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Priceless

15 May

There I was, posing in front of the Inchi Patisserie in Istanbul just because I had read about the place in Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence, when this old man, a cross between Santa and Nasreddin Hodja comes in, smelling of fresh tobacco and rose water, and orders a portion of their famous profiterol.

For me, this goes into the priceless category.

There’s nothing like visiting places you’ve read about, especially if the story that took you there touched a special place in your soul, heart or imagination. It brings new life into characters and puts their daily and extraordinary life into new perspectives or, in other words, it turns someone else’s stories into your own memories.

So, how could it get any better?

Well, you could visit places you are going to write about.
This is not just for fun. A writer should put travel in his job descrition, way up where reading is. (The fact that the two even go together is an added bonus.) Travel is a must if you’re going to write about places that matter. If you want you’re readers to feel, see, smell and live with the characters, you’d better make damn sure you know what the bites of lifes you’re offering taste like.

The inspiration you might get in the process of finding out is also priceless.

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30

23 Mar

30 days have passed. It looked like an interesting, motivating challenge: post for 30 continuous days on my blog and see what happens.

I will admit to partial failure and overall success. I’ve missed two days out of subjective and objective and reasons – that’s the failure bit, with no excuses in the attachment. But I’ve gained something important: a blog I can call my own home on the Internet and actually feel like home there.

So, lessons learnt …
1. This works. Build habits, not steam and guilt.

2. It’s work. It takes times. Do it only if you care enough to do something that is good quality.

3. Connect. Blogging isn’t just about writing, it’s a lot more about reading other good blogs and learning from them.

4. Decide where you want to go.

While the first 3 are self-explanatory, I will dwell on the fourth a bit, because starting up a blog for the long term requires a little bit of forethought if you want to provide good quality material. Pinpointing a raison d’etre for it is also important to keep you going through the 3rd point.

Why?
I run this blog for 3 prosaic reasons:

  • to keep writing
  • to improve my writing
  • to get read as much as possible by people who know their fiction, irrespective whether they are writers or expert readers

Accountability
The best thing this blog can do for me is to keep me accountable. I have to write if I take up the challenge publicly and will continue to do so on a daily basis, unless I need to make an exception for the sake of my health or my relationship with my wonderful wife.

Danger!
The worst thing this blog can do for me is to keep me from writing what I should. I have several writing projects which have stalled a bit since I’ve started and I would like to take the opportunity to lay out a way to use the blog for writing the things that I should on a basis of at least 300 words per day on the average.

So, here goes the write-o-meter. I will dedicate a page on this blog to weekly mapping progress on my projects. I’ve laid out the foundation here, where you can learn more about what I’m working on right now, see my progress and hooray or boo me if I’m hard-working, respectively lazy.

And if you’re at it, leave a comment/idea about how you keep yourself accountable, why it works for you and how do you think it may work for others.

Thanks for the trouble of reading through this. Honestly…

The thing in the dark

20 Mar

“Treachery!” he felt like screaming.

But it would do no good. He was stuck with it and the only thing that kept his fear at bay was the outrage of knowing it was his own mother who had opened the gates of Hell, summoning the horror.

There were just the two of them, crammed together in that crib, now nothing more than a death cage.

The thing stood motionless in the dark corner of the crammed bed, the only distinguishable feature being a rounded brownish speck of plush highlighted by a stray ray of moonlight. Somewhere in the shadows a single eye glistened.

Treachery, indeed, and the cruelest sort – to be discarded by your own mother and fed to the dark masters plotting their schemes in the dark corners of world. She’d even stuck the pacifier in his mouth with a loving smile and given him a kiss.

It was a Judas kiss and the pacifier was there to keep him from screaming.

Fear paralyzed him, or maybe it was the ridiculous outfit, but he had to act. Crawling on all four, he darted with the speed of heart attack, grabbed the thing and threw it over the railing, back into the deepest, darkest pits below.

‘Tried to throw it’ was a better description of what happened.

The thing was not only heavy, but cunning too, using its weight to crush him, smother him under its bulk. It smelled of dust and musty toy boxes and its skin was deceivingly soft until the abrasive fossil of glue holding long-lost buttons would scrape against skin.

The baby felt all the air getting pushed out of his lungs as the thing slammed into him with full force.

They fought in the dark, on the treacherous sheets, until nimbleness triumphed over size and an aptly placed foot on the teddy bear’s chest cast it out of the bed.

He sighed in relief, knowing he had survived another night.

As for his mother, he felt bitter about her betrayal . He’d trusted her blindly, every minute of every day he’d spent in this world after stepping through that tear in the fabric of the multiverse.

The wages of sin will be dire. He’ll get her tomorrow.

Right now, time for some rest. The fight had been exhausting and he bit hard into the pacifier with his toothless gums as he slipped into dreamland.

 

Submission for the Chuck Wendig Weekly Challenge: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/03/18/flash-fiction-challenge-baby-pulp/

You already have it in you, dear reader

17 Mar

If you’re gonna read a writing book, it might as well be Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

This is not a field guide for entering the writers’ complex world, or an encyclopedia of smart-ass techniques. If there’s a catchphrase that would define it best, my pick would be “you already have it in you, dear reader.”

Let me explain why.

The book is structured in two parts. The first half is pretty much an autobiography, just what the title promises. It’s a story of King’s life and how his writing evolved, based on his experiences. A great way to show that you are what you write and the other way around.

While seeing how King grew from a teenager writing crappy (sort of…) stories to a record-breaking author is inspiring, what really struck me was the second half of the book, concerning technique.

‘But wait, you said this wasn’t a book about technique!’ I hear the crowds roar.

It isn’t. The advice King gives is so basic, so fundamental and simple, I would hardly call it ‘technique’. What makes it so hard-hitting is precisely the simplicity. Writing isn’t supposed to be hard, it is just a matter of putting all your heart and skill into learning how to do it properly. Yes, it may take a long time, but work pays off.

And that’s where the “you already have it in you, dear reader” kicks in: if you’re willing to put in the work, you can do it.

I’ve read this book about 2.5 years ago, so I’ll stop here since I don’t feel I can give it enough credit from memory. This post intends to do just one simple thing – convince you to read it. You should, if only for the most basic writing advice I’ve ever encountered: if you’re a writer (a professional writer that is) you should write 4 hours a day and read 4 hours more.

You see, it’s real work.

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