Friday, June 13, 2014

Then and Now

Today The Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson and Nancy Mock are hosting the 'Then and Now' bloghop. It's about whether or not our favourite films from when we were kids have stood the test of time. I chose two. One that didn't lose it's shine and one that did.

The NeverEnding Story
Going to the movies was one of my favourite pastimes as a kid. I almost always went with my friends, but occasionally I'd go with my mum, especially if the movie was considered a kid's movie, which we secretly loved. At that time, anything kiddy was out and anything slightly geekish was even more out. The NeverEnding Story was both kiddy and geeky. So this was the first movie I ever went to see on my own.

I loved it. I suspect I loved it more because, being all adult-like, I saw it on my own. Then I went to a very un-adult birthday party where us kids played games like digging for chocolate in a pile of flour while our hands were tied behind our back. The topic of the movie came up at the party. My best friend piped up, jumping with excitement, 'I want to see that movie!' Holy Geek, Batman! It was suddenly okay to be odd. Yep, I loved that movie.

Now that I'm well and truly settled in my geekiness, the movie doesn't have the same magic it once did. I still love kid's movies, but this one leans slightly toward trying too hard. Perhaps it's the feeling I get of being told a message. The sets are still magical, the general storyline still great, but it has lost some of its lustre.

The Dark Crystal
A similar style of movie as The NeverEnding Story, The Dark Crystal is another fantasy meant for a young audience. The difference is, this one was as glorious then as it is now. It has story, humour, a feast for the eyes with lush hand-built sets, nail-biting conflicts and memorable characters. And it was done using puppets (I refuse to call them muppets). What can I say? Best animated* film of all time.

What movies have stood the test of time for you? Which movies haven't?

*Okay, so it's not technically animated, but what would you call a puppet movie?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Overcoming the Sense of Failure as a Writer #IWSG

The deep dark certainty we've somehow failed as writers is a common ailment we all get at some point in our writing career. It's part of who we are and why we write in the first place. But just because it's as common as a wart doesn't mean we have to put up with it. There are a number of ways to overcome that horrible sense of having failed as a writer. The first and most important way is:

Don't see it as failure.
You know that tenth, fiftieth, one hundredth rejection letter you're holding in your shaking hands? That isn't failure. Instead it's another stone that's been turned on a beach full of possibilities. You know that paragraph/chapter/story that's refusing to write? That isn't failure either. It's a challenge to accept, a chance to rethink, a puzzle to solve.

Mistakes and mess happen, especially when we're writing a first draft. Even when we've reached a tenth draft. The process of writing is a long, slow and messy one. We have to dig in and get our hands dirty to find a treasure. The first try is bound to turn up a wonky throw-away. It's okay, though. We can tweak, adjust, and fix until that baby shines. Or we can toss it and start over. It's just part of the process and doesn't somehow make us failures as writers.

Make failure work for you.
Say you've failed to achieve a goal. A wholesome wallow can be good for the soul. So do your wallowing, maybe eat some chocolate. But don't let the dark depths drown you. Stand up, dust yourself off and get to business. I don't mean blindly charge forward, gritting your teeth in determination until the next fall. I mean, get to the business of dissecting the failure. Ask yourself where you might've tripped up so you don't trip on the same pebble again. Learn where your weaknesses lurk. Then actively work toward strengthening those areas.

Do the same for your successes. Don't simply celebrate and move on. Analyse why you might've succeeded. Why was this time different? You might be tempted to think you were simply lucky. While luck can have a small amount to do with success, it's never the whole story, nor even the main story. If you spend the time to uncover the cogs turning behind your successes, then you'll be more likely to make success happen again.

There's so much more to writing than sticking to schedules and following the rules. We are complex creatures who feed on creativity and wild extremes of emotion. Writing helps us make sense of the chaos. So the only time we fail is when we quit writing.

What are some mistakes you've learned from?

Photo: A photo I took a few years ago in a cave on the south coast of Australia.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month. 

To join the group or find out more, click here

Monday, June 2, 2014

4 Ways to Sift Through Writing Advice

There's a plethora of writing advice out there in bookstores, on the internet, at writing conferences, in critique groups, within the circle of family and friends. We are surrounded by well-intentioned people with opinions on how we should write. Some of the advice is sound, some of it contradictory, some baffling and some seems to make sense but you're not so sure a few months later. To find out how you can sift through all that information to know which advice to follow, click on over to the IWSG website where my post is today.

I'd also like to share Carol Kilgore's exciting cover reveal. I love this cover!

Coming September 2014

You can connect with Carol and her books here:
blog . website . facebook . twitter . goodreads . amazon

Congrats to Mark Noce who has a fabulous short story, "Meet Me at the Waterfront" on Every Day Fiction. It's well worth the read so pop on over.

Last week I forgot to mention the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Milestone. I don't know how I forgot. The IWSG Facebook group hit the amazing milestone of one thousand members! We're up to 1081 now! Big thanks to everyone who have made this possible.

Just a reminder about the IWSG Facebook Guidelines:

1. Since the focus of IWSG is support, the Facebook page should reflect this ideal.

2. You are encouraged to support your fellow IWSG'ers who share their writerly-related experiences, which include accomplishments/disappointments/challenges, with the rest of the group. Keep in mind that writers are at different points of their respective writerly journeys. Some lurk for a long time, before finding the courage to share with the rest of the group. Since the IWSG is all about community, a word of encouragement or advice may be just what somebody needs. Or even just a smiley face/thumbs up...

3. News and Promotional Saturday is your opportunity to add a link. The IWSG administrators reserve the right to remove promotional links, especially if they are posted haphazardly. 

After all this exciting news, don't forget to visit me over at the IWSG website! I'd love to see you over there.