Saturday, May 25, 2013

All you need is...

“There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done

There’s nothing you can sing that can’t be sung

Nothing you can say, but you can learn to play the game

It’s easy”

Before I started taking writing more seriously, I always thought arts is about transmitting unique ideas, ideas that change mankind and their perceptions, ideas that shape the new world of tomorrow, making people more sensitive to the realities of their fellow men and women.

With arts, you feel deep and you think big.

But the reality, when you sit on your bud for hours, trying to put on paper one tiny, little sparkle of genius idea, is very different.

In the morning I wake up, motivated maybe by a dream or some episode my brain put in order during my sleeping hours, and I feel like fire and flame to get it out and into the world. But once that first writing urge is released, and I have to revise what I just wrote before publishing, doubts start crawling towards me, like ghost-zombies. They approach me like shadows, from the corners of my room, start climbing my legs, immobilize my body, get into my head and are longing for my heart, darkening everything.

Where do the zombie-doubts come from?

It’s the knowledge, that the genius idea I am just working on has already been covered by that famous author I read last year or by a newspaper article that falls into my hands just a few hours after putting the last full stop on my text. It’s my younger brother answering sober, that this is sort of the same idea one of the old Greek philosophers was pounding about for years. Nothing is new; everything has already been there thousands, maybe millions of times. Nearly everyone has had this idea before once or several times in their lifetimes.

I feel like a failure.

But then, … “all you need is love. ♫ Tatatarará. All you need is love. ♪ Tatatarará. All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.♫”

Lennon should have changed some parts of the choruses to “all you need is faith”, meaning faith in yourself and love for your work. Because it is true… you have to learn how to play the game. It's a craft, therefore a lot of work to master it. You have to learn how to express one thought, which has been thought all over millions, trillions of times before in a way that is non-superficial, hiking the depths, pounding the vein of your zeitgeist, reaching out to your readers, who actually have millions and trillions of these thoughts every day, but who generously will accept to stop for a minute in their train of life, to grant that one specific idea a few minutes more, and maybe, that can change their perspectives and their lives a tiny, little, sparkling bit.

Like Walt Whitman said: “The powerful play goes on, and you can contribute a verse”.

Thank you, Bryan Hutchinson, for this inspiration. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

What IS the meaning of life?

What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of - my - life?
Is it even allowed to put this question anymore?
Shouldn’t there be a law against it?

This question is surely not spoken out loudly, at least not, when you work 9 hours a day, nearly six days a week in an engineering bureau responsible for big infrastructure constructions, not, if you are in charge of multiple projects at the same time, you have at least 37 employees depending on your managements skills, a pregnant wife and two two-year olds rumbling in the house, as well as a very badly educated Labrador named Doga.

When I don’t think too much, everything works out fine. I master my job, we have a perfectly arranged schedule with my wife and I even have time to meet the boys for a basketball game on Sunday mornings. The days pass by and I haven’t even noticed it. 

But today I found my old pen. It lay in one of the drawers, at the very bottom. I called it my magic pen, he was given to me by Uncle Louie, two weeks before his plane crashed, and I carried it with me ever since I had it in my possession since third grade. I carried it during good old school times and I carried it even through university times. The pen is also were I got my nickname from: Doc Samson. The pen is green and shows Doc Samson, Hulk’s friend in the comic series, in the upper part inside a water compartment. With this pen I wrote 62 short stories and 7 unfinished novels. Ahhhh…, those were times…
Where did they go? What am I doing with my life?

On my walk home I pass the Lawrence Krauss Bridge, our last year’s project. It doesn’t look new anymore. The colour is starting to fade and some kids have sprayed graffiti everywhere. One of the sentences I read there makes me ponder.

When I come home, I open the door and nearly stumble over Jane’s old pottery box. It’s standing in the middle of the way; I hear the children shouting and the dog barking. The tiredness which was fading away during my walk home, suddenly is back on my shoulders.
Jane comes into the hallway.
“Hello darling”, she smiles at me and greets me with a short kiss. “Can you be so kind and carry this box down to the cellar?”
“Everything all right with you? You seem like you were gnawing on something…”
“I just past my bridge and it’s full of graffiti…”
“Ah, you saw it, too?”
“I saw what?”
“The clever phrase…” she laughs openly “it’s there since last week. I was wondering when you would come up with a comment.”
“The clever phrase…?”
“Oh, come on Sam, … You have one life and one million dreams. Choose few dreams and fully dig in, or have thousands and only scratch the surface. What’s it gonna be? ... You didn’t read it? I think it suits your bridge perfectly.”
I have to smile at the cleverness of my wife.

When I enter the twins’ dorm, they drop everything and come rushing towards me, each one hugging one of my legs with their short little arms and demanding to be lifted up. Doga joins the party and pushes one of the twins, so he stumbles on his brother… Jane starts laughing and I know I have made the best decision.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Nursemaid

 “Are you ok?” Maelle was putting a hand on her shoulder and looking a bit worried. She was a smart kid, a perceptive soul. People said she was no royal, she was beefy and not really fair. But no matter how clumsy she was with her movements, her spirit was fully awaken. A few years more, and she would learn about disappointment and defeat, and then she would loose the candour and become wise. Noone would be able to fool her anymore.
“Oh, I am fine, darling. Continue reading your lecture.”
“But you seem worried. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Nothing my sweet rose, I will go and have a look at your sister” answered Mirla while pushing away the remembrance of the white rabbit.

Mirla left the study room and walked slowly along the long hallway, up the stairs and to the eastern wing of the palace. The pounding question always haunting her, never leaving her heart, since that day of the rabbit: “What did I do wrong? Which part did I miss?
She had raised them equal. With equal love and patience. With equal severity. She had been there every step of the road, every fork in their way, to guarantee that the girls had sharp minds, warm hearts, brave souls and tempered manners. She knew these girls better than they knew themselves, she loved every pore of them as their own blood. But something important had escaped her attention. Something big, dark and secret and she couldn't figure it out.
She entered the dormitory. As usual during the past few weeks the curtains were closed, it was the silent reign of darkness that governed here. Clarabell lay in her bed, too weak to stand up but still not abandoned by her untouched grace. She could become a wonderful queen, smart, of daunting beauty, delicate with her words and actions, simply exquisite. But there was the white rabbit standing in the middle of the way between glory and death.

“Is is a punishment, Mimi?” Mirla closed the door behind her, came to the bed and sat down.
“A punishment for what, my sunshine?”
“…I don’t know, the rabbit, I think”
“Do you feel it is a punishment for the rabbit?” She drove her fingers through Clarabell’s silken hair, like she had done since so many years.
“That’s stupid, right? Would god be so petty to make me pay this much for one little rabbit?”
Mirla looked her very serious in the eyes. She could find redemption. She only had to want it. She only had to be her little girl again. Not this cold heart of steel and beauty, which was following the steps of the dark queen.
“Come on Mimi, we eat rabbits every week. Maelle knows that too. She is younger than me, but she’s a smart kid. And besides, it didn’t take one hour after she got a new rabbit.”
“She is not touching that new rabbit. Do you know that?”
Mirla was searching a hint of regret, but Clarabell rolled her eyes. She only seemed bored.

There were no regrets in Clarabell’s heart. Neither were there regrets in Mirla’s heart, she was convinced that her doing was absolutely necessary; she was ready to go to the very bitter end, though it broke her heart. She could feel the little flask in her pocket, pricking against her tigh. It would be Maelle de Borough and not Clarabell de Borough who would become the next queen.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Word count - the right method?

  Whenever you get started reading the writers advices on the web or when you talk to people about writing, the best tip you get is write, write, write. At the end, it sums up to how many words an hour you are able to put down on paper. 

  I am really having my big time with that. I have a good notion about the plot of my novel, I worked on some parts of my main characters I have a quiet clear idea what I want the first chapters to be about. But when it comes down to writing, the days were I am most inspired and write like a fool, I seldom stay in this phase for more than 2 hours, the rest is editing and the result is barely more than 900 words per hour, most often less. And then there are days, where you know were you want to reach with your story, but it’s like climbing the Everest with bad equipment… Somehow it seems still achievable, but you can’t call that a beautiful journey, and I actually never reach to the top like that.

  Ok, maybe everyone is right, and I just don’t have the hang out of it. But in the last weeks I have to admit, that the idea of reaching a certain amount of words, was putting me negatively under pressure. Sure, I have to write. With other words, I have to spend as many hours as possible on this job. But writing, writing, writing… that’s another topic. What about the hours of research, the hours spending time with synonyms, the hours you need to work on your characters, on the settings, the hours you work on more humorous ways to express one thought. You need to be patient and calm with that. When I am on the word count method, I feel like I am speeded up and it’s not helping me. The story has its own life, it’s own pace. I worked on it chronologically and pushed myself through the boring parts which were necessary to explain the cool parts. And once that was done, I inversed the order or the narration and swoop, I could leave most of the boring parts out, or reposition them in a way, that they are not boring anymore, but rather clues to what is to come or explanations to what you didn’t expect. That was very cool! 

  That set me thinking. Do I actually need to write the whole story down? Could I not rather use keywords for the Everest parts and take a lot of time concentrating on the details, without actually writing them all down. Then I structure the story, and then I start writing it down? Wouldn’t that save me a lot of time, a lot of erased words, a lot of sweat?

  As newbie writer, this thought can only stay as a theory so far. Currently, I actually need to write every word down to be able to imagine the world I am going through. I am putting emphasis in building up the proper scenario, in concentrating on the feelings of the different characters, on getting the logic of the actions, on getting a sense of the surroundings, etc. That cannot be achieved by hurrying through the lines. It is rather a work as if you would be building one of this scale models for miniature trains, only in big, in real size.

  I am curious to see how this evolves. Could it be true, that professional writers actually do all this thinking and imagining at vertigo-pace and are still brilliant with it? - ... Wow!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The best companion

Writing is definitively a very solitary adventure. You have the characters, which at some point get to be your very good friends, you have your good friends and family revising the text afterwards. But in the meantime, you have all these hours of work, sitting alone in front of the pc. Hours and hours. Sometimes I want to write, but I get very desperate not to be moving around. But now …haha… I found a good solution. Usually I can’t listen to music while I write, because I know most of the texts of the songs I like and they distract me a lot. Now I found a few pages, which have nice music, mostly instrumental. One of them e.g. gives you the right ambience for a horror scenario; the other just relaxes you a bit and carries you to a land far far away if you wish. Anyways, I didn’t want to skip mentioning them, because they are really, really great and helping me a lot with keeping my bud on the chair and working calmly on the text like a good girl.

Thank you!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The deep, dark roots of fairy land

Next week I graduate from my story-teller seminar. I started these lessons, because I thought it will teach me how to tell stories nicely and therefore how to be a good narrator. I was really hoping it would help me with my writing.
Not even the first class had passed, when I realized how mistaken I had been. The class has only dealt very little on how to narrate a good story. We actually spend 7 whole weeks only getting to know this world of fairy tales and learning how to speak their language. It hasn’t even been about interpreting the stories; it was more like learning how to execute a proper ritual: like giving wisdom on. We should work as channels, certainly deploying our individual ways, but losing the self-centredness of a main character on the stage. In some way I could say, loosing the idea of being performing as a narrator and just living the tale.
Our sensei, who in the following weeks would guide us in our discoveries of the woods and labyrinths of the different fairy tales, insisted that we work quiet strictly with popular stories, the ones which were past on from generation to generation, not the ones written by modern authors. He said, “no matter how clever the authors are; young stories mostly lack the depth”. And in this first class he also explained that some of the stories we will deal with are hundreds, even thousands of years old and we should treat them as good, wise friends and over all with lots of respect.
Like every new thing you try out, the suit of the tale-narrator felt weird and uncomfortable at first. Not because I am shy while talking in front of an audience, but because of the type and rhythm of the stories. See, popular tales are actually really a bit like old people. Their pace can be sometimes awfully slow, like when situations are repeated three times. Or sometimes the tale has parts which actually sound incoherent inside the plot development of the story and you feel kind of stupid having to narrate parts you don’t really grab the meaning of. So the first thing you have to learn while dealing with popular tales therefore is patience.
I actually think, you can only have true patience with the ones you love. So at the beginning, I didn’t really care for the old stories. I was reading, hearing and learning them randomly while searching for one I could actually manage to narrate without my scepticism getting in the way. And so it happened that I read one after another, one after another, one after another. And while I was reading like that, I actually got used a bit to their pace, I got used to their particular way of speaking, and over all I stopped expecting the things I always expected. Because usually, when I hear about a labyrinth, an enchanted forest or a witch I expect the glittery hoogey boogie we know from the movies. But mostly they are not. Like I like stories about dragons, but I like cool, nice dragons like Fuchur (from the Neverending Story) were you can ride on. Or I like to be really scared, like when you see a vampire movie and the protagonist (the human one) has to enter the vampire’s house... But traditional fairy tales don’t speak this same language. They are actually not really there to entertain you like that. Or let’s better say: they don’t give you this kind of light entertainment. If they give you entertainment, it comes at a price: ...your soul, and therefore it actually is a complete other journey than expected. And when I finally understood that and started being open, without expectations, I got to know them a bit and I started loving them for what they are, and now I am patient with them and they are very patient with me.
Old fairy tales are actually little pieces of wisdom told in a way that your conscience stays and listens to the story, but what is actually getting addressed is your subconscious, so it can put the questions and find the answers it needs.
It sounds a bit odd, I know. But think it this way. Why do the most famous psychologists like e.g. Freud and Jung analyse dreams and fairy tales and work with ancient symbols?
It seems to me: There are still things in this world which are to scary to pronounce. There are also still other things, which are too complicated to really grab. Notwithstanding how civic and domesticated we are, there are truly still needs inside us, which we can’t explain and which we fear. And all of this has a remarkable tabu-label in the modern society which produces cars, warm homes and regular income.
But all these un-grabable topics have been with us since the beginning of our conscience I guess. And the collective wisdom of our cultures which has been collecting the tiny little pieces of questions and answers during several lifetimes lies buried in these stories and in some ancient habits.  In modern times we have misinterpreted them and are now about to loose them. I think when someone sais we have lost the old ways, what it means is, that most of us during most part of the day like to forget how wide and alien the world is, how many big mysteries there are still unsolved, how lonely and exposed we are. We still have not even a hint why we are here and how we happen to be. Of course we can do like we always do as adults. We either choose to believe in a religion which answers these questions for us or we say we are more pragmatic people and just shrug our shoulders and forget about the questions whose answer we know for certain we will not find.
But is this true? Are we that satisfied with our solutions that the question is off the table forever and always? Or is it still out there, waiting for us behind the next door, or even inside us, hidden in the deepest, darkest parts of our soul?

Friday, May 10, 2013

The writers practice

I found a really good page for all the writing starters!
Nice people, intelligent idea and really worth taking a look: