Have You Been Using ‘Epiphany’ Wrong?

1986329573_63f77ee4f7_o

In a piece for the New Yorker titled “Laptop U,” Gregory Nagy, a professor of classical Greek literature at Harvard, told Nathan Heller—almost in passing:

I had this real revelation—I’m not saying ‘epiphany,’ because people use that word wrong, because an epiphany should be when a really miraculous superhuman personality appears, so this is just a revelation, not an epiphany.

Huh. So far I’ve used that word twice in my posts—in “Writing Is Meditation” and in “Where James Joyce Fails, Neil Gaiman Prevails“—and I assure you no spiritual apparition, holy or unholy, showed up to pass some profound heavenly wisdom onto me. If any, I probably would have fainted or would have been incapable of seeing it.

Continue reading

Why You Should Write with the Door Closed

Featured

20130612-budiarto-writingdoor

Something’s wrong with me. For the past few weeks, I can’t seem to write anything; substantial or not. Stories form in my mind as a clear, still image, which means that the best I can get out of my head right now are single, mostly trivial, scenes.

Not good. To create a complete, compelling story, I need at least a vision of an important key-scene.

There’s another thing. What I do right now is worry too much about the end results; what readers or other writers might think when they saw my work. Completely ridiculous, of course, because by doing that I prevent myself from having any work to show in the first place.

Continue reading

The Blogger Who Spam-“Liked” Me

Inspired by “On a Different Type of Spam” by Herman Kok (kokkieh).

[8:03 AM]

Look! I have just posted a photo on my blog, of Lord Chubbington dancing on a string. Isn’t he adorable?

lord-chubbington

OK, it’s time to engage in some meaningful blog marketing and get people—a lot of people—to see Lord Chubbington. You see, the best way to do this is on the WordPress Reader, which is perhaps the most ingenious invention in the history of blogging, like, ever. I simply have to type the topic—“humor,” in my case, but feel free to type anything you feel like “reading”—in the search box, hit enter, and voìla!

See that “Like” button underneath every post? That’s my secret weapon. Although, if you’re reading this, I guess it’s no secret anymore.

First post. Click. Second post. Click. Third post. Click. Clickety-click-click.

Phew. Fifty-seven posts “Liked” in a minute. That’s got to be a personal best or something. Wait, what’s this? Continue reading

Where James Joyce Fails, Neil Gaiman Prevails

Featured

A James Joyce art doll

A James Joyce art doll by MEDIODESCOCIDO. Some rights reserved.

A lot of people are probably going to hate me for this, but let’s have at it anyway:

No writer is perfect. Not even James Joyce.

I’ve been struggling to finish Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” for a while now. To be precise, it was the 5th of December, 2012, when my Modernism Professor assigned it as a compulsory read. (I neither finished the course nor obtained a degree in English Literature; I had to get real and find employment.)

It’s not that “Portrait” is extremely difficult, it’s just— incredibly boring. I can never bring myself to care about Stephen Dedalus, let alone what happens to him—there has not been one single event in Joyce’s bildungsroman that triggered my interest to know more. It’s like reading into the life of someone unknown, to whom I have no connection whatsoever.

There’s one other reason I have such a difficult time enjoying the novel: Continue reading

The Value of Blog Comments and Serendipity to Creativity

Haystack

Serendipity has often led me to wonderful discoveries of obscure wisdom buried by information overload. Ingrained into this excessive load, are blog posts, which are designed for instantaneous consumption of information, after which they are piled up in a corner of cyberspace, forgotten.

Until someone—the blogger or an inquisitive reader—decides to uncover them.

If a blog post were a needle in a giant, ever-expanding haystack, then a blog comment would be a grain of sand underneath that needle. Indeed, a comment is usually read only by the person it is directed to, even though it can equally contain insights too valuable to ignore. Fortunately, on a fortuitous day, random chance can lead us to the unexpected discovery of these insights.

I’ve already shared Melissa Janda‘s thoughtful comment on how blog awards can alleviate a writer’s loneliness. I’ve also shared how my discussion with Julie Israel inspired another post titled “On Education, the Arts, and Writing”. In this post, I’m going to share two more comments I’ve received from two other bloggers, which I hope will inspire you as they did me. Continue reading

Survey: Are Blog Awards Useless?

Veegaland awards

Each day, WordPress.com bloggers nominate each other for at least 22 awards. (I arrived at this rough estimate by searching posts tagged with “Awards” and counting those published in 24 hours.)

So far, this blog has been nominated for three, and The Liebster Award is by far my favorite, as it reflects the philosophy behind this blog. As YA writer Annie Cardi said, “The Liebster is designed to encourage bloggers who are new or don’t have a huge following, which I think is awesome.”

So, if it’s such a fantastic way to encourage bloggers, why is the response rate to nominations close to zero? So far, I’ve nominated a total of 28 blogs and only one—fellow fountain pen enthusiast Jack Spratt—decided to pass the award through. That’s a whopping 3.57% response rate! (Disclaimer: I’m neither upset nor bitter.) [Edit: Xarglebook apparently responded as well, increasing the response rate to 7.14%.]

WASTE OF TIME?

Continue reading

He Said, She Said: Stephen King’s Advice on Dialogue Tags

king-onwritingI think we all agree that dialogue tags are necessary for readers to know who’s talking. But writers are divided in how we use them:

Some, including Raymond Carver, simply use “he said, she said”; others apparently invent a million different synonyms for “said”; still others try to find balance between the two extremes, sometimes even fifty-fifty.

Yesterday, yet another writer, Jack Woe, jumped into the fray:

I’ve read quite a few blogs about the evilness of dialogue tags. For example, Joe Moore wrote in The Kill Zone how new authors are overusing the alternatives of said.

They go to: exclaimed, murmured, screamed, whispered, pleaded, shrieked, demanded, ordered, cried, shouted, and my all-time favorite, muttered.

Thing is, I as a reader, don’t care. I just don’t read dialogue tags — at all.

He’s not alone. To me, modifying such a perfectly fine tag as “said” is like Pimp My Ride gone bad. (Tip: Read that sentence again in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice.) Continue reading