Tag Archives: story

When Art Takes Years to Complete

About 15 years ago, I was visiting the National Gallery of Canada, taking in the beauty of the permanent collection of artwork. As I was admiring the masterpieces, I was also examining the little cards next to them, taking note of the names of artists, the names of the artwork, the year the work was created and the backstory behind the masterpiece.

I noticed that some works did not have a single year next to them, but instead, a range of years like “1950-1952” was indicated, and I wondered to myself why would that be. For years after that, I kept wondering why it could take months or years to complete a work of art from beginning to end.

That was until I started blogging… then I completely got it!

In a perfect world, I could sit at my desk, write a blog post from beginning to end, proofread it and post it. In theory, it is a pretty simple process. But in reality, for me, that particular scenario might happen in 1 out of every 20 posts.

For the other 19, it is a process that takes time.

In the same way that visual artists need to sketch, that actors need to rehearse and that musicians need to jam, writers also require time to experiment with ideas to see what works. Continue reading

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Cinema through the Eyes of a Writer

This past summer, when most of my television programs wrapped up for the season, I decided to replace my TV time with the simple pleasure of enjoying a big bowl of popcorn and catching up on my movie bucket list.

There have been times over the years when life got in the way of seeing everything I wanted to in the theatre, and I am OK with that. When I missed one, I usually said to myself, “It’s just a movie.”

But more recently, I have picked up a renewed interest not only in that list of missed movies but old classics as well.

At this point in my life, it’s a whole new ball game. In my 50’s, I know I have a greater sense of appreciation for the artistic effort behind any movie. I also bring to the table a greater ability to admire the masterpiece in its intricate detail.

Plus, in looking ahead to my next career as a writer, I have to admit that the appetite is there to go through as many movies as possible to see what common denominators come up that make a movie work. Continue reading

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Could Robots Replace Writers?

Not too long ago, I was listening to an interesting report on the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and the types of jobs that could be replaced by robots. Of course, the occasionally insecure writer in me wondered, could robots replace writers and screw up my retirement plan?

While I am certainly not an expert in the field, nor should this blog post be interpreted as an expert opinion, the Pollyanna in me says if it could happen, we are probably some time away from that.

To me, a good story really boils down to three things: the reader, the writer and the story itself.

For a story to be successful, it needs to engage the reader and resonate on a human level. It needs to connect with readers on an intellectual and on an emotional level. The story needs to stir up feelings in the reader to keep them coming back for more.

To achieve that, the writer needs to tap into their imagination, their emotions, their experience, or all three. Plus, with each writer’s unique point of view in the way that they craft a story, additional layers of interest are created and the writer’s sense of style is stamped on the story, much like a fingerprint.

A good story could be a testimonial of human experience that discusses the strong emotions felt along the way such as the struggle, the pain and the joy. A good story can take us to a world we could only imagine. Good stories can also scare the crap out of us, play with our minds, or inspire us.

To do all of the above requires heart and passion. Continue reading

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The First Time My Own Writing Gave Me Palpitations

Regular readers will recall that I put the blog on autopilot in early summer, finalizing several blog posts at once, to offer me some free time to spread my wings and try some other creative writing projects.

It didn’t take long for me to sink my teeth into fiction. I guess ideas had been simmering long enough that putting words to paper came quite easily.

For one story in particular, I already knew my main characters and the main source of tension between them. I started committing those to paper.

What started with a few ideas soon became an outline. Then I rounded up the index cards I filled out over the last weeks related to this story and started typing ideas into their respective places.

What I loved was that I could keep the story up on my computer screen, walk away to put a load of laundry in the machine, come back and add a few sentences, entertain the cat a bit, come back and add a few more sentences, do the dishes, add another couple of ideas. Momentum was building and I was already enjoying the creative writing process.

I’d be lying if I said this particular story was a complete work of fiction. There are a few threads to the story that are inspired from my own life, but only a few people will know which is which.

Well into the process of engineering the flow of tension and conflict, I wrote a first draft of a heated conversation between two characters. For this dialogue, I tapped into something deep in my soul, loosely based on something I experienced personally.

In no way does the conflict in the story line resemble anything I’ve ever experienced, but whether someone is angry about life, people or circumstances, anger is anger. It’s universal and can motivate some very impassioned reactions in any of us.

As I was deeply into the writing zone, almost on autopilot myself, the words and associated emotions poured out of me. The exchange between the two characters flowed seamlessly.

The interaction seemed so natural. In some ways, I was not only creating a moment, I was living in it. The strength of conviction and motivation behind the dialogue was unlike anything I had written before.

When I finished typing out the conversation that concluded with one character storming out of a fictional room, the creative bubble around me faded as I returned to reality. In that moment, I noticed that my heart was racing, my breathing was fast and shallow and I felt beads of sweat on my forehead.

I was having palpitations! … over something I just wrote! Who knew that was even possible?

Instantly, this experience became one of those moments as a writer that I will never forget. At this point I didn’t care whether this piece made it to print or not. The fact that I was able to dig that deeply as if I was in the room with the two characters was a huge rush. The fact that it was able to elicit such a strong response felt like a huge emotional welcome into the creative writing world.

I was overjoyed! I was thrilled! I was euphoric!

If this is what it means to be a writer, then I want a lifetime membership! An experience like this makes it all worth it.

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Could Rejected Passages Tell a Story of Their Own?

typewritersWhen I see original drafts of sheet music for iconic songs selling for millions of dollars at auction, or scraps of paper written by legendary authors or historical figures as artifacts in a museum, I wonder: would anyone be interested in the drafts leading to my own completed works? Should I be saving my drafts?

As a humble little blogger and aspiring author, I know it would be like a lottery win to achieve rock star status in the literary world. I have no plans or aspirations to that effect. As long as I am able to write, I am happy. If readers enjoy my work along the way, that is a huge bonus which makes me so very grateful.

I was just going through my shredding pile, watching page after page of blog drafts get ground up into confetti. While on the one hand, I applaud myself for not letting clutter accumulate, on the other, I can’t help but ask if this might be “the one” that might change the world.

Could this possibly be the blog post that journals will be quoting?

Could this be the blog post that English teachers will be dissecting for students for generations to come?

Could this be the blog post that will generate discussion and debate among scholars?

Could this be the one for which its original drafts would be a treasured artifact, long after I have written my last word? Continue reading

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The Fear of the Truant Officer… Even at Age 51

police-carsA couple of weeks ago, I had an errand that needed urgent attention, but trying to deal with it outside of work hours would have meant long line-ups. While it may have seemed like a no-brainer to most people, after 35 years of riding the bus, it still is not second nature to me to think that I can jump into my car and to run an errand at lunch time!

As I was driving around, I don’t know why but I had this feeling deep down inside that I was doing something wrong. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it seems like a throwback to my primary school days when leaving school grounds was a no-no.

Picture it… Ottawa… 1974… two boys are playing in the schoolyard and one them tells the other, “Come on, I do it all the time. I’ve never been caught”. The faux-pas in question was the idea of leaving the school grounds to go to the convenience store to buy some candy. Of course I was the boy who needed a lot of convincing, as disobeying orders from authority figures was not second nature to me.

Let’s face it, having grown up as an only child, I could never get away with blaming a brother, a sister or a pet if something got broken. Even if I could attempt to blame the imaginary friend or just simply shrug my shoulders and say “I don’t know”, I was a horrible liar anyway. Between Mom’s glare that would extract the truth out of me without trying too hard, combined with the prospect of “wait til your father comes home”, the skills required for bluffing never became part of my wiring.

After much coaxing and the fact that recess was ticking away from my analysis paralysis, I decided to join him. Continue reading

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Just Like Dad

Dad and me Last Mother’s Day, I posted a tribute to my mother and the wonderful legacy of parenting she left me. I am reminded of those traits in observing my day-to-day interactions with Ivy the Wonder Cat and thinking to myself, “Wow! That was just like Mom!”

When it comes to my father, I find that his influences are far more prevalent in my day-to-day interactions at the office and, believe it or not, in my writing.

As I was growing up, getting good grades was the absolute top priority for me in my Dad’s world. In particular, it was all about the math. Given his brilliant mind when it came to numbers, in his eyes, the road to success was paved with good grades in all of the math disciplines: calculus, algebra, trigonometry, functions and relations, and if possible, accounting and this new thing called computer science.

The way he described it to me, with good grades in math, he thought this would open doors to colleges and universities, leading to a good job and then a self-sustaining adulthood. I knew that philosophically, there was validity to his advice.

Sadly, it took until my last year of university for me to recognize and fully appreciate the deeper connections made through the learning process. Math was not just about performing math functions, but it served as a way of cross-training young minds, so to speak, stretching them in every direction possible in preparation for the challenges of adulthood.

Mathematics were key to understanding money, finances, investments and doing taxes. Math also came in handy for taking measurements for home renovations as well as for splitting recipes in half. Beyond those obvious linkages, math also stood the test of time in teaching me the life skills of logic, critical thought and analysis, essential to organize facts and to solve real-life problems, something I use every day at work. Thanks Dad!

An epiphany followed Continue reading

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