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On Discovery and Meaning

It has come to my attention that all of my stories begin with questions. And I don’t mean the beginning OF the stories, I mean the preliminary stages where I have no idea what I’m writing down, nor what it is going to be. Mostly my stories are born as just a bunch of text on a napkin, saying things like, “Is this the end of a dynasty? A dynasty of warring nations paving their way through time with blood and victory? Are we finally done? The most epic race to have ever lived on this planet? Are we the most epic, or do we only think it so because we ARE that race and we are also the only race able to think it. Perhaps, do you think, if a t-rex could think of himself, he might think himself the most epic race as well? ”

Then I’ll sit back and look at what I’ve written, and sometimes I’m not sure if even I understand the things I say.

I am a very small person compared to my idols, to J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, big people like that. People who spend their every waking moments being what they want to be, the thoughtful, innovative, philosophical geniuses that they have come to be known as. I find myself realizing that my moments are spent battling laziness, battling a lack of motivation. Very many times I am motivated indeed, but not so much as to be as brilliant as they were, are.

I simply must find a way to be better, to be more thoughtful, more honest and wise.

Perhaps my story will pave the way. Perhaps it will know a bit more than I. Indeed, I believe the only solution to this unsolvable issue is to write.

Resources and References!

This will be a quick post, just a few references to help you guys get a hold on your writing careers.

Some of the books that helped me most:

Characters & Viewpoint, by Orson Scott Card. He also wrote the novel Ender's Game. Very helpful in regards to getting a hold on characters, and really fleshing them out. It can be found at http://www.writersdigestshop.com/elements-of-fiction-writing-characters-and-viewpoints-paperback
I strongly suggest it!

Also, Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham, which can be found at http://www.writersdigestshop.com/elements-of-writing-fiction-scene-structure

Both of these books I found at http://www.writersdigest.com/, which has a bunch of classes, tutorials, articles and tips for authors. Especially beginning authors. This website was particularly useful when I was studying the publishing business, and query letters. There are a lot of things new authors don't know about publishing, and that they need to understand before sending out query letters! You want to be as well prepared as you possibly can be before choosing agents and querying.

New Website!

Hey guys, just wanted to inform you all really quickly that I've cooked up a website for my writing blog, where I'll probably be posting from now on. It also has my illustration work on there, information on my book and of course, more writing tips!

I'd definitely appreciate it if you checked it out at Taliaspencer.com!

Thanks so much!

Music and writing

Picture a frazzled girl, books piled to her chin on her desk, with a computer and several speakers. Now add to that vision some Civil Wars, or Johnny Cash, or something like that.
What I write then ends up looking just like the mood from the songs i listen to.
So, as such, the moment I change to something like... The Glitch Mob, or Daft Punk, my writing changes to reflect it.

If music affects your writing quite a lot, and you haven't realized it yet, I suggest most definitely doing an experiment. Write to one type of music, then the next. Once you've gotten it all figured out, try making playlists for each of your characters. Perfect the mood, and switch to each playlist as you write each character.

Try it!
When I was twelve years old, I sat down at my old flower power mac during the midst of the night, and found a site that changed my life.

Bear with me, I promise this will all come full circle.

It was a lion king fan art site, filled to the brim with excited artistic youth. I spent months excitedly panning the website, looking at art, and realizing for the first time in many years that i wanted to draw.

So I did. In the end it took me a year or so to get very good at it, but once I had, it changed my life. I suddenly saw everything in a very different way, and even more surprisingly, I had developed a vague photographic memory from panning back and forth to reference pictures, or scenes. (Let me tell you, that helped a lot with high school tests!)

When i was sixteen, I stopped drawing. I began to fear failure for the first time, fear that if I tried to draw, (or write for that matter) I would prove to myself that I wasn't as good as I had made myself to be in my head. So I stopped completely in order to maintain my ego, (which of course was an utter failure) and finished absolutely nothing for two years. Sure, I'd get inspired by a movie or a book or a song, and I'd start something, but I never ever had the sheer bravery to finish.

I don't know what happened, whether I realized I was going nowhere, or if it was simply a really good boyfriend who pulled me out of my hole, but a year ago I began to finish things.

And I began to write. In fact, I surpassed the 10,000 word limit that I had never gotten past before during writing a novel in my life. Then I passed the 20,000 mark, and the 30k, 40k, 50k and on. I was so proud of myself I hardly have words, and I'm still proud of myself for writing strong.

But finishing what you start is one thing, being good at finishing what you start is another.

Let me tell you how being an artist has helped me.

When I write, I visualize, and I assume the rest of you do too. (I'm not exactly sure how anyone could go about a novel without visualizing, but I digress.) Most people who are not artistic have not trained their minds to really see. Some can, some are brilliant. But let me talk about a common phenomena, being able to see something in your head, but not being able to put it down on paper, whether as a drawing or a story.

This is because you think you're seeing something accurately and detailed in your mind's eye, but you're not really. Your brain is tricking you into thinking that you are. Either that or you just need some touch ups translating the thought to paper.

Being an artist taught me how to think. How to visualize, and really see everything. The details, I mean. From the reflections on the glass, to the shadowed lines in a logo, from the sparks in the background of a picture, to the shape of a book as it bends. You have to be able to see everything, not just the general idea of something.

With this visualization, I became pretty OK at writing down the scenes I saw in my head, because I could see the little things that made it real. Its not always the broad, large pieces of an image that make it a reality. Sometimes it's the little indications, the very minute details that translate genuinely in the reader's or onlooker's head.

So if you want to be a writer, I'm not saying you have to be an artist (or participate in lion king fan art sites as a child). All I'm saying is try to see, really see. Look at the lines in a person's expression as they talk, what conveys to you their emotion. Watch their body language. Hear the tones in their voice. See the scene around you, how it is a character in your life, how it effects you.

All of this will help you to be a better writer.

Short story excerpt! with editing notes

Some people think I’m a ghost, some a grandchild, some a lover, some a grandmother. If ever there was a saying more applicable to me, it would be “There is nothing permanent except change.” From a wise fellow named Heraclitus. Well, change and a grand piano.
The music that to this day lilts off those aged and yellowed keys floods its way through every backwards chapter of my life, linking me to who I am and where I’ve been; what has passed and in what order. I can still hear my rambunctious plugging of the keys when they were yet pristine in their youth. I was a child then, when I first laid eyes on my piano.
It was a gift from my affluent mother, over two hundred and ninety years ago, when the piano was just nearly invented. It is the fourth Cristofori, the undiscovered child of a long dead Italian man who nearly single handedly fashioned the piano into existence.
I remember its sweet sound flourishing through the air, coloring the moment with a palpable mood that could be shared between listeners as accurately as word. I could feel the song twirling around my fingertips, rising up to caress my skin with its welcome touch. I heard it in my bones, felt it in the unmapped regions of my heart.
Even the yellow light of the inexperienced, crisp morning could not compare in vibrancy to the melodies rising off those Cristofori keys.
That day I was eighteen, though truly I was around six years old. I remember the way my body looked during those couple months the age lasted, graceful and dewy and beautiful. It was the first time my ‘gift’ had lighted upon the loveliness of adult youth, and I was much too young in my head to really appreciate it…

Para 1 edit: i hate sentence one. Its too uninteresting to me, and drawn out. Would shorten.
Para 2: for some reason i'm obsessed with this paragraph. no idea why. no edits though. yay prose stuffs! :D
para 3: this paragraph was designed to intrigue, and get the readers attention. Who is old enough to have recieved a gift two hundred and ninety years ago?
para 4: more prose designed to show the reader how much my character loves the piano, and what it truly means to her. in this paragraph i'm trying hard to put you in her shoes.
Last para: this one is also designed to capture your attention. Its intended to be confusing so that the reader will continue reading to figure out what it is i'm even talking about.

Query Letters

I just got done frankensteining together my first Query Letter, the likes of which i will share with you perhaps after it has been deemed successful (or a failure). According to the all-powerful Internets, and every publishing agent basically ever, Query letters are really, really important. They are the 250 word plea that you'll get to send out to tens, and maybe hundreds of editors and agents. Or, maybe just agents.

So, as such, i slaved over mine and sent it to a great site i found (which will most likely help you immensely), http://queryshark.blogspot.com/

i STRONGLY advise reading through a bit of QueryShark if you are anywhere near the stage of putting together a Query letter. Especially if you're a rather new author who has not been published in any way shape or form, nor won any writing contests.

But, i would also suggest entering writing contests. They'll look pretty at the end of your plea. I found a site for those as well: http://www.newpages.com/classifieds/writingcontests/

and am currently working on several entries. Yay for hard work and determination!
which, by the way, does not include simply thinking you're a writer and wishing for it. Eventually you're going to have to have the will to sit down and actually spend a bit of time writing the novel. You cant get published without anything to publish, so buck up, designate a little time out of your day just to write (maybe only 200 words a day! Which is 1400 words a week!) and make a novelly thing!

Remember, slow progress is still progress, and its better than none at all.