Feelings


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Feelings

By Nandy Ekle

 

Feelings. Emotions. Moods. Heart. These are some of the heaviest words in the English language. They are also very important to a story. The reason they’re so critical is because our stories are about people. And people have feelings and emotions oozing from every pore.

Our feelings are what make the difference between a newscast and a gut wrenching story that stays with a person for days, begging to be read again. The stronger the emotion, the deeper the tie to your reader.

Now, as a woman, I realized something a long time ago. Emotions are scary. The more emotion I feel, the less control I feel. What this means as a writer is that I tend to shy away from emotional writing. Cramming so much feeling into my words touches my own emotions and I feel the longing, the desperation, and the pain of my characters. But the thing to remember is it will also touch my readers’ feelings and make them love the character.

Some of the emotions we need to use copious amounts of are anger, sadness, betrayal, fear, happiness, love, depression, confusion, hunger, and longing, just to name a few.

One of the main things I find myself saying to people when they ask me to edit their stories is “more emotion.” Make me feel her desperation for love. Make me feel his helplessness. Make me want to cry my eyes out. And make me want to curl up in a ball in the corner and cover my eyes as I tremble with terror.

I think the way to do this is to truly connect with my own character. And this will be the subject of my next blog.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Writing in “The Visit”


Writing in “The Visit”

by Adam Huddleston

 

This past Friday my wife, her father, and I went to the matinee showing of “The Visit”. We are all fans of horror and this film looked to be pretty scary. Afterward, the main topic of conversation amongst us, other than the twist ending which the film’s writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is known for, was the writing in the movie.

As horror movies go, the plot was average to a bit above average, but in my opinion the dialogue was one of the film’s highlights. It had the perfect mix of humor and terror. The young boy in the movie, played by Ed Oxenbould, steals the show with his lines; especially when he substitutes profanity with the names of female pop singers. The grandparents in the film deliver equally strong performances with their portrayals of loving caretakers that get creepier as the movie progresses.

Kudos to Mr. Shyamalan for a wonderful job with the writing. If you are a fan of horror, I recommend seeing this film when you get a chance.

A Very Boring Life


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

A Very Boring Life

By Nandy Ekle

There was a time when, as a younger woman with three brilliant and combative children, I was convinced my life was boring. I was a stay-at-home mom who literally stayed at home, except when I was driving kids to school, driving to the grocery store, picking up kids from school, and driving kids to appointments.

It seemed like nothing exciting ever happened. To and from the schools, groceries, doctors, library, vacuuming the floor, scrubbing the floor, washing clothes, cooking dinner, bathing kids, and then putting them to bed. Then I would get up late at night/early morning, fight zombies, spiders, and various other monsters that bothered my children at night. The same old day started at 6:00 the next morning.

Yes, I really thought I had a boring life.

Then I watched a movie about my life. The main character was a secret agent for the government and his wife, a plain, average woman just like me, had no idea what he actually did. He had her convinced he sold insurance. She felt like she had a very boring life. Then she had lunch with another man and her husband sees her. So he sets up a little adventure for her.

Anyway, watching this movie taught me some things about myself. In all my cleaning and driving and nurturing, it turns out I am one of the most adventurous women in the world. I realized that not only was I a chef and chauffeur, I was also a referee, a doctor/nurse, “office” manager, banker, bookkeeper, and so on. But that’s old news. Every stay-at-home mom realizes these titles eventually.

The other thing I discovered was that our family was prone to experiences that are, um, unique. Like the time a lizard tail fell out of the dryer. Or the time my dog started barking hysterically at 3:00 in the morning. And how could I ever forget the cars that stopped working while driving down the highway or stopped at a red light. Or the plumbing that backed up. The creative scheduling and emergency shopping for school.

Now, as a mature woman whose children have grown up and flown away, I remember those boring days and think about the tons of stories I lived through.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Back


Outtakes 206

We’re Back

by Cait Collins

It’s been a while since our critique group has been together. Work, family obligations, vacations and floods (yes, flooding in the Texas Panhandle) have kept us apart. But as summer comes to a close, it’s time to get back to the business of writing. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on some ideas; it means I haven’t been focused.

There’s something about having deadlines and meetings that tend to help me keep on track. Knowing I need to have about ten pages ready to read on Thursday night forces me to put a book away, turn down the TV, and open the lap top. I often do my best work under pressure or time lines.

I’ve been considering how to complete the set-up of my new story. I have names, cities, settings, and now I know how to describe that office. It’s simply a matter of getting the edits on paper. I can’t wait to read the results to the group.

The other thing I have missed is the friendship. Not only do we critique each other’s writing, we’ve developed a camaraderie that helps us work together for the benefit of each member. No one is more important than another. And if one is struggling, we make the time to give the extra support and guidance needed to help him or her over the slump. That’s what makes a good, productive group.

I’m so blessed to be a part of Wordsmith Six. I wish every writer had such dedicated friends and writing partners.

 

BATTLING THE BEAST


BATTLING THE BEAST

I gaze into the eyes of the beast searching to find its soul. I am caught in the childhood game of “the first one who blinks looses,” yet he shows no emotion, no rising of brow, no blinking or shedding of tears, just a long menacing stare.

The creature’s leering eye grows brighter with every passing moment, seemingly intent on seeing the space of my existence. My vision is full of his sight, yet I see nothing.

I study his unrelenting look, my mind searching the far corners and deep recesses, constantly swirling, struggling to find some strategy, or weapon or even one simple word that might defeat my enemy and win this mind-numbing battle.

The desire to close my eyes tugs at the lids. The moisture surrounding my orbs in their sockets has become dry and I struggle against the urge to rub them. The creature shows no signs of weakening and continues to counter every glance.

Without my consent, sudden darkness is all I see. I blink. I am immediately torn between two emotions. First, relief. Moist droplets flood my eyes like waters of the sea crashing onto the shore. The fetters that once restrained the rubbing of my eyelids have now been unfastened.

And second, In the darkness of my blink, dread fills my mind as I wait for the wrath of my opponent to be unleashed. Or perhaps he has already struck with such a swift penalty that I didn’t feel the pain. In the deafening silence I dare to open my eyes. To my surprise I find that it was not I who blinked first, but the computer screen upon which I placed these words.

Rory C. Keel

The Click


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Click

By Nandy Ekle

 

In my day job, I read a lot of contracts, and I read some court documents. I analyze these papers and put together letters to answer any question our customers feel like asking. Even though I am writing, it’s a very different kind of writing from that of story telling. And I would never use any facts from any contract or customer in my story, and I work very hard to keep the right side of my brain completely separate from the left side.

While these two types of writing are entire worlds apart, occasionally they do bump into one another. It just goes to show how pieces of stories are just laying around like grains of sand on the beach.

I’ve had this story in the back of my head for a while. I have my characters, setting, and the main points of the plot. I think I even started it a while back, but allowed it to rest long enough that I forgot to finish it.

So I was reading a court document concerning a lawsuit between two entities and found something very interesting that caused a clicking noise in my head. In fact, it was so interesting I immediately saw some things that could happen, and they were a little bit scary. The next thing that happened was the four characters from partially written story began to scream and jump up and down.

Immediately I saw how this new piece of information could be used to create the last few pieces I needed to finally put this story together.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee Break


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

Coffee Break

By Nandy Ekle

 

I’m a coffee drinker. I used to be avid about it, drinking coffee all day long. But a few years ago I cut back considerably. Now I have one medium sized cup in the morning and that’s all. Still, that one cup is very important.

We don’t use the new-fangled single cup coffee makers because my husband has never cut back on his coffee consumption and the little singles are just not practical in our house. So when we make coffee, we make it by the 12-cup pot full. This means putting a filter in the basket, measuring out the grounds, pouring water in the tank, pushing the button, and watching the brown goodness drip, a couple drops at a time, sometimes a small brown stream down into the carafe until it’s full and ready to be poured out.

So, what does making a pot of coffee have to do with writing? Well, I’m a writer. Sometimes I’m a more avid writer than others, cranking out stories all day long. But sometimes just one story a day is enough. Still that one story is very important.

I have to assemble my ingredients: the computer on my lap (make sure the mouse is on), scratch paper and pen next to me (because I always have scratch paper and pen next to me), the internet pulled up and handy (research and polling friends), and my cup of coffee. Then I push the buttons and let the page fill up. Sometimes it only drips one word at a time. But then, sometimes it flows as a stream onto the page in front of me. And when it’s done, I feel the same sense of satisfaction I get from drinking my hot coffee first thing in the morning.

And now, I believe I will have a cup.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

 

 

An Empty Hole


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

An Empty Hole

By Nandy Ekle

 

There’s a hole in my life. It’s bigger and emptier than the Grand Canyon ad it’s frozen all the way to my soul.

A very important presence left, and not only is my soul in havoc, but it also left everything around me in shambles. I look around the room and wonder what happened between us.

There’s a hole in the roof of this room and the rain continues to fall. The blowing wind keeps my world stirred up with just enough wreckage to keep things from settling back in order. And the wind is icy cold. I reach for a piece of paper as it passes me and my hand burns in this arctic cyclone

My soul and this dark empty room are not the only things feeling the cold rain. A parade of people are paralyzed in mid action. In one corner I see two young girls, the best of friends, on their way to the mountains for a weekend of adventure and healing. I see a lonely young woman whose entire life exists on the computer. I see an insecure girl waiting for her lover to come to her as he does every Friday—an artist trying to work through a broken heart and looking for just one friend—a confused woman waking up in an unknown place with no memory of how she got there—a frustrated and bored mother looking for adventure in the monotony of her life—the conflicted bridesmaid who’s lover is the groom—and probably the saddest face I see is the teenage girl who desperately wants independence from her twisted family.

But they are all as frozen as the air around me.

The source of all this icy chaos is my missing muse. She comes now and then, dropping a small seed in my head without providing the water or sunlight needed to make it germinate and grow. Sometimes the seeds pop up and then die, sometimes they never even take a breath.

I picture these characters she had me create, how they are stuck in turmoil and pain, and I want to help them. I want to fulfill their dreams and give them everything they want. But my hands are as worthless as the rain that continues to fall.

Oh, I’ve tried everything to get her back. I’ve begged and pleaded, cried and coaxed. I’ve spent money for lectures, books, pictures, and music hoping she hides there. I’ve re-read the words leading up to her departure thinking she may be in a corner just waiting for me to find her and pick the stories back up. I’ve talked with others whose muses are steady and helpful. I’ve even pretended she was still whispering to me, but the words are as empty as my heart feels.

So, what to do. The masters say to keep putting the words on the paper and she will eventually come back. They say exercise keeps the muscles strong. And they say to take matters into my own hand and give up the muse.

All I know for sure is the hole in this roof needs to be patched and the furnace needs to be turned on.

Desperately waiting for a post card from my muse.

 

 

 

 

It’s all in the execution


A poor plan properly executed, will work. It’s all in the execution.

By Rory C. Keel

As you step out on the stage of becoming a writer, there are many unknowns. Writers groups and conferences are helpful in learning the in’s and out’s of writing and publishing. However, unless this knowledge is put into a plan and executed, it is useless.

Develop a plan

Set short-term goals and long-term goals for your writing and put together a plan to reach them. Write them on paper or log them on a computer where you can physically see them every day to remind you of what you want to achieve.

Finding a topic or story to write about this week is a good example of a short-term goal. Set a daily, weekly, monthly word count to reach and a time management schedule in order to meet them.

Develop long-term goals such as setting a date to finish the first draft of your story or novel, research agents or publishers to pitch your book to or determine to submit your story to multiple markets until someone buys it.

Now execute the plan

You must execute your plan! Good or bad, no plan will work unless you carry it out. When you plan a vacation you use the knowledge you have available and make a plan. If you never move forward, you will never reach your destination.

What if your knowledge is limited or you realize your plan is not perfect? Move forward – adjust. Often we need to reread the map or take a detour to get to our destination, but we continue to move forward. Even a poor plan that is properly executed, will work, but it must be executed to reach the goal.

Roryckeel.com

Words From A Master


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Words From A Master

By Nandy Ekle

 

“As a writer, one of the things that I’ve always been interested in doing is actually invading your comfort space. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Get under your skin, and make you react.”  –Stephen King

I’m making a confession here. I’ve bee a huge fan of Stephen King nearly all my life. I consider several of his books to be outright masterpieces.

I like this quote of his because it puts images in my head. Let me show you.

I’m sitting in a chair in front of my fireplace, a blanket wrapped around my legs and a book in my hand. The words march across the pages and occasionally I gasp with emotion.

I become aware of a voice in the room, actually right in front of me. When I look up I see the author squatting before me whispering. Keeping my finger between the pages, I close the book and listen to the words coming from his mouth. The story becomes alive in my head and I feel a connection with the author.

This is what makes a great book.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

 

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