Sunday, July 28, 2013

The 'Rithmetic of Reading and Writing

Most of the time I don't know what's going to happen in a story I'm writing until I've written each scene. As I write, it's like cleaning a dirty window. The view is constantly improving, until there's no longer any notion of glass separating fiction from reality. That's not to say we should write just for the sake of writing, hoping an idea will form in the fog of our breath. In fact, I'm not one of those writers who believes in writing every day no matter what. Practice making perfect, as it were. 

No, I prefer the imperfection of an intensely necessary bout of writing that grips your heart like the plague, for that is something I can give my time to. A story worth bleeding for. 

Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 said: "My stories run up and bite me on the leg. I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off."

I always have ideas running through my brain - things I see or hear about and think to myself "That would make a great book" or "Wow, what a powerful story." But that doesn't mean I'm really going to write about any of those things. 

I figure a story worth telling is one that is begging to be told. Letters From The Ledge was like that. So was Truly (and Finn). 

Truly's story began as an illustration for a non-fiction article I was writing. But for almost a year afterward, her story would bark incessantly at the back of my mind, reminding me it was still there, chained up somewhere in the background of my life. When I finally walked over to it and took the chain off it latched onto me and wouldn't let go. And so I wrote. To the exclusion of almost everything else, I wrote.

There are a lot of stories vying for our attention in life, and we shouldn't necessarily pay attention to all of them. All that does is overwhelm our brains with often useless information and fill our hearts with characters that aren't meant to move our personal stories forward. 

The only stories worth reading are the ones worth keeping, which is why I heartily recommend the 30 pages rule. If I am not genuinely hooked into a story by page 30 I don't even bother finishing it. Life is too short, and there are too many life-changing stories just waiting to be read and experienced.

Find those stories. Consume them. Read. 

And be forever changed...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How A Screenplay Is Born...

This is a real-time picture of my kitchen. Yes, it's a mess, but it's a good mess. It's a mess that brings order to chaos - hopefully! If you've been following my whereabouts lately, I spent 10 days in Ireland back in April doing research for and trying to finalize my next novel, Truly and Finn, which at this point (thankfully) is safely in the hands of my agent and awaiting final scrutiny.

On to bigger (and scarier) projects - like tackling the daunting task of turning Letters From The Ledge into a screenplay. I've learned a lot so far in this process, and after three failed attempts at a straight adaptation (which would make this into a mini-series on par with Jane Austen if I wrote it straight out) I decided to take it apart so I could rebuild it!

See all those 3x5 cards? Each one represents an actual scene from the novel, laid out in chronological order according to the book. The yellow stickies represent main ideas, themes and plot points. Now how to somehow shuffle and combine the ideas on all those white cards, add in only the pertinent dialogue, and get it to represent all those yellow stickies without losing tension or emotion! I have the opening and closing scenes set - it's just a matter of filling in the middle. Ah yes...that dreaded white space!

It may seem a disjointed process to some, but the visuals really work for me. And knowing I can pick up individual cards and combine two of three of them into a "new" scene, or pull some out altogether if they don't move the plot along - this is a freeing process!

I know some writers don't want to dissect their babies, but I have read enough books and seen enough movies to understand that they can't always be portrayed the same. The trick, I guess, is to do such a good job of distilling the themes and emotions into the film, that people who've also read the book still feel like the movie did a good job of conveying the crux of the story, even if it ends up being slightly different than the novel.

It's a consuming process, to be sure, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and just dive in. The water was cold for the first few minutes, but now it kinda feels refreshing! Hopefully this intense period of work will pay off and soon I'll have a feature length screenplay to show for it!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why I Write

This is mainly tongue in cheek, but I think it's important every once in a while to revisit why we do what we do. So here's mine...

I write mainly because I love a compelling, relatable story, so I write the kinds of stories I want to read

To be quite honest:
I write because it helps me process the world.
I publish because other people tell me my writing helps them process the way they see the world.

There are probably a lot of other reasons, but those are good enough for me!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Ultimate Book Club

Letters From The Ledge was the featured book at a local book club recently, and I had the privilege of attending. I was asked to lead the discussion, which was such a treat for me! I got to ask readers questions and hear their questions in return. I learned about what worked well in the book and what could have made it even stronger. It was such an honor for me...

And get this - the food was all themed for the book!

  • We started the evening with Appletinis, in honor of the apple scent that only Brendan could smell
  • We also had brownies, in honor of ... well, Brendan's affinity for getting high.
  • There was an assortment of cheeses, including smoked gouda (see above), Swiss cheese (in honor of Switzerland) and blue cheese (in honor of bruises)
  • Due to the inability to import Shack Burgers, they served mini meat sandwiches instead!
  • For dessert there was Angel Food Cake (a small nod to the angelic bouncers)
This is not an easy book to do food for, so kudos to the two women who came up with that lineup!

In all seriousness, we talked about so many things it's hard to recount! Many of the issues raised in the book had sparked thoughts and questions in them, and it was great having such thoughtful insights into the characters themselves, as well as the plot structure and interactions between them. 

I am always happy to be a part of discussions, and if any of you are considering doing LFTL for your next book club meeting, why not Skype me in? It doesn't cost a thing, and it's a fun way to be able to ask the author questions directly. If you're interested, email me directly at: authorlyndameyers (at) gmail (dot) com.

Also, if anyone has any questions about the book, plot or characters they'd like answered, post your questions in the comments section below and I'll answer them in future blog posts!

Happy Reading!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Night Out

It was a fabulous night of music on Friday. Zachary Meyers opened for the awesome Mike McKay Band at Sharkey's Sports Bar and Grill to an enthusiastic crowd of about a hundred and fifty. Not bad for your first official gig. 

Backed by Ryan Tighe and Jourdan Meyers, he did several originals off his brand new release "Flight" as well as covers from the likes of John Mayer, Justin Nozuka, and Sleeping With Sirens. He even pulled a little unrehearsed Bon Iver out for an encore, complete with an audience participation bit! 

Do yourself a favor and go check it out. 

From his band camp page you can listen to each of the tracks or download the entire album by naming your own price - you can even put in $0.00 and get it absolutely free. The album includes two piano / instrumental tracks as well. 

Follow Zachary Meyers Music on Facebook to stay up to date on upcoming shows and new releases.

Happy Listening!