Michaeline: Enjoying the Process for NaNoWriMo

Just a quickie today, but I saw a good video (10:47) last week on YouTube that really rang a bell with me. It’s called “How I Tricked My Brain to Like Doing Hard Things”, and it’s not about writing, but rather getting to the gym. But a metaphor is a metaphor, and I think his points apply well to writing.

Enjoy the process was the biggest thing. What do you love about actually writing? I love it when the writing gods drop a fantastic idea down in the middle of my process – a cool character, or just the right word in a very good sentence. I feel a physical “click” when that happens, and it really is awesome!

Take a look. Point after point could be applied to writing, or any creative endeavor – whether it’s creating a story, or creating a better body.

Michaeline: A Tarot Spread for a NaNo Writing Prompt

Nine card spread of tarot cards, explained in text

This is the Smith-Waite Tarot Deck (Centennial Edition) in a tin. It’s a very traditional deck full of tarot symbols. (Image by E.M. Duskova)

I created a tarot spread to help spark a new story for National Novel Writing Month, and I thought I’d share it with you. The spread is quite simple. The left side represents my protagonist, the right side my antagonist, and the bottom concerns the plot point.

Layout:

2    5

1    4

3    6

7 8 9

1. This is the heroine of my story. The seven of cups suggest many choices. The Waite-Smith Little White Book contains the keywords of: fairy favors, imagination, through a looking glass. Also, with that many cups, I thought my heroine might be a bartender. And because my imagination is a little perverse, I thought a tee-total bartender would be a lot of fun to write.
2. This card represents her goal, or the overlying theme of her existence. Bad news, censure or conflict are the key words for the eight of swords. She’s bound by a lot of different ties. (To be honest, this is a difficult card to work with in the position of “goalz!” It suggests a heroine with no agency – which is a constant problem with my work!)
3. This card represents her motivations, or the underlying theme of her existence. The wheel of fortune’s key words are Continue reading

Michaeline: FKA twigs Inspires Me to Write Gorgeously

You’ve gotta see this! FKA twigs performs on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, and the performance is so layered and wonderful – stay for the dancing at the end.

Everything works for me in this video. You have a stark setting, but one where every component has a use and meaning – the long piano that leads to the pole, the bare stage for three performers with minimal light. You have tone – echoed in the lighting, in her voice, and in the tone of the instruments. You have a gorgeous costume that strips down to reveal not a beautiful butterfly, but rather the chrysalis that was hiding inside. And you have the dancing – ethereal and effortless (but any kid who has done a pull-up on the monkey bars knows how much muscle control must go into that “effortless” look).

All of it serves to reinforce the story: a person has loved, and has just lost (and hasn’t quite accepted it yet, or is gathering strength to try again).

It’s National Novel Writing Month, and even if you aren’t playing along, maybe you can spare a little time to add some layering into your work. If you are doing NaNo, then it’s all good – every experiment is word-count! As writers, we work with words, and can’t depend on fancy camera angles or pretty pictures. But the magic of words does mean we can create setting, tone, costumes and anything in the realm of our imaginations. So, take a risk when writing today – let your writing take on a tinge of poetry, or the color of the characters’ feelings.

Have fun!

Michaeline: A First Kiss Fortune Teller

a paper fortune teller with eight outcomes for a first kiss: in a car, dance floor, under a desk, under the stars, sofa, under a tree, on a boat, in a library

First kiss fortune teller, created by E.M. Duskova for Eight Ladies Writing.

1. What is this?
2. The Questions to Ask and how to play.
3. Printing and folding instructions.

Feel free to skip to the section you want right now. You can read this in any order.

What is this?

Some of you may remember this paper sculpture game from elementary school. When we did it, we wrote the name of four boys on the outside (see the big red hearts), then numbers on the inside, and sometimes more boys on the inner triangle, or sometimes fortunes. We called it a fortune-teller, but you may have more luck googling it if you look for “cootie catcher”.

I made this particular version for Eight Ladies Writing, and it’s supposed to help you pick a lane for a plot point – where is the first kiss in your romance story? Once you know your main character’s name and the setting, a lot of things grow organically from those starting points. You can use the ideas here, or make up your own. I think a hand-written fortune teller is the most charming way to go, and allows for custom options, but a printed version occupies my stupid thinking brain and lets the Girls in the Basement go to work on their own. Be prepared to write after making one! Who knows what those Girls come up with while sifting through multiple possibilities. Continue reading

Michaeline: Sestina Fever!

I like short projects, but I also have a creative tendency to complicate them and turn them into puzzles that sometimes can only be tied to the original project parameters by very tenuous links.

For example, I’m the October Birthday Tixie for my reading list, and the job is relatively simple: look at a spreadsheet, then send birthday greetings to list members who have signed up for it on or near the day they’ve indicated (we’re a world-wide group, so we can have real or fictional time lag problems that graciously forgiven).

Image via Wikimedia Commons

But, it’s a creative group, and there are such fun things done with the idea! My most memorable birthday greeting involved a trek through the wild roses of Barrayar, and I believe there was Ma Kosti cake involved. (If you don’t know Ma Kosti, all you need to know is that her “little chocolate thingies” have the density of plutonium, and grown-ass warriors have been known to divert their plans in order to experience a Ma Kosti luncheon. Chef and food business entrepreneur extraordinaire.) I have the Head Birthday Tixie to thank for that!

My method is to choose a theme (cakes, or treasures, or fictional animals that need scientific names), write down on cards about 14 or 15 possible ideas (I have 13 people on my list), and then choose a card at random to spice up the greetings, and tie it into the Authorial Canon that my reading list enjoys.

This month, I decided to do different forms of poetry, and boy . . . I face each birthday with a combination of terror and thrill. Will the muse pull through? She’s done a decent job so far, although the scansion may be off and the syllable-counting not quite as precise as one would like.

So, the first trick was finding 13 different poetry forms; I got nervous as the first hits on Google were “the five different poetry forms” – but as I scrolled down the page, I saw “10 Poetry Forms You Must Know” and finally found one with 22, I think it was. Good enough! I started my cards – haiku, limericks, tanka, sonnet, etc.

Then it was time to write the first poem for October 1, and to my dismay, I got sestina. My first try, I have only an hour or so, and I’ve got to come up with a sestina! Continue reading

Michaeline: A Writing Staycation

“My goodness, this might actually be pretty decent!” (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve been on Twitter an awful lot since I’ve gotten my new phone; I set up an alt account called “fooling around on my phone” and instead of trying to be on-brand and promote my writing (at this point, my only public writing are these blog posts and some earnest advice on obscure Reddit subs), I lurk on other writers’ threads and enjoy some weird bots that tweet famous authors’ works. (When Gilgamesh, Sappho and Vonnegut line up on my screen, I get some pretty amazing reading.)

I should probably quit spending so much time on the internet, but I have to admit that Twitter is quite inspirational. I’ve almost put down the phone and started writing MANY times; I have screenshotted some amazing ideas to use later.

This weekend, I’m finally taking action. At least two people have shown up on my Twitter feed saying, “Going off-line. Writing retreat. See you Monday!”

So, I’m inspired. I won’t go off-line (ha! As of this writing, I’ve already scrolled through about 50 tweets, watched three YouTube videos and texted my mother, despite my best intentions). But it’s a beautiful weekend to have a writing retreat at home! Here’s how I’m doing it. Continue reading