Inconvenient Times When Inspiration Occurs

Inconvenient Times When Inspiration Occurs

Shannon Thompson wrote about what inspired her Timely Death Trilogy, which took course over many dreams she had. The only thing a dream has inspired for me was Amelia Gareth, my protagonist for When Stars Die. But everything else comes entirely from my head and the previous chapter I had just written. When I both write and re-write, I do it for myself first, and then I edit for what I think my hypothetical number one fan will want to read, as well as my hypothetical fan that will rate my book three stars (because three star ratings DO NOT mean that the reader didn’t enjoy the book. It can simply mean they’re tough raters and they wanted more out of the book that they didn’t get, but it didn’t deter their enjoyment. Although three star ratings for me means I didn’t like the book, but I kept reading, which is what matters. Anything below three stars for me means I didn’t even finish the book). 

In any case, my inspiration doesn’t come from anything sentimental for me. Throughout the day, I am constantly thinking about how to make the story better, how to make the chapter better from a story standpoint–not at a technical standpoint, which is what I worry about last. Here are some inconvenient times when I receive inspiration:

  1. At work: I’m supposed to be doing my job, as in making appointments so I can hopefully earn commission, which rarely happens for me, because, frankly, the mall sucks so hard, harder than a diamond, and because I work the mall, I can’t make that many appointments. The more appointments you make, the higher the probability that you can actually SELL something. But at least I can keep my job, even if commission doesn’t go through. In any case, after making one appointment, I get totally lazy and generally limit how often I call people over to enter for the Fiat, which is the gimmick we use to draw in homeowners who might be interested in getting stuff–after all, even if I make 8, they’re probably not going to sale anyway, so I often say ‘What’s the point?’ Oftentimes while I’m interacting with a customer, I’ll receive this burst of inspiration, and I just HAVE to write it down, even when I am with a customer–and I do write it down. I am an author now. It is my career now, no matter how this career goes. I have saddled myself with a schedule now, so when inspiration comes, it has to be put down, regardless of how my interaction with the customer is, regardless of how rude I may appear.
  2. While in class: There is an exception to this. Geography is the most boring class I have ever taken in my life, so it’s not unusual for me to be working on my writing in this class, or writing down inspiration. However, for my other classes, it’s often advised that I pay attention, especially because memorization doesn’t exist in these classes like it does in my geography class, so I have to pay attention in order to understand concepts more clearly and how to apply them. But when I get a hit of inspiration, I simply have to pull out my outline journals and write it down, even mid-lecture. The professors may think I’m taking notes, but, really, I am doing something totally different from what they want me to do.  I haven’t been caught yet, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if they happen to do catch me. It’s just inconvenient because I really should be paying attention to lecture to understand stuff.
  3. While driving: I think about writing intensely when I’m driving because driving is rather boring for me. But once a piece of inspiration hits, I have to pull out the notebook and pen to write it down, even when I’m driving. At a stoplight, I will write it down, but if I have to finish my thought, I will write, even as I’m driving, and writing while driving isn’t even illegal but is just as dangerous as texting while driving. However, I am a very alert driver and haven’t had any accidents…yet, but I don’t see myself writing while driving too much in the future because TSAI is done, Christmas break is almost here, and so I’ll be spending most of my time at home.
  4. In the shower: So the other day I was mulling over how I wanted to end TSAI, and then suddenly realized how I wanted to end it. Now I was already in the tub, soaking in the hot water before I turned the shower on, but I knew I needed to write it down, that I didn’t want to think about it while showering in the relaxing, hot water. So I immediately got out of the tub, wrapped a towel around me, and went into my room to write down my thoughts. Mind you, I was freezing because my body doesn’t do so well with temperature changes, but I absolutely had to do it.
  5. Right as I’m about to fall asleep: While I’m on Seroquel, a great sleep aide and total mania killer–usually–my mind is still active, thinking about what I’m going to do while in the process of finishing a book, so when inspiration hits, I have to write it down right then and there or else I could possibly forget it the next day. I often do remember it the next day, but you never know. And it’s annoying because I was about to fall asleep and am so sleepy as I write it, but, well, you have to do what you have to do as a writer or author.

So, for those who are writers, what are some inconvenient moments when inspiration has struck? For those who are primarily readers and like to know what inspires writers, what is your favorite piece of inspiration writers have written about? 

 

 

 

Some Balletic Determination and the Madness of Mental Blocks

Some Balletic Determination and the Madness of Mental Blocks

936236_564447873606956_1758649304_nBallet class on Monday was rough. Since Ms. Toole is on vacation, the director of the school is doing our class this week. Now I love taking class with him because he is meticulous, but I think he sometimes gets carried away with exercises and forgets just what level he’s teaching. Granted, my level is one step below the most advanced class one can take, but still…compared to Ms. Toole’s class, the director’s class was pretty advanced in some exercises. I shined in pointe class, of course, because it seems like once I’m on my toes, I’m weightless

In spite of class being so difficult and me performing poorly half the time, I am not deterred from taking class tomorrow. If anything, I want to improve and am more determined than ever to take class just to see what I can do.

There is an interesting thing in ballet that is very much comparable to writing, and that is the tendency to stumble across deadening mental blocks. When it comes to across-the-floor exercises in upper level classes, that mental block wants to creep upon me because these exercises are where you’re performing in like two or three person cells, so the rest of the class is able to watch you. When you’re performing on stage, you can’t even see anyone, but in class, you can see everyone and everyone can see you.

The class on Monday was already slightly disheartening, so my brain was already trying to disengage itself from the exercise being shown. By the time we got to it, what was in my brain couldn’t go to my feet, even though the exercise was, for the most part, at my level. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it–it was that I had allowed myself to become so intimidated that the mental block overpowered me.

I know this happens in writing for a lot of people. You have it in your head, but you can’t get it on paper. Sometimes you come across scenes that you know are intimidating to write, and you find that mental block doesn’t let the words flow as they should. It’s very much different from a writer’s block. With a writer’s block, you have no idea what to write. With a mental block, you know what to write, but it’s not translating or won’t translate on paper. Mental blocks can be more terrifying than writer’s blocks because you wonder how you’re ever going to take what’s in your mind and put it on paper. As a ballet dancer, mental blocks are terrible. I want to so badly to be able to perform the director’s across-the-floor exercises, but I have to overcome that mental block, which is a lot harder than actually learning new movements because it is entirely contingent on my mind, not muscle memory.

But I’m going to go into class with a renewed sense of vigor and determination. It’s something I love enough to practice on my own in that thirty minutes before class starts. Sometimes, we just need to take breaks from what we’re doing to really assess our problems and get a thorough grasp on them because it’s ultimately intimidation that feeds those mental blocks. Tomorrow, I’m going to go in with a bring-it-on attitude because the only person really being critical is me.

Dance is not a lonely endeavor, and writing doesn’t have to be either. You aren’t competing with anyone but yourself, and so your only competition is to be better than y0u were the day before.

 

 

Writers Must Live to Write, Not Write to Live

Writers Must Live to Write, Not Write to Live

tumblr_mn7cz2UitI1srvlz1o1_400 Writing is super time-consuming. It requires that we become hermits for days, sitting in our rooms, pounding on our keys, having to order crappy Pizza Hut pizza. We have to ignore phone calls and decline friends’ invites to go somewhere. But do we really have to do any of this, or are we so inundated with the myth that in order to be a successful writer, we must write ALL THE TIME?

It’s tempting to drown yourself in writing because you have this goal and in order to meet that goal, you have to write a lot. But it also becomes a very lonely life, and I think that loneliness will eventually muddle your writing because you’re not living anymore: you’re simply existing in this sphere of writing that prevents you from obtaining any life experience that can add spice to your writing.

Two summers ago my dad told me I needed to do something else besides write, and he was right, is right, and always will be right. That’s where ballet came in for me. Through ballet I gained confidence, learned something new, met new people, and lived another life that I never saw myself living even just three years ago. Ballet confirmed for me that I really can do anything I put my mind to, and so this translated over to my writing life. If I can do ballet, probably the most difficult dance/sport in the world, then I can sure as heck write a great book worthy of being read by my growing fan base.

Ballet is the balance in my life. When I am doing ballet, I am not thinking about writing, or actually writing, or doing anything writing related, so this prevents writing burnout. You can become burned out on anything, but by having ballet in my life, I find balance between everything that I do. It also gives me another passion, more life experience, and helps me feel alive so that way my writing life has more energy in it. Plus, it keeps me in shape.

We writers need to do more besides writing because writing does get to a point where it starts to feel like work. Yesterday writing felt like work to me, and I knew I was getting burned out on writing, so I had to stop for the day to prevent total burnout. I went over to my fiancé’s house, spent time with him, and played a little Ni No Kuni. While my writing is now a priority because it’s my dream career, my relationship with my fiancé takes precedence, especially if I find I’m getting a lot of writing done while he is at work. Nourishing our relationship is essential not only because I love him, but because it keeps me emotionally balanced. So nourishing relationships with the people in your life can’t take a backseat to writing. It’s good for you, good for them, and you may find out it’s good for character development because you’re getting to really know people.

And writing is a difficult thing. Depend on people to help you through it. Don’t drop them because loneliness is not worth that book contract.

But living should come first because experience creates the best books. I myself am dying for next week’s ballet intensive because this means more dance, more friendships, and hopefully there will be new people for me to meet. And who knows what I’m going to learn that can help flavor my writing?

Braving the Stigma of Mental Illness

Braving the Stigma of Mental Illness

I cannot fathom for the life of me why there is such an unabashed stigma against mental illness. Mental illness has been recorded since the invention of writing. Though the symptoms explained had no specific name, even our ancestors had no doubt such illnesses were real. Of course, believing in their existence isn’t the only problem. When you have a mental illness, society brands you as incompetent, incapable of living your own life.

Look around the internet, at the media. Some people believe those with mental illnesses should be locked away so we can do no harm to anyone, even though we are more likely to be harmed by those who are “normal” due to our vulnerable personalities. I can’t own a gun because I had to be involuntarily hospitalized so I could get a bed; otherwise, I would have been in the ER for another day or two–I wanted to go in, but I couldn’t do so voluntarily. I don’t think I can own a gun for another two years, which is a shame because we’re so hell bent on protecting ourselves with fatal weapons. It’s not that I care to own a gun, but, really, it’s the principle of the matter. I want to understand this, but there are other weapons we’re allowed access to that are more used than guns in harming ourselves or others–knives, for instance.

Seriously. I can be irritable, sad, apathetic, empty, hopeless, all in one day.
Seriously. I can be irritable, sad, apathetic, empty, hopeless, all in one day.

But gun rights are not on my bucket list. My fiancé has one, so I’m good to go.

I used to use Tumblr to express my darkest thoughts because I was too ashamed to let others know what sometimes goes through my mind. Then I realized people express personal stuff all the time on Facebook: what they ate, what sickness they contracted, the color of their babies’ shit, how crabby they are, so on and so forth. So now I’m choosing to reveal the rawest parts of me on my website’s blog because it is the only way to get people to recognize that a mental illness can be like any other illness. I’m a very self-aware person, and I hope that’s obvious in some of my posts.

We’re just afraid of mental illness because people sometimes hurt themselves to cope. People can become suicidal. In rare cases, people can become dangerous, but this is rare, so rare it shouldn’t even be a factor because “normal” people can be just as dangerous. I’m more likely to hurt myself than others.

So I’m coming out and saying that I have bipolar Type I Rapid Cycling. I hate it. I hate that I have to deal with this, but it’s here to stay and so I must. All I can do is use it to my advantage, and it does have some perks: I feel more creative, I’m so much more sensitive toward other people, I’m more self-aware now, and I feel like I have an even greater capacity to help those in need. Plus, I can just think of all the greats in history who have my illness. Sure, some of them didn’t survive, but they also didn’t have treatment. So on days where I feel a pity party emerging, I think of all those greats and wonder if they would have been able to do what they did without their illnesses. It’s possible, their works just would have been different, I suppose.

Don’t hide behind pity, shame, self-hate, or stigma. Come out and be loud and demand to be heard. It’s okay to hate your illness, but don’t drown in pity because of it. Make the best of it and be proud that you’re managing it in spite of how sucky it can be.

 

How am I doing today, specifically this morning? Crap. I didn’t sleep well last  night because my anxiety kicked in out of nowhere. So all I want to do is sleep, and, frankly, not wake up for a while. A long while. When a depressed person doesn’t get sleep, symptoms are intensified.

Visual Inspirations from The Dancing Writer

Visual Inspirations from The Dancing Writer

As writers, we all have things that inspired us to create the stories that we have. I am obviously no different, so I want to take you on a visual journey of legit things that inspired me to create When Stars Die and this current novel I won’t reveal until I have 31 posts written–also a few visual things for my published short story Dead Poet’s Pendulum that you can find on Google Reader from The Oddville Press.

Welcome to my mind.

Wednesday

No lie. This girl was in a nightmare of mine I had way back in the sixth grade. But she was someone else, a frightening murderer trying to kill off my sixth grade class. She’s evolved over time though into Amelia Gareth, the MC of When Stars Die. Amelia’s character is based off her design, but with a more mature, down-to-earth look.

GemmaThis book fueled my fascination for all things 19th century–and now I can’t stop putting my stories in this era. When Stars Die is set in the nineteenth century, except things are at a convent, but decorum, mannerisms, social cues, are all the same. Dead Poet’s Pendulum is set in the 19th century as well, albeit an alternate universe. There is also a village in my new novel that draws inspiration from the nineteenth century and adds a modern twist.

Alice This entire game fueled my love for all things twisted and psychologically complex. Plus, the various costumes Alice wears (which, I would argue, are in the line of Lolita fashion) are irresistible. Alice in Wonderland in general inspired my new novel. There are going to be various allusions throughout, but Madness Returns inspired the dark side of the novel to render it a dark fairy tale.

Wayward The writing in this book isn’t the best, but the story is just plain fun. Emilie’s world collides with Emily’s (with a Y) world to make you wonder which world is real and which is not: the modern day asylum Emilie is currently in or the 19th century asylum torture chamber Emily (with a Y) exists in.  The interesting world in this story inspired the style of the village in my new novel and the antagonist of the book inspired my own antagonist, and the book overall inspired the fashion of the characters in this book. The illustrations also inspired the dolls and puppets that play a crucial role in my new novel. Here is one such illustration: Rat

Shilo

Shiloh from Repo: The Genetic Opera. This one isn’t so much my writing as it is my entire style. I’m sort of a clash between Sweet Lolita and Gothic Lolita. It depends on whatever I feel like I want to wear that day. But a movie such as this inspires me to keep writing dark: dark paranormal, dark fairy tales, just dark books in general.

And last:

alois

This little beauty is Alois Trancy from Kuroshitsuji II. The design of the main character in my new novel is actually based off his design. Alois’s vulnerability also inspired me to make my MC just as vulnerable. My MC is deliberately beautiful because beauty plays such an enormous role in the tragedy that occurs halfway through the book.

So these are just some of the things that have inspired my writing. I could do an entire book of visuals that put me in the mood. Stars, I’d be interested in you doing visual inspiration posts as well. Everyone loves looking at pictures, after all. They hold even more meaning when we know they’ve inspired people to do great things.