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Gathering creative inspiration

Gathering creative inspiration
I once read somewhere, though I can’t remember where exactly that for your personal creativity to be as original as possible and for you to develop a noticeable personality for your followers you need to be selective about what you put into your brain. Therefore, you must be choosy about what you want to learn and what you expose your brain to… the kind of stimulus you give your brain will determine the kind of work you are likely to produce.
With the above being said, it has some bearing to me. I have noticed that I am not easily influenced by regular fiction or classics or best-sellers, though some of my favourite books and stimulus have been best-sellers, by and large most of my stimulus has only been heard of by people of certain small sub-cultures.
I regard myself as a fantasy writer with a bit of horror thrown in the equation or vice versa. I am not really sure if I write more horror or more fantasy; though I suppose the readers of this blog will perhaps state that I am neither really, but a poet; I have however said in the past, that I do not put many of my stories up on the blog because I am never really sure if they are finished or not and even then, I am unsure if publishers will publish them if they’ve been on my blog first.
The things that stimulate me or have stimulated me will be noted below, I shall include music, movies, programs, books, individual people, artists and more and this list shall grow and grow over the years.
It will not be written like a list because I would like to explain the lure.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey has been mentioned on this blog before as a favourite of mine. I am not fond of stories regarding winter because I have an excellent imagination even in the blazing heat of the hottest summers on record and I would be sitting down reading books with snow in, feeling freezing cold – but this particular story gripped me because not only did it teach me about farming life in Alaska, it taught me that the best stories in the world always end in a way you are not expecting it to. It was the first book I ever read where the ending made me feel numb and a little bit angry, but not in a bad way.
Monty Python has always influenced the humour in me and their influence is often shown in my family fantasy stories. I love their silliness and the seriousness their jokes come across as, it is like their characters are acting as normal as anyone would in the same circumstances and why would it be any other way? Monty Python and Terry Pratchett have been very good in teaching me that life isn’t always the same in every world and that there are many ways a society can live and it would be perfectly normal to that society to be that way… I mean… why not?
Of course Terry Pratchett will get a mention on his own with disc world being a huge favourite series for me, his humour has no bounds. In fact, his is the first piece of fiction that is over 20 pages long that my seven year old son has started to read. In the last few days I have been reading 12 pages a night of Sourcery. He is so thrilled by it that it isn’t proving to be a very good bedtime story at all for him, far too stimulating! My son is quite a serious fellow really, he has a sense of humour but I think most of it got squashed during the ventouse, though he tries to joke occasionally bless him. He does how ever find it amusing if not weird that there is a world in this book where bed bugs will wave goodbye when the mattresses run away and that luggage will walk away from time to time and hassle publicans for crisps.
Ransom Riggs is a new favourite of mine, I only started reading him in mid-march 2017 and I didn’t discover him through his debut book either, I discovered him through “Tales of the peculiar” and I am so glad I did. His stories aren’t just good, they are haunting. They feel like they have been around for centuries, I swear I knew these stories from somewhere before, they feel so familiar, but I can’t put my finger on it. I did my research, they are not copied, he is just so good that it feels old… the stories feel as old as Beowulf to me. They feel like they are part of societal fabric. I can see me developing an obsessive readership type love for this author if he carries on like this in the future! Part story-teller, part mesmerist I think.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is shocking, too shocking for some people to read beyond the first chapter, but to me it is a beautiful story if you can get over such a horrific subject. For me, it is about how a person’s spirit lives on even in death and how they can still influence the living by how they think and feel about the living – basically, the more the spirit thinks of the world, the more the world will feel the loss of the person. It also talks about the wonders of being dead; the freedom to create your own little haven and that paradise is whatever you want it to be, there are no real rules to paradise and the story ends in such a way that it shows that justice isn’t always done in a black and white way.
Susan Hill is a favourite, particularly her story called “The Man in the Picture”, it has a theme I adore more than most themes – a theme of a carnival, Venetian balls, Venetian masks with a dark veil. I love how it is almost like the picture of Dorian Gray, but with its own unique story. You can also sense a little of Roald Dahl’s The Witches in this story too.
The Nowhere Emporium by Ross MacKenzie is again a subject connected to mesmerism and carnival or more to the point circus acts and magicians as a matter of fact, mesmerism, circuses, carnivals, fantasy, comedy, horror, theatre, oddities, mimes, jokes, harlequins, jesters, pirates, gothicness, insanity and surrealist things draw me – they provide me with inspiration, which is another reason why I love the music of Nox Arcana as they provide music for all of these subjects.
I love the band Misfits and the insane clown posse, once again, circus and dark themes. I like Melanie Martinez as she is like someone who fell out of the suicide squad movie.
I like Batman purely for the villains, mainly Joker and Harley Quinn.
I used to watch WWF but I stopped shortly after The Big Boss Man died, I haven’t been updated with them since, I haven’t a clue what’s gone on since that big event. I wasn’t a huge fan of him, but I stopped watching it because I couldn’t get it on TV anymore in my area because my parents gave up digital. But I loved WWF and WCW because of certain themes wrestlers had, my favourites were, The Undertaker, the insane clown posse with Luna and the oddities, Kurgan, Giant Silver, I loved Gold dust and Raven, Vampiro, the misfits in action, mankind, Dude Love, Doink the clown to name but a few.
Up until 2015 I watched TNA on Freeview, I stopped watching when Mickie James left mostly, but I also liked Brian Kendrick.
There is an unknown author out there called Alex Weinle of which I won a giveaway of his debut anthology of short stories called “The Decapaphiliac”, he is excellent and is a new Neil Gaiman in my opinion, though there is absolutely nothing wrong with the real Neil Gaiman – this author is similar. I recommend them. He lured me with his fantasy, dark humour and the fact that he seems rather fond of cafes and market places like me.
I like dark humour a lot, I like Jimmy Carr and the mesmerist magician Rob Zabrecky, and they lean on the humour I tend to have the most, I have this Victorian quality about me, a seriousness that looks severe and when I am in a playful mood it can often be mistaken for insanity or instability.
Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz are as classic as I would go as far as literature is concerned, though I do love classic gothic horror especially by HP Lovecraft and the likes.
Neil Gaiman I am a fan of, the kind of darkness I love – Coraline, smoke and mirrors etc – delicious for the hungry mind.
Freaks the 1932 horror is wonderful too – I like it – to me it has a dark humour but also a moralistic undertone. Once again part of the pull for me is the circus theme.
Cirque de soleil also pulls me because of the circus theme, vampire circus, the night circus, Hetty Feather, Oz the great and powerful and the circus mesmerist feel of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka.
I also like Victorian asylum themes; I love Dracula for that, Nightmare on elm street, Angels at my table, Chaplin the movie and once again, music from Nox Arcana with the album Blackthorn Asylum.
All these things, dark, mesmerising, surreal are what I love and what fuels my creativity.
I literally soak myself in everything that inspires me, if it doesn’t inspire me or grips me, then it goes, I don’t waste my time on it and my selectivity is unusual, it is strange and it is hard to find kindred in this type of darkness.
I just wish I would knuckle down and work harder and get brave enough to finally take the plunge and kiss my work into the black hole that is the post box and send it on its merry way to a publisher and onto your bookshelves, flying to you with black and white butterfly wings.

 

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1st draft vs 2nd draft

I would like to know as a reader which of the two opening paragraphs below makes you want to read more?

1.            The explosion could be heard for miles and the scent of smoke from the fading buildings tainted the air for days afterwards.  Maud, a nine year old little girl was found in the nearby cemetery, huddled by the cemetery wall shortly after it happened, she was discovered to be the daughter of the local priest, Father O’Hara and his wife Mildred O’Hara, they were killed in the blast and half the church had gone too. 

2.            Smoke and dust filled the air and sirens deafened all around.  Her eyes filled with tears as she saw her home being bombed by the unknown attackers of her city; a little girl no younger than nine was holding onto her ears with her eyes closed crouching by a tombstone in the local cemetery nearby.  It was an awful sight; it was an awful noise, much more awful for a little girl like Maud.  After a while somebody found her crouching there all alone.  They asked her name, they asked where she lived but all she could do was cry and point at the pile of smoking rubble that was her home.

This is based on the novel I was writing for NaNoWriMo, the first paragraph is the absolute first draft of this story, and the second paragraph is the revised second draft.

Would you keep either of the paragraphs or revise again?

A little information here, I never completed NaNoWriMo or this novel, the story is on hold until after Christmas.  I managed to write approximately 37,000 words towards this and I didn’t consider it to be a half way point. 

 

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Vampire Loyalty

I have been watching Vampire Diaries season one this week, I have just finished episode fourteen and I have to say, I am a little disappointed with the lack of vampire loyalty in the plot.  Vampires seem to kill more vampires than they do people in this show and I have to ask, what is that all about?  From what I know of vampires if they are not solitary creatures they are pack animals and I think that the writers here had a hard time trying to decide which type of vampire they wanted to write about.  It is like they cannot decide whether they want a solitary vampire, a vampire twosome that has run away from the pack, or a pack style vampire story.

That’s my observation so far with the series.

Another observation is this, when are we going to get a TV series that concentrates purely on vampires rather than mortal/vampire romances and also throwing in werewolves, witches and other things into the equation too?  When is this going to happen?  When are we going to get a TV series where vampires have vampire relationships and there are no other supernatural beings but them?

I am waiting on that…

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Rediscovering Vampires

I love fantasy and yes, there are many popular fantasy TV series and books I have never ever experienced in any format; they include ‘The Game of Thrones’, ‘Season two of Once Upon a Time’, ‘Grimm’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘The Shannara Chronicles’, ‘Supernatural’, ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and episode four and beyond of ‘The 100’ to name but a few of those missed experiences.

Along with those television series there are several books I have never read too and they are; all the above that have novelizations.  Book four and beyond of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ series of books, the third book and beyond of Anne Rice’s ‘Vampire Chronicles’, ‘The DragonLance Series’ and ‘Goosebumps’ to name but a few there too.

Now, I am currently trying to make amends for all of that.  I am currently re-reading the first book of ‘The Vampire Chronicles’ by Anne Rice with the aim to read right through all the chronicles by this time next year – next week this will be put on hold right after I have finished ‘Interview with a vampire’ because I have ordered from my local library a trilogy from Michael Moorcock ‘The Eternal Champion’ because I am curious about a symbol I am rather fond of which apparently originates from these novels.

I am also watching some of the above mentioned television series, back to back, one to three per night – the ones I have started with is the box-set I have bought of ‘The Vampire Diaries’.  You are probably wondering why I have bought something that expensive if I have never watched one of the episodes first.  Well, it’s about vampires; I know I will love it.  Its touch and go in regards to Twilight but I guess because it has vampires I might find it tolerable, who knows… Twilight is another vampire movie I have never watched and I am a die-hard vampire fan, go figure.  Well I was too busy to keep up to date with my vampires for about a decade, so I am forgiven right?

The vampire Diaries has me hooked by the way; I have watched five episodes this week so far.  I am scrutinising the whole thing because I specialise in vampires in my novels and I don’t want to clash too much with anyone and I was nervous at first because something in the vampire diaries has clashed with my novels (the corvid) and the fact that a few of my vampires have the ability to roam the day too.

I am also hooked because Damon gets my hormones going… but let’s not talk about that, we’re talking about vampires in general and fantasy, not my hormones on some women’s health site. 

So, yes, I am happy to find that this series hasn’t brutalised vampires too much for me like True Blood has, I feel True Blood went too far in de-romanticising vampires.  I was distraught about that.  In the True Blood series you couldn’t tell the vampires apart from anything you see in a normal human to human slasher movie, werewolf movie or zombie movie, vampires in my opinion are much more far removed than those other movie types and I found it hard to chew.

Although being a horror fan I did love the brutality, but I was too angry that it was caused by vampires drunk on blood, dripping with blood and acting like psychotic corpses.  A lot of people will argue with me that vampires are just that ‘psychotic corpses’ but I will deny that is what vampires are, vampires to me, love very deeply and have a gentle demeanour about them, they are not rabid animals.

So, yes, I am returning to vampires.  I am returning to my love for them and with this reunion come rediscovering my hidden identity again.  I feel like I am filling up the hollowness in me and I am feeling more like who I was meant to be, rather than some obscure faint shadow.

I don’t do short stories of vampires unfortunately.  I linger too much on my vampire novels that I am ashamed to say they are epic sized.  I can’t stop adding things to them.  I think ‘War and Peace’ will have nothing on one of my vampire stories.

So that’s it for today, more to come tomorrow. 

Thank you for reading and do post a comment below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NaNo No No No DON’T DO IT!

I do not recommend NaNoWriMo to any writer who has been writing for a while, whether published or unpublished to partake in NaNoWriMo unless they are used to writing more than 1700 words per day under pressure.  In fact I would even stretch to say, unless you are used to writing at least 2000 words per day, because when you do NaNoWriMo you become obsessed with having certain amount of words rather than good quality work.  This can be especially true for those writers out there (and I am one of those writers) who are highly competitive outside of writing in every other thing – this feeds my competitive nature far too much.

The work I have done on NaNoWriMo is shockingly awful; it is the worse stuff I have ever, EVER done.  It will take me much longer to edit the first draft than would have been usual for me.  I am dreading to re-read what I have done and for the record, no, I haven’t won NaNoWriMo and I will not by Wednesday, simply because I stopped writing the novel altogether last week at 37,504 words.  I am disgusted at myself for the quality of work I have done; I am not used to creating that kind of garbage.  With that said, the novel in itself isn’t too bad an idea; there are many wonderful things that have happened during the NaNoWriMo challenge, some of which are pleasantly surprising and helpful to enhance the richness of the plot as a whole, but in practise, the story is unemotional and I missed several key points in my plot because of the word count. 

I suppose the speed of NaNoWriMo assisted mainly in the brainstorming phase of my writing; I certainly had a brainstorm for something interesting to happen in the novel outside of my key elements as often as once every ten paragraphs approximately.  However, simply sitting back and doing my daily journal does that if I concentrate purely on the current novel I am working on; something of which I hadn’t had the energy to do throughout the challenge.  I had no energy to do any other form of work in writing or art; it was starting to burn me out.  I had no energy to read books or even update my personal diary and morning pages. 

The entire challenge zapped me; it absorbed me and ultimately slowed me down.  I wrote less per day than I would normally, ironic because of the word count obsession, but it did indeed; slow me down by 800 words per day.

I think I could have kept with the challenge despite the shoddiness of work, if there was more support.  However, my region seems to be a ghost town, hardly anyone has been seen on any of the forums or the chatrooms provided, the only support I had got were from people who were not doing the challenge and were writers who look at the challenge with a sympathetic eye.  I spent ages sitting around waiting for someone to talk to from the NaNoWriMo site, even trying to seek out NaNoWriMo writers from twitter and other places to come up against a social brick wall.

NaNoWriMo although was a terrible experience for me, was still fruitful in its way.  I brainstormed through the toil and was provided with small gems to make my plot as a whole sparkle.  But I have a lot of extra unnecessary work to do, when editing comes around.  Let me put this into plainer terms… The first chapter of the novel will be completely deleted and replaced with only a nice, neat three paragraphs and that is only the first chapter.  Something I am not used to doing, I am not used to creating that amount of rubbish.

I am bored with the novel at the moment, I won’t continue with it perhaps until way after New Year.  Meanwhile I will start reviving my blog again and work on the other two novels I wanted to do during the challenge, without the panic that I shall be a failure unless I reach 50k for just one novel in 30 days.

As I said before, I wrote more outside of the challenge, than I did within it.

So, will I be taking up NaNoWriMo challenge 2017?  You must be joking?  Of course I won’t.

 

 

 

 

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Half way through the challenge

I am over the half way mark in NaNoWriMo, not much over it though I just finished for the night at 25,066 words.

I slumped behind on the words for a few days because I was worrying too much about NaNoWriMo technicalities rather than just worrying about my novel. 

For example, I wasn’t sure that I liked what I had written and didn’t want to delete it because I didn’t want to affect my word count for this challenge.  I went onto the forums tonight for the first time since taking up the challenge and found out that other people know that they have written crap on their first draft, so go back to the draft later on and write underneath the former crap that you want to change the above and here is the newer version of that event.  I didn’t know this was allowed but apparently it is.

I also didn’t know whether or not I had to stop writing my novel 50k willy nilly, I am so glad I don’t because I think my novel is going to be approximately 150k when I have finished, so again another fear has been allayed.

Now I know this, I think I will finish the challenge much, much quicker than I had originally thought and I am personally starting to write again, how I used to write before NaNo, which is an ace for me!

 

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Plotter to Pantser

Despite it being crappy as I said in my last post I have persevered with my NaNoWriMo novel.  I have now added a further two thousand and odd words to my story and that totals to 18931 words all told.

So I haven’t given up yet and hopefully I won’t.

However, my story isn’t developing how I wanted it to be, I have gone from what NaNoWriMo veterans would call a plotter that is now turning into a pantser.  The new developments however are more exciting than my original plans, I am very happily surprised at what is happening in the story, in spite of hating how badly written it is as a whole.

Wish me luck!

 

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NaNoWriMo is making my writing terrible

I appear to be losing the plot 17k into my NaNoWriMo novel, it seems to be going against my plans and I am getting to the point where I need some sort of support and though my region is lovely, it is a very quiet and unsocial group.  There is usually no one but the bot in the chatroom, the forum isn’t very active and people are generally slow in my region to respond to E-mails.  There doesn’t seem to be a region group for people who are in Warwickshire, UK, so I have chosen to be in the region UK other group, I had thought of leaving the group to join the West Midland Birmingham group which is near me, but I don’t know if I can swap regions in the middle of NaNoWriMo month or not?

I feel that although I am working faster on my novel than I usually do, I think it is my worse work so far.  I know first drafts are notoriously shitty, but I think mine is getting to the state of time wasting and the point of no return.

The novel I am writing was planned to a t before the month started, during the month lots of new things and scenes have been added and I have forgotten to include some of the original detail, it’s just a mess and I am not sure if I want to carry on till the end and then clean up the mess at the end of the month or just ditch it now and say I failed NaNo this year.

It’s all full of dialogue, very little action and descriptions and I can’t just write a novel based on dialogue, it’s more or less like a film script, in fact I think that’s what it is!  I want it to be a novel, not a film script.

I don’t really want to fail this year, I don’t want to ditch the story per se, but it is a terrible, terrible mess and I just wish I had people to talk to about this who are also participating in NaNoWriMo and who are veterans of it, so to speak.

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NaNoWriMo update November 4th

Current word count for NaNoWriMo on day 4 is 10461, yay.  🙂

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NaNoWriMo & The Monster

I needed a pep talk on the NaNoWriMo website tonight, because I have never written thousands of words down towards a novel without revising each paragraph for weeks at a time.  I am not used to word vomit.  But I am doing that with NaNoWriMo because the motto there is to ‘just write’ and that’s what I am doing and I am finding that my story is unemotional and non-descriptive and generally trashy I have to say.  But, fellow Nanos told me, it’s meant to be like that initially, you’re just piecing things together, it’s not meant to be perfect first hand.  It’s supposed to be a little more than planning stage, it’s still part of the planning, and it doesn’t start to look like the story until draft two or three or four.

So this got me thinking.  I started to think that you know what?  If they are right and professionals do write like this on a consistent basis then a novel is like Frankenstein’s monster.  You get an arm, a leg, a hand, etc. and you sew it all together and then with each new draft you make after NaNoWriMo you are trying to find the secrets to life, eventually you will get to the grand finale, you will get that lightning bolt of life you need for your monster, the story and he shall come alive!  I hope my monster comes alive by the end of this anyway!

Good Luck to all who are doing NaNoWriMo this year!

 

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