Films, Literature, Vampy times!, Writing

Anonymity

Dear Vinepire,

Do you remember watching the make out scenes in your favourite movies as a teenager, or reading steamy dialogue in a piece of erotica and secretly wondering : “How could they do this, knowing that their friends, siblings, spouses, their kids will get to see this?”. Sometimes, I feel the same way about blogging, and I know, there are no kissing scenes on this blog.

But back to the artists : how can they reveal so much about themselves, and I don´t mean nude scenes, but core beliefs, painful memories, dreams, while throwing their work into the public eye? As everyday people, we are bound to social conventions (to a point where we use preconceived opinions about the most mundane things) and to a sense of privacy. We instinctively keep things secret, just for the sake of secrecy. What would that stranger do with information that has only meaning to me, because it is mine? I would still never tell anyone except trusted friends about the day I stood up in front of my literature class and read, without noticing the slightest of sous entendres, a poem by Baudelaire featuring a woman dancing like a snake at the end of a stick… Just to end up listening to a long and elaborate praise from our teacher about the beautiful erotic imagery… I felt like the biggest creep in the universe, and did not look my professor in the eye for at least half of the school year… so yeah, embarrassing would be the word. And yet… I tell it to you, Vinepires… because I am anonymous. But most writers don´t use a pen name, just look at authors of erotica, like 50 Shades of Grey or the Sleeping Beauty series (although Anne Rice started publishing this one under another name, she soon revealed her real identity as author of the work). And there does not seem to be much embarrassment involved…

I admire them for doing it, but just don´t understand the mechanics of that process, and so I turn to you, dear reader, for an explanation for this phenomenon. Why is there no place for blushing, once something is brought into the spotlight?

Thank you so much for reading,

Your Vine Vampire

PS : And don´t hesitate to share some embarrassing stories of yours, I´m feeling left alone here!

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Literature, Writing

Architects and Gardeners

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”
― George R.R. Martin

Dear Vinepire,

I have stumbled upon this fascinating description of writing styles by the author of the Game Of Thrones series. I usually hear the terms “outliners” and “those without outline”, but find the image he offers us much more accurate. What do you think of his explanation, do you agree with the imagery he uses?

Thank you for reading,

Your Vine Vampire

PS : Are you more of a gardener or an architect?

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Vampy times!, Writing

Adopt an idea for your novel!

Dear Vinepires,

Have you already heard about NaNoWriMo? It is an online event taking place over the entire month of november (but gets often out stretched into summer sessions, and editing periods). During this time, writers young and old gather in front of their notebooks and write like crazy, trying to reach the contest´s goal : 50 000 words. That´s where the name of the National Novel Writing Month comes from. Along the road, usually grows a community, high on coffee and adrenaline, and people start to exchange ideas. They inspire each other in the so-called “Adoption Sections” of forums, where they gather and leave behind ideas for storylines, character flaws and even enchanted objects. The unfortunate thing about that exchange though, is that the forums get wiped out every year and all of that creativity fertilizer sinks into the ground leaving behind only vague regrets.

will you write the book you have inside?

Will you get inspired to write the book you carry inside?

I don´t want the inspiration to end this year too, and so I would like you, Vinepires, weathered NaNoWriMo veteran´s as well as newbies, to get your creative juices flowing. Let´s get together and create a place where writers can help each other do what they can do the best.

The principle is simple : everyone has the right to post in the discussion below his/her writing ideas. One only has to contribute if an idea standing below has gotten “adopted” for one´s own purpose. You are free to invent everything story-relevant, from a frightening setting to a fantastic beast or the unexpected twist in a love story.

Thank you for reading and writing with me,

Your Vine Vampire

PS : I leave behind : An antique book (a diary? a novel?) that each morning gets found with freshly melted candle wax on its cover, although no one seems to ever touch the book.

And : A character in the possession of a pocket watch, which he often consults without apparent reason. In reality, it does not show the time, because it stopped working at the moment something tragic happened to him. It has since become a constant reminder of his promise, to avenge his…

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Literature, Writing

Stop the book-DIY!

Dear Vinepire,

The book-sacrifice must stop. I think those crafts are pretty, inspiring, and absolutely unjustified. The thing that disturbs me here is not the use of word-filled pages as artistic material. We always incorporated what was considered precious into our artworks, just look at the marble and expensive paint! We also destroyed what was beautiful (and I´m not referring exclusively to Fontcuberta´s Fauna) to offer to our Muse.

The problem lies in what the owner of the book feels when killing his copy : it will be worth more to me once I can do more with it than reading. Or does anyone cry over the victim of that sacrifice? Of course not, we only rip out the pages we consider covered in worthless material. Now here comes my question : when was the last time you read a book that made no addition to your life? Now don´t mention the bad quality of writing and the insulting ideas it contained. Bad reeds can be good for us, in some ways. They shake awake your sense of critical thinking and boost your self-confidence. Seriously. Stephen King talks about this magical moment, when you lye down a read and think : “I can do better than that!”. And here might be the beginning of a new book, maybe even a good one.

Back to your bookshelf : which book do you regret buying, or think you have lived long enough with? Choose one title, and then go back to the moment you laid it down with relief. Would your values be a foundation just as strong if you haven´t read it? Would the belief in your talent? See, the worst reading-experience of your life was really a beneficial one, just for different reasons. Don´t throw away the rock bottom you can go back to when you need to get reassured, it´s precious.

Thank you so much for reading,

Your Vine Vampire

PS : My worst read was a cookbook (now don´t accuse me of breaking the rules here, if you read a little further, you´ll see that it really was falsely labelled fiction). It was entitled “Recettes Végétariennes” (Vegetarian recipes) and featured a palette of side dishes… I wanted to cut the pages out, and certainly not to transform them into an artwork! The insulting underestimating of vegetarian cuisine it represented, and my disbelief as to the fact that something written with no knowledge about the subject (vegetarians don´t live of grass, there is protein involved!) got actually published were just the perfect foundation for dislike. It still stands proudly on the lowest floor of my kitchen shelf. I flip its pages on days when i lack cooking-inspiration : it makes every other recipe instantly look delicious.

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Writing

You can´t judge the quality of your own writing.

Dear Vinepire,

Did you know what those other writers are saying behind your back? Because I do : you don´t know the true quality of your work! Now don´t be shocked, but I think it might be true…

Here´s the deal. Your words spill out from under your fingertips in a stream so vivid, you can almost feel your ideas flowing. No matter how thoroughly you edit, there will always be some of that heat in your work, forever. And that is probably my favourite thing about the craft, which allows the everyday person to create that sort of hocrux for their imagination. The downside, however, comes into light the moment you compare your take on the book with other´s.

They have not carried those images inside of them, did not let them into the world with as much anguish, and so lack that emotional attachment to the words you so cherish. Don´t hold a grudge against these poor souls, they don´t know any better. Instead, do the only thing in your power and step back from it all. To pass the time during the first storm of readers following your books début (be it in the family circle or on the best-seller list), sit down and remember which work Dickens thought was his best, then laugh about it.

Now whether you decide to open to criticism or not is your decision, but I recommend to trust your opinion the most, even when you´re probably wrong. You will see things that aren´t there, ghosts of talent, shadows cast by mistakes. That´s the price for the privilege of writing what you think, how you think it should appear on the page. So, when those same illusions have set the creation-machine into motion, why should you walk away from something so effective? Trust your erroneous beliefs, and let them become the only ones with the power to make you accept constructive criticism. You´ll stay confident and become more open for advice. And in the end, you can´t know how good your book really is (let alone how long this label will stay with it as the years go by), so you can as swell stop bothering about it altogether.

Thank you so much for reading,

Your Vine Vampire!

PS : Do you remember by how many editors Harry Potter got rejected? That´s something that boosts my writing-confidence!

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Literature, Writing

Who made you write?

Dear Vinepire,

Who was the one? Come on, you know what I´m talking about. Was it your favourite young adult fiction writer (*ahem*, John Green) ? I guess it might also have been this brilliant journalist… Or that special someone, whose name you don´t pronounce in front of your parents. Are you maybe one of the lucky ones to have gotten the call from Stephen King´s page… or were it the classics who made you want to write?

If you came here, you probably felt this vocation at some point in your life, possibly too early to remember. But you became a story-teller, a writer. Did you ever wonder whose narrative voice woke that little, burning thing inside of you? I often ask myself how that first calling shapes people of the word, and so I ask you too :

Who made you a writer? And most importantly, how has that shaped your craft?

Thank you so much for reading,

Your Vine Vampire

PS : Although I never received a letter from Hogwarts, my passion for the magic of books got woken by J. K. Rowling… Thank you.

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Literature, Writing

Should writers seek criticism?

“Protect your voice and your vision. If going on the Internet and reading Internet reviews is bad for you, don’t do it. … Do what gets you to write and not what blocks you. … Don’t take any guff off anybody.”
–Anne Rice

Dear Vinepire,

I have never kept my admiration for Anne Rice, the legend behind  The Vampire Chronicles a secret, and would write a trilogy for her to set the eyes that saw Lestat clearer than anyone else ever will, upon my writing. But back in reality, I stumbled over her curious piece of advice : ignoring criticism protection of the creative flow. I will just assume that it sounds equally strange to you.

Having done a little research on her first, most famous novel, Interview with the Vampire, I felt like her categorical rejection of dismissing comments was grounded : Her hit novel earned, according to Rice, about a year´s worth of rejections from publishers. So my admiration for her just grew, as despite this blow, she had never given it up. But really, can the average published-writer-to-be compare him/herself to that author?

I´ve believed, until now, that writers are somehow different people, in the sense of keeping always the will to improve each other´s performance, while in ruthless competition on a selective market. The criticism, even if holding barely on the shaky legs of opinion, seemed food for the muse, not poison. After all, as close as the bond between us and our freshly spilled ink might indeed be, don´t we all secretly enjoy the satisfaction inspired by unjustified criticism? I can often barely decide wether I like it less or more that the thankfulness for real constructive advice.

So, being quite frankly lost, I would like to ask you, dear reader, what your take on the dilemma is. And in the meanwhile, please, feel free to criticize anything you like…

Thank you so much for reading,

Your Vine Vampire

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