Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Get to Know Your Writing Self

For as long as I can remember, I’ve fabricated stories. I’d ride my “horse” around the corrals and fantasize about a handsome cowboy riding along with me. During my teens, my aunt introduced me to romances, which led me to create and plot romantic meets between heroes and heroines most nights before I’d fall asleep. However, I usually ended up counting sheep long before the stories developed very far. No wonder I have sagging middles and very few endings.

Since I began writing romance in 1994, I’ve completed three novels – all learning experiences with none of them published. Since then I have edited one of the previous novels and started several others. Even after all these years, my stories still fizzle.

2008 had been a good year though. I received an honorable mention in a romance short story contest and published two fibre artist profiles in a couple of magazines. I’ve come to realize at this stage in my life, I prefer to write short. Writing short gives me more opportunities to write in several different forms, plus allows me to develop the many ideas that continue to bombard me.

I love to read as I imagine every writer does. It doesn’t seem to matter what I read, but my mind constantly questions the ideas presented. My questioning mind drives my kids and husband crazy, but I believe if I don’t know the answer to something, it’s a good question to ask.

For this reason, I’ve probably got more story ideas than I will ever have time to write. I’m just hoping some time during this New Year I can make more writing opportunities happen. I imagine this is a common hope among many writers, so I wish you all the best of luck with spending more time with those most fascinating of things – words.

"The drudgery of being a professional writer comes in trying to make good days out of bad days and in squeezing out the words when they won't just flow."

Benjamin Cavell

Unfortunately, I will be at work all day today, so I may not respond to your comments in a timely manner. Please comment though, and I'll respond when I can.



Karen said...

Congrats, Suse, on a great blog post and also on your writing accomplishments in 2008. I think its important to explore different options. Even if you are set on penning the great Canadian novel it never hurts to try something different. Something different might be exactly what works for you. I'm glad you've found a niche that satisfies you and your busy schedule.


Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Suse - congrats on your latest accomplishments.

I liked your post - especially the part where you say you drive your family nuts because I know where you're coming from. I've always been able to see half a dozen or more solutions/tangents to a situation.

For example, during the holidays, we something on the street. I can't remember what, but my imagination took off and out loud, I said, 'Can you imagine if the guy...' The situation would've involved someone getting badly hurt. My eldest daughter was visiting and said, 'Mom! You really think he'd do that?'

Her tone implied I was a poor example of a human being for having thought such a thing. I just shrugged and tried to explain that's what I do...that's where my stories come from...they just don't get it...sigh

Suse said...

Hi Karen and Anita Mae,

Thank you for your congrats. It is always a thrill to have a story win a prize or have a profile published. Heck, it's even exciting just to have someone like what you've written. Like Jana said yesterday, "I cannot not write." I tried to quit a couple of years ago, but I love words too much to give them up. There's just too many fascinating things you can create with words.

I'm fascinated by people too, whether it's a character in a book or a real person, so that's what I try to concentrate on when I write. I love lots of interaction between characters. I like to know what goes on in their heads.

Like Anita Mae, I imagine the what ifs of what people might do too. Sometimes it's too scary for me to contemplate. But it's also grist for the mill. I once saw a woman in a car at a red light crying her eyes out. I imagined all sorts of scenarios that may have caused her distress. I think it could be the beginning of any number of stories.
But that's for another post.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Suse,
Congratulations on your first blog! Well done.

I know what you mean about writing short. Short stories and articles have challenges of their own because you are trying to write to a specific word count. Every word must sparkle with life and bring something to the story. Not a single word can be wasted.

But I find that the length of the short story, article or novella can sometimes be more manageable than a full length novel. To me a full length novel is like a puzzle with a couple of thousand pieces, all the same color. It takes me a long time to put it together. Shorter fiction is a puzzle as well, but maybe there are not quite as many pieces. Because I am concentrating on one moment in time, the puzzle comes together more quickly. Not more easily, but for me at least, a little more quickly.

Congratulations on your successes in 2008. I wish you much continued success in 2009.

Jana Richards

Suse said...

Thanks Jana for your congrats and wishes. I agree that writing short makes a person focus on each and every word - no surplus verbiage here. Maybe that's why I like the short. I like to cut and move words around so that they say exactly what I mean - I hope.

Writing a novel definitely takes more thought and time. There's a lot more space (time and plots) to go off course. I think that's what I find difficult. I'm definitely not a pantser. I need a plan and if I don't come up with a good one, my story falls apart.

I like your analogy about a novel being like a puzzle with a couple thousand pieces, all the same color. I like puzzles but I don't think I'd have the patience to do one all the same color.

I admire anyone who can do such a puzzle, but I admire even more those people who can put together a novel .

Janet said...

Loved your post, Suse! And that quote - perfect. I might have to print that out and stick it on my bulletin board along with all the others I've collected.

And I'm with everyone else here - alway imagining, questioning, plotting. Most times, it runs on the dark side. Most people dont' get it, but thank goodness writers do.

Great accomplishments in 08 and best of luck with your goals for 2009.

Suse said...

Hi Janet, it sounds like you're a quote collector as well.

What I like about belonging to a writer's group, reading writing magazines, books and now blogs is that other writers know how we each feel, think and look at life. As you said, most people don't really get that.

Here's to a great 2009 for all those writers out there.

mcd - nichol said...

don't know if you'll see that i've commented on such an old post but hey, i'm new to the blog ... i agree, it's nice to meet people who are like you(me) - to see that you're not the only 'crazy' person out there who spouts dialoge out loud just to see how it sounds, who makes scenarious out of everything, who has more stories in their head (and in notepads) then they care to admit, who is character driven and makes stories just so these people have a place to live ... etc. i look forward to reading the rest of the post here - thanks for sharing :)