Research…it’s Legit

As a writer, I frequently find myself researching topics that are…strange, to say the least. In the past I have spent late night sessions researching homemade poisons, mustache puns, medieval makeup, symptoms of consumption, ways to recycle a goat carcass, and what happens inside a morgue. Oh, and let’s not forget unibrow jokes.

Anyway, in case you were thinking that I could not possibly need to research a more bizarre subject, I now present, courtesy of tonight’s writing hour and Catster.com: “6 Cat Gods and Goddesses.”

Why? Because obviously a goat named Esau who thinks that he is a dog needs a nemesis because it will bring together the town carpenter and professional crazy cat lady as unlikely lovers. And that is all I feel is necessary to share at the moment.

Don’t judge: I’m a writer. And yes, this is all legitimate research.

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Writer’s Despair: Part Two

Last night I was struck with a severe case of what I have dubbed “Writer’s Despair,” the cruel cousin of Writer’s Block. Unlike with Writer’s Block, I could not break through Writer’s Despair by searching through my idea notebooks or looking up prompts on Pinterest. Rather, WD hung over my head like one of those cartoon rainclouds, allowing me to write, but not allowing me to take pride in what I wrote. Even worse, this grey cloud of WD prevented me from seeing my work as unique or worth finishing.

“Oooh,” I’d think to myself, scribbling away in my notebook. “I will have a scene where the main character realizes that…”

“Predictable and cheesy,” grumbles WD.

“Fine,” I think. “How about-”

“Nope. Already done.”

“Well…”

“Why bother?” sighs that stupid cloud. “You’ll never publish this novel. Actually, the odds that you’ll ever publish a book of any sort are low and- hey!- look over there on your shelf: Newberry McWritesALot has published five books already. And there you are, blogging again, pretending to ignore me.”

Ouch. Writer’s Despair stings. A lot. On the verge of tears, I decided that I was not going to let this persistent and metaphorical cloud rain on my equally-metaphorical parade. I marched over to my new books and picked up Bradbury Speaks. And thank goodness that Ray Bradbury did speak, for from his words, I gleaned the single best piece of writing advice I have ever received and it was enough to evaporate WD for the time being. Bradbury, probably my number one writing mentor (despite never having met him and him being, unfortunately, no longer alive), had these words to offer as he discussed his writing methods:

“What we have here, then, is a very unusual approach to writing and discovering, not knowing the outcome. To move ahead on a blind journey, running fast, putting down thoughts as they occur. And along the way my inner voice advised.”

There are three key pieces of comfort that I found in these words:

1. Writing is about “discovering.” It is about mysteries. And guesses. And hopes and dreams and abstract ideas. Plot graphs are nice and cutesy, but ultimately, to be authentic, they must be abandoned to some extent so that the writer can discover through his or her freedom the realms of possibility in the world of words.

2. Writing is a “a blind journey.” Sure, this means that some stories will go off on tangents, some flop miserably, and some make zero sense to anyone but the writer. However, through these miserable flops and failures, the writer will find stories with plot twists he or she never could have planned, characters that seemed to create themselves, and stories that fly because they are not bound to a carefully-charted arc.

3. Writing is about finding and expressing your unique “inner voice.” I do not have a specific style of writing. Jane Austen did, Charles Dickens did, and J.R.R. Tolkien certainly did. I do not, yet. As of now, I am an infant writer, experimenting with rhetorical devices I learned in school and writing of experiences that are not my own. But someday I will find the style that fits, if I just keep on writing. Essays, blog posts, stories, journals- it does not matter. If I just keep trying, putting letters on a page and attempting to communicate my ideas, one glorious or perhaps simply ordinary day, my “inner voice” will finally spill out onto paper and Writer’s Despair will no longer call me unoriginal.

Ray Bradbury’s words have inspired me today. I may not be working on my novel as I should be, but here I am: writing. So take that Writer’s Despair! Not today!

A Lovely Combination

I recently visited my favorite indie bookstore and somehow managed to leave without using all of my credit! (I needed an excuse to return next week…) What did I purchase? A combination I believe works quite well:

  


  

1) A book with a setting that drew me in. (Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, taking place in my beloved London.) 

 

2) A collection of stories to frighten me slightly. (Unnatural Creatures by various authors.)

 

3) Another quirky British read that joins my Austenite and Sherlockian sides. (Death Comes to Permberly by P.D. James.)

 

4) A novel by an author of my recent acquaintance to make me philosophical. (Nana by Emile Zola, author of the inspiration of BBC’s hit show, The Paradise.)
 

5) Finally, a volume of essays by my writing hero (one of them, anyway) to feed both mind and ambition. (Bradbury Speaks by Ray Bradbury.) 

 

Quite a nice blend of fantasy, frights, and food for thought, wouldn’t you agree? 

A Rare Open Letter from an INTJ

“You’re funny! I had no idea.”

“We will have to draw you out of your shell.”

“I used to be scared of you.”

These are sentences I have heard often throughout my life and I am sure than many other people like me- INTJs and similar personalities, have had to listen to the same basic statements throughout their lives as well. Just yesterday, I heard another such line. I told my mom that I was planning a few social events and she pretty much congratulated me. 
“What?” I protested. “I can be social!”

Can be. That’s the difference. When you want to be, you can be social.” 

Now I was even more confused.

“You are not anti-social, but when socializing is not your object at the moment, you are very focused, giving off a distant vibe and walking with an out-of-my-way-peasants air,” she continued to explain.

Ouch, I thought. In all honesty, I had no idea that this is how I can sometimes come across and my mother was right; it’s not that I am shy or that I am rude. I am simply focused and this is the case for most people of my personality type. I found myself wishing I could explain this to others and, fortunately, realized that with this blog, I can!

First of all, is the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator 100% accurate? No. And do people live according to their personality combination? Absolutely not. For instance, I may be classified as an introvert, but I still love being around friends, as aforesaid. Okay, now that we have established that I do not swear by the Myers-Briggs or take it to be certain fact, here are five things that INTJs wish we could tell others:

 

1. We are not always the villain. 

  

Sure, every comic book, movie, and novel seems to cast an INTJ as the antagonist and let’s face it, INTJs can be terrible (take me when I am tired or hungry, for instance…scary…). However, we are more than the Moriartys of the world. We are not all plotting world domination. Not seriously, anyway. Jane Austen is thought to have been and INTJ, as well as C.S. Lewis and even some of the best characters dreamed up by such authors match this personality type. So if you are aware of the Myers-Briggs and meet someone who claims to be an INTJ, you don’t need to call the Avengers or try to solve a mystery before a hospital explodes because that is fiction and we are just people, not supervillains. 

 

2. We want to be included, but do not like being the initiator. 

  

As I have said now several times, I like to be social and I especially like to know that people want to be around me. I am usually too reserved to approach a group and leap into their conversation or host a party of my own, but I do wish to be a part of such things. It is a tricky spot, wanting to be a part but not wanting to be assertive. That said, it means a lot when another person takes the initiative so we do not have to, so do an INTJ in your life a favor and text him/her first, invite him/her to something, or-best of all- just talk to him/her! It will definitely be appreciated, even if the INTJ’s face remains impassive. 😉

 

3. We are not angry or rude: just focused.

  

INTJ personalities are considered “the scientist” of the personalities; people of this type, myself included, have an intense focuse that they find incredibly hard to abandon, even for a few minutes. However, if we brush past you or fail to return your friendly smile, we mean no disregard. Actually, upon realizing that I have done this, I felt absolutely dreadful and wanted to rush out and hug the poor ignored person! If an INTJ does seem unfeeling or brusque, he or she, nine times out of ten, is just deep in thought or focused on something unrelated. Do not be offended; just smile again or try again later. 

 

4. We are not robots.   

  

 I do not cry in public. Scratch that: I don’t cry in front of anyone outside of my parents and even then it is rare. However, while everyone else is sobbing at the theater while watching Les Miserables and the INTJ is sitting there apparently unmoved, it is not that he or she is heartless; he or she just processes things internally and does not feel the need to always manifest this processing as a visible emotion. Okay, that made us sound robotic, which is exactly the opposite of my point. Ugh. I’ll just say that when I found myself surrounded by crying people at the movies, I was saddened by Fantine’s plight as well, but although I yawned and thought of dead puppies and bit my cheek, I could not force any tears to fall. I felt sad too and really wanted to show some of this emotion, but beneath all of this, I could not. You see, INTJs are human too, but just do not have as easy of a time showing their human emotion. In a showdown between logic and feeling, even if feeling ought to win, we will try our best to choose logic.

 

5. Overthinking is just what we do.

  

Ultimately, I do not initiate conversations and such because I have overthought them so much that I have scared myself into not bothering. However, I have realized that the most fun I have ever had has been had when I am not thinking at all. When an INTJ chooses to ditch his or her filter, saying whatever silly comment comes to mind without fear of sounding ridiculous and hugging that friend without worrying about accidentally reinacting the disastrous Voldemort-Draco embrace (*shudders*), he or she not only has a more enjoyable time, but is a more pleasant person to be around. As I said just the other day, I can be really loud when I am comfortable, but many times I just do not know what to do due to overanalyzing and psych myself out into silence. 

 

There you are: five things that INTJs wish they could tell you, a sort of disclaimer and warning for this personality type, if you will. However, once more I want to emphasize that this post is based on generalities and my own personal experience; there are always exceptions. Still, do an INTJ in your life a favor and give a hug, send a text, or say hello. He or she might struggle, forget to reply, or not hear you, but it is still appreciated more greatly than you know. 🙂