Posts

Writer's Block is a Life Problem; or An Experiential Inquiry into the Nature of Writer's Block

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I haven't been able to write. I want to, I've tried, I've even started a few articles, but it just won't come. And, I know why.


"Why am I writing?" I asked myself that question around 6 months ago and said, "Because I want to, if feels good, and I like it." That answer was enough to carry me these past months. For some reason I asked myself that question again a few weeks ago. I answered in the same way, but the answer fell flat this time. I've had some really good feedback, my views keep increasing, but something's off. At first I thought it had to do with writing. But, that's not it. My skill has been increasing, and I have a never ending supply of ideas. So, what's been wrong?

Well... the short answer is - life. My writing is just a microcosm of a more general set of dilemmas. I've entered a few contests. I haven't won, but that's to be expected. Judging contests are purely subjective, even rejection rates from publish…

Interesting Ideas My Brain Had Recently

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My mind has been spinning webs of ideas for fiction. I want to lay out eight of these ideas in writing so that I can start clarifying my thoughts around them.


First

I like the framing that I did with my science fiction short story "The City of Peace." I opened and closed it like a father telling his son a bedtime story. The story was kept in the family, it was about the child's grandfather. Also, only a small piece of a larger story was told, so it naturally lends itself to being serial. This has had me thinking, I could write each chapter as a short story with the same frame of being a bedtime story and grow that into a novel. If I could write a story that children would like, then it would be a story that could be read as a bedtime story. One chapter could be intended to be read each night. String together a series of 28 or 30 short stories in this fashion and you could have one of the greatest bedtime stories of all time. It is an idea that my mind keeps going back to,…

The Making of a Great First Line in Fiction

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When I was young I would read entire novels before deciding they were bad. That slowly reduced to half, then a few chapters, then one chapter, then a few pages, then a few paragraphs, then a few sentences. It is not rare for me to decide against reading a book on the first line now. There are 130 million book titles in the world, with millions more being created each year, I have no need to read something that isn't good (except I do study things for writing now so that's not completely true). The first line sets the pace for the entire reading experience. I am going to dissect the first line experience today.


1)
My favorite first line of all time belongs to my favorite novel of all time, Replay by Ken Grimwood.
Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died.

This is a completely normal sentence until the very last word. Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he sneezed. That is a boring sentence. Jeff Winston was on the phone with his wife when he died. That…

The Five Epic Fantasy Books I'm Reading Right Now (plus one epic collection of non-fiction)

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"What should I read?" This is an oddly common question that I hear. I have never had a need for that question, my list always exceeds my ability to consume it. I have over five thousand books on my Amazon wish list. Currently, I am focused on six of them, and it's a pretty epic list.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

I have conducted polls involving hundreds of people in multiple reading groups and there are a lot of inconsistencies, but the top two favorite series have always been the same: Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. They have always been in that order, with Harry Potter coming out with significantly more votes than Lord of the Rings, we are talking from double to quadruple the votes.

I always liked the movies and knew that I would like the story, the only real question was the style. Rowling has a style that is easy to digest, you can be very tired and still easily move through her writing. I love comparing it to these other styles of fiction…

A Letter to My Niece in 2034

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Evelyn,

I would like this letter to be able to replace me, but alas, that is a task beyond the scope of a letter. So, it is my intention to make this letter useful to you in some way, if not in knowledge then at least in entertainment.



First, a small bit of entertainment. I encouraged the Evelyn Claire name so that I could call you EClaire, and yet, as of now I basically never call you that. My mother wanted to name you Alien and pronounce it A'lin. There is a whole story behind that which is best in person, hopefully you've heard it. I taught you how to climb stairs, click your tongue, hit your chest and yell like Tarzan, and throw ball pit balls. All things to help make your parents' lives easier.

Now, as to advice. My first piece of advice concerns advice about advice. Advice is based on the individual's individual life. Their advice is their autobiography, for the most part. It is filled with their hopes, dreams, failures, regrets, pains, sorrows, and second guesse…