Posted in Darby

Creativity Bubbles

Have you ever just not felt like writing? I have, and that is perfectly okay. I used to experience guilt whenever I couldn’t muster up enough creativity to put something profound on paper. There are two problems with that.

1.) Writing is supposed to be enjoyable, especially for someone who identifies as a writer. I have been making up stories for the vast majority of my life. When I was 12, I came up with the idea for my fantasy/adventure series. I had so much fun making maps, character profiles, and small conversations between my characters. Throughout high school and college, it stopped being fun mainly because I didn’t have the proper time to dedicate to my story. I would feel a surge of creativity coming on, but I couldn’t capitalize on it because I was busy memorizing some long forgotten mathematical equation, writing a news article for the paper I was part of, or dealing with some kind of drama associated with being a young adult. Even when I switched to the Creative Writing track in college, my creativity was put into other things. It wasn’t until I took Novel Writing with Dr. John Vanderslice that I had an excuse to aim my creativity bubbles at something I had longed for since the age of 12. Now, I have the second rough draft of the first novel in my series. To summarize, don’t feel guilty about not being in the mood to write. It will pass, and you will find your groove again.

Finishing the first draft of my very first novel in the library at the University of Central Arkansas. One of the happiest moments of my life. Photo taken by Sarah F. Wilson.
Finishing the first draft of my very first novel in the library at the University of Central Arkansas. One of the happiest moments of my life. Photo taken by Sarah F. Wilson.

2.) Not everything you write has to be profound. I am incredibly guilty of this. For example, my post about travel writing was one of my favorite nonfiction short pieces I’ve written. I was genuinely happy with it. I thought I could repeat the same magnificence in my next post about small towns, but I will honestly say that it wasn’t as good. That’s okay. I would much rather be a writer known for a few amazing works than a dozen subpar ones.

Everyone has a muse. Luna is mine. I'm also a bit old school when it comes to taking notes for my stories.
Everyone has a muse. Luna is mine. I’m also a bit old school when it comes to taking notes for my stories.

One never knows when the creativity bubble is going to show itself. We also can’t tell when it’s going to burst, so better to get at it when we have it! I write in bursts of creativity, not a constant stream. I would love to know your thoughts and even your own creative personality types. Feel free to tell me about how creativity comes to you in the comment section below.

From the Golden State and the City of Angels,

Darby

Posted in Taylor

Mashing Puzzle Pieces

I don’t know what I’m doing. In writing, or in life.

In life, there’s school and work and volunteering. I’m just trying to make it all fit together somehow. Sometimes it feels like taking two puzzle pieces that absolutely do not fit and mashing them with your fist until they’re wedged together. Sometimes, like tonight, it becomes really overwhelming, and I wind up throwing those imaginary puzzle pieces to the floor in frustration.

In writing, I’m just putting words on a page. Literally. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve never done an advice post or a “how-to” post. This is mostly because I don’t feel, I guess, qualified, to do that. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know the “proper” way to write a novel, or the “correct” way to form a poem. I know there isn’t one. We’re all just in this writing game making the rules up as we go. It’s scary and daunting. It’s ridiculous, honestly. Sometimes you’re mashing puzzle pieces and sometimes, miraculously, they fit seamlessly like two long lost souls suddenly reunited.

That’s why I keep doing this. Because when the puzzle pieces fit–there are no words to describe that. It’s amazing.

So, maybe, eventually, life and writing will come together to form one complete puzzle. There may be a few smashed pieces in there (okay, probably a lot), but you know what? At the end of the day, it’ll be my puzzle, my story told through pieces.

So, I may not know what I’m doing, but I’m doing it. One piece at a time.

Go mash some puzzle pieces, friends.

Until next time,

Taylor

Posted in Colleen

The Beginnings of a Writing Relationship

I was about 4 ½ years young when I learned how to read.
My first televisions shows were Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Big Bird always resembled an ear of corn for some reason.

Some of my favorite books were: Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban, Chrysanthemum and Owen by Kevin Henkes, The Berenstain Bears books by Stan and Jan Berenstain, and the Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer. I liked lining up in my classrooms to take weekly trips down the school library with my peers. Watching Mrs. Naylor (our librarian) impress her stamp on the book’s card delighted me.

I didn’t like the name ‘Colleen’ for the longest time.

I liked learning how to write in cursive and phonics was the easiest thing going. Sometimes, while waiting for my sister to get out of dance class, I’d work weeks ahead in my spelling book to procrastinate math homework.

When I got a little older, I read all about Karen in the Baby-Sitter’s Little Sister series and got annoyed at how the first chapter was the same in every book. Around that time, (I was 9 or so), there was talk about this new series about wizards and a magic school and some boy named Harry Potter. Mrs. Kieklak, my 4th-grade teacher read our class the Sorcerer’s Stone that year and I became forevermore enchanted.

My favorite books in this series are actually the 3rd and 6th- which are the only ones whose titles reflect individual characters (Sirius and Severus).

In November of 2001, I turned 11. Three days before my birthday, the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came to theatres so my friends and I went to see it. And believe it or not, seeing that movie was one of the most defining points in the history of my journey as a writer. What I felt in that theatre was excitement beyond anything I could ever properly explain. It’s something that few people understand: the writer within.

What I experienced for the first time in that theatre was the joy of watching characters I had created in my mind appear on screen. This was the first time I knew exactly what was going to happen in the storyline. I knew what was coming up in each scene but still remained excited about how it would play out. I remember telling my little sister to cover her eyes right before Quirrell took off his turban to reveal Voldemort. And it made me so happy to know! I like knowing stuff.

harry potter animated GIF
When reading the books, I related to Hermione quite a bit. Teachers pet.

So let me get to my point here. I have always loved reading. I still do. And up until 5th grade, I was content with reading what other people wrote. And over the years, I of course, became a huge Harry Potter fan. (My friends and I bonded over the series and started writing fan-fiction about the Marauders).  But that was just the beginning. I started to realize that I wanted to have that power, that control over choosing how things would play out.

relatable animated GIF
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an inspiration to me.

What’s funny is that I didn’t know back then how far I would come with my writing. My mom always said I was good at what I did, but I never thought I’d want to make a career out of it one day. It’s funny how moms are always right. So I’m going to keep writing and telling my characters what to do. Maybe one day I’ll see them on the big screen.

Or better yet, I’ll inspire an 11-year old to start writing as well.

CRCH

Posted in Jobe Update

Jobe’s Adventures in Grad School

As y’all may or may not know, this Jobe is enrolled in the UCA MFA creative writing program. I’m in my third year, in fact, and while I’m on the slow track, with any luck, I may actually graduate after another several semesters or so. ;D This semester I’m taking poetry and nonfiction, and I’m hoping to generate content in both classes that I can use in my thesis, which will be a memoir. (I’m older than I look, folks.)

Since classes are getting into gear, I thought I’d share some hodge-podge knowledge I’ve gleaned so far.

111

POMOPO (Post Modern Poetry) with Mark Spitzer:

  • Takes risks in your poetry! (Mark Spitzer)
  • Don’t use end rhyme. That’s so last century. (Mark Spitzer)
  • Go on your nerve. If you got it, flaunt it! (Frank O’Hara)
  • It’s all about tension. (Barbara Guest)
  • Collaborative work can actually turn out kind of awesome. (classroom exercises)

71


 

3

CNF (Creative Nonfiction) with Garry Craig Powell:

  • Ask an interesting question. (Eileen Pollack)
  • Take the picture bigger than yourself to communicate a more universal relevance. (George Orwell demonstrates this)
  • E. B. White is really funny.
  • Truth in nonfiction matters! Be as honest as you can, and let the reader know when you’re fabricating, filling in the gaps, or unsure. The reader will trust you more and appreciate you for it. (multiple class readings and discussions)

2

 

Until Next Time!
Jobe

Posted in Darby

Three Digits

The world is a small place. It’s true. One may travel across the sea and happen upon a former classmate, an old neighbor, or even a step-sibling’s first grade teacher. It happens. True adventure does not only come from visiting the most grand places around the globe. One may find a spark of inspiration from the tiniest of towns, a road less travelled, or an unattended field.

A friendly reminder, a stern demand, or a firm warning?  You decide.
A friendly reminder, a stern demand, or a firm warning? You decide.

Three digits. My favorite places to visit tend to have a population of three digits. I find that it is just enough to teeter on the brink of a Ghost Town while still maintaining culture and life. On my recent road trip down Route 66, I drove through many intriguing places. Some had long since been abandoned. Others simply had one working gas station, a dinosaur from the good ‘ole days. There were a few who had managed to survive the building of the Interstate. Not thrive, mind you, but they did have a steady pulse.

Williams, AZ. How desperately it wants to be Las Vegas without gambling, 5-star hotels, or anything relatively fun to do. Williams had a nightlife of neon proportions. BBQ, live music, vintage Coca-Cola, and gift shops galore! Not a place for a vegetarian, such as myself, but a place nonetheless. I found great joy in rummaging through postcards and snapping photographs of antique signs. I can use these. After finishing up at the Grand Canyon, I made the two hour trip down to Williams. It isn’t too far from Flagstaff. Being extremely exhausted I didn’t have the energy or will power to fully enjoy the experience of the town.

Didn't realize how difficult it would be to catch a good shot of a neon sign.
Didn’t realize how difficult it would be to catch a good shot of a neon sign.

Seligman, AZ. This may very well be my favorite stop. On the journey back to Los Angeles, I made a point to spend some time here. I had driven through on my way in and took note to come back. What a grand little place. Time disappears. I found myself entranced by the endless photo opportunities. (Always take the time to snap that picture.) I lost myself in a spectacular gift shop where I spent over $200 on postcards, magnets, Route 66 merchandise, and an $80 Western Cowboy hat. So that’s how they maintain their healthy pulse! A band of Harley Davidson riders mowed through, stopping for some ice cream before heading back onto Route 66. In their own way, small towns are just as intriguing as big cities. While one may run out of things to do in a small town, one will never not have something to look at.

How could you not spend $200 in here?  I mean, there's an airplane lodged in the the second floor.
How could you not spend $200 in here? I mean, there’s an airplane lodged in the the second floor.

Next time: Writing in Bursts

From the City of Glitz and Glamour,

-Darby

Posted in Taylor

I don’t like funerals.

I don’t like funerals. They freak me out, honestly.

But today I went to one. I donned my black high heels that are only worn for special occasions, grabbed a few tissues and prepared myself for a hard day. I needed to say goodbye to a family friend, and I did.

This post isn’t about funerals, though. It’s about something I saw after.

Now, being that I don’t like funerals, I don’t randomly go tromping through graveyards, so today when I saw a headstone with one single word, I was fascinated. There were no dates, no quotes of comfort. Not even a last name.

It simply said, “unknown.”

Admittedly, I had never seen an “unknown” grave before.

It was a weird feeling, being fascinated and incredibly sad at the same time. Here was this person who had habits, and quirks, whose words pierced the air as strongly as anyone else’s. Here was someone who felt the breeze on his face, had childhood memories, had dreams, ambitions.

Here was someone, but nobody knew who.

Later on, after I had been thinking about Unknown for a long time, my thoughts trailed into writing, and I realized how many of my characters I had laid to rest in a graveyard of unknowns. What I mean by this is: How many characters do I not really know?

A lot of them probably.

Do I know exactly what my character’s voices sound like? Know what they’re thinking about when the wind hits their faces? What about what they’re thinking about as they sit down to dinner? Or lay down to bed at night? Do I know who these characters are in the depths and crevices of their souls?

No. I don’t, unfortunately.

I know surface details. Visuals and maybe a few habits if I’m lucky. A handful of childhood memories here and there.

Is that enough to mark a name on a stone? It certainly doesn’t seem like it.

So, this is me saying that maybe I don’t know my characters enough. Here’s to me finally understanding when every writer says you have to know your characters, not just know them.

I don’t know them, yet. But I will.

This is me saying “goodbye” to a dear friend, to Unknown, and me saying “hello” to a writing revelation.

***

I would like to dedicate this blog post to my friend. And to Unknown, whoever you are. 

See you soon,

Taylor