To Write or Not to Write…

I think sometimes writing is especially hard because you want to say things that you’re not sure anyone else wants to hear.  And I don’t mean wondering things like, “maybe people don’t care about my dead cat…” or “maybe people aren’t interested in hearing me complain about how horrible my life is right now…” (shocker there).  No, what I’m talking about are small, snapshot instances, the fleeting, nitty-gritty details that somehow manage to make our lives profound.

It’s that moment when you realize your mother really did know what she was talking about when she told you growing up is hard.

Or that instant you finally understand something somebody said to you when you were eight.

Or that amazing epiphany when you get the “perfect” idea for something.

Or the lovely moment when you realize someone is going to become a new close friend.

Feeding readers the stories behind each of these situations feels wrong somehow… like we’re pulling the screen of privacy a little too far aside.  Or like we’ve finally crossed the line between putting ourselves into our writing, and becoming the writing.

Because in some ways, it’s good to “become” your writing – at least, in the sense that you put some of yourself into every piece that you write.  But here’s the question: how far do you go?  How far can you go?  Where is that line?

It’s so irresistible – that urge to tell someone every detail of an experience you’re passionate about.  It’s an urge that stems from a desire to share a special moment with someone who is also willing to share those moments with you.  But can we ever successfully project those desires onto our readers?  I mean, can we ever write that kind of piece successfully, without regrets?

I think I’m going to argue (for the most part, anyway) no.  Because no matter how many of our readers might know us personally, no matter how much our readers may enjoy our writing, and no matter how comfortable we may feel exposing our private lives to complete strangers, the fact still remains: some moments are all the sweeter savored in silence.

Music: Move Me, Mark Me

From poems about music itself, to poems about the emotions evoked by a certain song, to pieces written with lyrical description, music has always been my #1 inspiration.  It has prompted my best pieces, my best lines, my best phrases, and even when I write non-creative pieces (like essays and research papers), listening to music while I write never fails to help me find the best ideas and compose my best work.

“sometimes I wonder what it is
beneath my ribs
that beats and flutters so
and rises with the words
of a crooning song
         the lyrics a cry for freedom
         the notes a bid for flight”

“I have become nothing but a helpless instrument of emotion tied to the beautiful music of the world with ribbons of scarlet and cobalt hue, strong as the chords of love and agony, and just as vivid.”

“…the music dances with wild abandon
among my wandering, delirious thoughts…

it rushes past the blued shards
of my tattered consciousness,
caressing them with a feathery touch as it goes by,
bringing the song to my lips
and I sing, sing for all the world to hear,
the sound in my throat bubbling with the beauty
of a writhing, twirling, forgotten art.

the perfection of its grace spins webs
of cobalt and ebony in the shadowed recesses
and craggy caves that wind through my skull,
weaving the bright ribbons of sound
through my very  b  e  i  n  g ...”

 “…if only I could lose myself
in the twirling play of the baby arpeggios
and breathe the pure beauty of their intricate song,
in that place where the only emotions
are the ones evoked by the crying melodies
and wistful harmonies that sing to me
as they carry my soul to the wavering edge
of their mysterious realm, which rests
between our world of tangible reality
and that realm where the stars  v  i  b  r  a  t  e
and the moon can hum.” *

Getting inspiration to write isn’t the only reason why I love music, though.  I’ve loved to sing ever since I was little, and even though I took piano lessons for a few years and violin for a few weeks in elementary and middle school, singing is the only music form that I’ve ever truly loved to do.  I’ve often thought that if I didn’t love writing as much as I do, I would have pursued a career in music.  Actually, I’ve often wished I had the time in my college schedule to squeeze in a music minor.

I’m sure it’s already abundantly clear through my posts, but I have an intense passion for art, and I count music and writing as two of the most beautiful forms of art there are.  For me, writing and music are not just hobbies or career choices; they are things that define me.  I wouldn’t be who I am if either one of them wasn’t in my life, and I know for a fact that my content and style of writing would be drastically different if music was not such an enormous influence on me.

I won’t go into who my favourite music artists are right now because that question alone has an answer big enough to fill its own post, but you can be sure it will be coming in the near future!  One thing you’ll come to understand about me is that when I get excited about something, it’s hard for me NOT to share it with others.  I love introducing people to the things I love so that they can come to love them too!

So what are your biggest inspirations?  What kind of music do you like to listen to and what role does music (in general) play in your life? I’m very interested to hear your answers, so tell me in the comments below!

 

*Each of these quotes are excerpts from pieces of my creative writing (though there are many more examples of music showing up in my writing than just these four examples!).  If you would like to read the whole pieces these quotes came from, just ask me and I’ll send you the links!  Or you can just wait for me to feature them in my Creative Writing posts (:

Inspiration Feature

Well, seeing as it’s time for my weekly post and I’ve had some trouble finding inspiration this week, I thought I’d do a feature post about a few artists whose work never fails to inspire me! You may be the type of person who gets inspired by things other than visual art and writing done by others, but those two things happen to be 2 of my top 5 inspirations (the other three are music, movies/TV and nature).  As I’m sure most of you know, my main writing social-networking site is mistressofquills.deviantart.com, and I’ve found it to be (among other things) a gold mine full of amazing visual artists and writers who create breathtaking artwork. Some of these people have become my friends, and others I simply “watch” in order to get notifications when they post new work.  Either way, I’ve found and met an enormous number of incredibly talented people, so I thought I’d introduce some of them to you!  (Side note: all these people go by usernames on DeviantART, so that’s what I’ll use to refer to them. I’ll provide links to all their profiles, too.)

First up is “Ninjatic,” a digital artist who paints beautiful landscapes and settings, as well as fantasy creatures and characters (ninjatic.deviantart.com).  Here are a few examples of his work:

misty_mountains_by_ninjatic-d6lksii substrata___unexpected_quest_by_ninjatic-d6ggoi6 substrata___until_then____by_ninjatic-d6opcqw substrata___a_visit_from_an_old_friend_by_ninjatic-d6nv871

Next is “Rona-Keller,” a skilled photographer who captures her images with warm colors and interesting concepts (rona-keller.deviantart.com).  Here are just a few examples of her work:

autumn_is_for_going_out_there_by_rona_keller-d6nue60 someone_like_you_by_rona_keller-d6btki6 thinking_back_by_rona_keller-d6rnoq4 traces_of_the_seasons_to_come_by_rona_keller-d66a8d6

AlectorFencer” is a professional digital artist whose work includes intricately detailed fantasy creatures and characters, as well as some beautiful leatherwork (alectorfencer.deviantart.com).

story_time_by_alectorfencer-d5h7ntv Fireplay_by_AlectorFencer morning_by_alectorfencer-d5j2m5s we_are___friends_by_alectorfencer-d5x1ife

Next is one of my favourite writers on DeviantART, “colbalt-rain” (colbalt-rain.deviantart.com).  She is an amazing writer with a talent for identifying with her reader even when the circumstances she’s describing might not be something the reader had experienced.  She captures ideas and concepts in her poetry that resonate with the reader in a very compelling and vivid way.  A few of my favourite poems by her include:

  1. “breaking a writer’s heart.” (colbalt-rain.deviantart.com/art/breaking-a-writer-s-heart)
  2. “adults.” (colbalt-rain.deviantart.com/art/adults)
  3. “red leaves and Robert Frost” (colbalt-rain.deviantart.com/art/red-leaves-and-Robert-Frost)
  4. and “bodies like star systems.” (colbalt-rain.deviantart.com/art/bodies-like-star-systems).

Please take a moment to read a piece or two of her work!  You won’t regret it! (If you only have time for one, read “breaking a writer’s heart” (: It’s my personal favourite!)

Next is “PixieCold,” a traditional-style visual artist whose paintings are creative and colorful as well as unique and beautiful (pixiecold.deviantart.com).  She also does some amazing make-up art!  Here are just a few pieces of her work:

goddess_of_galaxy__original_on_sale__by_pixiecold-d6g5j0k pale_moon_by_pixiecold-d5ynuxj sunken_treasure_by_pixiecold-d5miq94 the_last_snow_by_pixiecold-d5z82m4

Another of my favourite DeviantART writers is “DearPoetry” (dearpoetry.deviantart.com).  Her ability to write is breathtaking – one moment you find yourself reading a poem, and the next, you find yourself being pulled away into an impression or feeling or environment where all you can sense is what she’s describing to you.  Her use of language is (in my opinion) exquisite.  My favourite poems by her include:

  1. “Writer Scars” (dearpoetry.deviantart.com/art/Writer-Scars)
  2. “Dear Poetry,” (dearpoetry.deviantart.com/art/Dear-Poetry)
  3. “9729 kilometers away, to be exact.” (dearpoetry.deviantart.com/art/9729-kilometers-away-to-be-exact)
  4. and “Poetry,” (dearpoetry.deviantart.com/art/Poetry).

Be sure to read some of her work!  (Especially “Writer Scars” and “Dear Poetry” – I can’t choose which one is my favourite!)

My last visual artist to show you is “tachit,” a digital artist who works primarily with fantasy characters and landscapes (tatchit.deviantart.com).  Here are just a few pieces of his art:

and_time_stopped_by_tatchit-d5qjdzw for_mom_by_tatchit-d4zslwn heart_attack_by_tatchit-d6l9o6l keres_by_tatchit-d6jdwra

I hope this (really) long post was interesting and helpful, especially for those of us looking for inspiration!  There are hundreds, thousands even, of talented artists and writers that I couldn’t mention on DeviantART, and if this is a well-accepted post, I may do another in the future… especially for those of you who aren’t familiar with DeviantART! Anyway, let me know if this was helpful and if you would like to see similar posts in the future!  Also, tell me: what inspires you the most?  As always, thanks for reading!

What Exactly IS a Feature?

We go through school constantly being taught how to write an essay: start with the introduction, come up with a thesis, the body should be such-and-such a length, the conclusion restates the thesis, start out broad and then get specific, support your thesis with strong points, prove your points and don’t just state them, blah blah blah, etc. etc. etc.  Somewhere in that time, some of us decided we didn’t like writing and reading very much, so we became scientists and mathematicians and doctors.  The rest of us read more than we had to and wrote more than we had to – and we discovered we liked it.  We liked reading and writing outside our schoolwork, and we had the desire and ambition to try our hand at other forms of writing than the all-important essay.

So we discovered story and poetry.  And with story, we began to experiment and learn and discover.  We started to develop our very own style and voice, often incorporating and emulating the kinds of techniques we admired in the styles of our favourite authors and favourite books.  We wrote stories and dabbled in poetry and created characters and designed settings and worked on our description skills.

We might not have been taught how to do all these things, but we learned along the way through endless trial and error, and eventually, we discovered how to write a story.

Now we know how to write essays and stories.

 

 

So writing a feature poses a problem.

At least, it did for me.  I hope I wasn’t just speaking for myself earlier, but that’s basically how I learned how to write: I was taught how to write an essay, and discovered story-writing basically all on my own (I don’t count the occasional assignment to “write a story about this historical figure” or “write your own version of your assigned literature reading for today”).

By the time I got to this Magazine and Feature Writing class, I could probably write an essay in my sleep.    (. . . Well, I could at least tell you HOW to write an essay in my sleep.)  And I already “write” stories in my sleep (I often get inspiration from dreams).  So when I was told to mix the two in a completely new form of writing called a “feature,” I was completely at a loss.  How do you combine research AND creative writing AND somehow include an unspoken but clear and specific point?  I understood that that’s what a feature is, but I was utterly confused as to how I was supposed to balance all three elements into a piece that sounded (at least somewhat) like the examples I had read.

As a result, it took me an absurdly long time to gather my research, figure out how to fit it together with my storytelling, AND weave in my underlying point.  I won’t say it’s the hardest piece of writing I’ve done, but it definitely stumped me for longer than any other piece of writing has since high school.

Please don’t misunderstand: I am not trying to say that anybody failed to teach me what I needed to know for this assignment, nor am I saying that I should have been taught this information any sooner than now.  Actually, I love to be challenged, and learning things that are completely new to me gets me excited about continuing to improve my own writing and field of experience.  This piece just happened to be especially difficult for me to figure out.

If you would like to read my full feature, I’ve posted it here: http://mistressofquills.deviantart.com/art/Fighting-to-Fit-In-408119218  Please note: if you want to comment or critique my piece, you have to make an account on that site in order for me to see it, or you could just post your comment here instead.  Thanks for reading!

Visual and Found Poetry – Do They Count?

One thing I’ve often wondered in all the time I’ve been writing poetry is whether Visual and Found Poetry count as legitimate forms of writing…  I don’t deny that these pieces of art are both beautiful and artistic, but do they qualify as poetry, or should they be defined as a type of visual art instead of a form of writing?  Visual poetry (similar to “concrete poetry”) is when an artist (for lack of a better term) uses other artistic means to augment the meaning and impact of his words:

phantoms_by_adorkablexbabyxwhale-d5920oz (http://www.deviantart.com/art/Phantoms-317541635)

Found poetry is a little different: it’s when an artist takes a piece of writing by someone else and picks choice words out of the text to make a new poem.  In essence, they’re using the words of someone else to create their own art:

the_wind_by_mel_face-d3iqkt9

(http://www.deviantart.com/art/The-Wind-212871645)

One specific form of Found Poetry that I find particularly intriguing is called “Title Poetry.”  The artist takes the titles of a number of pieces of artwork (usually but not necessarily pieces of writing) and arranges them in a particular order so that the author creates their own meaning (usually adding small words here and there to make it flow better, such as “and,” “or,” “the,” or “but,” etc.).  I’ve never written any of these forms of poetry, but I’ve read quite a lot of them; I’ve found that while some artists can structure these kinds of pieces so that it really sounds as if they composed the whole thing themselves, many others only succeed in gathering a collection of poetic vocabulary and fail to actually compose a meaningful poem with them:

Destiny bought me a drink

(http://ninquetari.deviantart.com/art/Destiny-bought-me-a-drink-364666837)

Should such pieces of art be classified as poetry?  Certainly they are both forms of art that use more than raw words to create meaning and make their point, so can they really be defined as writing?  I think some writers (James Joyce being a prime example) would argue that the aesthetics of a text matter a great deal – that they enhance the meaning behind what was written and help the author to communicate his intent.  But is this what they meant by “the aesthetics of the text”?

run_away_with_me__by_dearpoetry-d5d1sxy

(http://dearpoetry.deviantart.com/art/Promises-to-Monsters-324250054)

I think many other writers would argue that Visual and Found Poetry are not forms of true literature because they use too much visual help to augment the meaning of their words.  It can be argued, then, that “true literature” is writing that can stand on its own without the help of any extra visual aid.  Oh, and “found poetry” is just plagiarism.

reality_by_jay_cougar-d54ef2t

(http://www.deviantart.com/art/Reality-309722069)

But what do you think?  Can you “pick a side,” or do you have your own perspective on the subject?  I would love to hear about all your thoughts in the comments!

My Creative Writing: Poetry

Finally I’m getting to show you some poetry that isn’t ancient history!  I feel like I’ve come a long way in improving my poetry since I started writing it regularly, so it’s nice to look not-so-far-back and feel good about the quality of these pieces.  Today’s poem is one that I wrote in March, called “I Never Said I Was Ordinary.”  As always, I would really appreciate comments about the poem’s quality – what works and what doesn’t?  Does the meter flow well?  Do the images make sense/ are they clear to you?  Do the rhymes work?  Is it too long/ are there parts you think are unnecessary?  Thanks for reading!

 

I Never Said I Was Ordinary

you look at me as if there are stars in my eyes
blinding you with an unknown brilliance~
at least, unknown to me.

you say I don’t know it, but that I am wise
and I push you to the limits of resilience,
though I am too far gone to see.

you say the glimmer in my heart
shows itself in my written art,
yet I can’t see what it is I write,
as though my mind takes flight.

for though you see an innate beauty in me,
I only see what my eyes perceive~
if that is truth, then so be it.

I only see the world in its reality
with all the pain of humanity it can conceive
and the fleeting beauty within it.

my mind roams amongst the sea mist,
floating like a bird o’er the water, sun kissed
so yes, my eyes take on the absence
and glimmer with the reflection hence.

you say I am noble, radiating poise,
that I show a dignity born of confidence –
if I do, it was born of a once profound disquiet.

you say my voice is light and lilting, a sweet noise,
that my words leave you listening in suspense,
but I only hear the beauty of the still and quiet.

my dear, I am simply crying to the moon,
aching to sigh and sing and croon,
my voice rising with the song of a faery –
for, my love, I never said I was ordinary.

The Writer as an Artist

How would you describe a writer?  What definition would you give?  “Someone who puts thoughts and ideas into words,” perhaps?  Or maybe “someone who creates stories” or even “someone who can express themselves through the written word”?

My definition is much more simple: a writer is an artist.  Artists use their surroundings, emotions, perceptions and ideas as their material to create their own medium of communication.  That medium is their chosen form of art, and through that art, they attempt to communicate their unique and profound perceptions of truth and beauty.  This is exactly what writers do.  There may be many, many, many forms of writing out there, but there are myriad types and forms of art too – painting, pottery, sculpting, drawing, photography, animation, jewelry making, cinematography, acting, singing…  The list goes on.  Granted, there will always be disagreements about which forms of writing (and other art forms too, for that matter) actually qualify as art, but my point remains the same: writers are artists.

Some would argue that writing is a lesser form of art than the ones I listed above because pieces like paintings and sculptures are forms of “visual art,” and are therefore universally easier to understand because they lack a language barrier.  I would counter that any kind of visual art can be just as hard to understand as a piece of writing that isn’t written in your language.  Every piece of art has a profound concept behind it, and it’s the skill and intention of the artist that makes that piece of art easy or hard to understand.  Also, other types of art have just as many restrictions as writing does.  Pieces of writing can always be translated (even if some of the original meaning can get lost in the translation), but other forms of art have other restrictions that writing doesn’t have – such as being confined to one still image if we’re talking about photography or painting, or being restricted to a certain time frame if we’re talking about cinematography or animation, or even the restriction of one specific pose or shape if we’re talking about sculpting or pottery.  All of these restrictions put pressure on the artist, forcing him to refine and clarify his concept before pursuing it in his chosen art form.

I would even go so far as to say that writing might actually be a way of reaching more people than any other form of art.  Because no matter what picture you wish to convey in your reader’s mind, it will always look different to every eye that reads it.  You want to paint the image of a beautiful woman?  She will be beautiful, no matter what details you use to describe her because everyone who reads that description will imagine their own version of beauty.  It might not be your version, but you succeeded in communicating what you set out to.

You want to describe a desolate wasteland?  An emotion etched into a character’s face?  An object of rare beauty and mystical power?  Use the best language you can find, translating it from the image fixed in your mind, and if your skill can make the image breathe, you’ve succeeded in your purpose.

Because words are not color; they are the brushes.

Words are not lenses; they are the light by which you see the model.

Words are not the end; they are the means.

Visual artists can only show you one picture, but words can not only show you the whole story, they can become every perspective, conform themselves to every individual’s imagination, and even communicate an ideal in its truest, purest form.  Because the idea behind the words is an essence even the blind can understand.

And everybody knows that even the blind can read.