Girl Fight, Good vs. Bad


Just watched Black Swan this weekend, starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. The movie is about the character’s psychological breakdown, which parallels Swan Lake’s story between the dark and light side of the Swan Queen (and no, I’m not familiar with the story). A subplot in the movie is Portman’s character’s struggle of technical perfection in ballet versus artistic expression.

Good Girl

Good Girl

When I started to write consistently, I had struggled with wanting to be the good girl versus the bad girl (not sure I’m doing myself any favors here). The good girl is being technically good at writing, and the bad girl is allowing myself to suck and the freedom to just write whatever comes out.

Which is better?

Bad Girl

Bad Girl

So I started with the bad girl (yes!). I started to write Nightfall, and allowed whatever to come out, come out. I wrote sixty pages worth of material.

Then I talked to my friend who’s constantly working on being a technically perfect writer. He turned me to books and seminars that taught me how to be a good girl, how to write well technically. They focused on structure, emotional techniques, how to build depth in character, scenes, overall story, and provided a mechanic’s dream full of tools. More than what any writer would use in any single work.

But deep in my heart, I felt the bad girl pounding, wanting to get out and expose herself.

I’d talked to a friend recently, and she told me she wrote a book with her eyes closed. As far as I could tell, she’d done little research on writing technique or structure but was inspired to write. I haven’t read it so I’m not sure of the quality. However, when I was listening to her talk, the good girl inside shook me and said, “She’s crazy!”

Was my friend unconsciously incompetent (the individual neither understands nor knows how to do something, nor recognizes the deficit, nor has a desire to address it)? Google the four stages of competence and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

To be fair, my technically induced friend does allow for inspiration, and my crazy friend could be a great writer. But these two people showed up in my life as symbols of two extremes because I asked the question:

Which is better?

What's coming out of your butt?

What's coming out of your butt?

In life, too much of anything isn’t good.

Humans can’t live more than a few days without water. But drink too much of it and people can die of water intoxication. Take in what you need. Leave the rest.

Today, I’ve used very little of what I had written during my purely bad girl days. But I learned what not to do, and in the process of my redemption, I had taken the time to learn. In doing so, I found out something interesting about myself that is the fundamental philosophy behind Bruce Lee: When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has not style, he can fit in with any style.


Learn what you need to learn. Leave the rest. You don’t and can’t know everything. Just make sure what you’ve learned doesn’t imprison your soul, that you can still express yourself wholly. Another words, forget what you’ve learned and just go with it.

As renowned photographer, Rodney Lough has said, “Art is the language of the soul.”

The Unbeaten Path

In my postAre You a Complainer,I ask the question, "Are you a complainer?"  Some of you may complain that the last sentence was a bit redundant.  My friend made a comment:  Odd that people would accept a habit that makes them feel miserable.  I think the reason may be people are comfortable.

People want the above picture.  A road that lights up that leads to their destination.

People will even follow a road like this, which I think reflects life a bit more.

But if you were the rock, which path would you follow?  The straight path?  The curvy one?  How about the third?

I was reading another writer's post, and they were talking about why writers write, knowing thechancesany kind of success is freakin' low.

Here's my view: Learn the lesson of the turtle.

I wrote The 7th Province and will continue to write the two books in this series and the prequels because some how for some reason these stories were given to me to write.  I write these posts because when I come across something that invokes a thought close to my heart, I write about it.

It is what it is cuz it ain't what it ain't.


Despite the millions of books that are written each year, writing is the unbeaten path.

When I went to the San Francisco Writer's Conference, I talked to a lot of writers.  Many were published.  Many had written books.  But I was also surprised to find that many writers hadn't even begun.  Was it their destiny to write?  That's not for me to answer.  But it seems that those who write, write because they are inspired to.

God!  Here's that freakin' word 'inspire'.

That word invokes an internal meaning.  It's not 'outspire', which isn't even a word.  Nor is it perspire, which invokes strange odors.  But it's inspire.  In.

In The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi asks Daniel to close his eyes and imagine a perfect picture of a bonsai tree.

Mr. Miyagi:  Wipe your mind clean.  Everything but the tree.  Nothing exists in whole world...only tree.  You got it?  Open eyes.  Remember picture?

Daniel-san:  Yeah.

Mr. Miyagi:  Make like picture.  Just trust the picture.

Daniel-san:  How do I know my picture's the right one?

Mr. Miyagi:  If come from inside you, always right one.

Do what you love, love what you do.

Collecting Golden Nuggets of Inspiration

My first post in Writer's Journey talked about where I got the idea for my hero of my book.  He's single handedly inspired me to create the world he lives in. In my bio, I talk about recurrences that happen.  A lot of self-help teachers call these inspirations, nuggets of gold, moments of genius.  Over the twenty or so years, bits and pieces of ideas have come and gone, all pertaining to this particular story.   Then someone in my imagination said, "This would be cool for your story."  I might need to seek some help.

I've mentally collected different nuggets of gold and stored them  in my noggin.  When I got serious and decided to write this book, I bought a tiny notebook and wrote down every single nugget of inspiration.  To my surprise, I've used most of them.  About a quarter of the ideas I threw out.  That's fine.  Better to have more than you need.

When I read or hear other artists talk about where they get their ideas, a lot of them use this method of collecting, writing them down.  JK Rowling did this.  I saw a special on her where she would write on napkins, cards, anything that would take ink.  I think if I tried to write this story early on in my life, I may not have had the opportunity to gather the ideas that I need.

Get a notebook.  For me ideas come when I do the most mundane things.  I'll be walking and all of a sudden, pop.  An idea.

A word of caution.  These ideas are fleeting.  There have been a number of times when I'm taking a shower, I get an idea, I take a moment to remember it, and poof.  It's gone.  Take the time to write these golden nuggets down.  It's these gold pieces of ideas that may change your writing, project, life.

Happy gathering.