This next manuscript is proving to be difficult. I’m at a ‘what now?’ moment which means I need to take a leap of faith and write tonight and figure out later if the words I write will fit in the story. That last sentence sounds slightly crazy but I write the story as it comes to me, and I have friends who write off the cuff and go back later and cut the entire section or edit and keep most of it. I don’t have an outline. That makes me a pantster, as in writing by the seat of my pants.
The thing is, I have this story in my mind. It’s an embryo. Eventually, it will be a full grown story that someone will enjoy reading. Hopefully, many people will love it. Nightingale is still the hero, but I know him better, and I like him more than I did at first. In the first book (which no one has read), I respected him, but he wasn’t a really likeable person. In the second book, A Promise of Water, he was more human. The more he shows his dedication to his job–in the work in progress– and cluelessness about life and love, the more I like him.
I’m working on a follow-up novel to A Promise of Water. This will be my fourth book. My desire is to improve my writing with each book. (Obviously, I need to work on my blogging skills, too.) I sometimes think I “worry the project to death.” That’s something my grandmother used to say. Mainly, I think too much and don’t write enough. I need to go back to just enjoying the writing and worry about editing after it is completed. That’s great advice. I’ve had the nerve to tell friends that, too. But saying it and doing it are two different things.
A good friend who teaches yoga told me that December was a good time to slow down and get extra sleep. I like the idea, but I also think this is a good time to stay inside and write. Of course it’s better if the weather is cold and snowy. This is the time of year to walk the floor thinking of that next scene and what will happen to the protagonist. (In case you didn’t know, I do a lot of walking when I’m figuring out what will happen next.) One also has to think about sequels, but Raymond Chandler said it best.
When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.
“When we worry about what others think of us, we are most likely assuming that their opinion of us actually matters or means something to us. The truth is that what other people think about us is colored by their own experiences, prejudices, beliefs and perceptions — so in many cases their opinion probably has nothing to do with us . . . at all. . . . you didn’t come here to be liked or win unanimous approval. That’s not the purpose of life. You came here to be you, to do what you love . . . and to walk your own path — which no one else has walked in the history the world.”
— Elsye Santilli, American writer
I think sometimes we squelch some of our best writing because we fear that someone will interpret what we’ve written as a reflection on our relationship with them. I have a friend who wrote a book and one of the rather horrid characters in the book was a version of her mother. My friend asked her mother to proofread the manuscript and waited in suspense for her mother’s reaction. The lady loved the book, was proud of her daughter, and never knew anyone in the book reflected on her. So, write your book, or paragraph, or letter and do what you love. You will only have a regret if you never get the writing done.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all of the others.”—Marcus Tullius Cicerouture
I read an article the other day about a Joy Jar. In case my children are reading this–that’s what you are getting for Christmas. We all have so much to be thankful for. I have survived another year and I’m getting stronger. I am closer (mile wise) to most of my family and friends. I could go on, but the idea of the Joy Jar is to make a note anytime you think of it during the year for something for which you are grateful and put the note in the jar. At the end of the year read all of your notes. Gratitude makes you healthier, happier,and obnoxiously positive.
I have a shelf full of good books about writing. As a matter of fact I read and read and never wrote. You get the picture. You (or I) could read about the craft of writing for several years and never try to write.
Writing takes courage. But back to books. Many books discuss the esoteric side of writing. Those are the ones I read at first, and unfortunately for me it took some years before I discovered one of the best books about the basics: Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. Another suggestion is John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction. Both of those are classics and should help with the basics. Then in between the reading (this is assuming you have no other outside job or duties—right?) you set yourself in a chair and write. If you read about good writers, and many of the great ones, you will find that they are consistent and persistent, but you need to learn the craft.
If you want help with the nuts and bolts of it, try a writer’s critique group. It took courage and a heap of good luck for me to find the group I did, but it was the best thing to ever happen for my writing.
I don’t think so, but here goes with an attempt to write about writing and say something worthwhile.
When I first had the dream of writing for a living I started reading books about writing, so that’s how I’ll start.
One of the best books on writing that I’ve ever read was written in the early 1900s by Dorthea Brande. On Becoming a Writer is a book I’ve given away and still sometimes read. One of the best quotes (and there are many) is: “If you are unwilling to write from the honest, though perhaps far from final, point of view that represents your present state, you may come to your deathbed with your contribution to the world still unmade. So, for years that is what I have been trying to learn to do. Writing honestly, letting your true feelings show, that’s tough. Maybe it only applies to fiction, but I don’t think so. And, since this is my opening blog, this is my offer of something to think about if you are a writer, whether a professional or just a closet wordsmith. Are you writing honestly?