Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Guest Post – Camp Fail

movingtetris
Our version of Tetris!

sistermovingtetris

Hey all, I know I have been gone a few days, sorry about that.  I was out helping my sister move! Lots of work and then no interwebs at the new place!  I am home, but beat, but I have a GREAT post to share with you all!  My great friend and cabin mate, StoryCoat, has some wonderful words for you, so here she is!

Camp Fail

Well, unlike my lovely cabin mate Ravyn, I did not make winner this year at camp. As I packed my proverbial bags to go home I wiped away tears of disdain at my camp fail! I nearly tripped over my lip as I headed out the door and down the trail to get on the last bus leaving camp. The bus for losers.  Ravyn bless her pea pickin’ heart, was long gone in that decked out bus for winners, banners flyin’ the whoops and hollerin’ lasting for miles down the road.
As I boarded the bus I nearly slipped on the puddle of tears dropped by others who failed to get their word count goal. I mounted the steps and stood looking at the bus full of heads hanging low, lower lips flowing over laps touching the floor of the bus. Whimpers coming from the mouths of those who had failed along with me. The bus was full, almost standing room only. (I’m also slow) Then it hit me. My lower lip zapped back up so fast it nearly bruised my teeth! We aren’t losers! We didn’t fail!! Heck! We’re on the bus!! WE ARE ON THE BUS!!! That means we took the time to at least make the effort to try. “WE ARE ON THE BUS!!” I shouted, “WE AIN’T LOSERS, WE ARE TRIERS AND WE TRIED!! WE GAVE IT A SHOT!!”
Then some little green kid looked up with teary eyes and said, “Yeah, but . . . there is no try. There’s only do or don’t do.”
“Okay,” I said. “So everybody who wrote something – anything at all for Camp NaNo raise your hand.” Every hand on the bus when up, including the little green kid’s. “Well then,” I said, “We all done did!! Maybe we didn’t do as much as we planned on doing but we did something which is a damn sight better than the millions who stayed at home doin’ nuthin’ sayin’ ‘oh yeah, dude that Camp NaNo sounds like fun. I’ma do that one of these days.’ By golly, WE got ON the bus, we came, we saw, maybe we didn’t conquer but we did a little bit and now we can go home proud of the fact that despite all the adversity we faced in the month of July, we wrote sumpthin’. Whatever it was, it counted. IT COUNTED PEOPLE!!”

You shoulda been there to hear all those long faces zapping back up to where they belonged. Even the little green guy got happy! The shouts of joy echoed for miles and miles. Sometimes it’s not whether you win or lose. Sometimes all that matters is that you made the effort!
Thanks, StoryCoat, for those amazing words of truth!  So long as you have even one word, it is one more word than you had before setting out on this Camp experience!  How about everyone else? Was camp a fail? Or did you manage to do “something”?
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Letters of Questioning: Flying a New Flag

LettersofQuestioning

Sailing these waters may be mighty dangerous, after last week’s look at plotting and how we get there, we have sailed on to murkier waters yet.  Taking a closer look at the Writer’s Role…  and without further adieu, here is the latest installment:

 

Dearest Dreamland’s Insurgents,

Of course the journey is never ending. There are of course periods of rest, reflection and learning, but then you move on and make changes. Don’t you know by now I am all about change?!? I thought my name said it all! Not to mention, what about you? Aren’t you all about upsetting status quo? Your name, like mine suggests stepping out of the norm. Not getting boxed in. Becoming a bit of a rebel!
Besides, is it not our job as writers to enlighten the world? As a writer we shape worlds. We affect the minds of others… even in something as simple as a fiction novel that is read for enjoyment. Honestly I think especially in fiction.
I was imminently inspired when I read The Writer’s Role in Society. It is suggested that writers are teachers, they have lessons to share and craft an entire work of art to do so. That writers offer something unique to them, something no one else can. The recreation of worlds.
I think that might just be the tip of the iceberg though! More than just lessons to share, we writers start new ideas. Inspire thoughts, and those cognitive responses move into actions. Like our very thoughts on a new idea in writing being that there are more than just plotters and pantsers, there two could be something new, revolutionary as evolutionists! Those who build upon what has come before!
So, my friend, I entreat you, what do you see when you look at the Writer’s role in society? Teacher, companion, friend, lover, anarchist, rebel… so much more, or maybe less?!? Or is it just a story shared? Are writer’s the rebels that can not be quelled? What say you?

Proudly flying my new pirate flag,
Random

 

Dreamland’s reply:

Ahoy, Random,
Why, I would never dream of upsetting the status quo – why? Who have you been talking to? How much do they know?! *ahem* sorry… anyway….
If by “enlighten,” you mean “set fire,” then yes, I’m all for “enlightening” the world. (I kid, I kid … mostly.) The question of the writer’s position isn’t easy to answer, which is why I also enjoyed the Nicholas Conley’s post The Writer’s Role in Society. He emphasizes that writers are teachers, yet, but another line that spoke to me was this passage:

“The different fiction genres each demonstrate a unique facet of the writer’s society. A horror writer will memorialize the discomforts of his era. A science fiction writer will demonstrate that era’s views on technology. A literary writer, of course, will display what everyday life was really like.

By writing a novel, the writer acts to keep his/her era alive for future generations, so that our children and grandchildren can understand who we really were, and what we stood for.”

Archivist, teacher – and, arguably, mirror. No matter how revolutionary or original we fancy ourselves, we’re also the products of our environment, somehow. So maybe one of the tricks is to show what is familiar in a startling way, or make the unfamiliar accessible?
Lots of writers have been agents of change, for good or bad. We have to have some awareness but we also have to build and burn, or, as one of my favorite bloggers phrases it, “sort, sever, detangle, grasp.”
So my question for you is, what do we do now? As agents of change, as writers, as people comfortable with assuming roles as necessary, fighting where we stand, agitating for change… What do we target? What forms of rebellion do we take and tell? Where exactly should our stories go? Where are we needed most and what for and why?

All dressed up with nowhere to sail,
dreamland’s insurgents

Be sure to check out Nicholas Conley’s Writings, Readings and Coffee Addictions, he has some good stuff over there!

 

 

So… what is your figuring?  Do you have something to add to our letter?  Have either of us missed something?  What are your thoughts on a writer’s role in society?

Do you have some ideas that you would like to see discussed?  Feel free to drop them here as well!

Letters of Questioning: Lost in Plot

LettersofQuestioning

This week’s post shifts directions after we were lost on an adventure with our characters, then it begs to be thought, what about plot?  How does it work?  What brings it all together…

Hey Dreamland’s Insurgents,

I think you may be onto something with one character being more comfortable to tell the tale, or maybe just wants to take control? I am pretty sure I am forever changed by my characters, but then… who isn’t? Are they not just a reflection of ourselves and how we see the world? I think that I never truly find my way back. To what purpose? I am just going to embark on another tale.
Which brings me to something else I have read… I beseech you, what do you think upon reading the words of Laura who was interviewed over on El Space about being neither a plotter or a pantser, but an evolutionist?!?!? I must say I was intrigued by this new idea in writing. What say you? Personally I would have to say it works! But then I fly by the seat of my pants and thought of myself as a pantser, but after reading those words, I must say I found it heartening that another idea could be born.
But I must ask, if new ideas of this caliber can be raised, what then are we missing in life?!? How many other ideas are we losing by staying with the status quo of what is already created? What other writing styles would that then open?

Lost in Plot,
Random

 

Catch his reply here:

Sup Random,
From your perspective it sounds like the journey is never-ending. That’s dedication! But there’s got to be a rest point, a time for reflection and gathering ye rosebuds — or at least contemplating your navel, Admiral! (Then again, I personally waffle more than a Danish prince….)
Laura’s guest post on El Space was, now that you mention it, one such instance where I stopped and paused. I’ve thought for a long time that too much planning was stifling, but also found that not enough of it left me adrift — the opposite of a purposeful journey. Not that I haven’t found a lot of great material roamin’ around, but I rarely find anything I feel I can actually call a narrative, you see? I think a dynamic blend is just what the tailor ordered — plus it’ll keep us from wearing out the seat of our breeches.
Put the calipers down, I beseech you — you might be striking before the iron’s hot, here. Whenever you start throwing the door open on the status quo, you start to invite the Vandals into Rome. Innovation is one thing, but asking what’s missing in life? Dreaming of untapped ideas? That sounds rather like insurrection, or at the very least infection — bringing back weird ideas from off the map might invite more change than people can cope with!

Sewing You a Pirate Flag,
Dreamland’s Insurgents

 

What are your thoughts on this subject?  Have you read the post over on El Space?   If not, I beseech you too, to head that way and tell me what you think!  Join in our endeavor!  Also, don’t forget to take a moment to check out Laura’s blog!  Remember we LOVE to hear your thoughts, or even read YOUR letters…

Letters of Questioning: Lost or Redefined

LettersofQuestioning

 

True to fashion we have brought you another intellectual installment of our treatise in the works!  Please enjoy…

Dear Dreamland’s Insurgents,
You are quite right, burning questions at the heart of writing. Oh, I suppose that may not have been what you meant. Your questions raise up some valid points of thought though. But I would argue, does one ever choose to embark on the journey? Is it not just set forth in front of you, and you step on it by happenstance? But then indeed, that would make it a calling, mayhap…
I beseech you then, what of the idea I stumbled upon while perusing on Bottledworder’s blog. The thought that jumped out at me of how after the telling of your tale, coming back to one’s own life. One’s own tale. Having recently disembarked from our Camp NaNoWriMo journey’s there is a certain truth in having to re-find, or maybe redefine oneself after the undertaking of a story of another. Losing oneself to the story, it is as if we are rudely awakened once more to reality, when we find ourselves once more on it’s shores. What think you? Does a writer let go to be lost to the words in the page only to come back at a later time to see what it was they laid forth? Or maybe it is to find themselves once more? Maybe even redefine, based on what is laid out before them?
Lost in the pages, or maybe redefining,
Random

 

Here is his response:

Dear Random,
You should get some ointment for those burning questions! Alas and alack and malarkey, I’ve got mostly questions in return. Call it obstinate or just plain obfuscation. Doesn’t a calling imply some caller? And all conditioned reactions to ringtones aside, isn’t it ultimately our choice to pick up the phone? Maybe I’m mixing my metaphors but on the other hand, we’ve got a reason to get meta for – without the appearance – illusion or reality – of our own agency, which is to say the agency of our characters, wither this impulse to change, and whyforeth the reluctance, yea verily?
Seriously, though, and this is why I also liked Bottledworder’s post on “Why Writers Must Listen,” it’s the choice of the characters or the author to give some stories voice or to hide them entirely. For me, I’m always redefining myself, and my characters show that I think. They’re struggles are often my struggles, as are the struggles of the people around me! (Partly because I steal shamelessly from the people around me!) No one is an island, though the wind and seas may take their effect on our internal geography. It IS about empathy, but it’s also about boundaries, and negotiating them. Why give one character the main narrative? Maybe because he/she/they/it are more comfortable with it than the other characters? How about you, do YOU get lost, and once immersed in another character, are you forever changed? How do you find your way back?

May there be no birds on your breadcrumbs,
Dreamland’s Insurgents

Please feel free to jump in and share your ideas!

Letters of Questioning: An Idea Formed

LettersofQuestioning

 

A thought was had, an idea formed, here is the results, for all to share!

Dreamland’s Insurgents,
It is with great joy I pen this letter to you! I propose that we embark on a journey. A forming of a treatise if you will, on the concepts that plague us in the depth of our writing journeys thus far in life. I know, dear friend, that you may wonder on why I bring this quest to you, but think on it… the value and meaning in the words we could create here! The world and the importance of our words and its impact.
We are intellectual beings on this writing journey. We see the world around us with our mind, and express that best with our words… with philosophy and thought. So I put it before you and ask what would you see in an endeavor like this? What would you choose to get out of the sharing of ideas? Journeying together to find the “real” meaning and ideas in this practice we call writing? What value and meaning would you find in a personal philosophical writing treatise?

Deeply Troubled, Lost to Concepts beyond all control,
Random

 

You can find his response here:

 

Dear Random,
Let me remind you of the helpful words of England’s most renowned philosopher, Douglas Adams: “Don’t panic.” If the concepts “plague” you, you should probably have a nice cup of tea and relax. That’s like aiming for a nightmare when you just want a nap! But to answer your question – for me, no doubt, there’s the most value in the written word when it’s shared – why would anyone write without an intended audience? Even if it’s just a future self…. We’re social creatures! In writing no less, so of course why not collaborate? If for nothing else, than to soothe that occasional malaise of melancholy which meaning might stir in your heart. Your questions, of course, need to be answered – they are at the heart of the writing experience like a hidden fire…. When do you decide it is time to take a journey? Is it a call, an impulse – lightning hitting your brain?

Dancing around the chaos,
Dreamland’s Insurgents

 

Please share any thoughts, ideas or comments you have in response to our letters!  We greatly encourage participation!

Guest Blogger: Dreamland’s Insurgents

So, the post I have been waiting for all week!  I am super excited to share with you my first ever guest blogger and writing partner in crime Dreamland’s Insurgents.  This is the first in many collaborations between us I do so hope!  But more on that later.  Here is my interview question that I asked him and his beautifully worded response.

gbdreamlandsinsurgents

“How Do You View Writing” and share a “glimpse” of your writing process.”

Although I’ve been writing since I was a wee lad, composing fantasy novels on the bus in middle school, it wasn’t until college that I became aware of the process. started thinking about composition, themes, characters, you know, the elements. I wasn’t aware of what I was doing or where it came from, or the effects it had on the writer. It’s not even that I was writing for myself, though, I definitely was writing with the hopes that it would be read. But it was really immature, or rather unripe, like the first few harvests of grapes. You don’t make wine with grapes from young vines. You can’t just crush them up and put them in a bottle, either. You have to have experience, you have to have a process.

A couple of reading/ “philosophical” sources came together in my mind to make sense of the writing process. The first was John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction. He was the author of the infamous Grendal, a novel told from the perspective of the villain from the old-English epic Beowulf. Gardner was not only a skilled writer, but a passionate believer in his craft. In The Art of Fiction he calls writing “vivid and continuous dream.” When I read that, it spoke to me. It called my attention to the fact that when I wrote, even more so than when I read, I was absorbed in the story. I don’t think there’s been any neuroscience done on writers during their process but I actually suspect if writers were hooked up to neuro-scanners (whatever you call em) during the writing process we’d see the same parts of the brain firing up that we see in people who are dreaming at night.
The second source that brought my attention to the craft in a good way was Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels. Many writers and readers are familiar with these incredibly well-written stories. The main character is Morpheus, king of dreams. His story, a classic hero-quest, weaves through tales of Shakespeare and other writers and artists. Dreams in The Sandman are an integral part of stories, and both work to keep humanity sane and in a state of constant wonder. The sanity and the wonder are the same. There’s no distinction between the dreams we have at night and the dreams that are our hopes and plans. They’re all stories.
If people don’t sleep, they go crazy, just like if they feel hopeless, feel no purpose, they sink into despair. It’s a matter of dreams, which is to say, it’s a matter of stories. When you write, when you daydream about the future or other people or places, you’re telling yourself a story, whether it’s conscious or unconscious. It’s the storytelling mechanism of your brain.
So that’s how I view writing – dreaming, simply and profound (like any good truth). The process is much the same. If you’re not conscious of your process, writing can be as disjointed and difficult to follow as any fever-dream. If you’re aware of what you’re doing without disturbing the dream’s manifestation, you’ve got a lucid dream, and if you can put that on paper, you’ve got writing.
My process is still developing from this point. Before college, I “just wrote,” and it was easy, every time I sat down I wrote. Fantasy novels, for the most part – one in middle school, one in high school. Nothing you could call “good” by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of borrowed material. What was original was still very much governed by the morals, values, assumptions, etc. of our culture in general. You know, with movies and mass media, even books (and ebooks I think might make this worse), they stand in for our dreams, they make us dream according to the agenda of our society. I won’t go into my antagonism towards those consumer-dreams, but I think that’s there.
It took me a long time to begin feeling confidence in my own dreams. Or even longer to feel interest in other people’s dreams, which might be of equal or even greater importance. As a writer you have to be able to believe other people’s dreams – you understand people better, you can feel greater empathy, you can write more diverse characters. But in order to trust in that, I had to make a break with so-called “reality,” the shared reality dominated by money, and feel the microcosm of dreams in myself and others.
So when I sit down to write, I have to have an image, or a personality, or a setting – I have to feel it, I have to have a desire for it. A desire of it. A desire in it. I have to have enough to suspend my belief for *this* reality and immerse myself in *that* reality. It’s like self-enchantment. I need to put myself in a trance. That other reality sort of channels into and through me onto the paper, where I can tell someone else’s story. It doesn’t matter if that someone else is a 30-year-old male writer (ostensibly myself) or someone wildly different: an orc living in a swamp, a 22-year-old clone in the year 2050, a plastic bag blowing down the street. I have the potential to be anyone or anything – my presumptions about reality show through anywhere, but anything is potentially up for grabs.
My biggest challenge in writing is not losing the dream. Staying immersed, not letting myself get off track. Worse, few non-writers seem to understand the value of this trance, as members of tribes long ago knew not to disturb the trance of their local shaman. For a really great instance of this trance being broken, look at the poet Coleridge, who wrote maybe the best poem in English, “Kubla Khan,” as the result of a dream. 54 lines long, it was intended to be 200-300 when he first woke up, but he was interrupted by “a person on business from Porlock.” To hell with anyone “on business”! Business is the anathema of dreams, and now business has the ability to interfere not only at our door, but from phones, texts, television, computers, “alerts” of a million kinds. 90% of my writing process is just fending off business and all its mindsets.
I used to revise as I went, but I think “revision” is its own kind of business. Now I try to leave it for the end. Often, to resume the trance (because who can write a novel in one sitting? no one who wants to eat), I will go back and read what I’ve written, and now more often than not the reading itself will start the trance back up. I will experience the reality of the story again, and resume writing. Sometimes I’ll pick at the language and make small changes as I go, but it usually serves to put myself back inside the narration. The trance we right isn’t necessarily the spell we need to cast for a reader to participate, just like the dream we experience at night can never be the dream we tell our friends in the morning. We need to translate, too, but translation is a sort of work, a sort of business, the business of putting the dream on the page in a state where another reader can be put under its spell.
Thank you so very much Dreamland’s Insurgents for taking the time to share a bit of your views on writing and your process!
Well everyone, what about you?  What do you think of his ideas?  How are yours the same?  Or different?