Seeking the Mr. Miyagi of Writing

A-selection-of-wisdom-from-The-Karate-Kids-Mr-Miyagi-2.jpg

I love movies that depict a talented-but-too-immature student who begrudgingly goes under the instruction of some old timer. Eventually the kid realizes his pain-in-the-ass coach is giving him the tough love he needs. The student takes his lessons seriously and grows inwardly and outwardly to reach his full potential.

There are many films with this theme, but the one that sticks out most in my mind is The Karate Kid. I know I’m dating myself when I say I watched these movies in the theater as a kid and they are among my favorites of all time. Everyone wants to reach their full potential, but most of us have no idea how to get there.

I wasted years dreaming about writing and never writing. I finally began five years ago after the tragic death of a pelican (a long story I will share with you one day). Then came The Wrong David, the NaNo series, and now here I am with SICK. I’m happy to be publishing my work, but now I’m anxious to move up to the next level. I feel like I could write my ass off, but I also am aware that I’m missing something. Many things, actually. I don’t know what they are, but I sense them whenever I read my work. I know a seasoned writer probably point the faults out right away, but I don’t personally know any seasoned writers.

A few years ago, my mom gave me a copy of Eat, Pray, Love. I vaguely remember Elizabeth Gilbert mentioning something like, “if you pray for your guru, they will come.” So this is me officially putting my call out to the Universe.

I’m ready for you, my Mr. (or Mrs.) Miyagi of writing. Put me through a composition boot camp. Drill me with grammar rules until I cry. Make me type until my fingertips are raw. I don’t know if I can catch a fly with chopsticks, but I sure as hell will try. I’m dead serious about becoming a good writer. I feel I have the potential. I know I have the desire. I just need someone to guide me. Mentor, please find me.

 

A-selection-of-wisdom-from-The-Karate-Kids-Mr-Miyagi-4-1

 

 

Did you have a Mr. Miyagi in your life?

How did you find a mentor/coach/guru?

What’s your favorite inspiring coaching movie?

 

 

Quotes from Alesha Drew

What Are You Writing For?

What are you Writing For?

As a creative person and one who’s plagued by existential questions, I get trapped into that circle of thinking if what I’m doing matters. Will anyone read my writing? Will anyone care? Will I ever be able to make a living from it? Am I just wasting my time and energy torturing nice people with my substandard prose?

I work with writers and for writers (and this applies to all creative people), and I think we all have that dream of becoming famous (even if you say you don’t, you wouldn’t mind it, would you?). We all have that hope of changing the world with our work. We want to be praised and validated. We want to communicate on a deeper level. We want to be admired, at least just a little bit, and be able to say I told you so to all the haters. Most of all, we want to leave a legacy after our death.

But our dreams deflate each time we see the sheer numbers of other people who have the same exact dream as we do and are pursuing it more efficiently and more fervently. They write better, market better, sell better. We see other artists kicking ass out there, and we wonder how in the world they do it. Maybe we don’t have the resources, the time, or the energy. Maybe we don’t have the savvy or the persistence. Maybe we’re suffering from do-I-suck-a-phobia.

It’s easy to get caught up in the race to the bestsellers list, but let me wrap my arm around your shoulders and guide you into my existential realm here. Although contemplating our place in the ginormous, black Universe can make us feel insignificant and pointless at times, in the same way it frees us from our anguish. Look at it this way…

  1. You only have one life (as far as we know). If there is anything noble about it, it’s living in the pursuit of creating and appreciating beauty in all its forms. It’s one of the only redeeming qualities of our species.
  2. Your one life is very short. You could spend it watching TV. You could become a typical consumer, chasing promotion after promotion so you can raise your standard of living. Or you could live a life of passion and do whatever makes your soul sing.
  3. You have to be yourself. If there’s one thing I learned about being happy in this life, it’s being true to who you are. If you only behave and do what you think you’re supposed to do instead of what you really want to do, you will be a miserable person. Guaranteed.
  4. Your audience doesn’t matter all that much. Human beings are a very small, messy, and crude part of the universe. Having their mass approval is not necessarily anything special. There is much of existence beyond our little blue sphere that might marvel at your work if they ever got to experience it.

Creativity is a gift. In making something out of nothing, we can be the gods of our own little universes.

I hope you all found this comforting.

Happy Friday and Happy Creating!

Do you ever wonder if what you’re creating matters?

How do you think your work fits into the Universe?

What are you working on right now?

What are you writing for?

Photo source

#Writers Blooming Everywhere

Writing Quotes Christa Wojo

I’m now on Instagram! @christawojo

I live in the Chiriquí highlands, a land of eternal spring that bursts with flowers all year long. My yard is full of countless colors and species. There are pinks, yellow, blues, reds, purples, fiery oranges, and blazing whites. There are orchids, daffodils, roses, hibiscus, and many kinds of plants that I can’t identify.

I try to make sure I crawl out of my writing/working cave for a few minutes a day to appreciate the flowers. Not only is it soothing to get away from the glowing screens of my electronics, but I do it for the plant life too. I feel it’s a shame to ignore them as they strain upward to bloom as brightly as they can. I know that all too quickly they will wilt and die. Someone should be there to watch their performance.

On hikes through the cloud forest, I often notice a lone, exotic flower in the mist. It waits there in silence, sparkling with dew, and trembles in the breeze like it’s excited to see me. I think of how easily I might not have been in that spot at that moment to witness it in its pinnacle of existence. What a pity for those countless hidden beauties who go through the trouble of making a such a performance only to be missed!

But I realize that whether I was there or not, the flower would’ve opened in the darkness of the jungle anyway. It would have raised its petals to the moon and folded back into itself again, a marvel never to be seen.

I think of artists like flowers – painters, dancers, singers, and writers. We are designed to bloom and can’t help ourselves from doing so. It doesn’t matter if anyone is there to witness it or appreciate it. It doesn’t matter if it’s practical or not. It’s what we were made to do, and we must do it or we’ll be miserable.

We may get trampled on or devoured by insects. We may be clipped short and put in a vase to be put on a brief display for others and then shrivel before our time. We may be watered and nurtured so that we thrive and mature to our fullest potential, blooming season after season, becoming an attraction for bees and butterflies and hummingbirds.

On the other hand, we may never be noticed or acknowledged by a single soul. We might throw all our energies, passions, and resources into becoming the most spectacular blossom, only to crumple back into the ground without attracting the slightest notice.

The point is this. Don’t write to be seen. Write to become yourself.

No matter what, we must break from the soil, unfurl with determination, and reach for the sun. As flowers bloom, so we must write. We must write. We must write!

So go write!

What are your goals as a writer?

Would you still write if you knew no one would ever read it?

What are you working on right now?

6 Apps a Writer Can't Live Without

Best apps for book marketing

How I do the job of twenty people.

Not only am I building author platforms (mine included), I also manage platforms for small businesses and other websites. Digital marketing is a fun job, but it’s also a challenge. Organization is paramount, but having the right software is equally important.

Here are my six crucial apps for increasing efficiency so I have free time to stumble after my dream – writing fiction!

(more…)

Are Writers Sociopaths?

William Somerset Maugham Quote Artists

Excerpt from Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham.

I finally finished reading Of Human Bondage. Honestly, I didn’t want it to end. It’s an amazing book that resonated with me on multiple levels. My copy has kept me company toilet-side for the past year and is dog-eared and slathered in orange highlighter. I’ll probably be posting more quotes from the book whenever they come to mind.

There were so many “Yes!” moments for me in the story watching Philip explore what it means to be an artist, not only of writing or painting, but an artist of his own life.

What do you sacrifice for art?

For authenticity?

For beauty?

For originality?

For love?

This quote, spoken by Philip’s friend Clutton, is a perfect example.

Oh, my dear fellow, if you want to be a gentleman you must give up being an artist. They’ve got nothing to do with one another. You hear of men painting pot-boilers to keep an aged mother – well it shows they’re excellent sons, but it’s no excuse for bad work. They’re only tradesmen. An artist would let his mother go to the workhouse. There’s a writer I know over here who told me that his wife died in childbirth. He was in love with her and he was mad with grief, but as he sat at the bedside watching her die he found himself making mental notes of how she looked and what she said and the things he was feeling. Gentlemanly, isn’t it?”

I think every writer develops the capacity to objectify people, events, and emotions. We have to distance ourselves from them so that we can examine them – whether they are tragic, vulgar, absurd, joyful, wrathful – and render them in their truest light according to our perspective (or that of our characters). The more I write, the more skilled I become at this distancing. It’s kind of creepy.

Does this make artists predatory, opportunistic sociopaths?

Weeelll, I say.. not completely.

I admit, I do sometimes pursue adventures in the same way the proverbial lawyer chases an ambulance, but I also do it as a means to greater understanding and depth of experience. For me it’s a form of delirious homage for all the mysteries, horrors, and delights of existence. It allows me to ignore my ego’s emotional investment in a situation so that I have the ability to look at it simply as it is, and not what I believe it is or should be.

(Let’s hope I’m not outing myself on some personality disorder here.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Have at it below!

The Real Edition Wants Your Addiction Story

The Real Edition wants your story

The Real Edition has already attracted an avalanche of writers and readers after its launch last week. The best news is that you’re invited to be a part of it. 

What is the real edition?

TheRealEdition.com (TRE) is a publishing platform for all things addiction and recovery. Nearly everyone has been affected by addiction in one form or another, be it themselves or through a friend/family member. The Real Edition provides a stage solely for addiction and recovery with the intention of giving meaning and purpose to all stories–those of brokenness as well as those of hope.

Why Submit to The Real Edition?

1. Share

Although 24.6 million Americans have experienced addiction, it’s not something that usually comes up in conversation. A taboo surrounds addiction, making it difficult for addicts and those who love addicts to open up to people who have not shared the same experience.

Maybe it was decades ago, maybe it was recently, maybe it’s still going on right now. No matter when the struggle or victory over addiction occurred, a story may be sitting inside you just waiting for any reason to come out. Now is your chance to write it, share it, and feel your load lightened.

2. Connect

The Real Edition allows you to create profiles, cultivate a following, and follow other writers. The website allows users to leave comments at any point throughout to discuss, debate, and commiserate on specific sentences within the article. Find like-minded people, people who can help you, or people whom you can help.

3. Grow

Maybe you had an addiction story, but were afraid it wouldn’t appeal to your current blog subscribers. The Real Edition is a community of addicts, recovered addicts, or those in the recovery industry. By publishing on The Real Edition, you open your writing to a wide, global audience that is already primed for your topic. Someone is waiting to read your story. You just might change someone’s life, and in doing so, change yours.

4. Earn a Reputation

The Real Edition wants to focus on quality content. You don’t have to be a professional writer, but you do have to offer something of depth and value.

Whether it’s a personal experience, and informational article, or an opinion piece; The Real Edition is looking for bold, heartfelt stories that bring addiction out of the darkness so it can be understood, analyzed, and addressed.

5. Gain Exposure

Not only will your audience grow, The Real Edition has several opportunities to make your post go viral.

  1. TRE employs an algorithm that tabulates page views, number of reads, read times, and recommendations to determine the most popular posts. These posts are automatically featured on the home page in the Top Reads section. This means that unknown writers with small followings have just as much of a chance of getting to the front page as those writers who are more experienced and established.
  2. TRE will share your posts through all its social media channels, putting you in front of thousands of eyes.
  3. Content from The Real Edition also receives attention from large websites like The Huffington Post and Thought Catalog, increasing your chances of being picked up by a mainstream publication.
  4. In addition to being published on a site that gets thousands of visitors each day, TRE may select your title for one of their ad campaigns.

6. Free Advertising and Cash Rewards

The mission of The Real Edition is to inspire hope, to be resource for loved ones affected by addiction, and to eliminate the stigma attached to addiction.

To give something back to TRE contributors, the editors will select stories for paid and organic marketing rewards. This means TRE will spend up to $100 promoting your article on selected social media sites.

Cash prizes may be awarded in the amount of $50 or $100 on any given week, and up to $250 for a story of the month.

By publishing on TRE, not only do you benefit from the camaraderie, the connections, the reach, the exposure, the advertising, AND the prestige; but you also get the chance to earn money as a writer.

The Real Edition wants your story


TRE

 Join the movement!

Follow The Real Edition on Twitter.

Like The Real Edition on Facebook.

Add The Real Edition on Google+.

Create your profile

Sign-up and create your profile for TheRealEdition.com.

Start publishing

Read an overview on how to get started publishing on TRE.

 

Do you have any questions about The Real Edition?

Leave your comments below or shoot me an email at christa@therealedition.com.

Writing Advice from The Hands of God

Artist quotes

Sculptor, Antoni Azarov

I love to nag people for interviews, and annoying as I may be, some very famous people occasionally indulge me.

This was the case with world renowned sculptor, Antoni Azarov. Even though the press dub him, and I quote, an “asshole,” I’ve discovered once you get used to his intensity, he’s kind of funny in his own dry way.

Let me first tell you, I admire Azarov’s work with the gushing of a sixteen-year-old at a boyband concert. This man’s hands can make clay into a sculpture so striking that you feel uncomfortable being in the same room with it; as if it were a vessel that held a ghost, one that might want to escape its ceramic shell to jump into your living skin.

Not to say Azarov’s a realist. His sculptures are minutely distorted, just slightly exaggerated–preventing them from being exact human replicas. But the distortion is what gives the sculptures souls, their naked bodies adorned by the invisible cloth of their psyches.

Azarov arrived on his Ducati, a big, black machine whose vibrating engine shook my porte cochere, flooding my house with its throbbing sound. He wore dark, indigo jeans and a black racing jacket. His dark hair was overgrown, past his jaw, and blew in tangles around his face after he removed his helmet.

(more…)

An Author's Research: How To Build A Realistic Body

My anti-hero is a disturbed sculptor whose art captivates the world. His story is very important to me and as an author I felt it my responsibility to make sure I created a believable character and an accurate portrayal of an artistic genius’ world.

A few months ago I announced that amazing artist, Kristine Poole, would be advising me for my first fiction series.  I’ve begun the initial phases of revising (reading through quickly, chopping up ruthlessly, combating nauseating self-doubt) and I will be interviewing Kristine Poole for in-depth details in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I wanted to share her video so you can see how she transforms a chunk of solid clay into a sculpture so lifelike that you can almost fancy it’s breathing. I learned a great deal just by watching the video and realize there will be much I have to change in my books. For starters…

  1. I had this vision that my sculptor would carve his pieces from the clay in the same way other sculptors chisel from marble. As you can see, this sculpture is made in a completely different way using coils and slabs.
  2. I thought the armature (support) would go inside, like a skeleton, but as you can see, Kristine uses outside supports.
  3. I had forgotten since my elementary school pottery class that ceramics must be hollow. Solid clay cannot be fired! 

After realizing how mistaken my assumptions were, I know why it’s so important to do proper research for a novel. If a writer cares about their characters and their readers, they must take the time and effort to make sure the story they build could possibly take place in the real world.

I know nothing takes me out of a story faster than lack of credibility and disbelief.

 

Readers: Have you ever been turned off by a poorly researched book?

Writers: How do you find credible sources for your research?

Were you surprised by the sculpting method used in the video?

 

 

 

A Writer’s Greatest Fear

A Writer's Greatest Fear

I’m still studying Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham. As I said in my first article about the book, great writers are those who write stories that are relevant throughout time. They expose universal truths that apply to our lives no matter what century we live in. Of Human Bondage is full of such enduring revelations.

In the first part of the book, we witness the main character, Phillip, and his crisis of faith in God. At the next crossroad in the story, we see Phillip battling self-doubt when he pursues his wildest dream.

After being fed up with a dreary accounting job, Phillip goes to Paris to become a painter. He does well, but never creates anything extraordinary. After the suicide of a classmate, who for all her passion for art was a lousy painter, Phillip reevaluates his reasons for becoming an artist. He wonders what his future will look like if he continues to pursue his dream.

Phillip finally works up the nerve to end the subject once and for all by asking one of his painting masters to give an honest opinion of his work. The teacher is perplexed by his request.

Monsieur Foinet: “I don’t understand.”

Phillip: “I’m very poor. If I have no talent I would sooner do something else.”

Monsieur Foinet: “Don’t you know if you have talent?”

Phillip: “All my friends know they have talent, but I am aware some of them are mistaken.”

In this world of indie publishing, anyone and everyone is writing a book, but should they be? I might be a jerk for bringing this up, but I’ll say it.

I see a lot of crappy books out there.

(more…)

Thank you for visiting.

Please enjoy this novelette on the house.

Download my first published work in .mobi, .epub. or PDF format.

 

"Anyone who has ever secretly longed for the significant other of a close friend will immediately identify with this well-written story set in the South of France. The dialog is sharp and the characters believable. The writing is both funny and poignant."
–Max Tomlinson, author of 
The Cain File

Check your inbox to get your ebook!