The Art of Storytelling

Nonfiction is where I shine. When you’re obscenely direct as an human-being, to the point where your honesty has been called, “intimidating” by others, you should stick with what you know and what you are solid at. Over a decade ago, I decided to test myself and began writing fiction. I think my migraines got worse as a result.

Fiction is a whole other beast for a person whose primary focus is honesty. It’s the curveball you’re not expecting when you step up to the plate. It is challenging. Perhaps that’s part of the allure. I’m the type o personality which will tell you to throw the fucking ball right at me. I’ll catch it or I won’t, but more often than not, I’m catching.

I had written a solid starter novel which I ended up shelving because I felt like it had already been done so many times before. No one wants to write a cliche, even though they sell. I now know the timing of my work coincides with some current life events. Despite my ability to tell a story differently and my OCD attention to detail, I realize now it did nothing to boost my confidence as a writer, because fiction is not my safe space. I live in my head enough that fiction should be incredibly easy, but it isn’t. I have no shame in admitting that.

Slowly, over the past six months or so, I started parceling out parts of that starter novel to other projects. I had written so many fantastic scenes, and another writer had told me to save everything. “Write more than you know you will need, because those scenes can always be used up the road.” She was right, and it was something I’d been doing my entire career. I always save partially written scenes and see them come alive months, or years, later. I draft so many ideas which are brilliant in the moment, as many writers do, but when something nudges me and tells me the story needs to be written, and I have to tell it, that’s when I make a concerted effort to listen to that message. When I need a break, I take a break. I come back to the material in a fresh way, and it always feels better when I do. I like coming back to several hundred pages and being so involved in the story, I completely forget I wrote it. For me, that is what a gifted storyteller does.

I’m working on something new right now. It’s one of those things I began writing out of nowhere about a week and a half ago. I found myself inspired by very specific honesty, integrity, and energy, and decided to put ink to paper. Essentially, I wanted it to be larger than life.

The art of storytelling is to tell the story your way; leaving the opinions of others where they belong. It’s a different way for me to use my voice, and still share and discuss issues I deem important. I pulled myself out of a box and opened up on a level I am proud to put on a page.

I’ve written twenty-three thousand words, thus far. None of which I’d cut (I’ve already done some of that.). These characters are so unlike those I’ve written before. I wanted to be more inclusive, and so far, so good. It requires going into a different head space, but that’s part of what I like about it. I want the cultures and flavors to be present from cover to cover.

I’ve learned so much about myself while exploring fiction as an alternative avenue. One of the most important things is to make sure you’re telling a story for the right reasons. I looked at my typical lead characters and decided to switch shit up in a big way; which is deeply important to me. It adds depth to the storytelling. I want those first few pages to grab you, and this is something I’ve always been able to do. Grab someone’s attention for the full ride.

I find all of this works best when you have someone to refer back to as inspiration. I lucked out there, and had been a bit blind without realizing it, which is mentally and emotionally embarrassing. I’m grateful for the enlightenment, though. I can only describe it as a soulmate moment. I have nothing else to compare it to, other than the automatic knowledge that you’ve met someone who is part of your journey, whether it’s permanent, from a past life, or a soul acknowledgement. You feel it from head to toe. You automatically know things you shouldn’t know. You can read them as though you’re looking in a mirror. This has happened to me a handful of times, but this feels so much deeper, and it’s impossible to ignore.

Being able to see something so serious through someone else’s eyes is an important aspect of both personal and professional development. I want to say the absolute lack of aggression and hostility is what hit me the most. The approach had zero malice. The kindness, compassion, emotional intelligence, and deep empathy reached my soul, and I know I am a better person for paying attention and listening. I am still listening, and will continue to do so, because the lens is clear for me now, where before, I couldn’t connect. The inability to connect was completely on me, but again, the approach had a lot to do with my receptiveness. I rarely connect with a person on such a level, but when I do, it is deeply meaningful. I always ask for guidance, and the Universe heard me loud and clear.

Writing multicultural characters helps me connect with my own cultures, as well as those which are currently foreign to me. It broadens the horizons. I have always connected through my love of languages, art, architecture, and individuals who are great guideposts. I feel good, and proud, of the work on the page. I put a lot of truth into fiction, and I’ve addressed issues which I’ve remained quiet about because I never felt it was my place to speak on behalf of things which were not in my wheelhouse. I was not indifferent, I simply felt the need to take a small step back and observe. I don’t jump on bandwagons. I educate myself fully before I mention anything, and if I have questions, I would much prefer to do the research or talk to someone who is more knowledgeable on a matter than I am. I don’t ever want to come from a place of ignorance or say something hurtful to someone. It’s not who I am as a person, and it isn’t the kind of writer I am, either.

In a lot of ways, this year did not go as planned, and there’s still five months to go. I have been stalled, like many other people, regarding major business decisions and steps I intended to take long before Covid hit. However, other things have shown me how far I’ve come from 2021 to 2022. My priorities, relationships, and business acumen have all shifted greatly. I allow myself to set larger goals, even when they make me a little nervous.

I received an e-mail last week to let me know I’d been nominated for an award, and I am humbled by this. My presence on Instagram has exploded. I dialed it back on Twitter. I update less often, so I know the award is based on different aspects of my content. I try to create things that matter, inspire, and bring people together. I try to inspire the way I’d like to be inspired. Inevitably, I’ll make mistakes. No one is perfect, but I am highly aware of my faults.

During a conversation last week, I was informed how good I am at being hard on myself. This was during a video chat and I responded by saying, “I can’t believe you just said that to me!”, because it came out of left field. The response I got was, “Oh shit, did I say that out loud?” The person I was talking to actually ducked in the middle of that exchange, as if he thought I was going to throw something at him. That moment of humanizing me and letting me know that yes, I’m a perfectionist and it’s both a blessing and a curse, but it does make me more self-aware, was actually helpful, even though we were both laughing, which sort of defeated the purpose of the point he was trying to make. It was deeply acknowledging, though, and I do appreciate a person who has truly taken the time to get to know me, being able to have lighthearted moments with me, and no, I wouldn’t have thrown anything at him. The playfulness of the exchange really makes me laugh even now. It’s so similar to a sibling dynamic, but this is someone I have great respect for, and I have seen from day one, how much he respects me and my insight. Knowing what a positive, healthy relationship it is gives me that push to be fiercer each day.

When a person acknowledges how prolific I am in my writing, and how I will always have great ideas and opportunities… It’s so complimentary and supportive. It’s even more supportive when the same person says, “You have grown so much since the day I met you. You are worlds away from who I was first introduced to, and you have every right to be proud of that because you show up and you do the work.” That’s special. I don’t see myself the way others do, so I’ve received a lot of feedback of late that was so loving and supportive, and maybe it was a small confidence boost professionally, but more so on a personal level.

Like anyone else who is going through a lot, but who is also taking time out of a day to write for 12+ hours, I feel closer to a few of my larger goals.

Here’s to better days, brighter tomorrows, and all the inspiration a person can hold in their head and heart. Have a good weekend, my people. 😊

copyright © 2022 by Lisa Marino-Molchanova & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Poison In Lethal Doses®™ is a registered trademark.

The Writer’s Only Responsibility

“The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.”
William Faulkner

I’ve Got Nothing!

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I wish I had a dose of wisdom to bestow upon you today, but I don’t. I wish I had something to give that somehow made even just one person’s day brighter or easier, but I’ve got nothing. I am all out of poignancy at the moment. 😦 The thought is disheartening, to say the least.

I had an amazing character idea come to me in the shower the other day. Normally I would have immediately taken notes and elaborate on that idea, but I’ve decided to let it simmer inside my head. My fictional characters are loosely based off of people in my life. Some, not all. Many are an amalgamation of many people rolled into one. If a person is deeply entrenched in my life, they’re probably not safe showing off all of their character flaws in front of me. There’s this awesome mug I want and it says “Piss Me Off: Pay The Consequences”. As a writer, I definitely get my best revenge in print. Nine times out of ten, no one even knows what I am talking about, and that just goes to show you how unaware they are. Me? I’m self-aware and I’m glad for that because if someone were, on the off-chance, to write about me, they’re not smart enough or subtle enough for me to miss it. Reading between the lines is a special gift.

Call me crazy, but I don’t feel the need to make a laundry list of “2016 Writer’s Goals”. I’ve seen about a thousand of them on Twitter and they almost all say the same shit, ad nauseam. This year, I enter my 29th year as a writer. Far too many newbies discredit experience, mostly because they don’t have any to speak of. There is much to be said for the experienced writer who is comfortable in his or her own skin and mind.

The handful of times I have doubted aspects of my fictional work, a little voice would pop into my head and say “Pssh! You’ve written SO much. You’re attentive to the point of it being creepy. You’ve GOT THIS!” That is experience whispering in your ear; much like the angel/devil on each shoulder that some people like to speak of. My inner voice doesn’t lie, but people do, so I don’t put a lot of stock into a handful of people “loving it”. I’ve learned that a lot of people are scared to challenge me when it comes to my work or my words (and sadly, in my life in general), and so they will agree with me as opposed to saying “I didn’t really like or understand this part, can you elaborate?” I’m not SO bad that people have to fear asking a question or disagreeing with me, but apparently I am intimidating and intense, though my closest friends only see this on occasion, it is not a daily occurrence.

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Finding people who will challenge you, and not agree with every single thing you say, is crucial for any writer (or artistic creator). The few friends I have that do write are relieved that I don’t sugarcoat things. They know they can present their work to me and get an unbiased, honest thought process. They know I will push them to produce their best work. Honesty is a foundation of greatness, especially for the truly creative soul. I’d rather someone speak the truth as opposed to be fake with me, and this expands to all aspects of my life. I’m confident enough in my talents, but if I trust you enough to share my work ahead of publication, it’s okay not to like something. I will not bash you with a hockey stick for being real. I’m tough, but I’m not THAT bad. 😉

I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that it is important as a writer to take stock of your health. You can spend 16-20 hours a day in front of the computer, and while that might get you a completed manuscript or a ton of smaller completed projects, it can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. I know because mine required a LOT of rest and slowing down in order to go into “remission”. To this day, I still experience some pain in my hands and wrists and actual weakness in both hands when I overdo it, but thankfully it’s not daily. Don’t take your hands for granted; you only get two, if you’re lucky.

Posture is everything. Don’t slouch at the computer. If you feel your shoulders begin to touch your ears, you’re stressed and you’ve been sitting there way too long. It is time to take a break, straighten your neck/back. get some stretching in, and take a walk. You will already find that staring at the screen isn’t helpful, or productive. Magical words will not flow out of your fingertips. Step away and stop touching your face when you’re doing the slouch of exasperation in front of the computer. Sometimes it’s a good idea to pick up a notebook and a pen and make notes for a while, it often leads to a better period of writing because it helps spark creativity. I have always found that if I jot down 1-5 pages of notes, ideas, or dialogue, it will later result in roughly 15-30, or more, pages of high quality work that I am proud of. I type more than I write by hand, so when I’m filling up notebooks, you know I’ve got a dozen tricks up my sleeve.

I’d rather write 300 pages of my best work, than 600 pages that aren’t cohesive in the story-telling. I have to be able to read it from start to finish and say “Wow! This is really good! Who wrote this?” I have to be able to get lost in it. I have to be able to impress myself; no one else. I am not the first writer to exist and I am certainly not going to be the last, but I do have to be a captive audience.

Okay, so apparently I DID have something to offer today. I’ll celebrate that fact later. 😛

Carry on everyone, and unleash some genuine creativity this weekend.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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