Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Day of Joy

By Keith N Fisher

We’ve all done it. Every writer has been there, staring at a work in progress and not been able to add another word. I suppose confession is good for the soul, so I admit I’ve suffered from this dilemma. It’s been tough lately, to continue.

Many people edit during those times, and I have plenty to do, but I hate doing it. I love to sit down and let a story take me where it needs to go. As I said, that hasn’t happened for a while.

In my associations and reading blogs, I’ve found many others who’ve also suffered. I sympathize with you.

Yesterday morning, however, I woke up with an idea for my WIP and sat down to write. Before I knew it, a day had passed, and I had written several chapters. Yes, it felt good, and I felt validated. With all the health problems I’ve had during the past year, I had plenty of time to write, but couldn’t bring myself to it. Yesterday, the tide came in, then last night, a crisis took the wind out of my sails.

Now, I’m not telling you all this to solicit any responses from our readers here at the blogck. Well, perhaps recognition that we are all the same. So, why am I telling you this?

One of my favorite movies is Stranger Than Fiction. Big surprise right? A writer who likes a movie about writing and how characters relate. The writing and acting in that movie is impressive. The way the author agonizes over every word then, to suffer when she discovers her character is real and she must kill him off.

Ideas for stories have always come to me full-blown. I’ve known the beginning middle and end from inception. In one story, the tear filled climax was so powerful for me that getting there was easy. All I had to do was explain the story. There have been books, however, that knowing the end made it difficult. In my book, The Hillside, for example, I’ve written nine different points of view and five completely different plots. I needed five different endings and each plot needed to effect the others.

Also, in the past, I’ve kept several projects open to work on whichever strikes me on that day. I haven’t been able to do that lately, and my current project is difficult. It’s a mystery/suspense and I’m having trouble keeping the tension up. In addition, I’m discovering the story as I go. Well, I know why my character is being pursued but the details have eluded me.

So I’ve trudged through it, knowing my writing is better than it used to be. Feeling empathy for those who are struggling, and hoping for a time of enlightened joy. A time when the words come so fast I can barely write them. That happened for me yesterday, and I’m grateful.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Be Accurate--Check Your Facts

By Keith N Fisher

I sat on my front porch trying to fix a corrupt file in order to submit a manuscript the other day. By the time I got it fixed and in the email my battery was flashing warnings. I sent the required documents before my computer slept, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Later, I plugged my computer in and reviewed my cover letter. I found two typos.

“Oh crap,” I thought. “They’re going to think I’m an idiot.”

While stewing about my blunder I thought of a subject I’ve written about before, but I found new object lessons, so I’m back on my soapbox.

I watched an interview the other day in which Lavell Edwards and Ron Mcbride talked a lot about the good old days. For those who don’t live in Utah, they were head football coaches for BYU and U of U. The rivalry between those two schools has been legendary.

The interviewer asked many questions that seemed to spark joyful responses in both men and you could tell they have a warm affection for each other. Many of their recollections brought memories back to me.

Toward the end of the program they spoke about the information age. They agreed they don’t use email and went on to complain about the inaccuracy of some of the blog writers and amateur newscasters on the Internet today. Even the pros, it seems, often get it wrong. Coach Mcbride talked about listening to the radio while driving one day. The radio host got the story completely wrong.

I thought about the absurdity of the situation: here was Ron Mcbride, the man who lived the events, listening to someone tell him how it really was.

As writers of fiction, many of us feel a need to blog. I write weekly here. Also, I write a more personal blog with book reviews and a blog about camp cooking. On occasion, I have gotten things wrong, so I know the danger. I’ve seen ill-advised Facebook statuses that should not have been written, and everyone knows about the possible errors on Wikipedia. I wonder if we will lose our history to those who write inaccuracy. Perhaps we might, if they write loud enough and long enough.

Just because we want a fact to be true doesn’t make it so. Still, if you get enough people to believe your version, does that change history?

As writers, regardless of whether we write fiction or nonfiction. Whether we blog or write short stories, we must be accurate. If we fail, the loss of our history will be partly our fault. Medical doctors take an oath. Perhaps writers should, too.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Does the Light Go Out?

By Keith N Fisher

Do you remember the old debate about the refrigerator light? Does it really go out when you close the door? Another one in the same vein was, if a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody around to hear, does it make a sound?

In our world today, we seek after absolutes. Many of the philosophical debates are cast off in favor of logic. Yet, in the world where writers live, there is conjecture. We think of the tree falling. Not only does it make a sound for us, but also as a dying creature the tree screams as it falls. Then, after it hits the ground, it moans it’s last breath.

Of course the light stays on in the fridge. How else would the creatures see? I remember spending long hours as a child, on my belly staring into the blades of grass. In my imagination, I saw another world. Not unlike the big one I lived in. When I got older, I stopped thinking about the vast jungle in our front lawn and tried to delve into the mysteries of the female heart.

Trees falling and refrigerator lights were nothing as compared to the age-old question, does she? Or doesn’t she? Think of the man picking petals off a daisy, hoping to discover the answer.

Now, I’m older. I’m a writer with several stories in my computer and in my head. Some are finished books most are unfinished. While thinking about a character the other day, something sparked a new debate in my mind. What happens to my characters when I stop writing for the day? Like the refrigerator light, do they just turn off?

There was a character in the Star Trek the next Generation series who came back a couple of times. He was created when Data was playing Sherlock Holmes in the holodeck. Jordi who was playing Dr. Watson, asked the computer to create a mystery that Data couldn’t solve. The Computer created a Moriarity character who was aware. He knew who, and what, he was.

The problem arose, when the character came back and complained about the unbearable length of time he spent, waiting for someone to deal with his situation.

As a writer over the years, I’ve put aside many outlined stories in favor of another, more immediate story. I get back to most of them on occasion, but some of them have waited a long time. I’ve created characters that haven’t seen the limelight of being written about for years. Like Moriarity, do they feel the passage of time?

Of course, this is crazy, but I’m a writer, I deal in conjecture. Any writer will tell you their characters talk to them. Some of them even hijack a story. Do my characters get angry when I ignore them? What do you suppose would happen when the murderous antagonist from my old west story crossed over into my coming of age?

Sounds like good fodder for another project. The characters are already written.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Being Qualified to Overcome Fears

By Keith N Fisher

The Conference is underway, and the classes are terrific. I’m also getting reacquainted with friends, colleagues, and publishers. Do you remember my post a few weeks ago when I talked about Star Wars and what I’d like to see in the next movies? Well, yesterday, I listened to the man who wrote the stories.

Kevin J Anderson was our keynote speaker at the conference, and I’m scheduled to take a class from him this morning. In his address, Kevin talked about being given the opportunity to write Star Wars stories and he wrote the trilogy that I wished for. Kevin has enjoyed a wonderful career writing more books than I could read in . . . well, it would take a long time. He also co-authored a book with Dean Koontz.

Kevin ended his speech by pointing out his career has gone the way it has because he was willing and ready to act when the opportunity came along. I thought about that and wondered if I would be ready. Like many of you I’ve always thought of my writing as a personal thing. I want to pick my projects and do them, my way.

That isn’t to say, Kevin hasn’t written his stories his way, but I’ve turned down opportunities to write biographies and other write on demand projects. My reasons have always been my unwillingness to give up my independence. Now, I’m wondering how many career making chances I’ve boggled.

I talk a big talk about my dedication to this craft, but am I really just afraid? If George Lucas offered me a chance to write what Kevin wrote, I would be honored, but would I do it? Fear of failure runs deep in my life.

Many years ago, my father pulled some strings to get me into the Milrights local of the carpenters union. I didn’t know much then. In fact, most apprentices could show me up without effort. I kept my head down and paid attention learning more about precision tools for alignment everyday. I worked on several projects as an apprentice. Then, the business agent sent me on a job out of state. I’m sure he thought he did my father a favor by sending me out as a journeyman, but it was obvious to the crew that I was a fake.

I did my best and ended up replacing the decking on a cooling tower. I also retrieved dropped tools from inside. Imagine climbing into a framework of hot wood with hot water dripping down on you. The rising steam makes you feel like a steamed lobster.

The point of the story is qualifications. There were many things taught to me by my father, including balancing a drive shaft for a turbine, but I knew I wasn’t qualified and I was frightened. That, I believe, holds me back in my writing. After all, I’m not an English major. In fact I failed the subject in high school. Is that too much info? Do you think less of me now?

It’s time to move on. I’m not getting any younger. I’m going to accept the offers that come my way. Then, if in the meantime, my fiction gets published, I will be able to look back on the career I always wanted, but felt unqualified for.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week