Archive for ‘Writing’

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Children and Creativity

by Sara Goas

bookbinding brass edged press boards

I was recently asked if having kids has had any effect on my creativity.

This is a question that’s been floating around my household quite a bit, actually. And it’s been especially relevant since about July 16th, 2012, when my husband and I welcomed our first child. See, I’m a writer and teacher with some cartooning ability, and my husband is a web designer who uses shapes and colors to solve complicated problems. We both like to create. But once we went so far as to create a baby, our days and nights suddenly revolved around keeping a tiny human being clean, fed, and entertained.

And if you think that sounds like one big, creativity buzz-kill, well–it can be. But it’s more complicated than that.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

The People’s MFA (“Werewolves in Their Youth” Edition)

by Julie Goldberg

Plums

I have deep respect for people who have completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Devoting two years of full-time study to producing acres of drafts and absorbing what can be painful critique, knowing all the while that there will be no “Help Wanted: MFA-Accredited Novelist” ad to answer at its conclusion, is a glorious achievement. The MFA attests not only to a writer’s profound commitment to the craft, but to an enviable faith in her own talent.

For those of us, however, who lack the money or time, or maybe even the faith, the People’s MFA is an inexpensive, time-tested alternative. Admission is free and open to all, and the professors are the finest in history. Some of them are even still alive.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Burnt Out (With Luggage)

by Leanne Yong

Dillinger Days - Tucson

Burn-out has always been one of those things that happens to other people, not me. The kind of situation where you shake your head and say, “Well, I saw that coming, they were doing too much and it was bound to happen sooner or later. So-and-so really needs to learn to take care of themselves.”

I, on the other hand, was someone with a good balance. Sure, there was a full-time job and an increasing amount of family-related responsibilities to deal with, but passion, people, passion. It’s what you do to reach those lofty heights of something you love.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Driver’s Seat

by Leanne Yong

IMG_5875.jpg

The driver’s seat of my car is a place of infinite possibility. When I’m behind the wheel, when the eucalyptus and acacias pass by in a blur and the winding white highway seems to stretch on into eternity, the low, constant rumble of the engine is a promise of freedom. With the aroma of steaming coffee in a travel mug and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra alternately whispering and thundering through the speakers, my cares shrink to the confines of my little blue Honda.

There are no maps, no directions, no destinations. I wend my way through Queensland’s mountainous rainforest regions where sunlight dapples the road through the overhanging vines and branches. I meander along the coastline where the sea is almost indistinguishable from the sky, but for the small white streaks of rolling waves near the shore. I detour at the whim of my capricious fancies, be it a secluded abbey tucked away in the mountains or a rest stop along the highway overlooking a verdant green valley and roads that disappear into unexplored horizons.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Drowning in Notebooks

by Leanne Yong

Moleskine is half (full|empty)

I’m drowning in notebooks. As I type, four of them are littered across my desk. A large, faux-leather covered notebook is sitting on my carpet, surrounded by little black dots that look like insects, but upon closer inspection turn out to be faux-leather droppings. There’s a notebook that permanently rides in my work backpack, another in my handbag, and a few more stockpiled in my writing box for good measure.

Part of it is my fault. I’m irresistibly drawn to thick, creamy paper that oozes class–or an overly romantic desire to return to an age where quills and inkpots were the norm. (Take your pick.) I don’t care so much for what the notebook looks like, but if it produces a Hollywood-style sound of a pen on paper when I use my fountain pen, and holds the ink without running… I’m head-over-heels in love. (Don’t get me started on my other love of inky pens.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fake It Till You Make It

by Leanne Yong

ROFLCon: The Internet Cult Leaders- Talk - 4 . 27 . 08

Fake it till you make it. It’s such a common saying. If you don’t know what you’re saying, or what you’re doing, just pretend you do. Pretend you’re in control… and surely, at some point, you really will be. Everything will fall into place if only you keep bluffing your way through.

I’ve been playing a lot of Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies lately on the Nintendo 3DS. This game with two main phases can best be described as a cross between a murder mystery and a lawyer simulator. There’s the investigation phase, where you poke around crime scenes and talk to witnesses. Then there’s the trial phase, where you’re in a courtroom and have to cross-examine witnesses. You poke holes in their testimony, using evidence you picked up in the investigation phase.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Road Winds Ever Onwards

by Leanne Yong

Long And Winding Road

The first time I had a terrible failure at work was a few months into my first job. I hadn’t checked the information I was given, we imported some code into the development environment on a faulty assumption, and it caused an error that couldn’t be fixed without rebuilding the whole environment from a back-up. The last back-up was taken a few days previously. That’s a lot of work when you have a whole team working in the environment. My manager was not pleased, to say the least.

Then there was the time, a few years on, when the component I was supposed to be working on with the lead from another team crashed and burned during the initial testing. I hadn’t been able to get a solid block of time with the team lead, and it didn’t help that we were in different cities. Because we were too busy with other work to put aside a whole day when everyone was available to test the component, we relied on it being built to design, and on the design being correct. Needless to say, it was neither. When you have many moving parts and a lot of things being done under the covers, there’s a million ways for it to screw up. During our troubleshooting, it felt like we hit every single one.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spring Cleaning

by Leanne Yong
The past weekend was a (late) Spring cleaning weekend. Not the normal kind of Spring cleaning where you go about in a frenzy emptying cupboards, airing out blankets, and that sort of thing–I went through all the files on my computer’s hard drive to see what could go.

I cracked open the dusty innards of folders that hadn’t seen the light of day for years. There were random notes and reminders I’d left myself–those were deleted with gleeful abandon. No, I don’t need the transaction number for a book I bought four years ago. Nor do I need the note about the Chemistry formula for a high school test.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Loneliness and Independence

by Leanne Yong

Feline Perspective

I’m an introvert. I know this because I took all these personality tests that told me so in no uncertain terms. I also know because most days, I’d rather be chilling in my room with a good book, hot tea, and a cat on my lap (should he so consent). I’m happiest when I’m not stressing over how to deal with other people and all the social niceties I need to be aware of.

This distance from the world is even more pronounced because I have a limited amount of time to write. Between my day job, family responsibilities and commitments to church, it means that, when I have spare time, I’m usually cooped up somewhere banging stuff out on my keyboard–whether it be this article, critiquing friends’ work, getting out a short story that’s been rattling around, or getting on with edits to my novels.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Write What You Know

by kathronan1

Woodpecker

I’d bet that whether you are a writer or not, at some point in your life you took an English class. (It may have been another  language of course, if English isn’t your first.)  Somewhere in your schooling, you were likely asked to write a short story, essay or other fictional piece.  Nonplussed by the idea of coming up with such material you were then likely to have been told by your teacher to “write what you know.”

It’s even possible you got this message repeatedly right up through that Masters degree you got. It occurred to me this morning that I have unwittingly created a pattern for myself in this column. Without paying it much mind, I’ve done exactly that. I tend to write what I know. Possibly you caught on quicker than I. Maybe a few readers have now stopped to take a glance back at my previous columns. (I hope you have, but if you haven’t I would be honored if you took a moment to do so. This column is a personal favorite.) I may not be writing what I “know” per se. In short, everything I’ve put into this column has to do with my passions. The opinions I hold close to my heart. The values I try hard to live. The people and things that I love.The story here isn’t so much about what I may or may not know to be fact. Rather, my story today is about how this conclusion came along in a sneaky way to tap me on the shoulder. That is if you want to be kind. You might point out that it smacked me upside the head if you don’t.

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