The Trick of Finding Inspiration for That Novel

I have found over the years that inspiration can come at strange times and moments; and many times I do not realize it has occurred, as my brain stores a little seed aside, like a gardener in spring.

A lot of helpful “you can do it too” type writing books try to give you ideas on how to find inspiration. You will see examples of how to look around you, look at your experiences, or think about things you like and maybe consider combinations (Like in the classic Hollywood pitch style: “It’s ___ meets ___”). For me, I find none of that works.

“Thinking” for inspiration, rarely gives off enough of a spark to carry a project through to a satisfying fruition. Yes, you might finish a draft of something, sure, but it will never be as good, in my opinion, as an idea that overwhelms your consciousness or wakes you up in the middle of the night like a scream.

A good book needs a spark. Continue reading

Music and My Writing Brain

I first learned the power of music in my writing while I was an undergrad in college. At that time, I was working on a story and for some unexplained reason I had to listen to The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky (This happens, now and then I get taken over by a certain “sound”). Anyway, so there I was in a writing class (it might have been a writing table, I don’t remember which) and I started to read the story… And I began to notice that the meter in my words mirrored Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies.

Yes, without realizing it, my character’s speech was actually set to music. I had to fight to control my giggles, now imagining my character on toes as he was speaking. I’m sure my reading began to seem ridiculous to the other writers there, but at that moment I knew I had a problem… and, of course, I knew I was going to have to rewrite the entire speech.

Well, since then I have figured out the potential impact music can have on my writing. While I have not let the cadence of a song take over a story again, certain artists and music became part of the creation process for me around different works.  Sometimes I use them to influence a mood I am hoping to create, sometimes they are just simply the soundtrack for the “world” I am “living” in. Here are five examples: Continue reading

Fiction Sample: The First Chapter from MY PROBLEM WITH DOORS

In the hope of doing something different, I thought I would share the first chapter of my novel, MY PROBLEM WITH DOORS.  It is available on amazon. com, by iPublish Press, a new indie publishing house.  Here is the link if you would like to check it out. I hope you will, if I can guarantee anything it is that this book is very unlike anything else out there right now (some books reviews for it can be found on the sidebar). I would like to think you will be surprised.

This first chapter is called “Beginnings.”

From MY PROBLEM WITH DOORS

I will do my best not to lie.

It wouldn’t help my cause to exaggerate,

fabricate

or change any aspect of my life.

Also, I will do my best not to forget anything that may be helpful. Unfortunately, I have never been the kind of person to remember dates or write such information down. Still, I hope that I will be able to generate enough material to aid me.


This is a plea for help.

If you have found this manuscript and think it to be only a novel or an ancient piece of fiction, it is not. This is the story of my life and I hope in your reading of it you will be able to help me. Continue reading

Writer’s Corner: Does Jane Austen Need an Agent?

Whenever a newbie writer has had the misfortune (if that is the right word) to ask for my advice, I will always say the same two things:

1. Enter as many writing contests as possible. It will build up your resume, give you free opinion from someone who isn’t family or a friend if you are actually good or not,  and you never know who a judge might be (For example, my radio series, The Dante Experience, was produced and directed by a judge of a radio script competition I entered).

2. Try to get an agent. An agent’s job is to find you a publisher and help you succeed. They have contacts you don’t have. You need them.

The problem is with number 2; while it is right to say it, it does always leave a little bad taste in my mouth since my experience with working with agents has been lackluster at best. So far I’ve had four agents. Continue reading

This Writer’s New Year Resolutions

1. To be more up-front about my writing and experiences in my blog, but not to come off as whiney or as if I deserve anything from anyone.  The market is far too-congested with writers and luck and “who you know” plays a greater role than anything else on finding success as a writer.

2. To accept being a number three and hope someday to be a number 2… OK, I need to explain this one.

-BREAK FOR EXPLANATION-

In my opinion there are four levels of being a writer in today’s world:

  • Number 1 are those that have a relationship with a big publisher and can actually survive as a writer without needing an additional job.
  • Number 2 are those that have been published once or twice by a big house, but still need to have a day job
  • Number 3 are the small, artistic, indie writers who get published by small, artistic, indie presses, find some small critical success but don’t make much money (if any).
  • Number 4 are the clique of the self-published writers’ world. And yes, it is a clique. Some find success, most don’t… a large majority don’t.

3. Not to look down on the world of the Number 4 anymore. I do it, and even though my first book is out there via iuniverse, I still scorn the idea of being self-published. Sometimes all a writer wants is for their book to be published and at least this is an avenue for that. I need to be more understanding of that, but it can be hard for me to take a work like that as seriously as something from Putnam, for example. I know a lot of educated writers have the same mountain as me to climb about this; so this is me acknowledging the mountain. “Yes, I see the mountain, damn it!”

4. Find some inspiration this year, but not enough to take me away from being a good parent (I have two little ones and I don’t want them to come in second behind a project). I wrote an editorial on Green Spot Blue about this a while ago called “Mush.” Here is the link- http://www.greenspotblue.com/lifenestbabytoy/2010/12/21/mush.html

Hmmm…. It seems a lot of these deal with just be accepting of who I am and not getting down on myself about things.

So what are my hopes for the new year?

Well, I hope to find a publisher for A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM. The reaction for it appearing online was very good, and some publishers were initially interested, but everything has been silent since then. I did have one publisher replied and said that it needed to sound more “contemporary” if you can believe it. So a book that was mirroring Jane’s voice sounded too much like Jane, I’m not sure whether to be insulted or happy by that. While I would love a big house, I would be happy with a small press and the capability of it be in ebook format.

Ipublish Press which published MY PROBLEM WITH DOORS and MEGAN said they are trying to get the ebooks out on Google Ebooks this year. I really want that to happen… Which is funny since I have no desire to own a kindle or read an ebook. I actually had a friend since me a copy of her book as an ebook a while ag0 and I have guiltly yet to look at it ( I’m really sorry, Emlyn Chand. I will read FARSIGHTED soon, I swear).  Is it an anti Kindle/ebook thing? I don’t know.  It’s just reading a book on a screen takes something away for me.

And then there are the screenplays… I still dream of them being made, but the days of wanting to be the next Woody Allen are long gone. I have three scripts I really want to see made- CHRISTMAS DREAMING, THE SISTER MOON, and my adaptation of HAMLET (Which is always a debate for me whether it is the best thing I will ever do, or just one of them). But I do have others (4 others to be honest)… And there is a part of me that would like to write a new screenplay, but like with my books it is hard to be inspired when you think a work might join the pile of material sitting in my chest at the end of my bed. I need to feel like it will breath later. I have quite a few works already to feel guilty about just sitting around…. But seeing one of them that I wrote on the screen would be a dream…

Finally, I hope to survive the Mayan Death Day…

… Ok, that last one was a joke.

Hopefully.

Definitely, I mean nothing bad is going to happen.

Of course, if it does and I don’t plan, I’m going to regret it.

Argh.

My Twitter Interview

You can read a snazzy transcript of my interview on Twitter here:

http://www.novelpublicity.com/2011/03/sdsouthard-author-of-my-problem-with-doors/

An Interview about MY PROBLEM WITH DOORS

Melissa from annarbor.com recently reshared her interview with me about MY PROBLEM WITH DOORS on her blog.

You can check it out here- http://emlynchand.com/2010/12/30/author-interview-scott-d-southard-my-problem-with-doors/