Tag Archives: quiet

The Tiniest Voice

“What’s the difference between showing only me something, and showing a bunch of people on a different website?” Friend asked, a few days ago, after I’d had an upset about my writing not being viewed or liked on a bigger platform.

“If I show you, you give me feedback,” I told him. “You read it. When I put it somewhere else, it’s likely to be ignored, and largely, it does.”

If you recall this post, about putting your writing out in the wild, I had just started to get back into a couple of writing blogs somewhere. I have always been sort of cocky about my writing when it’s up against others, thinking that it’s more than decent and that people would like it. So, getting little to no traffic made me feel self conscious, and discouraged.

It comes with a well known frustration for me, of wanting to make some change, do something, and being unable to have much of an influence at all because my voice is so small that it doesn’t reach anywhere. Like talking to myself in a large house and expecting someone in the basement to be interested in my murmurings they can barely hear. Letting out something you’re proud of and it gets sidestepped, no one says a thing, no one manages to look that way at all, and then suddenly you’re deciding to stop and move on to something that doesn’t make you feel like a failure.

Friend’s answer to me, though, was that I shouldn’t be writing for anyone but myself, which is echoed in a year-old post I made. That, in the end, I need to like what I write. The only person that matters when I write something is me. If I enjoy it, nothing should stop me– screw everyone else; if they don’t care for it, fine.

Sometimes it just gets harder to hold onto the sentiment. It’s harder to be okay with just that, especially if you’re looking seriously into getting published. For me, I write because I enjoy it, but I also want to know that other people like it as well. It helps me keep going if I have an audience.

So far, my only consistent audience is a handful of people here, and Friend.

I can write for myself, I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now robustly and I’ve enjoyed it from the beginning. When people get involved, though, it’s a slippery slope for me, and one I’m not entirely sure I like walking down, because even if I do some incredible things, it goes unwatched, unseen. It’s an empty course that you’re going on your own. Or you’re shouting out in the middle of a canyon that no one else occupies with you.

Unexpected frustration came from an infographic I saw, which was supposed to be inspirational. Rich and famous people, innovators, authors, who dropped out of high school or college and made a more than comfortable living, and when they made their money. I get that the message was, “You can do anything,” and “nothing should get you down,” but not everyone can reach that level, especially depending on the country you live in. More often than not, it’s going to be a huge struggle, and no one is guaranteed millions, or even any recognition.

Recognition is another huge chunk of my issue. My little existential crisis. No matter what I say in my life, how many people are even going to remember, or care? What mark am I going to make on the world?

For my writing, I don’t know. I’d like to publish. I’d like to see my work flourish, but I’m not sure it’ll even get very far.

The real understanding, I think, comes from seeing that and doing it anyway. You enjoy it, don’t let anything take the joy out of it for you. Don’t let people ruin it. No one else matters in this world. When everything goes to shit, those random strangers who liked your work aren’t going to do anything for you.

But the partner who supported you through it all, the mother or father or guardian or whoever, who was encouraging you when you were crawling through muck and upset, they will.

Even if my novels tank, no matter what kind of mark I make, as long as I enjoy the process and putting things together, writing it all out. It’s harder to block out, when you learn more about publishing and what will garner the numbers you want, tailoring to a group of people instead of how you see things.

It still gets to me that Stieg Larsson was dead by the time his books were published, and with a different set of names than he originally intended in the first place. He was so adamant about keeping the first book as “Men Who Hate Women,” and the publishers didn’t care for it, so it got changed.

But that’s how it goes, isn’t it? When you see or want one thing, and then you have to do another because it’s better for the audience, to get the numbers.

These two things just feel at great odds. If I ever get to the publishing point, I’m not sure what I’ll do. And, hey, it’s not like I have much knowledge of it, it could be a different beast than I’m imagining, but hearing about it during dentist visits and what I see from others.

Maybe I’ll just stick to writing for myself and Friend, and you lot. Things are much easier that way, and there’s less people to worry about pleasing.

-The Novice Wordsmith

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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

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

Dare: Collector

Just as much as one character says a lot about you, so too does what your roster look like.

Look at your stable of critters. There’s going to be some repetition in some traits of theirs, though they all treat it differently. Maybe there’s a few that are widowed, or they’ve just gotten out of a bad relationship. Some have children, some are still children, others are elderly.

Take a second to look at what you don’t have. Find something you haven’t done before and challenge yourself to come up with a character who has traits or does things that you haven’t written into before. Don’t hold yourself back from going wild, or, if you’d rather, create someone quiet.

A friend of mine once told me that he got flack for creating a wild and outrageous, and powerful, character, but the follow-up to that was, “if you want a character that’s a bartender or a farmer, that’s your business.”

Go between the spectrum, one extreme to the other, have a strong character, whose life and focus is on power, and have one whose life is less exciting in the violence department. Create a dentist. Or a UFC fighter. Or a brand new wizard whose fireballs only have enough power to knock over lampshades. Or a super soldier who has the best pedigree in the world.

“Add to your collection” of heroes, as it were, round out what you write. Go boldly where you haven’t gone before, whether it’s a library or an explosive war, and don’t let anything hold you back. Go all out. 😉

-The Novice Wordsmith

Prompt: Tea Time

Tea and reflection have gone together for as long as I can remember. You sip something herbal or green, or maybe oolong, while you ponder the ways of the world. It is a way to get you to pause and enjoy something warm and flowery, or strong and uplifting.

Whether you’re feeling creatively drained or need to figure out where to go next with a character, or just want a new avenue to explore, setting someone down with a mug of tea, wherever it may be, is a surefire way to provide a change of pace.

From fast to slow, the teacup and the hero connect like old friends, if the tea is taken slowly. Taken more quickly, it can mean restlessness or irritation.

Give your hero time to think, delve into their thoughts and the inner workings of their mind and let them wonder and wander. Is there progress that comes of this, or is it simply absent thought that winds and winds and winds?

Is it a kind of tea that they love, or is it something new, from a friend or family member or lover? Is it a first experience for them, and do they hate the taste of tea, or love it?

In the end, they can find an answer in the leaves, or ignore them completely. What will your hero do?

-The Novice Wordsmith

Clarity versus Calamity

Extremes can provide a lot of insight. When there’s nothing but chaos, you have strong thoughts that stand out among the rest, and when all is calm and the waters are steady, it’s hard to miss the one or two things that dare to stir up the waves.

Distractions are the fuel of chaos. They are loud noises from the television or family, surrounding you no matter what part of the building or house you’re in, they’re things happening outside, or a conversation in the other room that demands your attention because of how loud the person is on one end. They’re the thirty tabs you have open in your browser, or the game that’s been begging you to play it for the past few days, not to mention the little apps on your phone that you can’t ignore, or friends texting constantly…

Above all, it’s the noise in your head that you can’t turn down.

Some people thrive in the calamity. They can pick out an idea and run with it, letting the other noise help them to a speedy finish. A phrase that goes, “the story writes itself,” can happen in either the calmest time or the most chaotic. Tuning out the noise can either help or hurt, but either way, finding a way to hear your thoughts is always the same.

This happens more often than not lately for me, and my go-to fix for it has been to plug in music and drown out the noise, and force myself to focus, even if it means sacrificing attention to something else (family member, more often than not, only if it’s not inappropriate).

Clarity and calm, after being elusive, is a welcome retreat from the chaos that may have erupted around you. When the noise is so loud in your head that you can’t calm it down enough to focus, enough to sit and write something out, it’s hard to get much of anything done when it’s not mindless work.

In the middle of it all, you may find something easier to write. Your thoughts, some random, rapid-fire brainstorming, but nothing you have to force, something that may come easily. That little bit of saving grace among the pots banging and the thoughts clashing that goes on in your mind can come from simple things, typically.

Days like this are mercifully rare for me, but when they come, they wreck havoc. Distractions, however, are very healthy, though at work, writing is the distraction, especially when firemen run into the building because of the fire panel going off. For others, loudly singing roommates and bright, rather obnoxious and simple shows make it very difficult to get any focus or work done.

This post is late because of distractions and personal trouble writing, so thank you for bearing with me (even if you haven’t). Also, happy 50th post! Yay!

-The Novice Wordsmith