Recently a very good friend of mine passed away. it was sudden and tragic and far too soon. That was back in June. Last week I went to a visitation for another friends father. Obviously he was much older than my friend who’d passed away in a car accident but his passing was no less painful.
The visitation last week involved Catholic prayer and was entirely in Croatian. I’m not Catholic and I’m not Croatian, but as I sat there listening to the words I didn’t understand about a religion I know little about it dawned on me. Grief is universal it doesn’t matter what language it speaks or what religion you wrap it in.
It looks the same, smells the same. and tears through you in exactly the same way. With gut wrenching relentlessness that never stops and never tires.
Grief never goes away. There are many flavours, several shades. It never fades. It is only our perception that changes. It’s our ability to adapt to loss. to grow accustomed to absence. It is only our sheer will that pulls us through each day as we fight not to be swallowed whole.
It is why we often fear death and hate change. One day grief will knock for us all and we’ll have no choice but to answer to the universal call.
I’m sure every author sets out to do this. So what do I mean? Write something thought provoking, or something that reaches inside you and rips at your guts or tugs at your heart strings. Write something vivid that will leave an impact.
Write what you love, not what people thing you should write or what you think will sell.
Yes, you read that correctly. All writers want to create the next work that takes the world by storm, and if they tell you they don’t then their full of shit, but it isn’t about that. Or at least it shouldn’t be. instead you should write in a way that brings each book to life.
So how do you do that? I’m sure I don’t have the answer, but for my money I’d bet write something real. Something you love. Be bold, be brave and don’t stop until the story inside of you is out in the world.
Paint your characters with vibrant colours. Love your protagonists. Know them inside and out as if they were your best friend. Hate your villains, they are the bag guys of the story after all, but offer redemption because on their side of the story they’re the hero. Create a rich world that you’re sad to see end. If you’re successful your readers will love your hero hate your villain and be sad to see the story end right along with you.
Is it something that makes you uncomfortable? The thought of someone seeing you naked. The thought of two men sharing an intimate embrace? Is it something considered wrong or dirty by society?
Maybe it’s something that invokes a thrill. Something that feels naughty or dark. Something you can’t look away from. It could be putting on a show for a lover not knowing if strangers are watching. Maybe you’re the voyeur watching the woman slowly taking off her clothes to entice her lover. Over time though things that were once considered taboo change. Is it only by exposure that these things become more acceptable?
It may be taboo, but it’s OK to fantasize about a stranger while your lover takes you. It’s OK to want to be bound helpless and unable to move forced to submit to someone more powerful than you.
Many people feel repressed and unable to accept how they really feel maybe they just want to be told It’s OK to want to walk the edge of what’s socially acceptable, to dip your toes in and test the waters.
It’s a word we hear often in every day life, a balanced diet a balance between work and play but what does it really mean and how do we achieve it?
Is balance really an attainable ideal or is it just that – an ideal something we all strive for but never quite reach. Balance in our work and home lives, balance in our relationships, but how many of us are walking around unbalanced?
How many of us are stressed? Maybe burning the candle at both ends?
I’m not good with numbers but if I were a betting person I’d say the numbers were high. So what do we do? Drink less caffeine, and do yoga? Sure if that’s your thing.
What do you do though if you do everything you can to achieve the much sought after balance and come up empty handed?
I am coming to believe we would be far more likely to find balance and therefore a deeper happiness if we looked internally. I think the key is letting go of the guilt many of us feel.
Whether it’s guilt for sleeping that extra hour, or guilt over watching trashy TV. It could be guilt over reading one more chapter when you know you should be doing the dishes that are in your sink, or saying no to that invitation you got or task you don’t want to do.
Only when we let go of all of that, will we stand a real chance at achieving balance.
To you it may be something different than what it is to me, and that’s OK. We are each here to walk our own journey. People you meet will walk with you for a time. Some will come and others will go. Some will reappear and some will be gone forever.
So you have to decide what is important to you, and that can be a very difficult thing to know, because to know what’s important you have to know yourself. You have to really know. Not just the superficial mask we all put on each day to face the world.
You have to know what can be cut away when it’s dead to make way for new growth. You have to know when to forgive and you have to know when to fight.
Above all you have to realize that what’s important to you isn’t always important to other people even when you think it should be and you have to learn to make peace with that and live in the moment.
Life seems infinitely long, but it can pass you by in a blink and you have to decide what’s important?
We all do it, walk by with out a second glance and carry on with our busy lives. The sad truth though is that none of us are here forever. Life is finite and unpredictable. Death will come for us all and we will be unable to ignore the call.
So today as I write and strive to push myself further beyond my boundaries I’m trying to reflect on the little things. The things that at the time seem insignificant but with hindsight are brought into focus as life changing events.
What makes us decide one thing over another? Why do we choose one path when we could easily go the other way? When life has taken many twists and endless tuns will I still recall the scent of your skin? Will the memory of your lips be as sweet? Your touch as soft?
Or is it a trick of time? Perhaps I’ll not remember at all, and the sound of your voice will fade away like a whisper on the wind my memories of you blurred like an old photograph.
I live with this fear that I will forget It grows in my chest like a slowly spreading poison and my only defense is to focus on the little things.
Everyone says that to new writers and it’s sound advice. After all just like it’s best to negotiate from a position of power it’s also best to write from one. That said, what happens when you can’t do that?
Well, normally I’d suggest research…a shit ton if need be – but even that isn’t always possible.
You’re a woman how do write believable male characters or vise versa? Sometimes there is no one to ask. There is no research that can reasonably be done So what do you do?
How do you get inside the head of your male homosexual leading character and express their relationship in a way that isn’t stereo typical? How do you make it three dimensional and moving?
I think sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet.
So, you bashed a character in your book. You gave them horrible qualities and put those qualities under the microscope for all to see. Now they are clamoring to have their story told.
So now what? How do you turn around a character trait and take a character from dis-likable and make them your hero? I think the secret is to make them as real as possible. Make them as human as you can. No one is completely good or completely bad.
Give your character a reason to have had their bad habits and horrible qualities in the first place, then show the journey that they are taking to fix those quarks.
If you can do this readers will fall in love with characters they started out loving to hate.
Christmas is still weeks away and I know that I’m early, but I started wondering what was on everyone’s wish list this year.Life is too often measured in material things. Things with expensive price tags that bring status or prestige, but some times there’s a gift under the tree that you open late at night when no one else is around.
You don’t tell anyone what it is. It’s not something to share it’s something naughty. Something just for you to make your toes curl.
Sometimes it’s not a gift at all but a soul melting kiss under the mistletoe. Sometimes it’s a fantasy that, that someone special in your life has brought to life. A mystery man shrouded in darkness who makes your heart beat a little faster.
Or a woman on display waiting for you. It could be a a darker fantasy perhaps of more than one lover. Or the desire for a firm hand.
What’s on your list this year?