Writing

The Collector

Seven-sentence short story.

She collected breath like dream catchers collected nightmares. Creeping into your house at night, crawling in through open windows, picking locks when doors were closed, she’d capture your breath in a jar. Sealing the jar against your mouth, she’d watch wide-eyed as your face scrunched, struggling against the glass pinned to your face.She’d been doing this for years and no longer feared waking anyone up; the jar always fogged up with your breath faster than you could be pulled from sleep. She’d snatch it away and hold it close to her chest, twisting the lid on tight to keep your exhale in and be off to the next house to gather more, and she always needed more.

She knew these breaths were the key to everlasting life and she was investing in her future.

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Writing, writing process

Describe how it tastes

I’ve been lazy with my writing. For a while I was justifying my non-writing behaviour with the fact that I got a new job and had to move provinces. Then I was doing freelance work and I just didn’t have time (although my Netflix playlist will tell a different tale). I just kept coming up with excuses, and yeah, I’ve been busy and life has been chaotic, but is that ever going to change? Probably not. There are always going to be reasons to not write.
And so, I have been sitting down for at least ten minutes every day, and writing from a prompt.

I thought I’d share one with you.

This prompt directed me to look at an object and describe how it tastes. I’m not the greatest at following directions, as you will soon read:

I love food – food of all kinds. Most people identify with preferences for either sweet or salty, but I identify with edible. If it’s edible, I want it.

It’s rare to find something I don’t like the taste of. I will stop eating some foods based on other factors. For example, after an extended period of time of eating the same thing, I will eventually hit a wall, like the egg wall. There is nothing worse than the egg wall and it usually extends to chicken and fish. The poultry-fish wall. Just stop and visualize that for a second, the hitting of a fish and poultry wall.

Unfortunately, there is no chip or candy wall. I could eat from both of those food groups until I became one of them. People would stop inviting me over. It’s undesirable, my crumbly, oily chip self, leaving grease spots on the fabric of the couch in your living room. You’d find chip crumbs in your bed if you had me as an overnight guest.

I’m not interested in describing the taste of food. Who cares what it tastes like? Just give me more of it.

I’ll even eat paper. I think that’s what my appreciation for the smell of books is all about. A used bookstore to me is like a roast in the oven. Words spilling over like meat juices in a pan, saturating my brain. Oh, the words taste like a salty broth, dribbling out the corners of my mouth and onto mashed potato pages.

After writing all of that gold…I wonder if maybe I shouldn’t stop writing altogether. 

creative writing, Writing, writing process

And I’m free…free falling!

Free fall writing, that is.

I live quite a routine life; go to work Monday – Friday, work out 5 times a week, drink lots of water, eat food at pretty regular times of the day, and all of this routine works well for me. Sometimes though, I need a bit of chaos in my life. I mentioned in a previous post that I am a pantser type of writer. To recap this term, it basically means someone who writes by the seat of his or her pants, as opposed to those who sit down and plot a story out.

This is where the free fall style of writing comes in.

With free fall writing, you grab a writing prompt, set a time limit and just write. Get the gunk and junk out of your head and onto the page and don’t stop to think about it.

There are a few reasons why I love free fall so much:

  1. You come up with so many ideas that you can scrap or build on later.
  2. Excercising this style of writing really pulls you out of your head and lets your creativity take the reins, producing the most random content.
  3. It’s a mess.

Note: the mess is undoubtedly the reason why I love free fall writing so much, and it’s incredibly important. We live in a world where everyone is posting their best versions of themselves on social media. While it’s lovely to look at, it is unbelievably unrealistic. The craft of writing is dirty, it’s messy, the words that come out are more often than not, complete crap. I don’t think there is one person in the world that can just write a perfect short story, or novel with just a first draft. It’s why it’s called a first draft, not final. In the first draft, there are gaps in the story, characters names might change mid-way through, the plot isn’t fully developed, whatever, it’s all a mess. And it’s real.

I’m going to share my free fall writing on this blog, and pieces of my first drafts. I want to show everyone that the first words on the paper are supposed to be garbage. It’s what comes after that defines you as a writer, the work you put in to make sense of the mess from the free fall writing. But, the story starts here, amid the chaos.

What kind of writer are you? Pantser? Plotter? A mix? What’s your favourite way to start building your story? Comment below and tell me!

Ps. I feel like I’ve made myself sound quite drab. I actually do a lot of things spontaneously, or out of the routine order of life. I write about all that in another blog though…

Writing, writing process

Stoked about Scrivener

As I placed this into my post, I heard a choir of angels singing ‘hallelujah.’

I bought Scrivener when I first took on the Nanowrimo challenge in 2013, but only used it like a word processor. Not really getting any additional benefit out of it, I went back to using my trusty old Microsoft Word. I was a fool! A fool, I tell ya! I can also tell you, that feeling underwhelmed by the program was entirely my fault.

I recently opened it back up in an attempt to organize myself better with this next novel, which would ideally lead to making the revision process a bit easier. I dedicated a few hours to running over the tutorial and picked out just a few of the features I now absolutely love, to share with you.

  1. Character and setting sheets. Holy Hannah! These are fantastic! You can set up templates and just fill in the gaps, save it all into the same project and continually refer to them to stay on point and not mix up your details and descriptions. It’s even cooler when you use split screen and just have it open while you write. Simple things make me happy. Simple things that don’t let me change my character names throughout the book make me ecstatic.
  2. Meta data and keywords. These blew my mind. Which doesn’t take too much to do, apparently. :/ You can pick out keywords on pages that you’ll want to keep track of, set them in the Inspector, and easily be able to find when you last wrote about them, keeping your story and details aligned. You can also create a collection with all of these and view it all in a continuous page. Amazing, right?!
  3. Taking a screenshot in the Inspector before you edit anything. This keeps your old copy and if you hate the edits you made, or are worried about something you deleted that may have been integral to the story later, you can click ‘rollback’ and bam, your old work is back!

These are just a few of the features that I can recall and which stood out for me because of my own specific writing challenges. I imagine the more I use it and learn it, I’ll find more amazing pieces that make my writing a bit easier to manage.

If you’re interested in owning this, you can access Scrivener on PC, Mac, iPhones and iPads. I don’t know about other smartphones, I’m sure you can look and see if you’re really interested. If you can’t find it, email them, demand that this be made available to you because you deserve its amazingness (I believe it’s my duty as a writer, to create new words. You’re welcome.) in your very own life.

I’d love to hear about what programs or apps you use and why they sing to your wordsmithing (see above bracketed comment) heart. Comment below! Tell me!

Writing, writing process

New year, new blog?

As you can see, I’ve created a new blog! If you already follow my other one, don’t worry, I’m not getting rid of it. I’ll continue to post my personal adventures there, but I wanted to create a separate blog that focuses only on writing and thus, Angela’s bardic journey was born.

Follow this one if you want to read any of the following:

  • Creative writing – short stories, flash fiction and excerpts from novels I’m working on.
  • Published work – articles I’ve written, or if my creative writing is published (saying it out loud will make it happen, right?).
  • Info about conferences, workshops and retreats I’m going to, or went to.
  • My writing process, struggles (img_2277), achievements, etc.
  • Reviews or thoughts about books I’ve read that either fueled my writing, or were just generally interesting to me (Blogging for Writers by Robin Houghton inspired this new blog and post).

I’m interested in hearing about my fellow writer’s experiences and processes, so please feel free to comment on my posts or email me directly if you want to chat.

Write on, friends!