The Spark Blogfest: Who Set You Off?

I saw this blogfest a couple of days ago when I was browsing through my fellow campaigners’ blogs. I thought, “What a great idea!” And then I go and do something else forgot about it. Of course. Luckily I saw it again today and I’m so not going to forget it!

I read around other writer’s blog and most of them said they know they wanted to be a writer since forever. Well, I don’t. I went through my childhood going from one dream to another, from being an astronaut to building a underwater train tunnel (with glass walls so you could see fishes in the ocean!). I went to engineering universities, studying Informatics and Digital Media (which I still love doing right now, as a freelancer).

What I always know, however, I love written words. I love to read and I love to write. I just didn’t realize it that *I* could actually be a writer. I thought someone like JK Rowling live somewhere on the untouchable clouds. I thought that in order to be a good writer, you’d have to be English/American/Western. I’m not really a fan any of Indonesian author’s work when I grow up. I know it’s a terrible thing to say, but that’s just how I felt. I didn’t say they were bad, just not really my cup of tea.

So, What book made you realize you were doomed to be a writer? I never felt like I was doomed, actually. (I know it’s sarcasm, but still… it felt wrong to me). It’s a choice of what I’d love to do. For better or worse, right? As a kid I was somewhat associated with the great Astrid Lindgren, although mostly because we shared the same first name, and I love her books. I adore Pippi’s courage, and I secretly hoped I had red hair. My first spin off story was from an adventure/detective series, S.T.O.P. It was translated into Indonesian and I couldn’t find it in English (vaguely remembered it was written by a German author).

Books that made me instantly want to run to my computer and write are… chicklit books. It’s that funny, heart warming, uplifting, and happy mood I have after reading those. It doesn’t mean I wrote chicklits, but it’s a very great mood pickup for me.

But then, the book or author that changed my world view is Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. He showed me that it’s possible to be a successful author, even if you’re not from an English speaking country. It’s possible to make a good living from writing a book. It doesn’t matter if I started late in my life. I know, some of you thought I’m not being realistic by this because most authors are poor, bla bla bla… BUT there’s always a chance in this, and unlike being a fashion model, there’s no expiry date unless I stop trying. I believe in that chance and I know you do too!

Do share your sparks too! If you’re not a writer, share the spark of why you became who you are right now :).

Have a great weekend!

Enthusiasm. How Do I Get It Back? – Day 22

The Prompt:

Enthusiasm by Mars Dorian

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” is a great line from Emerson. If there’s no enthusiasm in what you do, it won’t be remarkable and certainly won’t connect with people on an emotional basis. But, if you put that magic energy into all of your work, you can create something that touches people on a deeper level. How can you bring MORE enthusiasm into your work? What do you have to think or believe about your work to be totally excited about it? Answer it now.

(Author: Mars Dorian)

First of all I’d like to say I love this prompt. Great one!

I’m a firm believer in being passionate about what we do. I wouldn’t be able to get up every morning if I don’t believe in what I do. That being said, there are plenty of times when I lost it, especially when I reread my writing draft and realized how bad it was, when there’s no words coming out of my head, or when I felt I lost the connection even with my dearest friends.

When you follow your bliss, you know your enthusiasm is there. Most of the time. I bet that’s why you chose it in the first place. After all, this IS your dream. There’s no blaming anyone for this. Please don’t try to blame yourself either, it’ll get you nowhere. You’d have no choice but to rediscover your strength.

Trust thyself. I love those words. I know we all do, the dreamers who chase their dream tend to trust themselves more. I know I’m here now because I trusted myself. Just sometimes, the feeling got buried away in my daily activities and challenges.

How do I get it back?

  1. Go back to the feeling I had when I first decided to go on to this journey. At that moment, I truly felt like the whole universe is opening its way towards my dream. It’s like the moment when you knew the man you like IS the one you’d like to spend the rest of your life with.
  2. Read praises and encouragements. I’m sure we all had some, right? I actually kept a folder in my computer and in my moleskine where I kept the praises and encouragement. Even when things go bad, it made me feel good that once upon a time, someone actually liked my work (and me). If it happened once, I can go back to that awesomeness again.
  3. Read biographies and success stories. Realize that behind the successful people there must be struggles. They can do it, so I surely can do it too.
  4. Remember the greater goal. Why did I want to do this in the first place? There must be more than just money or fame. I want to inspire and make people smile.
  5. If no. 4 failed, I would do a cheap trick to keep me up. I promised myself I would get some presents when I’m done with my work. In my case: lipstick.
  6. Let it go for now. Maybe we’re just tired, either physically and emotionally. Take a break, live your life, laugh, and love!

Do you have your tips? Do share 🙂

Afraid to Do. Inflicting Pain on My Characters. – Day 9

The Prompt:

Afraid to Do by Mary Jaksch

The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” What is ‘too scary’ to write about? Try doing it now.

(Author: Mary Jaksch)

Until now, I’m always too afraid to inflict pain on my characters. I’m not talking about getting slashed by the sword or your boyfriend is leaving you kind of pain. It’s that one big blow striking the very core of the character’s belief, something that would feel like someone took the ground they’ve been standing on.

For instance, I could never write an ending like in City of Angels (movie) or One Day (novel by David Nichols). I hate them and I would never want to write (and read) something like that.

On the other hand, I would love to be able to write an ending like The Book Thief (novel by Markus Zusak). It’s not necessarily pain free, but it made the book more beautiful in my opinion.

Perhaps I believe too much in the saying “everything happens for a reason” so I couldn’t inflict a random pain. As if, I, the story maker needed to know the reason of the pain before I’m able to bestow it on my characters. Even then, often I still couldn’t do it, afraid that I would hurt my soul too in the process.

I promise I will work on my fear, and I’ll try to kill or backstab a character or two. Maybe you’ll get to read it if I think it’s good. But please, don’t tell me it’s an absolute necessity, or if it’s a sure way to make a book much better, because I only believe in pain when it makes the character stronger.

Choosing to be a Full Time Writer

I’ve seen a lot of articles out there, saying that you shouldn’t give up your day job to be a writer because most writer will never make enough money to live. Well, if what you want is a huge paycheck, perhaps you should go into one of the professions listed as high paying instead. Surgeons, lawyers, dentists, and oh wait… software related (which was my degree) was also listed there three times. Damn, I should be able to get my huge paycheck as a software engineer.

Except that I know it’s not what my heart wants. Ignoring it will just kill my soul. And as lucrative as lots of money could be, I know it will never be enough to make me happy in the long run.

I believe in following dreams, going where my heart leads me to.

I know that not everyone can do that. We do need to take care of our living cost. But you’d be surprised that sometimes it’s not the money that stopped you, it’s the fear. Uncertainty. Will I ever make it? Am I delusional? Will I ever make it as an author? Well, tell you what, if you don’t believe in yourself, it’s less likely that anyone else will.

So if you do have the chance to do it, just do it! Imagine the possibilities of having  the time to fully commit to research, write, rewrite, edit, and  promote your work. Imagine how wonderful it feels doing something you love the whole day long!

Loving a Character

Some people reads a book because of the setting, some reads because of the action, and some reads because of the characters are compelling.

My love for a book usually has a lot to do with my love with the main characters. It is them that made me flip through pages, reading in anticipation, cheering through their achievements, crying through their sadness, and curious to know where they will be in the end. But what makes someone falls in love with a character?

I read somewhere (totally forgot the book title/article link, sorry!) that it’s important for the character to have flaws, make them as real as possible. Good. So I would just make up someone who supposedly I would like to be friends, and give her/him some flaws. That’s easy enough, everyone should love them now. Err… not true.

As I go through my friends’ book list, or reading their book meme, or just browsing through their book-related posts, I realized that no matter how close we were in real life, or how awesome we get along laughing at the same jokes, doing the same things, etc., sometimes we could have a very different taste in books.

Yes, there are some generalizations… someone who hates shopping will probably never be able to connect with Becky Bloomwood from Sophie Kinsella’s shopaholic series. Someone who hates whining probably wouldn’t like Bella Swan from Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga. Someone who’s a bookworm would probably prefer Hermione Granger to Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (Just realized how smart Rowling is by creating more than one important characters).

It easier with those characters I mentioned because they have a very distinct personality developed in a series. What about if it’s only one book? Would it be harder to build a strong opinion on the character?

For example, I felt neutral with the main character in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. I know someone who loves her, and I know someone who dislikes her. Both of them are my friend. Or I dislike the main character in Lindsay Kelk’s I Heart Paris, but I know there are some people who seemed to love her (at least that seemed to be the case from some of the reviews I read).

What makes you love the main character? Is it because he/she is a person you’d like to be friends with in real life? Or is it because you saw something in them that resembles yourself? Or is the character possess something that you aspire to be?

In the same sense, why would you hate a main character? Is it because you wouldn’t want to be friends with that person in real life? Or is it because the character has a certain treat that you dislike so much?

Do share your opinion in the comments 🙂

Me? I love a character because I could see a part of me there. Yes, I’m aware this might imply that I have narcistic tendencies… but hey, look at the title of the blog ;). Actually what I meant was we all have our fears and flaws… and lovable treats. And it’s great to see someone, fiction or not, overcame those.

As a writer, I must conclude that there’s no way I could tell for sure if everyone would feel the same about the characters I wrote. Everyone has their own view on what they deemed interesting, and it starts to look like it’s almost as unique as someone’s personality.

I could only go with my gut feeling as I wrote, and hope my reader would love them as much as I do.