A life lived without passion is a life unlived, that sounds like a quote. I don’t remember if anyone actually said it, but that doesn’t make its message any less true. Passion makes life worth it, it gives us a reason to get up in the morning and opens us to the joys of Life. Its the that powers the engine of human endeavor. That’s why I’m writing, its a passion project. But, I have always believed that one of the most important skills one can cultivate within oneself is the ability to maintain perspective. The fires of passion must continually be stoked to warm the coils of joy in our hearts. Even though fire can warm, it can just as easily burn. Passion must be controlled, life must be balanced and controlled. If not passion will burn you. But if you control your passion it will warm you your whole life.
As the holidays draw near, I find myself thinking of nostalgia, and remembering the past. The holidays bring me feelings of excitement and longing like a there year old hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa. The holidays have always been a central point about which my life turns. They give me a sense of continuity to my life. The holidays evoke nostalgic feelings that anchor me in my chaotic world, an anchor I find myself needing more and more. Happy Holidays everyone. I wish you calmness and peace.
There’s more to making books then writing words on paper. There’s editing, where shape and carve the words until they’re the best they can be. There’s marketing where the work is made attractive to others. The Query Letter is an integral part of the marketing process. A query letter, at least as I have begun to think of it, is a lot like a cover letter for a job. Its the vehicle that the writer can use to make a first on the agent or editor.
So how how do I write the perfect query letter? I need a hook. I need something to capture their attention. What would make them want to read my book?
my book is about an Elf who struggles with himself. He’s got a personality like fine wine, in small to moderate doses it can bring happiness and joy, too much of it though, and it can get him, and those around him, in trouble. The commencement of the story finds him as a conflicted Elf in a world of humans. He’s frightened, he’s frustrated, and maybe even slightly bitter. Like The Hero With a Thousand Faces, he’s pulled into something that is so much bigger than he is, he can barely grasp it. He fails, he learns, he succeeds and grows. I think what makes him unique is he gradually learns to take his weakness and turn it into strength. We meet him at the end of the story, and he has everything stripped from him, but he’s able to embrace what he once thought of as a weakness and turn things around, that makes him unique and relatable at the same time.
I think that one of the greatest things that people struggle with is understanding that the difference between weakness and strength are a matter of perspective. At the end of the story, my character realizes that but still understands that its a balance he must maintain for the rest of his life. If I can make people understand what is unique about him and make that come through in a query letter, I have a chance of attracting an agent.
“If an ordinary person is silent, it may be a tactical maneuver. If a writer is silent, he is lying.”–Jaroslav Seifert
I have been debating rather to write this for months. But today, I found it could not be denied. I ran across Jaroslav Seifert’s quote and he threw down the gauntlet and challenged me. When he said “If a writer is silent, he is lying,” what he told me is “Erik, when you write, write your truth.” Well, okay, I’ll do that. But in order to do that, I have to look deep inside myself and think about things that I don’t like to think about a whole lot, confront feelings I’d rather not admit to having, and write words that, were I to voice them aloud, would leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Before I write another word Let me first elucidate that I write these words to illicit neither pity nor adoration. I write these word because, as Seifert so eloquently reminded me, they are my truth.
I want to talk about being labeled, and how the labels that are attached to us can affect our lives. I’ve been labeled all my life: Spastic, Gimp, etc. These labels greatly contributed to my ambivalent feelings about my disability. But the word I was labeled the most is “Special.” Everybody said I have “Special Needs.”
The word “Special,” is a homonym that can vary its meaning depending on what society thinks about it. Being labeled special can either garner admiration or pity depending on the thoughts of the person who says it, and the person who receives the label. It can elevate, or lower people and influence their personal truth. The truth that Siefert compels me to set down here is that I don’t like being considered “Special.” I don’t like having a disability, or using a wheelchair I’d rather not have “Special Needs.” I also know that they’re a part of me, something with which I must contend.
Here’s how I try to think of myself. I’m a disabled man, yes, but I am a man first. I want what men want, I think what men think, and I feel what men feel, that doesn’t make me special. I am equal to anybody else. I don’t want to be special I want to be equal. I do what people do. I make choices and live with the consequences, but it doesn’t make me special, it makes me equal to everybody else, that is what I want to be.
Why do we write stories? A story is simply a way to explain things that we don’t understand. I don’t understand many things about my life. I do not understand why I was born with a disability I don’t understand why I was born different. I have read The Bible. Specifically, The Book of Job. Job was written so that people could understand how a loving God could allow the righteous to suffer. Job was a righteous man after all, so, why should he suffer?
Job found himself in the unlikely position of being the fulcrum between the holy and profane; good and evil. After losing his family and possessions. Job asks why and throws down his gauntlet, “Let the Almighty answer me!” he angrily proclaims. God confronts him and says “Where was thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4) When this exchange is finished, Job realizes he’s overstepped his bounds, repents and begs forgiveness, which, of course, he is granted.
So, what is the moral of this story? What are we meant to take from it? Perhaps they’re some things we are not meant to understand. Perhaps our understanding is only shaped through our experience of questioning and wondering, and growing. If we knew all the answers, what need would we have to question, learn, grow, evolve?
So, how must I deal with things I can’t understand? Well, I write. I’m writing a story about an Elf in a world of humans. He is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole often I feel the same. I go through what he goes through, yet, even with all his hardships, he perseveres and usually accomplishes his goal. If he can do that, perhaps I can too. There will always be things we do not understand, but we must persevere in the shadow of ignorance.
Victor Frankl is one of my most favorite thinkers and Philosophers. The basic truth of his philosophy is that the last human freedom, perhaps the only human freedom, is that we van choose to react to the things that happen to us. because of my physical circumstance. It is often difficult for me to remember that I do have control over some things, most notably, my attitude and demeanor toward the events and people around me, for it is that control, which sculpts and shapes my character as a human being.
As a writer, Frankl has proven to be of value to me in another way, he said, “What gives light must endure burning.” I have often hard of light being used as for talent. Light burns out and talent can do likewise. However, talent cannot grow it is used and nurtured so there’s a risk of burn out. I guess its true that nothing is achieved without risk. Yet another of life’s paradoxes Frankel was fond of pointing out. Hopefully my talent can be nurtured a long time before burning out.
That’s it. I’ve had it with you. You’ve gone and pissed me off Typo. You turned my as into has my soon into moon and my grass into sass You messed up my manuscript. I’m mad at you typo. I’m comin’ after you and I’m gonna take you out. Be afraid Typo, very afraid.
Writing has allowed me to explore my creative side. I have found that creativity is like lightening in a bottle. It doesn’t strike often, but when it does, it must be answered promptly with reverence and obedience. What I mean is, when my brain says to write, write I must. I sit at my computer and write everyday. I find that it helps to just write one letter at a time. Sometimes my ideas are shrouded in shadows of stress
or doubt but if I calm myself, they can fall from my creative tree like leaves on a fall day. When I write, I sometimes think of pretty creative questions like:
1. How pointed are an Elf’s ears?
2. What does an Ogre smell like?
3. Well there ever be a wheelchair without a stupid sounding horn?
4 Can similes be too descriptive?
Buddha’s second noble truth is “The cause of suffering is desire.” I find that sometimes it is better not to have desire or goals for my writing and just let it come of its own volition. But sometimes I just want to get something down and that’s when this approach is tough to use. What is your creative process?
Art, any kind of art comes from ideas. So, how do you have ideas? How do you start the creative fire burning? Well, in my experience, ideas come from experiences. Artists, especially Authors, draw their inspiration from things that happen to them. Inspiration can also come from things they read or people they know. If you have an idea, its important to work on it everyday. History shows that when one takes the seed of creativity and waters it with sweat. It can flower into something special.
What stops us? What keeps us from realizing our potential. There will always be things that. hold us back Some of them we can control and some we can’t. But, in my experience the hardest obstacles to get past are the ones we put in front of ourselves. How do you stop or subdue the negative self-talk and messages you hear? Especially from yourself?