Author Archives: dscot

White Noise

notepad 2There is nothing so annoying as the blank page.

It sneers and laughs.

The blank page mocks.

I look at it and hear the clamor of words; see the hazy images of half-formed ideas.

All smothered by the endless white.

Impotence breeds hesitation.

Today, I need a coffee.

I stare at the pen clutched in my fingers.

“What if..?”

What if what? What if this? What if that?

Pushing the empty page away, I ponder tomorrow’s needs.

Caffeine or Alcohol?

Write More. Write Everyday–Because The Voices In Your Head Can Drive You Crazy

pencil stock 1He stood on the other side of the door. I knew it was him. For weeks I felt his presence, a movement at the edge of my vision, a shadow in the mirror disappearing when I leaned in for a closer look. Now he stood on my front stoop, dressed in purple pajamas or a pants suit. The fabric was crushed velvet. I’ve seen the velvet Elvi and this looked like the same material, only in deep purple.

“Um,” I said. Looking at him, bald, barely up to my shoulders and wearing that ridiculous purple outfit, I wondered why I wasn’t laughing, no chuckles, not even a twitch of my lips. “Do I know you?”

He merely stood, tilting his head to one side and contemplated me. I began to fidget. He reminded me of–motion. No, he reminded me of constant motion. As if his current stillness was unnatural. He was a predator. And he was looking at me in a manner that made me wonder how long it had been since he had last eaten.

“You’re kidding me,” he said. “You really don’t remember.”

“Uh,” I have found that I often use my wit as a shield during uncomfortable confrontations. “Do I?”

“It’s been over fifteen years!” He snapped and slapped the door frame with an open palm. Cheek high. I saw no movement, just felt the breeze of his hand passing my face. The implication was clear. That could have been my head.  “I’ve killed for you! I’m wearing this goddamned purple outfit because of you!”

“Wait,” I said, holding up my palms and patting the air between us. “You’re–”
“Yes,” he interrupted. “And for the past eight months I’ve been strapped to damned rock table with some kind of half-assed fire demon chewing through my chest. Would you mind moving the plot along a bit? I really could use some fresh air.”

“Um, wait–what?” I asked, spearing him with a zinger from my stockpile of snarky retorts.

“Move. The. Story. Along. Before. Someone. Gets. Hurt.” He poked my ribs to add emphasis to each syllable.

“Move the story along,” I gasped. The pokes to my ribs had emptied my lungs and they seemed disinclined, at present, to refill at any capacity.

“Before you get hurt,” he said, nodding at my comprehension.

“This kinda hurts,” I moaned.

“You’re lucky,” he said. “You almost had this conversation with that ancient, Egyptian, death spirit. He’s pissed.”

###

We all have experienced those voices. For some of us, the voices wither and die away, just an annoying distraction to be brushed aside. In others, they grow into such a cacophony that reality tends to disappear. Read Bradbury, Poe, Burroughs, or more contemporary authors, Butcher, Child, Silva and imagine these authors ignoring the voices in their heads. In what special hell would they now be living if they had done that?

I read once that Piers Anthony writes between 5-10,000 words a day. Crazy, right? I used to think so. But then I researched other authors. Some would travel, spending weeks, sometimes months, in solitude, until their work was complete. . Others locked themselves in their home offices/dens, cutting off all contact with family during the evening hours. Even J.K. Rowling scribbled on napkins and scrap paper until her novels took shape.

The point is that you must write. Write every day. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in the minutiae of daily life. For instance, just now I stopped writing and removed two spiders from the wall behind my desk. There went almost three minutes of my day, not writing.  Minutiae.

I do admit that there are things that do need attention. Rooms to paint. Cracks to seal. Windows to wash and weeds are choking the flower beds around the house. But those are merely…unsightly. Close your eyes. Turn your head. Hell, even moving to a different room makes the problems cease being problems. Well, they cease to be problems that require immediate attention.

But the characters in our stories, the ideas forming half-resolved plots do need consideration, and lots of it. They might never be widely heralded (Take note publishers.  I know who you are and where to submit), but ignoring them is not the solution. Life happens around you every day and if you let it distract you, ideas fail. Characters that once fired your imagination with vitality slowly wither and fade to little more than white noise on a white page.

And if you are serious about your writing, the thought of allowing this to happen should just drive you crazy.

If You Are Reading This, It Is Time To Join A Writers Group

pencil stock 3Writing is one of the most personal, agonizing and intoxicating journeys on which one can embark. It is the act of creation, from the moment the initial idea exists as a mere gleam in the writer’s eye until it is fully captured in print. At this point you are a writer. Congratulations!

If your only goal is to reach the point of creation to be that writer, stop reading now. Nothing in what comes next will be of interest. What comes next is why writing groups exist. What comes next is…Editing.

Editing is a difficult concept. I can remember when I struggled with it. ‘Why can’t you see the beauty of my creation?’, ‘What do you mean, ‘You don’t get it?’, ‘I don’t need to make changes. You need to re-read this and then agree that this is the best literature you have ever read!’

Very few authors can continue to thrive by working in a vacuum. It is a rare talent that can look at the initial creation and say, ‘it is complete’, and be correct.  So what is Editing?

Editing is not a personal attack. Editing is change. Change is necessary. Change breathes life into your creation.

Seeking out a writer’s group to edit your creations can be terrifying. But the benefits from the experience are tremendous. These critiques will highlight what was exceptional.  How well is the plot developed? Are the characters believable? Is the author’s voice distinct and compelling? Even better, the critiques also reveal the weaknesses: sentence structure, punctuation, is/are the action/characters too cliché?

Editing allows growth in the author, developing a greater confidence in what is created and  improving the ability to self-critique, which provides the path to finding the author’s unique voice.

In my own journey in joining The Toledo Writers Workshop and accepting the necessity of editing, I am discovering richer and more complex emotions, more compelling characters and worlds that used to be hidden in the shadowy edges of my imagination. I am no longer daunted by the idea of  pushing beyond my dreams and seeking out what used to be unimaginable.