April 27, 2014

Survival Writing

Poetry got me through high school. High school was a mostly bad experience for me... considering I was intelligent, not athletic, and not one to follow the crowd. I had friends, but there were very few I could absolutely count on. Plus I changed schools in the middle of my second last year. A tragedy I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Especially for a shy, teenage girl. So, I wrote poetry when I was sad or madly infatuated with the latest crush as a way to get the feelings out without having to actually say them out loud. I poured my heart and soul into poems and songs.

If I wrote poetry when I was sad, I wrote stories when I was happy. From the time I could hold a pencil, I was writing something. My self-discovery of today is that my past experiences have shaped me, adding dimension and depth to my writing. So, I hope my latest works are an improvement to my childish scribbles. If they aren't, maybe I should stop trying. If I can. As sure as I live and breathe, I need to write. And it gives me great pleasure to do so for you.

Writing is a highly personal process. How painful to bear your heart, your deepest secrets for all to see only to face harsh ridicule and judgement from peers/readers. Seems crazy, doesn't it? Maybe it is, but it's what we're driven to do. It's like a disease, yet it soothes the dis-ease within me.

I am a deeply private person, but you'll see me - glimpses of who I really am - through my work. Besides my family, writing is my greatest joy. I fear the darkness inside me. I struggle to keep it at bay. Is it madness? Truly? You would have to be a little crazy to aspire to write. A profession where you open yourself to criticism at every corner. Yet most writers aspire to become published.

I am both excited and frightened at the thought of becoming a published author. Then it gets real. My friends and family will want to read my work... and I'm not ready for that. I'd rather remain anonymous and write for strangers. My online writing group (whom I've never met in person) knows more about me than my closest friends. Sharing a story is like walking nude into a room. Gastly scary, highly irrational, and, under normal circumstances, I would not be caught dead doing it.

So I agonize over the pending publication of my first book. Am I ready to walk into that room and show the people I know who I really am? Or will I remain in the shadows, hiding behind the strength of my pen name? The anonymity comforts me, reassures me. That is the answer. After all, that's how I survived high school. No one ever knew the real me.

April 17, 2014

The Colour of Guilt

What's your guilty pleasure? (I'm looking for comments here so start thinking...) What's your dirty little secret? What are you hiding in your closet? (Besides dust and clothes that no longer fit...) I have many secrets and definitely play my cards close to my chest. I don't talk much. But I love to write. I find it the easiest way to express myself. I guess that makes sense. I am a writer.

I carry a great load of guilt and not much is due to pleasure, I'll freely admit. I've always been a conscientious, good girl. I've always done the right thing. And, maybe, I don't even know how to do the wrong thing.

My time is always divided. There's always something that needs done. Someone who needs attention. Everything comes before writing. But I find satisfaction in playing with my kids and having clean clothes to wear too. Most of the time.

So, my guilty pleasure has to be sneaking away with my laptop when the hamper is full of dirty clothes... A guilty pleasure and a dirty secret all in one. So, what's yours?

April 11, 2014

The Quest for Greatness

I want to write a great book. I want to feel the awesome sense of accomplishment when I type the words "The End" which, ironically I don't use. But I don't want to be famous, although I would like to be published (a dream which will soon be a reality). I just want the intrinsic satisfaction of completion. The editing process for my new (first) book is well underway. I received my round three edits earlier this week and I've been concentrating my time on improving my work. Because I can rise to the challenge. I can write write a great book.

But I can't do it alone. I need the support of my family so I can dedicate the time necessary to work. And I rely heavily on my writing critique group and editors to catch what I don't and for encouragement when I doubt myself or procrastinate.

Apparently, procrastination is not good for your health - mental or physical. So, I have two choices, the way I see it, stop procrastinating for my health or . . . not. <heavy doom music> What can I say? The flair for the dramatic comes naturally. Probably why I love to write. It's an outlet for my creativity. An answer to the questions I ask. Whether its fantasy or reality, it can be fantastic. I know it can. And my book, when it's finally finished, will be great.

April 4, 2014

The Process of Writing

When you create a character, you give them life; they become like your children. You create every hair on their head, give them a name, and they become real - they are born.

When I was expecting my kids, my husband and I put a great deal of thought and research to find potential names for our children. My characters practically name themselves. I just close my eyes and there they are. As much as I plan every other aspect of my life, this may seem uncharacteristic, maybe even slightly unorthodox. Does it work? I'll have to let you know.

Once you have characters, then you need to tell their story. How do you know what they want to say? It's not like they can tell you... or can they?

How to approach the planning of a book itself? Is it the same as planning a project? With project management, you consider scope, schedule, and cost. When writing a book, you consider character, timeline, and book length. You can take many different approaches, and there is even software to assist in the creative process. What works? Is there a magic formula? I wish there was... if so I wouldn't have half a dozen unfinished stories bouncing around in my head.

Can you design a process to plan your book? Perhaps such a process already exists? (I picture some sort of flow chart). Will a well-planned book be even better than a book written on the back of receipts you found in your purse (not me) or on a paper towel (guilty as charged)? There are no easy answers. Just do it your way. But, most importantly, just do it! The only thing standing in your way is procrastination... and on that note...