Monday, January 14, 2013

A Short Hiatus

Hello Fellow Writers,

I am going to take a short break to focus on my novel/ short story project for the rest of January. If I see something truly compelling I may pop back on, but for now I need to focus on this one thing. I've become so obsessed with the technical and methodical way of approaching writing that I've been neglecting the fun aspect of it. In this way the blog has become something of an inhibitor rather than a tool that is helping me be creative.

This blog has afforded me quite a bit of insight into different ways to approach how I write. However, I need a short break to start applying some techniques and focusing my writing. February I'll come back and start over, but for now, I need to just do and cut out a few of the little things that are taking my time away.

Happy Writings, I'll see you in February!

Kristen Saunders

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Reading for Fun

I spent most of the day reading from books. I read a few pages from Blogging for Business by Shel Holtz and Ted Demopoulos and a few chapters from Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. It was what my mother would call a "lazy day" and one I spent mainly on my couch slowly reading and absorbing information. I had a feeling Card might have understood some of what Chimamanda Adichie was saying in the post I made yesterday. His characters are so complex that they are believable. Even the children he writes say things children would say and do, much to their parent's annoyance. 

I was supposed to focus on writing today but got wrapped up in this narrative instead. I grabbed the paperback from my mother's ancient book collection, dusted off the half inch of dust from years in the back corner of a hutch, and started reading it during my morning runs. After getting through the first chapter I ended up reading it almost all the time in any location. The choices his characters face caught my attention and have made me wonder if I would have made the same choices. 

Writing that makes you question your own choices, without posing direct questions to you, is in my opinion some of the best writing that there is. This work embodies several of those questions and at the same time makes me care equally about the narrative that is taking place on the page. 

Now to tackle some of that writing I was supposed to be doing... Happy Writings!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How Do You Mess with Expectations and Perspective?

Chimamanda Adichie is a story teller and in this TEDtalk she tells her own in a way I could never replicate. Her narrative makes you think about what perspectives we keep on the world and how we should be aware of them. She explains how our perceptions of a culture may not apply to every single person or community and results in us losing the richness of the stories around us in everyday life. Stereotypes become the spotlights that shed light in a negative way and reveal little else to the untraveled eye.

Her speech makes me want to understand the cultures of the world more intimately, and to expand my understanding of the effects of globalization on cultures all over the world. That intimacy will help me visualize Chinese or Indian characters listening to music from around the world and living lives I might not have expected.  Understanding that there is as much good that happens anywhere as there is bad can make you realize the depth of human complexity anywhere in the world.

Her tale really helped me to widen the horizon of my thoughts onto what the intricacies of an individual might be. What a character may be exposed to in the world is much more vast than their own culture. For instance though I am white American I have an intense love of Japanese culture and can often be seen dancing to K-pop and J-pop. Mind you I've been listening to this genre of music for awhile, long before Psy came into vogue. Random exposure to the world around us makes me think of the movie Slum-dog Millionaire. The main character who knows Benjamin Franklin is on the American one hundred dollar bill is in its own right an interesting narrative. Someday soon I should get around to reading the book and see if I obtain anymore enlightenment from what lies written on the pages.

There is so much that can be learned from this twenty minute piece. After watching it three times I still feel I have not grasped all that she has to offer in her biographical narrative.

Take a break from writing and enjoy watching!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I Found My Groove!

Another Year Another Page by Judyta Murawska
Apparently yesterday's creative reboot was exactly what I needed for my writing. I can hear a thrumming buzz in my ears as new thoughts whiz by for several short stories that take place in a future China. I'd say it's a dystopic collection, but the thing is I think dystopia's are happening all the time. We just don't tend to notice the dark things going on around us in America. Western thinking has made us believe that we are beyond the reaches of losing our civilized nature as a collective. Losing our humanity seems laughable when there's a Walmart, drugstore, hospital, religious house, bank, and Salvation Army down the street. Thing is, take away electricity or introduce something like a plague onto the cities of today and I don't think it would take that long for things to slide out of balance. Societies are meant to eventually fall whether by disaster, war, or internal collapse. No government can last forever.

My government rants aside, the entire time on my two hour car ride home today I was happily thinking of new ideas for short stories. I wasn't trying to weave the characters together so it worked well. If it becomes more later, awesome! If not, I won't be crying about it. Most importantly the stories I'm thinking of make me want to draw. When I feel compelled to create and visualize a character and universe it is extraordinarily refreshing. I feel a bit of my old self reviving. The girl who wanted to take on the world and prove she had something great in her jumps out of the closet like she's been locked in there for a year or two. Though I feel more of an amateur now than before, it's kind of refreshing to know exactly where I stand. That and it makes me feel comfortable enough to start searching for my own writing voice. To craft it beyond the obvious and delve a little more into the details.

Richland, a town nearby, has a writing group and I need to start attending. It meets twice a month and with any luck one of the writers will have been published. I need to meet some people who know the ropes of publishing and acquaint myself with them in person, not just read their articles on my phone and laptop.

I'm excited about what 2013 has pushed me to do this year and with any luck I'll find just enough success to keep me moving forward. That and with all this creative energy flowing around, who knows, I may post some personal art here in the near future.

Until then, Happy Writings!

Monday, January 7, 2013


Monday mornings are good for a change of routine. Although I've talked of nothing else for the past month I've decided to let God Syndrome sit for awhile and focus on a compilation of short stories. I'm thinking they may have a shared theme like strong women, or an area of land. I'll start writing and let it flow from there.

I was inspired to make my pieces into smaller chunks by the article, Why Do Most Writers Start With Novels? by Jason Boog. It's a relatively short piece, but it definitely is something to think about. With the writer's block I'm experiencing coming from character development I figure short stories are a good way to flex my brain muscles and obtain some focus.

My friend is at just over 9,000 words and we are both supposed to be at 11,000. I'll start over again and hope that in some miraculous fashion I can manage to catch up even a little bit.

Time to put on some good music and obtain some focus. Happy Writings!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What Do You Do When You Feel Your Muse Has Died?

This is Ken, and this is his blog
which I will read at a later date.
I'll start off by saying four days into my personal nanowrimo and I'm already hitting the nail on the coffin head. I didn't type at all yesterday and right this very moment I would like nothing more than to crawl into bed and go to sleep. It's technically Saturday (even though I'm still counting it as Friday night) and I've yet to break the first 1,612 words that I needed for the first day. This however is something I'm going to need to work through. I'm keeping today's post brief so that I can devote a little more time to my project, but I thought I'd leave you lovely readers with a link to the blog that inspired me to keep trudging through the mud. To keep writing despite the fact that I feel a little disconnected to my own story line right now.

While I work for Penumbra EMag I often truly find inspiration on their blog. The post WRITE MORE: by Ken Liu tells aspiring writers a simple message to, "write more." It may be easier said then done, but experience is the giver of wisdom and I am certain this seasoned writer knows what he's saying.

Happy Writings!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Convention Crazy!

Jumping back into the work schedule brings me to a peculiar topic. Conventions. Musa is having me compile a list of conventions to help its authors share their writing with those of like minds and interests. I've been compiling lists of science fiction, horror, romance, fantasy, and general book conventions for the past couple days with location information and links to event and artist coordinators. The lists are insanely long and I never imagined there were this many conventions every year. Almost every weekend has one and several weekends have multiple gathering's all across the United States.

Despite my lack of knowledge on the number of conventions, I am aware of their power and existence. My first experience with a convention was Youmacon 2007, an anime convention that was in Troy, Michigan. Anime conventions usually cover anime (Japanese cartoons) and manga (Japanese graphic novels.) I've loved manga and graphic novels ever since I was introduced to them in seventh grade. When art and writing meld together you get a unique story telling experience. It may not be literature, or require the depths of your imagination to visualize what is going on, but there is humor there that you can't really get anywhere else. 

I made the helmet and scythe. It took a lot of work, but I had one hell of a time during the con.
Youmacon 2007 was one of the smelliest experiences of my life. It consisted of no AC and lots of nerds with body odor packed tightly together indoors. In spite of the smell there were artist's there who created my favorite animes and mangas. More importantly I got to know people who had the same interests I had and got to explore the culture further. I vowed I would come back and I did from 2010-2012 with friends in tow. Thankfully that experience was much less smelly. Those years the convention was at the Detroit Marriot where AC killed the stink of a couple thousand of people. In 2011 I went as Celty Sturluson (image above.) I was randomly chosen to do a free photo shoot with a bunch of people who wore costumes as a hobby. Costume's are a major part of anime conventions and I chose to take part that year, spending a good day making and putting together the outfit.

It's a zany experience and I have a hard time believing that any other convention could top the craziness factor of anime cons. However, I think in the future I should also start scooping out the lists I'm currently making for the Musa authors. There's professional aspect as a writer and an editor that becons me to attend. I hope I learn something at one of these conventions, but I also hope that it doesn't lack a fun atmosphere. I may not wear a costume, but I wouldn't mind an improptu writer's circle or a panel about online publishing.

I love these gatherings and hope I'll be at one in the near future.

Happy Writings!

P.s. Day three have thoroughly neglected writting. This creativity block is killing me. I will do better on the weekend.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What Makes a Book Musical Worthy?

The content better be as good as the size!


Black mascara streaked down  my face as I hiccuped, sniffled, and quietly bawled my way through Les Miserables this past weekend. The music has been so inspiring to me that I have been playing it at every opportunity I've had since I saw the film. There's something about a musical that reaches into your soul and makes you feel a person's triumphs, losses, and emotions more than any other medium. However, I did not realize until the opening credits that Les Miserables was a book written by Victor Hugo. I will be curious to see if the book can emit as much feeling as the soaring music that captures a listener's heart. In short, I'm adding the gigantic tome to my incredibly long reading list.

Several books have taken on new life and have been adapted for the stage as musicals. One of my personal favorites Wicked was originally Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. Other triumphant transitions from the page to the stage include Ragtime, The Color Purple, Big River (The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin,) Oliver, My Fair Lady (Pygmalion,) and Cats which was based on a children's book called Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Elliot.

Plot lines don't always match up between the play and the original. Wicked and My Fair Lady are shining examples of drastic changes from the leaves of a book to a full on drama extraordinaire. (Others in the list above may differ from their play counterparts, but admittedly I haven't seen all of the plays or read all of the books.)

So my question, one that will require more research, is what causes the spark to go off in a stage write's head? Creativity has always flowed in my veins, but it did not seem to spark the fire that takes a novel to another stage. Whether that stage be a movie, TV show, radio drama, a stage play, or a musical It's always baffled me how someone could rework a novel into something more than it was. Mind you I don't think all medium transitions are a success, but it must take some sort of inspiration to make someone take a novel they've read and make it more.

Is there some quality in a book that makes it easy to transition to a musical, or is it pure determination of the play write or composer to make music from what he/she knows? Do the novels have something in common that makes them so heart wrenching on stage? I mean it's not like we've seen romance novels become stage plays. My opinion is that Spider Man became a musical to make a profit and nothing more. Maybe it's amazing and I'm missing out, but until someone tells me it's outstanding, I will remain skeptical. What makes a novel, or any story become a great musical? If you have an incite or ideas please share them. I'd be curious to see what other people think.

P.S. Day one of my personal novel writing month. My writing buddy has been updated and we are ready to go! From here on out I drop the pen and move to the key board. With 1,612 words to write a day I've got to conserve my energy. So I'll let a computer do my word counts and keep my wrists from cramping up by sticking to tapping keys rather than writing on paper.

Happy Writings!