Sitting down to write, and opening your mind to (in this case) another world, is one of the hardest things for me to do. When my mind is filled with problems, worries, and other stresses that come with living life, it, as you can imagine, is difficult to escape into another world and write, no matter how badly you want to. So how do I aid my mind in leaving these things behind? Well, that’s what I’m going to discuss during today’s blog post.
When I sit down to write with my cup of coffee next to me, I don’t just start writing. I must first find my self and my story. That seems pretty vague, doesn’t it? I always cringe when I hear the phrase, “find one’s self.” However, this is what I mean.
I must push aside all the other cares and stresses, all the other self-doubts and business; I must find that part of myself that loved to write because it took me somewhere I never been, but always wanted to go. What helps me to do that? Sometimes nothing. But what I usually turn to are these four things: reading a book, listening to music, watching a movie clip, or watching a trailer.
I have discovered that these external things help me to bring out the creative part of my brain while lulling the other part (the part that worries or is tired) to sleep.
What kind of book, song, trailer, or movie clip do I use you may I ask?
It all depends on the story. Currently, I am writing a fantasy (the sequel to Scar of the Downers). So everything I use (except for book) usually is centered on the type of story I’m writing. This is what revs up the inspiration and/or motivation inside of me.
While, in the past, I’ve already shared my favorite trailers, today I will share a few of the songs that I listen to while I write. Again, this changes with the stories that I work on. For instance, if I’m writing a modern story about a young kid, I will use that type of music while I work. So, these songs are what I listen to while I’m writing the second book in the Downer series.
The first song is by Twelve Titans Music and is called From the Ashes Reborn.
This song is called Kanada's Death, Pt. 2 (Adagio in D Minor) by John Murphy. It is from the movie Sunshine.
The next song is by Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy. Several years ago when the movie Gladiator came out, I fell in love with the soundtrack, which was created by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard. That is when I first heard her. I have several of her albums, but this is one my favorite songs by her. It is called Elegy.
The last two songs can be heard from the the last two hobbit trailers. The first one is from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug trailer, and the second song is from The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies trailer.
The first song is called Age of Dragons by Audiomachine, and the second song is called Dust and Light, by Twelve Titans Music
This is not an exhaustive list. Just a few songs from my much larger playlist.
On a sidenote: This weekend I will be at a book signing at the Antwerp Public Library during their Operation Restore Antwerp day this Saturday from 11:00-1:00. I will also be in Clayton on August 29th at the TI Museum with several other local authors. I will give more detail as we get closer to the date.
My wife once posted a meme on her Facebook profile attributed to Mother Teresa: “Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.” This made me think about some things my wife and I are trying to accomplish in parenting our four young girls.
Has anyone else ever noticed that we have a tendency to treat those outside our family better than those within? Domestic conflicts are probably one of the most common sources of conflict in the world. And I’m not going to talk about abuse here, that’s a whole different ballgame. I’m just talking about the everyday bickering and arguing that happens between spouses and children.
Now, Liz and I never fight. After all, we pledged our lives to one another and made a covenant to always put one another’s needs above our own. We always assume the best of one another and treasure each other as a gift.
All right, all right. I’m lying. We fail at that a lot, even though for the most part we DO get along and like to be around each other.
Here’s where I’m going with this: Even though my wife and I did all those things about pledging and covenanting, and did them on our own volition (nobody forced us), we still have times where we don’t get along.
From our love came four beautiful, precious children, all of whom have very distinct and different personalities. And because of homeschooling, they are around each other all the time. And because they are all different ages, they are all at different places in their development. They also all each have a strong will to do what they want to do, making for blow-ups and screaming matches when these wills collide. Which happens often, because they are always around each other.
So, what to do. I mean, it’s hard for Liz and I to get along all the time. How can we really expect all of our girls to do so? Except, we have to try to help them learn how to do this. Because, you see, what they don’t understand this point in their lives is that they are all they will have. Family is the primary unit of society for a reason.
What I’ve come to realize is this: if you can’t love the ones at home, how can you love the ones outside it. We as a society tell people, “Be yourselves,” but don’t like it when they actually are. It’s easy to love people who hide their “negative” feelings. It’s easy to love people who are always polite to you. It’s easy to love people that only show their best side. If that’s true love to you, then you have a weak love, a love that would collapse beneath the weight of a burden.
I don’t want my daughters to have a weak love.
I want them to hold each other up. In our family, we teach our daughters that they are the ones who will be there for each other.
Friends come and go. Friends abandon you. Friends have families of their own.
Now I know that there are cases where family abandons their own, and it’s friends that pick up the slack. But that is not what we want for our family. I have found that if family can truly love one another, then they can love anyone. For if you love your family, you have a strong love, a love that can stand up under its own weight.
This world is harsh, and people are unreliable. It tells you that you have to make it on your own. You have to support yourself, by yourself. That’s not what I want for our family. I want my children to support each other, to be there in a way that the world isn’t. In our family, we don’t do it alone. In my opinion, that’s not why God put us together.
My job as the father of this family is to create a support system for my daughters that will last a lifetime. I am attempting this so they don’t have to face this world alone. I want to truly teach them that love does begin here! Once they learn that, they will learn that it doesn’t end there.
In the midst of winter, it’s sometimes hard to imagine the warmth of the sun. But it comes. Change always does.
After a grueling year, school’s finally over. Summer has begun, and who knows what it will bring.
Honestly, I’m as glad for the break as the kids are (frankly, more so).
Summer should be a time to relax, to think and dream, to get away, to go on an adventure, or just hang out.
Summer is freedom, and with that freedom I am going to work.
I’m having some writer’s block with the two projects I’m working on, but I’m expectant that the summer will inspire me to overcome it (at least in one of the projects).
Thank goodness for seasons. You all may know that fall and winter are my favorites, but I’m actually really grateful for all of them. At times, I crave change. For example, my wife and I are continuously re-arranging the various rooms in our house. When we feel stuck and maybe the room keeps getting messy, we’ll just change it up. Move the couch here, the table there. We bunked the beds in the girls’ room over the winter, now we’ve un-bunked them.
If only things were this easy to change up in our lives. Don’t like a job? Get a new one! Sick of the town you live in? Just move! Tired of the house and its problems? Sell it and buy a new one.
Adults know that changing these things can seem impossible and unlikely. Sometimes it seems like the place we are currently in is where we will be forever. That’s sort of how Liz and I feel. We’d like to change things, but at every turn, we’re stymied. Something needs to change, we feel. And we have ideas. We’ve talked about what we want our future to look like. It just seems like every step we try to take in that direction is wrong. So, what do we do? Here’s a list of what our process looks like:
1) Go full steam ahead with some ideas we’ve thought of.
2) Stop going full steam ahead when things don’t pan out.
3) Pray about what to do.
4) Debate about what to do.
5) Wait and do nothing.
6) Get really frustrated.
7) Repeat the cycle.
Hey, no one said that our process was a good one. But this is sometimes the way that I get through writer’s block. So, maybe my family’s having Life Block right now.
How do we get through it? We’re not sure. In the past, we worked, waited, and eventually made a drastic move.
Well, I feel we’ve gone through the working part, and the waiting part as well. Who knows, perhaps the drastic move is coming next.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.