Creative Writing

RUST REMOVAL: DAY 4

Continuing with the Writer’s Digest 12-Day Writing Plan.

A follower was kind enough to point out that WD also has weekly writing prompts as well. Based on the way I’m fighting, clawing, carving out writing time just for the 12-Day plan I definitely will focus on that next.  In the meantime…

A 12-Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises

Day 4:  Write a letter to an agent telling her how wonderful you are.

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Dear Ms Clappingbotthom,

I strongly believe that what makes an enjoyable memoir or nonfiction essay is not that it’s so unique, but that it’s common enough that it resonates with someone.  Everyone has high and lows, up and downs, good and bad days, and so on.  It’s the story that connects that writer to that reader that’s important.  As the church folk say, “If I could just touch one” is good. This is in my mind as I share my stories.

I’m your classic people person. Never met a stranger. Yes, it has cost me a few times, but I refuse to let those few occasions trump all of the wonderful experiences in this great life I’ve lived.  Yes, my stories may contain sadness, but isn’t that life, and I would certainly be “unique” if I am the only writer who has never encountered grief in some form.

I can’t control misery happening, but I can control how much I talk about it.  Thus, my stories that  I share are not just “The Wonderful Life and Good Times of Dennis Young.”  They are “How I Lost My Wallet on Vacation and Still Had a Great Time.”

The enclosed story “One Night in Oz”, talks about my first visit to New York City as a young teenager, describing the sights and adventures my younger cousin and I lived during that night.

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Ok, that was quick and dirty.  I don’t know if that makes me “wonderful” or if I really got into the spirit of the exercise, but I enjoyed writing it nonetheless.

I’d appreciate any feedback, especially from  any agents or those of you who have done query letters before.

Next week’s exercise is going to be a bear: write a 20 line poem about an event in my life.  I think I’ve created, oh, about two poems, in my life!  ‘the hell I’m going to write a poem about my life?

RUST REMOVAL: DAY 3

Slowly but surely, haltingly but patiently struggling forward, working with the Writer’s Digest’s writing plan:

A 12-Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises

Day 3:  Write a setting based on the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen.

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I was never what you call a nature person. I like astronomy and space travel. Correct that: I love and I’m fascinated by it. The NASA channel is first one up on my cable’s Favorite list.

The physical things here on the ground were another story. I never went camping, grew up in a seaport city, so the beach was nothing special. My trips to the zoo were ok. Or as Dom De Luise as Caesar says, “Nice. Not thrilling, but nice.”

My attitude is changed now. Here we go…

It’s a rainy Friday night in Cupertino, and Ron is absolutely giddy about it. “That means it’s going to be snow over there.”

There is Yellowstone National Park. We’ve flown to San Francisco on a Friday to get in a weekend of sightseeing before our Hewlett-Packard training class begins Monday. It’s been a full day of riding all over the city as soon as we checked in, and with lots of things to do on our agenda (yea, we’re here for training, but come on, our first time in San Francisco?) Ron wants to move the Yellowstone visit up to tomorrow.

I’m not much of a nature person, but I love flying, especially to California. I spend the entire journey looking at the changing landscape, and the memory of seeing landmarks in real life will never be forgotten. The Mississippi is a big-ass river! The Rockies are awesome! Maybe that’s how I like nature – at 30,000 feet.

We’re joined by Linda, a flight attendant for Delta that I’m dating, and that Saturday the three of us make the journey. It’s a clear day, and as we go along I see what Ron was talking about. The amount of snow gradually increases, and soon it’s a winter wonderland. I’ve dealt with lots of snow before, so nothing dynamic happening here.

After we park the car and begin to walk the first thing that gets my attention is the sound, like a building collapsing. Ron notices the look on my face, and grinning he tells me “That was blocks of ice and snow falling.”

Suddenly I’m really paying attention to where I am. The snow and trees and the sounds are different. It’ s not just a park anymore, not just trees and snow. Now I’m putting them all together, looking at the whole picture. Now I’m not in the city, throwing snowballs in the yard. There’s a little bit of fun happening here.

Now I’m looking at a mountain that goes straight up, there’s no gradual slope. It’s a gray wall that goes up forever. Take a rectangular piece of rock, stick it in the ground vertically, and then enlarge it a million times. I’m staring, and it freaks me out when I realize that I’m standing here staring.

Nature ratchets it up on me – clouds start to roll over the edge of the top, like someone’s dumped dry ice up there, turned on a disco fog machine. Spilling over, the clear blue sky giving sharp edges to them, like someone coloring within the lines, the contrast making them seem so much whiter. I have my camera with me and I take a few shots before another rumble gets my attention again. I go back to staring.

I’ve seen mountains, seen snow, seen clouds. Been on a mountain in the midst and clouds, never giving a second thought to the world around me. Now, it’s all that I see. Ron and Linda are off somewhere, I’m still looking up, in my own world.

The moment in everyone’s life, the moment some place or person or event tells you right then and there that this is special, a good special, happens to me. The moment that’s seared into memory forever.

I feel… small.

For the first time in my life, I’m awestruck.

I don’t think about anything except what I’m seeing, and I recognize now how someone can describe nature as peaceful, beautiful, enjoyable, awesome… and the handiwork of God. The rumble is His voice, the clouds His breath.

“Yea, David. I can see where you’re coming from.”

RUST REMOVAL DAY 2

RUST REMOVAL CONTINUES:   DAY 2 WRITING EXERCISE

Last week was fun, creating titles for books/articles/etc. I’d like to write.  What i wanted to do was create spontaneously, first thing to come to mind.  Not spend anytime formatting or editing.  Main  goal was simply moving the thoughts from brain to “paper.”  The whole point of the exercise is to get the creative juices going.

So here’s the next one:

DAY 2:

Create a character with personality traits of someone you love, but the physical characteristics of someone you don’t care for.

Glad they didn’t use Hate.    The remaining vestiges of the Christian in me IS not (supposed to be) comfortable with hate, but, gee,  I can do this using the phrase “don’t care for” as an excuse (yea, I know, can’t fool God)

So as I begin to think of two people on opposite ends of my affection scale I discover  that a huge part of me absolutely refuses to mix the two.  Sad to say, I’m struggling separating hate from “don’t care about.”  Hate’s running pretty strong at this moment in my life – that is, it generates the stronger emotion much, much more easily. I can’t talk about my grandmother while giving her the features of the most “not care for” person in my life: a former co-worker whom I will not speak to ever again,  even at gunpoint.  Biggest joke in office during that time was the teasing I got about showing up at her retirement luncheon.

Did not go!!!

Everybody has limits, she stomped over mine!!

SEE!!! Now I’m all pissed off again!!!  😡

And I don’t want to put this on those I Iove.

Wow! Suddenly this exercise isn’t the piece of cake like I thought it would be.  I can’t separate the personality of the bad from their physical makeup.  Nope, nope, and no.. can’t do it!

Damn if this isn’t turning into a psychological exercise.  Couch time, free of charge.  Hmmmm…   post this, and then regroup.  The only spontaneous thing that’s happening is mental combustion!

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SWAMP WATER, QUICKSAND, and NINJA MOVIES

Ahh, that time in a life when creativity is challenged. Calls to My Muse are sandwiched between calls to handle life issues. The transition from legal words to lyrical words is a challenge. Thoughts of creating things are replaced by thoughts of rebuilding things. I’m spitting out all of this fetid swamp water I swallow as I’m dog-paddling to ground I can stand on. I get there and It’s only a moment’s respite. Here come the mosquitos, going for the ears first. Why does the buzzing around in my ear bother me more than getting bit?

“Just bite my ass up and be on your way!”

Swatting at them, I take a step and sink knee-deep in quicksand! Oh great! What’s the saying, “the more you struggle the faster you sink”, or something like that? Everything in my being absolutely rejects that crap. Just stand there and sink? Nah, I’m going to pray (loud and long) but I’m
turning into one Indiana Jones-acting fool also. Just trust God to make that low-hanging branch strong enough to help me pull myself out!

The temple sits shrouded in fog. Dark green and black mold covers the doors and bricks, so thick and expansive I can barely see the mortar in some spots. Sections of carvings peek out through the mold – dragons and devils and snakes and scorpions and other unpleasant creatures. I wonder… How much can I charge them to pressure wash this place?

I enter. Sections of the ceiling have fallen ages ago, scattered over the stone floor of a vast, round hall. There are what appears to be doors every few feet, their entrances shrouded in darkness. Moonlight filters in through the remaining rafters, making a pattern of lines on the floor that resemble cell bars. Cobwebs are everywhere, and where the moonlight touches them they almost seem to glow. The only other object in the hall is a circular pile of loosely placed stones, forming a seat for a thin, bald, white-bearded man. He’s wrapped in white and green cloth, and sits with his legs crossed under him. He’s resting his elbows on his knees, hands propping his chin. Across his lap lays a very long samurai sword. I’m thinking, somehow, someway, I’ve stumbled into Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Part 3.

I’m just a few steps inside the temple, wondering what to do when he points a gnarly finger at me and shouts,

“Nǐ huì fàngqì ma?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Could you repeat the question, please?” (Ever polite, am I, imitating the very proper British chap)

He takes a long, sorrowful sounding sigh.

“Nǐ huì fàngqì ma?”

“Come again?”

A third time, “Nǐ huì fàngqì ma?”

Now I’m getting pissed, the improper Carolina chap. “WHAT?”

Now he’s pissed off way past my being pissed! He grabs the sword and hops off the stone. As soon as his feet hits the floor I turn around to run, and I see the door I just came though…is no longer there.

A bony hand on my shoulder spins me around, a wrinkled face is thrust into mine!

“Will you give up?”

Sounding like a four-year old kid who sees his bedroom closet door opening by itself in the middle of the night I scream, “Oh Jesus!”

“HE sent me! WILL YOU GIVE UP?”

… to be continued?

2013 – PROJECT #1

Writer's Digest Book Shipment

Ok,  I have an idea for my first official, genuine, bona fide, serious, magazine article.  I’ll be working on it the rest of this month, getting everything prepped for the next step – my Query Letter.  Right now I’ve submitted it for review, and once that’s done I’ll adjust accordingly and get it in the mail.  As it’s the holidays I’ll probably submit in January.  So here we go…jumping into it!

2012 has been all about preparation and training, learning the tools of this trade.  I know that I haven’t learned everything, but now I’m anxious to get rolling.  I know I haven’t wasted any time this year; as a matter of fact I’m in the home stretch of my Certificate Program (Thank You Jesus) and I’m really proud of that.  Basic Training is about done, and in 2013 I’ll be on active duty.

Thank God so far I’ve received good reviews from my instructors, so that’s an extra shot of confidence.  I’m not even worried about rejection, I’ve already had a couple of op-ed pieces I submitted this year turned down.  However, I did get a comment I posted to an article in the New York Times web site recognized by the Editors, listed with others under the “Top Comment” section. I can live with a one-for-three score now.

So next year can’t get here fast enough.  I’ve got my Voiceover plate spinning at full speed also, and as I’ve mentioned  in previous posts I’m still doing my balancing act between the two.  Big things are already under underway for that as well next year, but at this point I’m going to start detailing that in a separate blog dedicated to just voiceover.  An interesting thing I learned from my Publishing class is that almost 100% of the marketing and branding techniques are the same in both fields.  So, a VO blog will be another web life form next year, and Dennis 2.0 will just be about writing.

Oh, before I forget, I’m very happy, proud, blessed, and Thankful to have one of my earlier posts referenced by another blogger, so please check Amaya Ellman out:  ellmanbooks.com/2012/12/13/creative-nonfiction-is…

See you next post, definitely plan to get one in before New Year, as I went live with this blog on New Years Day 2012.  One year!!!  Thanks to God!

 

ONE YEAR

Hourglass

September marks one year since I retired and started the second phase of my life – Dennis 2.0. I wanted to spent the rest of my life doing what I wanted to do, to pursue the things that I always wanted to do. My interest in writing and photography and using my voice .

I am writing under “Dennis 2.0”  

I am Voiceover under “Dennis Young – Voice Talent.”

Everything under my own, personal,  Renaissance: Resurrection of Dreams Deferred”

All of my efforts this past year have boiled down to laying down a foundation. I’m not a published author or in-demand voiceover artist – yet, but I’ve done a LOT to set me on that path. I’ve had a ball going to classes and rediscovering the joy of learning things. I’ve been able to do new things and meet lots of wonderful people, live and on-line. Just recently traveled to Chicago for a voiceover convention, learning and networking.

My life has settled into a nice routine around the two interests. My writing program at Emory is going quickly. I’m almost finished. Right now working on a piece about street preachers.

My voiceover pursuit keeps me really busy. I have learned this is going to take a LOT more work than I thought. Not a bad thing at all, as I’m enjoying the journey. As I mentioned, just came back from a trip to Chicago for voiceovers. I am also part of a very strong Atlanta voiceover networking group. Lots of conference calls, meetings and training sessions, and they’re all beneficial.

A lot of stuff happening, and that’s what I enjoy. I had no intention of just retiring to watch grass grow. I was very, very miserable during my last year of work. I never wanted to be the person who came home everyday complaining about work. It had gotten to the point I hated Sundays because it meant going back to work the next day. Which meant I hated Saturday nights because next day it was Sunday. I couldn’t enjoy he time away from the job because I was too busy thinking about it.

For years I kept trying to get into the media end of the business, and outside of a few volunteer opportunities I never got anything solid. Meanwhile I was getting blessed with jobs all over the spectrum of things that never interested me. Sort of like paddling towards your goal but the currents keep sending you to other ports. And I did well at other things, with promotions and awards, which only frustrated me more because if I did well at those things then geez, what can I do with something I love???

So it’s been in my hands.  Finally. Training courses are courses I choose to take, and it’s my deadline, not a corporate target deadline.   Conference calls are ones I choose to participate in, because I want to  and need to.  Words can not begin to describe how liberated and happy I am to be doing this.

Make it or not, I have a little more control over what happens to me.  I thank God and my wife for the opportunity and blessings.

 After One Year… it  tastes and feels so good.

NOSE TO THE GRINDSTONE

Nose to the Grindstone

Lots of good stuff happening here.  Haven’t been posting because I’ve been busy. Excuses, excuses, excuses!!

Knee-deep, no make that vocal chord-deep in getting my Voiceover plans in play.    I’m just dedicating every second to that now.  My voiceover blog development is time-consuming… but once it’s done then I can enjoy the fruits of that particular labor.  I’ve also signed on with Voice123.com, and busy getting new demos created.  I’ve got a profile page there, but every resource out there, including Vince, my VO instructor, recommends having your own site.

Term Paper Galore

Finished up another writing class.  Got some practice in on writing travel guides and people profiles.  My Creative Nonfiction workshop is going great!!  As fate would have it, I had papers due for both classes at the same time, and I did my best to prevent that from happening.  It ended up where I couldn’t get my interview done until the same week my other paper was due, so…BOOM.  Flashback to college term paper marathon sessions, caffeine fueled courtesy Coke Zero.

My attempts to get pictures of the super moon a few weeks ago was a disaster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Total disasters!   Took two cameras with me.  I drove around about a half hour before moonrise to find the best view of the east.  I never realized there were that many damn trees around here.  I did find a good spot, and when the moon came up it was as impressive as advertised.  HOWEVER, through the lenses…another story.  I found a second spot, and about a half hour after rising it was still pretty huge, but the camera view was totally different.  I know there were probably some techniques I could have used, if I knew them, but I had forgotten to look them up, and was lucky to remember the whole thing was going to happen that night.

I couldn’t and won’t let another week past without a post.  Hell, I worked just as hard to get this set up as I’m doing now on the other projects.  Keeping this plate spinning, and now  I’m getting the other two plates balanced!

Dancer with spinning plates - Kandy, Sri Lanka...

See, it can be done!!!  Just takes practice!