Love and Writing

The art of writing is not as easy as many would think: writers spend hours on end engrossed in ink and paper, pouring thoughts and emotions out and attempting to organize them into a written message. They degrade their eyesight by transferring thousands upon thousands of words to paper every day. They transcribe thoughts into printed script for the sake that the world can view their work; and the pay is risky as well, not guaranteeing that the public will receive the piece of literature the way the writer intends. Sometimes writers risk even more than their livelihood when the message is received the way want it.

True enough, reading printed material is easy. Writing is the work that bears the brunt of hardships when it comes to words on paper. It is hard to see why some people choose such a life, but it is unquestionable that they do. Beneath all the hardships however, the art of writing does have its perks. There remain those who seek out the art, developing a real love for it.

Writers, like all other artists, are gifted with the ability to spread a message. Being a writer usually entails better communication skills – better mastery of language – than the majority of the population. This allows the greatest of them to use the full power of words; evoking the emotions they desire from their readers, and seeding minds with thoughts of their choosing. History has seen the often great, sometimes terrible, but always powerful effects of eloquently delivered messages in the works of men such as Churchill or Hitler, and many fall in love with the art of writing for this power.

Writing also calls people to it because of the freedom it promises. A writer’s pen can be likened to the hand of God, and the paper, a universe of His creation. There are no bounds and no laws that can truly hold back a writer’s words. Even if it is against the law to write against the wrongs of a government, and even if the writers who do so anyway are executed, they die knowing that the stories written are of their choosing, and not that of the opposition. In the writer’s own universe, the rules that govern reality do not apply unless the writer deems it so. Even lesser writers than such are afforded the same freedom, as proven by the mythical worlds we read of in paperback novels.

Finally, there are those who fall in love with writing because of the life it brings the writer closer to. Those who write for newspapers write of truth and that truth that is part of daily life. Some share stories of places and times of the world, telling tales of color and sound of cultures across the world. Many write to reveal the happiness, sadness, and souls of those who live day by day.

So yes, writers risk much, and face much more. The truth is this does not discourage them from the art. Writing is more than a skill, and more than a job. It is – to the truly devoted writer – a calling; and while many start writing as a necessity, the best of these artists find that given enough time, they write because they love it.

Tips on Writing Your First Novel

A novel is a form of prose; a fictional narrative about characters and their experiences. The word originates from the Italian term “novella,” which means “short story,” and often refers to prose more than forty-thousand words in length. Due to the sheer length of novels, they are considered by some fiction writers to be the pinnacle of the art.

Many new writers can be daunted by the challenge of writing a novel because of how the art form is viewed in the modern literary sphere. Even so, it is not impossible for new writers to create masterpieces enjoyed by millions worldwide; in fact, such occurrences are quite common. All it takes is the proper investment of skill, resources, and dedication.

Because a novel is fictional – though it can be based on reality – the first challenge when writing one of any genre is the same challenge met when writing any fictional story: the setting. The first task of the writer is to come up with a mythos; a set of rules to serve as the framework of the fictional world the characters inhabit. This set includes the geography of the world, a relevant history, social dynamics, cultures, technological advancements, etc. When coming up with a setting, the writer also takes note of how much time elapses from the beginning of the novel to its closure. A good setting will never stray from the rules unless the plot requires it to, and even in such situations, this is done in accordance to another rule in the mythos.

Once the fictional world is created, the novelist’s next step is to fill it with characters. This means not just the main cast of the story, but the general public that they encounter. For example, it is one thing to write about a man in a marketplace, but a completely different level to write about “a man in a marketplace filled workers – some carrying crates and some checking lists – whilst he haggled with a merchant over a kilo of fish.” A novelist may also add more characters to the scene, such as a beggar on the corner of the street dressed in muddy, brown rags. Skilled writers never neglect the background characters, because they help build the atmosphere of the place and time they are placed in. With regards to the characters the novel revolves around: Depth is necessary. It is very hard to enjoy a novel where the antagonist is pure evil (unless the mythos demands it to be). The most loved characters in writing are those with more than one face; a good father with a past as an alcoholic, a priest who committed murder as a child, or a sociopathic killer who genuinely loves and cares for a daughter who doesn’t know he exists. Depth of character makes it harder to love the good, and to hate the bad of the individual. It makes the character seem more real, and allows the reader to connect that much more intently with the story.

The third requirement to writing a good novel is plot. This refers to the events that drive the characters, building up tension until a climax is reached, and then releasing it to come to a conclusion. Some novelists may choose to write the story over time & with no clear end in sight. Others may have an entire storyline in mind, and merely have to transfer thoughts to paper. The conclusion may not necessarily be clear as well; open-ended conflicts tend to stir intense emotions among readers. A good plot, whether original or with a recurring theme, drives the cast of characters from one event to the next until they collectively lead to one important climax.

Finally, when the setting, characters, and plot come together, all that is left is to organize everything in the pages what is to become of the book. Writers will often do this in an outline form before actually writing the first draft of the story to make sure everything adds up. Once done, the novelist writes and edits the draft. During this phase, it is advisable to not shy away from rewriting and revising the draft as many times as necessary until the entire work is consistent with itself, and all errors are eliminated. Though long and tedious, this process guarantees that no corners are cut with regards to the quality of the written content.

Writing a good novel is no easy task. Many writers tend to get discouraged in the middle of the story when it dawns on them just how much work needs to be done. In fact, some novels require years to complete (J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings took 18 years to write and publish). However, time and effort often pays off, and novels drive the writer’s own created world into full view of the public. Many writers continue to write novels even if such success is not their goal however; the idea of having breathed life into paper is enough for them. That is after all, the true reason of the novel.

Gum Bleeding and a Bad Taste in the Mouth

metal taste in mouthGum bleeding is a common problem that plagues hundreds of millions of people everyday. Interestingly, not everyone notices that they even have such an oral problem. One of the leading causes of gum bleeding is gingivitis.

I recall a cousin of mine who regularly complained that she had a condition called dysgeusia; an altered perception of taste. She often whined about a metal taste in her mouth or a salty taste in her mouth after eating, brushing, or flossing. Earlier this year, we finally got sick of her whining and set her up with a long overdue dental checkup.

It was just as well we did. As it turns out, my cousin Samantha was diagnosed with gingivitis; her gums were sensitive and suffered from inflammation. Sometimes, her gums even bled during meals or during flossing or brushing. The taste of salt or iron in her mouth was actually the taste of her own blood.

Looking back, I don’t understand how she could not notice gum bleeding; Sam claimed she never saw discolored spit-water after rinsing with mouthwash. She said she never saw any blood on used floss either. Still, the dentist didn’t lie. She definitely had gingivitis. The only thing she could focus on after that was dealing with the problem.

As it turns out, gingivitis is brought about by a number of risk factors which include poor oral hygiene, stress, low dental care utilization, and smoking. Sam was actually guilty of all these. The result: buildup of oral bacteria, plaque, and tartar. These in turn, lead to halitosis (also known as bad breath), discolored gums, and sensitivity and irritation when eating.

Needless to say, the dentist gave Sam a set of rules to follow in order to nurse her gums back to good health. She was given toothpaste-coated floss, a bottle of antibacterial mouthwash, and of course, reminders to brush three times a day.

While not what some people would call a medical emergency, the gravity of the situation was enough to embarrass my cousin into taking the dentist’s words to heart. The effect of the antibacterial mouthwash was instant, and alleviated most of her symptoms, most especially halitosis. With regular use, coupled with brushing, flossing, and a dental appointment every three months, the rest of the symptoms eventually subsided as well. Within months, we had gotten used to her no longer talking about her oral problems (that eventually led to better table conversation).

If I think back on the symptoms she had regularly complained about – the taste of metal in her mouth – I have to think about how common of a problem gum bleeding and gingivitis in general really is, and how often many people take such simple activities as oral hygiene for granted. Think about it: wouldn’t it be better to spend five minutes every day to make sure you look better, smell better, and present yourself better, rather than wait a few months, then spend a couple of hundred dollars to repair damage done to your mouth just so you could attain the same level of cleanliness and neatness?

Seriously. Think about it.