Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator

Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

The Gift of Candor

In writing on November 12, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Question: How hard is it to plow through your manuscript or write an inspiring blog post when you’re feeling depleted?

Answer: Really hard.

That’s why I’m so thankful to have woken up this morning to a pep talk from John Green, via NaNoWriMo. I was hoping there’d be a link to it so I could share the entire thing with you, but I couldn’t find one, if there even is one. And if there’s another way to link to it I don’t know how. But it’s just too good to not share, so I’d like to kind of sum it up a bit and pull out some excerpts that meant the most to me.

At the beginning of the pep talk he tells us he’s got this folder on his hard drive labeled Follies. In it he’s got several titles, all unfinished works. Abandoned about half-way through. Why did he abandon them? He says writing them wasn’t fun anymore. And quite frankly, “the story kind of sucks, and it’s hard to sit down every day and spend several hours eating from a giant bowl of suck.”

Wow. Do I hear you.

He goes on to say this:

“You have likely realized that your novel is not very good, at least not yet, and that finishing it will be a hell of a lot less fun than starting it was.

So quit. Quit now, or if you’re among the many of us who’ve already quit, stay quit. Look, we are all going to die. The whole species will cease to exist at some point, and there will be no one left to remember that any of us ever did anything: Our creations, all of them, will crumble, and the entire experiment of human consciousness will be filed away, unread, in the Follies folder of the great interstellar hard drive. So why write another word?

Sorry. I reached the halfway point of this pep talk and tumbled, as one does, into inconsolable despair.”

This made me laugh. Out loud. What a way to drive the point home.

He later went on to say that within that same Follies folder are some other titles, finished ones: Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns. (And if you know John Green you know these are the books that have made him a New York Times Bestselling author.) Of course he doesn’t point this out to imply that if you finish your novel you’ll magically become a bestselling author. Sheesh. Of course not. But you do get the point, right?

Although the above excerpt is tongue in cheek, John Green very seriously does admit to having these kinds of feelings about midway through everything he does. And for those of us who are struggling through our first, second, third, or whatever number novel, it’s a strange sense of comfort knowing that even some bestselling authors are able to truly commiserate with us. Not in an, “Oh, I remember when I was struggling to write my (whatever number) book. Don’t worry, it’ll get better. One day you just might be a bestselling author like me, if you work hard enough,” kind of way. But more like, “Yeah, writing is hard, isn’t it? I feel like giving up tons of times because I often feel like what I’m writing is total crap.”

Following more words of encouragement and wisdom gained from years of hard experience, John Green ends his pep talk like this:

“Go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$&ng novel.”

Yeah! Patooey! Take that! Oo! Oo! Oo! *fist pump*

I think I’ll print this pep talk, tack it on my wall, and read it about a hundred times today. And then about a hundred times tomorrow. And then about a hundred times whenever I need it after that. ‘Cause in my limited experience of being on this crazy journey as an author, I know I’ll need the reminder (and the laugh) often.

John Green, your candor has made my day. My month, even. Quite possibly my year.


True Words From the Not-too-distant Past

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2010 at 11:53 am

My husband showed me a quote this morning and I want to share it with you.

This is for you, for me, for all those who dare greatly by stepping into the arena.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

Ginger is My New Best Friend

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm

So what’s a temporarily unemployed author who’s experiencing major writer’s block to do with all those hours in her day so she feels like she’s actually accomplishing something?

Clean the house? – No way!

Do laundry? – Are you kidding me? Psh!

No, a temporarily unemployed author who’s experiencing major writer’s block does not clean the house nor does she do laundry so she can have a sense of accomplishment at the end of her day, much to the disappointment of those who share her living space.

Rather, she cooks!

Now, I’m not talking about KD, microwaved frozen veggies, and frozen pizzas – those are delicacies reserved for an employed author whose writing is flowing freely. No, I’m talking about the kind of cooking that exists within the magical realms of creative art. I’m talking about fresh ingredients and savory flavors that reawaken and revive your soul. Think I’m exaggerating? Have you ever experienced fresh grated ginger root? If you have, you’ll know what I mean.

Yesterday it was a curried chickpea dish with fresh ground cumin, ginger root, turmeric, coriander seed, and garam masala. Today it’s baked lemon pepper tofu that’s being marinated in fresh lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, and ground black pepper as we speak. I can smell the lemon and garlic on my fingers as I type. Mmmmm…

Talk about cultivating my relationship with my Creativity. I’ve realized today that I’m totally reviving my senses in ways that I’ve not done before. I’ve painted, sketched, read, listened to music, gone on nature walks, even knitted entire sweaters to replenish my creativity during past creative droughts. This is a new path for me, I’ve discovered. One that’s always been available but one that I’ve never stepped into. Let’s hope it eventually leads to some kick-butt words on a page!

Yay for epiphanies brought on by fresh grated ginger!

And So She Begins A New Adventure

In writing on January 8, 2010 at 10:19 am

It’s amazing how friends just know what you need even when you don’t tell them. A good friend of mine gave me two perfect new writing tools yesterday:

I’m beginning a new project and I have the idea of writing the entire first draft ON PAPER. I don’t usually do this, what with the convenience of my handy netbook, but for this project I feel that writing the first draft by hand is very appropriate. And necessary. For a few reasons:

1. The mood and tone of the story is quite fairy tale-ish, not unlike the German fairy tales my mother used to read to me when I was a child that scared the bejeebies out of me. Ink and paper will give me that “long ago” feel in keeping with the mood. (You know, kind of like the feeling you get when you write snail mail instead of email :))
2. The practice of writing an entire first draft with pen and paper will (hopefully) propel me forward thus thwarting my incessant need to go back and edit every single line as I go. The computer feeds my editing addiction and I generally have a really hard time moving forward as I write.
3. I want to try writing a story that has been somewhat planned out. I’m a “write by the seat of your pants” writer and want to experiment with the concept of planning out a story before diving into it. This writing excercise won’t be a flow chart of events or anything like that, but it will be the bare skeleton of a complete story from beginning to end. Emphasis on “bare” skeleton. Thus the THIN notebook.
4. I need to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.

So there you have it. And it seems as though I’m not the only one interested in this new-for-me concept:

So, armed with a pen, hourglass, and beautiful new notebook I begin my new personal fantasy adventure.

Oh, and here’s what my new notebook says on the back:

Appropriate, yes?