Thursday, June 13, 2013

Words Don't Break

The idea behind this blog is to follow the writing of my fantasy novel -- the Land of Joy and Sorrow -- and see what becomes of it. To make mistakes and to stumble, and then to pick up the pieces and dauntlessly stumble towards more mistakes. And in the process, to have fun telling my story, inventing my characters, finding inspiration to create new worlds and new beings, and (as an extra bonus) maybe even to learn a thing or two about writing, the kind of thing that you can only learn by trying and failing and trying and failing and trying a little harder and longer and with a little more passion.

I've been writing all my life, as Russians would say -- "in-the-desk" (in reference to manuscripts that never see the light of day) -- or in my case, under-the-nightstand. When, after ten years, the heap of handwritten papers spilled out and over, making it difficult to squeeze to my side of the bed, and the ideas kept coming, I decided to turn them into a book and thus clear some space and appease my ever-growing need to write. All I had to do was find a place to begin.

Ah, the beginnings!

the fortune cookie ALWAYS speaks the truth

To me, they are always equal parts excitement and terror (with a smear of awesomeness). They are unrealized possibilities, blank canvases, untraveled roads. I used to craft each word in my head like a delicate piece of jewelry before I would deem it worthy of a scrap of paper or a laptop screen or my USB drive or a chance at becoming an idea. To treat my sentences like precious, breakable things. They had to be perfect, pristine, just-so, soldiers, all-in-a-row, and more often than not they came out dull, strangled of all life, utterly robbed of any spontaneity and spark and fun. I would imagine these gorgeous, breathtaking scenes and write them down in gorgeous, well-thought-out words, and when I would read them later, they were just -- meh. Awful, actually. It was all very discouraging, not to mention -- tiresome.

So I told myself to loosen up. To reign-in the need to control and simply let the story spool freely and wildly, be what it wished to be, rather than try to wrangle it into submission. To not be shy about writing too many similes or using outrageous imagery or improbable premises. To have fun with my metaphors, my verbs, my adjectives. To be rough with my words. To enjoy myself rather than worry about ruining my masterpiece, or making mistakes -- words don't break! That's the beauty of them. You can always go back for revisions, rewrite to your heart's content. Every single word, if you so desire.

Now, I find writing those first few sentences (paragraphs, pages, chapters) of a novel, less like fine metal smithing and more like a plunge into an icy, mountain lake or a snowdrift -- headfirst. It's best to just breathe great, quick lungfulls and go for it. The more you hesitate, the less likely you are to actually do it. And if you walk away, you might always regret an opportunity missed. You might always wonder what could've been. And the story would remain trapped inside of you like bubbles of unexhaled air. So wasteful. And selfish. Also, unhealthy.

So don't hesitate. Have tons of fun. Be spontaneous. Be messy. Enjoy it. After all writing is so, so much more rewarding than jumping into frigid water or stinging snow. It is interesting, it is funny, it teaches you things you would've never learned otherwise. It's kind of like going on a scavenger hunt, or dreaming-while-wide-awake. You never know what you'll find or see. You never know what you'll gain. Just like in dreams, you can be as fearless, as bold, as daring, as adventurous as you wish to be and still walk away unscathed. What can be better, I ask you?

So here it goes. My plunge. My experience. My novel.

and some inspirational quotes to help along the way...

"You might not wright well every day,
but you can always edit a bad page.
You can't edit a blank page."

— Jodi Picoult

"I learned to produce whether I wanted to or not. It would be easy to say oh, I have writer’s block, oh, I have to wait for my muse. I don’t. Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done."
— Barbara Kingsolver via I Love Reading and Writing!  
Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.
— Susan Sontag via the writer's den
You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair; the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names or can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page."
— Stephen King ~ "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" via I Love Reading and Writing!

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."

— Sylvia Plath via BrainyQuote


  1. Looking forward to reading the beginning!... to begin with.

  2. I'm posting first teaser-chapters soon...