Where do you come from as a writer?

Have you ever asked yourself this question? Have you ever had a look at your own beginning as a writer?

For some strange reason I have been thinking a lot about my identity as a writer lately and I think to answer those questions give you a good idea of what writing really means to you.

So where do I come from as a writer?

Well, if I consider writing as “holding a pen in my hand and write something on a piece of paper” my beginnings would be in journaling. I started school at the age of 7 and by the age of 9 I had my first journal. I did not write daily and I did not write literary worth pieces but it was my start. I jotted down what happened in my life and how I felt.

But I think writing as in story telling has started a lot earlier. There goes the story that we visited family in the East of Germany the then communist GDR and I loved to bring my grandparents, my great-uncle and his wife, their children and my parents together in a play I invented. My great-uncle was called “Arthur the Angel” and everybody was having fun. It is still something everybody talks about even though no one can remember how the story itself went.

I have been told fairy tales, poetry and other children’s stories from an early age on and as soon as I could read I was given books and later on was a regular visitor in the local library. This is where story telling starts I think. All the stories we’ve been told and we read from an early age on give us an idea of how a story works subconsciously.

Writing wise my next step was letter writing. I started with a friend I have met in Switzerland where one of my uncles lived and then went on to a girl in India and Jamaica when I started to learn English. I had many more but those are the ones that stayed in my mind. My parents had a book of poetry of Erich Kaestner the author of “Lisa and Lottie” and I read it at the age of 13 or 14. I have no idea why I did it I just loved it even though I hardly understood any of the topics. There was no adult who asked me to read it. We had a huge bookshelf full of books and I just looked through it and read what I could. Just after that at the age of 16 I wrote my first poem. Again out of nowhere. I have no idea what made me ~ it just felt like I had to do it.

Meanwhile I was reading books to my younger brother and was reading ferociously for myself. I read the Luther version of the bible even though no one asked me to as well as “Das Niebelungenlied” as a whole. We had to read parts of it at school but I wanted to know the whole lot.

I was allowed to go to holiday camps in summer and at the end we usually created a little play where we put in things that had happened in the camp. One I wrote mainly and it was quite successful.

At school we once had to write a description of a landscape and I got the best mark for it. It think that was when I started thinking that maybe writing could be something I could do. But my life was difficult and of course no-one thinks that being an artist or writer could be a “good” profession. So instead of studying German and English which I wanted to do originally I went for social work. Mind you it is not a bad thing for a writer as you learn a lot about psychology, sociology and you meet an awful lot of characters :-).

I did not pull it off though. Yes I have been working as a social worker but not very successful. In my spare time I wrote and wrote and read up on writing and wrote for a union I was member of as well as for a church magazine later on.

And then there was the internet. That was the best thing that could have happened to me. Well, I despised it at first. Really! Can you believe that?

But once I got over that initial block I just loved it. A homepage lead to a blog and then more and more.

I am not quite sure why I started reading or writing. It seems to me more and more that I had to do it. It was what interested me and as my family was so occupied with “adult” issues I was left alone in my search for new reading material as well as in my writing. Well not alone in finding reading material as I was always given loads of books for Christmas, Birthdays ect.  But I did not tell anyone about the writing bit or let anyone read it until I was well in my twenties. But I think this is the best thing one can do:

Just start and do it! Let no one interfere and when you get more interested in learning more than you are ready to show what you have been doing so far and then learn more.

I have never done a formal education in writing. I have paid for some courses but never really finished them. They did not seem to give me what I needed. But I have always searched for books and later on material on the internet that gave me ideas on what to work on. Which would make me an autodidact ~ oh how I love this word :-).

I never realised how much I was writing and reading. The reading bit yes but not the writing bit. The longer I read up on how to become a writer the more it dawns on me that not the “master piece” makes you a writer but the daily exercise of writing ~ be it journaling, letters, poetry ect.

And where do I want to go to? I do not know exactly. I have some projects for this year and then I’ll see where it leads me. That is how my writing life has always been and it was and is a good way of doing it.

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Let’s self-sabotage shall we?

I had ideas!

I had many ideas since last Saturday!

Seems like the new moon at the weekend made me very creative!

I even had set up google drive to be able to reach my file to jot down ideas everywhere I go!

But I did not!

And now they are gone! They are gone and my muse as well!

Besides that I had decided to take part in the Writers & Artists Yearbook Short Story Competition!

I was so confident after “winning” #NaNoWriMo last year I would be capable of defeating my inner critic and just get on with it.

“I thought that #NaNoWriMo last forever ~ I was wrong” to play with one of my favourite poems “Funeral Blues” by W.H.Auden.

Well let’s not be so critical with myself. I have finished the first draft and am sure I can manage the editing today. I did not have an awful lot of time as I only saw the competition last week but at least I managed the first draft. Have decided to set my goal to “Taking part” no matter what will come from it. Something tells me that I should take part in as many competitions as possible this year just to train myself to get over this fear of taking part. That seems to be a good belated new years resolution! 🙂

English: Photo of W. H. Auden, 1970, taken by me.

English: Photo of W. H. Auden, 1970, taken by me. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A challenge

Wow have I set myself a challenge!

I did not know what I got myself into when I decided to do the ABC of poetic forms. Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy doing it and have a list for practically the whole year. But well doing a formal poem is quite a challenge and you have to really work on it. Maybe Stephen Fry is right with his criticism of the free modern verse :-).

I suppose I will learn a lot and will have a lot of to try out this year as well. For now I want to work more on the Balassi Stanza meaning I want to do some more because it has proofen to be quite tricky to make a good one.

What else is going on writing-wise? Nothing much to be honest. Was quite motivated to blog last week this week is a bit more difficult but that’ll go soon I suspect. It seems to be more difficult to blog at the end of the week as I work more and feel usual quite tired. So I will probably pre-write my posts to keep up not with the Kardashians but with my readers ;-).

I have not started on my #NaNoWriMo Novel again ~ seems like it has to rest for a while longer. But I have thought about it last week and got some more ideas which is encouraging.

What I like is my  meetings with a friend to take pictures. Had a nice one this Monday which kept my mood up.

Well how is your writing or other creative activities going on? Are you in a down or does the new year (and the survived end of the world for that 😉 ) motivate you no end? Feel free to share with us :-).

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Do writers have a social/philosophical/political responsibility?

Stamp wich represents Sophie Scholl (Personal ...

Stamp wich represents Sophie Scholl (Personal stamp-collection of Gretaz). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been wondering about this question a lot lately.
Can’t remember why it popped up. Probably with reading up on how to be a good writer they sometimes ask the question

Why do you write?

and

Who do you write for?

When I read these questions I remembered when I started writing poetry some 20 years ago that I always wanted to be at least a socially critical writer. I used to be a very religious person but I have never followed any dogma without questioning it. So some of my more religious poems were quite critical. But I suspect as a teenager you are bound to be ;-).

Some of the authors/poets that I like/d were socially and politically critical like Kurt Tucholsky, Erich Fried or Wolfgang Borchert. But looking at them I realise they are all German-speaking/writing. So might that be an especial German/central European thing?

I think I was also influenced by reading the biographies of Sophie Scholl, Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Their example inspired me and I think one of my core believes is that you can not stay aside or keep your mouth shut when something unjust happens. I have spoken up now and then not as often as I wanted to and I have always gotten into trouble and hardly ever achieved anything which did not motivate me a lot :-).

But I also realised that I enjoy reading entertaining literature of any sort. There is an awful lot of fantasy and criminal literature that I have read. I would never have thought about writing “just” something entertaining which I now think is quite arrogant :-).

“There is a time for everything” to quote the bible and not the byrds:
Sometimes you just need to shut your overactive mind up and escape somewhere into a lovely story but sometimes it is good to have a close look at the drawbacks of society/politics/philosophy and stand up and say something.

I am not sure if you can have an overall answer to this question as our writing era is so much more individual than it ever has been. I think being a good writer today means being versatile. Not doing only one thing but being able to write about many things and with different goals. But maybe I am wrong about this.

What do you think?

Attention: #amwriting bi-lingual/Achtung zweisprachig

(Attention some links are in German)

Tuesdays will be bi-lingual day in the future. My mother tongue is German but I love to write (and read for that) in English the heavens only know why. I used to sit in front of our old record player and listened to the Beatles and sang with them without knowing what I was singing. Therefore I blame it on them ;-).

My bi-lingual blog is phoenixrisesagain (just in case you want to read some old posts of mine) which ranges from philosophy to utopy to books and writing and….. you  name it.

I write the English part first and then after the picture comes the German translation. Today conveniently it will be about November, #frapalymo and #NaNoWriMo :-).

November is usually a very dreary month and a preferred one for my depression to flare up. This year though surprisingly it just popped its clogs it seems. At the beginning of October I read about #NaNoWriMo and in a mad instant decision decided to take part. Little I knew what I brought myself into but at least I prepared my blogs with pre-writing my entries. As family festivities stopped me from starting at the 1. of November I started a the 3. and I had little hope I would manage the thing. But I did. My story and characters went into total different directions as planned but I hope that means they have a life of their own and are at least a bit readable ;-). This project has taught me so much I am still full of it: I know now I can work to a deadline; it is fine to let the story go its own ways; am looking forward to edit the thing and most of all learn to edit; it is possible to write 5000 words a day; you can always catch up somehow and writing really is it!  It occupied my days and my nights ~ no time for being depressed and that I am extremely thankful for. I think I need to let the office of letters and light know :-)!

Most of you English speaking readers do not know what the #frapalymo is. You might have read in my poetry blog about it though in May when I first heard about it (of course) on Twitter. #frapalymo is @FrauPaulchen’s lyrik (German word for poetry) month which means 30 poems in 30 days in the style of #NaNoWriMo just with poetry. Sophie Paulchen gives a prompt every day for writing a poem and if you take part, you let her know by blogging your poem or writing it on her comment box under the prompt and she tweets about it. She has brilliant ideas taken from tweets, poems, poets, pictures and other interesting things that cross her path.

It was quite a challenge to do both and I have to admit I forgot all about #frapalymo for about a week. But it was fun. A writing frenzy without guilt, inner critique or boundaries. Just writing to the full. I advice everyone to so next year :-).

For now I feel like I am on cold turkey because I have no word count to fulfil, no prompt to follow and I have to get back into blogging and finding new projects. Well, as if that is a problem for me ;-): There is still that poetry book I want to self-publish, a first draft of a novel to edit (I won’t start that before January though (only if we are still alive then of course the 21. 12 is calling 😉 )), an ABC of poetry forms to #MondayPrompt and loads of tweeting and instagramming to do.

You see I won’t get bored ~ really do not worry :-)!

Fakenham Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dienstage werden in Zukunft zweisprachig sein. Meine Muttersprache ist Deutsch aber ich schreibe und lese lieber in Englisch und der Himmel alleine weiss, warum! Als Kind sass ich immer vor dem Plattenspieler und habe mir die Beatles angehoert und mitgesungen ohne zu wissen, worum es da ging. Ich gebe ihnen deshalb die Schuld ;-).

Mein zweisprachiger Blog ist phoenixrisesagain (einfach nur falls Du ein paar alte Eintraege lesen willst), der von Philosophie zu Utopie zu Buechern und Schreiben rangiert.

Ich schreibe den englischen Teil zuerst und nach dem Bild kommt dann immer die deutsche Uebersetzung. Heute geht es ganz passenderweise um November, #frapalymo und #NaNoWriMo :-).

November ist gewoehnlich ein duesterer Monat und ein bevorzugter fuer meine Depression, sich aufzuspielen. Dieses Jahr allerdings, scheint sie einfach ins Gras gebissen zu haben. Anfang Oktober habe ich zum ersten Mal ueber den #NaNoWriMo gelesen und mich in einer verrueckten instant Entscheidung angemeldet. Da wusste ich zum Glueck noch nicht, worauf ich mich da eingelassen habe. Da Familienfestivitaeten mich abegehalten hatten, am 1. November zu beginnen, startete ich am 3. und habe nicht daran geglaubt, dass ich es schaffen koennte. Aber ich habe es geschafft. Meine Geschichte und meine Charaktere sind total andere Wege gegangen, als ich es geplant hatte aber ich hoffe, das bedeutet, dass das Ganze wenigstens ein bisschen leserlich ist  ;-). Dieses Projekt hat mich eine Menge gelehrt und ich bin immer noch ganz davon eingenommen: Ich kann auf einen Abgabe Termin hin arbeiten; es ist ok die Geschichte, eigene Wege gehen zu lassen; ich freue mich darauf, sie zu ueberarbeiten; es ist moeglich, 5000 Worte an einem Tag zu schreiben; man kann immer aufholen und schreiben macht riesig Spass! Das Projekt hat meine Tage und Naechte beansprucht und so war keine Zeit, depressiv zu werden und dafuer bin ich enorm dankbar. ich denke, ich muss das das office of letters and light (Organisatoren des #NaNoWriMo) wissen lassen :-)!

Die meisten englischsprachigen Leser und viele der deutschsprachigen werden nicht wissen, was der #frapalymo ist. Vielleicht hast Du darueber in meinem Gedicht Blog gelesen, als ich davon zum ersten mal im Mai (natuerlich auf Twitter) gehoert habe.  #frapalymo ist @FrauPaulchen’s Lyrik  Monat: 30 Gedichte in 30 Tagen in Anlehnung an den #NaNoWriMo nur mit Gedichten und Impulsen von Sophie Paulchen. Sie gibt jeden Tag einen Impuls und wenn Du teilnehmen willst bloggst Du Deine Gedichte und verlinkst mit ihrem Blog oder Du hinterlaesst Dein Gedicht in den Kommentaren auf Ihrem Blog und sie tweeted darueber. Sie hat geniale Ideen, die sie von Tweets, Gedichten, Dichtern, Bildern und anderen Dingen, die Ihr ueber den Weg laufen, nimmt.

Es war eine ziemliche Herausforderung, beides zu versuchen und ich muss zugeben fuer eine Woche habe ich den #frapalymo total vergessen. ABer es hat Spass gemacht. Eine Schreibekstase ohne Schuldgefuehle, innerem Kritiker, und ohne Grenzen. Einfach nur Schreiben. Ich empfehle es jedem, das naechstes Jahr mal zu probieren :-).

Jetzt habe ich allerdings Entzugserscheinungen, weil ich keine bestimmte Anzahl an Worten schreiben und keinem Impuls folgen aber dafuer einen Weg zurueck ins Bloggen und neue Projekte finden muss. Als ob das ein Problem fuer mich waere ;-): Da gibt es immer noch einen Gedicht Band selber zu veroeffentlichen, einen ersten Entwurf fuer einen Roman zu ueberarbeiten (was ich nicht vor Januar tun werde (falls es uns da noch gibt (der  21. 12 ruft 😉 )), am ABC der Gedichtformen fuer die  #MondayPrompts zu arbeiten und dann muss ich ja auch noch viel zwitschern und instagrammen.

Du siehst also, mir wird nicht langweilig werden ~ ehrlich Du musst Dir keine Sorgen machen :-)!

 

 

Veni, Vidi, Vici ~ #NaNoWriMo #amwriting is finished

English: Rainbows, over Malmesjaur in Moskosel...

English: Rainbows, over Malmesjaur in Moskosel, Lappland Sweden july 14 2009, 7:15 PM Svenska: Regnbåger, sedd från Malmesjaurdammen i Moskosel, Lappland kl 19:15 14 juli 2009 Deutsch: Regenbogen, über Malmesjaur in Moskosel, Lappland 14.Juli 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can not believe it!

I have really done it!

As you can see at the side on my #NaNoWriMo badge I am now officially a winner and I finished with 50537 words. ( The google drive word count had said 50522 but never mind ;-).)

What an experience!

It was a total up and down. There were days when I could not manage more than 500 words and then others when I worked up to 4000 and yesterday even over 5000. Never thought I could write that much.

This achievement makes me enormously proud as it has taught me an awful lot:

~ writing needs buddies who cheer you on (Thanks Cheryl 🙂 )
~ you can always catch up when you are determined
~ I can finish to a deadline
~ a first draft is a first draft and not a finished novel
~ writing is the hardest work I have ever done but definitely the most satisfying!!!!!
~ I love what I am doing!

It feels already a bit like I am on cold turkey lol but I will survive (lalalalalaaaaa….. 😉 )

What comes next?

This first draft will rest until 2013 and then I will do my trainee editing. I have never edited a novel so I will read up and then just get on with it and learn on the go. Am thinking about self~publishing but I think I might put it on a blog first and then see what reactions will come. Hopefully honest ones that bring me on. I am proud of my baby but I also know that it is a bit kitsch. So maybe you dear readers out there might help me along?????

I will also compress my blog writing. But you will see how that will go ~ surprise surprise 😉

You out there take care! To you #NaNoWriMo winners: congrats! To you still writing: You can do it! To you who struggle to reach the 5000: it’s the taking part that matters!

I will allow myself a well deserved pause with hopefully loads of reading and will be back on Monday! Can’t wait to hear from you guys!

Can’t get into it

English: Autographs of Lermontov's poems from ...

English: Autographs of Lermontov’s poems from the Kazan Writing book Русский: Автографы стихотворений Лермонтова из Казанской тетради с рисунками поэта. Институт русской литературы. Санкт-Петербург. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t like Mondays” do you remember that classic Boomtown Rats song about a massacre in a school?

Well there is hopefully no massacre around here but I have this song in my mind the whole morning and just can not get into writing this morning. Or more exact into working on my NaNoWriMo Novel.

Working with the Snowflake Method I am nearly at the end part where I have to do a scene list of the whole novel. I have never done that and feel that I need some more time than todays schedule offers.

Working with it for a while it still feels like a good thing but I am more a pantster by nature and keeping such a strict work schedule is hard. But maybe that is exactly what I need to get where I want to go as organisation is a bit of a flaw of mine.

Well in day job terms I have learned that good organisation makes life so much easier so why not do it in writing as well?

Coming back to “not getting into writing”: I have already written three blog entries for today + 2 pre written ones for NaNoWriMo. So why do I feel I can not get into writing? That is actually quite a lot and now I do the fourth for today.

I also have sorted a plot problem I was pondering about for a while. I have realised that I did not really get my characters into trouble and I never knew what kind of conflict they keep carrying with themselves. Having read my books lately with these points in mind I realised that  this is one of the most important things to keep one reading (as if they do not keep telling me 😉 ).

But it is one thing to understand that on a logic level but another to put it into practise. So I consider myself as a trainee writer and just try out and try to silence that inner critic and just do it.

And maybe now I just allow myself some break to relax, read a bit and then get over with the day job!

One week doing the whole lot

One week is over and I have been sticking to my self set tasks of doing the blogs and the novel. Planning has helped with it as I had hardly any time to do any writing on Thursday or today and so I have wrote a lot on Tuesday my day off and scheduled it.

Am very pleased with myself. I actually can stick to a plan and do it. Still it is exhausting and I need to remind myself that the Sunday as “no-writing” day is an important part to stay balanced and get the energy back.

Well, let’s see how it goes next week 🙂

This is…

… what I wrote in my 10 mins free writing:

“12/6/12

A strange date really. Why did not anybody chose this as the end of the world? Well, we do not know what will happen today and what will happen at 21/12/2012. Why this one? It does not really make sense but which of the ends of the world that have been depicted since I have been born have made sense?
Was just wondering if these talking about “the end of the world” are the same like in the middle ages or other major changes in history and mankind. Will we learn? Will there be a “Age of the Aquarius” where we will have peace and fair conditions for everyone?
I would love that. That is something to write for, to live for. In the end it is all about  healing and love. Love yourself. Who really does that? Not a lot of people I should think. Those who preaches it are so often just scam as afraid as everybody else just making money in a different way. Those who really got it just keep away from it all. Well, unless they want to teach but what does teaching really change? If the pupils are not ready for it they won’t learn. I more and more believe in this. If you are not ready you won’t learn.
This free writing seems to free something creative in me. I guess it is a good idea to do it all the time. But I also have the trouble with schedules. It seems to cage me in and take the fun of the writing. Too much a task. But how else can I manage all I want to write while working full-time? Should I stop working full-time?
No, i don’t think so. Besides that I do not want to disappoint Andy even more in me I think it is necessary to stay in contact with the real world. And wow how many characters can you find working in a supermarket? This is a writers heaven. Really. So many stereotypes. Life is always better than fiction because fiction just can not develop as much fear, cruelty and greed than there is in life. So there I am back at the end of the world. Greed will bring us all down and even though I am nearly 42 I still can not understand it. Why would you risk our earth and a peaceful living just to make money and have more power over others? What makes these people tick? Maybe that is what I am writing for. To find reasons for this. But are there any reasons? Probably what spiritual people say: Their soul has to experience how it is to be greedy and then karma comes back and they have to learn. But can you not just get your wits together and do it anyway without hurting others?”

I have just adjusted some question marks and some capitals and left the rest as I wrote it. I find it really interesting how much you can write without really thinking. I have given myself 10 mins every day. Just to start up and set myself a schedule for the rest of my writing. I think I wrote about it yesterday. That is what I refer to in the schedule bit. Yesterday I followed it but got this feeling of being caged into a routine and not being free. Which does my creativity in. It just blocks me. But if I just bugger around going along as it comes I can not get all the blogs + a novel done. I need to have a plan. So I started thinking about the schedule as a basic pattern that I can follow but can change things as it comes. You still have to be flexible as life always throws unexpected things at you. Today it felt a bit better. Am already changing the schedule bit by bit but I keep it in mind that I do not lose track of what I want to do.

Well, maybe that was not interesting at all for you but getting yourself organised is probably one of the most important tasks to tackle when you want to write 🙂