Category Archives: Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour

Staying motivated

Topic of the week in my writings as well.

Two weeks ago  I thought I had some good advice on how to stay motivated to write, but as that ship has sailed, I feel that it was good to pack it up with all the goodies in the world, but I think I didn’t pack it well enough, because in the sudden storm, that ship has sunk. I am feeling much less motivated than I care to admit and in this past week, I tried out all the fantastic ideas I found from the books and I can’t really advocate that they’ve worked.

Plus my coffee is making popping sounds. How on earth is that even possible?

I don’t keep motivation posters on my wall. I don’t have some long term goal, when it comes to writing. Just that I want to finally finish the book I’m writing. Still, with my schedule (and no, it is not an excuse, but reality), it might take longer time. So I don’t put much into being inspired by that. It will happen, when the time comes.

However, what often motivates me, is the story. I have three stories currently, which I haven’t been able to finish. Not because lack of time, but I am just not ready. Lazette is right about this – jump in and just do it. Find a story that intrigues you and write it out. Often, when I start writing something, it keeps me going if I leave the work sitting with cliff hanger. That seems to be the best motivator to continue – to solve that and hang the character on next one.

But as far as it comes to having long term goals as motivations – that doesn’t really work for me. If the story is out and written, then the motivation ends and I need a new fix. But sometimes, that fix doesn’t come. That’s ok, body needs rest every now and then, too.

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Today’s post is my response to the prompt on “Staying motivated” this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on August 21st, 2012.

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Online communities

When it comes to being part of a writing communities, I am enjoying mostly company of fellow Forward Motion for Writers group activities, but I also am active member of National Novel Writing Month. Though, for now, my visits have turned from boiling to simmer while I’m copying with work. I have been part of few others, but time is as it is – you can’t stretch it forever.

I mostly view online communities as a positive way for expression. Despite few negative experiences, which I will lightly touch later, they have proved invaluable in long term. I read a lot of how-to books about creative writing and writing in general. Yet it doesn’t quite replace talking about writing with others, who have gone through similar problems or who see things differently. The moment you understand a problem by seeing it in different light, is liberating, and for this I seriously love my companions of writing.

Second thing, why I keep going back for more, is that we are all there for one thing – writing. And of course for chatting on any other topic that seems suitable at that time. But mostly for writing. This means if I log in their forums or in their chat room, I am logging myself into environment that supports my goals for the future. They are not people, who coach me to go out with them,” ‘cause how long can one sit behind computer?”, they don’t come to “spend their free time with you” or anything else that would take you away from your writing. Instead you are pulled into moving force of getting your writing done, exploring new topics that help your character and world build and give you new lighthouses to follow on the endless ocean of ideas. I still have the habit of doing my writing in private, in silence and thus tend to log off if the chat gets too much, but I appreciate greatly their ability to get you back on track and inspired. Inspired to work. Sitting there alone, in your room, moaning over day gone wrong can get all will to work to bare minimum, so that’s where their help is most felt in my life. I can’t count times and gratitude I’ve felt after going online after seriously bad days and being able to retune myself enough to get actual writing done.

Third thing, why I love online freedom so much, is because my work tends to go 16 hours a day, plus 2 for eating-moving around and 6 for sleeping, it is vital for me to get at least some contact in field I love. Again – online communities can provide both opportunity to learn and practice something that you otherwise wouldn’t find time for.

However, positives aside, to keep you vigil on your roaming. One must understand – you need to keep safety up and running. It is well known that what you put up in internet, stays there for generations to come. Any story, any idea you share with your fellow writers is there for everybody to see. This means two things – your fellow writers might be inspired by your idea. Which itself isn’t the end of the world, because in general idea is nothing unless you work it out and the stories that come from single idea are often very different. Secondly, someone can see it as opportunity to take your story (if you’ve shared it already) and present it as their own.

Unfortunately I can say I have gone through this situation and it wasn’t pleasant. So I can only suggest thinking carefully, what you share and with whom. Make sure you have copies of all your work just in case and make SURE that you do not share anything specific about the book you hope to publish unless you trust the other person completely. I have many stories that I take far lighter about sharing than those that I hope to give out one day as a book. It is common sense not to overshare. I know my fellow writer is working on a historical with certain character. Sometimes she posts a snippet or two and shares a chapter with someone in private. She asks guidance with characters, building the world, naming things and grammar. That is all I know of her work and as a fellow writer I think I don’t need to know more before her book comes out. You don’t need to share anything specific either unless you trust the person you’re talking to.

Now that I think of it, this is the only really negative side of being part of a larger community. As far as people go, being part of the community is better than not being part of it. As a writer you’ll meet a lot of people you didn’t even imagine to exist and get to talk on topics that have already driven your close relations mad. Things like, how often does a cat do it’s rounds? What would be the best name for furry blood sucking bird? How many tails would start disturbing each other? Which scene sounds better? How many words to…. You get my drift.

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Today’s post is my response to the prompt on “Online communities” this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on July 21st, 2012.

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My favorite character part II: Saul-Erik

I wrote about what kind of characters I like. I didn’t write about my favorite one.

Why I love this character so much, is because despite being an impact character, since I’ve created him some years back, he has grown a lot from being just a name to someone, who I can really relate to.

The name.  King Saul was distinguished for the greatness of his knowledge and for his great physique. He was king appointed by God, who his people didn’t recognize as worthy.  He wasn’t the best of the kings, but there are certain points in his life that remind me of, who Saul-Erik is.  Erik Thorvaldsson, the Norse king Erik the Red, was the one, who first created Norse settlement in Greenland.

Saul-Erik was born in summer 1969. His first years were spent in a family with power hungry father. He ran away, when he was just 9, but didn’t spend much time on the streets. He was found and picked up by Rasmus, his future mentor, who took the boy to his friend’s family, who already had a small boy, Oliver.  They grew up together and became inseparable, like brothers. They are very different in nature, Oliver being more closed up that he is, but they complement each other and they appreciate the critics and advice both offer. This can’t be said to Saul-Erik’s genetic family.

They travelled a lot, when he lived with them, often because the family belonged in a group that was experimented on in 1950s. The society fears them and the others like, because of the history. They are often scared off by locals after they find out, too blinded by fear, so in time, the group becomes more secluded than ever. This constant fear of being found out and the childhood fear of possibility of “caring citizens” taking him away from the family, is what thrives him to this day.  There was an incident, when one time it almost happened and that fear haunts him still. He might not share their blood, but he is forever thankful for their generosity for taking him in and offering him loving family.

While he is there, Rasmus, noticing his leadership abilities, starts training him. Rasmus is the previous leader of the group, before the group had to disintegrate over night. He hasn’t given up on the idea of bringing the group back together, but he knows he won’t be the one doing it. Saul-Erik, however, proves to be eager material for transformation and so he begins teaching him everything he knows in order to him one day make his plan come true.

When he is 17, in his stepfather’s urging to make amends with his family, he returns to home, but only stays there until he turns 18 and then rejoins Oliver’s family. He doesn’t get along with his father still after all the years.

Meanwhile, Rasmus takes care that Saul knows, who he is preparing to be and gets educated accordingly. He masters economics and real-estate. He knows all the time, that he will one day be set with responsibility over the group and he takes this responsibility very seriously. His mission is simple, but hard to accomplish. Create a haven to those, who are hunted by the society for belonging in the human experiment group, plus few others. A place where they could just sit outside, walk to a shop or walk their dogs without being brought out to be problematic creatures that they were. The idea was simple, the theory doubtful, but the creating was beyond anything he planned to have.

He grows up to be 5’8 tall and medium built. His dolomite grey eyes and light hair often diminish any argument and give others impression that he means business. The only scar he bares, is the one running across his right hand wrist. It was bicycle accident from when he was 14, but because everybody joked about it “that’s a way to try to meet his maker”, on benigh fooling, he had a bracelet tattoo. His stepfather gifted him a silver bracelet to mark the foolishness of his and now he wears a tattoo around his right hand wrist with a silver bracelet. It gives impression of cover-up and those, who don’t know the story think he attempted suicide and lived. He lets them believe to certain level.

By personality he is considered to be well-honed in diplomacy and he is very honest. He indeed knows diplomacy, but he can’t second the latter. Since 1998, when he began his mission to bring the group back together and started his business of buying and then resettling the bought houses with “his kin”, he has been anything but honest to outsiders. To his own people, he is young and full of potential and he tries to stay honest with them as much as possible, but to outsiders he has fixed a reputation to keep them away. It has brought him in attention of the police, but having been observed throughout his life by the “caring society”, he knows well how to play that game.

His plus would be his strength and passion hi puts in his mission. His strength seems to spread around in the room, when he walks in. On the other hand it makes him obsessed with control. He is very cautious, who he lets in the group and how big risks he allows his kin to take. He doesn’t always hold them back, but they know the last look he sends after them, when they leave, is filled with worry. That sometimes makes others question if the man is prepared to take tough decisions if needed, but because he has proven otherwise in several occasions in the past, they, as for now, look past that, never facing up to him with it. However, he is aware of it and that makes him insecure sometimes. He turns out to be very arrogant sometimes; often blunt and very open about what he wants.

He is an impact character. So, he is impact character to Evelyn. Evelyn is a woman, who travels in his town to find her father. He learns of her from Mykola, when the man comes searching for a new hiding place, because his previous cover has been blown. While he is staying in the house next door, he tells him stories of her and his own search for normality and how she nearly completed his quest, offering it to him. Saul-Erik realizes, listening him, that he does not want to sacrifice his own happiness for the group. He has already dedicated his entire life to them, but he doesn’t wish to end up alone because of that. His own created paradise has turned into personal emotionless prison. But he loves listening Mykola’s stories and he secretly falls in love with that ideal woman, who offered normality for abnormal. After a while, Mykola leaves and he is left with longing for something he knows could jeopardize his mission.

But then Evelyn calls in his firm and asks to rent a house. Learning, who she is, he makes the one uncalculated decision and selfishly gives her the house next door to his. An outsider deep inside the group territory. Two days later his rational thinking returns and he deeply regrets it, especially when he learns that she might be a bounty hunter. He knows that people like that can be bought and this creates him problems – if he lets her follow her trail, she might find information that will be harmful for the entire group should she ever think selling it. On the other hand he is fascinated of the woman he has heard so much about and that creates a problem of his own, the sort Rasmus can’t help him with.

What happens next you can read in the book next year ;).

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My favorite character

When I started searching for my favorite character from my own works, I realized soon that my mind returned not to my own work, but to Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and the movie produced by the book.

After I’d seen it in the movies – and knowing my brother had too – I turned to my brother and said that what I found most intriguing about it, was the set of actors, who played different roles throughout the whole movie. He looked at me with genuine surprise and said he even noticed! How he could have missed it, I wondered.

Without going into details, because some of you might have not seen it yet and I recommend you go and see it, the idea in that movie was that different characters in different times were played by the same actors-actresses. And that because the characters were the same in different disguises.  The situations changed, the clothing, but what they carried in their souls remained. Those, who were evil, remained evil. Those, who had it in their heart to help others, did so throughout the ages. Who was out on their own gain, searched for it and lost it again.

If you know about schooling actors receive, you know that they are advised to create a sort of personal character and use it as their reference for playing different roles.  If they haven’t learned the technique, you often find them accepting roles that resonate to them the most. That doesn’t change even when the next character is evil beyond measure or mild-looking villager. Something always remains and that is often to do with their personal character, the “it” they are hired for. Some call it curse – the role you choose first is the one that follows you forever. To others it’s a way of blessing.

Take Zachary Quinto for example.  He played the main antagonist, Sylar in TV series Heroes.  In the new Star Trek movies he plays Spock. At first site, there seems nothing in common with them, but make a list of the personality traits both of the characters possess and you find they have similar qualities. Not in decorations, but in foundation. Both possess stubbornness in achieving their goals and extremeness compared with those around them. One is slave to his emotions and hungers and other one fears his own to come forward. In core they are rather similar, an outsider, who don’t belong and are obsessed to control themselves.

When I think back on my own writing, I see the same pattern. I like taking similar character types and redressing them, give them new face and new details and tossing them in new situations. One must be careful with this or they soon discover that all their heroes love the same expressions, too…

At least that’s what I was thinking, when I read stories I have written throughout the years. After a while I reached to the stories I wrote few years ago and noticed a change.  But the change didn’t take place in the cores. It was the outside.  They were no longer stick figures, they now had meat on the bones.

When I began writing, I went to one of those meet-with-the-author meetings in our local library. She said that “you can skin the hero bare and he’d still be a hero.  But it is the little flaws that make them stand out from the perfect world.” Back then I understood it as “give your hero a flaw or a scar”. Now I understand she meant giving them details that make them stand out. He can be the most evil man in the world, but if he believes he is doing the right thing, fighting for the dearest to him, his sacrifices will be noticed and to those reasons even they are heroes for their people. Gengish Khan, and I don’t mean the character in Star Trek, was hero to his people. Probably the character would have also been had his people been awake.

I favor characters that carry the same persistence in their hearts. They have something to fight for and they have been taken to the point, where they must do what’s necessary or lose the dearest to them. That’s why I liked Spok, Khan, Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin, Eli Gold, Lisbeth Salander, Sherlock Holmes, Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark, Winnetow,  – they all are intelligent, sneaky (even Spok) and they don’t hesitate to fight for their love, no matter what. Everything else is just decorations.

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Today’s post is my response to the prompt on “My Favorite Character” this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

 

Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on May 21st, 2012.

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Priorities in life

After three weeks of crocheting the blanket, which isn’t far from finish anymore, I began writing again. I’ve got mismatched brain – every time I think that this is the time, when I have reached that point in my life, where I need to let something go in order to make more room for work, that’s when it starts working again. That’s when it proves to me again that no matter what, writing is my second priority aside my family.

But it also means I have been writing :). 8 pages in 2 days. I actually have a goal – there’s a new magazine that starts coming out in September and is all about Estonian short stories. Everybody from Estonia are welcome to send in their stories and I want to send mine as well.  That’s when I hit a pickle. Apparently I have already published all the short stories I’ve written, the good and the bad… Well, my logic has always been that if it is ready, I set it up, no matter what account I had then or now. So… It seems I’m without a story to send there right now… But no worries, it isn’t unsolvable problem. I just need to get started :D. This story, however, isn’t that one, but it burned a hole in my heart and I somehow need to patch it up again.

Went to theatre today. To see Thriller. It was arranged by our workplace and always being a bit Jackson fan, it seemed like good opportunity.  It was. Until half an hour in the show the show hit a sudden pause and when we were called back in, they announced that duo technical problems, the show is canceled for now. Well, what do you do? I don’t hold it against them. I don’t think anybody did, because despite the difficulties it was very nice show and I’m sure the performers were just as disappointed as was the audience. So they still received a mighty well earned applause . 

I’m doing overwork, trying to choose a favorite character for the Merry Go Round blog tour. It’s like giving me a cherry bowl and say I must choose just one. Not fair, I tell you, not fair at all!

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Projects Progress

Projects Progress

 

Time to show what I’ve got.

At this point I have three projects that take up my time in writing sense. I have plenty of other things as well, but when it comes to writing, I’m trying to focus. Can’t say it is actually working.

My main project – the novel – is doing much better than I expected. Though I used the chance of yet another Nanowrimo to get myself going again, it might just have done the trick. I translated what I had, which wasn’t much, and raised the word count over 40k. Considering I’ve been on this book for over a year now, I think having the project going again is very good result.

Though I try to focus on that, long done well done, there are two other stories that have raised their heads from the grass. One is an old synopsis I wrote down after seeing an odd dream with one memorable scene. It’s about a girl, who decides to adopt 7 boys and how it goes. The story was always missing something, but then it suddenly dawned on me, what. So now it’s back on and going and I think I’ll try writing it on the side, because I really love the idea and the characters. A bit cliché on the spine, but it’s just in the beginning. Odd is, with this one, I actually know how it ends. It’s first time I know how it ends and I still want to write the story. It makes me feel like I’ve reached next level in writing.

Third one is a fanfiction. I know what most people think of that genre and how it makes them go oooh and aaah and why? All in one sentence. It’s a nice way to play out scenes. For most writers, whom I know to write fanfiction, they use it to experiment with feelings. I do it for the same reason too. Plus sometimes you just get the idea that begs to be put on a paper.

As far for finishing anything this month, I don’t think it will be happening. I do hope to do it in this year number, but not now. There are few books I want to read before I continue with most of the writing and despite hearing fellow local writers feeling like kicking me, I do believe in not inventing a bicycle. One thing I’ve noticed though, I don’t avoid the mistakes by reading books about creative writing. Unless you really put your back into it and do the heavy lifting, there won’t be any muscle mass. So, no need to fear that reading how to write will turn you into mass. I can guarantee – you’ll still be making mistakes. The difference is, those books help you recognize those mistakes.

For now, I continue making those mistakes and filling the space with words. Despite the heat, the stories are going strong and I have all the power in me right now to keep going. They will be done one day, but for now, when I am starting to understand, what I am doing, I’d like to enjoy the mistakes and the process of creating something.

 

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Today’s post is my response to the prompt on “Projects Progress” this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on May 21st, 2012

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Lack of routine as routine

Best kept myth in the industry. Actually, I’d say it is necessary, but what exactly is it, that defines a routine? If one wishes to give out book one day, then you need to spend your time on writing the book, and not just planning.

I write at least two nights or days a week. That’s been my latest schedule for about a year now. Seems too little work?

Well, what do you count for a routine?

Routine should be something that is done regularly, right? I have quite hefty schedule, so routinely I can only write either two days or two nights in a week.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t write other times. Only, that can’t go under routine, because in reality, I do that writing unplanned. 

It depends on many things – season, mood, projects, ideas.  If Nano is on, then I write 50 000 a month. That’s a routine. I set myself the goal and go for it. But even inside that month I don’t sit down for two hours each day and write. I don’t have such luxury. So I schedule it simply – a month. In that month I need to reach certain amount. Simple enough plan – no extra scheduling, just one deadline and one goal. What about, when Nano is not on?

 Then I write, when I can.  I can’t sleep more than 6 hours at a time. Between shifts, the time is reduced even more, so anyone, who suggest me to sleep an hour less and write is simply repeating something he found in the book. I reduce my sleep even less and I can order nuthouse car to pick me up. Looking around, I don’t think others can complain over excessive sleep either.  My usual response to this knowledge is, try it yourself. It is simple to sniff that all you need to do is be less lazy, but if you are a busy person, it isn’t always about laziness. Not to mention that sometimes you need to be lazy to reload.

Instead I follow a simple plan: two hours for reading news or going over articles – follow-ups. Then I write for about 4 to 6 hours. In different times I need to write different things. It can be blog post, article, editing my own work or doing it for someone else, catching up on Nano or just writing out the exiting idea I just had. Whatever it is, I do writing in that time.

By three in the morning my brain refuses from co-work and thus I do some handwork. Or watch something interesting. Anything that doesn’t demand input from brain and keeps me up.

I don’t follow certain writing patterns either. One story goes better if I sit in a cafeteria and watch people interact with each other. Other story demands discipline, correct timed schedules and absolute silence. Then you see a painting and the entire concept goes off the roof and all you have at that moment are yellow sticky notes and you keep filling them in and gluing to each other until you have framework for a very different story. It works better for me to be open to anything that comes. Method, after all, is a tool like pen and paper. It doesn’t work – I go for another.

I used to envy those, who mastered their minds to sit on one place in certain time and write and their tables were perfectly neat and tidy. But taking them for example was hard. How would you wake up each morning earlier and write if you go to bed at the time most people wake up? Or how do you keep your table neat and clean if you just glued the entire novel around on the table to get visual overview of your work?

I have moving schedule and my job demands I move between two living quarters. I have two desks, two libraries, my notebooks with notes are in two rooms and the only common denominators in that punch are me and my computer.

Writing routines take after their owners. I don’t have time to meditate before each writing session, but I know a guy, who does. I don’t have fixed time for writing, but I can certainly count those among my writing friends, who do that.  I don’t wake up earlier for writing, but I do get up, when an idea hits me in the middle of the night.

In traditional sense, I don’t have a routine. But isn’t the lack of routine itself in a way a routine? I just write, when I can. Sometimes that results 10 pages per night, other times it’s an article instead of book. But these need to be done as well or soon you create yourself a monster called IwanttowriteonethingbutImustwriteanother. That’s a T-Rex in disguise. Better keep writing, when I can and perhaps some day I can follow a routine in it’s best sense – wake up, make breakfast, sit behind my desk and write myself to senseless, get good lunch, write some more and then do something fun before dinner and sleep 6 full hours. That sounds fun, too.

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Today’s post is my response to the prompt on “Writing routine” this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on April 21st, 2012

 

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