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Inspiration – Recreation into Writing

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Recreation is an important part of my life. When you spend 8 hours a day writing as your job, and then get home and plug into your own personal writing (or articles as a freelance writer), the brain can burn out very quickly. So I try to invest some time into other fun activities to clear the mind. This involves reading, watching movies or series, playing on the Xbox or my 3DS, listening to music, making music, playing tennis or socializing with friends. You may have noticed that I never post on weekends, because those are my “tech free” days when I put my laptop away and spend the time doing other things. We all need a break.

Inspiration

I spent the last week reading and watching movies, barely touching any fictional writing. I got to finally watch the Assassins Creed movie (better than I thought!), finally got around to watching the original Ghost in the Shell anime movies (mind blown), and delved into three really grand books. Here’s the fascinating thing that happened while I was engaging my mind in something other than writing; I got inspired.

This wasn’t the “I need to write this amazing idea.” kind of inspiration. It wasn’t a feeling of intense desire to create. It wasn’t incorporating what I’d just seen and read and wanted to translate it into my own novel. No, this was far more profound. I was inspired to be true to myself.

You Are What You Write

Think of the stories you have written. Think of the books you read. There is a part of you that is drawn to those particular genres, a part of you that wants to create stories around that specific topic or train of thought or idea. It’s your idea formulating, brewing, churning and growing in your mind until you put it down in a (somewhat) coherent form.

I realised, in my quest to write mind blowing stories with amazing characters and fantastical worlds, that I was losing what was most important in my writing: me. I was so focused on pleasing everyone else, I forgot about pleasing me. Two weeks ago I wrote the article “Appealing to the Reader“, and I said the following about my need to write:

I want my stories to mean something to everyone.

And I saw the following statement as a negative thing:

I was writing for myself and hoping others would enjoy the story as much as I did.

I forgot that I am part of everyone. If my stories don’t mean anything to me, then how true can I be to them? It would explain why I ended up hating the stories I was writing because at the end of the day I was writing them for everyone else and not for me. I think that’s a major mistake.

Inspiration from Recreation

I remember thinking I was fit, you know, physically, because I played tennis although at that point I hadn’t played in months. A friend suggested I join this training thing at a Nature Reserve close to where I live. So Saturday morning I drove up to the place, kitted out and ready to exercise. I actually did fairly well but I couldn’t move my arms for two weeks afterwards. I’m not exaggerating. Anyway, one of the things we had to do was run I think 5km, and I was so focused on the path in front of me, I forgot to notice the beauty around me. It was only when I intentionally looked around to take in the rising hills, the spreading flora surviving the summer heat, the gnarled trees covered in dried moss, and the varying plants around me that I noticed the surrounding beauty. Then I thought “Now I know how to describe this type of environment in my future writing.” and filed them away in my brain.

Watching Assassin’s Creed and Ghost in the Shell inspired my story telling. Both these movies have fascinating storylines that play on this idea of self. Who we are. How we perceive ourselves and the world around us. Although completely different contexts (historical fiction VS cyberpunk) they both touch on different aspects of this idea.

I read an amazing book this week called Killing Gravity by author Corey J. White. It was fast paced, written well, and carried a particular mood through each setting. I was noticing the writer’s style, how the environment was described, how characters were portrayed, the world building aspects and a number of elements that made the novella work. Not surprising that Corey stated the following for his inspiration:

I can’t remember why I decided the main character would be a psychic space witch, but when it came to thinking about how Mars’ telekinetic abilities worked and the scale of destruction she could cause, I took inspiration from Akira.

More generally, I’ll take inspiration from anything and everything, including song titles, lyrics, books, comics, articles, and graffiti.

 Yesterday I wrote a 1000 word short story while listening to Gothic instrumental music from YouTube. My upcoming novella “Innocence” was inspired by an online prompt and drew elements from a number of horror books I read. Dying multiple times in Dark Souls almost spawned quite a gritty short story. Images on Deviant Art and artists I follow on Instagram inspire some of my stories.

My point is this: don’t take the things you do outside of writing for granted. Everything feeds into everything else. Pay attention to the world around you. More importantly, love what you write!


What inspires you when you’re writing? What has that inspiration led to?

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Wednesday Book Review: Ready Player One

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Title: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Publisher:  Broadway Books

Book procurement: Bought online on Takealot.com. Also available on Amazon and major book stores! (or it should be!)

Release Date: June 5, 2012.

Synopsis:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Review:

I’m perusing all my old online gaming haunts, checking out tutorials on YouTube and playing online on my Xbox, PC and Nintendo 3DS all at the same time. Why? Because this book is just that life changing. I mean, I’d always considered myself a gamer (I write for a gaming magazine after all) and own a variety of gaming consoles as well as building a new gaming PC. But I was twenty pages into this book and I realized I’m a noob by all standards.

So when a book is able to make you reassess your life, you know it’s brilliant. It also plays on every gamer’s dream console – fully immersive virtual reality. You don’t have to watch the .Hack series, Sword Art Online, Log Horizon anime etc or see the Samsung Gear VR, Microsoft’s Hololens, Playstation VR, Facebook’s Oculus to know that we all want that OASIS experience. We don’t want to press buttons, or look ridiculous in front of the Wii, Playstation Move or Microsoft Kinect (even though to be honest that’s what we’ll probably look like in-game anyway). We want to get inside the game and feel like we’re part of the game and not just interactive spectators. And this is the world of Ready Player One. It’s a world where you can be whatever and whoever you want.

I loved Wade. Honestly do. He’s just the kind of high level gamer you find in forums and on MMOs playing solo yet willing to go on that really difficult mission/quest/dungeon with you. He’s not an egotistical jerk. And he has a great sense of humour. I feel like I could relate to him in the gaming world. And that’s a well written character. All the other characters are just as well rounded. No one is a demi-god with amazing good looks and perfect personalities, traits and gaming skills. They are flawed. They are regular folk like you and me. They are real and believable. From Art3mis to Aech (ha! I did not see that coming) to the brothers Shoto and Daito, and even Halliday, Ogden (Og) and the antagonist Sorrento. Just gamers doing what they do best.

The story flows really well. The writing is personal as it is descriptive. You are Wade and experiencing his emotions, thoughts, struggles, hopes, dreams – everything. Ernest Cline really did his homework on all these 80’s titles. I’ve never heard of quite a number of games, anime, movies and music referenced in this book. And yet it all falls under my favourites: anime, gaming, rock and 80s tv shows. There were so many twists in there. Wow. I just wanted to keep reading more and more and more. Between finding the Egg hidden away in the gaming world, and all the conflicts happening both within and outside of the OASIS, I couldn’t help but go on a rollercoaster of emotions. I’m still reeling! I’ll probably read this book again 400 million times during the course of my life. It was that good.

I don’t even know what else to say. It was just… wow. I loved it. Completely. From a story telling perspective to content, characters, ending and all things geekery. If you love games, anime, rock, movies and the like, you’ll love this book.

Rating:  Look it’s a 10 out of 5 okay? My rating system, my rules.


Check out my Bookstagram account: @ascribe_bookstagram

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earnest-cline

ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. His second novel, ARMADA, debuted at #4 on the NYT Bestseller list and is being made into a film by Universal Pictures. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.

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