Summer Write-A-Thon: 80 Days of Writing

This photo was taken last summer in Texas. That's me with a real dragonfly on my nose (I promise). I have been looking so very forward to my summer this year. I will be leaving beautiful Alabama to go back to Texas.

I have been thinking of what I'm going to do with all my extra time when I get there, and I've decided that I am going to write! I still have a ways to go to finish my second novel, so that is first on the agenda. But second to that, I have been thinking of doing a write-a-thon. I will write something (even if it's just a short poem) everyday for 80 days. I will then compile the pieces and have them published (mostly for myself), but if others are interested, I wouldn't mind selling them (affordably, of course) and donate the earnings to a charity.

I've been feeling so stifled because I have not been able to write like I would like to. It's been a tough past few months, and my schedule never seems to slow down. That's why I'm looking forward to some quiet time back in Texas.

These are my plans for the summer; what are yours?

What is a Poet?

I used the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of poet and developed it with my own thoughts. Here is what I come up with:

What is a Poet?

By: Vanessa K. Eccles

A person with an emphatic sense of wonder
with verses distinguished by unimaginable insight.
A work of utter inspiration.
A seer, sensitive to his/her surroundings.

A poet is one with forcible vision,
the remarkable power of imagination.
Never short in inventing creative worlds.
Never lacks words of expression.

A poet is a scientist
mixing formulas of words.
A person who captures moments
and releases them even more beautiful.

They are truth seekers,
looking for the striking.
They are master photographers,
turning 1,000 words to a line.

They are image producers
with the slash of a pen.
They are thought provoking,
keeping readers at wonder.

Can a poet be created?
With practice be invented?
They have an extraordinary eye,
one that sees the soul.
Poets are born.

A poet is a bird
with an unusual song.
You want to listen
and sing a long.

(C) Copyright 2011

My Indulgent Escape in Words

Wow! When I feel that I cannot get any more stressed, I always find out that I'm wrong. My professor told us today that we will have a speaking engagement on Wednesday night at a local trendy restaurant. I suppose that it will be sort of like a poetry slam. He's giving us two days to prepare. Thanks for the heads up [insert hint of sarcasm here].

The stress is mounting. I am having a really hard time keeping everything together these past two weeks. My life is going in every direction, and I'm finding it hard to keep up. My 15 credit hour schedule at school is slowly killing me. I have over-extended myself, and the only way to release my frustrations is through written words. It reminds me of that Babyface song (showing my age here) "Nobody knows it but me." But there is one other that knows; it's my notebook. The place where I spill my words and tears, sometimes.

Have you ever felt like no one could possibly understand you better than your pen and paper? I think all  writers feel this way at times.

I guess my question is - Is writing a form of escapism?

Do we, as writers, tend to use our forms of expression as ways to escape from the often times painful worlds that we live in? Most people rely on video games, music, or television to escape, but we rely on our over-indulgence of words. When I get bored or upset with my own life, I simply dive into Lizzie's or Sophie's life (the MCs in my novels). I can't get away fast enough, and I find myself thinking about them when I know that I should be thinking of other things.

 It's an interesting thing- the mind of a writer. There are always multiple worlds in our minds, and it's not hard for us to escape into them. Does this then blur the lines of reality for us? Okay, now I'm getting deep. I shall save that conversation for a later date.

Anyway, when you are down and out, do you turn to ice-cream and television or a beautiful white piece of paper (screen)? Maybe this is a good way to tell how serious your writing obsession has become. I know my answer, what's yours?

Research and Writing

What a week! I have been avidly working on a research paper for my Shakespeare class for a week and a half now. I had to read an entire book, spend countless hours looking up information, and writing and re-writing.

It reminded me of all the research I did when I was writing my first book. The novel took place in 1880, so I had to look up everything. I needed to know how they dressed and talked. I needed to know popular names for the time period. I also needed to know what were popular professions. I even had to know how Lizzie would have worn her hair in order to note every detail. Whatever ideas I had about my characters had to fit in with the truth about society during that time.

I had notes on random sheets of paper, in several differnt notebooks, and even a few on a computer file. The entire process became total chaos. It's a lot harder to write what you don't know, but it's so much fun learning about the world that you are hoping to create.

When you were in college, were research papers fun or torture? For me, it depends on what I'm writing about. I love to try and bring up something new and unusual and then argue my point. But it has to be something I'm passionate about. I think it's the same way with novels. We have to be passionate about our projects, enough to work on them diligently, day and night, until every last detail is figured out.

That brings me to my question - Do writers have to become professional researchers?

Plot, Theme, Summary - And all that complicated stuff...

Hello everyone! This is going to be a quick post. I am currently writing a monster of a research paper that has kept me confined to the books all weekend.

Anywho - Happy Monday!

I have been inspired by some Shakespeare this week. Okay, well... not really Shakespeare but a Shakespeare assignment. My professor asks us to fill out play checklists after reading each play. I think that some of these questions are perfect for creative writing.

When we are planning to write a short story, novella, or novel, we need to be able to answer the following questions quickly.

  1. Who are the impact characters of your story?
  2. What is the main setting and time period of your story?
  3. What are the thematic concerns?
  4. What is the plot?
  5. What is the summary of the story?
After answering these questions, we also need to be able to break the summary up into major events. This creates a working outline.

  1. The Beginning
  2. The first major event/problem
  3. The climax/the most important major event
  4. Another major event/problem
  5. Conclusion
This outline should be pretty easy to sum up if you've thought a lot about your story. You should also be able to reflect and answer these questions for anything that you've written in the past. Of course, this outline can become really complicated when you get to longer pieces (esp. novels).

Answering these questions can help us focus our thoughts about our stories, before ever beginning to write. Ideas will develop more throughout the writing process, but it's good to know where you're going and how you plan on getting there.

I plan on posting more about all of these things in the future. These are the rocks in the foundation of our writing, and we don't need to take them lightly.

Hopefully, this is an exercise that you can use to help focus your writing. I know it sure is helping me.

Read you later. :)