One Writer’s Journey

JourneyThis post is almost like starting my blog all over again.

So many people have asked me what it was like to begin writing (at such a late age?).  When I thought about the answer, I realized that, once I got into it, I could probably go on and on and fill several blogs, especially if I included all that I have learned (or hope I have learned), and am still learning, along the way.  Making my journey, hence my blog, more personal, might even make it more interesting.  I will probably have to expose more of myself, for one thing, and that’s what makes our characters more interesting, isn’t it?

Yikes.

I think this blog is going to be another part of this writer’s journey.

IN THE BEGINNING:

2006.  I was a big fan of Battlestar Galactica on television.  I loved the idea, the characters and especially the writing.  I had a new Mac, discovered and read a little fanfiction.  I thought, “I can do that,” and, for fun, started writing a series about the childhood of one of the adult characters of BSG.  The character’s immediately family and the character, himself, along with the name of their home, were all that I took from the TV series.  Everyone and everything else in the story were my own.  Readers actually liked my series!

I wondered if I might actually be a writer, seriously.  I turned the manuscript over to a professional editor to see if he thought writing was something I should pursue.  He let me know that, with additional work, I should go for it.

Here I am, six years, many books on writing, two college classes, and a continual subscription to “The Writer” magazine later.  Plus all those writing web sites and blogs I subscribe to.  “To which I subscribe” is better English, but I hear that placing prepositions at the end of a sentence has become acceptable these days.

I remember my high school English teacher abhorring the use of “and also” and “but also,” which I see even in literary fiction.  Cringe.  I will never do it.  Aren’t we told to remove all those redundant words?

Excuse me, I have wandered into my pet peeves.

I rewrote that first manuscript, changed the characters, the background, the local, etc., but not the name of the story, at least not yet.  How freeing it was to create whatever I wanted!  My first novel, now in its third draft, grew out of this process–Learning to Fly.  I haven’t found a better title, yet.

There you have it.  Next post I’ll go back five years to how I made that first draft into a redrafted manuscript.  I had no idea what a mess it was until I started learning what was involved in writing a decent novel–in learning to write well.

Another Random Act of Kindness!

A smile.  An encouraging word. A thoughtful gesture. Nearly every day we interact with people, in our lives and on the web, people who often help us and make our day a little brighter. This notion is especially true in the Writing Community.

Take a second to think about writers you know, like the critique partner who works with you to improve your manuscript. The writer friend who listens to you, supports you and keeps you strong when times are tough. The author who generously offers council, advice and inspiration. So many people take the time to make us feel special. They comment on our blogs, re-tweet our posts, chat with us on forums and wish us Happy Birthday on Facebook.

To commemorate the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus, Becca and Angela at The Bookshelf Muse are hosting a Random Act Of Kindness BLITZ. Because I think KINDNESS is contagious, I’m participating, too!

I randomly picked the marvelous young woman who has been consistently giving my chapters great critiques.  I use the word, randomly, because there are so many writers (and non-writers) who are helping me along the way, including sites and blogs who don’t even know I exist.

So many writers, including successful authors, are motivated to inspire and instruct us beginners.

Pass on the Kindness bug and celebrate our Writing Community!

The Blank Page

The blank page.  We are all faced with it.  Is it exciting, overwhelming or a little of each?  Even when you know what you want to write about, where do you start?  Easy.  You start.

No snickering, please.  I meant it because it does not matter where you start, it only matters that you begin.  That is what the first draft is all about:  beginning, writing along and, eventually, ending.  Do not look at what you have written, do not self-correct, only keep going until you get to the end, even if that means days, weeks or months in the future.  If there is something you want to add and correct in the beginning, make a note of it, but do not go back and “fix.”  You want to keep the flow going.  You want the flow to come from a real place within and not be concerned with what anyone else might say or think or whether what you have is a Pulitzer Prize winner or whether it will make you rich.  Few writers get rich or can even make a living from their writing.  You are writing because you cannot not write.

You have to end that story.  Many writers get stuck in the middle or three-quarters of the way through.  There is an urge to go back and read what you have written, fix it up, anything but go on to the end.  It has happened to me, and maybe it has already happened to you.  Resist.  Maybe you can’t think of a proper ending, or maybe you cannot say goodbye to your characters.  Resist.  End it even if there is a nag telling you your ending is a mess.  You can fix it later.

Now forget that precious story or novel for a while.  Many authors say for at least a month or two or six.  Stephen King waits at least six weeks.  I put him in here because he knows what he is talking about – don’t you think?  You need to look at your story with a fresh mind.  Try this, and you will understand what I mean.  The longer you wait, the more objective you will be.

The next post will have more about the first draft.  How do you find time to write?  What is this “from dreams” business?  What separates a literary or, even a “good” story from all that mess out there?  Stay tune.