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Monday, March 21, 2016

Mental Can Openers & Writer's Hash: The Writing Struggle or Don’t Count Your Chickens...


I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of owning a few chickens.  I love farm-fresh eggs.  I’d have to build a coop of course.  I can just imagine how flap doors, ramps, pull-out cleaning features...etc., will look.  I see a barn red coop; happy, safe chickens pecking behind coop wire.  Eggs pop out from everywhere with deep golden yolks.  I’m a hit with friends and neighbors giving them away.  Cleaning is always on a sunny, warm day and done in 10 minutes.  (Do I hear laughter?)

 We all know plans can, and do, go wrong.  Building materials are imperfect.  Actual construction requires pounding in lots of nails, cutting wood straight, sanding, gluing, caulking,...   Sawing and pounding nails get repetitive and tiring, then mistakes happen. Wood splits.  Splinters happen (a new bumper sticker?)

Chickens can be loud, uncooperative, dirty.  Disease and predators threaten.  Cleaning the coop and collecting eggs in all weather becomes a drudge.

The above applies to writing a story.  For me, starts are fun.  Great ideas!  Story plotting where the day is saved as time is nicked, cliffs are appropriately hung, love is found, evil is thwarted with a thwack.  I envision excited readers blotting a tender tear, laughing til they snort, excitedly waving others over to read brilliant prose.  Money and offers will roll in like colored eggs on Easter.

Then I start to write it, scene by stubborn scene.  That portion is too short, another too long.  A chapter out of place?  Dull narrative.  Constant sentence length.  Repetitious words pounding like nails.  Or is that my head?  Bright “barn-red” dialogue reads like “grey.” 

Characters run loose; panicked squawking chickens.  Others won’t move at all, and no one’s laying ‘yoked presents’ except the author.  Re-reading, and editing begins to feel like endlessly cleaning the coop of you-know-what.  And rewritten scenes smell like you-know-what. 

It’s been months without a golden yoke.  I’m still gumming cream-o-mush every morning and chasing off weasels of discouragement at night.  Darn, statin-frattin, story-chickens!  Worse, there’s no time clock.  No boss pecking away at me, saying, “Get it done by Friday or else.”  TV beckons.

How is a writer to resolve this?  How do we find Godly motivation?  Where do we find the gentle nudge to continue?

My way to get through this is to take it personally.  Get cranked and repeat...  “I love eggs.  I want eggs.  And I’ll have eggs – even if I have to strangle it out of those stupid, feathered clucks.  My forefathers didn’t struggle up the food chain, plowing the land under a hot sun, so their current progeny, (i.e. me) could be defeated by a flock of flightless fugitives from Chick-fil-a!  NO CHICKEN, NO COOP, IS GOING TO GET THE BEST OF ME!!

Those chapters will line up and salute.  Narrative will be spit-shined and dialogue will sparkle like marine boots on inspection.  Action will be crisp and tension sharp or Character’s heads will roll!  Now, authors fall in at your computers.  (I just love it when the testosterone shots kick in, during a John Wayne movie weekend.)  Sit.  Now write!

How do you stay motivated?



MORE OF BRAD'S BLURB: The Dragon’s Mist Chronicles: The Last Ride in the Moonlight

So how does a boy of fourteen find the female blacksmith, who's half ogre, a willing husband?  Sure, Riddley might acquire a new suit of clothes for a traveling leprechaun who carries his home in a geode, but how does he get the bully-sheriff to pay his tailoring bill?  Or acquire magical wood from a holy tree that’s choking?  Lastly, the fairy queen wants a royal symbol the nasty gremlins can’t copy, and the only male banshee alive needs the tower bell mended.  It seems female banshee’s screaming at him cracked it, and he’s being blamed.



           


8 comments:

  1. Brad, I loved this. Being a former (unfortunate) owner of chickens, I can relate. It sure wasn't the wonderful adventure I'd envisioned. When a dog got lose and ate every last one of them, I couldn't even bring myself to shed a tear. Hopefully my writing adventure has a better survival rate.

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    1. I can relate. I like my dogs more than any chickens. And may I say your story is more valuable (and exciting) than any chicken egg.

      Brad L.

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  2. Amen to battling those cantankerous feathered fowl who don't cooperate. I've had the "blessing" of doing chores for my parents and went shin-to-beak with a territorial rooster. What's especially fun is the taunt-filled crowing from the coop as you limp away. But to complete the metaphor, tomorrow is another day so you march back in there carrying a big stick and show those birds, er, words who is boss.

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    1. Had a mean chicken once on my cousin's farm in Kansas. We used to dare each other to run through the coop yard. I got pecked once and it hurt! Wanted to strangle that bird.
      Of course, I've wanted to strangle computers, stories, the IRS...etc.
      Thanks for the input.

      Brad L.

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  3. Brad, I haven't worked with chickens, but I have spent many years in children's ministry and I find many similarities. Yes, children are delightful and I love 'em, but I think we can all admit that they, too present challenges. We keep our eyes on the results if we persevere and are faithful to do what is necessary. Plus lots of prayer, and time with fellow chicken or children workers.
    After I worked with children, I started writing and found that word-smithing is similar to children and chickens. Thanks for the reminder to keep tending the flock. I needed your timely words today!

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    1. Glad the article helped. My wife works as a Children's Ministry director at church so I relate. Can't seem to get three kids in line without the forth getting out of line. Kinda like words.
      Miss having you at group.

      Brad L.

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  4. Wonderful post, Brad. "TV beckons." Oh boy, does it. TV is my nemesis. When I'm bone tired after a long day at work and running errands, my TV calls to me. Loving--really loving--the story I'm plotting or writing is the only way I can stay motivated. That plus telling myself that even 200 words a day adds up quickly. So let's fall in behind our computers! Ready? Type!

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  5. Amen to that. TV must be avoided. I admit I sometimes justify it as study of plots and dialogue. Ha! Just avoiding hard work for pleasure.
    Hope you can return to the group when your schedule allows. I really miss your humor, self-publishing insights and entrepreneurial spirit.

    Brad L.

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