Writing Walks 1 – Why & Inspiration Transcript

Welcome to the inaugural episode of Writing Walks. I’m your guide, Alex C. Telander and it is 8:13 on September 25th. And today we are at Crane Creek Park.

I discovered the secret town of Ostium . . . wait, no, that’s not how this goes. Let’s change that up. So why am I doing a writing podcast? Well, it kind of started out when I was listening to Sarah Rhea Werner’s Write Now Podcast. I marathoned through the 70, 80 episodes, however many there are, and just learning so much from her, advice, ideas, thoughts about writing and along the way, it started generating ideas in my own head about what I thought about writing, about my process, about how I liked to do things, about my craft and how I do it.

And it just started my brain going on about how I want to do writing, how I approach it. And I had my own ideas generating, of advice, thoughts, concepts, but I didn’t want to just do the same thing as Sarah had already done, because I didn’t just want to copy her. I wanted to come up with my own kind of style to it. Um, and also to link it more personally with me, with my own writing and how I developed as a writer, what approach I use, things like that. I feel like I’ve got some things to say about writing. That’s mainly what it is. I’ve been writing since I was 15. When I first started getting support and feedback and help from my English teacher on little creative projects I was doing. And that definitely blossomed as I was developing as a reader too. And reading lots of different authors, getting really into Stephen King.

Whenever I read Stephen King, it’s like, it turns something on in my body that makes me want to write and be creative. I don’t know if it’s something particularly with his style or the stories he tells, but they just inspire me to start writing. It’s kind of funny. There’s not that many authors that do that, but he’s definitely one of them, just when I’m reading him, it makes ideas start to generate in my head that have nothing to do with the ideas of the book that I’m reading at that time, but it just starts them off in my head. So I’ve been writing for about 25 years and of course it’s not necessarily an everyday writing or anything like that. It’s off and on periods of creativity, Slower periods. I’ve done NaNoWriMo a few times, and completed it twice, finished a few novels.

So I’ve got 25 years of writing at different levels. And over that time, I’ve obviously learned a lot about how to write and about what I do in my own writing. I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer, but also as a person. That’s actually the interesting thing I’ve learned over the years later on when I look back at my past writing and I’ll notice that I’m always writing about someone who doesn’t necessarily belong or feel that they fit in where they are. And they’re looking for a place that they do fit in, have them usually traveling somewhere or going somewhere. And it’s not necessarily something I do intentionally. It just tends to happen with my characters and my stories. So there’ll be events going on in the story that I’m writing. And then when I look back at it afterwards at the overall story, and I’ll see that theme in there. Another reason I wanted to do this podcast is because I wanted to make it more personal about me, things in my life too. So I think that way it’s going to help me learn more about myself and about how I write.

Going back to me writing stories about people who don’t feel they belong. I think it comes a little bit from me being born in Spain. My mom’s British, my dad’s Swedish. I went to a kind of British high school, even though I was in Spain and I did speak Spanish and learned it. And then I came over here to California for college and stayed here, met my wife here and now I live here permanently. So I think it’s part of my own life. When I write about that. Of not feeling that I belonged in Spain because I didn’t consider myself Spanish. I didn’t really consider myself British and didn’t consider myself Swedish either, even though I have a Swedish passport and that’s my designated nationality. I didn’t speak Swedish. My dad never taught me. So I think that’s why I write stories about people who are looking for somewhere they belong. I’m pretty sure I’ve found it here now in California, as I gaze on the beautiful view here, Crane Creek Park, this is a special place.

So I don’t know how regular these episodes are going to be. I like the idea of making this podcast, something more freeform and uncertain. I’m used to with Ostium and Circe and future projects, being very rigid and structured in how I make things specific lengths, specific release dates, specific number of episodes, a shape to everything. This is a little bit of the OCD in me. It’s just how I am. I’m an organized person like that. But with Writing Walks, I want it to be more freeform. So I don’t know if it will be a monthly episode thing or you might get a couple of episodes a month and then just one the following month. But yeah, that’s how it’s going to be. The other reason I wanted to make this show is because hearing Sarah Rhea Werner talk so well in her Write Now podcast, it was inspiring to me to make myself better as a podcaster, as a talker and a podcaster. I have . . . I always have trouble with just improvising and talking off the fly. Getting pretty warm today, already eight o’clock and we’re already like in the seventies, then it’s supposed to hit a hundred. I always feel like I need to work off a script. I work better when I write the words down and not when I just stand up and talk. So Sarah again has inspired me here to work on this myself. To work on getting better as a speaker in podcasting and getting out my ideas more coherently and trying to tell the listener, whether it be me or other people, things I want to say.

So the framework of this show in my mind is kind of half me talking about my life a little bit and the writing of my life. And the other part will be about a specific writing concept that I want to talk about, that I link to myself to make it a personal thing. And I feel in that way I’ll show how it works for me and how it helps me as a writer. So today I wanted to talk about inspiration, finding inspiration when you’re wanting to write. For me, I find going outside in nature, going on a walk, going on a run, definitely getting the heart rate up a little bit. It’s like something maybe with getting the blood circulating around the body a little faster, you know, creates activity in the brain perhaps. I can remember shortly after I had my kid or my wife gave birth to my kid and we were raising him as a newborn, which was really tough. I fortunately, wasn’t working at that point and I hadn’t really done anything creatively for awhile because lack of sleep and finding out how to raise a newborn kid was definitely taking its toll. And so I started going on runs once we started getting our schedule down. A couple of times a week, I’d just go out jogging for half an hour, an hour. Listening to audiobooks. I hadn’t got into podcasts quite yet. It was definitely on the horizon at that point. Little did I know the world that would open up for me once I started on this little show called Welcome to Night Vale, but I was listening to audiobooks a lot then as I was running, a lot of Stephen King, unsurprisingly, and that then started ideas forming and coalescing in my mind. I can remember listening to the entirety of Stephen King’s “It.” And that started a whole germ of an idea that grew and grew, and became a novel I’m currently working on.

But I find when I’m out in nature, walking or running; doing something that has me a little bit focused, but also allows my mind to just kind of relax, and start thinking about things. It’s getting really hot out here now. I find nature and the world inspiring. I find that it puts me in a state that lets my brain start developing things, coming up with ideas. So, that’s what I recommend when you’re feeling trapped, stuck on an idea, dare I say suffering from some writer’s block: going out for a walk or a run, or even just sitting in a park and paying attention to people, animals, and birds, and nature, and everything going on around you. It lets your mind kind of relax. You’re watching the things going on and you’re only semi focused. So in the back of your mind, you’re able to work on ideas, and generate new thoughts and concepts, and let your mind just be creative and flow.

I also find when I’m working my day job as a mail carrier, and I’ve been doing it for over five years now. So it’s all pretty automatic for me. And I’m listening to podcasts while I’m doing it, which is awesome. That I’ll be doing stuff, doing the job automatically, without barely even thinking; everything’s pretty much reflexive at this point. And even though I don’t necessarily intend to do it, I’ll have this same state. Like when I’m walking, looking at nature, of my mind, in the back . . . always feels like it’s in the back, but it probably isn’t when you look at the creative center of the brain, wherever that is, but it feels like it’s in the back of my mind that I’m being creative and building and generating ideas.

I can remember the novel I’m working on. I hadn’t actually worked on it for a couple of years because Ostium and everything had taken over, become my main focus. And I can remember when I plotted out and outlined that novel. It was while I was doing a specific route that had a good chunk of walking in a specific area and just doing those park and loops every day. I can remember building on my mind of that outline, developing each chapter, looking at what the characters were trying to get out of it, looking at where the story was going to go. And then as soon as I get back to my truck to grab the next part of the walking, I’d take out my phone, bring up the voice app, and then record my thoughts and ideas that I’d just developed and come up with. So I feel there’s different ways one can be inspired; different ways that work for different people. And for me, as I said, walking and looking around in nature, seeing the immense beauty and complexity of this world.

At the end I’ll do a little book recommendation. If I can, if it’s a book I recently read and enjoyed, again, I take a feather out of the cap of Sarah Rhea Werner on Write Now, because that’s what she started doing in the earlier part of the show. So there’s a book I’ve read recently that I find I enjoyed, I kind of talk about it a bit. So in this episode, we’re going to talk about Clive Barker’s Cold Heart Canyon. It’s an old book from the early 2000s. I’ve been going recently through all the Clive Barker books, definitely going through a phase where I’m into horror. I go through reading phases where I’ll be really into for sci-fi for a while. Pick up all the epic sci-fi I haven’t done. Then I’ll switch to fantasy and then switched to horror and switch back and forth depending on what I’m into at that point, what just kind of gets my brain going and makes me want to learn more about, of those particular genres. So right now I’m going through a big horror phase. I don’t know if it’s because I, I do have plans to write a horror podcast. We’ll see, maybe next year I can work on that. And I don’t know if that’s part of it. Could be because Halloween’s coming up. You know. Maybe. Definitely gonna read some Poe this month. Anyway, so I’ve been reading a lot of Clive Barker and Cold Heart Canyon is this big, long book, 700 pages or so. I remember reading it when I was at Long Beach State, right when it came out and living in LA, as it’s set in LA, it was a pretty fun experience. So it’s about this old house in the Hollywood Hills, I guess kind of, in an area that became known as Cold Heart Canyon. It was owned by a famous silent voice actress. And it was known as a place that had a lot of parties with all the elite of Hollywood over the decades. And it was there all manner of things happened. It was the parties that have all the worst stories you can imagine, but nothing ever got out. It was all kept secret. So the main character is an older actor who is a big heartthrob, and he’s kind of starting to drop off the map a bit because there are newer, younger actors coming in. And so he decides he wants to do, uh, some plastic surgery try and make him look younger, gets kind of a half promise from a big producer that if he does it and it looks great, he’ll be put in a new movie. So he goes ahead and does it, and it doesn’t go well. And so now he has to recover and heal up. So he stays at this place called Cold Heart Canyon and there he finds all these Hollywood elites are still there, basically as ghosts. And that all that sordid underbelly of Hollywood is still alive and well through these ghosts. It’s an interesting story because it goes places you don’t always predict, characters are interesting. It does a really good job of just capturing that classic Hollywood feel that I know the author Clive Barker was going for. The hardcover edition actually remember because of the first printing had him on the cover in a fancy suit, which worked out well. So yeah, it’s a long book. There’s definitely, uh, some heavy language, some, uh, sex scenes in there and things like that. So if you’re not into that you might want to avoid it, but for a good Clive Barker book, it’s definitely up there.

I think that about does it for this first episode. So I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I certainly have, it’s definitely, to use a bad pun that I can’t avoid, opened a door for me and open up some things that have started generating in my mind. And I’m just going to keep going with it and see where it goes. Thanks again for listening. I’m not sure when the next episode will be. It also depends on my schedule cause I do this on my day off when I have time after I drop off my kid at school in the morning. So stay tuned. Thanks for listening.