Monday, July 29, 2013

Extending the Short Story

As you might remember from last week's Fun assignment, I said to double your short story word count. In my case, I had to go from 38 to 76 words. Here's what I did:

A dank mist hung in the air as I ran my hands along the cold stone walls. Unlatching the metal gate, I exited through a secret door. The secluded passage gave way to a clearing as gleaming sunlight burst into my eyes. Cascading colors of emerald, ruby, sapphire, and amber flooded my sight as I drank in the vision of a lush and fertile garden. Warmth drenched me as the chill of dank air evaporated away.

The evolution of this narrative shows that even though individual words can change the basics remain the same. I added words and also changed or eliminated others that didn't help advance the descriptive narrative. Changing parts that don't work or just sound wrong are part of the writing process. It may be painful at times, but rewarding and fulfilling other times. Don't be afraid to try. 

I'll be continuing on with this short story and we'll see where it leads. If you're feeling brave, I'd love to read what you've come up with. 

Thanks for reading.

Questions and comments are welcome.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Weekend Fun #3

If you remember last week's assignment, I said to write a short story with a word count matching your age. Now for this week, take that short story and expand it by doubling the word count. Avoid passive verbs and superfluous words. Don't worry, we'll be piecing together a good story over time. 

Next Monday I'll post up what I've come up with. Hopefully I'll be able to read some of your work as well. 

Thanks for reading.
Questions and Comments are welcome.

The Engine visits the Court House!

Hello Readers. As you know, Thursday is my usual day for posting our Inspirational story for the week. However, this week I've been called to perform my civic duty and serve on a jury. 

What fun!

I've been pulled in multiple directions due to this unexpected turn of events. However, I want you to know that I will be posting a Friday Weekend Fun assignment later today. Also, Next week I will have another Inspirational post on Thursday. Sorry for the disruption. Sometimes life decides to throw you a curve ball. 

Thanks for reading.

Questions and Comments are always welcome. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

A 38 Word Short Story

- By Douglas Clark

Exiting through a secret door down a secluded passage, gleaming sunlight burst into my eyes. Cascading colors of emerald, ruby, sapphire, and amber flooded my sight as I drank in the vision of a lush and fertile garden. 

If you remember last week's Weekend Fun, I said to write a short story where the word count has to match your age. For me, I suddenly felt the urge to write about seclusion and solitude. I also really like being outdoors. When I'm stuck inside too long I just feel trapped. I guess that's why the image of emerging from a dark place into one full of color seemed so appealing to me. 

What did you come up with? If you haven't tried it, give it a shot. It won't take that long, I promise.

Thanks for reading.
Questions and comments are welcome. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Weekend Fun #2

Okay, here's a fun little exercise. This weekend write a short story. Relax it's going to be really short. For this story, your word count has to match exactly to your age. For me, I have 38 words to tell a good story. I'd say anyone nearing 100 is going to have a way easier time than any readers in their teens. 

Good luck. I'll post my story on Monday. Give it a shot, I'd love to read what you come up with.

Thanks for reading. 
Questions and comments are welcome. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

There Be Dragons Here!

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

So I’ve debated what to do about this sketch I’ve been working on for a while. And by a while I mean over a year and a half. Granted I’m not really a ‘good’ artist, although I can make it seem like I’ve got a bit of talent. Really though, painting, drawing, sketching, pretty much anything artistic beyond writing is probably a distant second when it comes to depth in my talent pool, but I still like trying. I took classes way back in high school that taught me the basics of artistic creation but I’ve never pursued it further. However there are times I regretted that decision. Much like when I gave up on the saxophone. That’s why I go back from time to time to draw, or paint; just to see if I still can do it. For this effort, I’m rather happy with the results of the work I put into my sketch.

Now I don’t have any delusions that it will win any awards but for someone that has trouble drawing a decent circle, I think I did pretty well. The subject matter helped too. A while back, my daughter and I were at the craft store and she saw a plastic dragon; it had an incredible shape and color that immediately got my attention. She asked if we could get it and I agreed. It sat on her dresser for a while until one day I got the itch to draw it. 

You see I've always like dragons. The mythology behind them is quite amazing. In fact you can read about all sort of fascinating dragon facts if you like. With all that in mind, I began my drawing. I labored on it, put it aside for weeks, went back to it, abandoned it, tried again. Eventually I got to a point where I felt it was finished. I’m sure it could use a decent background but I get the feeling if I try anything more I’ll just ruin it. So if it looks incomplete, I’ll accept that; it’s better than destroying it. Trust me, I’ve done that before.

I wanted to share it with everyone, just to let you know even if you aren’t terribly good at something you can still get enjoyment out of it. Even if you are afraid to share something, you might just get a positive boost if you let someone see your work. Remember, we’re not perfect nor should we act like we can achieve perfection. Simply making the effort can be enough sometimes. Pushing yourself that extra bit can reveal a lot more about what you’re capable of. I recommend taking that one extra step, you might just like what happens next.

I dare you to take that step. I'd love to see what you might share!

Thanks for reading.

Questions and Comments are welcome. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Perspective

Early Saturday morning, I’m sitting in my favorite chair staring out the window. I felt relaxed enjoying the shining sun and the beautiful blue sky. I contemplated what I would do with the rest of the day and it hit me. I hadn’t completed my Weekend Fun assignment. If you remember from Friday, the assignment was to take a picture of something from an unusual or non-traditional angle and see how it changes your perspective on that subject. So I quickly grabbed my camera and started shooting everything in sight. I first started with a pencil. I took low angle, high angle, oblique, side, front and back angle shots; all trying to capture the image of a pencil from a distinct yet unusual view. It didn’t work. First thing I learned was that my camera lens is not designed for close ups and far away shots of something so small as a pencil lose a certain centering. So I put the pencil away and continued on.

The first subject I found that produced an interesting shot is below. Can you guess is in this picture? They’re very old, very beat up golf clubs. It’s obvious from this shot I think. 

This next shot is also obvious but the result speaks for itself. Looking down on the door knob, the view seems strange but familiar. 

These next two are my favorites. I shot this with the candle sitting on the toilet tank. These angles make me feel as if the light is suspended in an unnatural way. And like a moth, I find myself drawn to the flame in each picture, wanting to stare at them for a while. Maybe it’s the orange light off the wall, or how bright the flame is. 

This last one is just an off angle shot of a painting I have in my hallway. I’ve always found it kind of strange seeing photographs of paintings. I guess it seems redundant to me. Anyway, I like the odd shapes and colors of this painting. 

So, what did I learn from this little experiment? Well, for one thing, I learned using strange angles to take pictures hardly ever produces quality shots. These five shots are a fraction of the forty or so I actually took. I’ll be the first to admit they aren’t super incredible. However, taking time with each shot, I learned that you can really present something mundane or common in a much fresher perspective if you keep trying. The more I look at the candle shots the more I like them. Did you try the experiment? What do you think?

Thanks for reading. 
Questions and comments are welcome. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Weekend Fun #1

I was thinking that this weekend we could try something a little different. So here is the assignment, if you're adventurous enough to try. 

Take a few pictures of something, the twist is that you must take the pictures from unusual, non-traditional, and/or obscure angles. The goal here is to change your perspective on one simple thing. 

I'll post my pics on Monday with my thoughts. If you're daring enough to share, you can post your pictures and thoughts too. 

See you Monday!

Thanks for reading.

Questions and comments are welcome!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Committing to the Dream

There’s an old cliché that says “Dreams really do come true”. And if you talk to some of the people closest to me, they’ll tell you they hate it when I use clichés and generalities. I understand why they say such things, but in this case the cliché works to touch off a discussion about an issue I have been thinking about for quite some time. My thought is simple: What does it take to make a dream come true? Let me first start off by telling you that I don’t have the definitive answer to that question for you. The details of each dream dictate the course of action necessary for success and if I knew how to make every one come true, I’d be rich, famous, powerful, and living the easy life on a tropical island paradise.

Okay, so I don’t have minute specifics for you but I think I can come up with a few basics. Knowing what you really want, having a plan, a support structure, and effective guidance all sound like good elements to include in your master plan. Sprinkle in determination, persistence, resolve, and of course commitment… Oh that word Commitment. It’s the bane of many a person’s existence; the fear of it, talking about it, actually doing it. It’s enough to make any boyfriend go running for the hills (oops, I’ve fallen into a cliché again). Really though, committing to the dream is at the top of the list of things required to making a dream come true. But why?

I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine. A couple of years back, my brother and I started a very small business. We tried to sell t-shirts with whimsical, funny, and irreverent sayings and designs on them. We lacked practical business experience and knowledge as neither of us studied it in college, but we had a dream. We set out to educate ourselves on all the necessary business aspects needed to make our project a success. I even started this blog to get more attention for our website. To make a long story short, I tried to make the business work, but my effort proved insufficient. I gave it my all and still failed. Or did I give it my all? You see the most valuable lesson I learned about the whole endeavor was about commitment, although I learned the lesson far too late. At the time I didn’t recognize how uncommitted I was to the project. You know how some people live, breath, and eat totally focused on their goals? Well that wasn’t me and it negatively affected my performance in making things successful. So why couldn’t I commit? The short answer is I followed the wrong dream. You see I didn’t really know what I wanted out of my t-shirt company, so it blurred my perspective.

I guess it might be fair to say that if you can’t commit to a dream, really pour your talent, time, energy, and thought into it, that thing probably isn’t really your dream. It’s not a pleasant thing to fail, but in a way all of that might have been necessary. That experience taught me two valuable things. First, I realized I really wanted to commit to writing, something that would fulfill me professionally and creatively. Second, l learned truly committing to something meant that all my actions should reflect my efforts in achieving my goal. To put this into a different perspective, I refer back to the conversation where my brother curtly stated that I was not a writer. And what did I do in response to that statement? I wrote a novel. See that’s commitment. I know, and knew then, writing was part of my identity. I just needed a push (some might say violent shove) to solidify that perspective in my own mind. I’m not a businessman, but I am a writer.

Can you think of anything you want or wanted that ultimately proved out of reach? What kind of commitment did you devote to it? Was it really worth it? I’d say for a dream to be worthy of your total commitment it really must excite your passion, almost to the point of obsession. Don’t go crazy mind you, just let that commitment really fuel your drive for success. So, it comes down to a simple choice: are you willing to commit to your dream?

Thanks for reading.

Questions and comments are welcome. 

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...