Let’s Get Honest – Writing Your Truth

Welcome back, it’s been a while since I have written about writing your truth. Today, instead of giving you tips on writing your truth or how to be vulnerable, I’m going to share something from my life.

My life inspires my writing, and I think it’s safe to say that’s true for most writers. I mean, what else are we going to write about if not our life. Even if you write fiction, fantasy, horror, little things in life will inspire things in stories. I’m going to preface what I’m getting ready to tell you by letting you know that I’m not sharing names, but I will let you know that I am talking about my Dad.

Alright, Dad has inspired me recently to start writing children’s story. Using the word inspired makes it sound like a good thing that he has done, but it’s really the negativity that he has added to my life that has inspired me.

First off, I’ll cover the good he has done. I know he is a good person, I can trust him to be there if I need him, and he did the basic things that parents are supposed to do to take care for their kids. He makes me laugh, and we have had good times together, and I still like being around him, but he has also hurt me in many ways. He wasn’t and still isn’t, big on practicing what he preaches. He often told me things that I should and should not do, but I constantly saw him breaking those rules.

He was somebody I was supposed to be able to trust, but, as I got older, I started questioning that trust. He also expected and wanted me to respect him, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. As I got older, I started questioning this blind respect I was supposed to have for him, and he didn’t like it. We’ve had our fair share of arguments, most of which revolve around this concept of trust.

Now, I know respecting your parents and elders can be a touchy subject for people. I know there are quite a few people like my dad that believes you’re just supposed to respect people older than you simply because they are older. I’m not one of those. Hear me out, I do think you should respect older people at first. Just like parents deserve respect from their kids from the get-go just because they are their parents. That said, if the older people and parents show you, on numerous occasions, that they have little to no respect for you and your boundaries, then you have every right not to respect them as much. Simple as that.

But that’s where my Dad and I bump heads all the time. We’ve had numerous arguments and it all comes back to the same thing. And it doesn’t matter how much I try to explain how I feel to him, he doesn’t listen, which, ironically, is something he tells me I don’t do. He doesn’t have the respect for me that he expects me to have for him. Growing up, I did respect him, but it wasn’t until I hit probably 12 or so that I started to really realize the injustice.

I live very close to some cousins, and when I was younger, we would ride bikes together and play, but my Dad hated it when I played with them. I never got an explanation as to why, but if my Mom wasn’t home, he wouldn’t let me go see them. Now, I did do bratty things growing up, but what kids don’t? I snuck out of the house once to go play with them because they had a swingset. I got caught, of course, but I didn’t do that again.

If it wasn’t for my Mom, there are a lot of things I wouldn’t have gotten to do. It seemed as if my Dad didn’t want me to be a child. I could be a kid, at times, when I was with my parents, like when they took me on vacation and such, but at home, I was supposed to be seen and not heard.

The fun part about growing up is I was pretty much grounded my entire childhood. I know I did things that pissed my Dad off, which is why I got grounded, but for the most part, I had no clue as to what exactly I did. The one thing I can remember is I spent the night with a friend once, and my parents asked me to call before I went to bed. I forgot to call. My friend and I were having fun and then we crashed. There was no between time where my mind went, “Hey, Felicia, we need to call home.” I apologized for forgetting, but that wasn’t good enough. My Dad told me I would never get to spend the night at a friend’s house again.

Now, I will say this, my Dad didn’t hold strong to those declarations, but whenever I managed to upset him, he drudged up every little infraction I had made growing up and he would punish me for them all over again. Like I said, I don’t remember much of the “bad” things I did as a kid. Trust me, I’m sitting here trying to remember things from my childhood, but I’ve realized I’ve repressed most of those negative moments. I can remember the fun I’ve had, but I don’t remember much of the yelling I got from my Dad.

When I got older, I began to realize a lot of my Dad’s problems stemmed from his childhood, but he doesn’t see these things and this causes us to be unable to move past these problems.

But my Dad loved yelling and still does. He sucks at sharing his feelings in any other way. If a friend asked me to spend the night, I never knew how to broach the subject because I didn’t know how he would respond. His favorite answer was “No.” He’d turn me down on everything.

High school was my roughest time and the roughest time for my parents. I went to an Early College where I got more freedom than a regular high school and I went stupid. I skipped classes from time to time, and I got found out and punished for it. Luckily, I was still able to graduate on time with my diploma and associates degree. (That was just a side note)

My Dad had a heart attack when I was in high school. It was scary for me, and I know it was for him. But here’s the kicker, when he was better, he blamed me for his heart problems. He had smoked cigarettes since he was 15 and had biscuits and gravy every Sunday, but I was the cause of his heart attack. That was something I had heard from him my entire life. Starting at around age 8 or 9, he would tell me on a regular basis how I was the cause of all of his problems. He hardly ever gave specifics, but most of the specifics were things that all kids do because it is part of the learning and growing process.

He doesn’t understand why I don’t respect him, which is his skewed viewpoint because I do respect him to an extent. He’s a man that doesn’t listen when I ask him to stop bothering me. He’d poke and pick at me, try to distract me from what I was doing, or just all-around bug me, and when I would say, “Dad, would you please stop,” he would say something along the lines of, “Don’t get an attitude with me.”

All humans have their faults, but I feel we should learn from those shortcomings and try to improve. My Dad, unfortunately, isn’t at a point to learn from his. He doesn’t want to face the darkness within, and until he does, he will always be the short-tempered, yelling man that I have always known. But, even though he hasn’t been the best Dad, I’ve always known that he does love me, and I will continue to love him.

So, how does all of this inspire me to write kid’s stories? I don’t have kids, yet, but I feel I can teach children something. Maybe, it might also help parents. I want to, in a cute way, share these struggles and teach them about respect, trust, and more.

Through my kid’s stories, I hope to shed light on this darkness that children and adults alike can learn from. Don’t worry, though, I’ll still be writing my other novels as well.

To sum things up, I decided to share this because I have preached about being vulnerable in your writing, yet I haven’t shown you vulnerability. I could get more vulnerable than this story, but I figured this was a good place to start. Plus, it felt good to share. I know I may get some backlash on this because people may see me as some ungracious brat, and if you feel that way, so be it. I’ve said these exact words to my Dad before, but “Only I know what I feel and think inside, just like only you know how you feel and think inside. It’s up to you to believe whether I’m share my true feelings or not.” I can tell you a million times I’m being truthful, but it’s ultimately up to you to believe me or not.

Hopefully, there is something in my story you can resonate with, and I hope that nobody views me as a brat. But, as long as you read this and it stirs up some type of emotion, that’s all that matters.

“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.” – Noel Coward

FYI:

Make sure you grab your copy of Loved by Death here. I am going to make it available, soon, on other sites as well.

Creative Way to Create a Story – Tarot

This may seem like it is coming out of left-field. What does tarot have to do with writing? You may even be a little hesitant because you think tarot has to do with fortune telling. I’m here to tell you, tarot can help you write, and you don’t even have to believe in tarot as a fortune telling aid. I’m going to do a few different blogs concerning tarot as a writing aid. Today I’m going to introduce you to what it is.

Now, I can’t take credit for coming up with this. I found the book Tarot for Writers in my local metaphysical shop. It is written by Corrine Kenner who is certified taro master and teaches workshops and classes on the subject. So I’m going to be relaying some of the information in her book and what I have learned by using this writing aid.

If you want your own copy, you can get it here: Tarot for Writers

Before I found the book, I had dabbled in taro before, so I knew my way around a tarot deck to an extent. It’s completely okay if you have never even touched a tarot deck before because you will learn as you go. If you’re still not certain about this, authors such as Stephan King and John Steinbeck have used tarot to help them write.

Just so you know, there are affiliate links in this blog post.

You are going to need to get yourself a tarot deck. I recently purchased the Eight Coins Tattoo Tarot at the same store I got the book. If you already have experience with tarot, then these would be a good choice because they have gorgeous pictures. Word to the wise, there are four cards that have doubles in the deck, so make sure you take out the extras. I had to learn that the hard way.

If you’re new to tarot, you will want to stick to an original deck so that you can have the regular images to help you interpret the cards. Try this deck: The Rider Tarot Deck

To get you started with tarot, we’re going to go over the basics of tarot. A tarot deck and writing hold a lot of power. Both need a person behind it to harness and use that power. The amazing thing about tarot is that they already are in line with many Western mystery traditions, like Kabbala, merology, and alchemy. That doesn’t mean you should think tarot is too hard to learn.

When you open your first bot of tarot cards you’re going to notice that there is a lot of them,78 to be exact. The second thing is that there are two groups of cards; the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.

The Major Arcana cards are the archetypes. These serve as a framework to understand the world. In classic writing, archetypal characters include Odysseus, who battled the archetypal villain the one-eyed Cyclops. You can also see these in modern writing like Luke Skywalker and Frankenstein’s monster. Let’s go through these Major Arcana:

0. The Fool – This character is the happy wanderer who is able to see the world through a child’s eyes. Most tarot people agree that the Fool represents each of us. People who are out to learn, off on an adventure, and naive travelers.

1. The Magician – He is the cunning and skilled master of his surveys. He is representative of a person who has control of their life’s techniques and tools. Many tarot decks will have him drawn at a table that holds a wand, pentacle, sword, and a cup.

2. The High Priestess – She is the enigmatic keeper of the spiritual secrets. She is always guarded and secretive and knows life’s secret, but she only shares secrets with those that deserve them.

3. The Empress – She is the archetypal mother who protects and nurtures humankind.

4. The Emperor – He is the authoritative provider and protector who rules the world. He is the father figure and brings order out of the chaos in order for civilization to prosper.

5. The Hierophant – He is the symbol of influence and authority. He is the top of his hierarchy and is determined to maintain his traditions.

6. The Lovers – These characters show the principles of attraction and opposition. While this will encourage the romantics out there, it can’t be forgotten that is could signify a choice between two equal desires.

7. The Chariot – This is a vehicle for change and motion. The charioteer is in control of his drive even when they look to be in opposition of each other.

8. Strength – This character is the sweet woman that has the heart of a lion. She carefully controls the jaws of a lion and controls the force that could easily kill her.

9. The Hermit – This character is reclusive and has removed himself from the hustle and bustle of regular life. He looks back on spiritual problems and carries the light of wisdom to help guide those around him.

10. The Wheel of Fortune – This is the wheel of fate and destiny. Since nothing but change is certain, the While of Fortune tells us that everything that goes up as to come down.

11. Justice – This character is the enforcer and giver of the law. She holds a double-edged sword to remind everybody that fairness cuts both ways.

12. The Hanged Man – He sacrifices his passions and comfort knowing that better things are going to happen because of it. He’s a visionary that sacrifices one thing to be rewarded with something better.

13. Death – This is not at all a negative card that people believe it to be. It is a card of transition. The Grim Reapers clears out those who can’t survive. The card tells you that there is completion and a new start to something else.

14. Temperance – This character is the archangel of balance. By using grace and dexterity, she shows you that moderation is able to bring you wholeness.

15. The Devil – This shows us the shadowy and dark parts of our world. He shows you how ill-conceived passions and selfish devotion to material things can tie you down and keep you away from happiness.

16. The Tower – This shows you a forceful clearing of energy that will hit like lightening, and it is able to shake overbuilt structures to their foundation.

17. The Star – This is your shining light in the darkness. Much like a goddess of the night, she is the spirit who provides guidance and hope.

18. The Moon – This gives you the always changing mirror of the sun and is a symbol of the unconscious mind. It shows you mysteries and secrets that you might not understand or recognize.

19. The Sun – This shows you action and consciousness. It is the center of everything and provides us with life and heat.

20. Judgment – This heralds the dawn of new life, and provides you with a reminder of how powerful forgiveness is.

21. The World – This shows you the never-ending dance of life. This is the card of success and completion. It also gives you the chance to start something new.

After those 21 cards, you have the remaining 56 that are known as the Minor Arcana, which means lesser secrets. These show us ordinary people that go about their normal lives.

There are four suits, much like a regular deck of cards. These suits include pentacles, wands, cups, and swords. These can seem more complicated to remember the meaning, but the great thing is, the pictures on the cards help you. These images at first may seem crazy, but the longer you study them the more you will see the method to the madness. Each of the four suits represents different realms of life.

  • Wands represent the spiritual experience.
  • Cups represent the emotional affairs.
  • Swords represents communication and thought.
  • Pentacles represent the financial, physical, and material realities.

Furthermore, each of these suits are connected to the different elements. This can help you when it comes to interpreting your cards.

Wands = Fire

Wands normally refer to the driving forces of special interests, work, and career that inspires passion. In the majority of tarot decks, wands are represented by branches from leafy trees. This is your cue that it represents fire. Branches are able to be lit on fire.

Cups = Water

Cups hold the affairs of emotions and are connected to relationships and love. You can obviously remember that cups are connected to water because they are able to hold water.

Swords = Air

Since swords are able to be moved through the air, swords deal with the heady realm of intellect. They show how people communicate and think. This suit needs to be close to writers because they cut through the confusion and aim you towards your point.

Pentacles = Earth

These cards are tangible realities of the material world. They are often connected to property and money, and the things that people hold dear to them on a spiritual and emotional level.

Each suit also has four face cards that represent the entire family: mother, father, daughter, and son.

Pages are the enthusiastic and young person. They are often children and messengers, or students. During the Renaissance, pages were messengers for the royal court.

Knights have grown out of their roles of the childlike page and are young adults who have to make their own way. Knights were traditionally sent of quests to prove that they were smart and strong enough to succeed.

Queens are the women who have proven themselves. They have already had to face their demons and have shown that they are competent and mature. They are the ideal woman and role model. They often suggest a caring person that works to nurture and protect their realm.

Kings are the experienced leaders and protectors who have succeeded on their quests that they had to undertake as knights. They are alert, authoritarian, and assertive. They could suggest that somebody is willing to wage war for something they believe in.

That’s all we’re going to get into for today. I know it’s a lot, but we’ll continue to go over these things, and before long you will be able to use a tarot deck to help you with your writing. It’s especially great if you are ever faced with writer’s block.

 

It’s said that the shuffling of the cards is the earth, and the pattering of the cards is the rain, and the beating of the cards is the wind, and the pointing of the cards is the fire. That’s of the four suits. But the Greater Trumps, it’s said, are the meaning of all process and the measure of the everlasting dance. – Charles Williams

The Killer of all Great Writers

Today we are going to talk about the biggest killer of all writers.

 

Writer’s Block

 

Calm the screaming. I know, it’s scary, but it doesn’t have to end your career. There are ways around it, and I’m sure I will write many more posts on the subject. There’s no need to feel bad. Every writer gets it. Even the best most famous writers have to deal with writer’s block. I’ve got 14 ways to help you work through writer’s block.

Before we get into how to combat writer’s block, let’s look at what could be causing the block.

  1. Timing – Maybe it’s not the right time for you to write. Maybe you need to let your ideas stew a little bit more before they can be written down.
  2. Fear – A lot of writers will struggle with fear when it comes to actually putting their ideas down on paper. They are afraid of sharing a part of themselves. They are afraid of being criticized and judged. They are afraid that it will be the only thing they write. I know fear has been what has slowed me down on getting my first book out.
  3. Perfectionism – For a writer, the book is never done. Even once its gone to press, you’ll still be thinking about how you could have changed something. At some point, you have to be finished with it. Perfect doesn’t exist. It’s only an excuse.

While dealing with writer’s block is tough, here are some things you can try to break through the wall.

  • Find some inspiring quotes and read them for inspiration.
  • Make bullet point lists of ideas.
  • Call somebody you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Spend some time with a person that lifts you up.
  • Come up with a regular schedule.
  • Make some coffee.
  • Listen to music.
  • Freewrite.
  • Read a book.
  • Switch up your environment.
  • Play.
  • Exercise or do something that keeps your blood pumping.
  • Get rid of your distractions.
  • Take a walk.

The important thing is to create some momentum to get over that wall.

If your still not sure what to do, here are some things that you should not do to try to overcome the block.

  • Refusing to write until you are inspired.
  • Wallowing in self-pity.
  • Making excuses or procrastinating.
  • Watching TV.

If you’re looking for that magical fail-proof way to overcome writer’s block, here it is:

WRITE

Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you. – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Seven Steps to Writing a Short Story

Writing a short story can seem a daunting task. Feeling as if you have to get an entire story into a certain amount of words can be scary. I feel ya. I had written a full length book before I ever tried to write a short story. You would think since it’s a short story it wouldn’t be as hard to write, but something about it feels you with dread and despair.

Chances are, the way you write your short story will change each time. But there are some patterns for short stories that you can follow. I’m going to talk you through the seven steps to writing a short story.

First, let’s look at the three requirements for short stories.

First, you will need about 10 to 20 hours to work on the story. Everybody writes at a different pace, and the length of short stories can vary from 500 to 5,000, so there isn’t an exact time.

Secondly, you’ll need an idea. The seven steps assume that you already have an idea.

Lastly, writing devices and utensils. You can’t very well write if you don’t have a way to write.

Here are the seven steps to writing a short story:

  1. Write out the basic story in a single sitting

This may sound like a crazy step, to tell you to write a story, but there are two types of stories. The short story, which is complete with characters, plot, and descriptions. And a funny story that you tell your friends.

This first step is writing out the shorted, quick version of your story that you would tell a friend. It’s not about all the action, just the quick nitty gritty information.

This needs to be done in a single sitting. Just spew out the story. Don’t worry about all the little details.

2. Find the protagonist

Once you have spewed out the story, ignore your feelings about it, and start looking at the details. Read through what you have written, and find the protagonist. You may think you know who your protagonist is, but it can be a bit tricky.

The protagonist doesn’t have to be the narrator, and they may not even be the good guy. The protagonist is the person that makes the story move forward. They’re the one that holds everything together.

3. Create the perfect first line

That first sentence is what keeps people from setting your story down and walking away.

Here are five ways to create that perfect first line:

  • Invite the reader in
  • Surprise them
  • Establish your voice
  • Be clear
  • See if your story can be told in a single sentence

4. Break it up into a scene list

All stories are made up of a series of scenes that take place at a certain time a location. Creating your scene list will help to keep your story organized. Don’t feel like you have to stick perfectly to your list, but it’s there to help.

5. Now you can do research

You probably want to do this first. Get as much info as you can get so that you can feel your story with a bunch of detail. The problem is that it can distort your story, which could drive you crazy.

Some writers don’t do any research, which isn’t good either.

Right about now is a good time for research. You know what your story is going to consist of, and now the research can help you add in details.

6. Write, edit, repeat

Now that you have everything you need for your story, you can start to write it. The actual process of writing your story is yours to do as you will. Everybody is different, and I can’t tell you how to do it.

7. Publish

Your story isn’t done until others can read it. That was the point of writing in the first place, right? This can be the hardest and scariest part, but there are lots of different ways to achieve this. You have to put yourself out there, but you’ll feel good once you do.

Now you have the seven steps to writing a short story. Make sure that you continue to practice your writing. Practice makes perfect.

If you’re looking for something new to read, check out Millhaven Press and grab your copy of the first ever Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder. It’s the first issue. Get it here.

You never learn to write a novel. You learn to write the novel you’re on.

-Gene Wolfe