When the holidays roll around, most people plan themed movie marathons to match the season. When it’s Halloween, it’s time for film with ghosts, monsters, cemeteries, or costume parties. I’m definitely one of those people because I already have a stack of DVD’s I’m ready to watch over and over again. Do people do the same for reading though?
When I think of a good fall book, I think of Ray Bradbury. I read “Something Wicked This Way Comes” for the first time in October when I was a freshman in college. I also remember reading “The October Country” around the same time partly because I was discovering how amazing Bradbury was and partly because those books fit the spirit of autumn so well.
Lately, I don’t have a lot of time to read for fun, which is why I’ve been turning to poetry and flash fiction. I want more short pieces that have something to do with either the autumn season or the spooky side of October. I recently read “October Coat” by Maggie Stiefvater and loved it. The first few paragraphs alone give this vivid and raw description of the essence of early October that I’ve been trying to capture in my own work.
I’ve noticed that a lot of poems I’ve written for class lately are about autumn because I’ve been craving that reading material. The novella I’m working on takes place in summer, but all I want to do is write about pumpkin patches, foggy mornings, chills in the air, and possibly a few haunted houses or abandoned carnivals. Although, taking a break from larger projects to play around with themes of the season can be wonderful writing practice and I have a problem with writing too much flash fiction in my spare time.
Do you have any favorite October readings and/or do you try to write for the season around this time of the year?
If you’re someone who loves to write, you can write almost anywhere at anytime. It doesn’t matter what the world may look like outside your window – maybe the sun is setting or just beginning to creep up over the horizon for a nice hello. Maybe the ground is buried beneath a pale, chilling glitter or mosquitoes and other insects cling to the window screen as you go into chapter 5. I can write all year round, but there’s still a certain type of weather that inspires me to do more. When I wake up in October to a brisk air drifting through my rain spattered window under an overcast sky, I must write. It’s the perfect weather for writing and it would be a shame to waste it.
I can’t explain what makes it so perfect, but I love it. There’s this cozy aspect of so it makes me want to stay curled up in my bed with the soft glow of my laptop. If this type of weather happens on a Sunday, even better because there’s nowhere I need to be. I’m free of obligations so I can immerse myself into typed stories. Sometimes I’ll even drive down to a coffee shop and grab a warm drink and a muffin to keep me going as I settle in for the morning. I feel a stronger connection to my characters and plot. Maybe it’s because I feel the most at peace during these rainy, October Sundays. They take my mind off anxieties and the news so I can place more focus on my passions. I can put more thought into the things that bring me joy.
I was going to wait until October to do this, but I’m in the Halloween spirit and it can’t be stopped. For the next seven weeks leading up to Halloween, I want to spend Wednesdays talking about my favorite movies to marathon during this spooky season. Not all of them are necessarily Halloween films, but they still capture that October nights essence for me. So who am I gonna call for #7? The 1984 hit, Ghostbusters!
Unlike most people my age, Ghostbusters wasn’t a part of my childhood. I didn’t see it until I was a junior in college, which was roughly four years ago. Still, I loved it when I first sat down to watch it on TV and after it was over I stayed on the couch to watch the sequel, which I also loved. The cast is a huge part in my admiration for the film given the immense talent they put together (Rick Moranis is a gift to the acting community). It’s difficult for me to watch this without being charmed by their characters in someway.
Ghostbusters may not be a scary movie for the Halloween season, but I don’t pick those kind of movies based on a scare factor. I like the more lighthearted, ghoulish movies over gore and horror. Ghostbusters is goofy for sure and by no means a masterpiece, but it has humor and heart. It doesn’t ask the audience to think too deeply, but it also doesn’t feel like mindless TV. It’s a creative piece complete with unique folklore for the spirits. In fact, if I have one solid critique, it would be that the film doesn’t spend enough time on the folklore.
Ghostbusters: It’s silly, filled with ghosts, and ends with a marshmallow man destroying the city.What’s not to love with this favorite?
Everyone knows that phrase uttered in every creative writing course. The famous, “write what you know.” This is solid advice for writers both new and experienced. My only problem is that people tend to take it at a face value. They assume they should only write about plots or settings that they know well. If that were the case, then fantasy and sci-fi wouldn’t exist. I doubt J. R.R. Tolkien truly experienced a trek to Mordor.
Writing what you know doesn’t always have to be a place. Sometimes putting qualities you see in yourself or those around you into your characters is writing what you know. Sometimes looking at the way people speak to one another or the way emotions are handled in times of stress or happiness is writing what you know. To create a character who breathes, it helps to be perceptive on the way real people think and act.
When I write, I tend to give my cast a few of my own flaws. This normally happens organically, but once I pick up on those characteristics I start to explore them. Since I know this trait firsthand, it becomes easier to write someone with the same faults or personality quirks.
I have a character I’m writing now who is a “golden boy.” He feels a great deal of pressure to make something of himself and he’s terrified of what will happen if he amounts to nothing. Yet, no one else in his personal life has placed this stress on him. His friends and family don’t care if he becomes someone important or not. Fame doesn’t mean much to any of them because they’re content with just finding happiness even if that means living a simple life. The sad thing is, he sees this and he understands this, but that stress just gnaws at him. He’s created this pressure himself and now he’s stuck with it.
This is an aspect of me. This is something I’ve gone through my whole life and am still dealing with. I just hope people find that rawness to the classic golden boy character. I know that when I fall in love with characters, I fall for ones who have this underlining realness to them.
When you write, don’t assume you’re tied to one place because you want to draw from your own life. Think about yourself. Think about the people you see everyday. Look at those characteristics and write them. Let your characters breathe.
Write what you know.
Hi everyone! It’s the first Friday of the month, which means it’s time for Adventures in Art! (Is this a cheesy title? I’m still trying things out). This is when I’ll post something art-related that I’ve been doing recently whether that be photography, painting, a craft, or poetry. I wrote this introduction poem for my first poetry class the other night and, since I have no intention of publishing it, I thought I’d share it with you all.
They say the Aries is strong
Brimming with courage and curiosity
I’m not much of an Aries
Despite silent words from silver constellations
I relate to the Taurus
Keeping myself down to earth
Where I’m content with the small successes
And enamored with adventure
With unfulfilled wanderlust
An amateur artist
Searching for simple serenity
I’m not the first person who has said this, but I need to say it to set the stage for this post. In this past year we’ve lost so many iconic figures to old age, disease, or tragic events. Why does it hit some of us more when we lose a celebrity or artist? Why do I feel so heartbroken at the loss of Gene Wilder? Why did I, someone who rarely sheds a tear, cry my eyes out after hearing the news of David Bowie’s passing? What causes that sting despite never knowing these people on a personal level?
I think it’s because most of us have grown up in a movie centered culture. Everyone remembers the Disney film they watched constantly as a kid or the first feature they saw in theaters. People associate movies with specific events or emotions. And when this happens, people become attached to the characters they see on screen, which is then extended into a connection with the actors behind them.
So when we lose people who were part of our childhoods or are associated with meaningful moments in our lives, we lose a piece of ourselves with them. They take a fragment of our nostalgia with them to the grave. On the night of Gene Wilder’s death, Twitter had hashtags trending for all of his works where people were posting quotes, pictures, and gifs from his films. They were desperate to hold onto the moments he made for them all because there was a bond present. These moments provided us with inspiration and hope. They sparked our creativity or made us laugh on a godawful day. And they stayed with us so in that way, we’re connected to these films. We’re connected to the people behind the curtain.
Then when we lose one of those icons we remember how nothing can be protected. We’re reminded that there’s a reality behind the screen where these actors are only human. They breathe. They create. They die.
But they aren’t lost. Those movies and songs still exist. Their presence is still with us, which makes us fortunate. All of those moments are just a click away if we need the comfort or the laugh after a bad day. We may have lost these figures in the real world, but their work hasn’t vanished. This world isn’t always pretty, but I say we hold onto the work these people have done so that we can keep learning from it. We can keep smiling from it. We can keep being inspired so that the world is never short on creative souls.
This post sounds and will be awfully geeky, but hear me out. No matter how many projects a writer might have going on, there is always time to work on improving their skill. After all, how can you master an art if you never take the time to practice it? One of the best things about writing is that there are a lot of creative ways to get better at it, and one of those ways is through fanfiction.
I’ll admit it, I wrote fanfiction when I was maybe 10 or 11 before I knew what it was. Then I grew older, learned it was a real thing, and kept my distance from it. I didn’t consider it real writing, and I already felt geeky enough so I didn’t want to add “fanfiction writer” to the list. That was until about a year ago when I wanted to try out different writing styles, but couldn’t come up with a good practice prompt. Normally, I’ll play around with flash fiction for this, but I wanted to work on generating short stories. Somehow fanfiction came to mind so for the first time in 14 years, I opened up a blank Word document and wrote one.
Oddly enough, it worked. The benefit of using this form as writing practice is that the characters and universe are already set up for you. Unless you want to practice worldbuilding, having an existing universe helps you focus more on style, voice, and general writing. Think of it like a prompt where the rest is already there for you. Now it’s easier to pinpoint areas you want to work on while having fun along the way.
The nice thing about fanfiction is that it means you’re revisiting a story you love, and all that reminiscing can bring forth forgotten inspiration. Maybe it will remind you how you fell in love with the narrative or what about that universe drew you in. Those tiny reminders take you back to where that creative inspiration is rooted. It also provides you a bit of fun because, if you’re anything like me, you take your main projects way too seriously sometimes. Fanfiction lets you play and have fun with writing again. It’s silly, but that’s what turns it into a great activity. You don’t have to take the pieces too seriously since it won’t be for publication, which opens up a lot of creative freedom.
So remember that old movie, book, or TV series you loved? Go write it. Have some fun while improving your art along the way!