Thoughts on Writing


Brandon Sanderson is an author I respect. Not because I like his writing. On the contrary, I don’t find his writing necessarily to my taste, but more because of what he has done with the craft. and how he ultimately offers advice to those who are also climbing the mountain he has summited over and again. I am in the middle of reading of some of his stuff on his page and he has offered this one particular gem that I have decided to pull out and disseminate.

Becoming a successful author is about practice, and I believe that the most important thing to learn while practicing is to understand yourself as a writer. – Sanderson

Very true. Just a couple of sentences before this he offered another piece of advice which is to learn how your own process works as a writer and do that. He even references George R. R. Martin’s analogy of the difference between the “gardeners” and the “architects” out there – those who write and let the story tell itself and those who design the story. Either way, all authors tend to agree that there’s no one way to the end of the maze. The point is that you keep walking and find out how to get there yourself.

I’ve been writing fiction since 2008. I’ve been able to have a few pieces of poetry published (though, there’s one I’ve looked for and it’s gone – the publication went under), as well as a short story. But that seemed a while back. I still write and I’m working on the next project. But the hard part isn’t the book, or the short story, or the essay, or the poem, or whatever. It’s not the words. It’s in the strength/the pull of the tale. It’s in the motivation. I think it is an alluring endeavor – to be an author. To be called an author, a writer. There’s a sense of sophistication, even panache about one’s whose work is to wield words as a profession. But, it has to be for you. Some people just won’t want to do it. Let’s face it – when it comes down to it, there’s on one else who is going to write the piece that you are going to write. No one who is going to tell the tale that you are going tot tell. No one else. There is you, and that is all. So, the question then becomes, what do you do with this time? There is a lot that goes on in one’s life, and at a certain point, you reach a place where much of your time in the day is stolen away. But you do have blocks. And these blocks of time you have, in some fashion or another, carved out for yourself. Time is made, after all; not had. Now, you have this block of time. What do you do with it?

You just write and see what happens then.

But, as I’ve alluded to Sanderson, writing to the end is summiting a mountain. It’s only about desire, really, like anything. You want to ride a bike, solve a Rubix cube, learn to juggle, write code, do landscaping, et cetera, it is always all about desire.

Once you have that, once you’ve found the wall you would like to break down, you then find your tool and start hitting. You practice. You fall down, you get injured, you grow tired, hungry, weary, weak. You begin to question why you are doing this. You know some chips of cement are falling from the wall, but you’re not sure how thick the wall is. Are you sure this is what you want?

Most stop here. It’s not right; it’s not wrong; it just is. Most stop.

Those who continue, continue because it’s what they want to do. They’re not concerned about the result. They are concerned with simply doing. Some have planned it all out, others simply keep the work going, and at a certain point, it is finished. The final chips of concrete fall, the wall is broken, and the project is complete.

This is where I am. There is a lot of concrete on the floor. I’m not sure how much more of the wall there is left, and there are times in which I stop hammering because I need a break. I am not sure if I’m hammering the right place. Is it the right wall? Am I using the right tools? I exhale deeply, closing my eyes.

Then, when I’ve rested and I’m ready, I open my eyes again. The wall is still there, as am I. I pick up my hammer and return to the work.

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On Podcasts


There is one particular aspect of the podcast that, after noticing, seems to grate on me, and that is, like radio, the casters have to just keep talking. 

My brother and I have a podcast. The cool part about it is that there’s no really big schedule or time-table that we follow in which we produce new episodes, but we still manage to get the work done. We’ve produced six episodes as of this writing and will certainly write a whole heck of a ton more. 

The reason for me adding this particular entry to the page comes from me listening to bits and pieces of a podcast that my wife has come to really enjoy. The cast is entitled “Guys We F*cked.” The podcast is, as the hosts claim, a podcast related to discussions on sexuality (at least that’s what I have heard in recent listenings). If they haven’t defined it in other terms in the past, I would also like to add that it sounds hugely related to female experiences in sexuality. The hosts base the show out of New York, and discuss all kinds of topics related to women and sex. Expletives are used quite frequently and the girls are very opinionated. And this is not to say that’s a bad thing. Let’s be honest; it’s a podcast. It may be accurate to say that the great majority of podcasts are run by hosts who, on one topic or another, have an opinion. They kind of have to be; don’t they? Anyway, like most casters, they have a goal – to educate or allow people to understand more about a particular subject. They are currently talking about the movie “Kids.” Yeah, I never had a desire to see that movie. I don’t have any experience being a woman, nor to I have a claim to speak about the female experience, sexual or otherwise. It does seem that they are quite strong in their opinions though. But, whatever. That’s fine.

Jer also recommended me to watch the Joe Rogan Experience. That is an interesting podcast; it’s just not my sort of thing. The Joe Rogan Experience is just Joe Rogan talking to these people in the world of Hollywood or the entertainment industry. They are either pretty popular now or they were popular at a certain point, but now they’re out of the spotlight. Joe Rogan was the host of Fear Factor for a stint, and was also one of the announcers with the MMA scene. Then, for a while there I just didn’t see him. And before I know it,  he’s doing this podcast. He has some interesting people on the show – a guy who only eats meat, for example. Another guy who used to be Mr. Olympia several times in a row. He has had Jordan Peterson on the podcast a couple of times. Peterson has been quite the personage who has stirred all kinds of controversy in the world. The American stage, one might say, has really enjoyed having him. There was a point at which Perterson was on a talk show and the hostess of the show (in London – you can tell by the accent) was really gunning for him to give in to her. She tries and tries and tries, but he just remains his own self, which is what the world loves about him.

Jordan Peterson has his own podcast online as well. He is known for his collection of his Youtube videos that he posted up. He has some interesting viewpoints, and a large following. There are those who are just looking to get a rouse out of him. They just want to make their own videos trying to take him down. Funny. Many of them are these so-called “social justice warriors (eyes roll).” He shuts them down rather swiftly. I’ll post the link below to one of his Youtube videos as well as some of his podcasts.

What else is there? Oh yeah, Lore.

Lore is something done by Aaron Manke (not sure if I have the spelling on this correct, but that’s just where I’m going to leave it for the moment. If you want to look up this dude’s name, you can go ahead and do that). When I started out with Lore, I was really into it. My wife got me hooked on it. It’s basically a cast about all kinds of different stories regarding monsters or horror stories all based in the United States. The best one is the one about the doll. I don’t even remember which one that is, but it’s pretty good.

There are several good ones. The cast was even turned into an Amazon Prime show on television. Crazy.

But, in the end I just sort of lost interest. Some people really like it, and I am not attempting to dissuade you from your opinion of the show, but I would say that it would be good to go out there on the Internet and look for others. Oh, there is this one called Spooked, which is much better in my opinion than Lore. Lore is just that; it talks about the story of something in history. Spooked is much shorter and interviews the people who have had interesting mystical or paranormal experiences in their lives. It’s run by one host and just starts off interviewing people. It just goes over two to three stories in an episode, and that’s that. There are several stories about the paranormal, ghosts and interesting creepy experiences. There are stories about aliens, but basically it’s ghosts and wired paranormal stuff. An overall good podcast. Again, I like it because each episode is short.

Another podcast you may want to try out is Serial.

         I’m sure you’ve heard of Serial. It was really popular when the first season came out. It discussed a man in prison, and the whole first season was so popular across the country, that the man in prison was given another look at his case. I don’t think it turned out well, but it did turn out. Season 2 was not something I was in to, but some people were. It should be mentioned that after the second season, the cast sort of went downhill. It just didn’t turn out well. That’s because the season turned out to be not as good as the first one. It was talking about Beau Bergdahl (*SP). Ahh, yeah, I wasn’t very impressed. But that’s my interest, it didn’t suit me, but others were okay with it.

After Serial busted we got into another podcast called S-Town (or Sh*ttown) if you’re not into the whole abbreviation thing. That was a cool one. It was about this town in the south of Alabama and there was this guy who was quite intelligent. Anyway, it’s sort of about his life and how he goes around and how he has dealt with things in life. Very interesting. I highly recommend it. Well, I recommend it it if you’re up for something new and are not going to simply judge people and how they believe.

That’s sort of where I see the whole podcast thing. I ‘m not sure about how to go about it in the future. Well, I’ll say this. I think I used to be more heavily into podcasts.I thought it would be cool to be known for your voice. Maybe it is. But, I don’t ever want to really do something just because I’ll be famous.

What does being famous get you? Nothing. There is nothing that I could say that would make being famous amazing. Yes, you get a lot of attention, but why? What’s the point? That’s just not what I’m into anymore. The more I listen to this podcast, the less I want to do a podcast as a major part of my life. Well, let me back up. The difference is that with the podcast that Jer and I do it’s something that we talk about and something that we enjoy (**aren’t they all?). We can go at our own pace because we’re not hired to talk and talk and talk. Actually, we’re not hired. There is something that we just love about the things which we talk about.

Jer and I talk about fantasy and sci-fi stuff. We talk about nerd stuff, about books (we love books). We talk about movies occasionally. We talk about video games – both gamers, though the frequency of our gaming has dropped considerably since we’ve grown up and gotten jobs. That’s just the way things are when the world develops as human being. WE grow and we observe our own growing in the way that we provide our own observations. So, we like to talk about the things that interest us.

Our current podcasts focus on the Wheel of Time – a 14-book series by the late Robert Jordan. It’s something that we grew up with, something which provided a huge fantasy jump, a mind-bending change in our formative years. It’s something that neither of us have finished. But, it’s something that we feel that we havfe to finish as it’s been a part of our lives, an important par tof our lives for so long. So, we are currently on Book 6. That’s six books of the main story line including the prequel. Here’s how this works.

Jer and I live in different parts of the nation. Each of us have a copy of the book. We read about 100 pages, and then on our blog, each of us provide our thoughts on those 100 pages. Then, after several bouts of that, we finally finish the book, at which point we get online and talk about what we just read and exchange opinions. Again, we have done six. This book that we are currently on (Book 6), is taking a really long time for us to finish. But there is the fact that we both have full-time jobs and home relationships we have to work with. And that’s that. We’ll finish this at some point, but when that point will be, who knows.

Here’s the link to our cast, Across The Wheel.

One thing I do know is that this podcast that’s on right now, GWF* (*above), is not something I’m into. It may be because I’m not a girl and the girls who listen are the girls who understand. Regardless, Not something I’m into.

Oh, there is another thing that I’d like to bring up here regarding audio entertainment – audio books. If you’ve never shared the love of an audiobook, I would say that you may be missing out. Yes, agreed, they are for some people and not for others, but I still think it’s a convenient way to get some stuff done. It doesn’t have to be a book you listen to, it could be a movie, or other things. Those “other things,” I’ll have you know can be a wide variety, but most of the day we’re using our ears. It’s not that they don’t pick up the audio book, but to really enjoy an audio book you really have to be into the story and into the genre. Oh yeah, and they are there for a long time. Hours.

Another great thing is that there are professional audiobook readers that read the story to you. They do the voices, the accents, and the narration. It’s fantastic.

That’s about it regarding audiobooks and podcasts. If you’re up for it, you can go to over to Audible.com to start your free account. They let you have one free book, just for signing up. If you don’t like it and don’t want to start after 30 days, you’re all set. No obligations on your part.

But, if you haven’t done it, taken the leap in audio entertainment. Now’s the time. Find something that interests you and look for a podcast or an audiobook.

It Sleeps


by L. P. Stribling

Under a little known bridge somewhere in the hinterlands of the city,

Safe from the cloud of sound created by barges, klaxons, and steel,

Out where farmers are want to let the children roam free in the wild,

It sleeps.

 

By day it sleeps, slumbering to the rhythm drone of the working day,

It’s hunger on a timed cycle, the acids of its stomach race as the sun dips past noon.

And just as the moon yawns from above a midnight horizon,

It sleeps no more.

 

There in the gasping dullness of cool 1 a.m. breeze,

It walks, guided by its carnal clock. It hunts.

It sleeps no more.

On it


Holy crap, what a week!
We are just inside the three-week mark before we run into the Spring break fury that we are all so very looking forward. to. Still with Jer reading Lord of Chaos. We’re on about Chapter 9 or so right now. It’s the densest book of them all at present. All went well with classes and the work this week. The coffee was good, so no complaints there.
Finished up a short story this week and will be submitting it for professional review, so that’ rather exciting. It went through nine drafts – nine, and that’s just so far. I mean…and that was just a short story! I can’t imagine what it would take to get a novel or an epic fantasy through that many times. I know that there was a time in which Brandon Sanderson was talking on a Writing Excuses cast and he said that one of his well-over-900-page books went through fourteen drafts. Fourteen!

I’m sorry, what?

Yeah. Nuts.

Other than that, life is good.
Jer’s gonna get a bit of gaming of his own on this weekend, which is amazing. Can’t be happier. T?hat’ soigné to be my plan starting now. I’m workin gon getting more of that around . Have to have it. It’s sort of like eat travel bug, but it’s not really a bug. We know that.

I did watch some Critical Role last night. Matt Mercer is a pretty cool DM; I must say. Good show. I’m looking forward to some of the interviews with Adam Koebel and JP that are supposedly coming up. I have them all jotted down with topics.

Okay, enough of this drivel; back to writing.

lp

Jam to this:

 

Thank you for the “Excuses.”


(*Below is my thank-you letter to the cast of Writing Excuses – a true source of writing inspiration, humor, and kinship of craft. If you want to be a writer, and have trouble with inspiration, please consider this cast.)

—-

Dan, Brandon, Mary, and Howard,

Thank you.

My name is Levi and I have been listening to Writing Excuses since its inception. Right from Season 1 all the way to now, I have loved spending this time with you. This is not to take up a lot of your time, but I wanted to thank you for the inspiration you have given me in my writing life.

I have been writing since 2008 after reading Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, believing that I could do the same (maybe not as well, of course, but similarly). That I could be a writer. I grew up enmeshed in epic fantasy and science-fiction, and wanted to create and exist in those same worlds in my writing as an adult.

But I didn’t know how or where to start.

So, I picked a direction, something. I would read interviews with several novelists who I had admired growing up, articles and tips online about how to dive in, and I sat in on a writing group in the local area. But it was when a friend recommended Writing Excuses that I found a new series of fires had lit within me. From one episode to the next, I found myself listening to them four, five, six at a time. At that time, you were already into Season 3 or so, which allowed me to download handfuls of previous episodes and binge-listen to my delight. I had them on my phone, twenty-some episodes all locked and loaded at a time. If I needed to pause, I could pause, and I would come back to it and pick up where I left off.

And as I listened, I learned. Character, setting, plot, structure, language, dialogue, and on and on. And the two best parts were that the show is relatable, and maintains its level of interest. Let’s be honest, when you talk about writing, you can either make it appealing or not. In this way, I have to thank you on how very low you keep the level of suck. You have humor, you have varying personalities, you’re all very accomplished and have loads of anecdotes of experience to share with us, and unlike many other authors, who may carry an air of conceit, you treat us in a way that not only shows that you know where we’re coming from and what we’re feeling as beginner/amateur writers, but (and most-importantly) that you believe in us and encourage us to dig, and push, and create.

Brandon, thank you. My brother and I are both writers and huge fans of the Wheel of Time. His background of sci-fi and fantasy is heavier than mine, and when he says that the Way of Kings is the finest fantasy series he’s ever read, that’s saying something. Your prolific output, dedication to the craft, and generous advice and demonstration on writing (Youtube, lectures, interviews) continually inspires me. We met in San Francisco when you were on tour with Harriet. Your advice to me was, “keep going.” Thank you.

Mary, thank you. It is because of your dedication to your craft, your investment of yourself, and your honesty with your encouragement and advice for the rest of us is very inspirational. You hand-write letters to your fans and it was through this way that we met once at Norwescon in Seattle and I was introduced to and read Shades of Milk and Honey. Thank for you continued inspiration.

Howard, thank you. Your humor on the cast is great. It is so very nice to have you process the craft for the rest of us as it relates through the lens of the graphic art. When I check in on your site and see that you still putting up new strips every single day, it is very inspiring for me. You bring an art and style to writing that many may overlook and I would like to thank you for not only the exposure of your style to the craft, but your input as a writer and a cartoonist to the topics of the cast. Thank you. I must say that it has been some time since we’ve heard you give us the exclamation of “luxury” in only the way you can.

Dan, thank you. It’s always inspirational to know of those who know what they want and just walk out and get it. As a horror writer, you bring something to the table that the rest of us need to hear. It’s so nice to hear your method of how you break down your ideas into a structure (and eventual final product) for a story which affects its audience. Your Seven-point plot structure is a beautiful tool for writers and I thank you, as I am considering using it in a current project of mine.

Each of you has inspired me as a writer and I very much appreciate

Which brings me to the reason I wanted to write this letter. The most recent episode on true confessions is the best I’ve ever heard. Maybe you thought it was mediocre or just something fun to do, but it was the most poignant and apropos message I’ve heard to date. I think it’s easy for beginning writers to think ideas such as, ‘no, this can’t be the way to do it,’ ‘no, it’s all wrong,’ or ‘no, I’m just repeating myself, I don’t have any chapters yet, this isn’t even what I wanted to write about…..’ and on and on. “Failure” after “failure” after “failure.” And this episode is one in which you tell us to our faces, “Actually, that’s totally normal…and look at all the times I screwed up.” I love the fact that Mary said that it’s not really failure, it’s just data. It’s said that Thomas Edison screwed up over 1,000 times (and I’m paraphrasing) before finally inventing the lightbulb. And when asked about all those times, he is famously quoted as having said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times, I just found out 1,000 ways to not make a light bulb.”

Math is not my forte, but if we’ve been at this for 12 years (you as the hosts, and me as the listener), then we’ve hit somewhere around 625 episodes – ballpark. And this one, above all, was the most perfect of episodes. No guests needed, no special theme, no writing prompt, just sitting back and listing some of the epic screw-ups that you’ve had, and reminding us that (as Howard said, and again, I’m paraphrasing), it’s not that you fail; that’s going to happen. It’s what you do with that discovery. You can either quit, cry about it, moan, and consider a professionally lofty bridge, or get back up and go at it again. You’re either a writer, or your not. What a period to end the season with.

Thank you for the inspiration. I am looking forward to the upcoming season on character, and if I may, and because I’m into language, I’d like to learn about character and presence – basically, the about of presence a protagonist (or side character) can have and how you can keep a character’s presence from overwhelming the rest of the story (i.e. maintaining a balance of character presence).

Okay, enough from me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your continued dedication to the craft we all love, and for helping us better ourselves in this venture. You do just by who you are.

And with that, although I am not quite out of appreciation, I am out of excuses. I’m off to write.

See you next year,
LP