Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dust in the Wind

Dear Fellow Writer,

I've been restless these last few weeks.

Developing and pushing new ideas to the fore. Succeeding in some but ultimately feeling unfulfilled by others.

The lure of writing is just too strong. I've realized I can do other things - but that writing is the only thing I love doing. 

More than love, I can't remain sane and not do it.

I need it - is that how you feel too?

I hope you'll forgive me for coming back to the Easy Way to Write.

I'm at home here.

Rob Parnell

Dust in the Wind

Rob Parnell

The secret to good writing is to stay in the moment while you're doing it. Doesn't matter which draft you're on - the first or the twentieth, you have to stay in the moment - the eternal NOW.

When you think about it, the past is a figment of our imagination.

We're tempted to believe our past has substance and influence over us - that it is somehow important, relevant, filled with meaning - or not.

The more memories we have, the more human we feel. Experience somehow gives us status, wisdom and power.

But really, to be honest, our past is a dead weight - and an imaginary weight at that. The past is gone. It is only as real as we want it to be. It is only our minds that give it substance. Without our memories, the past does not exist.

Like dust in the wind, the past dissolves, as it should.

Holding on to the past - and all the good and bad emotions it engenders may be useful to us when we try to create believable characters and scenarios but really, what else is it for?

If the past pulls you down and prevents you from moving forward - either by filling your head with disillusion, trivia or self importance or by placing boundaries on what you think you're capable of - then surely it's a curse rather than a boon.

Without our brains to tell us that we're on a human based time line, there is no past, no future even - except what we imagine. Without imagination and the vast recording mechanism that is our minds, there is only now, this moment, and all the other now moments that follow.

Think on this for a while and you should start to feel liberated.

Because without the reality of your past or the imagined pressure of a possible future, you are free. Free to be whatever you want, to experience whatever you want, to write whatever you want - now.

Right here. Right now. You are free.

Now is all that matters - everything else is a rationalization based on imaginary information.

There is nothing you cannot do - now, in this moment.

Now has no memory. Now has no ambitions to crush, no enemies to quash, nothing to prove.

Now is the eternal stillness at the heart of consciousness.

A place where nothing is important except your next impulse - the momentous spark of intention that creates and sustains life.

In order to write well - indeed to do anything well - you need to train yourself to live in the now and not get distracted by concepts of time, memory or ambition. You can only be as good as you want to be by totally committing to the moment, this moment, now.

Writing is not about showing off your flair for words or expression, it's about capturing the essence of what you want to say, the scene or person you want to describe. To do that well, you need to submerse yourself completely in the moment.

The most successful of our modern authors - James Patterson, Dennis Lehane, Stuart MacBride, Lee Child - know this and write accordingly.

To describe a character or a scene with any veracity you need to be there in your mind, to see every nuance, to be experiencing it fully - so that you can, with words, communicate its essence perfectly to a reader at some nebulous point in the future.

There are moments when the creative urge sweeps you up and you are intoxicated. These moments are few. Most of creativity is about sustaining passion for these moments that have passed. And the only way to sustain that passion is to re-immerse yourself in the now each time you write and edit and polish.

When you write in the moment concepts like show don't tell make much more sense. Most new authors write from the objective authorial viewpoint - some cold and distant observer recalling the past.

Good writers of experience know that this viewpoint is often passive and lacks engagement. Far better to make the reader feel like they're in the moment with the characters, the action and the experiencing the emotional impact of the interactions...

All this is a preamble to my next writing course.

I want to teach you how to create suspense in fiction.

Suspense encapsulates so many of the necessary ingredients to good quality fiction in all possible genres.

Suspense needs good characterization - but not too much. Good suspense requires disciplined pacing, and a great feel for what information to reveal and when. All essential elements in effective thrillers, romance, horror and fantasy novels.

Soon I want to invite you to become part of of my latest writing resource: "The Write Stuff: Suspense in Fiction"

I know I said that I could be moving on - into publishing, film and music production. And I'm doing all that...

...but the lure of my first love, my mistress: writing, is too strong to give up on her hold on me just yet.

Hopefully you know exactly how that feels.

Keep Writing.

 rob at home

"Our interest's on the dangerous edge of things.
The honest thief, the tender murderer,
The superstitious atheist."
Robert Browning
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