And in the Beginning…

Beginnings

For those who have read my bio, you know my writing years began at the tender age of four. I took my fat little crayons in my fat little fingers and decided to experiment with words on the knotty pine walls of the living room. My parents were not impressed! But even back then, I had something to say and writing was the natural way for me to say it.
As the years went by, that didn’t change. The only thing that did change is that I graduated from crayon on walls to pen on paper. For that, my parents were grateful.

In my teen years, it was writing that helped me work through the tumultuous teen emotions and heartbreak. Many summer days, I lay in our little fishing boat, tied up to the dock, rocking as waves rolled up against the shoreline and lapped the bottom of the boat. I clutched my pen and paper and wrote poetry like there was no tomorrow. The words flowed endlessly. When I wasn’t in the boat, I was perched on the end of the dock, my feet dangling in the water, or plopped on my bed in my basement bedroom, crafting more poetry.

Fishing Boat
Fast forward a few years. I was still writing when I got pregnant with my first son. I penned 2 ½ novels (yup, not just 2, but 2 ½), which are still in boxes in my home office. I took a few writing classes, too. Then came my second son. The writing stopped. There was no spare time.

When my second son was in high school, I got my Associates of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies, and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. While everyone else was impressed, I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to do. My heart longed for the days when I was a writer.

When my second son graduated from high school, I followed my dream. I got back to writing and haven’t looked back. While I still maintain a day job in the legal field, my true calling, my avocation, is writing.

As I think about the journey to where I am now—five published books, two more in the works—there are three suggestions I have for beginning authors.

1.) Find a writing community, or even one or two other writers. Non-writers, family and friends included, think we just sit down, write and voila! A book appears. A non-writer can’t possibly know the blood, sweat, and tears that go into a piece of creative fiction—or non-fiction. And if that’s the only mindset you’re subjected to and hearing on your writing journey, you’ll start believing it yourself. Eventually you’ll start to think of yourself a failure when you’re unable to just sit down and magically produce a novel.

Additionally, the non-writer can view writing as a waste of time unless the writer is making a lot of money. You may hear that you should be spending your time on something more worthwhile, something “important,” whatever that means. “Important” means different things to different people. Writing is hugely important to me. And if you’re a writer, it will be to you, too. It’s not about how much money we make (though, I imagine you wouldn’t catch any of us complaining if we made a dollar to two), it’s about a need to express the creative side that’s burning inside of us. And it’s work. Hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

“To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

That being said, not all non-writers think this way. And if you feel they are, it’s important to ask yourself if there’s any validity to your feelings or if it’s your own insecurity and self-doubt that makes it feel that way. We writers are frequently tormented with self-doubt. It’s what many of us do best. Either way, let it go. If you don’t already, you’ll soon have a writing community reminding you you’re not alone. 

2.)  Plan your week and schedule in writing time. When first starting out, set a timer and just write. Don’t get up under any circumstance. Not for anything. This exercises your butt-in-chair muscle, even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time. And don’t open the Internet to check anything. Your email will still be there when you’re done with your writing session, and your Facebook likes will still be there waiting. Even hard-core social media addicts can stay away for 15 minutes. If not, invest in Freedom. After you’ve created a habit of writing, play around to discover which method most accommodates your lifestyle—continue with timed writing sessions, decide on a set number of pages per day, word count goals, etc.

3.)  Don’t compare yourself to anyone else in the writing industry. We all have mentors and people we admire in the writing industry (think Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Joanna Penn) but don’t strive to be just like them. You are you. And you are fabulous. You have something unique to contribute to the reading world. And it would be a waste to deprive the world of that because you’re trying to be like someone else. As well, comparing yourself to other writers is the kiss of death. I struggle with comparisonitis as much as the next person, but I recognize it for what it is and kick it to the curb as soon as I realize that it’s trying to sink its fangs into my writing life.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

And now it’s back for week three of Camp NaNo and more virtual camping.

Bonfire-Brainerd

Carpe Diem

My Writing Process

I met the talented Rachel Carrera during the 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge and was invited by her to participate in the Writing Process Blog Tour.  I’ve been reading the answers to the given questions by other bloggers who have participated and I have to say it’s been enlightening to not only read about other writers, but to see how their process works.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always open to learning something that may work better or enhance what I’m already doing.  I will be  the first to admit that I simply write because I love to write and never gave the rest of “the business” much thought until the past year and a half.  For me it’s a learn-as-I-go process.  And how I love to learn! 🙂

Be sure to check out Rachel’s blog. She is a brilliant ray of sunshine and has a contagious love of life. Thank you Rachel! 🙂

Here are the answers to my questions, followed by the links to three + other bloggers I have tagged so you can check out their answers on May 26th.

1.  What am I working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on the final revision of my novel, The Inheritance.  Through the years I’ve written a few first drafts that lay cozily tucked within a filing cabinet drawer, but this is the first I’ve chosen to carry through to publication.  Let me tell you, it’s given me a whole new respect for published authors as I realize all there is to do after the fun of getting the story down on paper–or to the computer.  The things I thought I was good at–like grammar–I’ve learned there is so much I didn’t have down like I thought I did.  However, now that I’m able to see the finish line, I’m getting renewed energy and enthusiasm to take my latest first draft, The Last Resort, through to the finish line as well.

2.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not sure it differs from all others in my genre, or it would be in a genre of its own. But if I were to mention one area that I have noticed, it’s that despite it being women’s fiction and it has it’s share of relational content, it covers real life issues without the “drama mama stuff” that is exhausting in real life. I like to portray real life issues but also show hope–showing light in the darkness. I also try to avoid profanity and unnecessary crassness because I truly believe God blessed me with my ability to write and my love of writing.  That being the case, He is the One I want to please more than anyone with my writing. I choose to tell a story by honoring God rather than promoting what goes against Him.

3.  Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do because I love to read the kind of fiction I write – fiction that shares the joy of living a spiritual life without being preachy.  Although I love to read a lot of other genres as well.  And I have stories that come into my head that I can’t wait to share with others.

4.  How does my writing process work?

I don’t really have a tried and true process yet. I guess I could say it’s a work in progress to find what works best.  I work full-time in a job that pays the bills, I’m a mom to two grown boys whose lives I’m so fortunate to still be a large part of, grandma to one toddler and step-grandma to 5 , and wife to an amazing husband who I love to spend time with. Whew! So with all that, I try to write daily, but am not always successful with that goal.  With The Inheritance and The Last Resort I wrote the first draft in 30 days by participating in NaNoWriMo.  The revision process has been the biggest learning process and is what I’m trying to achieve with the least amount of pain. But the pain has also been my biggest motivator and teacher. 🙂  

Jacque @ http://godisms.wordpress.com

Marie @ http://writingwingsforyou.com

Angela @ http://authorangelachristinaarcher.wordpress.com

Amanda @ http://insidethelifeofmoi.wordpress.com

 

Reading Like a Writer

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I realize this is  a topic that has been addressed numerous times, but it’s become such a huge part of how I read, that I wanted to share things I look for.  It provides for reading entertainment as well as learning from people who have gotten to where I’m journeying toward with my first novel, The Inheritance–published.  Ten things I look for in a book are:

1.) POV–Does the writer use first person, placing themselves as the main character, third person, seeing through the viewpoint of the main character, omniscient, which is a God-like presence who seems to know what everyone in the novel is thinking, or multiple viewpoint characters.  If there are multiple viewpoint characters, how does the author transition between the characters whose eyes I’m seeing from?  How would the novel read if it were written from a different POV?

2.)  How the characters relate to each other.  Is there enough tension?  Is the tension resolved in a way that leaves me satisfied, but not too soon?  Do the characters suffer and hurt so that I feel for them and they become real?

3.)  Sentence structure in non-fiction vs. fiction–Does the author use complete sentences, fragments, long or short sentences, and when is each used successfully?

4.)  Does the book leave me wanting more, or am I flipping through several pages at a time, eager to be done so I can start something else?

5.)  Does it grab my attention immediately and disperse enough action to hold my attention, or are there dead areas where I find myself planning what to make for dinner as I’m reading?

6.)  Does it flow easily or do I find myself having to re-read the same paragraph a few times to figure out where I got lost?

7.)  Are the characters believable?  And what about the protagonist–is s/he likable?

8.)  Does it appeal to the social, intellectual, emotional aspects of life or does the author relay any strong values?

9.)  Do the scene descriptions create a clear visual in my mind?

10.)  And last but not least, does the author use boring cliché’s or fresh word combinations?

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Happy Reading! 🙂