I look over my shoulder, away from the computer screen. “What?”
Buzz leans down, his black curly hair prickling my ear. “You’re writing a blog?!”
I lean away and scratch my nose. “Yeah, I’m trying to.”
Pulling his inhaler out of his mouth, Aubrey steps up on my opposite side. “But you said you’d never write about yourself.”
“I know. I know.” I rock my head side to side. “But if more people are gonna read about you guys, it’s what I gotta do.”
“Who’d want to read about these two toad throwers?” With crossed arms, Rodriqa walks up behind me, her head tilted and her beaded braids falling onto her left shoulder.
“I wanna read about me,” replied Buzz.
“I’m not sure I’m interesting enough,” said Aubrey.
“It doesn’t matter.” I rest my fingertips on the keyboard. “If no one has the opportunity, then you’re just lost in my imagination.”
“So it’s like the tree that falls in the forest.” Buzz raises his hands. “If no ones there to hear, does it become a bedroom suit?”
Rodriqa scrunches up her cheek. “I think you mean, does it make a sound.”
“Of course it makes a sound.” Buzz scoffs. “The compression and rarefaction of oxygen and nitrogen molecules makes sure of that.”
“Always has to be about science, doesn’t it?” Rodriqa rolls her eyes. “Not everyone wants to listen to your dweebfits all the time.”
“Dweebfits?” Buzz pushes his horn-rimmed glasses up his nose. “Well, maybe we get tired of putting up with all your glamor glitchin’.”
Rodriqa cracks her knuckles. “Listen here, you little…”
“GUYS!” I lower my head and rub my eyes. “You’re not helping. I need to finish this first blog. Can you behave for like two seconds?”
“You’re gonna need more than two seconds.” Aubrey points at the keyboard. “I’ve seen how slowly you write.”
I shake my head. “Thanks, Aub.”
Howdy! I’m Ashland Menshouse and I invite you to visit www.ashlandmenshouse.com, on its way to become one snail shucker of a website.
There, I plan to share insights about my writing, the direction I’m headed with the “Last” series, and showcase the mythology of creatures, both shade and shinar, and Buzz’s inventions. Also, I’ll talk about upcoming events, from signings to festivals, and other exciting news all while sharing the rolling trail of all things bright and beautiful, disparaging and distracting, frightful and enraging along the swathe of pen and process.
About Ashland Menshouse
Sorry for the lack of posts lately everyone, there has been a big flip in my writing life. That is Sky Stone is to be published tomorrow!
Over the last couple of weeks I have done a final edit, marketed, decided on a self-publishing platform, laid out the inside of the novel, created a final cover, written a bio, and all the other fun things that go with self-publishing! I feel so close and yet this night feels unending. I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight!
I want to thank everyone who has helped me. A massive thank you goes to my beautiful mum who I practically forced to read Sky Stone over the years of its creation. Thanks for all the support and sarcastic comments on the side of my Word document! Thank you to my high school English teacher who peaked my interest in writing and encouraged me to continue while Sky Stone was in its early stages. I want to thank my lovely boyfriend and my friends who beta read for me. I also want to thank all the writers that I have met both in person and online, for your support, help, and the opportunities. Without all of you, Sky Stone would never have gotten to this point.
Thank you! Now, let's see if I can get through the next 24 hours!
When I was a kid, growing up in a small Texas town, I found that when I wrote my “stories” I would have a large audience on the playground any day after lunch. All I had to do was to bring my most recent chapter to read. I guess I really liked the feeling of importance. More than that, I really liked the feeling I got while I was putting my thoughts on paper. This phenomenon continued through junior high school and high school. I would write and share; but I never saved anything.
How I wish I still had those early stories to read now. What a difference I would see; what growth I would identify. Those early stories, I remember, were along the lines of the Nancy Drew mysteries. I think I saw myself as a great mystery writer. By the time I was in high school, I think I had graduated into some of the stranger stories similar to what I write now.
After I became an adult I only remember writing a few more things. I wrote one story based on a recurring nightmare I had as a child. This, I wrote at the suggestion of a counselor. Through the writing of this story and a charcoal drawing I did that illustrated it, I was able to write my way through the pains of my childhood. Later, after the earliest Star Wars movie and the first Star Trek movie came out I wrote a sci-fi for my kids. Again I had an audience to listen as each chapter emerged. I found it to be a way to draw my kids and me closer together.
Life Got In The Way
After that I put my writing aside for a very long time. Life got in the way as it always seems to do. I told myself that I didn’t have time to write. That, however, would have been the perfect time to write. When your kids are growing up there are always so many funny things and so many sweet things that they do. Now I have to rely on a faulty memory to get them down on paper; and there are a few things that I feel are worth doing just that. I only hope that I can remember the details well enough to turn them into stories before I can no longer remember at all.
Now, here I am, retired and needing something to fill my time. I went the FaceBook virtual farming route for a while. There is just so much virtual farming a person can do. It’s not like you’re going to take your virtual veggies and make a virtual salad, so you can invite your virtual friends to a virtual feast after virtual church. After a while it gets virtually boring.
So why do I write now? Because I’m a virtual nut case. Okay; maybe I’m just a little obsessive and somewhat creative. Writing is something that I have been storing up inside of me for a number of years. I stored it so long that the silos of my heart and my mind were about to burst open and spill all the grain it had stored up onto a virtual field; I like to think of it as a field of Texas bluebonnets. These silos are splitting at the seams now and the stories are steadily seeping out. It’s all that I can do to scoop them up and pour them out onto my laptop.
Why Do You Write?
Go on, ask yourself this question. What makes you put things on paper? It might be a hard question to answer but it is an important one. We should all, at some point, take a look at ourselves to find out what really motivates us to write in order to better understand our writing. Is it something that you have always done? Why? If you were told that you could never write another thing what would you do? I think that I would have to go on writing anyway, no matter what the consequences.
About M J Henry
The Authors Responsibility
Something all writers have a responsibility to do is produce feelings within our readers. We should aim to create suspense, drama, and plot twists in our writing in order to surprise and interest our readers. At times our readers will feel fear, sadness, even disgust at what we write. However, this is exactly what we want! These feelings are part of the reason why our readers will keep reading our books. They want to feel for the characters and know what will happen next. As writers, it is our responsibility to give readers a thrilling read with all the ups and downs that come with it.
The Reader's a Looney
So back to mister crazy reader, burning books that 'offend' him. In my opinion this has nothing to do with the author. Sure the author has produced those feelings within the reader but isn't that exactly what we want to do? If a reader reacts poorly to what we have written (especially in fiction) then that is their problem not ours. We have done our job, the reader should see a shrink… simple.
So, the author's job is to create a book which is entertaining to read. George RR Martin became a bestselling author because he invoked emotions within his readers, however, there are some aspects to his books that people may have (and probably did) get offended by. George doesn't change his writing just because people may get offended and neither should we. We shouldn't worry about how a reader may react (unless you're getting threats) and just continue doing what we must; writing great stories!
Scarlett Van Dijk
Image courtesy of iosphere / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As I was reminded recently, a sounding board is of infinite value to a writer, no matter what day, age, or genre they may write in.
The sounding board not only reflects your ideas, but takes the little golden nuggets out of your waffle, and helps you craft them into workable narratives. Quite frankly, the amount of writing I would have achieved - had it not been for the sounding boards in my life - is negligible.
I met up with a writer friend earlier this week, who was stuck on a story from her WIP series. We bounced ideas back and forth, and finally came up with something that worked as a narrative, and - more importantly - was powerful enough for her to feel excited, and passionate, about writing. Talk about a win :-)
For my current WIP, The Caretaker of Imagination, the plot went through many revisions, but would never have reached its current state without the benefit of my sounding board (in this case my partner). We were on holiday in Tongariro, and I’d been working on this novel (my first go at creative writing since it was a requirement in high school) for about a month. I’d written three chapters, one of which I was happy with, and the other two which I absolutely despised. I spent most of the four-hour trip down there plotting the story, and then sat the poor guy down in the evening to nut out my chapter-by chapter breakdown, whether he liked it or not (fortunately, he either liked it or was willing to pretend that he liked it. Either way it worked for me).
I think there are two main benefits to a sounding board. Firstly, that you are forced to listen to your thoughts out loud. I’ve often found that ideas, swimming around in my subconscious, are brought to judgement when said aloud, and pretty quickly at that. Writing ideas down also achieves this, but not as well, I think, as hearing yourself say something utterly ridiculous.
The second benefit is breaking out of your creative limitations, or, if you like, creative ‘blocks’. Sometimes it is because of your life experience, but most times it is just due to one-track thinking. When I think about one idea, over and over again, it creates a rut through which my thoughts most easily flow. The more I think of that idea, the deeper the rut becomes, until I am so stuck on that one narrative I cannot, for all the tea in the world, think beyond that rut.
Enter sounding board. They hear the idea, and the first thing they say is a eureka moment. It most likely isn’t that special, really, but because the one-track-rut has become so deep, anything new is both refreshing and brilliant. They create a side-road from the rutted thinking, and begin the outside-the-box thinking process up again.
About Zenobia Southcombe
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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