1. benny

    benny New Member

    Mar 2, 2010
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    Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by benny, Mar 2, 2010.

    Hi Everyone,

    I used to browse these forums many years ago and found myself looking for it again as I sat down at the computer tonight. I've wanted to write something since I've been a kid but was always overwhelmed by it, and the idea of writing was always so much more appealing than the process.

    I'm in my early 20's now and have been very fortunate lately in terms of traveling parts of the world, meeting a lot of people, a lot of personal growth, etc. Part of the reason I didn't write before was because I felt I didn't have the life experience or maturity to make it worthwhile. I'm sort of happy I held off, because a lot of things have accumulated in my head now, and I feel ready.

    I've been far from home for the last few years now living out of a backpack. I began writing out of necessity about a year ago just to maintain my sanity - keeping a journal and occasional prose, some songs, etc... I've also had time on my hands, which has been helpful.

    So, I've been wanting to undertake fiction but am still feeling overwhelmed. I think my ideas are sound, but I have a lot of fears:

    -setting compromising my story or theme.
    -properly developing characters, or I guess making them as human on paper as I perceive them in actual life.
    -Not being able to articulate/convey my thoughts & themes convincingly.
    -Plot structure: How much is too much and how little is not enough? I am attracted to realism and minimalism in writing, and don't want to get caught up in ideas of plots having to be super-complex in order to be good, and things like that.
    -Length. This is a big one for me because I feel like I could fill a book, but that doesn't mean it would be quality writing. It would be nice to start with short stories, but I tend to be long winded and am more afraid of the short story than the novel. This is because I see it as more restrained.

    I've been trying to self educate with a how-to book I've been reading, and by reading as much as possible lately - trying to understand how different writers write, trying to decide on some favorites, pick up on subtleties and technique, etc.

    My favorite writers are Hemingway, Bukowski, Wolfe, Miller, DH Lawrence, Selby, and a lot of novelists with a novel or two that I've always really liked. I am interested in music and my favorite songwriters are Roy Orbison and Townes Van Zandt. With the writers I have mentioned, I really appreciate them as artists and have learned a lot from their work, but that doesn't mean I would try to sit down and write something Bukowski would write, for example. I don't want to be anyone else and I do not want my work to sound contrived. Honesty and integrity are really important to me in my art, and I'm just looking for the best way / my own way to express myself. I'm not a recluse, but I've spent the majority of my years very much alone and it's reflected in the things I like (need) to write about. Life, death, love, loss, guilt, regret, optimism, pessimism, depression, appreciation, personal relationships, family, etc. I guess nothing different than what is on most of our minds.

    I could use some tips. How to get started, really. I've been piecing together some songs lately that I've actually been very pleased with, and I'm trying to finish up some smaller pieces of writing like that just to work on fundamentals and get some confidence going.

    Do I start with short stories, or go for the novel? Can someone tell me how to keep a first short story simplistic but of good quality? I've got some novel ideas in my head but get discouraged when I sit down to work. Things like "well I understand my theme but don't understand how to write this character", or "I've got a good character but is he/she necessary for the story?", and that sort of thing... like a cycle of brick walls...like I can't entirely solve a problem because the result is another problem or something I'm not educated on.

    I don't mean to ramble, so thanks for putting up with this. This forum looks like a good place for me to be, and I hope to learn things from all of you. To go back to one of my fears for a second: the big issue for me right now is that I'm worried I won't be able to translate the essence of my story into words properly. I write based on what I feel and sometimes it's hard to capture that. I'm not worried about the reader missing the point, I'm worried about letting myself down, or not achieving how I see it unfolding in my mind.

    I have been keeping travel journals lately for friends and family and they seem to really enjoy them. I'm going to spend a couple of months on a solo journey this summer and plan on self-publishing my journal of the experience just to give to family and friends. It will be the first time I've printed something of my own, and am really looking forward to it. However, my journals are only journals, and I am anxious to get going with some fiction. I wouldn't self publish my fiction, by the way, because I would value it in a different way than journal entries.

    Anyway, thanks for reading all of this and if anyone feels they can relate to the things I've said, I could really use some mentoring.

    Take care,
  2. Gigi_GNR

    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

    Jul 25, 2009
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    Milwaukee, WI
    Welcome to the WF! :p
  3. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Hello Benny, Welcome to the Writing Forums.

    Starting with short stories is a good idea, even if you are only interested in publishing full novels. There is a lot you can learn without getting fully invested in a large project.

    Posting your own writing for people to comment on should not be among the very first things you do here. It is worth taking the time to see what other people have done to improve their writing, and see if some of it applies to your writing as well. That is part of why we require members to review other members' work before posting their own for review. On the other hand, there are no restrictions, other than content and copyright rules, on showcasing your work in your member blog.

    Also, be aware that posting a piece of writing on any public site, including this one, will greatly diminish your chances of selling it for publication. Removing the writing later does not alter that fact - once posted, it is irreversibly considered published. So do not post anything more than a small excerpt of any piece you are planning to submit for publication.

    If you haven't explored the site yet, you should probably do so soon. Newcomers often gravitate to the Lounge, the Word Games, or the Review Room, but there is much more to be discovered if you poke in the corners. Remember to check out our FAQ as well, and be sure to read through the forum rules, too, to avoid any misunderstandings or hurt feelings. Respect for one another is our principal mandate.

    As for the Review Room, new joiners often wonder why we do things a bit differently on this site than on other writing sites. We emphasize constructive critique as a vital writing skill. Training your eye by reviewing other people's work helps you improve your own writing even before you present it for others to see. Therefore, we ask members to review other people's writing before posting work of their own. The Review Room forums on this site, therefore, are true workshops, not just a bulletin board for displaying your work (and on that note, please only post each item for review in one Review Room forum). Also, please use the same thread for all revisions and additional excerpts from the same piece of writing. See this post, Why Write Reviews Before Posting My Work? for more information.

    And while you're looking around, don't forget to check out our Weekly Short Story Contest and Weekly Poetry Contest. They actually run more than one week apiece, but any member may enter, and all members are urged to vote for their favorites.

    Enjoy your stay here, and have fun!
  4. Lydia

    Lydia Contributing Member Contributor

    Jun 9, 2009
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    Somewhere out there.
    Welcome here, Benny. I'm sure you'll find help with what you're looking for.

    And reading books doesn't mean you're going to copy the author's writing style, but you'll always learn a lot from it.

    Anyway, enjoy your stay here! :)
  5. Tigress

    Tigress Member

    Feb 20, 2010
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    Atlanta, GA
    Welcome, Benny!

    My advice would be to just write. Let the muse take you where it will, be it song lyrics, short stories, or a whole novel.

    I've been working on my first novel for a little over a month now. However, in that time, I've also written a short story as well as some background content for the novel that will never be part of the book (stuff to help me with character development, etc).

    So, as I said, my advice is to just write. Every day. :)

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