Courtney S. Barr

Welcome to My Kingdom!
Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Memos...By Order of this Author

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. By Order of the Author.
-Mark Twain
Mark Twain has been visiting my house a great deal lately. He popped up on a summer reading list for the Resident 17 year old and again when I was at Lowe's selecting Mark Twain Brown as a color for my staircase treads (who knew). He has settled in nicely as a topic of discussion and now as a pretty good eye for color. His introductions to his work are sometimes the most intriguing look into a man that took life very seriously but was able to convey his social observances with a wit, charm and honesty that Southern hospitality loves to chastise openly and celebrate in quiet reverence when not in public.(let's just say I am sure there were tons of "Bless his heart" when he first began sharing his thoughts).

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is by far one of my favorite pieces of classic literature. A story that contains more than just human characters, Twain was able to make a river a third dynamic character with its meandering currents and symbolic essence of freedom. He found a way to weave not only everything he banishes us from seeing into each setting, nuance, and dialect loaded dialogue. He truly crafted a piece of art.

Isn't that what we all hope for. That our words on the page become a living breathing piece of history. We know that not everyone will love it, that those who dislike it have their reasons and those who embrace it become our biggest marketing campaigns. Writing is definitely a risk. One that we take on every time we sit down with an MS or blog entry. We open a door from our mind/hearts directly for the public to peek into. They can dissect our ideas, discuss our feelings and dissuade/persuade others from stopping by as well. Its a risky business. But I love it. It is a business where one must develop discipline, must question ideas, look differently at character and develop the understanding that reviewing things more than once is tedious only if you forget how wonderful the outcome will be. Discovering adverbs, adjectives, conclusive outcomes, exciting cliffhangers, dangerous romances and delicious character flaws is just part of the process.

Twain said this in a letter to Orion Clemens on March 23, 1878: "You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by."

Right now, this author is working through a story that has captivated her husband, though he is quite perturbed not to be yet let in on the plot directions, and reminded her how much fun it is to discover new things within a new world. But be forewarned, continuous work will help me make sure that my "thunder and lightning" appear at the right moments, time will allow me to develop characters that I love, twizzlers will help me with all the cravings, support from my family will give me strength and Mark Twain will remind me that once it is written I need only to let it go to live a life all its own...By Order of the Author.

Around the Blogs today:

Lisa Schroeder teases us with talk of video blogs tomorrow - so tune in!

Talli Roland has the queasies over sending out Watching Willow Watts..go over and help calm her nerves, Oh and read chapter 1...

Shannon Messenger explains her own reasons why WriteOnCon craziness is something she does out of love (plus see the agenda in her post for the conference)

Natalie Bahm talks priorities, writing and family.

Have a Memorable Monday!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Breathing life into an MS beyond the inertia...

"If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it."
-Anais Nin
I don't like the word inertia...well some weekends I do; but on the whole I really don't. I enjoy relaxing after a long day's work, but there must first be that long day, that work to then enjoy what relaxation is all about.
All summer long I have been in a state of inertia when it comes to writing. The storm shook me up a bit, then we held the fundraiser and now school has begun for my resident 17 year old. Life is never boring, but inertia can still exist within areas that seem to be a constant movement. That is scary part about inertia. We think that we are moving, that we are being productive but really we are just performing a rote action. We have lost the excitement, the feeling of accomplishment, the ambition, the desire to better improve; we are just going along with the motions pretending that we are moving.

I was at a service last weekend that discussed life, creating habits, and looking at something you do every day differently. The application was more geared to prayer but I would be losing a great deal of the message if I did not apply it to other areas as well. I realized that writing before the storm had become a bit rote. I wasn't excited when I opened the file and I wasn't missing it when I was away. That isn't good. I had let the entire summer pass me by and had barely done anything with the story except go through the motions.

So last night I decided to apply the message to my own story. To sit down, to open the file, to read my words and see beyond what letters on the page spelled out and to breathe life back into the story. It was fulfilling to move forward, to no longer sit on the edge of something I truly desire to witness in all its elements. I broke it apart and saw myself looking at the characters, settings, and plot more openly. It is not ready to be shelved, in fact a brand new direction came out the endeavor.

Inertia had me thinking that it was time to give up but fresh air, an open mind and the desire to better the work has me now excited to see where the next scene is going...

What do you do when the words seem to be lackluster on the page? Do you give up immediately or do you work through the issues and discover something new? How do you know when it is truly time to shelve the work or it just needs an afternoon in the sun?