Jaye Wells

Tag Archives: Novels

Craft Thursday: Badass Collages

It is Thursday and Sammy the Shame Sloth has slowly retreated to his tree limb of doom. He’ll return some day when someone needs some shaming. Something tells me it won’t be long.

Before we get to my Craft Thursday post, I have a couple of cool things to share.
First, I finally posted the soundtrack to SILVER-TONGUED DEVIL. If you click on “Extras” above, you’ll find links to all the soundtracks for the series thus far. Please note, though, that you need iTunes to access them.

January 19, 2012

Also, the awesome readers at Fresh Fiction voted SILVER-TONGUED DEVIL the Fresh Pick for today. Sabina’s been called a lot of things, but “fresh” is typically an adjective used to describe Giguhl. Either way, I’m thrilled.
By the way, if you’re an avid reader, you should check out their awesome newsletters to stay up to date on all the new releases in every genre. Those ladies know their business.

Now on to Craft Thursday.
So this week I tried something new that I thought all of you might find useful. Have you heard of Pinterest.com? It’s an online vision board web site. You can create themed boards for any topic or theme your little creative heart desires. I have one for cool houses I want, gardening, fashion, books I’ve read and want to read, cool quotes and, most importantly, book inspirations.

I’ve been keeping a running board going with images that spark story ideas for me. Sometimes they’re random images and sometimes they’re a set of images that I’ve posted there for a proposal I’m actively working on. But a couple of days ago it occurred to me that I could use it to collage a book I’ve already written.

Background: Back in the olden days (four years ago), when I started writing RED-HEADED STEPCHILD, I decided to make a collage to help me visualize Sabina’s world. The exercise was partially motivated by the fact I’m a pretty visual writer (I see the story like a movie in my head), but also because it was fun and I got to look at pretty pictures.

Back then I posted a bunch of pictures I’d cut out of magazines and printed off the internet to a big black poster board. Some of the images I chose on purpose and some were just cool snapshots that I liked the look of but didn’t really know where they fit in the story (Inevitably they ended up in the story because the subconscious is a tricky genius).

But that was four years ago. You can imagine that this poor paper and glue-stick craft has not held up well in the pit that is my office. But then I realized I could just recreate the collage on Pinterest. Not only could I keep it for myself for posterity, but I could also share it with my readers as bonus content.

Maybe this all sounds too frou-frou to you. Maybe you consider yourself a real writer who doesn’t need all this folderol and accessorizing to make your worlds feel real. But some of you might. Some of you are frustrated and feeling stuck. You’re shoving words on the page just to say you wrote something. You’re stuck.

You forgot to have fun.

Always remember Jaye’s first rule of writing: If it ain’t mostly fun, you’re doing something wrong.

So shake things up. Try a collage (paper or virtual, your preference). Go to the drug store and stock up on random magazines and sit your butt on the floor and cut out anything that delights or intrigues you. Toss those bad boys on a piece of poster board. Don’t be afraid to get glue on your hands. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Don’t worry about it making sense. Collage and exercises of its ilk are meant to bypass your rational mind and speak directly to the girls in charge. In my case the girls in charge look a lot like Thelma and Louise. They drive their convertible through my subconscious, shooting up the joint and having sex with alluring ideas that manifest in the form of Brad Pitt.

Anyway, the point is: Have some fun for chris’sakes! This is writing, not doing taxes or clipping your toenails or organizing your coupons. You’re a badassed word slinger. A creator or worlds. A mother trucking god of the page who shoots word lightning from your fingertips.

And a badassed creator who slings word lightning can make a goddamned collage is she wants to!

If you’re looking for ideas, feel free to check out my boards at Pinterest– HERE. But don’t feel like you have to follow my example (lawd help you if you do). Let loose. Get freaky. But most of all, try to have some fun.

Craft Thursday: Ideas Are Oxygen

If you’re a writer for any length of time, especially once you’re published, you will inevitably be ask the dreaded question: “Where do you get your ideas?”

I’ll pause now for the authors in the audience to shudder.

It’s not that this question in and of itself is a bad one, its just … well, it’s the wrong question. The truth is writers–and I’d guess most creative people who produce regularly–usually don’t have to look for ideas. Ideas are in our DNA. We don’t know how NOT to be inspired.

Perhaps Kevin J. Anderson put it best yesterday on twitter: “”People often ask, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ I always wonder, ‘How do the rest of you stop them from coming?'”

So why is it the wrong question? Well, it presumes that ideas are enough. They are not. Ideas, as I’ve mentioned are always there for me, the trick is what to do with them. The most brilliant story seed in the world is worthless without doing the work to help that seed reach its potential as a delicate rose or a toothy Venus flytrap or a towering redwood.

The right question, the one you really want answered, is “How do you do that?” And the answer–not the one you want but the one that’s true is–I don’t have a clue.

I like to think of myself as a logical, practical person, but I am also a neurotic, superstitious mess sometimes. Especially about the creative process. So when someone asks me to impose logic on something that is inherently illogical, I freeze up and joke. Or I sidestep it entirely and change the subject because, frankly, I don’t know how to tell you what I do.

I just do it. I do it because I love to tell stories. I do it because I love to play with words. I do it because it’s part of my DNA. I don’t know how not to find inspiration every day. I don’t know how not be endlessly curious about people. And I don’t know how to ignore the voice in my head that says, “This, this is worth exploring. And when you’re done playing with it, you have to share it with other people.”

Earlier, I was looking for a quote to use in something I was writing and ran across one of my favorite Joseph Campbell quotes:

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.”

Stories are my sacred place. Writing them is meditation. Sharing them is worship. And just like any great and sacred mystery, it only really works if you don’t look too hard for the man behind the curtain.

When I was a newer writer, I’d sit a trying to analyze it all. I thought real writers understood these things and more than anything I wanted to be a real writer. I’d beg and cajole my subconscious to offer up a perfect idea. But the id is fickle, the collective subconscious is a mysterious beast, and muses don’t take kindly to ultimatums.

These days, I find that the less I analyze this whole crazy creative process, the more creative I am. The less I try to tame things and make them nice and neat and easy to grasp, the more wild and exciting the work will be. The more I let my imagination play and the more I have fun with it, the more rich and satisfying my stories become. So, no, I won’t try to encapsulate a very complex and layered process of creation into a palatable sound bite.

Creating is part how I’m wired, part everything that I’ve ever experienced, seen and done, and part mystery that I’ve given up trying to understand. And that’s the best answer I can give you about how and why I write.

What’s your oxygen? (Besides, you know, actual oxygen) Where is your sacred place?