Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Writing Life

To all you authors out there, or someone who is working on a novel:
What happens when you are a crucial point in a novel, and you cant write an emotional scene because of your surroundings? What happens when the much heard about "writers block" actually happens to you? Okay everybody, lets be honest here, your hero/heroine is about to fall off a cliff (or something less cliche), and your messy room, school work papers piled around, siblings asking you questions, or the tea pot whistling in the background breaks your concentration?
What do you do?
Well, I just put my ear buds in and listen to mood appropriate music really loud, and write with my eyes closed....but that isn't always very practical :-)
So, the answer is:
You go to a Hobbit Hole!
That's right, a real life version of the hobbit hole from Lord of the Rings (I have actually never read the book, so I don't completely understand the reference. *teehee*)
Daniel Shwabauer, instructor and creator of the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum , (oneyearnovel.com) shared the idea of the Hobbit Holes through a live webinar a week ago.
Here is a description of what Mr. S is planning.
"In a nutshell, we are hoping and planning (but not yet funded) to buy some land outside Kansas City for a Creative Arts Center. This will be a place for creative young people to come and hang out, learn about and practice different forms of storytelling, and have fun. We specifically want to cater to the creative aspirations of the OYAN community, but may allow other groups (like adult writers) to occasionally rent out the facility in order to help us pay for operating expenses.

We envision a place of creativity and healing, which is why I made reference to Rivendell in the webinar. Rivendell is where Frodo went to recover. It’s where the sword Narsil was remade. It’s where the creative energy of the elves reshaped a savage land and made it beautiful.

If all of this sounds a bit pretentious, I would probably agree -- except that I’ve been to all the summer workshops and what I’ve seen there has made me believe this is possible.

Regarding healing, we’re not talking about having hospital beds or lighting scented candles. We’re talking about encouraging the heart. Everyone gets hurt. Having a place to go to where you are loved and supported can enhance anyone’s journey to wholeness.

Regarding the sword metaphor, we’re thinking of Christian arts not being relegated to the stagnant refashioning of secular stories with the bad parts left out. We believe that the truth sets men free, and truth is most clearly embraced when forged into powerful stories. Jesus spoke to people in parables for a reason.

Regarding beauty, we think a creative environment, though not essential, is a reflection of strength. God made sharks and butterflies and hummingbirds and flowers and galaxies. The human potential for beautiful, creative expressions of truth is virtually limitless, and will be inspired in a place where beauty is valued.


What will it look like?

Much will depend on the land we’re able to find. Ideally, we’d like to have access to a small lake, which would enable you guys to fish, boat, skip rocks, or whatever. Once we have the land:

Hobbit Holes: the plan is to begin by building one or two hobbit houses. These will house up to 16 people and be built around a library/conference room. Our plan is to make the entire layout of the houses feel like Bag End. Round entry door, built into the hillside, half-circle fireplaces, etc. Of course they will have bathrooms, which aren;t mentioned in LOTR, and the library will be a large enough room to house not just books, but workshop classes as well. Eventually we think we might have four hobbit houses, but that’s just us thinking way ahead.

Media Center: after the hobbit hole(s) we want to build a media center, with space for two larger dorm areas, a sound studio, a large stage area for video production, editing and performance space, a theater and a dining area where students can eat and hang out. This sounds huge, but it probably won't be. Bigger than the hobbit houses, but nothing like MNU’s Bell Center. We’re considering doing something with the media center that would mirror the hobbit houses.  That is, we’d like to make it functional but also themed. The dining area, for instance, would look really cool if it were built to resemble Theoden’s hall.

Tree Cabin: Maybe this is overdoing the LOTR references, but we’re considering a cabin built up into the trees. This would be primitive (no plumbing, no heat, no a/c), but would have the virtue of being a cabin built up into the trees. It would also have a sort of boardwalk built twelve to sixteen feet off the ground and running through the trees toward the water. The idea is to make it a sort of low budget Lothlorien. And this aspect of the Creative Arts Center is pretty low on our priorities list.

Other stuff: Too much to list. Right now we’re making plans that don’t restrict our ability to do cool stuff in the future to plan for the future, but also aren’t so huge that the idea is functionally impossible. We have to go through the sprout and sapling stages before we can be a tree.


What will we do there?

1. Love and be loved. No, we don’t mean anything weird, except in the sense that true love is pretty weird in our culture. One of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen is how easily OYANers have accepted and embraced each other’s differences during the summer workshops. This is the heart of what we want to encourage.

2. Learn. We plan to have week-long workshops on writing, literature, film, music, etc. throughout the year. Over the summer we will probably have longer programs available, perhaps even internships. Our focus will initially be on story-related arts. Writing, literature, film. Later we will add other programs if the idea grows. Classes will be led by different guest teachers, professionals in their area of expertise. Our desire is to give you practical and inspiring instruction. We are not setting out to recreate a college atmosphere, but to encourage immersion in creative arts.

3. Create. Even when we don't have specific classes going on, we plan to allow students to come and stay in the  hobbit houses and create. Write a book or a play. Make a short movie or a music CD. Write songs in front of a fire and then perform them for Mrs. S.

4. Relax. Get up early to go fishing, then take a long nap. Watch the hobbit movie on DVD in a  hobbit house while eating  hobbit food."
I am sure you have gathered through that bit of text above, that this is all just in plan form right now. But the S's really need our help to make this happen! Think of the impact that this will have on so many peoples lives. There is something that Mr. S said that I thought was really neat:
"OYAN isn't about writing regular novels with the bad stuff left out, its about writing novels with meaning,  purpose, and emotion."
Perhaps not his exact words, but something alone those lines.

How can you help?
First of all, the Shwabauer's are asking for your prayers! And the rest from the pen of Mr. S himself.

"The publisher is helping out by providing bookmarks and posters. These will be available sometime in September. So if you are willing to read the books and tell other people about them, we’ll send you up to 3 posters and 50 bookmarks at a time. To sign up and receive these materials, click here:http://www.runtthebr...kingsguard.html

2. If you have a blog, maybe mention the series.

3. Spread the word via your social media contacts. Facebook, Twitter, etc are great ways to let friends know about books, but sometimes it takes repetition for these things to stick. I’m not asking you to be obnoxious about it though.

4. Ask your library to carry the books. On average it only takes two requests for a library to order books.

5. Ask your local bookstore if they will be carrying them.

6. I know most of you aren’t made of money, but if you want to own a copy, you could order them yourself.

7. We’ve been asked to create an order form so you can sell the books to your friends. If you want to do something like this, email us and we’ll send you a form you can print off and use to take orders."


Tell me about his books?
The first of Daniel Shwabauer's books is titled Runt the Brave, and is the story of a young mouse named JaRed. Honestly, when I first read the synopsis, I was skeptical. It wasn't the sort of thing I usually read, but I had heard people rave about it, so I read it. I was blown away. There was never a dull moment, and though it was from the view point of a mouse, I didn't think it was silly in anyway! I was sucked into the story of JaRed, and felt part of him from the first chapter, sharing in his victories and down falls as if they were my own. I often forgot I was reading, I got so absorbed in the story. There is also a sequel to Runt the Brave titled Runt the Hunted, both of them are available on amazon.com and other sources. Learn more about the Runt the Brave series at runtthebrave.com, or click on my block button and it will direct you there.

Thank you for your help in spreading the blessing!

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