In recent poetry meanderings, I came across a poem by Lyn Hejinian in a Poetry Foundation podcast (called PoemTalk) that I find enormous enjoyment from and don’t talk about at social events.
Lyn Hejinian, ‘constant change figures’
The poem itself – imaged here and linked appropriately – takes the reader on a circuitous rout of reflection and memory that the poem’s form reflects. It’s brilliant. You’ll have to read it a few times before it leaves more than an evaporating mnemonic impression. This is my attempt at working out some of its ideas and the further ideas it produces in me as a writer.
I spent some time with the piece. What I found interesting enough to chase after when I set the poem aside was Hejinian’s curiosity in everyday life and how we talk about it. She defends these things as important settings or subjects for avant-garde literature. Or any literature and art, for that matter. Continue reading
From Charles Dickens to countless modern works, including some of my own stories, orphans are among the most common characters in fiction. I find this especially true in fantasy – so much so that The Orphan might have its own place among the pantheon of other iconic fantasy figures such as The Soldier, The Peasant, The King. But at what point do these figures become bland labels that define the character more than his or her actual traits?
Fantasy, a genre that so often pulls characters from the grab bag of tropes on display in either The Lord of the Rings or Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, has received countless literary complaints over its apparent lack of variety. When a book’s first act describes a backwoods young farmer – unwise to the ways of the world (and obviously having some convenient prior experience with weapons via hunting) – I automatically assume that said farmer will be sitting on a throne before the end. Continue reading
You’ve tried everything to get your writing published. You’ve accepted the rejection letter as part of the process and are using them as an excuse to be as creative and experimental as you want regardless of the consequences. After all, you have nothing to lose…
But when is enough enough? Continue reading
I write this from experience. If I had known how many rejection letters I’d receive before I started writing, would I have taken the plunge? Good question. I’m not sure, and I don’t really want to look back, but here’s a hypothesis I heard this week: multiple rejection letters may actually hone your creative skills.
Let’s get one thing out on the table and make it clear. Receiving rejection letters – doesn’t matter how many – doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. The odds are against you. Really against you. Continue reading
Uncertainty is a virtue in creative writing. If you’re a writer, you’ve likely heard or read countless interviews of famous authors saying that the outline is a great way to kill the spark. That’s not to say that outlining doesn’t work for anyone. I’ve outlined some stories that I needed to wrap my head around before I got too far in to redirect, and they turned out fine. But it doesn’t work often.
‘Write to discover’ is the long standing motto for many authors, and I’ve adopted it for myself. For a person who usually avoids spontaneity, this seems a little out of character, but then again I’m not writing about myself. I have to figure out who these characters are. To do that, it seems easiest to place them in a setting and a situation, and then I have ten pages from which a plot is quickly being born without my knowledge. Continue reading
The more I read the more I realize that every idea – every idea at all – has already been taken. “There is nothing new under the sun”, the famous quote from King Solomon goes. And while I suspect this is a woefully misquoted verse, it seems to have veracity under most interpretations. And, gosh darn-it, he was saying that long before Christ!
As authors (or artists looking to bring something unique into the world), where does that leave us? Perhaps some of the greatest writers in history felt this inner demon attack on creativity, so maybe we’re not in bad company, but that doesn’t change the nagging suspicion.
A writer’s doubts cling to him or her like a shadow. Glance over your shoulder or into a mirror and you’ll find it. If you don’t, you haven’t done anything risky or creative or vulnerable enough to earn doubt. But perhaps this particular doubt should be cut down a little to a more manageable and realistic scale. Continue reading
This is my second time reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel Of Time series. The first time it held me entranced through most of high school, but I only read the first nine before I got side tracked. (Not to mention, Jordan passed away around then, just before I had caught up to him). Not familiar with Brandon Sanderson’s capable and strangely similar style and talents then, I decided to delve further into fantasy with different authors.
Years and countless writing lessons later the Wheel of Time has turned, and I’ve come back to this classic series to discover it’s just as entertaining as it was before. Yes, I’ve read stronger authors including mega-series-world-creator Steven Erikson, but a broader perspective has given me the chance to view Jordan’s storytelling with a different sort of fascination. Continue reading