The information I decided to keep from the Inspire page that was on this website is now (some of it, anyway—the rest will trickle in or come by landslide, however I manage it) on a new website, which is www.eabundy-Inspiration.com if there is any interest to visit there and take a look. Otherwise, except for this post and the 10th post, it has disappeared from this, my author website.
Blog #11 Motivated Writing
[Before I begin this current blog, I want to thank my brother, Keith, for sending this link http://www.youtube.com/v/4FrGxO2Fn_M which is related to my last blog about positive things we can focus on. The video shows how we can collectively add one million employed people in our country with very little effort, and no government programs or interventions necessary.]
This current blog is written primarily for young writers, and conveys my writing motivation, therefor, it will not fit everyone else’s style, and it is definitely not meant to be writing advice, but to possibly spark thinking in a new and different direction for a few people.
This blog was partly inspired by reading an excerpt suggested to me by my friend, Lani. The excerpt was part of a talk given by Neil Gaiman: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming. That thoughtful piece by Gaiman is a separate topic, but one I highly recommend people read, although it is tangential to my current focus. It regards the importance of libraries, librarians, and literacy of children.
Another influence on this eleventh blog is the upcoming NaNoWriMo event for November, when aspiring writers are encouraged to complete a novel in one month’s time. I know that a couple of writers in my critique group have successfully completed works in years past, thanks to the NaNoWriMo model. I don’t set that kind of writing deadline for myself, but some people seem to need the structure the model provides. In addition, I recently saw that there is a NaNoWriMo event for young writers.
In the last few years, I have mentored high school students who chose to write a novel for their senior project. It is a daunting undertaking for most of them, (and for me too, at times) and many such students might have benefitted from a NaNoWriMo type of approach. My concern is for those young writers whom this approach does not fit—few though they may be. My apprehension comes from my own struggle as a writer before I read Stephen King’s book On Writing. He described his writing process as one of discovery, and what he knew about the story was like the tip of an iceberg. The bulk of it existed beneath the surface and out of sight, so he had to learn about his story as he went along. (That’s the part I found most helpful.)
Because this famous and noteworthy writer had given me permission to do so, I embarked on a writing journey that has led me to a motivation quite different from most novelists. (Remember, we’re talking fiction here, and nonfiction is a different animal altogether, and not my forte.) I know people talk about setting goals for themselves, such as writing a certain number of pages, or a certain number of words in a given length of time—usually a few hours a day. There is nothing wrong with that, but here is what I do:
I try to limit myself to somewhere between four and eight hours a day of writing, so that I don’t become a vegetable sitting in front of my computer. I know I need enough physical exercise, plus resting my eyes occasionally, and the intake of good, nutritious food. My concern is that I could become so carried away with writing that I might injure my health. How many accountants do you know who have worked ten years or more in their field and do not need glasses? Most did not start out that way. Vision is generally of high importance to writers.
On occasion, I have turned out thirty, double-spaced pages a day (somewhere around 7,500 words). At that rate, I could finish the rough draft for a 70,000-word book in ten days. But the peak result of that particular day represented upwards of eleven or more hours of typing, and I knew I could not sustain that pace without negative consequences.
I accomplished the production of 7,500 words in a day not as a result of forcing myself to write. I completed that amount because I was driven. There was a story thrusting its way out, and it was impossible to contain my writing urge. I don’t write because of a deadline, but due to an inner need to release a new story to the page (computer screen). I am also very random, so I often work on multiple writing projects at the same time. Recently, although I have been focusing on completing sequels to some of my book series, a new sci-fi plot emerged unexpectedly—definitely unbidden—and would not leave me alone.
I finally gave in, even though I was bothered because my books tend to become series, and I really didn’t want to start a new one. Oh well. I went with it. Once I got the initial fifteen to twenty pages down, I was able to return to other projects, and one in particular that was clamoring to be completed.
I never wonder what I will write about on a given day, since I have multiple projects going, and I only give in to the one that burns the brightest to unfold. I often have trouble keeping up with the ideas as they tumble out. It is exciting, and I love what I do, and it is never a chore—just the opposite—writing is always fun and rewarding.
To beginning writers, I urge you to find your own way, because until I found mine, I struggled mightily. My writing endeavors were full of “shoulds.” I really should be doing such-and-such, like outlining. I have not outlined a story for years. (That doesn’t mean I think no one else should.) I move naturally between projects, and some days (or parts thereof) I find myself working on a cover illustration instead of writing.
I often wake up so energized in the morning that I grab my laptop and start right in typing without getting out of bed. At some point, I have to make myself stop and go get something to eat, do chores, etc. But I can’t wait to get back to creating a new world, a new character, or the ongoing interactions between my characters. This has evolved because I pay attention to inner promptings. I write in multiple genres because that is where my innermost drive takes me. I don’t choose a genre because it is currently popular; my genres choose me. The story ideas excite me to a degree that I can’t resist them, otherwise, they will never be written. Enough about all that--
My last blog ended with a visit from a dragon, and I promised to continue that thread. But first, what is a dragon—really? Basically, dragons are powerful, mythical creatures that humans have struggled with for centuries. We'll keep that in mind for later.
In the previous blog, I put on my armor with the aid of my able squire, who also helped me mount my war steed, and then he handed up my long lance. I galloped away at full tilt to meet my worthy dragon adversary. I could already see and smell the smoke emitted by the beast, but one concerning thought plagued me as I neared the giant creature. Armor was really good at protecting against sharp, cutting weapons, but it did not seem quite the best thing to wear for a battle with a fire-breathing dragon. Sweat formed on my skin as I thought of being turned into a cinder within the confines of my metal suit.
Cloth coats-of-arms were traditionally worn on top of armor, both as indications of whose side one was on during a battle, and as a protection from the harsh rays of the sun in summertime. Don’t even get me started on what wearing heavy metal clothing is like during the winter, with temperatures below freezing.
As I neared the great, scaly-green monster through the haze left by its most recent blast of fire, I could not help but notice it was about to dine on a recently barbecued cow. Since I was a most devout and chivalrous knight, I called out to the dragon, “Pardon the interruption, my worthy opponent. Go ahead and eat your meal, thou noble and wise adversary. No use letting your food get cold. I’m in no hurry. I’ll just let my charger rest in the shade of that tree over there, and get a drink of water from the stream.”
Now, to be honest, I had more than chivalry in mind when I proposed such a civil-sounding respite to the fearful-looking dragon. I realized that if I could soak my coat-of-arms in the stream, and remain in the shade when I put it back on over my armor—until such time as I engaged in combat with the dragon—the moisture-laden fabric would form some protection from the heat of its flames, and act as a buffer for my armor until I could approach near enough to bring my lance to bear….
TO BE CONTINUED—IN MY NEXT BLOG— (Sorry, but one of my stories is calling to me, and I can’t resist any longer. In the meantime, contemplate on the fact that a dragon is a symbol, and think in terms of what may be the great and fearful dragon in your own life, and what that symbolizes, and what may be done about it. We may have to call on Haley from The Pigeon Catcher if we get stuck on this little project. Later—)
What does a person do when four new novels seem to be stalled in the publication process, and it appears that things are temporarily on hold?
If you are me, you write. There are several other stories I’m working on, so that is not a problem.
But what do you do if all you hear on the news is negative, and it appears the world is headed in a downward spin toward an unhopeful outcome?
I said to two of my cousins not long ago that what the world needs is a TV channel devoted to positive things. By that I don’t mean just heart warming anecdotes, but stories about people making breakthroughs in science, medicine, human relations, energy resources, and so on. (Somewhat like the TED conferences, only with a specific slant.)
It struck me some years past that we do not have an energy crisis on this planet, we have a thinking crisis. What I meant by that is when people put their minds and energy and resources into solving problems, what seemed insurmountable gets resolved. That is how originally we put a man on the moon, and, in my opinion, if the nation I live in put half as much money into research for solutions to things like global warming, and the rising cost of energy consumption instead of figuring out new ways to kill people or latch onto other’s natural resources, we would be a lot better off.
I’m going to take that TV programming idea a step farther. Creating a television station devoted to happenings that move the residents of our planet in a more positive direction might seem an overwhelming undertaking (it did to me, at first). However, people blog all the time, and that is something available to a great many folks with little expense needed. I’m doing it right now. Let’s say a blogger focused on new breakthroughs, and let’s say that the number of people tired of hearing about calamitous and discouraging events began paying attention to him or her, and someone got a related idea and decided they wanted to start a website like YouTube, except with a narrower focus, streaming videos such as how to build a greenhouse on the side of your home so that you could grow your own food, supplementally heat your dwelling, and beneficially oxygenate the air you breath (I have built one). Perhaps someone else might decide to start a website like Wikipedia, but with this new and distinctly positive focus. As time goes on, others could choose to create a website with the flavor of The Last Whole Earth Catalog, providing not just how-to information, but the resources to help people achieve their goals of having more positive lives. Then, somebody else might come along and start a TV channel devoted to covering all of this stuff. I think you begin to get the picture.
As just one example, over twenty years ago a man invented a pedal car that if it were in production today would be a likely contender as one alternative to conventionally powered vehicles, and some of us would be getting so much exercise, we wouldn’t be riding stationary bicycles in our homes, or a gym somewhere. It does not take a genius to see how that could help reduce global emissions and global warming, and also lessen the consumption of petroleum products, or even conventionally generated electricity. Not to mention keeping us physically fit.
What stands in our way of accomplishing this? One line of thinking will see the hand of big companies—conspiracy theories—but I imagine it is mainly our thought processes. Most people are so inundated by negativity, and just getting through their daily lives, that they feel powerless. The truth is, we are anything but helpless. We are exactly the opposite, and I think it is about time we woke up and became the powerhouses we really are. I’m not sure if you have noticed lately, but government has become part of the problem; waiting for them to do the right thing does not appear to be working too well. We, on the other hand, are the solution.
I’m about to digress, but you will soon see how this mental byway fits in. As a child and family therapist and later a child development specialist, I often utilized a therapeutic approach termed Brief Solution Focus Therapy. It was developed by Steve de Shazer and his cohorts in Milwaukie, Wisconsin. Previous to that, the general approach to therapy in most mental health modalities was to uncover a lot of facts about peoples’ problems. This was often an intense and lengthy process (not to mention expensive). But with Solution Focus, the question arose: “When does the problem not occur?” and the answer followed: “Let’s find out more about that exception.”
Most of us today focus on our PROBLEM(s) to the point that we are seemingly incapable of action, or of finding our SOLUTION(s). If, for instance, when I mentioned the ideas of a TV station, an innovative blogger, and various websites devoted to positive breakthroughs—if the reaction to that was to think of reasons why those things are impractical, unlikely, or impossible, the person(s) with such reaction(s) have probably become problem saturated. That is the plight of most of us, but it is not our fault, and it can be overcome.
The truth is, positive exceptions are everywhere, but we have mostly become too numb to recognize them. With a little observation, this condition of a negative, narrow-viewpoint can be overcome. One can begin accumulating positive awareness by capturing those exceptional moments, and putting them together with other similar occurrences. We can start physical files, or computer files, which include the rare newspaper or TV accounts that make us feel good. Or whatever information that points us toward a more helpful and hopeful life experience. It could be as simple for those of us with computers and Internet access as bookmarking videos and other resources in a specially marked folder. Hey, if this blog entry was at all helpful, start with it.
I look forward to hearing about your accomplishments.
Pardon, me, but I’m being interrupted here. What is that sound? A deafeningly loud
roaring sort of noise—and smoke. It smells awful. Oh, now I see….
“Squire, fetch my armor, my biggest shield and my lance, and then saddle my charger—be quick about it—we have a dragon to fight!”
Sorry, but I’ll have to report back on the outcome of this interruption in a later blog. This may take a while.
“No—my longest lance.” He is a new squire, but he means well. “Yes, that’s the one.”
1. a link to a site where a gentleman claims we can add one million people to our workforce with no government intervention, and the WE is you and me. Surprisingly, I think this can work. (Pun intended) Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/v/4FrGxO2Fn_M
2. a link to a talk by Neil Gaiman, well-known British author, who builds a strong case for literacy and creativity, and the fact that the prison population in the US can be predicted by a simple formula based on the number of eleven-year-olds who can't read: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming
That was the week that was!
I spent last week at the coast in an amazing writer's workshop conducted by the renowned author Dean Wesley Smith, and noteworthy publisher, Allyson Longueira. It was an intense and exhausting, but also phenomenally productive and elucidating experience. In addition to the two key presenters, we were fortunate that Lee Allred, author and graphic design noteworthy, contributed his time to help us learn all that we possibly could, as did several others.
The photograph at left shows a couple of display tables with books by Dean and his wife, Kristine Katherine Rusch. The paperbacks in the foreground are recent releases of Kris', while those farther away are a few of Dean's. Kris also contributed her expertise during some of the evening discussions.
In addition, Shelly, the local owner of North by Northwest Books joined us one evening for an engrossing presentation moderated by Dean. The topic was the state of the publishing industry, and how it is in dramatic flux, and what new factors are shaping this transition period. For more information on that, take a look at Dean and/or his wife Kris' websites.
Fortuitously, Mike Moscoe (currently writing the Kris Longknife series under the pen name Mike Shepherd) was also at the coast for the week, on his own individual writer's retreat, and we got to meet and talk with him as well. What a serendipitous event!
I am still assimilating what I learned, and look forward to seeing the resultant beneficial effects on my writing career. One immediate result is that I am redoing the illustration for the cover of my new novel for which the PROOF arrived during the week of the workshop. I'm so excited to see it transforming as I take into consideration the new cover elements I have learned about. As a result, Wild Horse Girl will possibly not be released in paperback until June.
[Er—better make that October or November, as briefly referenced in the September Blog—EAB]
Phillip Marrow, Jr. The Private Eye is now available through AMAZON in the USA. How exciting this is for me, and a relief as well, since some teens who knew it was due to be published have been watching for it since December. Thanks for your patience!
This is two stories in one' both set in Salem, Oregon. The main character, Regie Ralston, is writing a novel about Phillip Marrow, Jr., a teenage detective. Regie "accidentally" adds Urban Fantasy to his story, which he struggles with, but things really get tense when his own personal life begins to mirror that of his fictional main character. There are sample pages for this story that you can access through the navigation bar at the top of the page, under SAMPLES.
( COUNTRY COUSIN In the Wild Woods, which is set in the Beautiful Hood River Valley of Oregon has been published as well, but I'm not talking too much about that until its sequel is in print also. Wild Horse Girl may be out by early May, 2013 )
Yes, the stories just keep coming, and you can become more informed about that by browsing through this website. Thanks for visiting!
Spider Wars is published at last. Today's blog marks a new milestone in my publishing progress. I have rearranged the home page (titled Welcome) so that only my published novels appear there. The single exception to this is Philip Marrow, Jr. The Private Eye, but that book will be published in February so I left it there. (available thru Amazon in mid-February)
The photo to the left in this blog was taken with my iPhone to keep the resolution low, but the colors altered somewhat. (Actually, I like them better in this photo than what is actually on the book covers.) There is a reading sample on the SAMPLES page of this website. Just go to the navigation bar near the top of any page. Also, there is general information about Spider Wars on the Welcome page.
In doing research for Spider Wars, I learned about and then obtained a copy of Herzog's documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, about Chauvet, the French cave that contains 30,000 year-old works of art. These are even older than those found previously in the cave at Lascaux, France, which suffered from allowing tourists to visit its premises. The lessons learned from that "tragedy" have caused the Chauvet cave to be well protected. It is a wonderfully done documentary, but I noticed two things I wish they had added. They used very powerful electric lights to illumine the beautiful ancient paintings. I wish they had also been able to simulate an illumination as if by camp fires and primitive torches (I know they could not contaminate the air with real fire, but there are modern facsimiles that might have sufficed. The uneven surfaces used as "canvases" plus the natural contours of the cave lend their own mystique, but I would have liked to also see the artwork in what might have been the lighting the painters actually used. Secondly, and more importantly, there were comments from artistic experts, but since my background includes play and art therapy with children, I would very much have liked a developmental perspective from an art therapist. Why? Because art therapy takes into consideration developmental milestones that children go through, which is revealed in their drawings. I was impressed because many "primitive" cultures have art that resembles the rudimentary efforts of young children. The art in the cave at Chauvet is very different in that respect. It is developmentally much more mature. If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to click on the link above and take a look for yourself. If you read Spider Wars, you will probably understand why this cave art so particularly interested me, and how it relates to my story.
By some time in February, there will be five published novels described on the Welcome page. In addition, Singing Winds Press (which remains closed to submissions—and you can find out more about that on their website) has also published two novels by other authors for a total of seven books their first year. Way to go! In the foreseeable future, SWP will continue to offer autographed copies of all their books, which you can check out at www.singingwindspress.com. That, of course, includes my novels and you can also find out about that on the store page of this website if you are interested.
To all of you who have purchased one or more of my books to date, Thank You Very Much!
So, what's next? Once Phillip Marrow, Jr. is in print, I will focus on another "new" series that begins with Country Cousin In the Wild Woods. (That was actually my second completed novel, originally with the working title: Welcome to the Country, Cousin, but I decided that was too long, and changed it to Country Cousin. However, more recently, I did an Internet search and found one or more other books by that name, so in the end I have just as long a title as I began with LOL)
It seemed like nothing was happening in some areas I was hopeful about, and then it was as though everything happened at once. This month saw Captain Dreade published and available through Amazon. (Just go to the store and click on the link if you wish to purchase this novel. There is also a reading sample under the heading Book Samples on the navigation bar.)
The publisher, Singing Winds Press, brought out two other books in the interim (Paul's Letters to the Nabateans was first.) and I was privileged to do the cover illustration for Wes Applegate's Western novel Old Man Gun, which is also newly released.and available on Amazon.
Finally, my critique group occasionally has small writing contests in which we each bring a 1,000 word or less short story. Last time we had to write as though we were someone else in the group. Then we all guessed about who had written what. This time we have a Halloween theme, so when I got mine done I posted it on this website under Sequel Samples so that anyone who is interested may read it.
The debate is on about whether Phillip Marrow, Jr The Private Eye gets published next, or if it will be Spider Wars. I'm not even going to guess. I will be very surprised if whichever one it is finds its way into print before the first of the year. But I am grateful and content that I now have three novels published! : )
Post-script: I have been informed that The Pigeon Catcher is available through Booktopia in Australia. Really? Wow....
A SURPRISE BOOK SIGNING EVENT
After the last supervision meeting with this year's PsyD practicum students, I was amazed to discover they had each bought one of my books for me to sign at a surprise party ending the school year. I guess that I should not have been so amazed, knowing what great doctoral practicum students they have been, but I was. It turned into a banner event and the culmination of a wonderful school year. I will miss working with these competent, resourceful, and highly dedicated young women. Thanks for all your hard work and the many students you helped, as well as the "impromptu" book signing event!
May your futures be filled with the rewards you so rightly deserve.
There are, as mentioned in the first blog, two books from other authors that will be published before my next book, and I won't try to predict which one it will be, but as soon as I know, I will post it here.
In the meantime, I will explain how this site evolved. When I first began tinkering with ideas for a website, I visited a great many author's home pages, and I found at that time lots of "bells and whistles" on the websites of the most famous authors. I think many of those websites were probably designed by professionals working perhaps for large publishing houses (just a guess). In the course of that research, I came across a website created by young writers in New York. They had canvassed hundreds of children's authors websites, and to my surprise, not one of the "bells and whistles" sites made the cut into their top ten author site category. I reread the young writers' comments and visited the websites that had made their top ten list.
The New York teens were attracted to the sites that let them get to know the author. When I thought about that, I realized what was missing from the "bells and whistles" websites. There was little, if any, of the author's personality on them. I had felt quite let down, myself, when I visited J.K. Rowling's site. It had this amazing desktop and you could navigate all around by clicking on objects on the desk, etc. but I learned almost nothing about the author, herself. Now, I do not mean this as a criticism of J.K. Rowling or any other famous author, and over time, I think the "experts" who designed the sites learned a lesson, because when I recently returned to those sites, most of the embellishments I had seen earlier had disappeared. There weren't things flying across the screen and loud noises blaring, etc.
Another factor is that I think a lot of writers are introverts, which translates to the idea that they are very private people. (JD Salinger is probably an extreme example.) I know that is true for me. I think most of us will readily give up the task of designing our own websites to someone else and that the closest we get to self disclosure is what a reader can deduce from our novels. I have done the best I can to stretch myself and share what I can on this site with interested readers. For other writers who are developing their own websites, I recommend looking at the New York youth's website (they are in their twenties by now), but keep in mind that all the websites that made their top ten have changed, at least I think they have, in the several years since the top ten were selected—from what I observed when revisiting them. One must simply rely on the general statements about what they liked on author websites.
The reason I included my Unusual Visitor's page here is that I felt it captured something about me that would not otherwise be reflected on my website. When I was first designing it, I would have been horrified at the idea of including what I had done for the Flat Stanley project as a page on my site. It seemed too unprofessional. Okay, I'm going to stop now. This is getting way too long
March 22nd I discovered that Henrietta H. House is now available on the Kindle, so that makes two books in paperback at Amazon (and I don't know where else at this point) and they are now both on the Kindle.
A year and a half ago, I didn't even have a Kindle! And the fact that I do is thanks to my daughter and son-in-law's generous gift. If you are thinking about getting one, watch out because they are addicting.