I was going to give up writing, leave it in ashes and never look at it again. I had lost the will and the originality of what made me a writer. I thought I had nothing more to say nothing more that mattered. I had become so normal that it was boring to put it on paper. I look at everything I wrote, everything that has happened to me and I realize that I mattered not to you but to myself. I had lost the spark in me that originally led me to write. A intangible whisper, a god or maybe just a lonely heart. Even when I was little I would write about the things I had seen, the things that I wanted to see. Writing had lost its joy.
Who am I? Who will I become? I can’t answer those questions and I will probably always change the answer because we are always changing, always becoming better.
I realize why I write. To be heard. To be in a wasteland. I write because I love letting people into my way of thinking because I believe that there are things to say that left unsaid sometimes. I want to touch someone in a way so intimate that they forget we’re strangers. I want to find true love as I cut someone’s throat, as I bathe in their essence.
There is more to life than just work. There is more to life that just being me.
I won’t give up on writing because I still have a billion things to say and so little time to say it all.
Writers write because they must. Because the words will just accumulate inside until they can’t breathe any longer, can’t feel any longer, can’t live any longer. We write.because we must.
Writers write because they love. Because sometimes the lips won’t give heed to the things we most urgently need to say until all we can do is blurt it out in disjointed discourse. We write because we love.
Writers write because we hurt. Processing pain is a process unto itself. No one processes it the same and to unleash fury through the pen is a far sweeter relief than that of the tongue. We write because we hurt.
Writers share because we breathe. Writing is a personal process that isn’t complete until it’s shared with the world, to give life to the words that were borne onto that page so carefully and so raw. We share because we breathe.
Writers are because they have to be..
Hello, My name is Gabriela Goitia and I am an Outreach Coordinator for Global Youth Media. Global Youth Media is an online magazine which seeks to give a voice to the voiceless and effect change in the world. The publication is run by a team of young adults adults from all around the world. As a blog focused on writing and change, I was wondering if you would be able to promote the magazine so more youth could submit to this project. More information is on our tumblr. Thank you for your time!
Great! Young TWC writers, check them out!
“If, after finishing a draft of your current screenplay, all you can do is push yourself away from the computer, and simply sit there, staring, like what the fuck have these characters just done to me, chances are you’re on to something - either that or you’re experiencing a nervous breakdown.”
Billy Marshall Stoneking (via veracity24)
I do not always know how to bleed;
even writers get words caught in their throat.
But we truly have no way to say
some of the things we feel,
so we do our best to tame
our thoughts without a pen
until the words finally come,
or we’re left waiting in the snow.
1. Give Supporting Characters Independent Goals
The story follows the main character, yes, but that doesn’t mean the whole world revolves around that character. Things happen. Supporting characters are likely to be involved in behind-the-scenes activities that influence society or the MC’s personal world.
Give supporting characters a life. What are they trying to accomplish? What obstacles are in their way? How do they interact with other characters, especially the main character?
Then dig deeper. What scares your supporting characters? What makes them happy? Do they try to avoid work? Do they jump at the chance to go on adventures? Do they party, or do they stay inside on Friday nights?
All these questions sound like things you would ask about your main character—and it’s true, you would. The first key to creating believable supporting characters is treating them as if they are the main character … but tone it down. You don’t have to show us every minute of their lives, just the parts that show us their personalities, affect the story, and influence the main character.
2. Focus on Speech Patterns of Your Supporting Characters
What do your supporting characters say? Are they so hyper that words spill out of their mouth so fast you could clock it on radar? Or are they reserved, and speak only when spoken to?
I always say dialogue is the most effective form of characterization. You can use quirks, stutters, slurs, screams, whispers, catch phrases, dark words, and light words. You can express intentions. Hide secrets. Blow secrets. Emotions flow through dialogue too.
Dialogue reveals so much about characters. A good way to create unique speech patterns is to let each of your characters say certain words a lot, or act a certain way while talking. Then your readers can identify who is speaking at any given moment, thus eliminating confusion.
3. Let Your Supporting Characters Represent Some Aspect of the Story
Supporting characters allow you to mix multiple themes and lessons into your story. One character can represent strength and another compassion. Perhaps one redeems himself after failing to assist the main character in an earlier predicament.
Use characters to their full potential. Don’t just put them in the story so your main character has someone to talk to. As I stated in the first point, give them a goal. In a similar way, when working on a theme, you can send these characters on their own journeys.
Readers will watch their strengths and weaknesses and see the choices they make. This will add layers to the story as readers become more invested in the lives of the people surrounding the main character.
This is a reminder that the Submit box is for articles that are relevant to the Tumblr Writing Community as a whole, not your personal writing.
Earlier today, Erika Price posted a piece about the state of publishing. If you didn’t see it, scroll down, it’s the next post on this blog. But her discussion got me thinking about poetry.
Let’s talk about my own publishing figures. I have a(n artisanally) published poetry chapbook, Let’s Get Drunk and Yell This Out. I have sold exactly one copy, to a friend. In addition I’ve had 29 people download it during my free weekend, three of those being outside the US (hello international readers!).
Now, I can’t really attest to the quality of it. Erika Price liked it, but she’s the only one, so far, who’s left a review, so it’s possible the other 30 people hated and I’ll never know (well, I know at least one or two of them said they liked it, but personal communication is hardly objective), but what Erika did say was quite kind, and I’ve heard very little in the way of “it sucked” about it. (Though I’m sure I will now).
As of this moment, I have 461 followers here on Tumblr (a figure which fluctuates wildly), and at the time of release I had close to 280, which does not equal 30 downloads. I did have the collection on my blog for a good period of time, but I did peek at the Google analytics of that business, and it wasn’t all that much better (but it was better, people like free shit).
What does this say? It says what you probably know already. People don’t read poetry. People don’t buy poetry, and people certainly don’t commit to sitting down and reading through a volume of poetry. The exceptions are people who know the poet and other poets.
This is true of the folks I see reading and leaving notes on my work. All of my followers, save the occasional corporate (hello Boundless, you’re still an awesome company) or strange porn blog/advertisement, are writers. I have one Doctor Who fandom blog that doesn’t seem to have a writing account, but I suspect the blog owner may have some scrawls tucked away somewhere.
What I’m saying is: poets are seemingly irrelevant to popular culture.
And I do mean seemingly.
I notice there is a huge obsession here with talking about Tumblr like it is the be all and end all of writing on the internet, while in reality we are a small, small, part of a massive picture. Including fan-fiction sites, notorious trap sites (poetry.com, though I notice they’ve had a face-lift recently, maybe they’ve done away with the carrot and stick lies they used to subsist on), facebook, forums, and plain old message groups, we barely scratch the surface of 1% of the writing one can find on the internet on this hijacked social site, but that’s not right either, is it? We haven’t hijacked this social site. The poetry tag is lagging in the standings, I have yet to see a poetry blog on the Tumblr spotlight (though I have heard stories), and of the 300+ million users active when yahoo bought the place, I doubt even 10 million of those users run dedicated writing blogs (though I couldn’t find figures on this, so I could be wrong), and Tumblr operates around this space of poets effortlessly. In the updates, we often find they are not adding features that would make our lives easier, but instead focusing on pictures (.gifs especially), or other things.
What I’m saying is: poets are seemingly irrelevant to Tumblr.
And I do mean seemingly.
Let’s start with an example here, and I’ll get to what it means in a second.
If I were to say blank “is people!” while screaming at the top of my lungs, could you fill in that proper noun?
More appropriate to the subject, there’s a poem in the book The Perks of Being a Wallflower. If I were to mention the verse about the brown paper bag, how many of you know exactly what I’m talking about, and more importantly, thinking about that verse, do you have a strong connection with what you were doing last time you read that, or the first time?
I was 16, and I had just moved to Arkansas. My friends and I were sharing the book between the three of us each reading to try to keep up with the others. It was the middle of a hot sticky summer, and I was losing two of my best friends, but we spent our time reading a book we couldn’t put down (whatever its flaws).
How about Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” which they play at my work (all. the. time.)? VMA flashbacks? Maybe a connection to a breakup?
We’ll do a really simple one.
If I just say Doctor Who, what do you think of?
All of those are connotations; they are what those things mean to you.
Fundamentally, language works the same way. I put a word “cup” in front of you, and you think about what that is. Maybe you think about a brown mug with a chipped lip, maybe you think of a beer stein, maybe you think of a tea-cup, but you have an association with that word, and it isn’t a single association for everyone. They’re specific and individual, but they still convey enough meaning that we can understand the same basic concepts from it. What is really interesting is that this works on every level, no matter how specific we get with it. For every example I gave of a type of cup, every person reading it had a different image or idea held in their mind.
But we still synchronize, we can still know that “Soylent Green is people!”, even if that means something completely different to every one (mine is my grandpa’s stuffy duplex house, him smoking his second pack of the day, flipping between this and Fox News while I wonder at how well the two seem to merge into a coherent storyline).
This works because words themselves (and I’ve talked about this before) are signifiers, symbols, signs, and their meanings are the things signified, alluded to, hinted at.
Pop-culture works the same way. Brittany Spears is not just a name, it’s a flash of images, song lyrics, costumes, tabloid articles, it’s a word. It is part of the language of pop-culture.
You and I can have a conversation about almost anything using nothing but pop-culture references, and not only would it make sense, but if we were especially savvy with our choices, it would have great depth and meaning because of the compounded signifiers and specificity inherent in that sort of discussion.
Poets, however, are seemingly irrelevant to pop culture.
Why? Probably because poetry seems to reject pop culture as “low culture”, or “culture of the masses”, and those two are synonyms. Poetry, by and large, considers itself better than the 80th Die Hard movie coming out next fall, and why shouldn’t it? Poetry means more than John McClane running around and yelling “Yippee-ki-yay Motherfucker”, doesn’t it?
Not really. For a lot of men, especially men in the U.S. (who are the target demographic of those films, if you didn’t realize) that character is the absolute essence of masculinity, not only is he a character we are meant to relate to, he is one we can aspire to.
What I’m saying is that films teach us. Pop culture teaches us. Count how many people are upset they don’t have a relationship like they see in the movies or hear about in love songs. How many gifs of people doing relationship-y things together get reblogged here on Tumblr with the sentence “this.” or “I want this.” written underneath.
Poetry, on its own, is a stagnating audience. The for the most part only people who regularly read poetry are poets themselves. This is great for technical growth and critiquing, but for consumption, it’s pretty much a nightmare, but this is a conscious choice for a great many people. They sit down to write and want to write something great and thoughtful, somehow divorced from the quality of the Amy Winehouse they’ve got stuck in their head. So they write something aloof, something that plucks the meaning of life down from the heavens and delivers it to us mortals. Maybe they do it in form, maybe they don’t.
We live in a world where knowledge is basically in flux constantly. We have lovely educated guesses about a great many things in the world, but the more we learn, the more we realize that we know nothing. It’s a cliché existentialist tenant, but truth is fairly relative, and I don’t mean that it doesn’t exist, just that it depends on you and your point of view. There may indeed be some great ultimate truth out there, but we have yet to unveil it definitively, and so it’s all just shots in the dark, and those of my generation have been subjected to that concept for most of our lives.
So having someone hand us the truth in absolutes… it feels rather disingenuous, and maybe even a little boring.
Pop culture is sloppy and flawed, and it’s that way because people want that, even in the air-brushed celebrity world, tabloids make ridiculous amounts of profits any time they can even run speculations on when a celebrity is less than perfect in their life.
Poetry like that is what is consumed. The paper bag poem again; it’s simple, something that anyone could probably write, but it appeals to a wide audience, especially those who are in their teens dealing with social and biological pressures.
And now that we’re on poetry again, let’s talk about Tyler Knott. Say what you will about his poetry, his work is immensely popular on Tumblr, and to an extent outside of it. It is for many of the same reasons that Taylor Swift makes hit after hit after hit. It isn’t popularity alone because he had to get there first. It’s the number of people who relate to his work, no matter how technically flawed or thematically derivative it may be.
Do you know what’s keeping poetry back, on Tumblr, on the internet, anywhere?
Its ego. Most of the poets we learned about in school came to prominence in a culture where poetry was something that was pursued by educated white men of high social standing, who would pass their poetry among their friends who had clout in the publishing industry, who would enjoy the work, help influence it, and perhaps publish it, and then the general public would read it.
We’ve subverted this though. Everyone, it seems, writes poetry, or at least tries it, and with social media being what it is, everyone can find an audience, however small. But poetry still thinks it’s better than going to a movie, than listening to a top 20 pop song. We live in a populist culture, a culture of the masses, but the vast majority of amateur poetry I come across is written for an aristocracy.
Fuck the people who don’t like confessional, who don’t like conversational, who don’t like lyrical. Fuck the people who don’t believe that everyone can and should write poetry. Fuck the people who tell you that you can’t write a poem about your Big Mac, that you can’t write about the Modest Mouse song in the background of your room. Pop culture is a language we all speak, and it’s a shame to not use it to its full extent in the art we make, it’s a shame to not play with the way saying Hillary Duff sounds rolling off your tongue, Lizzie McGuire, all mixed in with our teenage cultural consumption.
How many of you have seen the spoken word poem about J.K. Rowling’s treatment of Cho Chang as a minority character?
What I’m saying is, fuck high culture, fuck being better than that. Pop culture is how we communicate with one another, and it’s how we learn, how we teach.
Whether you care to admit it or not, pop culture makes a huge difference in so many people’s lives, so why exactly is that so shameful to embrace?
If it’s not good enough for you, wrap yourself in it and make it better.
Great commentary as always from Stephen. If it’s nearly impossible to make a living as a fiction writer/novelist, it is truly impossible to do so as a poet. But that does not invalidate the art form. Don’t lament the age we’re in, which makes it impossible to earn a living as an author, for it has always been a difficult road to hoe. Instead, rejoice that we live in an era where every writer can share their work and be read, and where every reader can access fantastic, brand-spanking-new, free work online.
Hello! I'm quite new on the TWC since my friend has just told me about it. I just wanted to ask how to join this community. Is there like, some kind of process to become a member of TWC?
The process to join the TWC only requires one thing: that you write. That’s it. No down payment, no sacred, mystic ritual where we brand you with a cow iron, and no need to wear a fez (although we’ve been told those are cool).
If you write prose or poetry or both, you’re already a member of this fine community of weirdos.
Beautiful writing is dropping yourself off at the paper and picking yourself up when the page is filled with ink. Your mind goes on autopilot and the thoughts pour out of you. Your hand tries to keep up as it scratches the pen’s tip quickly across the paper but you just can’t catch each word. It is as if something was unplug inside of you and the gush of words is an unstoppable force. It’s allowing yourself to let every thought escape your cramped cranium without hesitation. Beautiful writing isn’t this exquisite combination of words aligned in the prettiest way possible. Spitting out an attractive sentence isn’t going to define you as a “gifted” writer. It’s taking the ordinary words and turning them into a mishmash of beauty. It’s about putting emotion behind those empty sentences and giving the reader just enough detail to conceive your vision but letting them fill in the rest. Writing is giving the unimaginable life. It’s about taking the instruction manuals of the world and giving them energy. When you can develop a voice that is clear, definite, and confident, when you reach that level of honesty, that is when hit elegance.
A colleague of mine was talking to me recently about her misgivings about her capabilities regarding writing Women of Color. She wanted very badly to include several WOC characters in her sci-fantasy series, but she had some concerns about correct portrayal and writing them in a way that wouldn’t instantly piss people off. I told her I would write something about it that might help. So, here we have it: How to write POC without pissing everyone off and doing a horrible job.
In general, it comes down to three things. Research, Persistence and Consideration. Also. for the point of this essay, I am going to use Black women, Native Women and Mixed Race women as they each represent different individual (yet very important) racial struggles that need consideration.
1. Research is by far the most important thing. EVER. For this example, I am going to use black women.
It is important to start by trying your hardest to forget anything you think you know about black women and black female identity. As a white person, anything you would know about them you probably learned from media that is not controlled by or monitored by black women themselves. Meaning that it is likely not a good representation of black women at all. Or maybe you just have a black friend.
Which you should consider in the same way you would a control group for a science experiment.
One or two subjects would not provide conclusive evidence in regards to any hypothesis. Having one or two or even five black friends can’t help you with understanding the complex history of black discourse….
In order to start from scratch, I would first spend some time reading literature written by black women for black women. Learning the way black women have discourse among each other is the first step to understanding their perspective AND emulating their voice. Literature is the genre of media where POC have the most liberty (unlike film) to discuss certain topics or parts of their identity.
Then, I would delve into “complaints”. There are thousands upon thousands of articles where black women complain about their portrayal in media. These complaints are both valid and often eloquently expressed. It is important for you to know, what things black women (WOC) are already so fucking tired of seeing in regards to incorrect or offensive portrayals of themselves. Not only will it help you avoid making the same mistakes as white writers before you (an example of this: Arthur Golden and the hot mess that is Memoirs of a Geisha), But it will also get you upset about certain ways black women (POC women in general) are portrayed, and make you want to write them better. This can improve your writing in that not only will you avoid being offensive, but you now have the chance to be progressive and kick stereotypes out the window!
Finally, I would take some time to follow some tumblr blogs that are run by the group you’re trying to write. This part of the research can really help because you’ll get a first hand, contemporary dialogue about issues within the specific POC community. Which leads me to my second topic…
Great guide for white writers and definitely click through the “read more” to see more great points below the fold. But just to add on:
In response to the complaint of white writers about writing about people of color: “Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t,” I want to say: absolutely.
It’s absolutely true. You’re damned either way. If you don’t do it, you’re a racist. Yes, you are. Race and racism exist in this society, and if you ignore them, you’re expressing a racial privilege that you don’t, morally, have any right to. That’s a subtle form of racism.
If you do do it and get it “wrong”, you’ll get reamed, and rightfully so. It’s presumptuous of you to think that you have the right to represent a culture you don’t belong to if you can’t be bothered to properly examine and accurately portray that culture.
Further, if you do it and get it “right”, or rather, don’t get it wrong, you’ll still get reamed by members of that culture you’ve represented who rightfully resent a white writer’s success representing their culture. After all, every American ethnic minority has its writers: good and bad. The good writers are mostly ignored. Inevitably, some white writer will come along and do a bang-up job portraying that culture and will get—in one book, in one section of a book—more attention than the poc writer got over the course of three or five or ten books.
You’re a white writer trying to do the right thing, but no matter what you do, it’s wrong. And that’s so unfair to you, isn’t it?
Welcome to a tiny taste of what it’s like to be a person of color.
Oh, and quit complaining.White writers should not expect to be praised by POC for writing us and writing us “right,” but the alternatives are horrible and a complete erasure of our multifaceted identities. Laziness is racist and privileged, and this guide is a great starting point for white writers trying to parse this space and do the right thing, even if they may still face criticism for it.
Fucking bingo. Write characters of color because it matters, because you’re a decent human being, because you can empathize with people and talk about people who do not share your background. And when you screw it up, be humble, be open, be grateful that someone was kind enough to steer you in the right direction. It’s not that hard if you see POC (and other marginalized group members) as full-fledged people with a multitude of drives, experiences, and dreams.
Don’t tell me
that I’m a semicolon
or a comma
I am not incomplete
and I do not need you
to finish my sentences
i don’t know what to do with this blank page. it’s not even a real page - sometimes i miss the feeling of a sliver of mother nature in between my fingers but then i remember that writing for hours makes my wrist hurt and my words unintelligible but typing soothes my soul like piano keys. so i am grateful.
life proves time and time again that i can never adequately prepare for it. the mists that clouded the roads ahead have cleared and the adventures awaiting are now more easily visible than even the world around me. yet i cannot stand to move, despite knowing the only way left to go is forward (god knows i’ve exhausted every other direction). i am no longer enclosed - i don’t feel the weight of a cage’s framework on my limbs and fingertips, but i do feel small and surreal and afraid. suspended, floating, effervescent (the liquid definition, not the emotional one). i am not waiting for anything anymore. instead, the world is waiting for me.
can’i? will i? should i? must i?