The doctor will see you now.
Please sit. What brings you in today? Ah— racing literary thoughts? Elaborate plot lines failing to go from mind to page? A self-defeating attitude? The ability to procrastinate at advanced levels leading to maximum Netflix, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat time? And when you do try to write, you have an irresistible urge to backspace everything? And a lucid blank white page, you say?
I am diagnosing you with Writer’s Block. Do not worry, it is more common than you think. In fact, it may be too common; a point where its commonality has surpassed the illness itself, leaving us too quick to diagnose.
Most writers say, “The first step to curing Writer’s block is to write.” Well, easier said than done. When you care deeply about what you’re writing, and may be a bit of a perfectionist, and your sentences aren’t lining up, where there seems to be something off, whether it’s in the sentence, the plot, the character, or the voice, sitting down and simply writing seems impossible. Then the overthinking starts. The crippling doubt that will keep you away from your page for days. You lie awake thinking about your writing. You think, If I only could write, I’d probably feel better. Yet, something is keeping you from the page. It’s the fear that if you did write, it won’t be good enough. This can be a vicious cycle. I have the cure.
The cure is: to not write.
I know what you’re thinking, Not write? How can I not write and be a writer?
Well, you will still be writing every day, just sometimes it will be only in your head. It’s easy. I’ll show you how.
I want you to think of your writing as a sponge that becomes dry when every last drop of creativity is used up. And when the sponge becomes dry, when you start to feel the inklings of Writer’s Block creeping in, step away from the page, and submerge that sponge in the water of your subconscious. Go for a walk, a hike, get some coffee or a beer, watch some mindless television, go to a museum, look at other people’s art, read a good book. Fill your sponge with the things in this world that led you to write in the first place. And when your sponge is full, you will feel it. You will feel yourself becoming drawn to the page. You will be excited to sit down and write, and when you do, it will flow out of you.
Kicking the fear to write starts with trusting yourself as a writer and trusting your subconscious. As Ernest Hemingway said, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.”
There a couple of reasons why someone should be writing. One is for school. Another is for fun, or to remember things that have happened. The final reason is because you have a story to tell. Notice, I never said “because you think the world wants someone to write this specific story.” Never write to everyone. It is like trying to please everyone, or be everyone’s friend. You simply can’t do it. Establish your own writer’s identity and your own fan base. The great ( or maybe not so great) thing about people is they all have different opinions on everything. There will absolutely be people out there who like the stories you’re spinning, the characters you’re developing, and the worlds you’re building. The most important thing for beginning writers is write what you want.
Now about writing to an already established fan base. Whether you’re writing a series or just a stand alone novel,I’m hesitant to go either way. On the one hand, keeping fans who have supported you happy is important. On the other, finishing the story is also pretty important. After all, that’s the whole reason why you started writing. One of hte best examples that I can think of is the differences between the book series A Song of Ice and Fire and the television series Game of Thrones. One of the reasons I love that series is that George R.R. Martin is unpredictable as a writer. Beloved characters get killed off, and there is in no way fan service. The show’s writers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have had to be the same way, up until the later seasons. Without spoiling anything (I hope), I think that Benioff and Weiss have definitely paid fan service to Arya, allowing her to live when I think that Martin would have either killed her off or never put her in that situation. It will be interesting to see what exactly happens when Martin gets around to finishing his next book.
But I was really angry at the situation. After killing off so many “main characters,” they let Arya live simply because (in my mind) fans really enjoy her character. For that reason, I would say continue to write your own story, and don’t worry about the fans. They might be upset when you kill off a favorite character, or when the bad side wins, or whatever situation that doesn’t follow popular support, but I think that they will appreciate the story more. Not only that, but you will like the story more, because it is entirely your own. So as I’ve said before, write what you know, and how you want it to go.
In the opening and title story of his riveting collection, Timothy O’Leary returns fire, blasting the S.O.B. Cheney with true facts spun out by a fictional victim in a most entertaining way. As with all of the stories, O’Leary’s exuberant, fast-paced style bobs us down rivers of his savvy takes on the cultures, fun, fears, and realities of our time.
“One Star” gets into the heads and hearts of a struggling immigrant restaurant family and struggling, married, U.S. born customers disappointed by a declined Groupon. A drunken Yelp-like review exposes a cleavage too often exploited by politicians and leading to consequences both sides regret.
A has-been sitcom actor was content with his life of booze and pussy as a travelling stand-up comic until he is blind-sided by an up-and-coming talent using the technology and tools of today in “Hecklers.”
A widower who avoided cell phones and blames them for the death of his wife takes another look at his departed wife and the phone’s benefits when the neighbor boy shows him a video of her at her best in “The Tower.”
Each story in this collection is a gem of thought, language and craft. Some are funny, some are darkly funny (e.g., “Adolph’s [Hitler] Return”), and others are dramatic. All are superbly entertaining. Together, they process and contextualize the world around us from the perspective of someone who has been paying attention for the past four decades.
Personally, I finish about one in every nine books I begin. I finished this one in no time. My biggest criticism is that I wish there were even more than eighteen stories.
In this series, we will be highlighting one of some of the great work from our authors. Our first book isWaitress at the Red Moon Pizzeria be Eleanor Levine
are more than the synthetic joints and toes
sightable apparitions that permit
the live skeleton to indulge in his existence
it is the infrared eyesight
the eschewed reality
of a Danish psychiatrist believing there is
sunlight in Winter
or a born-again Southerner acknowledging that God
is a bathroom seat
or a dog believing that a tissue is food
or a man thinking his mistress walks glibly
down the shopping aisle
that Allen Ginsberg was a misogynist
because he had several affairs with women
or that Kurt Cobain died for our sins
or that red nail polish will hide your dirty nails
or that mice droppings can kill people
and artificial limbs dangle from New Zealand trees
where a daughter cries for love from your heart
and another wraps those limbs from
the pavement because she’s afraid
or your friend, when he tells you,
he can get it up for 20 minutes
or the sister who needs a psychiatrist
tells everyone else they need one
or that Michael Jackson was really a woman
taking piano lessons
artificial limbs are our girlfriends who never kiss us
the homeless man who smells of urine and wants to be our friend
the dead fish, which, when thrown back into the water,
doesn’t come to life
and the snarled reflections of a dead prostitute
who thinks he’s literary
the quaky sound of an old British queen who wittily tells you
“crossword puzzles are the aerobics of the soul”
or that Henry Miller has a stop sign between clauses
and Norman Mailer was a literary genius
and Susan Sontag’s language is more visual than Leni Riefenstahl
and that amusing intellectual conversation
will redeem a thousand wounds
that by placing limbs in the arms of someone
or painting their house
you have given them a heart
it dies when you leave them up a tree.
What kind of images did this poem evoke?
What kind of person would you describe the narrator?
Who would you recommend this poem to? Why?
Who were the people mentioned in the poem? Take some time to research them and share your results.
What smells does this poem evoke?
about the book
In Waitress at the Red Moon Pizzeria, Eleanor Levine has crafted a collection of poetry that will challenge her readers to view their pasts through a new lens: one that is untainted by regret, shame, or fear. She invites her readers to reflect on the honesty in the desire, love, and pain that have driven their lives by following the journeys of narrators using the same lens to view their own lives. A daughter worries about her father buried deep in the ground, alone except for the cicadas that cover the ground every seventeen years. A mother attends Wagnerian acupuncture lessons and struggles to maintain the sanctity of her children’s Jewish heritage even as it slips into the cracks of passing time. A sister laments the monotony of her brother’s chosen lifestyle but wonders if the commotion of her own life merits any higher worth. A woman faces rejection and acceptance from the women she desires as sexual and emotional companions. The quiet moments of life are on display in this collection that refuses to accept that the past is something to be ashamed of. Deeply personal and joyfully candid, Waitress at the Red Moon Pizzeria is an invitation to look beyond the mistakes and missteps that lead us to believe our histories might be nightmares.
- See more at: http://www.unsolicitedpress.com/store/p92/waitress#sthash.7HTChrdU.dpuf
To be honest, I hate punctuation. I still have to look up when to use a semicolon versus a regular colon. To this end, I try to keep my writings and the works that I am editing as simple as possible. I always try to use a little punctuation as possible.
In this day and age, it is a nuisance, a hindrance, and there are way too many people who don’t know how to use it. Of course for that instance, I am talking about texting, IMing, and social media. These mediums of communication are all about conveying as much as you can in as few words as possible. I think that it is only with the help of punctuation that this is possible. Texting is the most obvious example of how much scrutiny is needed when dealing with punctuation.
As part of the 20 and 30 year-olds that have grown up with cell phones, texting has become second nature, and I didn’t need a lesson on the usage of punctuation in texting. Older folks however, I think do. My mother, for example, had the annoying habit of using ellipsis to end her texts. For me, that means there is more to her text, or that she’s upset. For her, it didn’t mean anything, simply that there was a break in between the text and her next message (because she couldn’t fit it all in 160 characters). Texting conveys so much hidden meaning with so little actually being written.
What’s interesting to me is how texting language has started to transfer into the writing styles of authors yet. I’ve never seen a “k.” in a book, or an proper novel that lacks punctuation all together, but the multiple exclamation points or question marks are starting to show up. I think it will be interesting to see if the writing style changes continue to follow the texting generation.
Get ready to stretch your writing muscles and by writing muscles, I mean imagination. A long time ago I remember an author tweeting about character development. It has been so long that I do not remember the author but I do remember a summarization of the message: if you know the character’s greatest fear, then you know that character. I have thought of this and have found this idea favorable because fear is what drives most humans: fear of losing family/friends, fear of water, or fear of ducks. Phobias also could provide a backstory which may or may not appear in the story.
Flat characters are hard to follow and can derail a story for readers, especially when it is the main character. Sadly, this does happen, but these exercises can help writers give depth to their characters.
Write a Journal Entry
Write about previous events or current conflicts (in your book) in which your character journals about an event that bugs them. This helps catalogue and organize their thoughts and can help add an additional layer to dialogue and characteristics. This might even be a good exercise to do when you hit writer’s block. Just stop and write a journal entry for your character in that instant of time. Talk about how they are feeling and why they are in that scenario, along with background information that made them decide to be where they are.
Interview Your Character
What better way to know your character than to interview them? Ask them the simple and difficult questions. Don’t settle for one worded answers either, ask why and create an explanation. What are their phobias? Where are they from? What is their dream date? The important thing is to have fun with it and to get a better understanding of your characters.
Strong characters can drive a story and if they are developed enough, they may even change the planned direction entirely. These characters are fun to read about and are even more enjoyable when you get a few of them in a story to bicker it out. Hope these exercises help you guys! Happy writing!
This isn’t a question that I’ve come across before, and it made me pause before attempting to answer. Using correct gender pronouns and having the right to feel safe and non-discriminated against for self-identifying against the “norm” is a movement that has been gaining steam, and rightfully so. Without getting too political, it is absolutely ridiculous that people who feel they don’t fit male or female have to fight this hard to just be acknowledged.
I have read very few books that have gender neutral characters or content. I think there definitely is a need for it, as reading allows for a different viewpoint. But the question is should You be writing gender neutral content. I say fuck it, and write what you want.
I think that it is incredibly hard to tailor a story just for the sake of tailoring it. If the gender neutral parts come naturally, and fit in well with the plot line, great! That book can be written gender neutrally. But if you’re struggling with every line, and having to go off vision, then don’t do it. As a beginning writer, I think it is more important to write what you know, or write what YOU want to write about. Catering to invisible readers before you finish the book doesn’t make sense. If the book has a female’s perspective or a male’s perspective, or any other kind of perspective, then I think that that perspective will help further the plot of the book. There are 2 major reasons (I believe) for writing gender neutral content. The first is that is give a new perspective, something other authors haven’t explored yet. The second is that it attempts to raise or answer a question.
Again, there is definitely a need for gender neutral writing. Apart from actually talking to people who have gone through that process, reading content about being gender neutral is the best way to understand and accept it. But don’t go out of your way to do so. Sloppy and half-hearted content is worse than no content at all.
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