Category Archives: Berry

Being a Writer Is Easy! (If You Have Nothing Else to Do)

In the past week, I have written 12,000 words. 1,000 of those words have been fiction, 0 words poetry, and the rest devoted to various academic projects. With the publication of my first novel fast approaching, I must consider myself more and more a writer, and yet such a title demands attention and effort. A writer, after all, must write. Not just blog posts like this one. Or Tweets, a form of which I am particularly fond. But rather, stories. Novels. Poems. Essays for lofty literary journals. And in the past few months, I have done little of this. Moored to the workload of senior year, I have neglected my holy and dreadful duties as a writer.

So what to do? What is a writer who does not write? Recently, my laptop crashed—kaput! The latest draft of my second novel, on which I’ve been working since my Freshman year at College of Charleston, was lost within a fried hard drive. The loss eliminated any motivation to continue working on the novel, and for the past four months, the story has languished in the purgatory of forgotten manuscripts. Where novels-in-progress go to die. Of course I still have the second draft for reference, and I can jump right back in with a new draft.

After all, my inspiration in writing has been replenished. This year I am taking my first ever fiction-writing course with Professor Brett Lott at the College of Charleston. What I expected to be a course crammed with trite advice and undergraduate pandering has actually been quite helpful. Several of the most basic lessons of fiction have eluded me until now, and I must return with a critical eye to my new material. Like all young writers, I am already terrified of my first novel (I wrote the novel when I was seventeen and eighteen), and yet I still have such pride in it. It is, after all, a fine work, especially for someone as young as I. But nevertheless, I intend to do even better next time, applying the lessons I have learned in the course.

But what of time? How does one grapple with the lack of time one receives in university? Some college students participate in Nanowrimo, and I long for the days I could spend hours in a coffee shop furiously typing. But no, that won’t do. It’s not that I don’t have the energy to write nor the ideas, but rather that other obligations have wrestled me away from the stories. Too often I wish to scribble ideas into a notebook and abandon whatever essay, presentation, or op-ed I am working on. Too often I find myself at the end of the day exhausted by the sheer effort of living, of academic rigor, of the expectations of professors and parents, of the black hole of social media that promises either publication success or ruin. Too often I find myself discussing writing with friends rather than writing. But I am finding my groove. I am writing on the toilet, on planes, in cars, in class, between classes, and in the library while I am supposed to be working on the two essays, three group projects, and poster presentation due in two days (as I am doing now).

So I must work without ceasing. I must work even when not writing. Always, a tiny elf sits in my head, scribbling down experiences, filing away gestures and odd phrases, and composing grand scenes. When I am in class, I am working: who needs to listen to a lecture on Benedictine monks when one has read Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose? When I am exercising (which means here riding my bike aimlessly through the decrepit and ruinous parts of my city), I am working. During sex, I am working. While eating lunch, I am working. While taking a shower, I am working. When I am out drinking with my friends, dancing a wild gig of youthful merriment, I am working. I am cataloging my life for the sake of my art. My mind is alive with stories.

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Me, Working

I have taken a semester to step away from my second novel, hoping to return with renewed vigor during winter break. For now, I am perfecting my storytelling. I have written six short stories so far since August and I intend to write another two before winter crashes into South Carolina and forces me inside. And when it does, I will pour a hot coffee and keep writing.

Flashback Thursday!!

From now on, I’d like to make this a “thing.” I’ll post something I either wrote or made a long time ago so you can go chortle at me. Or LOL.

For this week, I’d like to introduce you to D-Kizzle and Fredrick Fredrickson! They are characters I created in the tenth grade to make youtube videos with. Keep in mind, this video I will show you is something very embarrassing. But I always knew people would dig them up one day, so why not show it to you now?

Did you ever do or write something you’re very embarrassed of from your past? Next week, I’ll make sure to post something I’ve written.

Would You Read This?

The Writing History of Derek Berry: Part 2

Derek is telling a wonderful story about how he finally wrote a novel he’s proud of and all about everything he’s ever done in writing. Read part 1 here: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/the-writing-history-of-derek-berry-part-1/

Read about his book here: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/about-the-book-word-salad/

Last time, I told you about Aurelia, the book I wrote when I was only eleven.

After I put Aurelia away, I ventured onto several tangents. Some time during my freshman year, I ventured into rocky territory. I dropped fantasy, which I always intended to write in my youth. My “younger” youth. Instead, I wanted to write horror. I tried all sorts of projects, too- a learning experience. Dean Koontz rip-offs, Stephen King rip-offs. the most cringe-worthy idea was about a horde of very classy vampires who exploited the vampire craze of the day by sleeping with creepy, nerdy Twihards.

As a sophomore, I began writing for the Hornet Herald, which I credit with my skills at writing funny blog posts! After being subjected to plenty of snooze-inducing news stories, I finally tried my hand at a column. A Valentines Column that I may one day re-post here (probably on Valentines Day). For the past year, I’ve almost exclusively been writing columns for our school newspaper, funny serious, and otherwise. Some might find their way here, some not. I’ll have to dig through the archives of my old computer. Such practice has helped me learn how to write blogs, I’d like to believe.

Last summer, I began writing poetry. It began as angry tirades but became more like this: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/reading-poetry/ More poetry videos will be coming soon, I promise.

A very captivating poetry reading very late at night

I began writing Word Salad for NANOWRIMO, which is in November when you’re supposed to write 50,000 words in one month. The book was not exactly what it is today, because it was called The Life and Times of a Serial Killer and dealt solely with Sebastian Martinelli. The story I wanted to tell only involved a serial killer and a lot of gory acts of violence: this was before I learned how to better write about, you know, “feelings.”
The story now, is far large in expanse and storytelling. But I do suggest NANOWRIMO to people who want to jump-start ideas. No, the story will not be able to be published right away, and no 50,000 is not the length of a real novel, but it’s a good start. Learn more here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ Even if you don’t want to be a commercial author, it’s fun and I think it’s great for aspiring writers.

Well, it took about two years after that of revisions. In fact, I think I just decided to change the ending… again. Because as long as I haven’t published the book yet, I can do that. The problem arose because of a beta reader’s comments who found that the ending was very unfair to the consistency of one character.

I’ve shaped the story, though, to a place where I’m very proud to show it off, to market it via a blog. To send query letters, though I should stop until I rework the ending. Otherwise, I’m very excited to share it with the world as soon as possible. What path I know shall take is unknown. We will one day see. Also, I’m planning on printing and publishing a book of poetry. Merely a chapbook to hawk off at poetry readings. But… I’ve reconsidered and now I believe I shall also sell an e-book copy of the book (once I put all the poems together and write an introduction and put together a chapbook.) But hopefully, the poetry book which has yet to be named will be coming to an Amazon website near you!

That is the entire and exhaustive history of my writing. I hope you have enjoyed reading about the misadventures of Derek Berry!

If Only Writing Burned More Carbs…. Now It Can!

We’ve all heard of writer’s block, an infamous virus that comes and goes, stealing plot ideas, murdering muses, and suffocating creativity. But a far worse condition wreaks the lives of writers, something so dreadfully horrible none dare speak of it: Writer’s Butt.

It’s actually been SCIENTIFICALLY proven that spending long hours of the day sitting in a cushy chair with a laptop “writing” (reading blogs and watching youtube videos of cats), makes you a tad wider ’round the waist. I mean, writing exercises are not exercises like lifting weights or jogging is an exercise. It may improve some things, but at the end of the day, even if you can write really sappy love stories and make them believable, you still won’t have a girlfriend.

So, here are some helpful tips to keep off those horrible extra pounds and keep your writing on pace.

1.) Write at the gym

This is a pretty simple write-workout compromise. While at the gym, write on your laptop, though the bouncing from the ellipticals may make that extremely difficult. If you’re going hiking, consider bringing along your IPod to jot down nature-inspired lines.

2.) Laptop Squats

Laptops make great weights. While writing, do squats with your laptop held above your head. Also can be used as a discus or Wii Move Pad.

3.) Pencil lifts

Sometimes lifting a pencil to begin a story can feel like intense weight training. Maybe it can be. Think of your pencil as a mini-barbell. Maybe lifting it to write thousands of stories, you may really build up some bulky biceps.

4.) Running=Ideas

Many great writers have been known for their abusive drinking, but that’s not the only way to inspire creativity. Running helps too.

Aerobic exercises push a lot more oxygen through your body and it’s a great time to work through those pesky plot holes you’ve encountered.

5.) The Three Sentence Dash

Between every three sentences you write, run down your driveway and back. Write three more. Repeat.

6.) Yoga apparently is Sort of Like Meditation which is sort of also just like sitting in front of your laptop

Sitting in front of your laptop trying to muster ideas can be better spent doing yoga and trying to come up with ideas. It’s like meditating for your poetry, for your stories. Maybe a lot of great poetry exists in Nirvana.

How do you write, yet still stay fit? Share some ideas here!