Category Archives: Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour

My strengths as a writer

The fact that an elephant can learn how to balance itself on a small cabaret chair is probably just as hard to explain as is what I consider myself to be strong at. Perhaps characters, or plot? Backgrounds or grammatical correctness? How can one be strong in one without using other parts of your literal work to support it?

A book is a complete project, where nothing is necessary, yet everything is necessity. You can take out a background or characters or plot twists without loosing a book, but if one is missing, others must fill the void. It’s a novel nevertheless. I’ve read a good experimental novel that consisted nothing but dialog – no descriptions, no character was named or background given. Yet it was wonderful experience and it made my imagination go wild.

At the same time I’ve read books that had all the literal elements, but I couldn’t bare them much longer past the first pages. I felt I was cheating the writer, who had put so much love in his work and it tore my heart to know that I just couldn’t read it.

So how can I judge my own works, in what I’m lacking or what I need to improve? Judging itself isn’t the problem, I do it all the time, but acting up on it is different story.

I have kept all my works I’ve written since 1996. I pick them up every now and then and read what I wrote in the beginning and compare it whit what I write now. It is two very different worlds and third world that’s all in-between. I’m glad I kept them. Reading them, I see the odd stages I’ve gone through as a writer. It’s like Picasso’s painting periods – blue, rose, African influenced. In my instant – studying emotions, characters, descriptions and dialog. Only thanks to seeing them do I understand that there is no one thing I could be better at without developing others further. Only if they become equally strong have I good book that many would like to read.

Perhaps that’s the reason why it has taken so long for me to get to where I am now – finishing the second manuscript to send off to publisher. First one didn’t go through and, well, I’m glad it didn’t. But without it I wouldn’t be working on this one either.

The pork is judged after the big is slain. Same way the writer is judged when the book is out and everybody can have a say on it. There will be plenty of folks, who just can’t wait to cry “why did I put so much trust in that guy?”. Before this happens, everything can feel like big mistakes and everything will look weak and hopeless. I can only hope that some of the weaknesses can become strengths one day. Until that time comes, I can only work and build on the bones.

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Today’s post is my response to the prompt on “What I Do Best (My Writing Strengths)” this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

 

Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on September 21st, 2012

 

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What’s On My To-Read list?

I could do it really short and say – school books. In longer version – anything but school books.

 When I’m working on something, I tend to read a lot of scientific books how and why things work. It is important to me that if I give out the final work, it should be polished and shine. I’m far from perfectionism, but I very much enjoy fully thought through books, even if it’s mindless action.

 I am right now reading Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter by Melissa G Moore and M Bridget Cook. It is – as it says in the name – a book about daughter of a serial killer. When I started researching my story, I knew there were stories out there that would seem too similar to mine if I didn’t pick them up and read them through first. This was one of them, but I didn’t get to it before now. I don’t read many biographies unless it is related with historical people or someone, who has already passed away.

 Bullies, Bastards and Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell is sitting on my shelf only inches away from grabbing distance so I would do some school work, too. Though the book itself looked slightly simple, when human character is involved, I still love it.

 I bought this book, because I wanted to study phenomena in modern literature that started bothering me some time ago. If you read Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky books – bad characters are bad. They perform their criminal acts with reasons that give no doubt – they are bad. But if you take modern genre literature, then often it seems that bad characters are simply good guys fallen from grace. Which itself isn’t far from the truth, but the load of excuses writers use to justify their actions is overwhelming. The worst cases I’ve put the book down, because I sense that the writer is afraid to show criminal as they are – bad. So I wanted to know what is causing this. Fear to show character one-sided? Fear to explore the darker fields of humanity?

 All the Men, All the Women by Herbert Lockyer is a book about men and women mentioned in Bible. I find it very ignorant if someone non-religious person says Bible should be left in the past, where it belongs. For European, Bible, we like it or not is the bases of our cultures and this includes literature. Most character types, plots or humane characters all come from it.

 You might not find count Dracula between those pages, but Judas Iscariot is often related with him and it is ridiculous to hear a teenager snorting in the middle of university movie night “Why do they mess up stories with religion!?”. You can imagine class full of educated students and lecturers’ faces to such question. She was quickly forgiven though – teenager after all.

 Moral Panics and the British Media, an article by By Ian Marsh and Gaynor Melville is an interesting article in Internet Journal of Criminology about media as crucial element in creating nation spread panic based on moral differences. This is for the book I’m working on.

 Human Behavior and the Social Environment: Macro Level: Groups, Communities, and Organizations by Katherine van Wormer, Fred Besthorn and Thomas Keefe (Jan 16, 2007). This one also relates with the book I’m working on. I have slightly older version of it from the library (Gates of Heaven!), but it will give me the over-all idea of how groups work-react in different situations. Before I began researching, I would have never even dreamed how deep and complicated groups can be! In general, yes, but how it is related to the size of the group on how they work out as a team, how leaders react and work – it was different than I expected.

 I know it drives me crazy when I have too much research and not a bit fun. So I’m rediscovering my old favorites, especially Diana Palmer. She has big collection of works and I enjoy reading her books from different decades. It gives interesting view on how her romances have changed over the years and especially her use of words and trends. Everything can help with the research.

 

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Today’s post is my response to the prompt on What’s On My To-Read list?, this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

 

Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on August 21st, 2012.

 

 

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Why I am a writer?

The most typical response to this question would be “Because I loved to tell stories from the moment I learned to talk”. In reality, it’s more difficult.

 

I began writing in 1996. I began many things on that year and to me it is my second birthday, the moment everything changed. But I didn’t think back then that my future ambition would be writing books as thick as on the shelves of libraries. I wanted to be a cook, or my first love – become a cow keeper! And no, I’m not joking, this has been my dream since I learned to speak.

 

Then nature intervened. I learned from early age that what ever career I would have to choose, it had to be something I can do without being on my feet all day. Others with my destiny were less lucky – they had to learn this truth when they already had their dreams established.

 

Writing wasn’t my first love. I dreamt of becoming a painter, go in animation and make movies. Grandmother got me a book on how Disney characters are drawn and it was the time when the first documentaries arrived here how animations were made and I was hooked. I still think great deal of animation and there are techniques I have picked up that have helped me a lot on my journey to where I am now.

 

It wasn’t until end of High School that I started separating my two hobbies – writing and painting. By that time it had grown from simple blind impulse to replace that book my granny’s friend lost to something more serious. I find it still hard to believe I was so obsessed with the idea. But my love for art and crafts kept just as steady pace and in the end my art teacher approached me and told me that I now face a choice of my life – university and language, literature or art school and art. I didn’t spoke with her entire week.

 

Back at home I took out my art portfolio and my writings and just sat between them on my bed for long time. I knew I would be happy either way, but it was clear that if I didn’t make my choice then, I would be mediocre for the rest of my life, because I wouldn’t commit myself fully. One had to become my major, the other my hobby.

 

On the next art class I told my teacher that I’m choosing fiction. The decision was hard, but I have never regretted it. Art I do whenever it reaches out to me and I am very lucky I committed myself for it for so long – it is my second passion and will be for life, yet I believe it has given a lot to how I see this world and how I write. The feeling that you create is absolute joy.

 

At the same time the way I wrote… I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night to paint, but I did to write. My note books were often doodled with decorative edges, but in them weren’t lessons, but fantasies of aliens invading Tallinn. I went through 3 note books a month and often had to rewrite my note books before the inspections; because they consisted more of stories than what was suppose to be there.

 

By this I knew what my future would be. I knew, what ever my future has stored for me, I would still be painting with words, covering my characters with layers of varnish and tinting the paints of background perfect with little bit of oil or if needed, something far more flammable. I still paint, I have my paint chest just reach away, but my main passion, the absolute joy, is harvested from writing and that is good enough reason to me.

 

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Today’s post is my response to the prompt on Balance, this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

 

Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on July 21st, 2012.

 

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From cake to rubber ball

Balance in life is like climbing up the Christmas tree with nothing more than your bathing suit on. It is wonderful to go up, but it’s hell to come back down.

I might be young, but there is one lesson in the course called “Balance” that I have already obtained – plans work out only if there is enough sleep. Being one of the folk, who sings with the owls, I consider myself lucky for the extra few hours that I get in the night to work on the stories, but I have also realized how important it is to know yourself so the rest of the world can play with you too.

When I began my life with two jobs, family, school and pets, I felt like being the one up on that tree not my sister, everything pricking through my sensitive skin and all I could do was to scream as loud as I could possibly manage. I was literally living on a schedule where I had even planned my sleeping pattern down to minutes. It was hell.

Now I’m still working in two places, share half of the responsibilities in the household, I’m near the end of my second year in the University and I have one extra dog. Plus I have not lost interest in writing.

There are always those nice cake charts on the net that show you how many different things you should fit in your life in order to have balances, harmonious life. Have you ever thought how unperfected that is? Cake is, well, for eating. If we take time and chew ourselves through one of the sectors, we discover that the second sector is still untouched and we dig in that one while still running to the other end of the cake to finish up with the first one…

How about we take our life balance as a huge rubber ball? The one that children use to play baseball. You are in that ball and all your life, everything related to it, is in that ball, too. So you are the centre point of it and everything floats around, moving closer and further away as they bounce back from the rubber wall that’s the surface of our reality. All you need to do is deal with whatever of this comes to you in order that they arrive – sometimes it’s horrific mess, the other times it’s nothing in weeks.

All this can be achievable if you give your brain time to rest – the biggest tool for my writing. When it was so hectic I couldn’t get any sleep for 3 days in a row on regular bases, my imagination grew itself wings and took vacation without me. That pretty quickly taught me that if I want imagination to stay with me and take vacations with me, I need to plan my life so that sleep came first and everything else second. Take it as the middle rod where you chain the swing to. If you want to swing –write- well, you need to balance yourself according to the situation, pumping the swing to the direction you need. Best if you have friends to help.

Writing is the same to me. You can’t expect that after first push it will swing forever the same way. Sometimes you need to take the speed down, other times you want to try different type of swinging, but one thing is sure – you need to keep pushing so one day you can become professional, who will challenge the next kiiking world record and touch the edges of your rubber ball, adding what you encountered to your writing.

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Today’s post is my response to the promt on Balance, this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

Next stop on the tour is B.C. Matthews on June 21st, 2012.

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Influences: the book I could never read

I was thinking of writing about Karl May, Oscar Wilde, Stendhal, Gerald Durrell, Julie Garwood, Briggs or Moaning, but then realized that they are nice, but not my greatest source of strength, inspiration or style.

In 1996 summer I wanted to read a book.

My grandmother remembered a book she had with lots of short stories that she thought could interest me – romantic stories. Being in my tender age, I agreed and we started going through the shelves. While we were searching she kept telling me how lovely it was and how good stories it had and how well it was written compared with others published at that time. She reads a lot and believed her, getting exited about it more and more, imagining myself holding that book, keeping it like a treasure it was and indulging myself with one story per day so I could enjoy it even more. In my dreams it was old, with yellow pages, lost its covers and smelling of wormwood – just like the old newspaper collection from 1920s my brother kept in his closet.

Then, when we reached to the last shelf, she suddenly gasped, turned and said while looking right at me from the chair she was standing on : “I lend it out to my friend in 60s,” she said, “I think she left it on the bench in bus stop.”

I was appalled. There was no book?

I so wanted to read it that I turned down every other book she tried to offer me instead, until she suddenly said: “Why won’t you just write the story you want to read?”

I took pen and paper and started five minutes later. Page long stories, one per each day and in no time I can replace the book that careless borrower lost. I still thrive to fulfill my youth’s promise – to replace that book that borrower left on that bench in that bus stop. No other book – that one.

I am still angry she lend it out, but also glad. Because this lost collection of short romantic stories has given me more inspiration and stamina than any other book that I have ever read.

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Today’s post is my response to the promt on Influences, this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

Next stop on the tour is Tiberius Clausewitz Drusus Nero Germanicus on April 21st, 2012.

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Procrastination: the excuse of free time

As seen from the time I’m posting this, I’m using the power of procrastination to its fullest. Reality was that until yesterday I was busy with studying for 4 exams, which make up the Top 5 of reasons right now why not to write. Unfortunately, number fifth is everything else one chooses to ignore.

School is important in any writer’s life. They just fixed our timetable so we had four exams in 3 days. It happens and it brings out the time old question – to write or to study. I’ve been part of the group, who uses writing as procrastination tool – I had no problem putting school on background just so I could finish one scene or put down the main ideas for the next novel.

Yet time comes when this kind of behaviour brings up right at the door of this havoc life that we like to run away from, raising our eyes, we only find mess. Then we must delay everything in your writing life and save your personal life for a change. I fear this times the most – it’s surprising how much mess wrecks through closed doors even if avoiding being part of it all.

I have project in my hands that I’ve been working on for over half a year and try to write. Six times I’ve started and it still flees like being chased by wolves. Every time I try to sit down and write I sense I’ve been so busy doing everything else that I just need that particular day to relax and do nothing. When did I come to this point when instead of using writing as procrastination I’m instead using everything else to avoid writing, using the free time as an excuse not to sit down and write? I don’t do everything to avoid writing, but when I get free moment, I don’t want to spend it behind the computer or researching.

Perhaps that’s exactly what I need. To sit down, rest my back against the green soft fabric and let the fingers fly, let them surprise me with their outcome. That’s vacation, isn’t it? Life has been dealt with, time to procrastinate it until next disaster.

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Today’s post is my response to the promt on Procrastinatin, this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

Next stop on the tour is Tiberius Clausewitz Drusus Nero Germanicus on February 21st, 2012.

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Striped punk stockings

„I read, because you read! And you read, because I read!“

I started listing on piece of paper the qualities I want from my reader. The list came surprisingly short. It’s not the question I haven’t face before, but the reality is, it tends to change it’s answers.

When I was 12, wrote my first 200 word piece, illustrated the edges with girls in pretty gowns, I didn’t want anyone to read my writings. I just wanted to hide it in the bottom of the shelf, under fat encyclopedia, where I knew no one would ever look, because it was covered with dust, and read it when ever I felt the need for romantic story. My first reader was me. I knew exactly what I wanted and got the fix I needed.

When I continued writing, I noticed that someone had started reading my stories, fingerprints appeared in the dust I kept on the books. Small, tiny circles. I realized that since I first started, there was another one in my family, who was just a toddler then, but is now in the age, when she too is searching for intriguing stories, ideas that little girl’s books don’t quench. I never considered her old enough and felt the need to hide when I put the papers back, but one day her curiosity got better of her and she started reading them. On that day I grew up.

My mother likes to say that because we are so close, she is ruined by our image and I feel full responsible for ruining her. From then on I knew exactly the limits of my stories. We have eight years cap between us and I was well aware that she kept keen eye on my every update, so I knew I couldn’t write anything that wouldn’t fit to her eyes or mind. By how I understood it at the time. There was no way I could write in anything more than a kiss before I was sure she was well aware how things go. Taught me to do my research thoroughly and accept the limits of age. This didn’t stop me pushing the boundaries though and there was couple of incidents, when she called me up two hours after I had posted update and demanded to know what it was she read about. Weird as those conversations were, we learned together things we had no idea could even exist.

She is my most valued reader even now, giving me feedback on far better level than any outsider could. She notices things I often don’t and sends me grinning memos on silly mistakes that turn the entire scene upside down. At some point I even added music suggestions on bottom of the page so she could get the full feeling of the story. That until I learned to express the emotions better.

Odd is, I still do it, even though she is already grown up and I know there is hardly anything left in our world that could change us. I still measure my freedom to write on her age and how she understands the world. It seems so natural, I don’t even think it can work any other way. She is my ultimate reader, my little punk girl in red-green stockings, singing like an angel and starting conversations right where we left off.

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Today’s post is my response to the promt on My Ideal REader, this month’s topic for the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Throughout the month, you can get to know twenty (or so) other writers from various genres and backgrounds and at various places in their careers.

Next stop on the tour is Tiberius Clausewitz Drusus Nero Germanicus on January 21st, 2012.

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