Making Time

Demanding Yoga Mat is demanding
                                                       Demanding Yoga Mat is demanding

There is a yoga mat calling my name. There is also a nearly completed manuscript, a publishing deadline, a birthday for an ever growing kid/adult in my house, and mountains of housework calling my name.
I considered changing my name to “Hey” just to make things easier. or “Bass Fishing in the United States” to make things more difficult. In the end I chose to set everything on a schedule of sorts. My schedule may consist of many ishes. like 9-ish, 10-ish, etc. but I get points for a schedule right?
I know meditation and yoga are good for my overall thinking and mood. I also know that if I don’t do things, they don’t get done. So for now the Yoga mat is begging, the birthday boy gets priority, and the rest is still on a deadline I didn’t create.
I am in the process of making time, finding twenty minutes to meditate is not difficult and I am deluding myself to think otherwise. I will become the master of my time management. Migraines or not, things have to be completed. So for now I will include a picture of the yoga mat while it is still yelling, and a second picture of the less demanding but oh so good salt water taffy.

Sweet innocent Taffy
                                                                              Sweet innocent Taffy
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Writing in New Bohemia

There is a major disconnect in the writer world. Drugs and drinking are held up like some sort of magic ladder to becoming famous. Growing up you are told the funny side of a famous old writer who wrote a masterpiece while on LSD. I see writers still trying to emulate this. There really is another way.

I found a magic fountain, it isn’t a new one, it was just new to me. I began doing Yoga and Meditation this summer. I still feel the writer pains, I still feel the demoralization of critics, trolls, and well meaning advice. The magic comes in by choosing to change my natural default setting. When I meditate I work on my self, not on the forces I can’t control. People are going to hate what I write. I can’t change that. Instead I work with what I can. I look at what they say, break it down to what they are really saying between the curses. Then I meditate or do yoga depending on how much I am worked up.

Writing comes from emotions. Sometimes, this leads to something beautiful. Even the happiest stories often come from a place of pain and wishing. The writer loses someone close to them. They write a story of redemption where their character defeats the odds that took the person they loved. The reader is overjoyed with the story of hope. They may never know the real story that is behind it. Most readers won’t even care.

Letting life happen, however it will, isn’t easy but it is simple. The only pain that reach you, is the one you let in. Things will happen. People will betray you. Acceptance is key. You need to let things come. How you deal with them is the only way they really can affect you. Write from your heart, write from your pain, write from any emotion that pushes you. Don’t let the pain become you, leave it on the page. No one will buy your story of every character dying, unless you magically became Shakespeare. There is too much perceived and real pain in the world. We as writers have a duty to take our pain and finding the outside perspective to find some kind of silver lining. The reader deserves to feel better by the end of the stories we write.

Putting Yoga and meditation into my life changed my writing. It has created a new atmosphere. I am able to write more prolifically. I have even found time to sleep again after years of insomnia. There is a reason so many writers are called Bohemian. It isn’t about becoming a poor artist. It is about the mind of the artist taking life’s pain and transforming it into a positive energy.

I am not sharing this because I am all-knowing. I am not an expert. I am only sharing what works for me.

Disconnect

Disconnect

Disconnect
                          Shhhhhh

Turn off your phone. This sounds like a simple thing to do. Yet so many of us allow social everything invade our already engaged brains. I don’t mean turn the ringer down, I mean turn it off! I turned off my phone and my kindle (which annoyingly announces every time someone poops on Facebook) Down time is the hallmark of a good writing environment.

I have 3 children, they all have important needs every fifteen minutes. I have a beautiful wife, who loves to talk about what celebrity did what or whom. I hang a sign on the refrigerator, I hang a sign next to my office. Sadly my office has no door so that doesn’t help. Over time though they have all learned that creative time is important for my good mood as much as anything else. Allow yourself to disconnect for a while. You will be thankful you did and stand back and be amazed at what you did all by yourself.

When You Write Something Well

Charles Colp
When You Write Something Well

I used to ask the question “How do I know when I have written something really well?” I was lost and it seemed all of the people that I looked up to for guidance couldn’t answer that question. Today I stumbled on not just the answer for me, but also the reason why none of my teachers could answer that question. 

I was re-reading last weeks updates to my story, so I could get back in the groove, after taking an uncharacteristic weekend off from writing. I was half-way through the weeks work, when I caught myself laughing out loud to something one of my characters said. I have explained before, in another post, that I do create the characters but after that, I let them react naturally to their situation, environment, and history. That is why I rarely take credit for something witty my characters say, because I feel like it is exactly how that person would have reacted. 

I finally got the feeling that has alluded me for so long. I was able to temporarily live in that world with them. I was able to feel the confusion one of my characters must have been going through. I felt my work as I read it. It is one of the greatest feelings as a writer. 

When I told my wife about my a-ha moment, she looked at me as if I were slow. My wife is an amazing artist and I marvel at how effortless she makes it look to paint a scene, draw a person, sketch a thought, or even capture a feeling on canvas. If I had asked an artist, my epiphany would probably not have shocked me as much at three A.M. This is common knowledge for them, and taught on day one.

I took this new information and went back to read some old work from my teacher’s. It didn’t take long for me to realize not only is the definition of “writing well” fluid, it is subjective. The more I read, the more sad I became. I couldn’t find the spark in any of their writings. They used perfect form, a wide scope of imagery and base description, and interestingly complex plots. All of this perfection, and yet, the stories were flat. Many of the characters felt ramrodded into place to provide the perfect foil for the main character to get an idea across. In the end, the sad truth of why they couldn’t answer me was that they didn’t know either. 

I know each of them could pick the bones clean from anything I write, and I welcome them to do it. I am terrible at using correct punctuation, using tropes from time to time, and references only a few would get. So I will never be an editor. Instead I will create, and let my characters do what they must. 

If Only For A Little While

Many are asking why, many more truly don’t get depression. Depression and sadness do not come from the same source. Sadness dries up in the creek bed. Depression is a torrential river.
Speaking from experience, the best you can ever do is make yourself a pest. Making the depressed laugh makes you feel better. It does nothing for depression. Depression is a grave you dug for yourself to not burden others. The best thing a true friend can do is let you get mired down but sternly refuse to let you pull the dirt on top of yourself. Just be there when you are truly needed
Charles colp

Office Space

Setting up your work space can be as important as your plot lines. When I first started writing I took my laptop where ever I could find to be able to write in peace. I was usually uncomfortable and the writing was some of the most challenging. Not because the writing was so well thought out, because I was not in my own place. The first thing I did was get on Ebay and bought a big monitor. I had to compensate for my ultraportable laptop having such a tiny screen. I use a dell business class laptop, this way I can use a docking station like companies do and get the benefits of a desktop and still have it portable when I need it. 

Charles Colp
Large Monitor to reduce eye strain

 

I have found that using a monitor this size, I can turn the brightness to it’s lowest settings and reduce eye strain dramatically. Next up was my keyboard. I had to have something Mechanical. It had to sound and feel good when I typed on it. The programmable keys were just a plus. 

Charles Colp
Razor Blackwidow 2013 Mechanical keyboard.

 

I love the back-lighting and the responsive touch of the keys. The macros that let me program repetitive steps are nice as well. 

Next I found a mouse that was also programmable. It is nice to have a laser mouse that lets you assign copy and paste functions to certain buttons. Even better with this mouse is those assignments are only active when I am running specific programs.

Charles Colp
Logitech Laser Mouse

And the last thing I needed for my mini desk was something for focus. I love my jasmine candles and have several. I always wait for a sale on them and stock up when I can. It works for me, everyone is different. One of my friends uses a bonzai tree. This just happens to be my happy item on the desk. 

Charles Colp
Jasmine Candle for mood

Are any of these things necessary? Probably not. But they seem to make the writing process much more about the writing than the process. Everyone will have their own. I was asked by a friend what I used and thought I would share. 

Happy Writing,

Charles Colp

 

Changes

Charles Colp
Changes

As the long editing work on my first “Sprite” novel continues, I have been forced to realize some changes were needed. I am doing research for my third Sprite Series story, rebuilding my online network, and working on better themed photos for each part of Sprite as I write them.

To say I am stretching myself thin is an understatement. I would also like to say, I would have it no other way. You will be seeing some minor changes here including a menu change that will take you to my other works. I will separate each property by the type of content. I will have my 5 day per week serial work on one site, my random short stories on another, My personal life blogging on yet another. I will also include my social sites in easy to use links including my Tumblr, twitter, and Google Plus. I hope everyone finds what they want to read easily with my new structure. This site will remain about my thoughts on the writing life and so you should see no thematic changes in the posts. (well except this one) Thank you to everyone who has taken time to participate in my writing life. I will always do my best to remain thoughtful of others, mindful of context, and protective of personal feelings. No hate here, just writing for the love of writing.

Have a wonderful day!

Charles Colp

Mistakes Were made

Suspension of disbelief can only carry you so far in any genre. I found a problem with one of my stories and it was a complete breakdown of how a normal human being would act in a given situation. I am working on correcting it now, though it took ten complete read-throughs before I figured out what had bothered me about the story. If someone is in pure panic mode, no matter how rational they are normally, Panic mode always wins. My character was doing things he would normally do. The problem with that, was nothing was normal for him. It took the character out of the immediacy of the situation and the hind-brain reactionary response that he should have been wrapped in. I will have this correct before post editing is complete but it is really bugging me now. I so badly want to stop my editing and go back to see if this is a recurring problem for my writing style, or just a one-off issue. 

I will keep editing against my urge to check right now, and yes it will eat at me. I must remain focused though. Deadlines are looming, and my nearly week long migraine truly put me behind. I will not let it be an excuse though. I will just work longer hours and put more dedication into the current project and make it seem as though it was simple. 

That will also go against my nature, I like being transparent in my writing. I like admitting to mistakes and allowing other writers, like my son, know that it is OK to make mistakes. It is not OK to let them go to a published work. My hope is that through it all, I am able to inspire someone to become the next great writer. In the meantime, here is some peace and tranquility from my area. Cows in a pasture, just being cows.

Charles Colp
Mistakes Were Made

Character development

I had a recurring dream. It pointed out that I really should save the prince, or princess, from a bad fate. Even though in my dream the cost kept escalating. Are we inherently teachers? Doomed to live the same grade in school, seeing the same mistakes, helpless to only help the situation in hopes that the person learns. Is the story more importantly if we grow, or that we teach others to grow.
Being a writer, you hope your message rings true and others learn from it. So are we all doomed? Do we learn and move on? Ignoring the plight of the ones falling into that same trap. Saving the world and teaching goes hand in hand with writing. We want our characters to grow like children. Do we hold their hands in rescue?
Charles Ryburn Colp