend.

The body craves
What it thinks
It wants and needs.
A high to get by,
An anecdote
For the pain,
Just this time.

The mind imagines
Everything.
And nothing.
A constant maze
Of what to do,
Who to love,
And how
To not
Come undone.

An escape,
From
Or… To
Reality.
Everyone pays.
Everyone plays.
Some will even win…

3 People To Not Get Advice From

Writing Advice NOT

I have, for years, scoured books and pages and internet articles for premium writing advice. Take a writing class! Don’t! Write what you know! Write from your imagination! Outline! Wing it! Follow the rules! Break the rules!

You get the idea…

As I was browsing the many writing pins on my Pinterest board, I came across an article titled “Ten Ways You Should Never Start Your Novel” and clicked right into it. Some of the  insight I found:

 Don’t start a novel by someone waking up to an alarm. Immediately I thought of the recent best seller and major motion picture Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Worked for her!

Don’t start a novel with someone staring at their reflection in the mirror.  Divergent by Veronica Roth came to mind. That seemed to work, too.

Don’t start a novel by describing weather. I thought of Snoopy, sitting on top of his doghouse, typewriter front and center, with the words “It was a dark and stormy night.” typed clearly on a single page.  This was probably pretty good advice.

It was somewhere around this point that the writer used a comma where a semicolon would have been more appropriate and I could not take her seriously after that (yes, sometimes I can get overly distracted to the point of missing the point).  It didn’t help that I had not bought into the first two story-starter no-no’s.  As I ruminated on whether or not my reaction was appropriate, I found myself wondering:  Just where does one get good writing advice from?There are blogs, books, fellow writers others who are all to willing to share the secrets of how to write a great novel.

The very best advice, in my opinion, comes from a variety of sources and basically it is this: Sit down and write and then keep doing it until you get better. Still, if you need more than that, by all means keep searching for those pearls of knowledge, but here are three people and places you might want to avoid:

1. Random writing blogs (including mine). Just because someone likes to write, does not mean they do it well or have much to offer in the way of good advice. I see too many articles on the “how to” aspect of writing by writers who only write “how to write” blogs and have a slew of writing projects that they have never actually finished.

2. Your mom. Or dad, aunt, sister, friend, co-worker or neighbor. Unless, of course that happens to be Ms. Rowling, Mr. King or Mr. Whedon. Everyone has a good idea for a book, but until they sit down and hash it out, they can’t possibly understand the writing process enough to pass along much usable advice. Besides, they aren’t going to tell you that your writing sucks. And even if they do, can they tell you why?

3. Anyone who professes to have the perfect plan, book, cheat sheet, seminar, webinar or other tool to sell. Writing, much like life, is a messy process. What works for one person may only frustrate another. As for most things in life, be wary of guidance from people who make a living off giving it to those in need of it.

Nora Roberts once said “Anyone who tells you there’s a ‘right’ way to write is a lying bitch.” Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s up to us to work out the details.

Happy creating…

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (13 of 13…instead of 26)

It turns out that reading 26 books in 2014 was not a realistic goal for me. Oh well…all one can do is re-evaluate.

I may not be a prolific reader, but I definitely enjoyed the books that I did read. I also learned that I would rather read a classic (or a favorite) over and over again than to read something new just for the sake of adding to my reading list. More on that when I set my reading goal for 2015…

Ending this year’s reading list, I found myself lost on the journey towards Smaug’s gold. Not a bad way to end the year, in my opinion. Why had I not attempted this book before now? I do not know. What I do know, is that I have gained a new love for Middle Earth. I have ended 2014 listening to The Hobbit and will start 2015 actually reading the old fashioned paper pages of the book. Which will lead to re-watching the movies.The LotR audio books, paper books and movies will undoubtedly follow.

Not a bad way to end the year. Or start the New Year.

The Hobbit

These Days: Tired

quote-life-is-one-long-process-of-getting-tired-samuel-butler-28948

It has been a month since my last post and I would love to report lots of exciting adventures and writing progress, but the truth is that I (like lots of good creative folks) have simply been both underwhelmed and overwhelmed.

On the writing front, I did publish a new collection of poetry titled Shades of Rainy Days and have been working on other poetry projects almost consistently. My novels, however, seem stuck on a back burner. Again.

I think about one or the other of my stories daily, jotting down notes and ideas. Daydreaming for hours about plot twists, character development and the perfect opening line, I get lost in the idea of writing my novel. However, the sit-in-the-chair and piece-it-together part seems to have come to a grinding halt.

I don’t have writers block. I am not living in fear or self-doubt. I do not lack the ability, I am not short on time (at least not enough to justify not writing) and my computer is not on the fritz.

I am simply tired.

There are varying factors that contribute to the overall feeling of malaise.  A stressful job, with very specific draining factors that are mostly out of my control. Medication that I have put off for years, but have now  reached the limitation on being without. Saying “yes” to the people and things in my life that are important to me. The unexpected death of my dearest friend (and supporter, critic, encourager of my writing) brought a new heaviness into my life.

The first set factors leave my body tired. I can work on getting more sleep, getting in shape and generally taking better care of myself. The last one, well, I suppose I’ll have to learn to live with that loss; find a way to keep her friendship alive even though she is gone.

Time to start writing those stories again. Time to (once again) reprioritize. Time to start thinking and doing  a variety of things.

If for every stop there is a start, I suppose there is hope for a final ‘the end’.

Being tired may not be so bad. If it’s for the right reasons.

 

Gone Girl (Book 11 of 26)

Gone GirlI am nowhere near my goal of reading 26 books this year. I’ll be amazed if I even enter the 20-something realm. Sigh. Damn job, laundry and other life interferences. And there are always the mini-adventures, baseball, grandkids, writing and the hammock that (delightfully) bump into my reading time. No complaints, really.

Now…Gone Girl. Wow. This was a reading experience full ambivalence. I loved the first person narration between two main characters. I loved the beginning and the middle…and…most of the end (no spoilers, I promise). I loved the many twist and turns.

As much as I loved these things, I equally hated others. The writing was thickly laced with overly (and often, ineffectively) descriptive adjectives. Yes, that is a personal preference, but for me, the *words* often got in the way of a great story. And the part of the ending that I did not love, I absolutely hated.

You’ll have to read it for yourself to determine whether the love/hate ambivalence is warranted or not. Sadly, after reading the book, I have no interest in seeing the movie. Or, as much as I thought the story was great, the writing style isn’t one that would hook me on reading more from the author.

Shades of Rainy Days (Free for a short time)

cj langley

Download this collection for free through October 30, 2014

Shades of Rainy Days is a collection of short and very short poems touching on love, life, loss and looking ahead. Reflective, daunting, and hopeful, it is a personal journal of some of life’s most simple and complicated moments.

Reviews welcomed. cj@cjlangley.com

Available exclusively at amazon.com

Excerpt:

Shades

I’m not wired
To live inside
The many
Shades
Of gray.
Give me
Black.
Give me
White.
Give me
Purple, green
And even red.
But all those
Shades
Of rainy days
Leave me
Lost inside
My head

Writing and Photographs. All mine.

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