"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I came, I saw, I wrote.

You may have surmised by now that I really, really, like writing.

I also like to think I'm quite good at it.

Writing is not something everyone can do. Just like I can't wrap my head around chemical equations and algebra, some people are simply born to write. Others...not. A simple fact of life we all try to overlook is that we're all born for something. I was born to write.

I've been writing since I was a little girl - I read Harry Potter when I was four and I have been endeavouring to write since. Most of the stuff I wrote was utter rubbish, but it was the fun I had whilst doing it that counted. Nearly all of my academic achievements I put towards my writing ability.

When I was little I had a stutter - my grandfather, who didn't speak a word of English but knew I was stuttering nonetheless - used to say that it was because my thoughts were too fast for my mouth. And that still holds true, sometimes - my mind and my mouth are horribly out of sync - this leads to stuttering, random brain farts, jumbled sentences that make no sense, and the wrong thing coming out at the wrong time resulting in lots of crying oversensitive teenagers. My brain did not have a cable, an output, fast enough until my hands learnt how to touch type - and that's how I write these days, just touch typing very fast and very badly - murdering the backspace button is my speciality, and the 'N' on the n key has nearly entirely rubbed off :(

I write all sorts - I blog, obviously, whenever I can, and I also write songs (but I'm hopeless at the music) and poems. I love poetry, it's my excuse to be dramatic. My blog has helped my writing significantly as it has made me write on a regular basis (a very important thing when it comes to writing) and also helped me to gage what people find interesting and what people do not.

The reason why I haven't been posting in the last couple of days, and the reason why, sadly, I may not be posting as frequently as I used to, is that I am actually writing a book, which I hope will be aimed for the publishers. It is my biggest project, and I consider it my best - I mean, most of my projects crash and burn after about two chapters - and I'm really enjoying writing it, because it explores lots of psychological, moral, ethical, religious, social and legal issues concerning unorthodox relationships. That's all I'm going to say about it, except for one other thing: the inspiration for one of my main characters is Sam Worthington (see my shrine) and the other character is based on me and a little bit on my life. That's all, my lips are sealed until hopefully (fingers crossed) I get to see my book on the shelf of a bookstore, hopefully being bought by somebody.

A lot of people ask me tips on writing - I'm not quite sure why, because I'm not a published author nor a very experienced one, but because people ask me so much, well, here goes:
  • A lot of people say to write what you know and know what you write - for me that means everything I write is inevitably a rewording of Twilight. My personal tip would be to incorporate what you do know, like settings and scenarios and characters you're familiar with, with things that you don't know, to make things more interesting for both you and the reader.
  • Not everybody can write. That's the long and short of it. 
  • Originality is very hard, but essential, especially if you are looking at having your work published or released to the public in any form. My suggestion is to read lots, but whilst you're writing something of a particular genre avoid reading anything of that particular genre until your work is finished. This way you get elements of other genres influencing your work, which makes it more interesting. 
  • Make sure you keep looking at your work from an impersonal perspective and make sure your protagonist isn't Harry Potter's long lost clone. 
  • Reading aloud is essential. The biggest mistake with writers is that we all seem incapable of writing exactly what is in our heads, and so many people think that what they've written is a masterpiece - and it is, although all the stuff that makes it a masterpiece is in their head. The words on the paper is a load of crap 99% of the time.
  • Don't bug people to read stuff that is not school or work related. By all means, ask, but begging, pleading, threatening, blackmailing and obsessive-compulsive crying is a no-go. 
  • I used to be totally against planning my writing - and I still am when it comes to blog posts and pems and songs - but a story can easily go astray. Write out a rough outline (I write mine in chronological order, in dot points) that you can easily change, just to keep you roughly on track.
  • There is no 'right' way to write. Any of my stories that end up decent and finished  are on the short side (my current project is extremely long by my standards - I'm not yet halfway through but I've already written about 15,000 words) and characterized by frequent P.O.V changes and relatively short (about 1,000-2,000 word) chapters. 
  • A lot of authors disagree with me on this, but a good way to make a character relatable to is to keep descriptions short and to the point - only add things if they are necessary. Unless your book is about shoes that take over the world we don't need to know that his shoes were 'the same blue as my mother's apron, with a little scuff on the left heel and a bit missing from the right toe, with grubby laces and a bird-poo stain, which he wore on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at precisely three p.m.'. If you could relate to a character like that then you've got issues. 
  • Boring endings are characteristic of authors, like me, who get a bit too attached to their characters and can't bear to let anything bad happen to them. Something has to happen. If nothing happens, it's not a book. It's a Bold and the Beautiful episode. 
  • Writing is a competitive art. I know so many brilliant writers out there who are terrified of sending their work to anyone, but then get jealous of people who get attention for their work because they did dare to put it out there for the world to bitch about. There is no place in writing for the weak and the shy. 
  • Characters should become part of you - you should love them like you would love a spouse, a best friend, a sibling or a parent, depending on what kind of character it is. If you're writing a romance especially you really do have to be in love with the love interest - I'm serious!
  • Characters need to have faults and flaws. Nobody ever made a bestseller of a perfect, perfect protagonist, becuase perfect is boring. Obviously. 
And that's all I can think of. Blog on. 


Blur Ting said...

Look at you! You can certainly write!

Adelaide Dupont said...

Love the title of this post. "Vidi, vici, scribendi" the original Latin would go.

"I'm really enjoying writing it, because it explores lots of psychological, moral, ethical, religious, social and legal issues concerning unorthodox relationships."

Great! And even if we don't see it on a bookshelf, it will probably teach you and your readers a lot. Certainly it would get at least one reader.

Liked the spirit of many of your tips, especially number 3 and some of the ones on endings and short character descriptions, and how characters have flaws and change. Remember that we ascribe flaws to perfect people, very easily!

And of course, it was an interesting point that your academic achievements can be attributed partially or wholly to your writing ability.

Many writers do have their minds ahead of their pens, some kind of asynchrony or dysfluency involved. One example is probably Henrik Ibsen. That example really resonated with me.

You also made a good point about being on the short side (successful projects). It took time for me to build writing stamina.

And of course that writing is a highly competitive art.

Have had a few keys rub off, none more so than the current keyboard. A, S, E and N.

And finally two links:

Molly Hagman: a Swedish writer who isn't afraid to put herself out there
Vishaka Chakrapani: a media student in India

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it have been 'Veni, vidi, scribendi'? I dunno - Latin is not a really popular subject here in Australia, although as of 2012 it is a compulsory part of the Classics and Ancient History course in UWA, which is a course I am considering.

Adelaide Dupont said...

The French verb for come is probably similar to the Latin one, and if I had thought in that direction, I might have been more nearly correct.

Do go for the classics, and of course for the ancient history.