Fear, focus, and the future. Here, C.M. Humphries writes about whatever.
Cathy Day, author of The Circus in Winter and Comeback Season and Ball State University professor, brought and interesting concept to my attention last week.
After college, like many graduates, I had this notion of pursuing my ideal career as soon as possible. However, recent events made such a goal unrealistic. I would have been further and dept and possibly worse off.
I realized the aforementioned circumstances, yet was willing to risk it all - for only one reason. I didnt want to feel like a failure.
There is a pressure on graduates to come into their ideal fields as soon as possible. And that's probably the greatest motivator. We want to live up to the status we dreamed of and shared with others.
Such pursuits can be financially devastating and, quite honestly, harmful to your future.
As a writer, working for a magazine, publisher, editor, of literary agency can seem like a goldmine of prestige. But of course, such hard work limits the amount of time you can spend on your art (this is an illustration, mind you, not a insult those in such positions). This is important.
What is more of a priority? If you could become a(n) _______, but risk never having the time to ____________, would you? Is it what you really want? Or is ________ the most important thing in your life?
While a 9-5 job doesnt impress many, it does allow for some to continue their _____________ pursuits, and they can get by.
Sometimes it's important to take a hit to your pride in order to survive as an artist. Keep the day-job until the right one comes into play. Remember: You are going to be a(n) _______________, and _______________ is only temporary.
Tune in next time. Same place. Same mind.
Thanks for reading.
The Mind-Numbing Effects of Fall
This is just for fun,.
Sure, I know you're thinking, It's not even September yet. But hear me out.
Here in Indiana, we all know how the seasonal changes work - that is, how they are a little counter-intuitive. To me, this is the best part of summer; right when it blends into fall. The days are still fairly humid, but the nights are beautifully calm and cool. Wearing shorts in the morning and sweats at night is exhilarating to many.
But what I have found the most interesting about fall, is the way some of us act. Something about fall just mind-numbs us. To prove a point:
For a moment, I thought CNN was actually going to say something about Perry's political beliefs. But unfortunately, mind-numbing essence of fall even hit the CNN writers. Should we vote for a Texan? That's our worries: A Texan? Oh well, CNN had a good run. Or we as an audience did.
But I'm fair, so enjoy the outside side of why-do-we-care-about-this.
"The private conversation between Rhodes and Obama was partially picked up by a TV camera, but the audio was tough to make out."
Anyone out there have this video? Did the president argue with someone? Oh. My. Lordy. Wait, isn't that what presidents do?
And here is more proof of the Early Fall Effect, or E.F.E.:
What's Better: Write Every Day or Write When Inspiration Strikes?
No doubt Ray Bradbury is a overachiever with an exceptional fashion sense. Perhaps, though, Bradbury is on to something.
It's rather easy to write story after rejected story and simply place them aside, never to be seen again, with millions of words vanished.
I assume Bradbury is telling the truth about his writing discipline, and certainly there's no overdraw, but his story is one of a well-honed work ethic. To accomplish as much as he did later in his writing career, Bradbury wrote every day.
But last week I brought this video to attention:
Chuck Palahniuk publishes a novel about every two years and maintains a steady blog and article production. However, he does not write every day.
It's all and well to practice your craft every day - and you should - but forcing a story out that doesn't truly exist yet in your imagination is a waste of time. Or at least, that's what Palahniuk is saying. Don't boondoggle.
My opinion is that you should write something at least five days out of the week, but you shouldn't go publishing every thought you jot down. Instead, wait for the stories that fully develop in your mind with a little conscious work to polish them off.
I guess I'm riding the white lines down the highway, but I would love to hear what people think about this either here on the site or through twitter and facebook. Do you think writers should try to produce something every day, or wait until the inspiration hits?
Maybe you're down the middle of the highway too?
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Establishing Your Voice Through Worldviews
You know a Palahniuk story when you read one.
In Chuck Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters and Diary there are moments in which the 4th Wall is broken. The protagonist/narrator of the story speaks directly to the reader and shares his or her worldview.
"All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring."
— Chuck Palahniuk (Invisible Monsters)
While there is heavy criticism surrounding these moments - for instance, some cannot differentiate Big Voice from Little Darlings - spending a moment or two on the worldviews of a character can add much to the characterization in a story as well as establish the voice of the author.
Voice, in the opinion of many, is how an author communicates. For example, Ernest Hemingway used the Old-Man-In-The-Woods style of storytelling. That is, when one reads Hemingway, he or she knows the story is going to be told with a sort of aged wisdom. With Stephen King, the reader receives nearly every piece of the puzzle. Dean Koontz lets his characters trump the plot. And Richard Matheson uses a strong omniscient narrator.
Palahniuk's concept of Big Voice allows the reader to see the world from the main character's point-of-view, and he carries this style throughout many of his texts, which in turn creates the Palahniuk feel to narratives.
Of course, a reader is no fool. When these concepts are forced, everyone knows. Perhaps this is when Big Voice becomes Little Darlings.
To read more on Big Voice vs. Little Voice, check out this essay.
Remember, Big Voice happens when the story and morals are plaguing the writer's mind. Do be synthetic in your writing. . .
Finding Your Voice II: The Blog
While I stood behind the Midwest Writers Conference (#mww11) Bookstore Table, I thumbed through many of the manuscripts from the visiting authors.
If you ever find me at a bookstore, know that I am a harsh critic when it comes to me paying $7-$35 for a book. eBooks - I'm a little more linient. What I do is, I read the first line to the first paragraph. Let me take a moment to be emphatic about making first lines count. As a matter of fact, my ego soared into the clouds when someone at the conference told me I wrote stellar first lines.
Because within in the first line of a book, you get a sense of setting, conflict, and VOICE.
After a came across a few books I thought to have a great opening, I flipped to the back of the book to see where the were from, etc. As it turns out, most of them have blogs.
In 2011, this sort of thing isn't a revelation. I met a nine-year-old who had a blog once. What was amazing about the nine-year-old, was that his voice came through. Sure the syntax was dreadful and his organizational skills left much to be desired, but his voice came through - his attitude.
Maybe this is easier for munchkins, but this guy called the BLOGbloke doesn't think so.
I don't want to steal his thunder, so perhaps you should pay him a visit. The essential claim in his blog on blogging, is that each blogger needs to establish their voice. Pick a persona you want and are comfortable with, or just be yourself.
For writer types: Your voice - Writing - Blog - Platform. Make your blog sound like your writing. Make your writing sound like you. Or perhaps, you could tie them all together in another fashion. Pay this guy a visit.
They way you portray yourself to your readers, whether blog or book, is important.
Now, I would disagree with his notion of a niche. While it is important to figure out where you fit it, an artist maintaining a blog should probably always reach out to the larger audiences, and by god, never use the word "niche."
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Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.