Welcome to Cogito Ergo Scribit

Cogito Ergo Scribit is where I write about writing. I'm a writer with more than a decade of experience, and I'd like to lend my experience to others while I continue to learn myself.

Everything here is copyright Carrie L. Eckles unless otherwise stated.

I enjoy reading comments and welcome the insights and questions of others. Like my blog? Let me know! Think I could do something a little better? Tell me how. I welcome everyone's thoughts.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just Thinking

When I was younger, I used to love this Canadian show, "Instant Star" (by the creators of the epic "Degrassi" series). It was about a girl named Jude. And, like the title suggests, she became an instant star by winning the local Idol-like contest "Instant Star" at only fifteen years old.

In the first season, naturally, her music was more personal and from the heart. And I'll never forget one line of lyrics that remains in my head to this day (some six years later): "I'm only human and I've got something to say."

I'll never forget those words. If I had to sum up why I write, using someone else's words, those would be the words I would choose. I write, because I have something to say.

And that begs the question: why do you write? Have you ever even thought about it? The reason I ask is because I want to know, in words right out of everyone's mouth (or fingertips, as the case may be), why they write. Is it something you merely decided to do on a whim? Or is it something so integral to your life that you couldn't stop doing it, even if you wanted to?

Anyways, that was all I was thinking. At the moment, at least.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Who is your Agatha Christie?

Me? I constantly read Agatha Christie novels. My mother was who put me onto them. At first, my teachers were weary of it, as the books tend to be a bit advanced for a kid from Alabama. But, do you know what happened? My sixth grade teacher moved up to seventh grade, so I had her for reading that year again. When she tested my reading, after having read Ms. Christie's extraordinary collection of suspense for the past year, she was startled by something. I went from having a 9th grade reading level (considered slightly better than average for an 11-year-old) to having a college-age reading level. I had the highest score in the school.

So, what's my point in all of this? Though it may seem the contrary, it's not to brag. My point is that what we read growing up really shapes us. Not only does it expand our vocabularies, but it also serves to frame our tastes and our literary standards. And, if we're lucky, it feeds our passion to learn to be better writers.

I definitely count Agatha Christie among the authors who has made me a better writer. She's really high up there on that list. And I want you to think and tell me: who is your Agatha Christie? Who did you read growing up (or even as an adult) that made you become a better writer while they held you in thrall with their words?

Whoever that person is, it's time to revisit them. That's exactly what I've done. I just finished reading The Affair at Styles day before yesterday and now I'm about to finish The Secret Adversary. And, do you know what? I'm more in thrall now than I ever was before. I appreciate her writing so much more now than I did when I was younger; I had so much admiration for her then that I wouldn't have thought that possible, but there it is. To this day, her writing captivates me the way it has always done, and I'm in awe of that lady's accomplishments. Truly, she was a mind that I wish I had known; though she's long dead, her books survive and allow us to peep into her brain in a very entertaining way.

So, I ask you again, who is your Agatha Christie?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today's Project

I thought we'd try something new at this blog: projects. We all work on them independently. Linking/posting isn't required, but it's always nice. It's a way to keep the creative juices flowing, as well as challenging yourself to think about things you don't always think about.

So, to start this project on a positive note, write an account of the time in your life you're most proud of. Even if it's just a small, tiny moment, if it makes you happy and proud to be a human being, write it out. Even if you don't share it, even if you keep it secret -- write it out. Look back on that memory with pride and smile a warm, happy smile.

I plan on doing it too. I can't say how long it'll take me, as I've been busy (and sick), but I do plan on doing it. And I plan on making this a series if it goes over well with my readers. Even if you don't share what you wrote, feedback would still be lovely. Mayhaps you could let me know if you liked the exercise? Or you could tell others whether or not you liked it? And if you like it, maybe you can link it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How to Write Good Haiku

A lot of people think haiku is the lazy person's poetry -- but they're wrong (and I daresay ignorant). Haiku is an art all its own. It relies on formula, but also style. And it's important to add your own flourishes to really make it your own.

Haiku are composed of 17 moras (syllables, in English). There are five syllables on the first line, seven on the second, and five on the third.

Often times, nature is mentioned in the first line. Here is an example of a traditional haiku by Matsuo Basho:

fuji no kaze ya,
oogi ni nosete,
Edo miyage


The wind of Mt. Fuji,
I've brought my fan!
A gift from Edo

As you can see, wind, a force of nature, is mentioned in the first line. That's a very classic way to begin a haiku. But it can be modernized.

Below, I've written my own haiku. I hope you enjoy it.

The snow falls sweetly,
I wonder why my cold heart beats,
It must be your love

I still use a natural element in the first line, but the tone of my haiku is completely different. What does it say to you? How do you interpret it?

The thing is: I put my own spin on it. I used my own words. You can still write poetry that follows strict formatting and be original at the same time. So, give it a go and see what you turn up with.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Excuses...and a Game

Okay, so I haven't blogged in awhile. But I have an excuse! And it's a good one: I've been writing. Yes, I've been actually writing on my novel and I've had so much fun that I haven't been able to put it down.

Per a friend's suggestion, I'm rewriting my novel entirely in first person. It's a big overhaul, because it changes the whole vibe, plus I've found all sorts of other things I want to add now. XD

So, instead of asking a question today, I decided it'd be fun to play a little game. It's called Choose. I think we've all played it at some point in our lives. Essentially, you're faced with two scenarios; both are either equally pleasing or equally displeasing and you have to choose which one you'd rather have/do/see, etc.

And now for the game.

Choose: Writing on your blog/website or writing on your novel/story project?

For many writers, that's a difficult choice. But it's not for me. As much as I love blogging, my writing always has to come first, which explains my absence from the blogosphere for awhile.

And now you're wondering: what does that mean for my readers? Essentially, not much. The quality will always be here. Think of this blog of a database of the own meanderings of my mind. I'm not going to update obsessively -- I could care less about ad revenue, even though it's nice. Instead, I want to focus on content and quality. Period.

I'm never going to abandon this blog -- that's for certain. Even if I go without blogging for a month, it'll still be here. I'll randomly update with something to say.

Because it's all about dedication, isn't it? I'm dedicated to writing; most particularly, my writing, since it's my career and passion. Blogging has to come after that, but this blog is part of my writing journey, so here it stays.

This is just in case anyone was wondering where I went.

Writing Tip of the Day

*Listen to music to help set the tone of your mind while writing. (Do it and you'll see what I mean.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

The X Chromosome Factor: How to Write a Strong Woman

In the above picture, you see the Greek goddess Athena. What does she say to you? What type of feminine air does she invoke in you? Is she timid, fussy, or frightened?

Take a closer look, and you'll see the answers to the questions I'm asking. She may be wearing an elegant gown of gold; however, she's anything but fussy: she's fierce. She holds a spear and a shield. She wears the headdress of a warrior, because that's exactly what she is: she's the goddess of warfare.

But, just like every other woman, she's more than that. And that's the most important thing to understand when writing a strong female character. People tend to make their strong woman stereotypically harsh and cold, lacking all feelings and emotions. And usually, quite frankly, she's a whore. Because that's the biggest stereotype of all, isn't it? The stereotype that women gain power through sex.

Athena didn't. Throughout mythology, she remained a virgin. The Dark Ages are gone, fellow writers! Women in this day and age don't have to rely on sex to gain the benefits of society and power, just as the goddess Athena didn't.

And like Athena, other strong women have countless layers. Athena wasn't only the goddess of war. She was also the goddess of peace, which many would say is the flip-side of war. She was the goddess of wisdom, reason, handicrafts, and strategy; just as well, she was the patroness of heroes.

Athena represented the practical aspects that make women strong. While Hera, Artemis, and Demeter represented the other feminine attributes, Athena represented those which rivaled men. And still, she was revered.

Why is that? Why, in what we call the ancient times, did people -- even men -- worship a goddess who was strong, virtuous, and dynamic? I think we all know the answer to that: it's because she seemed so human.

And that's what you want to convey, above all else, when writing a strong female character: you want to convey her humanity. You want to show all of her layers. A woman might be war, but that same woman might also be peace. And it's not because she contradicts herself; rather, it's because she's real.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Question of the Day

So, I thought that it might be fun, periodically, to ask questions of the readers of this blog. Normally, these will be deeper, thought-provoking questions, but today I want to ask you: who wants to guest blog for me?

Yes, I'm looking for guest bloggers. And if you're so inclined, I will return the favor for you. It's a great way to network and a fun way to make new friends. Anybody who's interested can drop me a comment or an email and I'll get back to you.