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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

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So, I’m excited about my Patreon page……

…….and what I have planned there.  A lot of thinking went on behind it, long before I even really understood what Patreon was about.  And the more I learned about it, the more I observed on other pages, the more I realized that this could work for me.

A little over a year ago, I decided that I wanted to write a column, so I contacted a local on-line zine.  They were eager to have me on-board……with one catch.  It was not a paid position.  Still, I was more interested in the process as a challenge than anything else, so I let that slide.  Then, of course, I started seeing stories about writers not getting paid for their work, whether it’s from small publishing houses or Pulitzer prize winning newspapers.

And that got me to re-think the column I was writing.

No one sees the work I put into my writing, except my cat and he’s usually asleep.  If I’m going to write for free, then I’m going to write for myself.  I actually turned down offers of having a by-line from another global news site because they don’t offer compensation, other than ‘exposure to a wider audience’.

If people want my stories, then I need to be paid for the work that went into them.

I know my worth.  Know yours.  Whatever your passion is, whatever you’re creative and artistic form is, know that you deserve to be paid for your time and effort.  Granted, if it’s a volunteer situation, such as community or college theater, that’s one thing.  But don’t ever sign onto a job that expects you to work for free.

You deserve more and better.

And so do I.

So, if you’d like to view my Patreon site, you can follow this link.  I am excited to see how this site develops.  🙂

So, this is post Number 3…….

…….on this second day of January. I’ve been thinking about those New Year resolutions that seem to fall by the wayside, even with the best of intentions. I don’t like making promises I don’t know if I can keep, so I rarely make them (which means, if I do make a promise, you can bet your last dollar it will be kept). This goes for resolutions, which, to me, seems like glorified promises to oneself.

So, I’ve decided to make goals. Easier to break down and manage.

One of those goals is to write a post on this blog once a day and no less than five posts in one week. So far, I seem to be meeting that goal. But this week won’t count – I’m calling it a dry run on an experiment. The less pressure I put on myself to produce any kind of writing, the less inclined I will be to stress out and ultimately quit (which I don’t like doing – it ranks right up there with promises. See above).

Part of this is to challenge myself as a writer (always something one should strive to do, in any of the arts). Part of it is to develop better writing habits (if I do it every day, the better my writing and creative muscles will grow).

I’ve been reading a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, but that’s only half the equation. The other half is the act of writing itself.

Writing one post a day will be a challenge, as I’ve mentioned, but it’s a goal I’m determined to keep. I’ll probably panic (what topic do I write about today? Do I wing it? Do I plan it? Ack!!), which is normal, but I know I’ll come up with something.

It wasn’t that long ago that I could write for six hours solid in a day, work on a play and be gainfully employed. If I’ve done it before, I can do it again. It’s just a matter of setting a goal, managing my time and applying discipline (which I think I’ve mentioned somewhere else on this blog).

I know I can do this.

What creative goals do you have for yourself for 2017?

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Musings on imagery, metaphor and an unexpected journey…….

The way is shut. It was made by the Dead and the Dead keep it, till the time comes. The way is shut.
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings

So went the phrase ’round and ’round my mind in January of 2013.

But it wasn’t the hall of the Dead that Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas found themselves in, trying to raise an army that would help turn the tide against Sauron and his armies that I was thinking of.

It was my metaphoric heart, wounded and frightened, that screamed this line every time I tried to push myself past the hurt. No need to go into the cause – suffice to say, it was not a pleasant experience. It left me jumpy, terrified of my own shadow, distrustful of even my nearest and dearest.

Still, I wanted to be past that pain, beyond it, free of it. I purged the bulk of it into one novel – while a great step forward, it was only the first step in a long journey. I wanted to skip the journey and speed up time so that I could just be me and whole again. Of course, it takes time for such wounds to heal properly. In January of 2013, I wanted to be healed, right then.

I had begun revising and editing my third novel that same month- although a mystery, it was, at its core, also a story of that self-same metaphoric heart. I began with re-writing the ending, which at the time, was a Debbie Downer. I mean, it was sad and angry and hurt. It worked, it was a great ending, but it just didn’t work for the characters. So I re-wrote it with a much more upbeat and optimistic tone.

And this is where the heart imagery really began to show itself.

I kept finding places in Novel #3 to insert a new scene or flesh out an old one, or replace one altogether. I called the act cracking open the story. The image that came to mind was of the cracking open of the chest, as if for open heart surgery. Gruesome image, yes, but how else do you begin to repair an injured or broken heart? Looking back on it, that’s exactly what I was doing – prepping to repair and heal my heart.

At around the same time, I had also begun taking care of some horses, where I met an equine I came to call Best Bud Mare. Horses have, on more than one occasion, saved my soul. I would even go so far as to say that they have saved my life. Not in a dramatic fashion, the way Trigger or Silver or even The Black Stallion would, but in quiet and calming ways. They allowed me to just be, without demanding anything of me, which is what I so desperately needed. One even offered a shoulder for me to cry on when I was feeling overwhelmed with hurt and grief. I had never felt so loved than in that moment.

When I met Best Bud Mare and her equine companions, I was starting to come out of that space. I wasn’t ready to deal with people except in the most minimal of ways. I rarely left my house, except to see the horses. I remember I was wearing a crystal charm in the shape of a heart. One day, over the summer, the charm disappeared. I had literally lost my heart. I have no idea where or when. I noticed only that it had fallen off my necklace.

Converging on my third novel and my care-taking of horses, another passion, theater beckoned in the form of a question: “When are you going back to acting?”

To which I flippantly replied, “When I’m ready to put my heart back on my sleeve.”

And, after a couple of years and three plays, I am returning to the stage by deliberate choice and am currently in a local production of an Agatha Christie play. I also have my eye on another production, Shakespeare’s The Tempest as the powerful and humble sorcerer Prospero.

My heart is singing, my blood is racing and I have goosebumps every time I interact with my fellow actors on the stage as we rehearse.

I have followed my heart.

Follow yours and see where it leads.

So, there’s this writing page I follow…..

……..and someone was griping about the exercises being posted every day, saying that if he had the time to do the exercises (which are, in some cases, pretty detailed), then he would have the time to actually write, which is what he would rather do (the implication being that he did not have such time).

This is why it’s called ‘discipline’. You write whenever you can, wherever you are because you can’t NOT write. If you need huge chunks of time and no distractions in order to write, then you’re enamored of the idea of being a writer, with no intention of actually doing the hard work it entails. This applies to every artistic and creative pursuit, not just writing. Heck, it applies to just about anything that tickles your interest.

Stephen King and JK Rowling (to name the most obvious) wrote while struggling financially at menial, hard-labor jobs or while trying to find steady employment and surviving on assistance.

The point is, if you want to write, then write. Outlining your need for the perfect time and quantity of time is just a way to avoid committing to an indeterminate amount of time to create a world within a story.

And that’s the fear – commitment and looking inside yourself to see what monsters or angels lurk there.

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