The Lost Art of Letters and the Writer

Dangerous words, but I’ve been thinking. In school, I took an AP Literature class, which meant learning not only about their work, but the authors as well. Some of this was done through first hand accounts, usually their journals and letters. I hated the work, finding it tedious and boring, but it did help me understand their stories, novels, or poems.

Some writers still keep journals. I keep an art journal that is half-filled with words. Every once in a while I try to keep a written journal that I seem to inevitably get bored writing. Many others actually succeed at the task, though, and we’ll have that when their works become classics for future generations.

Even those who don’t keep journals often track their lives digitally. They have Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter and any number of other accounts. You can even see what they’ve eaten over the last week with their Instagram account. I don’t do many of those, but I have a sporadically used Twitter account, and fandom Tumblr. I also have these blogs.

But what about letters? What in our modern world is replacing the snail-mail letter?

I can’t be sure about that. There’s e-mail, but that’s not as easy of a transition as you may think. With all of the other forms of communication, we no longer have to tell our nearest and dearest about the latest goings-on; they can check Facebook for that. If they want to know what we feel about the latest in popular culture there’s our Tumblr account. Our Twitter will often let them know what we’re following in the news and how we feel about it.

We don’t quite have the same personal connection in writing anymore. The things that they used to write about in letters show up in our various forms of social media, or we can just call up our close family and friends to talk directly. It’s dangerous.

I like writing letters and e-mails. I don’t have a Facebook account, so I actually do have things to tell people when I e-mail them. However, I’ve noticed that not everyone is that great at writing back. Some people (often my creative friends) love the opportunity to write with someone. Others wonder aloud and often why I don’t just get a Facebook.

When they do write back, it can just be bad. The grammar is horrible and there isn’t much capitalization or punctuation. Even worse, some of them have used txt-speak outside of texting (where it doesn’t grate quite as much), and have quickly learned not to do so with me. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

I could be stuck in a past that’s just not here anymore, but I think I have a point here. How much are we losing by not writing to each other? Writing privately to someone allows the ideas to form in a way that we often don’t get in the public forum. Is this a loss to us as writers (or creative people in general)? Is this a loss to the future generations or do Twitter and Facebook and everything else make up for it?

Is Anyone Taking Me Seriously?

…I hope not.

Well, not too seriously.

First of all, I’m young. I’m not super young, but I am in my early/mid twenties. I am sure that most of the things I’m spouting off now are in some way wrong or will be rendered so at some point. I change my mind often enough that I know it to be true. (Maybe.)

Secondly, I’m not published, either traditionally or self…ish…ly? I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just slashing my way through the jungles of writing with my imaginary machete like one of Indiana Jones’s disposable guides. Hopefully, I’ll find my Ark of the Covenant at some point: publishing. But, for now, I’ll just repeat this: I don’t know what I’m doing.

This blog isn’t one of the many writing advice blogs, at least it’s not meant to be. What I hope I’m doing here is chronicling my journey into writing. Sometimes you might find something that’ll be useful to you, but more often I’ll be rambling on about how hard it is to be a writer. Because it is hard, and I don’t care how much you people who don’t write say it’s not. Just because it’s fun, doesn’t mean it’s not difficult.

Are you taking me seriously? (Really, don’t.) Are you afraid your readers are taking you too seriously? Who should  I be taking seriously?

What’s in a Name?

Many writers use pen names. Sometimes they started writing in a different genre from the one they’d started in. Maybe they’re disguising their gender (especially in genres like romance). It could be something as simple as not liking the name they were born into or the name they took on marriage. In the age of internet, it’s something that has even more consequences.

I started writing with a pseudonym of sorts. Everything connects to who I am, and I’ve been consistent, but I started at a very young age and I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t affect looking for a job or getting into college (I was also a precocious child). The thing is: I don’t know if I want to keep writing under a pseudonym, not when I (hopefully) get published.

Many cultures hold strong beliefs about names, but Hawaiians believe that a given name is what a child becomes as an adult. In fact, Hawaiians traditionally didn’t give names until the child’s first birthday (which is one reason first birthday parties are such a big deal here), and a lot of thought and meditation goes into it. An equal amount of thought would have to go into choosing a pen name for me to feel comfortable with it.

This name does have certain connotations for me. I like it, even, but it’s not the name I inherited from my father or the name my parents gave me. I’m mixed-race, as well, and I wonder if I should try to pull in more of my heritage in a pen name (Spanish isn’t too unusual for readers, but Hawaiian might raise eyebrows).

 

Then there’s my fandom dealings. The reason I have a pen name to begin with is that I was heavily involved in the Potter fandom. I’ve even written fanfiction and essays, and I’m currently blogging about my newest re-reads. That’s another reason why I’m not sure if I should write original fiction under my fandom name, or if I should branch out. I have what may be a surprisingly large following for my fanworks.

It’s all very confusing. This isn’t even something I really have to think about until I get an agent or a publishing deal, to be honest, but it does bother me.

Right… so, I’m worrying about something I really don’t have to worry about now (I have a tendency to do that). Do any of you write under a pseudonym? Do you think it’s worth the trouble?

A Bit of a Wait

Hello everyone,

If you follow my Harry Potter blog, then you may have noticed that it’s been getting mostly regular updates and I still have several posts scheduled and ready to go. However, I was a bit overwhelmed with everything, so my other blogs are on hiatus until I have the time to work on them.

I’m relatively sure that this will be the first blog to come back online since I have a bunch of posts in mind, but we shall see. Currently, I’m in the process of planning out the remaining blogs, including their direction and prospective posts for a few months. Feel free to follow me on twitter or here for updates. You can also enjoy my HP blog in the meantime.

Hope to see you all soon,

BH

Fear’s a Strong Word, Isn’t It?

Figuring out what today’s topic would be was strangely difficult. I went through several possibilities, each one more forced than the last, my writing getting stiffer with every word and my voice getting lost in the facts. You see, I’m still in the early planning stages of my novel, which is the first of a book series, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself so I limited the topics to pre-writing, or general writing. To make things more difficult, I have a wicked case of writer’s block.

Then a close friend of mine suggested (as I was banging my head against the desk in an oddly soothing rhythm) that I write about just that: writer’s block. Writer’s block is… a difficult topic. Not just because it’s a pain in my behind, but because it’s so difficult to pinpoint and explain. Most posts about writer’s block that don’t have a more specific topic end up being about nothing, which is why I decided to write about fear.

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Pages Unfilled

Okay, so it didn’t work so well last year. Or for the first half of this year, but I used those for prep time and it was (mostly) intentional.

Last year was rough for me. I had serious personal, real-life problems ranging from friends to family issues to guys to losing the one job I’d really ever enjoyed (I’d worked at Borders, so I wasn’t fired or anything; they just went out of business). I’ve learned that I don’t deal with stress very well and it affects my writing in a very bad way: I just don’t write. It resulted in several abandoned stories, many crying sessions in the shower, and a difficult look in the mirror to see what I really wanted from life.

Unfortunately, I still don’t know that one, but I do know that I want to, I need to write. It doesn’t matter if I ever manage to get published; I will write and I will strive to be good at it. So, that leads to this revamping of my blogs. For once, I’ve planned things out. I have a month’s worth of posts ready to go and a plan for at least another month.

I don’t mean to whine to a bunch of strangers, but I wanted to update everyone as far as what’s a going on. Give me a few weeks and it should all be running relatively smoothly. We’ll see how it goes.