Being Vulnerable is Being True: How to Be Vulnerable in Your Writing

Sorry, I missed last week, but my Mom and I were planning a surprise 50th birthday party for my Dad. To say the least, I was a bit preoccupied. But the party went over well, and I think he was pleasantly surprised.

We’re going to jump right into things today, though. We are going to be talking about another aspect of writing your truth. Specifically, being vulnerable.

Writing is very much an intimate act. It is one way to express yourself without having to talk to a person face-to-face. For an introvert, writing is the perfect way to communicate feelings. That is if you are willing to.

Vulnerability scares the crap out of people. So often, people view vulnerability as being weak, which it isn’t. Vulnerability is one of the strongest things that a person can show.

In order to show vulnerability, you have to understand yourself. We’ve done activities to help you find your truth, so use that to learn about you. Who are you really? Not just the good, happy parts, but your dark parts as well.

Over the years, I have become more of an open book than I ever thought I could. That being said, I’ll faster write down my deepest, darkest secrets than say them out loud. But, if you ask me directly, I will likely tell you the truth if I feel you have any reason to know.

So the first thing I want you to do is write about a dark, vulnerable moment in your life. I want it to be a moment that actually happened.

Write out this moment like you would write a story. Be descriptive to the point that you relive the emotions from that time. Put all of those emotions on the paper. Let them spill out.

Allow yourself to emotional purge before you begin writing something that is emotionally charged.

This is a great way to wrangle your vulnerability and emotions so that you can write something cohesive. This is a good journalling exercise. Start writing out your emotions around the scene and let them escalate how they will. This will purge the raw emotions that were hiding right under the surface giving you a clear place to start. Nobody wants to read something where they have to weed through emotional ramblings.

Write out your actual emotions. In any scene you write, whether you write in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person, there is going to be emotions. Write the emotions you would feel if you were in that situation.

That’s the only way something is going to come off as genuine. Yes, you will have to put yourself in other people’s shoes, but you were going to have to do that anyway.

Let’s be honest, nobody wants to read a story about a gangster who suddenly gets hit with guilt and decides not to rob a bank and gets an honest job instead. (zzzzzzzzzzzz)

Now, if you want a gangster to turn his life around, give him a reason to do so. Give him something that makes him want to change his way. You have to break him down into teeny weeny vulnerable pieces and then put him back together as a better man.

That’s the kind of story a person wants to read.

Don’t shy away from awkward emotions. Negative emotions can be tough to express, but then you have the positive ones that are just as awkward.

This may be something some people won’t have to worry about. It all depends on the types of things you write. But I’m talking about love scenes. Depending on how intimate you get in your writing, you could be facing some of the most awkward scenes that a writer has to face.

Now, I will talk about writing sex scenes in a later post so I won’t get into the logistics of it here. This point simply ties back in with the last one. Be honest with those scenes. What do you feel (you know what I mean) when you write those scenes? If it doesn’t create some sense of warmth inside of you, then it won’t in your readers. You need to back up and punt.

Alright, that’s it for today. Take these four tips and see what they can do for you in writing your truth and being vulnerable.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
― Criss Jami

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

Advertisements

The Golden North Hotel – Alaska

This week we are traveling all the way to Alaska, Skagway, Alaska.

In 1896, gold was discovered in the Yukon and this set of the Klondike Gold Rush. Around 100,000 prospectors ran to this territory with the hopes of striking it rich. A lot of these people traveled to the Skagway area of what would become Alaska. This area provided them with a more direct route to the gold.

In 1897, the population of Skagway was 700. In 1898, it boomed to around 10,000. This made the town Alaska’s largest city, but this was short lived and it was back down to 1800 in two years. The influx of people created problems like lawlessness, disease, chaos, and death. This created the perfect time for ghost stories.

In 1898, the Golden North Hotel was built. This was during the height of the gold rush and served as a place for 1000s of prospectors to stop for refreshments and rest each week. It was these people that would end up creating this ghost story. Our tale begins with the prospector lovingly known as Klondike Ike who traveled to this lovely little town with his fiance Mary. Mary stayed in room 23 of this hotel while Ike took the 500-mile journey to find gold.

There are a few variations of this story from this point on. The first says Mary fell ill with pneumonia. Another said she became distraught with worry when Ike didn’t return when he was supposed to and locked herself away in her room. The third says that she hid away because she ended up getting involved with some ruffians. Whichever is true, nobody really knows. No matter how the story really went, Mary died while she was waiting for Ike to return from his adventures. There are some versions that said the hotel staff broke down the door to her room, finding her dead in the dress she was going to wear to her wedding.

Believe she continues to haunt this hotel. The stories from those who say they have seen “Scary Mary” vary widely. There are some who say they have seen a spectral woman roaming around the hotel, or sitting in her room waiting for fiances return. Others say they have heard strange noises or felt sudden breezes of cold air. Some people who stayed in room 23 said they woke up in the middle of the night feeling like they were choking.

There is yet another ghostly event that is said to have happened at the Golden North in room 14. The staff and guests have said they’ve seen mysterious lights that look like sparkles or twinkles, and others call them orbs. Where these lights come from is not known, but they aren’t threatening.

The hotel itself closed in 2002, but the building and sign still remain. Unfortunately, curious ghost hunters can no longer visit the rooms to try and experience their history. The floor plan says that room 23 was on the third floor in the northwest corner. As of today, the building is being used by Frontier Excursions & Adventures.

 

Tarot Game for Writers

Welcome back. This week I have another tarot spread that you can use to help you create your stories. This tarot spread works like a game. First, we will go over the steps you take for the came and then what each card represents.

  1. Come up with a question. This isn’t to figure out the overall storyline. It is to find out a solution to a specific problem. Be as clear as possible with your questions.
  2. Shuffle your cards and deal them out according to the spread below.
  3. Follow the thread that the cards create to come to a solution to your answer. The cards will provide you with a possible solution, but you have to ultimately decide if it’s the right thing for you to do. Whether you use the offered solutions or not, it is typically enough to break through any barriers you may have.
  4. Keep a note of what your reading provided you. I keep a writing journal with all of my tarot readings. This can help to serve as future inspiration.

Alright, here is the spread you will be using:

game

One thing I need to tell you, as you can see each section of cards is color coded. When you lay out your cards, you need to start on the side with three cards, the conflict, world, and motive, and move over to the two outcome cards.

As for what the cards mean:

Conflict: This is what the outer conflict is surrounding your questions. This could be about a character, it all depends on what your question was, to begin with.

World: This what the ordinary world around the problem is and how it plays into your problem.

Motive: This is what your characters inner motive. This is what makes everything move towards an outcome

The next four cards move into what the obstacles are that your character will have to face moving forward.

Guide: This is their guide or mentor of sorts.

Home: This refers to the pull from their home. How their home life is affecting their decisions.

Controller: This refers to what controls them the most. This could be a person, place or thing. Whatever has the most control over the character.

Key: This is the main reason why they are having problems.

Next, we are moving into actions that will help them reach their outcomes.

Decisions: This card is an optional card. You don’t have to pull one. These are the decisions that your character has to make. These will likely be tough for your character.

Steps: These are the actions steps that your character has to take in order to reach their outcome.

Lastly, we have two outcomes.

External outcomes: This the top card. These are the changes that happen in the outside world of the character the physical things that were affected by their decisions.

Internatl outcomes: This is the bottom card. These are the changes that take place inside of your character. This is how he or she was affected internally by their own actions.

Alright, that’s it for this tarot reading. Try this a few times and I bet this will be what you turn to every time you feel stuck in your writing. Tell me what you think in the comments below.

“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e. do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meeting on those days.”

– J.K. Rowling

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

The Haunting of Drish House – Alabama

Last week I asked my readers if they would like to see some real-life ghost stories on the blog. According to my twitter and facebook polls, it seems you all wanted to see ghost stories. I’ll post the stories every Friday with my regular posts being on Wednesdays. I thought I would go through each state in the US and share a story. I’ll go alphabetically to make things easier on myself. This week we have Alabama. Let me introduce you to the Drish House.

In Tuscaloosa Alabama on 17th Street there sits a home that is said to be the most haunted place in Alabama. This house is known as the Drish House. The home was built on 450 acres of land for John Drish. His slaves did most of the building. The home was inspired by the Italian Renaissance. However, this home, no matter how pretty it may be, is marred by a haunted past.

John Drish’s story was already a sad one at the time the house was built. John was a doctor and married a women name, Catherine. They had a daughter named Katherine. While their daughter was young, his wife passed away. He sent his daughter to live in Virginia with other family members because he didn’t feel living with a widower was a good idea.

Being an, allegedly, charming man, John quickly found another wife. This woman, a rich widow, was named Sarah Owen. They married in 1825. After his marriage, he brought his daughter back home to live with them, but their relationship was strained. Stories of cruelty surround their relationship. Allegedly, Sarah fell in love with a man John didn’t approve of. To punish her, he locked her in her room and gave her very little food and water. She relented and went on to marry a different man. Eventually, she and her husband divorced and she brought her sons to live in the Drish House. Some people believed that Katherine suffered from a mental illness.

John Drish may have been charming, but it was a bit of an alcoholic and had a horrible temper. This would be his ultimate demise. There are three different tales when it comes to his death. The first is he threw himself over the second-floor balcony. The second says that he was drunk and tumbled down the stairs. The last version claims that he was trying to stop drinking and had the shakes from withdrawals, which caused him to fall down the stairs. Regardless of how he actually died, he passed away in 1867. His wife, Sarah, was left to take care of his funeral.

Sarah became obsessed with his funeral. She ended up planning an elaborate, over the top, funeral. After the funeral ended, she took the candles that were used and hid them away. She planned on them being used for her own funeral. When she died in 1884, the candles were nowhere to be found so they couldn’t fulfill her wishes.

These are not the only sad tails to surround the Drish House and family. 

The niece of Dr. Drish was murdered by her husband. It is also believed that a runaway slave found refuge in one of the towers, but when he left to seek food, he was found and returned to his owner who burned him alive. People have reported seeing a male ghost that is believed to be this slave.

The house has been used for many different things since Sarah’s death. It has been a school, a church, an auto parts store, and a salvage garage. It may have even been used as a prison during the Civil War. Other than the male ghost, other people have reported ghost lights coming from near the top of the house. There have also been reports of what looks like fire shooting out of the third-floor tower. The firemen did not find an actual fire when they arrived. People will blame this occurrence on either the slave that was murdered or by Sarah Drish because it is believed she is angry due to the fact her wishes were never met.

The house fell into disrepair for a while, but it has since been restored and is an event space for people who want to rent it.

Comedic Inspiration – 5 Tips

This week we are going to look at some ways to find inspiration for comedy. I haven’t written a lot of comedy stories myself, but I say dumb things and people laugh, so there’s that.

Comedy isn’t something that should be overanalyzed. You don’t have to look deep into the human psyche to figure out what makes them tick in order to make them laugh. In fact, the less you try, the better chance you have of making a person laugh, or at least chuckle.

Comedy is a double-edged sword, though. You could create something that makes the first 100 readers pee their pants, and then the next reader could find it as dull as a spoon. But that’s just the horrors of writing.

Let’s look at five tips to help you find some inspiration to write that funny story:

  • People Watch

Some of the best inspiration a person can find is within the lives of others. Head to the mall or park and watch people around you for a bit. See if anything fun jumps out at you that is so hilarious that you have to write about it.

  • Think About Your Day

Take a moment to think about the things you did throughout the day. Find something that you found funny and write about it. Maybe one of your co-workers said or did something funny. Maybe you tripped walking up the stairs. You never know where inspiration may strike. Another option would be to keep a journal and write down things as they happen so that you don’t run the risk of forgetting them.

  • Look at Your Phone Contacts

Scroll through the contacts on your phone and see if anybody on the list reminds you of something funny that has happened to you. You can also take a scroll through your social media friends to see if anything shakes some funny cobwebs loose.

  • Look at Trending Hashtags

Jump on Twitter or Instagram and take a look at some trending hashtags. They may be able to spark some inspiration. If they don’t, make them. Take one of the hashtags, whether or not it is funny, and make it funny. It may not be a story that you want to share, but it can get the creative juices flowing.

  • Look at Family Photos

Look through some old photo albums to see if you can find some comedic inspiration. I’m sure if you dig far enough back, you are going to find somebody wearing a plaid pair of pants or somebody with a beehive hairdo. You never know what you are going to find in a photo album. You can also pick out your favorite picture and turn it into a story. This should help to shake some other ideas loose as well.

That’s it for the tips. Try out some, or all, of these tips and see what you can come up with in the funny story department. Who knows, maybe you might create the next great American novel.

“A tragedy is a tragedy, and at the bottom, all tragedies are stupid. Give me a choice and I’ll take A Midsummer Night’s Dreamover Hamlet every time. Any fool with steady hands and a working set of lungs can build up a house of cards and then blow it down, but it takes a genius to make people laugh.”
― Stephen King

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

A Question For My Readers

Today’s post isn’t going to be about writing. In fact, I have a question for my readers. Would you like to see blog posts about ghost stories?

I’ve always been a big fan of ghost stories. I’m talking real ghost stories, not just horror books. I’m talking about stories like The Portrait of Theodosia Burr, The Pink Lady at the Grove Park Inn, Ghosts of the USS Constellation, and The Hawthorne Hotel.

I think ghost stories are helpful for writers, especially those of us who want to write horrors or similar genres. Of course, whether you believe they are true or not isn’t relevant. The point is they are fun to read and can give you some clues as to what makes a good spooky story.

I spent a lot of time in high school and college reading books about ghost stories in my state of North Caroline. Trust me, we have A LOT. In the town of Asheville alone, which is about five minutes from me, there are 10+.

My proposition is, would you like a couple (or five) blog posts that share ghost stories from around the world each week along with the regular blog posts. I wouldn’t be replacing my normal writing tips and tricks with the ghost stories. I would simply be supplementing them with some fun spooky stories.

I wanted to get my readers opinion since you guys are the reason I do this. Please let me know what you think if you want me to or not.

If you have your own ghost story, let me know, and I may share it on the blog. With your permission, of course.

“I’ve got quite a vivid imagination and I’m easily overwhelmed by sensations and things that are beautiful or scary. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ghost – I think I’m probably haunted by my own ghosts than real ones.” – Florence Welch

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Get Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles today.

Being True to You

I’ve got another post for you about writing your truth. I told you I had a lot to say about this.

In past posts, I have talked about how to write your truth. Today’s post isn’t going to be much of a how-to. I have something on my chest that I want to share. It was something that hit me when I was getting information together for a book I was ghostwriting.

I freelance write through a company. I ghostwrite books. Part of that requires me to do research on topics because most of what I write is non-fiction books. It’s through this research that I found so many books on Amazon that you can tell didn’t come from a person’s truth.

This post doesn’t have to with my ghostwriting or anything to do with that sort of thing.

What I want to talk about is the sheer number of books available on Amazon that are written for the sole purpose of making money.

Now, you may be wondering how I can tell that there are so many books on Amazon that aren’t written from a person’s truth. I’ll tell you, but first I want you to do something.

Head over to Amazon and pull up a listing of books. More specifically self-help books; weight loss, exercise, mental health, those sorts of things. Now, pull up a few and click on the preview book. Glance through to see what you can glean from it and take a look at the reviews and other information about the book.

You’ll probably start to notice that some books just have a better feel to them than others. There are some that feel like they could actually help you, while others are just ‘eh.’

Now, I don’t know what is in the heart of an author when they write a book, but what I do know is that if they wrote from their truth, from a need to help people or share something, you can feel it in their writing. It comes off as much more honest that fluff writing.

You don’t have to just write novels in order to write your truth. You can write your truth in non-fiction books as well. It means you are sharing truths about you and your passion in order to help somebody else. And this statement is true for fiction and non-fiction because I believe fiction can help people as well.

So many of the books you see on Amazon are books that have been written and published just for the purpose of making money. They weren’t created from a passion deep within somebody. They didn’t come from the heart.

The problem is, though, that all of these books that weren’t written in truth are covering up the books that are written truth. Speaking as an Indie author, there are so many other Indie authors out there that write their truth and have amazing stories to tell through novels and self-help books that get pushed underneath all of these other books that don’t have any heart in them.

I don’t know how these truthless books become successful. (I have my thoughts, but I will keep them to myself.) All I know is, we need to create more books that have heart and truth in them. We need more books in the world that tell stories that help people and entertain people for the sole purpose of helping and entertaining.

There are enough snake oil salesmen in the world. Those of us who truly have a story to tell, who want to share our truth, need to band together and share with the world what it means to love what you do and to love doing it no matter what you get back.

I know there is nothing that can be done about these filler books on Amazon and other sites. They are always going to be there and more will continue to be published. It’s easier today now than it was 20 years ago. You don’t need an agent or a publisher anymore. I’m not trying to start a revolution or what have you to stop these books from being published.

I am here to help and urge those who do have a heartfelt story to share, to share it.

If you are still unsure about what it means to write your truth, you can use these books to help you.

Because trust me, you can tell the difference when you read a book when it has been written from the heart, no matter the genre.

I think I’ll step down from my soapbox for now. I’ve said what I came here to say.

I hope I have helped you just a little bit more when it comes to writing your truth.

“What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.” – Carl Rogers

FYI:

Grab your copy of Loved by Death on Amazon. Make sure you keep an eye on Loved by Death: Book One of The Wolfsbane Chronicles. You never know what kind of sale you might find.