Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Once More Unto the Breach...

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Persistence and Perseverance pay off. I've been published again, this time in The Corvus Review

My story, Don't Dance, starts on page 38.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 1, 2016

My Published Short Story

By Douglas Clark
Head writer: The Inspiration Engine

Hi everyone. Good news!!! I got published again. This time in the Paragon Journal

My short story, Twenty Minutes to El Cajon Boulevard, appears on page 83.

Please read my story and enjoy.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Doug Clark - in The Syzygy Poetry Journal

By Doug Clark
Head Writer - The Inspiration Engine

I am pleased to announce that two of my poems have been published in The Syzygy Poetry Journal. I have provided a direct link to my poems here.

Below is the acceptance letter I received from the editors of Syzygy Poetry Journal. I'll be keeping it in close proximity from now on as a reminder of what persistence can yield.

The key to getting published is never giving up.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year

By Douglas Clark
-Head Writer - The Inspiration Engine

There's so much to be thankful for, even if you don't realize it. Set a goal for 2016 and do your best to meet it. For me, my goal is to get as much writing done as I can. Also, my other goal is to get something published.

Make a plan, stick to it and you should hit your mark. Believe in yourself and you can accomplish what you set out to do.

Good luck.


Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Aspiring Writers Should Be Heard!

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to actually get your writings published? Have you ever just had an opinion or idea you wanted to express and share with others? Well if you do, make contact with the Inspiration Engine. 

We welcome new and aspiring writers and would love to hear what you have to say. Submit an essay, opinion, or review and we'll totally consider it for the Inspiration Engine. 

Thanks for reading, and submitting!

Questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Let the Emotion Out

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

When it comes to fiction writing I've been asked why I don't write more happy stories. I receive comments from time to time that my stories are gritty, full of emotion, profound and a lot of times, dark. My response to that is, I always strive for an emotional response. You see to me, reading is about expression. 

My experiences in life taught me to engage those feelings and come to terms with them. I guess for some writers it would be easy to put aside all of their personal experiences and just write happy stories. After all, for some writers and readers literature is an escape from reality, finding a way to disconnect from troubling things.

I've always thought of literature as exploration of the mind, dreams, feelings, fantasies, and of course the ‘what ifs’. Many times I find I want to convey a specific feeling or explore a certain possibility that my characters need or should experience. Personal growth has always been important to me and I try to challenge my characters so they too can grow and in some small way my readers can grow too.

So why can't my stories be sweet and happy? I suppose if I purposefully wrote a story specifically focusing on the happy, I could. However I have found that life resonates and provides the most meaning through a range of emotions, positive and negative. There are happy and sad moments in my stories, interludes of joy and pain, bursts of recrimination or adulation, flashes of excitement and floods of despair. The lasting effect on the reader lies in leading them through a gauntlet of emotion ending at a resolution that is satisfying and reasonable.

I've read stories where it seemed very jarring and almost disturbing learning the fate of some characters. There's been a few times where I thought Stephen King might have been a bit too harsh, even on his antagonist. But that's my simple opinion. Considering all this, perhaps it is time to focus on a happy tale of joy and fun. I'm sure there is plenty to learn and experience from a straightforward heartwarming tale.

Now where should I start, children at play, a game of chance, friends reuniting, or a first love? You see, emotions come from just about anywhere and the stories will follow. Life is like that I guess. If you pay attention long enough you'll actually learn something. I for one am still learning after all these years and I don't plan on stopping, how about you?

Thanks for reading. 

Questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Blank Page

by Douglas Clark

For a writer, the blank page can be the greatest nemesis of all. That uniformly white, unblemished, perfectly clear white page, simultaneously open to all and every story possibility, and the great oblivion of nothingness. Think of it. With nothing there to guide or hinder the writer, everything is possible, and yet, there’s nothing to go off of, nothing to expand on, or describe. Sometimes, the blank page can be a hollow, terrifying void that stifles creativity and imagination because it is so open and unstructured.

I hate the blank page, but I don’t fear it.

I have fought great battles with the blank page, smearing all sorts of junk and babbling drivel all over it, simply to avoid the blinding white light staring back at me from my computer screen. I’ve had great story ideas explode from my mind only to be obliterated by the blank page, which laughed at me for my insolence in thinking I could write something of merit. Although other times, I’ve slayed the blank page with commanding prose and mind blowing descriptions that banished the dreaded white nothingness to the background, where it belongs.

What I’ve learned from the blank page is this: It is only the starting point, and nothing more.

Not all of the stories I write, or ideas that I have will pan out. Some will turn into great stories, others will be abandoned because of a myriad of reasons. But think of it, each story, masterpiece and piece of crap, all started out from that blank page. Yes, the blank page can be frightening, but it is where EVERY writer starts from. Think of that! Shakespeare, Dickens, Hemmingway, Heller, Orwell, Byatt, Browning, Keats, King, Martin, Clancy, Rowling; they all started at the exact same place as Clark: with a blank page.

If they can go on to write and publish great works, so can I! And so can you.

Hate the Blank page. Slay it like the demon it is. Banish it. Exile it to irrelevance behind your unique voice through the written word. Destroy the blank page’s pristine white blandness with wonderfully brilliant prose that explodes with dazzling color in your readers’ minds. Become the master of the blank page. Hate it, but never fear it! 


Thanks for reading.
Questions and Comments are welcome.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Need a place to publish your work?

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

Every once in a while I find a cool website that really makes an impression. Recently I found one that I think will help budding young writers get their work out there. The website is called Every Writers Resource. It really has pretty much everything that you could ask for as a writer. There are articles, interviews, forums, writing courses, blogs, but my favorite part is the lists of literary magazines and book publishers. You can find valuable submission information and what to expect if you try to publish. I’ve used this valuable resource dozens of times during my attempts at getting published. Every Writers Resource has made it infinitely easier to find publications that fit my writing style. Granted, I haven’t been published by anyone yet, but half the battle is just finding the right publication to submit your work to.

If you are interested in publishing any of your work, give this website a try. I think you might find it a valuable addition to your publication ambitions. 

Thanks for reading.
Questions and Comments are welcome.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Little Island That Could

Douglas Clark
-Head writer, The Inspiration Engine

So the forces that keep our planet in a perpetual state of rebirth did it again. Off the coast of Japan, a new island was born yesterday. Granted, it’s a tiny little thing, but the idea of land, reaching from below the ocean waves, cresting the water’s edge and  rising up toward the sky fascinates me. The concept is not new, one only needs to study the Hawaiian Islands to understand just how powerful island building can be. But for me, I like to get lost in the idea of the new island's growth. How big will it become? Will flora and fauna take hold and make it a lush paradise? Will it remain barren and lifeless because of continued volcanic activity? Will it get washed away from the relentless pounding waves against its tiny, fragile infant shores? I find myself wanting to visit that little speck of land, just to see it in person.

In reality, only time will tell what happens to this little island, but imagination brings a whole host of possibilities. That’s the beauty of taking reality as the basis for your ideas. Mother Nature gives us everything we need and all we will ever have. But it doesn’t have to end there. As a writer I use reality as a spring board, a starting point, and a frame of reference. From there I expand and explore the story, creating a new reality. Each story is different and takes on its own unique set of details, characteristics and flaws. Much like real life the unexpected arises, tragedies and triumphs unfold, and lives are lived, people are loved, lessons are learned, and remembered.

It’s impossible to rewrite the past. However, when writing, you can mold the characters, setting, plot, actions, and whatever else you wish to tell the story. Unbound by the limitations of reality, the only thing needed is to remain true to the reality you create in your new universe. You decide if that tiny infant island grows up to be a colossus like Kilauea or gets pummeled and washed away by relentless tides.

Thanks for reading.
Questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Let's Write a Novel!

By Douglas Clark

November 1 starts the National Novel writing month. Check it out here. I first heard about this when I was working on my master’s degree. I actually had a novel writing class where I had to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the semester. The concept for that class was very similar to the National Novel Writing Month contest. After finishing my class, I promised myself at some point I would compete in the contest and see what would come of it.

Now I love writing obviously, but this contest is a challenge. According to the rules, you have 30 days to write 50,000 words. That averages out to 1,667 words a day. Doesn’t seem too daunting until you realize that’s EVERY day, no break, no rest or writing vacation; 1,667 words a day. The whole point of the exercise is to prove to yourself it can be done. I mean, you are allowed to make revisions, do rewrites, add, subtract, etc., but if you want to be counted as a winner on day 30, your word count must be 50,000 or higher.

I’m using this contest as a way of forcing myself to excel in daily word count. You see for me, I can pound out 500 words a day without even realizing it, but imagine tripling that. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be a prolific writer, but wondering only gets you so far. I’m actually going to have to write if I want a huge library of work by the time I kick the bucket. So off I go to write another novel, but this time I only have 30 days to do it.

If you’re interested and want a challenge, sign up. There’s no time like the present. I’ll give you updates during the month on how I’m doing. Wish me luck!!!

Thanks for reading.
Questions and comments are welcome.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Let's Watch Some TV!

By Douglas Clark

So, being a TV fanatic as I am, I'm always looking for the next great television show. Personally, Sci Fi is my favorite (and we're completely lacking in that regard right now), but I also have an interest in stories that focus on power, or lack of power, man's struggle against society, or vice versa. Lo and behold, I've found a couple. 

At the risk of sounding like a billboard, I'll give each show a plug. Not because I'm getting a kickback or anything, but because I think they are great shows. For me, each instills a sort of amazement. 

The first show is House of Cards. You might have heard of it. It's one of Netflix's first original productions, and I'd say they've created a masterpiece. It's based on a British original focusing on English politics, only restructured to fit the American political system. Besides the great casting, settings, writing, pacing, story lines, amazing and despicable characters, and intrigue, the introduction is amazing. 

The following clip is of the theme music only (you'll have to join Netfix to actually see the visuals that accompany it). But for me, this music alone sets the mood and tone for the show. It seems foreboding, haunting, and just a bit ominous, which is probably what the producers where going for. And I'd say they hit their mark.   

The second show on my list is Breaking Bad. Now I know this show is almost at the end of it's run, but that's all the more reason to bring it up. If you're interested in stories where a good guy falls from grace and allows the world to corrupt him, this is your story. I think it speaks to how easy it is to allow negativity and deceit to overpower you in times of crisis and need. For the main character, Walter White, life as he's lived it just becomes too much to bear, and he simple stops caring. The entire series follows his dissent into darkness. And it's an incredible ride. 

For me, only a few individual episodes stand out, but it's more the story as a whole that really makes an impact. What's cool about that is, you can sit and watch three or four episodes in a row (if you have the time) and really absorb what's going on. Now that it's on Netflix and DVD you don't have to endure the week long wait in between episodes. The opening is short and sweet, but it is distinct and engaging. 

Each of these shows has made an impact on me. I love story telling and any time I get to see a new perspective driving a story line, I'm interested. Most of the time with television, I think to myself, I could write a better episode. But with these two shows, I find myself thinking, I don't think I could do it better. Now that's awesome because it makes me feel challenged. And when that happens I get back to writing and push myself even harder. It also reminds me that others have followed their dream of writing and made it a success, so there's hope for me yet. I'm reminded of the times where I did nothing but daydream about writing, instead of actually putting pen to paper. All that combined focuses my energy to get something done.  

If you can find motivation and inspiration from things that challenge you, I think it provides a special sort of incentive to excel. What do you think? 

Thanks for reading.

Questions and comments are 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. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It Always Comes Down to Focus

How Did This Happen?

A few months ago I found myself stuck in a malaise.  Every day was a repeat; not much happened except the same old same old.  In December of 2011, I finished my master’s degree, three years of classes, including three and a half semesters of thesis writing.  It was an incredible effort, but I finished.  Mentally and intellectually I need some time off, so that’s what I did.  Before I knew it, I got stuck in a rut and felt mired in the bland boringness of doing nothing.  For a while I wasn’t sure what to do.  I mean I knew that I wanted to start writing again and make some headway on my novel.  But the thing was, I wasn’t writing, not one word.  Well, my one saving grace was this blog.  Other than that, I had abandoned my passion.  And that needed to change. 

I also remember thinking that it was about time I started learning how to play my saxophone.  See, I played for a little while back in grade school.  I really liked it but had absolutely no discipline to practice. So about two years ago I bought one with the intention of taking lessons.  Sadly, no money ever materialized for said lessons and the sax sat in my closet unused.  Fast forward to March 2012.  Here I was with time on my hands, desire to challenge myself, but still I wasn’t doing anything.  How did that happen?  Simple, I got caught in a fallacy.  I had convinced myself I need outside influences and resources to achieve my goals and follow my mission… but I was wrong.

During a conversation with my brother it came to the point where he said to me, “Maybe you’re not really a writer.  I mean, you aren’t writing.”  And you know what?  I took offense to that, without knowing why.  And then it hit me, he was right.  Damn him but I wasn’t writing, I was making excuses.  And then he said it, the line that resonated through my brain.  If indeed I was a writer, “every day you don’t write, is a failure.”  Harsh?  Yes, but necessary.  It was then I decided that I WAS a writer and I WOULD write every day, or at least make the attempt.  I also decided that I was going to teach myself how to play the sax, I mean really, what was stopping me except me?

Having a Plan Helps 

My plan was simple:  Write 500 words a day and practice the sax for 10 minutes every day after work.  For one whole month I adamantly followed the routine, without fail.  I focused on my goals; I prioritized my time, and constantly reminded myself of the failure I did not want to cause.  Now I stay focused, and even though I don’t write or practice Every day (schedules and responsibilities do change) I am constantly reminding myself of the price of failure, and refocusing my efforts to maintain as much consistency as possible.  Do I fail?  Sadly yes, Do I continually fail by not refocusing on my passion?  Not a chance. 

Every day I don’t write is a failure.  Now reword it for yourself: “Every day I don’t ____ is a failure.”

Thanks for reading.  Your comments and questions are always welcome!

This wonderful picture came from sitebits. Check them out.  The sculpture is The Thinker, by Auguste Rodin.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy Birthday

So it may surprise you to know that today is my birthday.  Yes the conductor of The Inspiration Engine is turning one year older.  I like to think of it as turning one year better.  Now to be honest, I don’t really pay too much attention to birthdays.  It’s not that I don’t care about them; it’s just that to me, a lot of times, it seems repetitive and arbitrary.  However, there is a certain value in reflecting on the past year and seeing if you’ve managed to improve, learn, better yourself, and continue to drive toward the goals of your life mission.  So in that regard, birthdays are a great thing. 

On a personal level I can say that I’m doing pretty well.  Now I’d like to bitch about little things, stuff that irritates me, and stuff that continually hounds me even despite my best efforts to irradiate them from my life.   And trust me, I’ve got some monsters. Well, such is life I suppose.  But I’m not lacking for simple needs and compared to most of the world I’m doing pretty damn well.  I can say there are some things I’ve tried over the last year that have not been very successful, although I’ve had a few successes to counteract the negative.  And I like and need to focus on the positive, as most of you should too.  Some of the most impressive and personally rewarding goals include finishing my thesis and graduating with a master’s degree, taking an acting class (which was hella fun), starting to play the saxophone, continuing to write on my novel, This Blog; actually the list goes on.  To be clear, I’m not bragging.  So why am I telling you this? Because your list should go on and on too.

I look at life like an unfinished book.  Each day adds a page to a certain chapter. And I guess each birthday can mark a new chapter.  Each chapter should be as full of detail and amazing experiences as possible.  Now I know each page can’t be an adventure story, but it would be great if each chapter was.  At the end of my life, I want to look back at my ‘book’ and see that it’s a gigantic story, written not just in one book, but volumes of books.  You can’t get that kind of narrative from sitting on the couch and wishing for ‘what if’ or ‘if only’.  So my birthday comes once a year and I reflect on what I’ve done and what I will be doing, not ‘what if’ I did something, or ‘if only’ I tried. 

So, get out there and start writing your life’s story and make it a long adventure!

Feel free to leave a comment or a question.  I'd love to hear what you're thinking!

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 ...