#SilmAwards2017 Award Presentations Begin This Week!

Just a very small, quick announcement-y post today . . .

The votes are counted, the results are in, and now it’s time for the winners of the best fantasy book characters in the Second Annual Silmarillion Awards to be presented!

(Never gets old. XD)

Here’s the schedule and the links of where to go to “attend” the 2017 Award Presentations for each Silmaril! So they will all be coming soon, and I can’t wait! 😀

Award Presentation Schedule / Participating Blogs

I only know the winner of the award I’m hosting on my blog, so I’m just as much on the edge of my seat to find out the other winners as you all are! Thanks to everyone who voted, and I hope you’ll all enjoy celebrating the winners, whoever they may be! 😀

Be sure to come back here next Monday, July 24, when a brave heroine of Middle-earth will be presenting the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril to the most-voted fantasy heroine, here on The Road of a Writer . . .

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a post of my own to write for July 29th about my love for Tolkien’s works and other beloved fantasy literature, not to mention that I also have characters to manage for said Award Presentation Ceremony which must be prepared for all you readers next week, and the clock is definitely ticking . . .

So I will bid you Namárië for now, and I hope you enjoy the Silmarillion Award presentation posts throughout the next couple weeks!

Which award are you most excited about finding out the winner? Have you enjoyed the #SilmAwards2017 so far? Thanks for reading! 🙂

#SilmAwards2017: Voting! + Scavenger Hunt

The tally of nominations and seconds is in, with the top five characters in each category moving on to the second round: voting! There’s also an epic Tolkien-themed Grand Prize you can enter to win by joining in a fun scavenger hunt — details below!

In this post:

  • Top 5 Heroines moving on to voting
  • Time to Vote! July 10-14 (Voting details and link)
  • Scavenger Hunt/Grand Prize Tolkien Giveaway
  • Winner announced for Firethorn Crown prize pack/Paper Crowns
  • The other nominated heroines

TOP 5 HEROINES MOVING TO THE NEXT ROUND

There were a total of 93 individual heroines nominated for this award! I am absolutely floored by this. :O Thanks ever so much to everyone who nominated or seconded! Apparently there are scores of epic heroines from fantasy literature who deserve recognition, and this award, which is new this year, seems to have been overdue for an appearance! 😉

While I’m sure these heroines are all worthy, only five can progress on to the second phase of voting, and those five were chosen by having the highest number of “seconds.”

The top five nominees for the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril are:

*drumroll*

Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Known as Lucy Pevensie in our world, and Queen Lucy the Valiant in the land of Narnia (though once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen!), this heroine may be young but she has the heart of a lion. Loyal, loving, brave and kind, she always tries to follow Aslan’s will and take the right path, no matter how hard it seems. With courage in one hand and her healing cordial in the other, she is a merry soul and a true comrade to have.

Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Cinder is a person of great compassion and strength, risking her life for those in peril and facing challenges head-on instead of hiding from them. A cyborg mechanic, she’s street-savvy, smart, resourceful, and protective of those she loves; she’s someone to have on your side in a crisis. Being a cyborg gets her a lot of hate, and she has to learn how to cope with unfair views. She often faces morally gray situations where she could justify her actions either way, and she still strives to choose rightly.

Cress from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Cress is a spunky, somewhat naive heroine. She may not be of much help in a fight, but her sharp computer skills and her big heart certainly come to her friends’ rescue time and again. No one can hack into government systems like she can, and no one can stand in her way when someone she loves is in danger.

Kyrin Altair from The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight

Kyrin Altair has the ability to remember everything, is kind, protective, extremely perceptive, and determined to help those who believe they can’t be helped. She is very close to her twin brother Kaden, and she stands up for her faith in Elom, even in the face of death. She can fight in a pinch, but her true strength lies in her faith, kindness, loyalty, and her ability to see past a rough exterior into the true worth of a person’s soul.

Rose Red/Varvare from The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

(of “Veiled Rose” and “Moonblood”)

Rose Red dresses all in veils that conceal her completely, to hide her appearance, and is unexpectedly strong for her thin frame. Also known as Varvare, or affectionately as Rosie, she is immensely loyal, no matter the obstacles or the looks people give her. Steadfast and goodhearted (though sometimes as stubborn as her goat Beana), she’s a simple soul whose plain mountain-girl accent and dirty white veils cover a spirit of down-to-earth goodness which is as solid as the stone of mountains.

Which of these five do YOU think most deserves to win the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril? Get thee hence and cast your vote!

VOTING

It is now time for you to vote for your favorite out of the five in each of the 10 Silmaril categories, which you can do HERE in one handy voting form!

(Please note that all ten of us SilmAwards bloggers are linking to the SAME FORM so that it will be more convenient.)

Voting runs from July 10 – July 14, so make sure you get your votes in before midnight on Friday!

SCAVENGER HUNT / GIVEAWAY

Grand prize for scavenger hunt: Hobbit map, Tolkien trivia book, replica of the One Ring.

To collect all the clues for the scavenger hunt, start at Tracey’s blog if you haven’t, and go through each post in order, collecting the phrases (which should be easy to find, standing out in some way and linking to the next blog) and moving on to the next blog to find the next part.

You will then type (or copy/paste) the full secret message into the voting form, linked above under VOTING.

Since this scavenger hunt is linked with Tolkien’s works and specifically the Silmarils, you may want to know as one of your clues that the Silmarils are . . .  Objects of Melkor’s deep desire.

One winner will be chosen from among the correct answers, and that winner will be announced on July 29 during the Tolkien and Fantasy Celebration we’re holding that day (when you can do a post of your own about Fantasy or Middle-earth; don’t forget!).

Good luck!

GIVEAWAY WINNER

The winner of the Firethorn Crown prize pack and Paper Crowns is . . .

Grace Matson!

Congratulations! We will be in touch with you about getting you your prize.

Thanks so much to everyone entered!

The other giveaways are being announced on the blogs they were hosted on.

Be sure to enter the Grand Prize giveaway through the scavenger hunt, above!

OTHER NOMINATED HEROINES

Even though they didn’t make it to the next round, I’d like to highlight all the fantastic ladies who were nominated, so I’m listing them here!

I’d like to read many of these books that I haven’t yet! If you’re on the lookout for great fantasy with heroic heroines, this might be a good list to start with! 😉 I’ve listed them in order of some mix of the number of nominations recieved, and the order they were nominated in. (Eilonwy, Hermione, Vin, and Sophie, were so close to the top!)

Here are the heroines who did not make it to the second round of voting, but are no less epically heroic for all that! 🙂

  • Eilonwy from Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles
  • Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • Vin from Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  • Sophie Hatter (Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones)
  • Scarlet from the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
  • Sairu from Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
  • Winter from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
  • Evanlyn/Cassandra from The Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan
  • Wilhelmina Klug from The Bright Empire series by Stephen R. Lawhead
  • Ella from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  • Polly from The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
  • Sarah Cobbler from Andrew Peterson’s “The Wingfeather Saga”
  • Aravis from The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  • Nyssa Glass from H. L. Burke’s Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors
  • Shallan from Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
  • Vrell from the Blood of Kings trilogy by Jill Williamson
  • Princess Cimorene (Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede)
  • Ginny/Ginger (Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal)
  • Leeli Igiby from Andrew Peterson’s “The Wingfeather Saga”
  • Steris from Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
  • Addie from Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
  • Irene, the older and the younger, from The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald
  • Bonnie Silver from Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire/Children of the Bard by Bryan Davis
  • Sapphira Adi from Oracles of Fire/Children of the Bard by Bryan Davis
  • Starflower from the book of the same name by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
  • Antoinette Reed from Wayne Thomas Batson’s “The Door Within”.
  • Kat Simpson/Lord Alreenia Hiddenblade from Batson and Hopper’s “The Berinfell Prophecies”
  • Wendy Darling from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
  • Lady Anne from the Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight
  • Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  • Sorvashti from the Sentinel Books by Jamie Foley
  • Kale from the DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul
  • Ashley from the Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire series by Bryan Davis
  • Muggles from The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall
  • Alexa from the Land of Elyon books by Patrick Carman
  • Cordelia Beaumont from The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz
  • Birdie from Orphan’s Song by Gillian Bronte Adams
  • Inej from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Lilybet Haverly from Wither by Savannah Jezowski
  • Cecilia from Esprit de la Rose by Kaycee Browning
  • Princess Kamarie from King’s Warrior and Yorien’s Hand by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
  • Albany York from C. B. Cook’s “Twinepathy”
  • Marcelle from the Tales of Starlight books by Bryan Davis
  • Jill from The Silver Chair/The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
  • Anna from Illusionarium by Heather Dixon
  • Susan from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • Darsal from the Lost Books series
  • Amalthea from The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
  • Hualiama from Dragonfriend by Marc Secchia
  • Holly Short from the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
  • Elodie (Where the Woods Grow Wild by Nate Philbrick)
  • Perry from Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
  • Annabeth of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
  • Imogen from the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Ela Roeh from Prophet by R.J. Larson
  • Shannon from “Dragon’s Curse” by H. L. Burke
  • Leilani from Beggar Magic by H.L. Burke
  • Princess Lily from The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doue
  • Gwenn from Wayne Thomas Batson’s “The Door Within”.
  • Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  • Lady Leta from Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
  • Orual from Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
  • Azalea from Entwined by Heather Dixon
  • Silvie from the Lost Books series by Ted Dekker
  • Frances Beznar from Elithius
  • Bess from Threadbare by Bethany Jennings
  • Isabella from Masque by W.R. Gingell
  • Sabriel of The Abhorsen Chronicles by Garth Nix
  • Granuaile of the Iron Druid Chronicles
  • Gracie Lockwood from “My Diary from the Edge of the World” by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  • Alex from The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
  • Auralia from the Auralia Thread by Jeffrey Overstreet
  • Tek Lara from Prophet by R.J. Larson
  • Eun Na from “Eun Na and the Phantom” by Erica Laurie
  • Gwendolyn Lancaster from The Aeronaut’s Windlass
  • Seraphina from Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  • Robin from “Sew, It’s a Quest” by Kendra Ardnek
  • Maraly Weaver from The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
  • Virginia Ramsey from Rachel Starr Thomson’s Seventh World trilogy
  • Lila from the League of Princes series
  • Cinderella from the League of Princes series
  • Hazel from Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
  • Elena from Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdhall
  • Mirasol from Chalice by Robin McKinley
  • Katriona from Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley
  • Celine from Lady Moon by Rachel Starr Thomson
  • Glory from Wings of Fire

CLOSING NOTE

Thanks so much to everyone who has nominated/seconded your favorite heroines (and other characters) and have been involved with filling this second Silmarillion Awards with so much fantasy fun/celebration/chatting! You are the best! Thank you! I hope you enjoy the next parts of this bloggish celebration! Don’t forget to vote and share the word with #SilmAwards2017 if you wish! Thanks for reading! ^_^

Most Epic Heroine Nominations! #SilmAwards2017

And so it begins, my friends!

The Second Annual Silmarillion Awards start today, so it’s time to nominate your favorite fantasy characters!

(Plus, don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!)

The Silmarillion Awards are a just-for-fun “Fantasy Oscars” blog event to recognize our favorite characters from fantasy literature by awarding them “Silmaril” awards for best-in-category — more about it here, if you’re new.

We (myself and 9 other awesome bloggers, not to mention all you fantasy fans out there!) hold it in July to coincide with the anniversary of the publication of The Lord of the Rings. This is the perfect year, too — did you know Tolkien’s earliest pennings of the tales of The Silmarillion can be found in notebooks dating as far back as 1917? That’s 100 years ago, people! :O

The Silmarillion Awards is one of my favorite times of year — a time to celebrate all things Tolkien and fantasy, particularly the beloved inhabitants of our favorite fantasy books!

Here on this blog, I’m hosting . . .

The “Most Epic Heroine” Silmaril

The Most Epic Heroine Silmaril should go to a character who is a truly great heroine: she can be intelligent, brave, loving, with an inner or outer grace that defines her as a most epic heroine, willing to fight (either physically or with her intellect) against all odds for what she loves — a heroine beloved by other characters and readers alike; whether quiet or spirited, she should exemplify the spark of higher qualities which the great heroes and heroines of fantasy fiction hold.

This Silmaril will be presented by a certain shieldmaiden from the home of the horse-lords, famed for her heroism, strong will, persistence in the face of danger, and defeating a foe no man could slay, eventually finding her true place as a fair lady of healing; a graceful and truly most epic heroine.

And now, my fabulous fantasy friends, this is where you come in. These awards are fan-voted, which means you!

Nominate your favorite heroines here!

This post is the place to nominate your favorite epic heroines from fantasy, which you can do by commenting below! (Please mention the book the character is from, as well!)

If someone has already nominated a character you wanted to nominate, you can “second” (or “third”, “fourth”, “fifth” etc.) their nomination by replying to that comment.

The top five characters in each category with the most seconds/nominations will go to the next round of voting (beginning July 10).

A few guidelines…
  • When nominating, please mention which book the character is from!
  • You can nominate or second as many characters as you like!
  • Nominations are only open to fantasy characters, as these are “Fantasy” awards (hence, things like The Hunger Games don’t apply — since that’s Dystopian, for example).
  • Don’t nominate Tolkien’s characters (they’re already the standard for these categories!).
  • Don’t nominate a character you wrote (though your fans are welcome to!).
  • As lifetime awards, the characters who won last year aren’t eligible (though “Most Epic Heroine” is a new award this year, so there’s no one off-limits on that count for this one!).
  • Spread the word on social media using #SilmAwards2017
  • If you have questions that I did not answer, feel free to ask!
  • Have fun!

These awards are just for fun, so enjoy yourself and have a blast celebrating all things fantasy and applauding your favorite characters (including heroines! ;)) from fantasy literature! 🙂

Timeline

Nominations are open July 3 – 7, so nominate away! 🙂

  • July 10-14: Second Round Voting
  • July 17-28: Awards Presented
  • July 29: Fantasy Celebration

The Other Awards

Don’t forget to drop by the other blogs to see the other categories and nominate (or second) characters for those as well! (The other hosting bloggers have more fantasy giveaways too, so be sure to enter those!)

(FYI: You can get this gorgeous graphic by DJ Edwardson on a commemorative t-shirt or mug this year! For 10% off, use coupon code: TOLKIEN2017 [Proceeds go to support future Silmarillion Awards events.])

Giveaway

Speaking of epic fantasy heroines… I’m so excited to share a delightful giveaway with you here on my blog today!

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win one of two epic fantasy-themed prizes, featuring great heroines as well. 😉

One winner will receive:

Firethorn Chronicles Prize Pack (Kindle copy of The Firethorn Crown, paperback copy of Midsummer Captives, dragon wing necklace, bookmark), provided by fantasy author Lea Doué.

I’ve read and enjoyed The Firethorn Crown, and as a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, it definitely has several great fantasy heroines! 😉

A second winner will receive:

A paperback copy of Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal, provided by yours truly.

Paper Crowns is one of my top favorite fantasy books of all time, and also features one of my favorite heroines ever. 🙂 So it seemed like the perfect thing to give away! (Plus, everyone needs to read it. XD)

Enter the giveaway HERE via the Rafflecopter

(Giveaway is open for residents of US and Canada, running through July 3 – 9, and winners will be announced sometime thereafter. :))


So what are you waiting for?

Nominate away, my fabulous fantasy friends! Who will you nominate (or second!) for Most Epic Fantasy Heroine? Comment below through July 7th and celebrate your favorite heroines! I can’t wait to see everyone’s nominations! 🙂

NOMINATIONS ARE CLOSED; VOTING BEGINS JULY 10.

Life Lessons Learned From Fantasy Tag

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Tag time! And Fantasy time! At the same time — which makes it doubly exciting!

February is Fantasy Month (hosted by Jenelle Schmidt — go check out the linkup and short story challenge for more fantasy fun) and since Jenelle tagged me for this neat Fantasy tag, I thought I’d jump in and do it! 🙂 Thanks, Jenelle!

Rules

1. Link back to Jenelle’s blog
2. Use the image above
3. Tell us 5-10 lessons you’ve learned from reading a fantasy book (or watching a fantasy movie) – lessons can come from multiple sources, as well, of course
4. Tag 2-4 other bloggers to keep the game going

Lessons I’ve learned from reading fantasy? It might be easier to ask what lessons I’ve NOT learned from fantasy… which may be why at first I was having a difficult time with this! (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But still.)

Here are just a few of the books and series that have helped show or further illustrate important things for me and are helping to shape me into a hopefully better person.

List (Because Lists)

1. Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, and George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, started it all and introduced me to the wonderful world of Fantasy — at least some of my earlier memories of it — thereby widening my horizons and showing me heroism first off.

2. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit taught me (and continues to teach me) that it’s okay to be both adventurous and a homebody, introverted and extroverted, bookish and active, Tookish and Baggins-ish — there’s a place for each of these things, I don’t have to be just one or the other; that if I switch back and forth between them, that’s all right; and the place to be is probably somewhere in the middle… which I can therefore strive toward.

3. The Lord of the Rings taught me so many things that I don’t even know where to start–including nobility, selflessness, and pressing on when things seem darkest. Such a rich well from which so many things can be drawn out.

4. C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia books showed me so much through Aslan, and continues to do so.

5. Patrick Carman’s Land of Elyon series (affectionately called “The Alexa Books”) helped show some things through allegory like about the Creator/heaven/happy endings and so on (also due to Narnia as well).

6. The Bright Empires series by Stephen R. Lawhead is teaching me a lot about life at the moment, particularly Wilhelmina Klug, “Mina”, showing me the kind of woman I would like to be (role-models exist in fiction for a reason, people). Also that nothing is a coincidence. About friendship, love, and loyalty, hospitality and kindness, and loving our enemies. The difference one person can make. That there is a bigger Plan in the universe which can make one feel so much less small and alone. And so many other things.

7. Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci series illustrates so well things about people and the choices we make, shying from wrong and choosing the right one — I’ve just been noticing the things in this series on my second read and it’s amazing.

8. Speaking of Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle showed me a way to deal with things when I’m a coward about something (i.e. procrastinating) — that I can “Howl myself into it” as I call it… trick myself into doing things I need to that daunt me. In Howl’s words: “Not likely! I’m a coward. Only way I can do something this frightening is to tell myself I’m not doing it!”

Something as seemingly small as that can change a person for the better, and there are a million little things one can, and does, and will continue to, learn from Fantasy.

LloydQuote4

When life seems insurmountable, it’s only natural to compare it to the problems faced in beloved tales of Fantasy — if I’m daunted by an event, I say I’m feeling Baggins-ish and want to stay home, and only need to try to be more Tookish to survive. If something sounds impossible, I can’t even count the times I’ve said, “Well, if Frodo can get the Ring to Mount Doom, I can do this…”

Fantasy in general shows me life in a new light, a new angle, so that it’s fresh and can be seen clearer than through the usual dusty glass of normalcy.

Fantasy taught me that happy endings are possible, that light is stronger than darkness, that love is the greatest thing we can give. It teaches me all the time through truths which are easier to see in other worlds than in our own, and through characters who face it all and yet still stand noble and true. It’s something to look at and think, “I want to be that way.”

Fantasy is such an entwined part of my life that I don’t always think of it as such — it’s as natural as breathing and makes just as much sense. It’s a part of me and I know I would not be who I am today without it.

I Tag…

Christine @ Musings of an Elf | Sarah @ Dreams and Dragons | Claire @ The Overactive Imagination | Tracey @ Adventure Awaits | You, fellow lover of Fantasy who is reading this, if you want to!

(Obviously no pressure to do it; just if you want! ^_^)

What about you, Roadlings mine? Do you love Fantasy (please say yes)? Has it shown you things? And are you going to pop over to Jenelle’s post with a linky and join the Fantasy fun this month? Tell me all in the comments! Thanks for reading, and remember that . . .

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If You Want To Write

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I Used To Think I Cordially Disliked Reading Books About Writing

I’ve discovered that this is not true.

I dislike reading books about writing which tell me how to write.

I am, however, apparently highly agreeable to books about writing which tell me that I don’t have to listen to those other books which tell me how to write.

In fact, not only that I don’t have to listen, but that I emphatically should not, and should write from myself — what is true, and free, and me-like (in my own words; look at me being all delightfully rebel like this and saying things how I want).

Let me back up a moment and explain.

I’ve gotten rather disillusioned with how-to writing advice in general, over time, because it feels too much like I’m being told what to do with my stories and how to bend them into a “proper shape” which they may not naturally want to bend into. It stifles me, fills me with doubt, and crushes my spirit and creative light — that delicate fluttering-wing flame of the artist inside a person, too easily snuffed by winds of doubt.

I recently read a book called “If You Want To Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit” by Brenda Ueland, and it did the opposite, telling me something quite different: that it’s important to tell your story in a way that is you, and speaking of the dangers of critics/criticism/a critical way of thinking, instead focusing on love and truth.

It is rather a good feeling to read a book which says something different than the norm of the modern-day craft of writing. Effectively saying that my instinct all along has been correct — to write how I want and let the rules go hang (at least for the present).

I’m the writer, these are my stories, my blogs, my words, and if I can’t tell them like they want to be told . . . then who will? A lot of “rules” — the ten (more like ten thousand) commandments of Proper Writing? (Which all contradict each other anyway and constantly change.) No. I don’t think so. Following a lot of made up “rules” does not a Great Novel make.

I think I’ll pause here before I go further, and have a footnote. But I’ll have it right here instead of making you scroll all the way to the bottom of the post, which is a bother, and I want this one to actually be read. (Besides, who says feet can’t occasionally put themselves up to get comfortable?)

Footnote: If This Post Is Not For You

footnote

If you are one of those writers who likes to write according to the rules, if that is your calling, by all means: go for it! This is not to pull you down, to tell you you are doing it “wrong.” Because whatever is right for you is right for—you guessed it—you.

This post is only to say that for anyone who, like myself, has felt stifled and condemned by rules and critical thinking, that there is another way—that we can be free!

But, as Brenda Ueland often stresses in her own book which I am speaking of (and in her own footnotes) — whenever she’s telling us how to do something, she adds that if you want to do it the other way, then do it that way!

Neither Brenda nor myself are trying to tell you that our way is the best and only way. So if you disagree with this post, if you feel the rules should be followed, if you enjoy being a critic because you like to analyze, etc., then be that way! That way is you, and you are free to be it. 🙂

I just thought I would say that. I’m not trying to be critical and say that if you’re trying to follow rules, you’re doing it wrong—no, I’m only trying to say that this book allowed me to see a new and freeing way for ME to live, and if this post is not for you, I will not hold it against you, and I hope you will do the same. 🙂

(End of footnote.)

“If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit” by Brenda Ueland

ifyouwanttowriteIt was originally published in 1938, and I found a reprinted copy from the 1980s at a library book sale, because I had once seen the book highly spoken of, which made me curious. As I said, I’m wary of books on writing, and writing advice in general, since it tends to leave me jaded, depressed, and rather defiantly angry (none of which are feelings I enjoy).

But I tried this one out . . .

And I’m so incredibly glad that I did.

THIS BOOK, THOUGH.

Brenda Ueland talks of writing creatively with joy and truth and freedom, the way that is YOU, instead of “intellectualizing,” i.e., in her wonderful words: “primly frowning through your pince-nez and trying to do things according to prescribed rule as laid down by others — and bearing in mind a thousand things not to do.”

Bless this woman and her counter-cultural thoughts from 1938.

It was so freeing to read a book that was focused on love and creativity and discovering your true writing self (instead of focusing on what to do, what NOT to do, and various “rules”). It was the positive, not the negative. It was freedom, not limiting options. And it filled my soul with a joy and a freedom in thought and writing that I’ve not felt in a very long time.

I just felt so inspired reading this, and gladdened that somewhere, sometime (in this case nearly 80 years ago… ahem) agreed with me and thought similar things to ones I’ve felt deeply but almost unconsciously for a long time, particularly about being critical and about so-called writing rules—and thought them deeply enough herself to write a book about it, which was simply a pleasure to read. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but I devoured this one.

But I will let this book speak for itself, in its own words, before wrapping up my thoughts on all of this.

QUOTES BY BRENDA UELAND FROM “IF YOU WANT TO WRITE”

writingspirit

“Since our wish to create something is the life of the Spirit, I think that when people condemn what we do, they are symbolically destroying us. Hence the excruciatingly painful feeling, though to our common sense it seems foolish and self-centered to feel so badly.”

inspirationrules

“But inspiration only dies down because the theoreticians, the horses of instruction, begin to dissect, analyze and then codify into rules what yesterday’s great artists did freely from their true selves.”

criticsdiscourage

“This is why I don’t like critics, whether they are English professors, or friends, or members of one’s own family, or men of letters on literary reviews. It is so easy for them to annihilate us, first by discouragement [footnote: Remember that discouragement is the only illness, George Bernard Shaw says.] and then by shackling our imagination in rules so that we cannot work freely and well on the next thing.”

hesitancymars

“It is because of the critics, the doubters (in the outer world and within ourselves) that we have such hesitancy when we write. And I know the hesitancy just mars it. It does not make it better at all.”

creativelove

“For I know that the energy of the creative impulse comes from love and all its manifestations–admiration, compassion, glowing respect, gratitude, praise, compassion, tenderness, adoration, enthusiasm. Compare the tenderness of great artists with the attitude of critics toward other men.”

imaginationdivine

“I wish I could show you why I object to critics and why I think they do harm and stifle and obstruct all creative power. It was William Blake who revealed this to me. ‘What we so often call Reason,’ Blake said, ‘is not the Understanding at all but is merely derived from the experience of our five senses, derived from Earth and from our bodies.’ “You cannot do this,’ Reason says (and all those erudite critics) ‘because it did not work the last time. Besides, it was logically and scientifically established by so-and-so after plenty of experiments,’ says the rationalist, the materialistic scientist, the critic, basing all this on merely physical experiences and so shutting out the glories of their Vision, their Imagination, which is Divine and comes from God and cannot be weighed and measured by scientists, established and explained.”

artistlover

“Of course I am sorry for them too. Because by encouraging the critic in themselves (the hater) they have killed the artist (the lover).”

Conclusion

I want to love. I don’t want to hate. I want to enjoy a book, not tear it down and put its flaws in a spotlight. “Look! Look! This is a bad thing!” No; if there is a bad thing, I may quietly point it out and move on to the good. I may heartily dislike—even hate—something in a book, because it is not the true good thing which I want it to be, but I take no pleasure in hating. Hating, criticizing, being critical… they do not bring me joy. They pull me down and darken my spirit and make me sad. Loving things and books and people and stories and characters—that does bring me joy.

Why do people so enjoy the creative surge of writing a new story, and instinctively do not like to turn their critic back on to edit it? We have so enjoyed being free to love and create and make art, that to be once more yoked with hate and critical thinking and rules, and the perceived need to bend our work of art to the will of others, is all the worse after such freedom. Loving and creating outweigh hating and criticism any day, at least in my book.

Light is greater than Darkness. Love is greater than Hate.

The bright original creative soul that is YOU is greater than any rulebook on “writing well.”

I want to love. And I want to be an artist, a writer, who loves—and creates out of that love, stories that come from my true self and from the desire to tell the truth and a story. I want to be a better writer, one who writes a story as well as I can, who does not fall prey to criticism from within or the kinds of rules that critics have made to shackle the creative writer into writing within a box according to a set of rules and what not to do.

More than anything (in the terms and imagery of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories”) I want to write and be a subcreator who takes leaves from the Tree of Tales and writes them into a story as best I can.

And so I say, if you want to write: Write.

Replace your inner critic, who hates, with your inner artist, who loves.

Go out and, in the words of Neil Gaiman, “Make Good Art.”

Do not be afraid.

Write what is you

and do so with all the truth and love you have in you.