This week as I browsed through the many reading, writing and general book related pages I follow on Facebook and twitter, I noticed many comical posts that began with, “You know you’re a writer when…” It got me thinking back to the time when I first knew I was a writer. In many ways I have always been a writer and creator, but it was only in the few months leading up to the creation of this blog that I really began to embrace the writer within (hence the name of the blog).
Since I made the conscious decision to pursue my love of writing, those “you know you’re a writer when…” moments are noticeably on the rise!
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the inner workings of my vivid imagination (you can read it here if you missed it). In this post I discussed that in the moment between sleep and awake, I can actively plan and edit my dreams, if that even makes sense. I know I probably sound a little crazy right about now, but I guess that kind of just goes with the territory. It’s a little difficult to explain, you see, it’s like when you are imagining or daydreaming about something, but you’re actually in a state between asleep and awake, you see the scene vividly in your mind and you see and experience it all as if you were actually there.
Now to refocus on the title of today’s post, here’s my own version (which may only be applicable to myself);
You know you’re a writer when your dreams are filled with scenes from your current WIP and you are actually able to edit these scenes as they play out in your mind.
You see, now more than ever, my dreams are filled with the world and the characters of my current WIP, Lonely Hearts. One particular scene has been playing out over and over again in my mind, as it is one that has been frustrating me and seemed like it just wasn’t working. The scene in question is one that I wrote quite a few months ago now, but never felt it was quite right. I am still quite early on in the first draft of Lonely Hearts, but I find it difficult to move on further with the story when something isn’t quite working like I feel it should be. I know I should probably just plough through and get the first draft finished and worry about editing later, but I simply cannot keep ploughing through the first draft if something isn’t right or feels incomplete.
Night after night, I experience the meeting between Thomas and Rose in the tailor’s shop that Rose works at. The scene felt incomplete, I felt like this meeting should be weighted with a range of emotions, but with the way it was written it felt like it was little more than a flutter of attraction. After a little over a week of playing out the same scene over and over, the good news is I’ve finally figured out what was missing and those missing scenes have been played out in my dreams the last couple of nights and they feel pretty good I must say. The bad news is you’ll all have to wait until I’m finished writing it to get a little sneak peek.
As I head off to fill in the missing pieces, feel free to let me know your favourite “you know you’re a writer when…” sayings, quotes, memes (whatever you want to call them) on fb, twitter (@WriterWithin_KK) or in the comments below.
I’ve written before about the unique ability books have to transport you anywhere and everywhere. With a good book in hand time, space and distance are not a concern. A well written book has the ability to take you places you’ve longed to visit and also places that you’ve never even thought existed. Whether these literary places actually exist or not is not of concern, in your mind you’ve been to many different places, in many different times in the past, the present and perhaps the distant future.
Even though we have travelled to many different places in our minds, with the help of a good book, sometimes it only leaves you longing for more. Sometimes you still long to experience the “real thing” and the book itself does nothing but spur on your desire to see the world.
You see, last week for my birthday one of my closest friends bought me the first volume of the Outlander series on DVD (thanks Jess!), as she understands my appreciation for a man with a great accent. The books by Diana Gabaldon, that the series is based on, have been on my TBR list for quite some time, but as the list kept increasing I haven’t actually gotten around to reading them. After watching the first few episodes I am totally hooked, but not just on the good looks of the men in kilts and the great accents, but also the setting of the series – the Scottish Highlands.
This got me thinking about other places in the world I would love to explore with my family and I came up with a list of sorts I would like to share with you all. Some of the places on the list are inspired by books, authors and works of fiction, others are there for other reasons which I will attempt to explain.
Salzburg and Vienna, Austria
These are two places I have longed to visit since I was a little girl and first saw the movie “The Sound of Music”. Of course I loved the musical element to the movie, but I was also in awe of the beautiful locations included in this cinematic classic. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have seen this movie and also the number of hours I have spent on the internet Googling the story of the real Von Trapp family, as well as the locations used in the movie. I also really would love to say, “In the morning, I’m going to Vienna,” just like Captain Von Trapp.
I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with Scotland in general, the history, the kilts, the accent, the Loch Ness Monster and of course the beautiful Scottish Highlands. After watching Outlander, my fascination with Scotland has only increased and I would love to be able to explore the region with my family, you can call me sassenach, I won’t take offence.
If you’re not familiar with Hill Top, it is the beloved place where Beatrix Potter took inspiration for many of her stories and characters. As a lover of many of the classic Beatrix Potter characters and tales, Hill Top is definitely anothere place I would love to explore in person.
Once upon a time, a princess slept for 100 years. The Château d’Ussé provided the inspiration for Charles Perrault’s tale, now commonly known as Sleeping Beauty. You don’t have to be a writer to appreciation the fact that this picturesque castle was the inspiration for one of the most memorable fairy tales, in fact Charles Perrault is credited with laying the foundations for the development of the entire fairy tale genre.
Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Buckinghamshire UK
Roald Dahl, author of Matilda, The Twits, The Witches, The BFG, James and the Giant Peach and countless other magnificent pieces of literary brilliance. Any lover of literature cannot deny the indelible mark that Roald Dahl has left on the literary world. I’ve recently began sharing some of Roald Dahl’s brilliance with my seven year old daughter and my boys love watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the original film with Gene Wilder. I cannot wait to hopefully explore this wonderful museum one day and even though the webpage says the museum is aimed at 6-12 year olds, I’m pretty sure the adults would love to explore this great destination as well.
Bram Stoker’s gothic novel, Dracula, was inspired by the legends told of Prince Vlad III, known as Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes), who is said to have lived in Bran Castle. I love places that have a story to tell and Bran Castle is definitely one of those places, perhaps not the same story Bram Stoker had to tell, but a very interesting story nonetheless.
Hans Christian Andersen Museum, Copenhagen Denmark
Having grown up with many of Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved fairy tales, such as The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, The Emperor’s New Clothes and so on, visiting the childhood home of such a magnificent writer definitely had to make my list of places to see.
Like I’ve said, I love a place with a story to tell and I think Venice would have many great stories to reveal from its past. As the setting for Shakespeare’s Othello, I believe Venice would offer a wonderful world of inspiration and history which anyone could enjoy, although I have heard that it does smell a little.
Those of you who know me, would understand why the entire country of Hungary has been included on this list, in fact you might even be asking why it wasn’t first on the list. Well, perhaps I was saving the best for last or something. Hungary is a country steeped in tradition with many beautiful sites, castles and rich history, making it an ideal place of inspiration for just about any writer. In fact, as I’ve already said, Bram Stoker’s gothic novel Dracula was inspired by the stories and legends of Vlad the Impaler, from Transylvania. Transylvania at the time was actually part of Hungary. The country of Hungary has a rich and colourful history and the legends and fairytales of each region are fascinating. The legends of vampires is often said to have originated with the legends and stories of Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory (Báthory Erzsébet), more commonly known as Count and Countess Dracula, two separate people in Hungarian history, whose lives gave fuel to the legends and myths of vampires.
IAs you may have noticed, I am very much a lover of history and I’m always interested in the stories and history of a particular place or location. Some of the locations on this list are purely for ‘fan girl’ reasons and others are for reasons of inspiration, exploration and adventure. This is by no means a definitive list, but simply a short list of some of the places I would love to explore.
Now it’s over to you, what ‘bookish’ places would you love to visit?
Well today is my birthday and believe it or not, I actually almost forgot that my birthday was coming up until a couple of days ago. I really must be getting old or perhaps it’s more likely due to the fact that I live in my own little world most of the time. I’m going to stick to the second reason and ignore the additional grey hairs and lines on my face I’ve been noticing lately.
You see, in case I haven’t told you this before, I’m a bit of a daydreamer. For as long as I can remember I often find myself drifting into a world of my own imagining. Even as a small child I would see something or hear about something and without even realising it, I would begin to spiral into a world of imagination, creating stories, journeys and scenarios in my mind in vivid detail. I would give so much attention to detail that I would actually go back over a scenario and ‘edit’ it in my mind. To the people who may have been around me, I guess it just looked I like I was daydreaming, but in my mind I was in a different world, travelling to far off places or perhaps exploring somewhere closer to home in a sort of ‘what if’ scenario.
“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”
― Albert Einstein
I clearly remember many times throughout my childhood when I would just sit and create worlds and stories in my mind. At one stage I would even “plan” my dreams as I lay in bed before I went to sleep, in every intricate detail.
Now, I’m not sure if other people have ever experienced this, but to a certain extent, I can actually control my dreams. Especially when I’m in that stage between sleep and awake, I am able to take over the creation of my dreams. It’s like my subconscious begins the dreams and in my state of semi consciousness, I continue to create the dream, with the ability to plan, change and create. It’s like I am experiencing and seeing the story I am writing in my mind. The vividness of the dreams during this stage, engages all of my senses and it’s as though I can taste, smell, hear, see and feel everything. Sometimes the character in the dream is myself, sometimes I am someone else.
I remember when I was younger and I heard on the news that the police were searching for a serial killer -who later turned out to be Ivan Milat. However, at the innocent age I was at the time, I thought the police were looking for a “cereal” killer and the inner workings of my vivid imagination went into overdrive. I began to wonder why someone would dislike cereal so much they wanted it to be dead. However how would someone even “kill” cereal, after all cereal was not a living thing, that was something I knew for sure. As my imagination spiralled out of control, I began to concoct a story of someone who wanted to rid the world of all the greatest cereals, leaving behind a world where cereal did not exist. I decided that I definitely did not want to live in a world without Coco Pops and I hoped that the police would soon find the “cereal killer” before it was too late.
The reason I am sharing my history of daydreaming and dream writing with you all today, is to briefly describe the inner workings of my vivid imagination. I’ve always possessed a vivid imagination for as long as I can remember and since I have embraced the writer within, my hope is that I am able to portray the vividness of my imagination through my words in the characters, stories and worlds I am trying to create in my writing.
With the use of several notebooks and a smart phone, I always jot down the creations of my imagination. Even though I am trying to focus on one piece of writing at a time, I do not ignore the inner workings of my vivid imagination, nor do I enjoy it in the moment and move on. I always jot down any idea, snippet or whatever it might be just in case it comes in handy later on.
And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
I guess my message is to not ignore the inner workings of a vivid imagination and not to chastise a child (or adult even) for daydreaming. A vivid imagination is a gift, a sort of treasure that is often lost or ignored as we grow older. A vivid imagination should be explored to its full extent and if you have the courage and the guts to do so, shared with the world.
I’ve been reading a lot of Joss Whedon quotes lately and whilst anything Joss Whedon is pretty amazing, in my opinion, there was one particular quote that really hit home with some things I’ve been trying to figure out in the development of the characters in Lonely Hearts and that is PASSION.
“Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.”
― Joss Whedon
Passion isn’t something reserved for romance novels or little love stories, passion is something that drives us and our actions and something that drives our characters, as Joss said, “Without passion, we’d be truly dead.” Therefore by creating characters that are passionate, we strive to lift them off of the page and bring them to life.
When I talk about characters who have passion or who are passionate, I do not mean some loved up couple who can’t get enough of each other (if you know what I mean). This is not what I mean at all, you can love another with passion, this is true, but on the flip-side, you can also hate with passion.
Although the word “passion” is often perceived to be synonymous with love, passion is not (and should not) be used only to describe someone’s love for another. The Oxford dictionary defines passion as a, “Strong and barely controllable emotion,” this is the kind of passion that I think Joss is describing, the passion that gives us life, that drives us and the same passion that brings our characters life.
Something I am striving towards now is creating characters that possess a strong element of passion. I want to give strength to their feelings and emotions and portray this strength and passion to the readers. I want the readers to feel the strength of their “barely controllable” emotions. The passion in their love, their hatred and their grief. I want the passion to lift the characters off of the page and bring them to life, because without passion, the characters are reduced to mere words on a page, without life.
In my writing, I’ll be trying to focus on the passion of my characters, the strength of their love, hate and grief, the feelings they experience that make them just that little bit more real for my readers to enjoy.
Thanks Joss Whedon, for reminding us that passion is what gives us life and in turn, what breathes life into our characters.
Before I end this week’s post, here is another one of my favourite Joss Whedon quotes, this one makes me think that George R. R. Martin might be a Joss Whedon fan too,
“People love a happy ending. So every episode, I will explain once again that I don’t like people. And then Mal will shoot someone. Someone we like. And their puppy.”
― Joss Whedon