When Life Throws Off Your Writing Groove

So you’ve been writing for a while, but you aren’t getting very far. You spin your wheels day after day, hoping soon it’ll all come together. You know it’s a good idea, you’re just having a hard time getting it started.

You think it’s just another day. You sit at your desk, grab your pen, and begin marking up the page. All of the sudden-

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It’s like the material isn’t even coming from you. It’s like you are taking dictation from a genius.

Your characters are timeless, your plot is interesting and unique. At this rate, you’ll be done before the sun comes down. That’s when you get a text…..

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Your kid needs to be picked up, or your boss wants you to come in early, or your significant other needs you to pick up something before the store closes.

You think, “I’ll just do this one thing, then I’ll go back to writing.”

Life: Hehe hehe hehehe ha ha haha hahahaha AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Once the groove is lost, it can be hard to find again. Particularly when your chaotic life is trying to force down your door with a battering ram.

When you return, you’ll read the same line over and over again. However, it’s like trying to start a fire with two wet rocks.

Your distractors will be largely unapologetic.

Unless you throw them out a window.

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“Well,” they’ll say, “You’re a writer. You just wiggle your pencil about and stuff comes out, right?”

They are right. Only most of what is coming out now is crap.

Don’t worry, writer. What once was will come again.

If you keep at it for long enough, the groove will come again. You’ll be so full of groove you will terrify your friends and family with your mad skills. So much so, they will be too frightened to bother you.

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And isn’t inspiring terror what writing is all about?

The Hunt For Voldemort’s Grave in Greyfriars Cemetary

According to the tour guide for the Edinburgh Ghost Tunnel Tour, J.K. Rowling came up with Voldemort’s real name after visiting the Greyfriars Graveyard.

So, naturally, a friend and I raced to Greyfriars Kirk on a quest to find the gentleman who would become a legend over a hundred years after his death.

Unfortunately, finding The Dark Lord’s gravestone proved to be more difficult than we were hoping for.

We tagged along on a Harry Potter tour that we probably should have payed for but didn’t *shrugs* to see if the tour guide would give us a hint as to where the tombstone was. However, he seemed more interested in showing us awkward ring tricks than assisting us on our quest, so we decided to venture out on our own.

This must be said: European cemeteries are infinitely cooler than American ones.

It’s unfair to compare them, really.

For one thing, Europe is impossibly old compared to America. Therefore, you will find gravestones and monuments that date back to the 1500s or even the 1300s.

Here are a few that we stumbled across:

And then, finally, we found the man of the hour:

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Turns out his father’s name was Thomas Riddell also.

Even while taking pictures of this, I imagined what this man would think if he knew his name was used for one of the most powerful villains in literary history.

My head cannon is that when J.K. Rowling dies (hopefully at a very old age) she will arrive in Heaven to find a very cheesed-off Scotsman wearing a regiment coat with his arms folded and his foot angrily tapping.

“Who are you?” Rowling will ask.

“You-Know-Who,” he’ll hiss.

Yes, it’s bad enough this man died at such a young age (26), but it would seem that some drunk idiots found it appropriate to tag his plaque.

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Not only did this person think it was acceptable to graffiti a dead man’s plaque, they couldn’t even be bothered to spell Voldemort correctly.

Fortunately, some kind soul left a bouquet of flowers at the foot of the plaque. I did not have any flowers on me, nor did I know of a nearby florist to buy some from, so I picked a wild flower that was growing a few feet away and dropped it on top of the bundle.

So, Mr. Riddell, I’m sorry you’ll forever be known as The Dark Lord.

However, as a writer, I don’t think I would have been able to pass up on such a unique name either. Riddell (or Riddle, as it was in the novels) implies mystery and intrigue. Romance even.

At least you may take solace in the fact that some woman from the 20th century took a look at your name and thought “Huh. Cool.”

May you rest in peace.

Unless you were a dick.

In which case, this scenario would become infinitely more funny.

What I Haven’t Learned From Blogging

I have been writing in this blog for a little over a year now, and I can honestly say I love doing it. I enjoy being able to communicate my ideas through a medium I’m at least moderately competent with.

It was a gamble for me to start this blog, but in the long run I am glad I did.

However, as I have discovered through reading other blogs and observing the feedback I have received for this blog, I have learned that Jon Snow and I have one thing in common: We both know nothing.

I have spent hours crafting posts that would often get 2 or 3 views at best, while others I would crank out in the span of 30 minutes and they would get 7 to 10 likes.

I am grateful for every like and follow that I have received, but I’m nowhere near close to figuring out what people want.

I have mainly been concerned about what interests me (books, writing, inspiration, etc) because I know writing about what I love is the best way for me to produce something worth reading.

I’m not the type of person who could write about fashion, or cooking, or politics.

I have made progress, but it has been very slow.

Like riding-a-little-red-wagon- with-three-wheels-through-the-Everglades slow.

Who knows. Maybe I just need to shut up and keep climbing.

I’m still having fun and still learning. That’s the important thing!

Right?

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Bookish Culture On the London Underground

We spent a day in London, which basically means we spent a day in the London Underground.

Our professors told us to dress in layers since it was predicted to rain quite a bit that day….

So there we were, wearing long-sleeve shirts and rain coats in 75 degree weather  (23 degrees celsius) and thick humidity, cramped into glorified tissue boxes that threw us around like loose change in a tin can.

Much to our dismay, the Tube is not equipped with air conditioning. In fact, most places in London aren’t (at least from what I experienced). Consequently, we were made to sweat buckets in the company of strangers who all looked as if they were a Sarah McLachlan song away from shooting themselves in the face.

But it wasn’t all bad. At least from my book-nerd point of view. Because while trapped in the Devil’s Lipstick, I saw something I haven’t seen in quite a while in my neck of the woods: people reading paperback books in public.

I’d seen people with novels on the airplane ride over, but I’m not used to seeing people with anything other than their phones in their hand while frequenting public places.

The reason for this change is likely because there is no cell service underground. Or at least I couldn’t find any with my international plan.

Another thing I noticed as we scuttled about frantically, trying not to lose each other, is that they had advertisements for books everywhere.

They weren’t just self-help books about how to get thin that were written by celebrities either. Many of them were fiction and the effort that went in to each of them was inspiring. They looked like movie trailers, some featuring the image of their respective authors.

I wish I could have taken a few photos, but unfortunately I was trying to save memory on my phone and there wasn’t enough time to get out my other camera to take them.

It was just so uplifting to see books being given the recognition they deserve outside of a bookstore. There seems to be more emphasis on reading over there.

I could get used to that.

London, I don’t miss your Tube all that much. But I do miss seeing an appreciation for the written word in such a public way.

 

A Nerd’s Adventure in Tollymore Forest

As part of our study tour through the British Isles, my class took a bus across Northern Ireland.

This was unquestionably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

Our guide told us Northern Ireland has inspired countless writers like C.S Lewis, the Brontës, etc, and I can easily see why.

While riding in the tour bus from location to location –trying not to think about all the times we nearly hit someone because the roads are roughly the size of Jenna Louise Coleman’s waistline–I saw stone fences, wooly sheep, and rolling hills that seemed to go on forever.

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I loved all the shacks and follies frozen in time. I could just imagine sitting down to write in these areas or around a fire and peering out the window to look at all this.

The locals pointed out that we were visiting on an uncharacteristically sunny day and most of the time it’s freezing, wet, and miserable, but I can dream, can’t I?

My favorite location was Tollymore Forest Park where they filmed several scenes in the first season of Game of Thrones.

Our guide carried with her a book full of blown-up screen shots from the film and pointed out several of the landmarks seen in the episodes.

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This made the experience so much more immersive and the episodes all the more intimate because we now know what it is like to stand where the actors stood.

I enjoyed it as a fan, but I think I enjoyed it even more as a writer.

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Is there anyone that can see anything like this and not be inspired?

I frequently had to run to catch up with my party because I was constantly stopping and taking pictures.

Truth is you could be in one spot for two hours and still not take enough photos.

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It is that beautiful.

If anyone wants to write fantasy, they need to go to this forest. It’s one thing to write “they went into a forest,” it’s another to describe all the intricate workings of such a place. A forest is so much more than trees and rocks.

Although the trees are incredible as well.

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The forest is like a body, each part of it working in tandem to form something spectacular. It’s difficult to get a firm grasp of this unless you see it first hand.

Also, wear a cloak. Nothing is better than strolling about an ancient forest in a cloak.

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Writers Need To Travel

I was hesitant to write this because I know how tight a writer’s budget can be, and I didn’t want to make it sound like everyone has the same opportunities that I have been presented with. However, I feel strongly enough about it that I think I can give it a strong endorsement.

Writers, travel.

If possible, travel to another country.

Take in the day-to-day, learn the stories, visit all the touristy sites, go explore the countryside.

You don’t have to stay long.

Just absorb as much as you can.

There are so many stories I’ve accumulated during this British Isle Study Tour I think I have enough inspiration to last me for several years, if not the rest of my life.

I’ll be blogging about some of these experiences in future posts.

I know I’ve been complacent with updates, but I promise to be more frequent in the future.