The Romantic on The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Friday, October 26, 2012

Write, Write, Write...Right?

Stephen King once said, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."

As writers, we journey along a path filled with ideas, adventures and breathtaking scenery. On occasion, we find ourselves alone on a dirt road with open fields of dead crops. There are moments when our imaginary friends converse with us, offer us trinkets of plot twists and a sip from a creative concoction like gypsies that come and go as they please, and we indulge to our hearts' content.

What happens when our friends desert us for days, weeks or months at a time? When they choose not to talk with us and linger along another road to avoid crossing our paths, we are left to wander aimlessly along the valleys of our thoughts.

It gets lonely.

Some might say that a writer who isn't a recluse isn't a writer at all, and there is some truth to that, because we usually prefer that time alone, we need that silence to be able to hear the whispers of our imaginary friends and carry on that conversation. We need that undisturbed block of time to lose ourselves and find that hidden treasure that others will want to lose themselves in too!

But when we can't bear the silence, and when we feel abandoned by characters that saunter into our stories to remind us that they exist, even if only in our imagination, then we must read!

This may sound counter-intuitive to a writer, since our primary objective is to write. Write, write, write. Right?

It's who we are, it's what we do!

Then it happens. We become parched. We thirst for that creative juice that ignites our fanciful ideas, much like that person who gets drunk and thinks that they're ex-lover wants to hear from them in the middle of the night, and we write everything that comes to mind.

When this doesn't happen, however, then we have to be open to the alternative.


Read something that pertains to your story. I have found that research material i.e. mythology, ancient history, or physics helps to lure my imaginary friends out of hiding. They catch that scent of inspiration and quickly return to add their "two cents," because they can no more resist the urge to return than we writers can resist the urge to write.

So read, my friends. Read whatever you can get your hands on, feast your minds on those countless pages that someone else wrote while their imaginary friends talked with them and you may just find what it is that you need to write!

"Writers Block: When your imaginary friends stop talking to you." ~Linda Nee

Friday, October 19, 2012

Escape the Inescapable

You need to cease reading this particular post and plot your escape! Go. Now. Quickly. Before it's too late!

You can't do it, can you? It's not as easy as it sounds, is it?

Want to know what is even more difficult?

Escaping the conundrum of writing yourself into a corner.

Yep, that is correct. Here I am, with two of my main characters in my latest novel; wandering through the mountains east of Egypt on a journey to the Red Sea when a fierce wind swept over us with heavy rolling clouds and the low rumble of an angry god warning us to seek cover. We raced into a cave just as a downpour drenched the region, illuminated by flashes of light in the sky and we found ourselves cornered by a mysterious figure that shadowed our every move since our arrival in the mountains.

The predicament?

Well, first, we are losing time now being trapped inside a cave and roaming deeper into the earth when we should be continuing our journey east to the sea. Our goal is to travel north by boat and arrive at the ports of Egypt along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Once there, we have to concoct a plan to infiltrate the country & find Kanika, but how will we manage this when my Nubian friends aren't permitted to enter the Two Lands?

When you write yourself into a corner, do not fret, my friends. Take a step back, breathe, and read. Yes, you heard correctly. Read.

Read something that pertains to your frame of mind, or read a novel that you enjoy escaping into. You can't unlock a lock by using the Force. Believe me, I've attempted this feat and almost had an aneurysm! To unlock a lock, you need a key -or a safety pin for those of you with rather unscrupulous methods- and you must insert that key, and turn.

Fortunately for me, I have a vast personal library of books on Ancient Civilizations, Mythology, Deities and Demons. I escaped this realm and fell into the legends of the past...I essentially journeyed through inter-dimensional space and time to unlock the lock.

Do I thank God, the gods, the fates or just plain old good fortune? I'm not quite sure, yet, but certainly I am grateful for what transpired. I figured out how to evade the dreaded dead-end by weaving together fact and myth, with a wave of my "soft-tip red-ink Bic" wand. (Sorry to say that it does not possess a phoenix feather at the core). I formulated a new plot twist to strengthen my story, increase the intrigue and make matters worse for my protagonist.

I achieved my escape without leaving my seat. Come to think of it, I've often been an escapist. Just ask my teachers. I often daydreamed in class, writing or drawing, and seldom did my homework because my mind was always somewhere else in some other realm. Imagining a story or reading chapters in my history books that I wasn't supposed to read because I needed to escape...I needed to learn more than what I was being taught. Even then, I was formulating a plan for how I would flee from the stagnant world I knew to create a better life for my family.

It isn't easy, but despite my life choices, scripting my fate and writing myself into a corner, I'm still writing and I will successfully emulate Houdini's act of escaping the inescapable.

"All the best stories are but one story in reality - the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape." ~A.C. Benson

Friday, October 12, 2012

Keep Moving Forward

Have you ever attempted to create a ball with a handful of sand?

It's quite different than with packable snow and that's the challenge we face as writers. Realistically, that's the challenge we all face in life. A desert of words stretches far and wide beyond your starting point -a blank page- but what do you do with what rests at your feet?

Words must be chosen carefully, whether we are writing or interacting with people on a daily basis. The path we decide must be considered prudently because if we embark on a journey in the wrong direction, we risk losing our sense of direction -our sense of right and wrong- and lost beyond assistance.

We'll hope for that oasis to alleviate our torture, to assist us in redirecting our path in the right direction, but too often a mirage proves illusory and we arrive at place that resembles our point of origin. What then?

Sometimes, we scrap the paper or delete the page and begin anew.


Yet, there are other moments when we have developed an attachment to our characters, to our worlds, to our stories and we are reluctant to merely vanquish them from our lives. We have invested too much of ourselves into them, and to simply press delete sometimes feels like we've eliminated a part of ourselves.

Is this how we die? Bit by bit, piece by piece? Word by word, mistake-by-mistake, rejection letter by rejection letter? How do we overcome the obstacles that arise? How do we climb that dune, find more desert spanning beyond the horizon and still find the energy to keep moving forward? How do we face these trials and decide that our dream must live?

I find myself on the mountain of my life's dreams. I have continued to climb despite the avalanche of recent setbacks and I do so with a heavy heart.

I miss my children, but I talk with them as often as I can and make the most out of our visitation weekends so that we have memories to last a lifetime. I strive to achieve validation as a writer in my pursuit for publication whilst I tend to the wounds of my pride with repeated rejection letters for representation.

I work longer hours to make ends meet, and squeeze in time for revisions on my completed manuscripts while committing time to my newest projects in the middle of the night when I should be asleep.

To ensure my children have everything they need, I've sacrificed as much as I could but find myself unable to afford my medication for my diabetes. So I make adjustments in my eating habits to avoid the dangers to which I'm at risk. I formulate solutions rather than dwell on the circumstances I created, yet at every turn the mountain grows steeper and my legs grow more tired. The air grows thinner, and my heart grows heavier.

I am a man that is flawed and ambitious, confident in my abilities yet insecure with issues of abandonment but still willing to keep moving forward. Still hopeful that I will achieve the pinnacle of my dream because I'm convinced that I was born to accomplish this task; born to be the father I am to my children and provide them with the life of security and love they deserve.

I will continue to carve my stories into this mountain, I will continue to stare down that blank page that lingers before me like a desert that threatens to exist as a daunting task, and I will continue to develop my craft and become the writer I'm destined to be, because if a universe is capable of existing by the accumulation of minute strings -see String Theory- then surely I shall one day create a ball with a handful of sand.

It's possible with water. Anything is possible with faith in yourself, and in what you are determined to achieve.

"Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged individuals who kept moving forward."

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Sacrificial Lamb

I had to kill him.......OFF!

It was necessary, because he wasn't necessary. After having beta-readers read my manuscript and offer their feedback, it became evident that one character in my novel was merely just along for the ride. Ultimately I arrived at the realization that he -like many of the nameless faces throughout the course of human history- did nothing to enrich the story, to leave his indelible mark and became unforgettable.

This didn't make him any less important, because a person who lives a short life is still capable of doing important deeds. Although I had originally envisioned him to play a role in my story akin to C-3PO or Peregin "Pippin" Took, as the twists and turns burrowed deeper into the legend of my novel like a river cutting through the terrain of the earth, he became more obsolete and needed to be eliminated.

Characters, like the story itself, have this uncanny ability to "come to life" for a writer, and impose their will. Wodinaz the Wizard, Inanna and Dumuzi -the parents of Alulim, Manu and Aya the Immortals all flourished and BECAME real, they all took action and became essential by shaping the course of events that unfolded in Ancient Sumer, circa 2300B.C.E. however this other character, he never did that. I came to the realization that the story could be told without his presence, and as a result he had to die.

It wasn't that he lacked bravery or that he wasn't noble, because when the moment came and it was imperative for the sake of Inanna's safety, he took action and made a decision to die a warrior's death. In that regard, he made a valuable contribution to the legend, but that is where his role in the script of destiny came to an abrupt end.

And to quote Hector when he prepared to do battle with Achilles at the gates of Troy, remarking on the fallen cousin of the legendary warrior's cousin, Patroclus: "I gave the dead boy the honor he deserved."

And to quote Achilles in response, "You have him the honor of your sword!"

Yes, I gave this one character the honor of a warrior's sword, but at least he went down fighting.

To quote one of the greatest warriors of legend once more, I recall a scene from the epic war film Troy when Achilles was summoned to fight Boagrius, when a boy spoke with Achilles about the Thessalonian warrior:

"The Thessalonian you're fighting, he's the biggest man I've ever seen...I wouldn't want to fight him."

Achilles turned to the boy and said, "That's why no one will remember your name."

Perhaps the character in my story will be forgotten, lost like a scent in the breeze of time, and as my series develops into the 20 books that I'm currently projecting, his actions may be eclipsed by grander deeds, but at least he will not be remembered as a coward. Someday, I hope, that they will reflect upon his one decisive moment, the moment that defined his presence in my novel -however short-lived it was- and realize that his sacrifice allowed for the story to continue and for destiny to be fulfilled.

"They never fail who die in a great cause."
~George Gordon Byron