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What plateau are you sitting on?

Mar, 2012 (2012-03-16 10:11)


Shared via Wind Fist on Facebook.

Keep an image notebook

Feb, 2012 (2012-02-01 05:00)

I originally posted this writing prompt as a reply on ISBW. However, this is truly a great idea for writers. I’ve been so enamored with the process and the results it’s produced in my creativity, that I’ve switched from using as my journaling tool to using OneNote, and I’m thinking about purchasing EverNote because of its great photo tools.

Well, here you go, enjoy. And give it a try for a month! I think you’ll find it as much a boon to the craft as I have:

For the length of a semester, keep an “image notebook.” Every day, record at least one image. (date the entries.) Use all your senses. Ask yourself: What’s the most striking thing I heard, saw, smelled, touched, tasted today? Images begin with precise sensual detail. One day you may overhear a strange bit of conversation, another you may smell something that triggers a memory.

Another day you find a photograph or take one or do a drawing. You might make a collage of words and pictures from magazines. This exercise is very open. Length is variable. Some days you may write a page and others a line. Don’t get behind.

Interesting juxtapositions emerge when you’re not conscious of how many images are colliding. If you do your week’s work all at once, you’ll lose the mystery.

What If? p. 267

The Skeleton

Jan, 2012 (2012-01-25 06:50)

Like a medical student who must learn the names and location of human bones before going on to more complex systems, a beginning writer must be able to handle and control basic plot before moving on to more subtle elements like motivation, subtext, and ambiguity. Many of the greatest novels incorporate a quest (Moby Dick), a journey (David Copperfield), and triumph over an obstacle (The Old Man and the Sea). These works also concentrate on one protagonist and end, if not happily, at least on an emotionally satisfying note of resolution.

 What If? p. 114

Visions for books in the digital age

Jan, 2012 (2012-01-19 06:56)

It’s inevitable that one day people will look back on books and think of them as a primitive, ancient way of conveying knowledge and stories. It might seem far-fetched, but I’m sure the ancient bards thought stories would always be passed on word-of-mouth.

Of course, it won’t be tomorrow or even an upcoming generation that sees books fall to the wayside. However, upcoming generations will see some drastic changes with the digitization of books.

Here are a few guesses at what that future might look like–built in Cliffnotes, cross references, book clubs and favorites, and getting a text from a character in the story! Fun to ponder.

Thanks to fastcodesign for sharing this vid.

Standing by the railroad tracks

Jan, 2012 (2012-01-06 13:40)

“Imagine your friend is about to get hit by a train. He’s standing there confused, staring at it like it’s some alien thing he doesn’t understand, but all you can do is whisper…”

 This is an article about being a QA tester for video games, but when I read it, I was struck by how well it captures the essence of conflict in writing.

These sort of impossible situations are the very fabric of good writing. Plausibly dropping characters into these kind of hopeless scenarios is the task of every effective scene.

It must come from the heart

Oct, 2011 (2011-10-24 09:17)

Josh Galarza shared this with me.

We can’t write well if we don’t care about our subject matter. It must come from the heart. We care about things that affect us personally: community, country, our loved ones. This is where our subject matter lies.–Gailmarie Pahmeier

Steve Jobs Quotes

Oct, 2011 (2011-10-14 08:45)

I’ve avoided the media surrounding Jobs’s death, mostly because of being busy with the changing landscape of work and family. Today I sat down and read some of the epitaphs and chronologies of his life and was a bit overcome at just how much he accomplished in 56 years.

Some compared him to a modern Leonardo da Vinci and I think it’s an apt portrayal. So in honor of Steve, I offer some of his quotes, which are truly inspirational to the creative process:

A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.
–Steve Jobs

A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.
–Steve Jobs

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
–Steve Jobs

And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.
–Steve Jobs

As individuals, people are inherently good. I have a somewhat more pessimistic view of people in groups. And I remain extremely concerned when I see what’s happening in our country, which is in many ways the luckiest place in the world. We don’t seem to be excited about making our country a better place for our kids.
–Steve Jobs

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.
–Steve Jobs

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.
–Steve Jobs

Bottom line is, I didn’t return to Apple to make a fortune. I’ve been very lucky in my life and already have one. When I was 25, my net worth was $100 million or so. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my life. There’s no way you could ever spend it all, and I don’t view wealth as something that validates my intelligence.
–Steve Jobs

But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem.
–Steve Jobs

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.
–Steve Jobs

While studying up on the Kruger Effect, I ran across this brilliant quote:

One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision
Bertrand Russell

It’s nice to see some things never change.

It looks like the blog will remain dark another week, due to the Clone 3.0 project. After which, I’ll be back in full swing with new insane-a-thon insanity and regular posting.

How do you…

Oct, 2011 (2011-10-03 13:33)

Saw this very thought provoking screenshot posted on Google+ today posted by Ms. Monica:

Insane-a-thon, Week 4: Untitled

Oct, 2011 (2011-10-03 06:28)

Well I missed my week 4 of 12 post on Friday because I’ve been laboring over a title for the piece. I haven’t found one, so it’s staying untitled. It’s also a bit ho-hum, but here it is in all its glory.


a short fiction
(about 4,000 words)


The vehicles collide at a combined velocity of seventy-three miles per hour. James Taylor’s Ford Prius tears the drivers-side wheel off the Ford F350 with raised suspension, but does little to stop the truck. The Ford’s polished chrome bumper and frame surrounding the engine block—equipped with standard crumple zones—does not crumple, but punches straight through James Taylor’s windshield, tears the top of the car off like the lid to a sardine can, stopping somewhere around the trunk.

There is no screeching of tires; there is no Hollywood style crunchity-clunk-crunk; there are no flips or rolls or fiery explosions. There is a single, acutely short whop—an alien sound that will haunt everyone that hears it for the rest of their lives—and a giant toxic cloud of atomized radiator fluid that blooms like a mushroom cloud over the two vehicles.

Inside the car, James Taylor is screaming at the top of his lungs. Both his legs are broken but he doesn’t notice. There is a piece of glass the size of a pizza slice punched completely through his throat, slid miraculously between his trachea, aorta, and spine, but he pays it no attention, doesn’t care that even the slightest move could sever any of those vital parts of his throat and bring his screaming to an abrupt halt.

He is trying with all his might to reach into the back seat, pulling against the weight pinning his legs, pulling against the glass in his throat, willing his arm longer, trying to dislocate his fingers to reach his daughter, his little Em, bleeding to death in front of his eyes. Read more… »