Darwin’s Writers (A Plea for Word Chasers)

Being an author is being in charge of your own personal insane asylum. — Terri Guillemets

     Writers had to be who Darwin had in mind when he developed his infamous theory of survival of the fittest!  As a writer, today I’m feeling like a fish out of water.   The only way a fish could actually survive would be to adapt to air. This is almost impossible, unless you are of the infamous Mudskipper variety; that is you adapt. 

Don’t believe me?  Click here to see this amazing Mudskipper:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Or9NUEroVcE

As a writer, I’m learning a few things about the sport, occupation, obsession, or illness (it varies from day to day):

  • You need readers to feel validated and to avoid a horizontal parking space on the shrink’s couch.
  • You need to set goals; this often involves even more time than the writing takes.
  • You need to decide if you eventually want to make money at it.  When?  How?

These days can the writing ever carry itself, or is all about networking, sharing, and linking?

I’ve discovered, just like exercise, it’s really hard sometimes to write every day, or nearly every day.  I enjoy it about 98% of the time, but I loathe is about 2% of the time.

I enjoy it because I have so much I want to write about.  I loathe it because I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit this:   Every writer wants more readers!    Yet how best do you accomplish this?  In this day of digital information overload, how do you get more people to read your posts?  After all, other peoples’ time is valuable too.

Do you write true?  That is do you write what is truly at your core and in your heart today?

Do you write what you think will be popularAnother words do you write in order to please others and seek to satisfy some mythical audience?

How do you branch out and reach more potential readers?  Are you marketing yourself correctly?   Facebook and Stumble Upon pulls a few folks in, but are there better ways?

Am I over categorizing?  Over tagging?   Should I be more specific or more broad-based?

Is conciseness the key?  Or is detail?

I know you should post often and consistently, and try to hook people with clever titles, and an interesting picture or quote.   Yet, is that enough?

Is your theme eye-catching?

How long did it take you to build a bigger audience?  What was your best strategy?

Maybe I’m just having one of those days where I’m in a state of analysis paralysis and it has rendered my muse positively mute today.  Maybe I’m listening too much to my head and not my heart.

I am curious and seeking other writer’s perspectives on what works for them and what doesn’t.   Or if you are just a reader, and want to pop in and say hi, well that’s great too!

It’s been said that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, but I say, you’re bananas if you think writers write only for themselves.  Like the infamous Mudskipper, I’m hoping to eventually rise above the mud as well as drying out in the sun.

I would love to hear any thoughts from those of you out in cyberspace!  For my readers:  I love you and appreciate you more than you could possibly know.  For my fellow writer comrades:  Keep going.  Never give up.  Stay encouraged.  Keep networking.  Have faith.  Go!

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Blah Blah Blog – Musings from a Writer’s Cat

“Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance.” – Dan Greenburg
“One cat just leads to another.” – Ernest Hemingway

      My Mama writes too much!  She says too many words.    Her house is a wreck and her mind is sometimes a mess.  Her desk is a tower of unpaid bills, unanswered correspondence, and stacks of cards never mailed to graduates, new moms, and birthday recipients.  There are receipts, Band-Aids, business cards, and post-it notes written in a code language known only to her.

But that’s just the surface of her desk.  Glance down a few feet.  Towers of books and magazines sit by idly while awaiting their use as reference material or sources of inspiration.  Their loneliness and lack of attention is obvious as the dust and spilled coffee stains upon their covers attest.  In the old days they would have been perused for pleasure purposes, but now they are handled hurriedly and thrown back down when Mama gets frustrated.

Mama’s behind on laundry, and all the rooms are starting to look like a Goodwill store whose employees have been on strike for a month.   Her refrigerator is barren, save the few science experiments festering in the back.  The scraps were long ago ravaged by her hungry children who have found clever ways to sustain life; that is they’ll head over to the dining establishment with the golden arches faster than Morgan Spurlock can say “Super Size Me”.

Here’s the worst part:  My dishes are empty!  Both of them! 

That’s right.  No water, no food!   Somebody needs to create and then call Social Services for Writers Cats!    Desperate times call for desperate measures.  There’s only one thing left that I can do:

It’s time for an intervention!

I jump up on Mama’s lap.  She keeps petting the keyboard more than she does me!  How utterly rude!  I purr louder, and knead the gooey tummy dough at the top of her pants.  Still nothing!  Hmmmpphh!    Fine then!  I can type as well as she can.  Watch this:

Sndkfp ♣d+=cc ♠ ☼4rjf030jfmg,  J  sg0-[345jl;3489f8*&#* ❤  843434 bsjskj1934u

What the furrball?  She’s still going!  It’s time to interrupt her line of sight.    I’m going to jump up on her screen so she’ll be forced to see me.  What’s this?  She isn’t even writing her best seller?  She was reading Facebook and searching for inspiration??

But she promised me she was working on The Great American Novel and I’d be dining on Fancy Feast out of crystal bowls for the rest of my days.

That’s it!  I’ve had it!  I’m going to jump down and turn off the…….

(PLAY THIS LINK AND YOU’LL KNOW):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-fTqAMND7g

The Silence of the Muse

Creator: Daeng Buasand – “Write Life”

Suggested Listening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpsDegqioVA

Grrrrrrr!  Today my muse is giving me the silent treatment!  I hate it when she does this.

It’s usually because we disagree over what’s deemed to be publish worthy.

“This isn’t quite right,” I say.  “It doesn’t flow.  You know, I’m just not feeling it.  How do you think the audience will?”

“Such a cop out,” says the muse, “the  truth of the matter is you’re just too chicken.  You’re more concerned with what people might think of you than being true to your work.”

“Excuse me?” I ask incredulously.  “The last time I checked work is a four letter word that has the concept of compensation attached to it at the end of a long day!”

“That’s your problem!  You always have to have things right now!  An ant has more courage than you!”

“Shut up!”  I mutter.  I ball up another one of her ideas and throw it in the trash.

“Fine then!  Sabotage yourself!” and POOF!  She’s gone.  Maybe what we were fleshing out together was better than I thought, now that I think about it.

It doesn’t matter now; she’s gone.  Invisible.   Maddeningly silent.   Fine then, indeed!  Pages get typed, edited, revised, and then filed again into an enlarging file titled “Unfinished”.    It could just as well be titled, “Unworthy”.

Hours pass.  Intermittent flashes of inspiration hit when I’m away from my desk and abruptly leave upon my return.  Now the day is over, and I’m mad that there isn’t anything I feel confident about publishing.    This is the divine torture of the artist:

Mistaking the value of the creation higher than the value of the creator.

The artist’s esteem can also be easily crushed by the future perception of an audience not yet known.    Artists insure the field of psychiatry will continue to stay prosperous.

I was about to cry, and then a little voice inside me rose up and let me know, just like my writing today, I am unfinished.  But that is a far cry from unworthy. 

Never mix up the two.    Even when your muse isn’t on speaking terms with you.

I know she’ll come back; she always does.

Oh look, she must have come back.  She just scampered across my playlist and left me this song as a peace offering.  I think we’re back together.  🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jloQ6xsx3bE

“Unwritten” by Natasha Beddingfield

My Fickle Muse

Image

Try to find your deepest issue in every confusion and abide by that.  D.H. Lawrence

I have such a fickle muse.  This muse who always shows up uninvited when I’m busy working on anything in real life other than writing, and who arrives fashionably late or sometimes not at all when I most desperately need her.    She is like the invisible friend one has in childhood, but you get teased by older siblings if seen talking to her.

She is fleeting.  She rides the wind currents of air and rolls in and out with the changing of the tide.   She’s entirely unpredictable and unreliable, and yet I love her so.  I never know if this is the day she’ll show up.  If I could contain her, I would trap her so she would stay with me just a little while longer and whisper those things she wants only me to know, and even less she allows me to share.

She laughs at me when I’m frustrated, and sits oddly still, giving me the silent treatment, when I tell her I have all the time of the world to spend with her for now.  When I perceive pressure and deadlines, she is always out partying no doubt.

My muse, yes, he is a strange one.  Constantly changing form, and swirling all around me.   I carry a secret happiness knowing only I can see him sometimes.   I smile during inappropriate moments and places because he tells me things he doesn’t share with anyone else.  And then he says the magic three words, every writer’s heart longs to hear:

Write this down.

On nights when all is right in my world, the tasks of the day are done, and I’m about to shut my eyes for what will surely be a rare night of deep sleep, he hovers just inches over my freshly closed eyes.  I can barely feel the fluttering of him, but still I do.  WAKE UP!  Did you know about this?  What are you going to do with this news?    No, I think, not now.  I don’t need you right now.  Yes, my fickle muse is sometimes an annoying little pest.

If I’m in the shower, I sometimes can faintly hear him singing.  But if I try to sing with him, he quickly vanishes.    Sometimes he’ll write my memoirs when I’m not looking, and when I find them and read them, I’ll shriek, “Hey!  That’s not true!” and then I compose myself, because when I try to recall the past, sometimes, I’m not sure.

Like a cat, he sometimes taps across my keyboard leaving a trail of misspelled words, misplaced and excess punctuation.   The ultimate revisionist, he sometimes substitutes made up words for real ones.  He’s a prankster too.  Sometimes, when feeling particularly devilish, I’ll be nearly finished writing a post, a page, or an outline, and I will hit “save” as he simultaneously deletes what was surely my best work.  Finito!

She certainly contributes to a mild case of crazy.  Sometimes she’ll brighten the room with such a huge flash of inspiration.  I’ll get two or three sentences written.  Amazing!  I think to myself.  Then, faster than the flash of words she just gave me, she runs off with a band of her bohemian friends, leaving me stranded for days without capability of follow through.  I look back and don’t even know what we were talking about in the first place.

Sometimes when life is unbelievably complicated, and writing feels like a chore with no joy, she’s suddenly sitting beside me, my biggest cheerleader.  You can do this, you know she whispers.  I always knew you would, how come you didn’t?  She sees my tears I cry in secret, and carries them to painters who need vibrant water to mix with their duller colors.

My muse, I love him so.   When I feel lost and alone, he’ll stop and sit beside me when I pray.  I sense a calmness just knowing he is there.   When I’m out and about mixing with all the people of the world, he always leaves me be, because he knows that I know deep down, I am fine without him.

Together we form words ex nihilo!  We create beauty alla prima!  After the creation is finished, he leaves.    I know why.  I’m not his only one.

Yes, she leaves me, not because she’s selfish, but because she’s generous.   See, she has to help the other artists too.  There are poets also struggling to find the perfect word, painters who go to the ends of the earth searching for the truest blue, the ballerina who strives for the perfect grand battement, the singer who aches for the melody that will complement the lyrics, or the pianist who seeks to arrange a composition to perfection.    My muse is not faithful to me, but is full of faith in me, and for that I’m grateful.

Yes, sometimes I see the calling card of my muse in others too.  It’s the secret glance of other artists.  It’s the question within a question that they ask.  Or it’s the connection one’s soul has when meeting another like-minded person.   You see, a muse always leaves their mark.  You know it; the bumper sticker that states “Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty”.   That’s the reaction many a muse has caused.

Tempus Fugit!  Our time together is finished.  I leave here, only to set foot out into the world, searching, always longing to find my muse, and bring her safely home.

Suggested Listening:  Cosmic Love by Florence and the Machine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EIeUlvHAiM

Does this Blog Make My Butt Look Big?

Brevity is the soul of wit—Shakespeare

When it comes to writing, I don’t worry about my head ever getting too big.  The same thing can’t be said for my butt, however.  See I have a problem.

My name is Liz.  I am a word addict.  Plain and simple, I just use to many of them.   So I woke up this morning determined to write a blog in 50,000 words or less.  Ready, go!

Often when I write, I go into information overload, and adjectives and adverbs of all sort seem to fall from the sky like raindrops, ripe for the picking, to spice up my entry.  Oh, did I mention similes and metaphors?

When I approach writing, I first try to write free flow and just let the thoughts flow where they may.  Several hours later, as my word count begins to approach three thousand, and my family is slowly wasting away from starvation downstairs, I realize it may be time to not only reach the core of my topic, but now quickly wrap up my  entry.

Writing can be like going on a long sailing trip.  You are blown by every breeze, and then all of a sudden, boom!  You hit a sandbar.  In the old days, this was the part where you ripped the paper out of your typewriter, cursed, and balled it up, and chunked it in the trash!  Now days, you simply delete it, or file it with slim to nil chances of ever retrieving it in the future.

Whether it’s word constipation,  or verbal diarrhea, I am learning writing, particularly the primarily (revision: almost always) unpaid job of writing in the blogosphere can still be exhilarating.  For one, you are getting loads of practice.   Secondly, you are not out in the world over-consuming, selfishly using up the world’s resources like fossil fuels, buying useless things you don’t even need,  or getting all stressed out over the state of the world.

However, you probably aren’t burning up a lot of calories with your fingers.  In fact, you may be consuming more than you burn, especially if write with a comfy plate of carbohydrate-laden pastries and a diet coke on standby near your mouse.

This finally leads me to my point.  You may not get famous.  You may not even get paid.  Your butt may get bigger in the process.  But somewhere in the process, you just may find the gentle stirrings of your soul, urging you on to pursue your writing dreams.

And now my fifteen minutes of writing time has expired.  Time to go to my day job.  Let’s hope I can fit into my pants!