Why do I write?

Why do I write?

As a little girl of five, I decided I wanted to be a famous Author.  I wasn’t sure I had the talent to be a famous singer, actor, or ballerina.  And I loved books.  So being an author seemed like the only avenue I had to fame and fortune (Ha!).  But though the reasoning changed, the dream never did.

Why do I write?

Because I love to imagine.  I still remember the time (I won’t tell you how old I was!) when one of the boys next door caught me pretending I was riding a horse through the ‘Secret Garden’ by our house. It was embarrassing, but it was a profound moment.  Because maybe I was too old to be prancing around playing imaginary games.  But I realised then that I wasn’t going to stop dreaming up stories, no matter how old I got.  Writing lets me hold onto the best bits of childhood.

Why do I write?

I write because that is how I process this world.  By expressing.  Some of that is done verbally, as I figure out what I think by percolating over it during a phone D&M, a cup of Earl Grey, or even as I pray.  But some thinking can only be done by words on a page. I write to think clearly.

Why do I write?

I write because this world is so beautiful and interesting and so are it’s people and when I write there is this extra shimmer to everything because my eyes open up and I see the beauty that is right there.

Why do I write?

I write because this world can be brutal and hard and sometimes it is nice to go somewhere else for a change.

Why do I write?

During University I was writing a novel about four friends.  And one day I picked up an orange, and I found myself wondering how my book-girls would eat it.  And I realised that Mae would peel it and spend a few minutes removing all the pith before she ate each segment, and Kaye would just chop it with a knife, and Annie would peel it and bite off the tip of a segments and slowly slurp out the juice, and Ella didn’t like oranges, but was too polite to say no when someone handed her a slice (and only Annie and the boy-next-door Matty knew the truth).

Those characters became real people to me.  They lived.  That is why I write.

Why do I write?

Because it is the most glorious hobby I have ever experienced.  It feeds my soul.  It makes me a better person.  There are moments of difficult and struggle, and I know I have only touched the surface of the very scary world of writing rejection.

But the highs?  Those moments when a plot idea sails into your head like a gift.  When the characters you love have a moment of insight or triumph.  When a phrase just sings. When an idea becomes a scene, and a plot becomes a story.  When I go to bed early, just so I can lie under the covers and go to my new world for an adventure.

When I tell people I am a writer I often say that reading a book is like watching a video of someone visiting an amazing place.  Writing is going there yourself.

And that is why I write.

 

My Year in Writing and the Lessons I am Learning

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Photo by IMAMA LAVI on Pexels.com

August seems as good a time as any to take stock of the year so far and to think about what is ahead.  It has been a year of writing, editing, procrastinating, and life getting in the way.

But I have been learning many things through the process.

THE TRAP OF SOCIAL MEDIA

I love social media.  It feeds my extroverted heart in a stage of life where I am at home most of the day.  It connects me to many precious friends, and it is my main avenue for conversing with other writers.

But it is a great time drain.  What I noticed this year is the way I rely on it when I am struggling.  If I am feeling discouraged about my writing, or getting bored with editing, then I fall to social media for comfort and a break.  But it doesn’t help the problems, and so I go back to it over and over again.  I have taken to putting my phone on it’s charger and turning off the wifi on my computer.  It doesn’t mean I don’t still check SM regularly, but the act of having to get up, or turn wifi back on, makes me more conscious of how I am using it.

THE RIGHT QUESTIONS TO ASK WHILE RESTRUCTURING

Restructuring is a new skill that has not come easily to me. I made lots of mistakes as I edited my novels first Act, because I was too focused on fixing individual scenes and not enough on the big picture of what needed to happen when and why.  But working out the right questions to ask has made a big difference.

I will be writing a blog post about specific questions I ask when I edit, but the general questions of “What things would the reader care about at this point?” and “Which scene’s would the reader skim over or find dull?” helped me to work out what things needed to go and what scene’s could be added or re-tweaked to make it hum.

THE NEED FOR (ARTIFICIAL) DEADLINES

One of the hardest things about writing a novel when unpublished is there are no immediate dead-lines.  Unless there is a competition you are entering or an assignment you need to hand-in, you are the only person who cares when you get your novel done.  This means it is very easy to go slow, or to be side-tracked by other writing projects.

So I create artificial deadlines.

I have a on-line writing group where we have the option of submitting a scene for feedback once a month.  But even though it is optional, I make myself submit every month.  Not only do I find the feedback invaluable, but the deadline acts as wonderful motivation.  And once I have submitted my scene, I am in the habit of working hard, which sets the tone for the rest of the month.

Also, this year I watched lots of writing friends enter pitching competitions and attend Editor/Agent meet-ups with their completed manuscripts.  So, if that is my aim, then I work backwards to think about what I would need to do to get my novel complete by the same time next year.

These deadlines need to be short enough to motivate.  “Get my novel edited this year” didn’t motivate me in Feb to edit.  Deciding in April to get Act I edited by the end of May worked much better as a dead-line.

So, where am I up to with my writing?

The Librex

This is my baby, my first novel, everything that I love to read in other books condensed into a book of my own.  A friend said to me yesterday “You’ve finished your first novel, does that mean you are editing?”  The answer was yes and no.  I had no idea how to write a novel when I wrote the first draft of The Librex, and so it is not so much editing as a complete restructure/re-write.  I have finished the restructure of Act I and have just finished plotting out Act II.  My goals are to have Act II finished by the end of September, Act III finished by the End of December, and to clean it up and make it sparkle over January, ready to give to some beta readers for feedback.

Savey & Mason

Savey & Mason is my Fantasy/Romance.  It is based on a dream I had many years ago, a vivid scene filled with intense emotion and interesting magic.  The next day I had to sit down and work out a world and story in which that dream ‘scene’ could fit.  I put it away while I finished The Librex first draft, but began to turn it into a novel during the Fantasy writing course I did last year.  I am getting closer to finishing the first draft, and am giving scenes to my writing group for their feedback.  Hoping to get the first draft done by the end of December, so I can edit it up while The Librex is off in feedback-land.

AJ

One of my biggest challenges in editing is sticking to task and not getting side-tracked by new, shiny stories.  AJ is my new, shiny story that I am doing my best not to write. I am consoling myself by knowing I will devote November’s Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) to working on it.  I am hoping this will be the year where I finally succeed in writing 50,000 words in a month.

So that is my year so far. Fellow writers out there, how has your year been tracking?  What new things have you learnt?