Some people have asked me why I did’t create the illustrations for my upcoming book, Moon Puppets, myself. Well, you know what they say: pictures speak louder than words. Trouble is, my pictures scream nonsense at you.
I’m happy to leave the illustrations for Moon Puppets to the super talented Taylor Graham.
If you write and have a Twitter account (I know that my one reader–hi, mom!–does not have a Twitter account so I have to briefly explain), you’ve probably seen tweets by others in the writing community like “post a gif (or picture) of your ideal writing space.” I’ll save my writer-gif criticism for a different blog post, but the comments of those tweets are usually filled with gifs and pictures of impossibly perfect cafes and beautiful landscapes that are similar to the one below.
That’s Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, for those of you who skipped the picture caption. It’s beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. Stunning. Inspiring. A description using all of those words and their thesaurus results couldn’t do the view justice. But is it my ideal place to write? Heck no. If you look at that picture and think, “Wow, I gotta get a pen and a notebook out there and create a story,” then you’re not being honest with yourself.
It took a 1.8 mile hike up a mountain to an elevation of 10,110 feet (I googled that) to get that view. And I was with my family, i.e. my wife, our two daughters (ages 6 and 3), my parents (hi again, mom!), and my brother and his wife. The air was thin; it was hard to breathe. I was exhausted, a little dizzy, and probably not thinking straight. I loved the view and the hike was worth it. But there was no way I was stopping to say to the rest of my group, “Do you all mind waiting for me to sit on this hard rock so I can selfishly write a piece of flash fiction that I’ll eventually scrap because I’m just really inspired from this view right now? Oh, I know I’m just going to be staring at a blank page for the next 30 minutes instead of the view of the mountains directly in front of me but this is something I really need to do. Also, that lake water is as cold as the Rockies because, of course, this is the Rockies, so do your best to keep my kids from going in the lake, because that’s what they will naturally want to do, without any help from me for I will be gasping for air on this uncomfortable boulder, trying to write something while constantly being interrupted by my body’s natural reflex to swat at mosquitoes. Okay? Thanks.”
No, my ideal writing space is a terrible, but safe, place. It’s my desk at work at lunch time. A place surrounded by windowless walls and the absence of any motivating decor. It’s a dark, uninspiring basement. It’s somewhere my internal voice screams, “Oh my gosh, this place is awful and/or boring. You have to get out of here. But you can’t right now because you are working or you’re stuck at home while your kids are in bed. You’ve got to think of something creative; you’ve got to pretend you’re not here; you’ve got to get lost in another world.”
The picture below is also not an ideal place to work on a manuscript. It’s an ideal place to have a coffee or drink some water or a beer or whatever liquid you prefer. It’s a place to take in the beauty of the natural surrounding and listen to the water as it flows through rocks down the mountainside while you contemplate your insignificance with the world. A place like the one below is a spot to think about how you are here in this world, how you don’t really matter in the big scheme of the universe but at the same time you do matter because you get to be at that spot, you get to be here on this planet and you get to have this life and move through these experiences. Keep the pen and notebook in your backpack and let your body, mind, and being soak it all in while you can.
So now that I’m back home and riding the same boring routine again (instead of a horse), it’s time to get back to work and escape my surroundings with some creative thought and writing. And I’m not going to show you my ideal writing place in pictures and gifs. Rather, I’ll show you pictures from my awesome trip to Rocky Mountain National Park so you feel jealous and angry that you didn’t get to see the fantastic views that I saw. Then perhaps you’ll use that jealousy and anger to inspire you to write your way out of those feelings. Then you’ll send me what you wrote to share it and thank me for giving you the inspiration to put an impressive piece of work together. You’re welcome.
Starting a blog can be daunting. I know this to be true because I just started one. As a new blogger, one thing I tend to do is check other blogs and websites for inspiration on what I could post. There are so many longstanding, reputable blogs out there with excellent advice and posts about blog topic suggestions. Most of them have even been written in list form to make reading easy and fun. So I figured, why not use that as inspiration and give it a try! I present to you, ten blog post ideas you should be blogging:
Share photos from your recent travels.
Did you travel somewhere recently? I bet it was nice. Show everyone a picture. Tell them how crisp the mountain air was and how the smell of pine trees reminded you of Christmastime even though it was August. And of course the weather was a perfect sunny day in the high 60s, right? Your readers want to see this stuff. It’s a good break for them from staring at a blank page trying to write and create their own work. They’ll appreciate knowing that someone else went outside and took in some fresh air for a change. If you haven’t traveled anywhere recently, simply Google Image Search “mountains” and look for a photo that doesn’t have copyright protection. Post and make things up about it. Don’t worry, you won’t have enough readers to call you out on stealing a photo. And if you ever do, you make sure to stick with telling them that you were the original taker of that photo. Practice saying, “Well, yeah, of course I knew those were mountains in Nepal because I took that photo when I was in Nepal.” You don’t want to clam up if that problem ever presents itself.
Share your political views in the most controversial way possible. This is great because it finds your readers and builds a base fast. And don’t worry about offending anyone. Keep in mind, if you’ve turned someone away from your writing, they’re the problem, not you. And you didn’t want them reading your words anyway. You’ve got a better fan base for it, and now it’s only filled with people who agree with you that the existence of animals is purely for human consumption and how extinction is just nature’s way of running out of something on the menu. You’ve found your niche and you’re looking good. Please your crowd. Stick to your convictions and make no apologies!
Post a picture of your food and share just how amazing it was with everyone.
Food is amazing. You can have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! People love food. Show people what you just ate and tell them about it. “That curried cauliflower wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be. Boy, that fennel sure did taste good on the zucchini. And the meatballs! Oh, I wish I would have had enough to share before I ate it all.”
Tell your readers about a dream you had. Everyone will love reading about your dreams. Oh, especially the one about how Ian McShane tricked you into staying at the restaurant after it closed by purposely screwing up your bill because he knew you would complain about it. Then you both grew wings and turned into giants and flew all over the lake with the Las Vegas skyline in the background. You then battled each other to the death but you’re not sure who won because you woke up. This type of post works well if your blog is still a baby. Readers can expect, or at least hope, that any other future post you publish makes more sense than that one about your dream.
My [insert body part here] smells like [insert smell here] after I [insert action here]. This is an excellent one for beginning writers for two reasons. One, it gives you some practice at working within the beautiful and strange realm of similes and metaphors. For example, a simile would go something like this: “My feet smell like Doritos after I pick up cheese with my toes and feed it to my puppy.” That can even be followed up with a metaphor, like this: “I like when my puppy licks my Dorito feet clean.” The second reason for this kind of post being good for beginners is that it introduces you to your readers in a fun and unique way. Readers want to know about your hobbies so they can judge you better.
Tell your readers about your pet. Just like food, people love pets, but for different reasons (you may pet your food but don’t eat your pets, please). And just like your dreams, people love hearing about your pets. Of course they want to know about your puppy and how he ever-so-gently removes cheese from between your toes with his cute puppy teeth. Oh how it tickles! Post a picture of that crazy nonsense, sicko. Your readers will eat it up. No, not your feet cheese. I just mean that your readers will enjoy the post about your pet.
Who is your favorite character from the 1982 cult classic, The Beastmaster, and why? Spoiler alert: it’s the ferrets because they’re so stinkin’ cute! They’re cuter than your puppy, even.
Give up and post a bunch of gifs. People overuse and abuse gifs. You know how you’re annoyed when people say “Yeah, baby” in that Austin Powers accent or repeat decades-old quotes from Jim Carrey movies? Well, those are the audible versions of gifs. But people love gifs. So make sure to use them often.
And if none of those ideas that I’ve listed inspire you, post a Top 10 list of something helpful and informative! But double check your list to make sure you included all ten suggestions. I mean, how embarrassing would it be if you don’t have the right amount of things listed, am I right?