Monthly Archives: April 2013

Regeneration Now: Why It’s Past Time For A New Doctor

Spoilers, Sweetie.

Whovians, stop your outraged screaming for a moment and let me explain.

I love Matt Smith. That goofy faced, floppy headed, bow tie wearing bastard brought depth to the character of the Doctor that I never could have imagined. He brought us the girl who waited, the last centurion and a heartwarming relationship with the sassy River Song. But after two and a half years of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey awesomeness, it is time for him to step down.

Actually, it was timeĀ  at the end of season six. But the writers can be excused for not wanting their viewers to lose the most popular Doctor yet and the Ponds in rapid succession. People would probably stop watching. There’d be riots in the streets. DVD box sets and bow ties would be burned in a bonfire of all things Gallifreyan.

Well, maybe not.

But now, it is time. The format of the show necessitates frequent character changes which is why the Doctor’s ability to regenerate is a vital key to the show’s success. As is the frequent replacement of companions, no matter how hard it is to see them go.

Think about it. Despite amazing writing and wildly imaginative story lines, the premise of every episode is the same. Go somewhere strange, find out about something terrible that is happening, save the day. Occasionally people die (or seem to. Ahem ahem Rory.) but by and large you know that no matter what happens the TARDIS will soon be whirling through space and time again. So in order to keep the viewer’s attention, the characters need to be thrilling. We need to get caught up in their lives, their unique quirks and their particular story line.

And eventually each of these characters’ stories comes to an end. It isn’t easily definable when that moment will be (although I think we’ve established that two seasons is a good length for any particular doctor) but there reaches a point when no matter how much you love them, nothing a character does will surprise you.

And Doctor Who should be nothing if not surprising.

I am sure that the masterminds behind one of my favorite shows know all of this already and I expect that with the end of the seventh season will come the end of Matt Smith. When that happens, don’t be sad my fellow Whovians.

Instead, rejoice that he brought bow ties back (and Fez’s) and encouraged thousands of people to eat the revolting combination of fish fingers and custard. Bow your heads and thank him for all that he did for the world. And then open your heart to the next Doctor. If the last seven years have been any indication, he’s (she’s?!) going to be amazing.

The Wisdom Of Old Friends

Last week I had dinner with a friend that I haven’t seen in a while. We became friends when we realized that were both reading the Song Of Ice And Fire Series. I was a barista at the time and he was a regular customer.

Heated discussions about the Lannisters turned to talk of other things; specifically Pathfinder, a modern take on Dungeons and Dragons. For over a year he was my game master but since I quit gaming a few months back we haven’t had much of a chance to see each other.

So last Friday we met for burgers because losing track of old friends is a sadness I’ve had just about enough of.

And the conversation changed my life.

We started out just catching up; he is seeing someone new and starting a new business venture. I am getting ready to move to Arizona. We had a lot to talk about. But then the conversation turned.

He has always been someone that I desperately admire. He is one of those people (I hope you know at least one) with an innate ability to make everyone around him feel at ease. Conversation with him is easy and I often find myself sharing things with him that I’m not comfortable telling my own mother. He is open and honest and those who know him trust that he will always tell them the truth. He is the kind of person I want to be.

And finally, I told him so.

“How do you do it?” I asked. “Have you always been this way?”

His answer was no, that it had taken a lot of hard work and self-reflection to become comfortable in his own skin. He described his journey a bit and then said the words that I will never forget.

“If you have nothing to hide,” he said. “Then you are free.”

Inconspicuous words, perhaps but truer words I have never heard. Another way of saying it might be, “Secrets keep you sick.”

Think about a time when you have had a secret, or something that you wanted to say but didn’t. When it is inside of you, it is huge and dark; it seems to take over your mind. It takes effort to conceal and that effort can be draining. Exhausting. And eventually you let it out.

If it comes out poorly, after a long time of lying hidden the resulting explosion of truth can be disastrous. But if you manage to speak your truth on your own terms, before it takes you over and explodes out, there is a feeling of undeniable relief. A sense of liberation and even of power.

Words left unsaid can rule you. But the simple act of telling the truth, to others but most importantly to yourself, can be the most freeing thing you’ll ever do.

 

Link

Help Me Go To Space!

Friends, you all know of my obsession with Ray Bradbury. I live half in the real world and half on Mars. I dream of floating above the Earth with everything and everyone I have ever known tumbling through space on the blue marble beneath me.

And now it’s possible.

I once dreamed of a career as an astronaut but a lack of scientific focus at college has made me consider other career paths. And when it comes down to it, I am a writer through and through. But I could still go to space.

Axe Apollo is going to send one person into space and I’ve entered the contest. Unfortunately, I just found out about it and the contest ends April 29th. In order to win I need the most votes by the end of that day. I know it’s a long shot but if everyone who reads this takes a moment to vote, it’s possible that you could make my dream come true.

It will take very little of your time and your action could change my life. Besides, don’t you want to read what the RedInkling has to say from space? I know I do.

Questions For Our Heroes

I work in a library so the likelihood of me coming across a stack of thirteen year old ripped out magazine pages in a given workday is fairly high. Yesterday I was puttering around the back room when a picture of a gray-haired man in shorts and sandals with the headline, The Martian Tourist.

It was an interview with Ray Bradbury from 2000. I found a copy of it on his website (unfortunately without the dashing portrait) here. Honestly, it’s not a great interview. I don’t know if Bradbury’s answers were trimmed for length or if he’s just not very forthcoming but it kind of reads like he’s lecturing the interviewer, a Mary Roach.

I always imagined that I would meet Ray Bradbury someday; get a chance to ask him questions and talk to him about the stars. And then last year he died and now I’ll never get that chance.

But the fact that he’ll never answer my questions is not going to stop me from asking them. I think that it will always be valuable to think about exactly what it is that you admire in a person and imagining the questions you would ask them is a good way to do that.

So here are my questions for Ray Bradbury. If you want, think about who you would interview given the chance, and post some questions for them in the comments!

1. In your book on writing, Zen In The Art Of Writing, you talk about being passionate about writing at an early age and throughout your life. Was there ever a time that writing was harder or less of a joy for you?

2. Tell me about your writing routine.

3. What is the best thing about writing for you?

4. Of all of the worlds that you created or visited which was your favorite and why?

5. Will you tell me about your childhood? What it was like growing up in the Midwest in the twenties and thirties?

 

I’d love to read your questions and if the person you wrote them for is still alive, consider trying to get them answered. You’ll never regret trying, I promise!

 

The Word Unspoken (NaPoWriMo Day 12)

I have not been the best at keeping up with NaPoWriMo this month but as long as I’m writing more poems than I would have, I count it as a win. This one has nothing to do with the suggested prompt but I did take a couple ideas from the excellent page that they linked to here. Check it out for some good poetry writing prompts.

Earth and its overlords

look like fluffy clouds

to the sheep on the moon.

The word dominion was a mistranslation

I lived it well and still

happiness eludes me.

 

The strangest word

is the one that has been read

but not yet spoken.

The strangest path

is the one I walk–looking ahead,

behind,

one path over to the right.

 

Anywhere but here.

Anywhere but where I am.

 

How long did it take to fly all those sheep to the moon?

Can they see me?

Prompt Your Writing!

Writing prompts are awesome. It’s easy to look at a finished book and forget all of the work that went into it; easy to imagine that the it sprang fully formed from the author’s forehead. But when we wait for a bestselling idea to elbow its way into our heads and demand to be written, we are setting ourselves up for failure. We’re going to be waiting for a long time. And in the meantime, not a single word gets written.

But the simple act of seeking out a prompt gets your brain thinking in a new way. It introduces new ideas and has the ability to surprise ideas out of you that you never would have come up with otherwise.

There are countless blogs out there providing weekly or daily writing prompts and a quick google search will turn up tons of stuff. The Daily Post always has excellent ideas.

But traditional prompts can get old; so to inspire creativity, here are some ideas of places to look for your own writing prompts.

Craigslist

This is probably my favorite place to look for prompts because with pages for nearly every city in the world, the ideas are almost limitless. Look under missed connections and write a scene based on the place where the missed connection took place. Or write a character sketch based on the person who posted the ad, or the person the ad is about. Try writing the encounter as though they hadn’t missed the connection and see where that takes you.

Or click on literally anything else on the main page, find a post with an interesting title, and just start writing.

Someone’s selling a ten-year old toaster? Where did that toaster come from? Where has it been? Where is it going?

Don’t think too hard, just pick a post and start writing. If you get stuck, click on something else!

Coffee House

Find a warm, cozy place with steam on the windows and big fluffy armchairs.

Okay it doesn’t have to be exactly like that. But there should have some close together tables.

Grab yourself a drink and a comfy seat. Pull out a laptop or a piece of paper and start writing. A good place to start is description; pick a person and start writing.

Another fun thing to do at a coffee shop is to listen for snippets of conversation, write down an interesting sentence and go from there.

Eavesdropping on people can get weird if you let it. Just don’t be creepy and it will be fine.

The Newspaper

This one’s easy. Take a headline and (without reading the article at all) write the story that goes with it. This is a pretty popular one in writing classes, for good reason.

 

Where do you look for writing prompts?

On The Importance Of Writing (And Not Just Blogging Your Life Away)

Blogging is a valuable platform for obvious reasons. For writers it provides a place to have their work read and critiqued. It’s a way to get your thoughts into the public eye, it’s good writing practice, it’s a publishing house-free way to share ideas and information instantaneously. And on top of all of that the blogging community is the best group of people in the world. Bloggers support each other in a way that no other online community does. New bloggers are welcomed, their links are shared and helpful support is always provided to those who ask for it and quite often to those who don’t. As a new blogger, I could not be more appreciative.

It’s wonderful.

But it’s not all there is.

The most valuable piece of advice that I’ve gotten as a writer is also the most simple. In order to be a good writer, in order to improve and grow and eventually be good enough to be published, you have to write. It’s too simple, really. When you tell someone looking for writing advice to write every day they tend to say,

“Well obviously, yes. What else?”

But who among us actually write every day? If you do, good for you. I’m impressed. But too often, ‘thinking about writing’ takes the place of actually writing. I find myself thinking about writing all the time. If thinking about how good of a writer I’m going to be someday made people good writers, I’d be busting out Hemingway-esque short stories left and right.

But I am most definitely not. It’s an ongoing process.

In that sense, blogging is great, right? When people are watching we write more often, giving us practice and feedback.

But instead of this practice lighting a fire under my fiction fingers, it tends to take the place of any fiction writing that I might have done. I’ve started spending time that I would spend working on a short story instead writing a post for this site.

And that’s great! I love the connections that I have found on here and writing blog posts is a whole new kind of writing; it challenges me every day. But it is not fiction.

A fiction writer must remember that blog posts or opinion articles or online content writing are not the end game for us. Although internet writing is accessible and instantly rewarding; for fiction writers it is not why we are here.

A fiction writer is someone who is called to be an inventor. Someone who thrives on the creation of worlds and the crafting of characters. Someone for whom the “real world” will never quite cut it.

So why do we try and squeeze ourselves into shoes made for journalists? Or nonfiction writers? We do it because it’s there. Because writing online gives us practice, a chance at a readership and a warm fuzzy feeling.

But it doesn’t make us fiction writers. The absolute, set in stone, only way to become a successful writer of fictions is to write fiction. Every day. Blogging and nonfiction writing are amazing and have their place but they are not training for the writing of fiction.

As fiction writers or as writers of any kind we should challenge ourselves to write within our genres a few times per week. By all means, keep writing other things too, keep challenging yourself, but don’t forget what you’re working toward. If you want to be an ice skater you’ve got to eventually strap on skates and step onto the ice. If you want to be a fiction writer, you’ve got to start making stuff up.