Monthly Archives: December 2014

New Year’s Quiet

I was going to write something long and profound but I couldn’t muster up the desire after I got home from work. It was coming along beautifully, but I may have it wait for Friday or so.

With that, it’s been very quiet around wordpress because of the holidays, so I figured that waiting for the lull to pass might be a better idea. A short prompt/dare will be up on Thursday, as per usual, though, and like I said, I might write something on Friday.

For now, I hope everyone enjoys their new year celebrations! Be safe and happy new year!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Advertisements

Meaning and Sentiment

The holiday season is choc full of sentiment, no matter if you think the days have become entirely commercialized or not. It’s a time for family and togetherness, to show how much we care and love others, by giving as much as we can.

Meaning has two different thoughts here in this post for me. One is the association with semantics and what something is comprised of, what it means, and the other is tied in with sentiment, it means something, it has value. The meaning of getting gifts this Christmas is mutual love and abundant desire to see someone happy, but how much do those gifts mean to who is getting them or giving them?

Getting a bunch of gifts mean that people are able and wanting to give to you. Getting gifts that are maybe small, they’re toys, they’re little things that not many would consider to get you, means that someone knows you, or has inside jokes with you, or something to that effect.

There’s sentiment in getting something from someone you care about. You know what they went through to get it despite how quickly or how much you’ve outgrown it, and you’d rather hold on to it.

Writing goes sort of in the same direction, but differently, if that makes any sense. What you write can have meaning in two different ways. It can mean something about your life or society, or it can mean the world to you because it was the first thing you felt so great about writing in a while. It can mean enough to put a dedication to someone in it, it will have that sentimentality that it’s for someone else, that there’s more to it than just a crazy, creative idea that you had and masterfully marked up throughout a period of time.

It is what you put into it.  If you put your heart and soul into it, if it’s filled to the brim with your passion and gusto (as Ray Bradbury would put it), it will be obvious. With passion backing your words, there’s bigger, stronger support to it, there’s more emphasis and feeling.

Sentiment is a big part as well. Like with writing for a gift, there’s more to it than is tangible. It can help sculpt the story, the chapter, the article, into something else. Like with dedication to someone you’ve lost, the sentiment of writing it for them makes it into a piece that has your heart in it. It has reminders of them or it has a message for them that you maybe couldn’t have told them before.

Even if, overall, the piece ends up being some of your worst work– either in your eyes or someone else’s– there is sentiment in it. You see it, others may not, but it becomes what it means to you. And, in some cases, those who know what the meaning is in it.

Writing comes from the head, but the heart contributes just as much. It is a compilation of passion and ideas, the collaboration of your imagination and where your heart wants to soar. When there is one without the other, what does the meaning become then?

-The Novice Wordsmith

Secrets, Secrets, are No Fun…

I found myself yesterday trying to figure out how much a character would say about their past. To anyone, a stranger, or to someone they were very close with. How long would it take them to spill the beans about something important and personal to them?

Privacy is another factor that relegates how much is told about the character at one point, it’s what defines what other characters around them find out, and how they find out. It shapes the story, gives it more or less conflict, and puts a more obvious time stamp on what will be revealed when, and how.

It’s as simple as comfort, but if you take into consideration that some people feel the need to talk to others about heavy topics because they have no one else to talk to them about, it adds another dimension.

The inspiration for this comes from an experience where I was asked a bunch of more personal questions that I’d talk to a trusted friend about, and, they were someone I trusted and wanted to talk to about those things. Except, there was someone behind me who I didn’t care to let know anything about my life, personal or otherwise. When she found out certain things and started asking questions, I got prickly, and felt like walling up.

I noticed it was something I had a few of my heroes do before. You earn that trust, and the ability to know that information. Some are a little more lenient, though, deeming certain information able to be heard by others, some strangers, pending phrasing and vagueness.

So I guess the question then becomes about the trust issues the critters have.

And trust goes so much farther than just conversation, it is the basis of most actions and is why we do what we do most days. It builds into love, care, and affection, it’s a reason for effort and time spent, it’s what makes us want to go out of our way for others, to help.

Stepping back away from the psych side of things… I realize that another thing to consider is what they have to had. Whether it’s because they’re afraid of ridicule, or because they’d rather keep quiet than deal with reactions, good or bad. Maybe they’re tired of saying anything about it. After spending a day getting asked about an obvious injury, it’s not hard to imagine wanting to hide it so that the questions can finally stop.

Will something happen if they let the secret loose? It’s chaos in an instant, and suddenly the story is thrown for a loop and they’re trying to do damage control. Hah! But is that what you wanted all along? To find a way to get those secrets out in the first place, because the character is too walled up to let it out themselves?

Ultimately, it’s another side of them that makes them something more dynamic than just a vessel for a story to be told. They become easier to relate to,  to sympathize and empathize with both. Filling out their secrets and feeling out their boundaries is just another part to definition and development. A rather fun one, if you ask me.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Prompt: In the Spirit of the Holiday

Giving presents on Christmas is taboo, and it always has been. No one knows where it came from or how it got there, but they respect it as an unspoken rule. Everyone, that is, except you.

Write about what happens when you give a friend or family member a gift, and the resulting backlash from it.

Merry Christmas, you rebels!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Rush Hour

The holidays are a prime example of ‘not enough hours in the day,’ typically if you have a lot to do. Family to visit and helping with dinner usually means that you don’t get much time to yourself, if any, outside of turkey naps or food comas. If you’re the one cooking and setting up, even less time is given.

The clock becomes a race instead of a stationary figure, and you’re making sure throughout the day that everything gets done and prepared on time. Did you start the casserole early enough? Should you have pre-baked the pies last night? Crap, I can’t find the pickles and olives, oh… thank god, there they are. Now I can start wondering when to take the ham out of the oven…

In the midst of it all, the day becomes, rightfully so, about your holiday and how well it’s going to go instead of any obligations you may have held up. So, instead of worrying about having enough time to get that bodyweight exercise out of the way, you can devote all of your time to worrying about getting grandma from the nursing home on time.

At the end of the day, you might have a few hours to yourself. Holidays are synonymous with ruining streaks of anything, but what about writing? Where does ‘just a little’ become ‘too little to be acceptable’?

I’ve purposely allowed myself to revise a few old stories simply to keep up the streak. I go through and end up finding a few things I didn’t like anyway, but I have also only edited a few words before and let that be it because of whatever reason. Busy or my head wasn’t in it or something to that effect.

It becomes a struggle between semantics and meaningful effort, at that point. There can be a 200 wordcount daily to-do on your mental list, but how much do you put into it, and how much is simply getting it out of the way because it’s in the way in the first place?

I could go into a whole other post about meaningful words and fluff during Nano, but I’m not going to. Instead, I will say that it can be difficult to see the purpose and keep up with actual effort that makes a difference when you have bigger things to worry about, or limited time. Especially, in the case of this post, holiday arrangements and obligations.

Finding something that captures your interest, whether it’s new or old, can sometimes be the key. Go searching. Think about where your head is at. Write something about the holiday’s impact on a character. Do something reflective. If you can only get out the few hundred words and need to rush off, there’s still the chance to come back to it later, but don’t let yourself forget about it. Or, keep it for all of the other holidays. Come back to it when you have limited time.

Whatever you can do to make it go quickly, or if you need to focus because it’s been a long, eventful day and you finally have some time to yourself before it ends. Even swift can still make a difference, if you want it to.

On that note, I hope everyone enjoys their holiday, or has enjoyed it (I’m in NA, so I’m late for everyone on the other side of the world)! I hope it is (has been) plentiful, and that you get everything done just like you wanted to! Don’t stretch yourself too thin!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Happy Birthday to Friend! <3

I just wanted to add this as an aside yesterday, but I forgot about it. Here it is, though, a day late: a huge, big, awesome, amazing happy birthday to you for everything you’ve put up with from me and how you’ve helped me learn. It’s going on three years that we’ve known each other and since the point I met you, I was learning, I was understanding things differently, seeing them in ways I hadn’t considered.

You’ve done more for me than I could probably think of right now, right away, but if you gave me time, and a jar, I’d probably have it packed to the brim by the time I saw you next.

I know that as you get a year older, you worry about what you’ve done with your life, but I want to implore you not to. You’ve taught me, and so has life, that anything could change in an instant. What we say and do in the face of adversity is what helps us grow and become who we are, and you show me that no matter what your age, there’s still learning to be done.

Thank you, for everything you’ve done, for being here, and being amazing. For encouraging me to write more and to work on this blog and for helping with its upkeep at times by providing posts and your own incredible wisdom that I can never get enough of. For pushing me and telling me I can do more or better. For knowing when to be hard and soft with your words.

Sometimes you may not feel like you’re worth it, but I want to remind you that you are. And it may not be much to slot some time for you on the blog, specifically to say happy birthday and how much I appreciate you, but I thought, for helping me come to this point, that you deserved at least that.

Compression Calf Guards and Performance

I know the title is a little odd, but stick with me on this one.

I’ve been considering this post since I got my compression calf guards early this month. The reason being for that is mostly because I try constantly to make links between running and writing. They’re so similar to me, one because they’re both such great passions of mine and two because they seem so obvious (probably because I work through them both so often).

Out on a run (unsurprising) today, I thought about it again. I ditched the guards because it was short and I had very little desire for big effort. Today it was running to run and help boost how I’d been feeling all day, and putting on the guards is like shoving my legs in tight clothing that I desperately want to wear.

After three years, I’m finally making bigger improvements in my endurance, and that’s in thanks to the guards, because they help block out the pain and make it much easier for me to push without worrying about splints or aches. I’m able to focus on speed and distance instead of my condition and forget everything but my feet on the pavement and my swift movement down the road or up the hill.

Every thing is different. Every skill and talent, every hobby you pick up or class you look into, it’s all got fundamental difference, but in essence, some of it can come to be very similar. What’s similar is the broader parts, like getting ‘gear’ to help you improve.

Which does work. Some things will help your performance in a lot of ways, but another thing I realized in the past few weeks of thinking about this topic was that, really, there is no “compression sleeve” equivalent to writing.

A lot of the time, the only things that help you improve in writing are location, what you surround yourself with visually and audibly, and the kind of inspiration you seek out. It’s about the journals you fill and the programs you use and the music you do or don’t listen to. The other writers you read, the books you immerse yourself in, the worlds you dive into day after day, hour after hour, because you cannot get enough and you don’t want to.

It’s organization or lack thereof. It’s in your head and your hands and less about bells and whistles than it is about expanding on the basics.

All of them will always have one very central thing in common, though, and that is the love, dedication and effort you put in to that work, to get better, to see yourself achieve what you know you’re capable of, to reach your dreams and to be more and more each time.

Some hobbies can take more money to help you get better, others only need you to see things differently. There are no limits, only what you put in front of yourself.

Mental blocks are the worst, and some of the hardest things I’ve ever had to overcome. There’s still one street I run down that I can do easily one way fully, but coming back up it is the worst task in the world because of how I visualized it when I was still a beginner.

Today had been a big eye-opener in this case because, without the sleeves, I nearly ran the entire length of my route without stopping, which I haven’t ever done before, though I’ve been getting closer lately.

We remember where we’ve had a tough time before and it sticks with us. The best way to break through is to go a different route completely. Freshen, liven, and see what you can achieve when your head doesn’t think that you’re doing the same thing. Do something new, and throw in something positive about it, and see how far it takes you.

This goes for everything. If you’re having a hard time with a chapter or story or trying to get something out specifically, you will remember how hard it was before. Changing tone or perspective can make a world of difference.

I’m still trying to tackle that street every chance I get, to make it through as far and as fast as possible, because maybe then, I can overwrite the negativity I wrote in so early.

What I see a lot of when it comes to mentality and running and writing is that it’s all in what you say to yourself. Can you see that you can do it, or are you telling yourself that it’s impossible? Do you know that you have it in yourself, or are you making sure you don’t? It’s easy to short yourself, but look for the more optimistic side of things, even if you don’t believe it at first.

For so long, I wasn’t sure that I could even do much of anything with my writing. After getting a hard conversation out of Friend about my writing and the habits I had with it, I was resigned either to shrug off the idea of writing as a career choice or taking it head on and trying everything I could to make it.

A year later, I sat back with Friend at my side in a resort and was on my way to a journey to 100k words in a month, after writing almost daily for four months, and making so many stories I was immensely proud of at that point.

Getting a little more off topic, I had another friend who told me she thought that achieving her dreams was a stupid ideology and that it’s impossible. Maybe it’s my own personal experience that leads me to believe that you can with hard work and dedication. Maybe I’m naive and haven’t had enough negativity thrown into the mix to keep me down and out. I was convinced at one point, too, that I’d never find a job, and felt completely trapped, but that changed, too.

Perspective is everything, sometimes. Whether you need help from gear or programs, or just a fresh scenery, you won’t always be stuck.

– The Novice Wordsmith

Specialty

Writing from the heart isn’t difficult when you do it so often. Even easier, at times, is writing something for someone you love or care for. This manages to come well in handy during the holiday season or for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

I found years ago that writing, like painting, is an acceptable medium of which to gift someone something. It’s personal, it’s creative, and it’s intimate. It is an expression of how you know that person in some ways, an inside joke expansion, or maybe it’s just something you came up with that reminded you of that person.

For some time, I’d felt a little self conscious about the idea. I always saw it as being able to gift someone a gift made from personal creativity should have been limited to things that didn’t take too much effort on their part. For the people who don’t care for reading, pictures, drawings, photos, sculptures, a craft, something you can touch and hold.

Having a story, a poem, a chapter dedication, a character description, specifically made for someone is just as special as a crocheted hat that you had to do and redo and redo about five times in five hours. It comes from your hands and your heart, it’s crafted, from you, special, with that person in mind specifically. You gave your time and your effort and your care to make sure that it was nurtured and put together just how you felt it would be right.  It was made perfect because you made it so.

Consider your passion when you gift. Do it for everyone or just a few people. Do it for your lover, or your sibling, do it for the neighbor who has been having a tough time recently. Most of all, do it because you can, and because you want to.

The person’s interest still matter, I realize; you wouldn’t gift someone a huge story who doesn’t care to read, but someone who you know will appreciate your effort in that regard. Writing may be a fickle gift to give in some cases, but it’s certainly more personal than a tie, which is why it’s sometimes my favorite gift to give, to certain people. ❤

Also, one of the best things about writing something for a gift is that it’s FREE! So if you’re broke (like me), it’s perfect! This way you can be thoughtful and savvy! Who doesn’t love that?

In conclusion, it’s the thought that counts, so why not bring it to life?

-The Novice Wordsmith

Sick Day

I have been trying to write this post for the past few hours and nothing is coming up right.

Writing is the most affected by my sickness when I do get hit with it, which sucks, but at least my big tell for being sick is that I get huge apathy for any kind of productivity, which is convenient. I like convenient, but I hate feeling like this. It took me most of the day to get in the shower yesterday and finally get dressed in, you know, clothes that aren’t pajamas. My normal routine gets knocked off its feet for something that favors rest, and I can’t manage to get a word in edgewise that actually sounds decent.

Sometimes, at least, I’ll manage enough that sounds like it could pass and I move on to the next thing, but everything I have to do in a single day takes double the effort when I’m under the weather.

That’s what this post was going to be about, more general than about my personal experience, because I feel like you get more out of it if it’s left a little more ambiguous. Everyone has their own quirks when they get sick, their tells. Mine is apathy. Someone else’s could be simpler, sluggishness, that’s associated with the disease’s symptoms.

Just because I can’t manage the effort of writing something eloquent when I’m sick doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be the opposite for someone else, too! In which case, I’m envious.

Sick days are lumped in there with days where your head can’t settle down, when you can’t get creativity jump started, or when things are frustrating, you’re stuck, writer’s block won’t let go… The list is seemingly endless, and I keep finding more days to stick in there. Thankfully, though, they happen rarely enough, but when they do, it’s a nuisance and a half.

Or several nuisances. I can never keep up with the conversion rates.

With a bottle of nyquil in one hand and luden’s cough drops in the other, I can only hope that this passes swiftly, and I can finally get back into a good writing curve. Stay careful this season!

-The Novice Wordsmith