Thursday, May 19, 2022

 

I’m getting a good readership on this blog, thank you very much, and perhaps it doesn’t matter if I know to whom I’m speaking. However, I know I am talking to you. YOU. THE PERSON READING THIS RIGHT NOW. 

 

Out of the entire world of human beings, we landed on the same page. Isn’t that something?!

 

Wow, I just inspired myself.

 

 

A few minutes ago, I moved a smaller box my husband had labeled “Sharp things” from a larger box, looking for my Seagate external drive that took an excursion on its own somewhere between moving my desk from the living room, to my new office in the Wayback (An external building behind the house.) There beneath the small box was not my Seagate drive but my old coffee warmer hot spot. Ah ha. Now I have warm coffee—but still no external computer device.

 

The Universe works in mysterious ways.

 

I’ll give that drive time to reappear. In the meantime, Steven King in Steven King/On Writing admonished me to eliminate cliche’d similes, metaphors, and images. “He ran like a madman. She was pretty as a summer day, the guy was a hot ticket, Bob fought like a tiger.” 

 

I better check my manuscript to see if I dropped any such chestnuts. 

 

King says we are lazy to use them, and we haven’t done enough reading.

 

“Hey, King, there are only so many hours in a day.” 

 

You know what? All this attempting to write well, is like the Circus performer spinning plates atop poles.

 

And among my notes, I found this: “We observe what is, instead of creating what we want to see.”

 

“Reality is so compelling,” I had written, “It has so much momentum going it’s hard to stop or change its direction.

 

 “How do you feel? That’s the test. When you are resonating with the good, you feel good. When you focus on the dire, the dangerous, the sick, you feel down, depressed, complaining, or just off kilter.”

 


 

Monday, May 9, 2022

 


Thanks for showing up, you guys, who are anonymous to me. 

I began reading a novel, recommended by my Naturopath, in which a young girl decided to write for one person only. 

She placed her writing into a "Hello Kitty" lunch box, and somehow—I don't know how yet, it washed up on a beach. (It had a gasket around the lid, and the entire box was wrapped in plastic.) I don't know if the protagonist threw it, was killed in a tsunami, or committed suicide. She said she would live long.) Someone did find it. A woman named Ruth. I just realized the author used her own name and didn't have kind words for the name Ruth. 

The book is A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

I don't know if I will wade through the angst. Yeah, yeah, I know, chase your protagonist up a tree, throw rocks at them, get them down from the tree.
The basic plot. 

A few challenges, that's okay, but I don't want to read too much angst. We have enough of that in our lives. In Caveman's days, the tribe gravitated to a good storyteller around the campfire. The tribe, well fed and warm, sat around the fire, anxious for a good ole romp through the trials of life, hoping their hero would triumphant to stupendous proportions. Maybe they would hear a good love story. (A happy one, or a sad one?) "When I heard the Native American tale of how Mt Hood on the Oregon side of the Columbia River and Mt. Adams on the Washington side was in love with the same woman, it didn't end well. She ended up a cinder cone lying beside her love—which one was it? I don't remember. 

Volcanic eruptions create good myths. 

Hunter stories got the gang pumped. The hunter faced his dangerous prey, he almost got gobbled up, but he killed the animal and brought home food. Now the tribe was safe, full, and entertained. Those hunter-story -tellers were the gladiators.

The hero or heroine can fall into a tar- pit once in a while. That's okay if they escape. We want them to be victorious. That is, if we love them. 

What makes a good story?

I asked that question today, and the answer came within the hour. I opened my phone as I sat in the car waiting for my daughter to have a chiropractic appointment. You know that kindle/computer device we drop in our purse daily? I opened Pressfield's book, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t. 

Then why write it?

Because we can move beyond the Sh*t. 

A story is, Pressfield explained, "experienced by the reader on the level of the soul. And the soul has a universal structure of narrative receptors."

What does he mean by that? You know the hero's journey. It's a touchstone. And we ask, "Does this tale ring true?"

"The tale moves us, says Pressfield. It satisfies us emotionally. We come to its end feeling like we've just had a meal of steak and potatoes."

We all rooted for Rocky, not to win, but to go the distance.

I think I need some rethinking/reworking. Does my story have an "Inciting Incident?" ("To prove that I'm not just another bun on the street." --Rocky Balboa.)

The inciting incident is the event that makes the story start. 

In a movie, it starts about ten minutes in. 

In Silver Linings Playbook by David O. Russell, the inciting incident comes when the Bradley Cooper character, obsessed with getting back with his ex-wife, sees the Jennifer Lawrence character. (They are made for each other. Will he blow it?) The story has started.

The climax is embedded within the inciting incident. 

When Apollo Creed picks Rocky out of a slew of fighters and says, "I'm going to give this chump a shot at the title, we know they will slug it out.

Work from the ending backward. 
Oh, I usually don't do that. I write, like life, not knowing what lies ahead. We might not know the middle or the steps the hero takes, but we ought to know where she's going.

The All is Lost Moment.

My downfall. I don't want my characters to hurt.
Come on, give them some struggle. Show their metal. We all want to know it's possible to rise from the depths of despair.

And you know there is much more we can talk about. 
Later gator. 
Love, Joyce

Sunday, May 1, 2022

White it!

When I read Steven Pressfield's advice, "Put your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be, "I thought he meant, "Put your ass on a chair and write." But he also meant that sometimes it means a physical move.


If you want to be an actor or a dancer, go to N.Y. If you want to be in the movies, go to Hollywood. If you want to be a country singer, go to Nashville.


You want to be a writer? Put your ass in a chair and write.


(Do you put your ass in a chair or on a chair?)


Once, at a writer's workshop, the presenter asked the audience, "How many here want to be a writer?"


Everyone in the room raised their hands.


"Then go home and write," he said.


Regarding the physical move: I think Pressfield has a point. Go to where the action is. There, people raise each other up. 


Once my daughter and I visited Burbank, CA, the home of the Disney studios where the Imagineers work. Later we drove over to Hollywood and Rodeo Drive, where my daughter saw and chased down a dollar bill we saw rolling down the street. "Wow, I said, "Money flows down the street here."


It helped that we had a cute personable two-year-old child with us, for they, like puppies, get attention. Clerks in the shops were giving him trinkets.


At Burbank's Chevy's Mexican Restaurant, across from the Ikea outlet store where we were headed (definitely not Rodeo Drive), our cute kid caught the eye of a vivacious young woman who came to our table to ooh and ahh. She was trying to impress her lunch companion, but she was also friendly and said she would help us with whatever we wanted.


She was working on a documentary on Immigration and negotiating with the photographer to work with her.


I wonder how that turned out.


My point is artists do help each other. They look for collaboration, and those in the field point out paths for their fellows. Go to Burbank or Hollywood, and you will probably find that every third person you meet is a screenwriter. 


I know not all of us are willing to jump into a Volkswagen van and take off across the country as Pressfield did. But, after many years of resisting his calling the be a writer, followed by a drawer filled with failed screenplays, he found a mentor in Hollywood, and The Legend of Bagger Vance was born.


Do the creative thing your heart tells you to do. 

 

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