The Mighty Pen

I’ll be leaving on a second vacation on August 1st. Yes, I know I may be spoiled, especially seeing as I am not really looking forward to it. I won’t be able to write a thing for a week for the second time in two weeks – which may be the most confusing sentence ever. The point is that last time, it turned out that my laptop did not save any of my writings. It was all lost, maybe due to failure of Google Drive or of the laptop itself – I have no idea, all I know is that I did use Control + S. I probably won’t be taking my laptop this time, as it would be completely useless.

However, this leaves room for the mighty old pen and paper. Some writers say that every great novel should be written on actual paper with an actual pen. It is said to stimulate the creative mind to actually hold something. I am not sure how much of that is true, but it definitely is a nice theory. Sometimes it just feels good to actually see your creations on paper, almost like it could be an actual book. Still, I can see the drawbacks to it. Personally, my hand writing is horrible. I generally cannot decipher what I have written the day before unless I can remember what it is supposed to say. While I would like to applaud the professors who have to read my disastrous hand writing, I don’t think I should do the same to myself. I do like writing on paper, but afterwards I still would have to type it over. Also, I am too messy of a person to be trusted with important documents on a vacation – and yes, to me my stories are very important documents. Every time I lose what I have written, I just want to give up. I like my first drafts most and am not going to write that first draft a second time.

I am sorry for the rant, but I was wondering if there are any writers out there who still do it the old-fashioned way. Who still uses the mighty pen and paper?

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My Sources of Inspiration, Part V: Boredom

This might be a terrible idea, but one of my main sources of inspiration is boredom. To be honest, I do not have that much going on in my life. Yes, I will be moving out in two weeks, but for now, I am stuck in my home town where I am supposed to study for my exams. I definitely study for them, but that does not take that much time. In fact, I have way too much freedom at the moment. While it is amazing not to have to show up at university for days, it also can get quite tedious when you are all on your own. Coupled with depression, it makes for long-winded days. No parties, no hanging out – everyone is studying back in our university city (well, it is only 15 minutes away, but they are too busy). Still, this boredom works as an amazing source of inspiration for me. Looking at pictures at the Internet is not all that interesting anymore after a week. By then, I want to actually do something. Being bored is what gets my mind racing. It makes me dream of the most horrifying tales I could ever come up with. While my life seems a little empty right now, my mind itself is full of life. Maybe it’s because of my studies, but I am starting to doubt that; translation philosophers are not the most interesting people when you try to write stories on aliens, vampires and urban legends. I love urban legends, let that be clear. Today, I spent most of my time looking up shadow people and black eyed kids, just because I could. My boredom is forcing me to spend my time doing things, whether it is external or internal research. The gears are turning. I am ready for anything.

Why I – excuse me – suck at grammar

Today I had to take an exam on the English grammar, consisting of multiple choice and grammar improvement questions. This might seem crazy for someone aspiring to become a writer in the English language, but I have a feeling that this test did not go well. I suck at grammar – or most precisely, at its rules.

The past participle and the gerund are about the same. The epistemic and the deontic modal sound the same – but they are not, because right now I’m looking them up at Wikipedia. Thankfully I am able to distinguish the present perfect continuous and the present continuous.

While I love making posts about the rules of writing, I am not the kind of person that typically sticks to these rules. Whatever I do is based on whatever feels right. Thus, whenever I write in English, I go with whatever seems fitting. However, that is sadly not the way exams work. As a student, I am supposed to know the exact rules, and not just be able to use them. I love writing. I love studying English. I do not love studying an excessive amount of rules that nobody has ever heard of. Sadly, I should have seen this coming. It is my own fault to choose to study a subject like this. Let’s just hope I did not fail the exam.

My History of Writing, Part III: One Bridge Too Far

At one point in my life, I dreamt of being a fantasy writer like Tolkien. A tad arrogant, perhaps, seeing as he was the father of the epic fantasy. I knew I would never become as famous, eloquent or imaginative as he was, but I loved his world. That was the part I aspired to recreate.

All of my free time I spent on inventing a world: places, languages, songs, culture, animals, gods and people. I felt strongly attached to the world I had created, but there was one problem: I had gathered so many ideas that I had no idea where to start, what was important to the story and if I really needed so many characters. There were three continents, twelve gods, around fifteen villages and a countless number of characters.

My main character was a seventeen-year-old who had been taking from his home country as a young boy because his sisters decided to flee from their fate as princesses and take their brother with them. The sisters died, my main character ended up in an adoption family at the other side of the world. He also had gotten the task from one of the gods to restore the world’s religion. There was too much information. I knew everything about the character himself, but the story seemed to be lacking a thread. It was meant to be epic fantasy, so I made the boy visit every single village. A story was connected to every single one of them. Most of these had absolutely nothing to do with the plot.

Soon, I was out of inspiration. I could no longer stand writing about the countless fights between my main character and his adoption family. I could not get a hold of all of the family trees. Everything in the story was meant to be connected… But it was not. In fact, it turned out to be nothing but a 110.000 word rigmarole. By that number, I mean the word count at the moment I decided I could no longer do it. It was just half of the story, though. Then I gave up. I spent at least two years of my life trying to figure out every single detail of the story, before coming to the conclusion I did not even enjoy it anymore.

Maybe it was too much for fifteen-year-old me. I did not even like writing for my target audience – teenagers like myself – so I wonder why I ever thought this was a good idea. This is how I ended up wanting to become an author of children’s fiction. Small, compact stories with a lot of fun and action seemed much more interesting than writing down page long arguments that never seemed to end. Now, when my characters fight, it is actually fun. I have learned my lesson: world building may have been amazing, but writing epic fantasy was not meant for me at all. In the end, the choices that we make in life shape the path that lies ahead.