Writerly Wednesday – Catalina the Brave (Poem)

I am most certainly not a poet, but during my last semester of college, I was forced to write poems. Although I doubt I’ll ever strive to publish a book of poems, or even count myself as a poet, I do appreciate the art of it. I enjoyed learning to take a story and fit it into stanzas. Poems breathe a little differently than prose, which made them a little tricky. Overall, it was a really nice class and I look forward to writing a few more poems in my future.

Here is one I workshopped back in March:

Weekdays from eight to three she is like everyone else.

Her best friend is Tucker

Sometimes they climb up the slides together

But only when they think

you can’t see them.

 

She can spell her name

But only if you remind her what the first letter is.

C — as in Cat.

That’s actually the first three letters of her name

But you aren’t counting.

 

Monday at lunch she ate the crust

Off the marmalade sandwich her father had forgotten to trim.

You put what snacks she didn’t eat in the filing cabinet.

Storing them like food for winter—

A rainy day drawer of sunshine Sunny D.

 

That way on Wednesday when she turned to you

And told you she wished she had fruit snacks

You could give them to her.

Daddy sent them special for you. Isn’t he the best?

She was pleased. Your heart somehow felt lighter.

 

Days passed and suddenly it was the end of that first week

She brought in a build-a-bear

And stood in front of the class, swaying back and forth

Clutching the animal like a shield.

She is a three year old built of enough kisses to last a lifetime.

 

Together you sat on the bench next to the carpool line.

At your request, she counted how many blue cars drove by.

She kicked her chubby legs back and forth,

Still gripping the teddy bear.

It is pink, like the laces on her light-up Dora sneakers.

 

Now the color stands for

So much more than it ever did before.

It is the emblem of a battle lost,

A tear-stained teddy stuffed with

The fabric muffled words of a warrior.

 

Her daddy arrived red-eyed and unshaven

She was the proud owner of his only smile.

In that moment, you thought of the drawer filled with snacks

Of the lopsided pigtails, crust encircled sandwiches

And the build-a-bear stuffed with mommy’s voice.

     | Catalina the Brave |

 

 

 

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

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Writerly Wednesday – Stop and think before you write

I have always been a fly by the seat of my pants writer. I often dream the story, map the scene, faster than my fingers can type it. This leads to typos and unemotional scene work (in my own opinion). I recognized this weakness in myself before anyone could point it out to me, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I always told myself that it was fine – I was writing. All of my professors just wanted me to keep writing. I didn’t know how to stop and no one seemed incredibly worried about the fact that I wasn’t stopping – until this past Spring when I was forced, for the first time in my writing career to stop and think before I wrote. You see, I use to write novels the way some people talk – before even thinking. Sometimes I would realize what was happening in a scene just as I was writing it. As a writer, I felt like I had very little control. Sometimes I still feel this way… but I realized fairly quickly that this was a problem.

You see, I use to write novels the way some people talk – before even thinking. Sometimes I would realize what was happening in a scene just as I was writing it. As a writer, I felt like I had very little control. Sometimes I still feel this way… but I realized fairly quickly that this was a problem. You see, unplanned writing is often ineffective writing–or at least it is not nearly as effective as if could be. I use to set a scene to accomplish one thing and end up accomplishing something else. I always thought that this was good, it meant that I knew my characters well enough that I could let them run the story–WRONG. For me, because I can only speak for myself, this means that I’ve lost control of the story. Pause. Think. Breathe. Then Write.

Pause. Think. Breathe. Then Write.

Think. Breathe. Then Write.

Breathe. Then Write.

Then Write.

I’m the writer, I should know best. Giving my character’s control in the story can be nice, but it should never be the only way the story is written. At some point, the writer must take the pen, or keyboard, into their own hands and control where the story goes.

My last semester of college was stressful, but it was exactly what I wanted it to be. The English professors at Gardner-Webb may never truly understand what they did for me when they allowed me to study genre and write a novel for my thesis. Four years of writing on my own led up to that moment of writer realization.

I hadn’t been doing it wrong the entire time, but I could most certainly be doing it better.

To keep things very simple, for my thesis project I studied the Victorian period and wrote a novel that reflected a lot of the things I’d learned. It was while working on this project that I began to realize what I’d been doing wrong and how I could correct it through research. I could be a better writer, make my scenes stronger and my characters more realistic, by preparing for scenes.

Typically I write fantasy so I assumed that research didn’t really make a lot of sense. It should be my ideas, why taint them with the vastness of the internet? Of, but I was missing the point!

When you are planning to go camping what do you do? You pack. You make a list. You bring a tent, blankets, food, water– the basics. If you don’t consider what the weather will be, the type of terrain, the amount of people going, or the location, you will forget things and end up in a mess. You might dress for summer and end up with snow. You may need bug spray. You may experience the horror of having forgotten to bring toilet paper. There are so many moving parts in planning a trip — writing is literally the exact same.

ODNS meme FTWA

Scenes need to be planned and packed for; otherwise, you may end up killing a character who is more beneficial alive. You might miss a really incredible plot point because you didn’t bring a map. I know, believe me, I’ve done both of those things. My writing became so much stronger when I started consistently living with a writer’s notebook and when I started planning before I wrote. Do I still listen to every bullet point or follow everything on an outline? No. Sometimes my character’s say that the story should be one way and I let them because otherwise I will get bored and quit. Follow your heart…but maybe also your plan? 🙂

I typically use a writer’s notebook as a guide. I’ll be writing about my own planning process next Wednesday.  Tell me about your writing process. Do you wing it or do you plan it?  How much control do your characters have?

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.

Writerly Wednesday – Writer’s Laziness

Writer’s Block: a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.

– Webster

I’m probably going to jinx myself by saying this, but…I’ve never had writer’s block. I’ve never really struggled to decide what to do next with a plot. Usually, I have a general idea of where I’m going and I’ll either follow my outline (if I have one) or I’ll pants my way through it and hope for the best. I’ve just never had a moment where I had to pause for a long period of time and decide what to do, pausing so long that I physically could not write. Now, this is not to say I don’t struggle, because I am an annual pass holder for the writing struggle bus, but I don’t really find problems in the writer’s block area. .

I do, however, have issues with what I like to call Writer’s Laziness. I’m a college student and I get really tired really often. I got to class, to work, back to class, back to work and by the time I get back to my room it is often really late at night and I have other things to work on. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I will work through this by writing my novel during any and all breaks, even in the back of some of my less-interesting classes. But sometimes I can’t even manage that. I don’t have the energy to be creative. I’m exhausted. I want to Netflix or nap during my breaks, not write. And this is totally laziness on my part. I know it is. I dread writing, even when I am at an exciting part of my novel- I just don’t care. I’m too drained.

I’ve experienced this (am currently experiencing this) with the creative piece I am writing for my senior thesis. My academic project is on Neo-Victorian and Steampunk literatures. I am doing a genre study and comparing the two types to decide if they are overall compatible with one another- I believe they are. And now I am using the last four years worth of writing knowledge to create a piece that represents my beliefs. I’m writing a novel. This novel has been a ton of work. Fun. But work. I’ve never written anything even slightly historical and for this novel, I am settled snuggly in 1882. Working on this and working on a twenty-page academic paper has been draining. I was writing the creative piece a few thousand words at a time and then I just got overwhelmed with the academic part of the paper and had to switch my attention over to it. I wrote sixteen pages of the academic piece in one day and sent it off to my thesis mentor to be read.

Then I told myself I deserved a break.

This was something I shouldn’t have done and now I know it. You see, once I get a taste of what not writing is like (the tv shows, the naps, the video games, the books…) I find it really difficult to go back. I’ve found myself sucked into the void of regular college life and I am loathed to return to my former writerly duties. I don’t want you to think I don’t love writing because I totally do. I am my happiest when I am knee deep in unfinished novel…but I am so tired. And everyone keeps telling me to take a break, breathe, forget about it for a little while- but I can’t. That only makes it worse.

I have writer’s laziness. 

At this point, I think the block might be easier to deal with.

I need to push through this.

But I can’t be alone right? There are others out there. Other people have to suffer from Writer’s Laziness too. Whose with me?!

So here, let me share some of my coping mechanisms for writer’s laziness:

  • Lock yourself in a room and write.
  • Reward yourself for writing. I usually buy myself a bag om peanut M&Ms and I let myself have one M&M per page I write. Or you could use bathroom breaks as an incentive. Don’t act like you’ve never done that! Every writer knows what it’s like to be mid thought and need to pee. Keep trekking on and when you’ve hit your goal go to the bathroom.
  • Challenge yourself. Give yourself a word goal or a page number you have to reach and push until you do. I’d suggest making this a daily thing, versus an overall project number. So something like “1,000 words today” or “5 pages today.” I love a good challenge.
  • Take dance breaks. You heard me. Dance it out. Every five pages get your groove on. I don’t really do this myself, but I have friends in college who do. Get the wiggles out, bounce around. Sometimes you can run yourself dry by just sitting at your desk for too long. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Go somewhere new to write. This doesn’t work for everyone, but if it works for you then it is a really great way to revitalize yourself and your writing. For me, writing in a new space is hit or miss. I either write 10,000 words or I may tap out a lousy sentence. But it can be good for the writerly soul. Go to a coffee shop, sip a latte and try to view your writing in a new light.
  • Give yourself a deadline. This goes hand in hand with the challenge one, but I sort of see them differently. For me, a challenge is a personal thing. It’s just a goal. A deadline means that you have to do it. It’s solid. Something terrible will happen if you don’t. Insert your own terrible deadline missing punishment here_________. Anyway, I usually use deadlines with beta readers. I’ll tell myself that I have to have however many chapters done and in dropbox for my dad to read by midnight this upcoming Saturday. This doesn’t always work, but I tell myself that it has to be done. If you haven’t figured it out already, I thrive under pressure.
  • NaNoWriMo – So this isn’t always running, but when it is you should be doing it. I love NaNo and have written the first draft of at least have of my novels through their camps and other events. For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is in November. In that month you are given the challenge, if you chose to accept it, to write 50,000 words in a month. Now, this isn’t a full novel but it is a great start. And sometimes you need a little nudge to get your crap done. NaNo isn’t just in November, they have what they call Camps that run in April and in July. Overall, it’s a really fun challenge and you can get some pretty nice goodies it you win. Try it.

 

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LOOK IT’S MY CAT.

 

Anyway, those are my tips and tricks for beating Writer’s Laziness. They may also work with Writer’s Block, but I wouldn’t know. I’m just lazy. But the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I suppose I’ll give my own advice a try and see if I can kick butt on this novel for thesis. Wish me luck.

 

What are your tips for killing Writer’s Block/Writer’s Laziness? 

 

 

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0cf4b5_f96085ede92143278d8874b405bce387~mv2Hello! My name is Brianna Joy Crump and I am a twenty-two-year-old writer from Raleigh. North Carolina. I am a recent graduate from Gardner-Webb University where I received my BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. While in college, I wrote nine and a half novels, as well as multiple short stories and a handful of poems. I am currently rewriting one of my novels and hoping to pursue agents and publishing come the fall. For more information, feel free to contact me on social media or check out my website.