|Dani J. Caile|
Every Saturday I hear that old Mickey Mouse Club jingle, Today we're going to have a special guest. This Saturday is no different as we welcome Dani J. Caile, author of Man by a Tree, The Bethlehem Fiasco, and The Rage of Atlantis. I came across Dani via Twitter where I have been able to meet and make some connections with some great writers and friends. After reading his post here be sure to pop by his blog and website to see more of his Quirky, Yet Sardonic writing. I think you'll enjoy what you see.
And now The Mess welcomes Dani J. Caile.
Elements feed you
Writing is a fantastic activity, there's nothing better than seeing something appear on a page, something which wasn't there a few minutes ago, something which makes you laugh, cry or even wonder. Both the writer and reader can share these feelings in the words created. But what happens when there is nothing to write about? What happens when you wish to write but nothing comes out? When a writer has something to say but no 'vehicle' to say it with? Does a writer meander on meaninglessly until suddenly a spark explodes on the page, 1000s of words spew forth until one perfect sentence appears? I don't think so. I tried it, it was hell.
And now here is a new writing challenge which I believe has the answer. Just recently, I participated in a writing competition, the Iron Writer Challenge (http://theironwriter.com/2013/05/02/the-iron-writer-challenge-11/), where every week 4 authors 'fight it out' and write 500 word stories using 4 elements, and have only 4 days to write them. There are no prizes, only bragging rights if you win, and luckily I did :-)
The great thing about this competition is that it gives 4 unrelated elements to connect in a coherent story. It's not asking 4 writers to hand in 4 completely unrelated 500 word stories, but it actually gives the 'essence' of the writing, the elements. Unfortunately, there is always the chance that the writer will only use these elements as mere decoration on what they wish to write. In my honest opinion, those writers are missing the point. These elements help a writer to learn more about their own writing skills. My challenge's elements were a manhole cover, clogging shoes, a water buffalo and the Edward Smith Papyrus. After researching all 4 elements, my mind grabbed a direction, and all these elements linked into a short 'detective' story. It took a while to research the papyrus and how to make it a plausible part of the story, but that's the point of elements, they give a deeper understanding of what a writer wishes to express. What seemed like 4 unconnected elements became the backbone of a 500 word story which I plan to turn into a novel in the near future.
And turning to novels, a few months ago I found myself in the position of having plenty of ideas, crazy dialogues and odd situations but nowhere to go with it. After writing three books and a novelette, I still had a lot to say, but I had no 'vehicle', no major elements. Before, I had used stories based around the Grim Reaper to illuminate the shallowness of humankind, the figure of Jesus to attack organised religions and Atlantis to illustrate the stupidity of politics and terrorism, all in what I hope was a light, sardonic, and entertaining way. But I was stuck. I had so many ideas with nowhere to go.
Not giving up, I went in search of elements. After weeks of nothing, I put on my headphones and listened to some music. One of the albums was 'The Gospel according to the Men in Black' by 'the Stranglers'. It mentioned 'manna', a 'manna machine' and strange beings coming down to Earth. I researched a few of these elements. What I found out was that there are some people, namely a George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, who believe that there was a machine which created manna to feed the Israelites for 40 years in the Sinai desert. They even designed the machine from descriptions they found in the ancient scriptures of Zohar.
They also came to the conclusion that this machine was given to the Israelites by 'others' not from this world.
With these wonderful thoughts, I then started writing with a direction, creating a story using all my bottled-up ideas around an 'imaginary' fusion-machine which could create algae-type food, destroy walls, move water, kill people - it is said that the Manna Machine was transported with the Ark of the Covenant, and those that didn't know how to use it properly were struck down with what sounds like radiation sickness, some were killed, others lost hair and nails. I now have a finished novel, out in a few weeks, perhaps even days…a crazy one-day trip around the unconscious of those who are forever looking for something.
So, I feel that as a writer it isn't what you want to say that is difficult, it's how you get it across and through what. The Iron Writer's Challenge is a fantastic example of how an idea can bring out the best in writers, if they allow it to. Support the challenge, read it, vote on it, and perhaps even write for it! It can only be good for you!
(by Dani J Caile)
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For Further Reading ~ The Mess Welcomes Tess Stenson
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