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Soul Full Eye by Artist, Lisa Redfern

Soul Full Eye
by Artist, Lisa Redfern

I have to admit, I’m a lover of fantasy. I love the idea of going after the dream, wishing on a star, and clicking my heels three times to achieve my deepest desires. But that’s not gonna happen any time soon. So what am I left with? Reality. I’m left with the realization that I have to do something, anything, to make things happen. No fairy godmother is going to come along and wave her magic wand and make me or my life what I want it to be. Talking about it, planning for it, making lists, researching, none of these things really advances me toward my goals in a substantial way. Oh, they may be necessary aspects of beginning a new project or adventure, but they don’t have the same effect as getting off my duff and actively doing the nitty-gritty work necessary.

 

When I talk to groups of people who attend my writing workshops, I always start by asking where everyone is in their writing journey. At least half, if not more, of the class talks about how they want to write, how they have always wanted to write, which is why they’re in my class. Beautiful! Wonderful! But I then ask those same people, why they haven’t started to write yet? That’s when the excuses come into play. They’ll claim that they haven’t had time, or the self-confidence. Some will claim they need to learn how to write before they begin. I then ask if they know how to use a pen and paper, or computer to put words down into sentences. Everyone nods their head and laughs. Of course they do, but they want to learn how to begin. I tell them it’s really very simple. They just start writing.

 

babies walkingEver watch a baby learn to roll over, crawl, walk? Ever watch a toddler climb, begin to talk, feed itself, and all the other astounding things they do each and every day? No one teaches a baby or toddler to do these things. They just decide to do it, and they keep making mistakes and trying again until they get it right. Yes, they will fail, and they might cry in frustration, but then they’ll get over the tears and make another attempt, until they get it right. Then once they’ve mastered that feat, they begin to tackle another in exactly the same manner. Try, fail, fall down, cry, try again, fail again, fall down again, cry again, then get back up and do the whole thing over again, until success is reached. No one has to teach them any of these things. Oh, we as adults can encourage and praise, but that’s all. The rest is up to the individual child to discover what works for him/her and find their own way. So it is with writing. You can take all the courses you want, make incredible outlines, plan to your heart’s content, but until you actually plant your butt in the chair and begin writing, you aren’t a writer.

 

That doesn’t mean the learning curve isn’t huge, because it is. Yes, there are guidelines and things to learn, and tons of ways to fail, but the words on the page are what writing is all about. Nothing else. This writing gig is a loooong battle that never really ends. I’m learning that for myself the hard way. As I continue to slog through revision after revision of my latest WIP, I could get discouraged, and sometimes I do. If I’m to move forward though, I have to get back to the business at hand and write. It doesn’t even matter if what I write in the first or second draft (or third or fourth) is particularly good; that’s what edits and re-writes are for. The key is to sit down and write.

 

It has often occurred to me that life is exactly like writing, or anything we wish to accomplish in our lives. At some point, the rubber must hit the road for the car to move forward even one inch. It doesn’t matter what challenges you’re faced with, to move forward means doing something. It’s okay to stop and consider the options though, and in fact, it’s extremely advisable. We were given brains to use them in constructive, creative ways, so we might as well use them to figure out ways of getting what we want.

 

Interviewing Interesting Writers

Interviewing Interesting Writers

Everyone has different dreams and goals. Each person is unique unto him/herself, and we can all learn from each other. We can all be inspired by others and apply what we learn to our own lives, or just admire the doer for their innovation and creativity. Anyone who regularly visits this blog knows I interview other writers, primarily because people fascinate me. I began interviewing other writers from around the globe at various stages of their writing journey for another blog, Christina Hamlett’s You Read It Here First.

Through Christina, I’ve had the great privilege and pleasure of “meeting” so many incredibly talented people over the past year. People who are taking their dreams and running with them at full speed. People who seek new ways to express the deepest part of themselves, and help others along the way. Talk about inspiration! Each one of the individuals I interview shines a light into an area I had never explored before. Although I may never choose to climb a mountain, like fellow writer, Jeff Rasley, be able to create stunning pieces of visual art, like Lisa Redfern, take a love of animals and turn it into unique stories told from a dog’s point of view, like Carol McKibben, write wonderful, witty plays like Christina Hamlett, translate an admiration for another person into a series of books, like Tony Lee Moral, trek around the world and write about my adventures, like Janna Graber, or gather my family and head out to parts unknown to experience new cultures and ways of life, like my up-coming interviewee, Michelle Tupy, I can be inspired by them to keep playing my own tune and following my own dreams.

 

I find it reassuring to know that people can do literally anything they choose to, and do it with skill, finesse, and a lively sense of humour about trials and tribulations they encounter. I love knowing it’s okay to make mistakes, to fall down, and then get back up to try again. In fact, since I started writing, I’ve come across scores of people who are launching themselves forward into their lives with gusto, and with a look over their shoulder to see who they can help along the way. How cool is that? In talks with other writers, like ML Swift (watch here for his interview in the coming weeks), who chose to dedicate the last years of his mother’s life to helping her get through the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease, then wrote about that experience, I realize that we all have something to give, and get, from other people. Perhaps we should retain more of the dogged determination of infants who watch, learn, internalize, then gather the courage to get out there and DO something, damnit!

 

So yes, learn all you can about whatever it is you want to go after, but at some point be prepared to put yourself out there, risk humiliation, overcome fear, and HAVE FUN with the whole messy business of living your life while going after your dreams! And if it helps to close your eyes and wish upon a star, cross your fingers, click your heels together, whatever, then go for it, because we can all use whatever help God, the Universe, Allah, Buddha, whatever you want to call it, can give us.

Wish Upon A Star

Wish Upon A Star

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Getting Started

Getting Started

When I first decided to start writing, I had absolutely no experience. I hadn’t taken any writing courses, and had no formal writing education. Because of this, I kept putting off writing. I was afraid I had no business tackling such a tremendous endeavour. I don’t claim to be an expert on writing. I’m just a writer who is feeling her way along as she goes.

I have, however, learned a thing or two since I embarked on this journey. First; it isn’t as difficult as I’d thought. Second; it’s more difficult than I ever dreamed. Let me explain. You see, I thought because I didn’t have the education behind me, I had no business taking such a huge step. I thought I couldn’t possibly have gleaned enough knowledge through my many years of reading other people’s work to do it justice myself. Finally I realized that if I didn’t just do it, I’d run out of time. None of us gets out of here alive. As I neared my fiftieth birthday, it became clear that only I could do, or not do, anything I chose. Scary business. Still, I’d always thought I wanted to write. I always believed I would. So, I did it. One painful, joyous step at a time. So, I decided to just start writing, and worry about the rest later. That was the easy part.

The really difficult part came once I realized I was hooked on writing, and what a significant task I was undertaking. I quickly realized I needed to write. I’d finally found what I’d heard others refer to as “a calling”. I knew this is what I was born to do. Everything in my life had lead me to this point, and I don’t regret that. It was a necessary passage for me. Once I realized this, I became aware that I’d have to give it my all; more than anything I’d ever done previously. I’d have to delve into more than just the nuts and bolts of learning to write, but also understand the business of writing and publishing. I’m kind of an all or nothing girl.

One of the first things I had to do was decide what I wanted to write about, and once I had that germ of an idea, I wrote out a very brief outline, in point form. Then I had to decide whose point of view the story would take. Now remember, I had no experience, and hadn’t been able to afford the writing courses I was sure I was going to need. Instead, I do what do best; I began researching what POV (point of view) was on the internet. I’d heard the term, and was pretty sure I understood it, but wanted to check. I learned the best way to determine POV, for me anyway, was to start writing and see whose voice came through first. That first chapter taught me that I prefer to write in Third Person Narrative, at least for this book. It felt easy and natural for me, which is why I chose it. The other POV options are: Second Person Narrative, and First Person Narrative.

Whose eyes are you looking through?

Whose eyes are you looking through?

I also learned from my research to stay with one POV per chapter, to allow the reader to follow along a little easier. This made sense to me. I’d read books where there was a lot of “head hopping”, and found it confusing, so wanted to avoid this mistake. It also simplifies the writing, since essentially you are writing “as” one character, not multiple characters. It allows the writer to see the world through one character’s eyes and mind at a time. When I got to the next chapter, I could switch perspective and choose to “become” the other character, and explore their world. As the story evolved, so too did the characters, in part because I’d had sufficient time to understand who each of the characters were and their purpose. As I wrote, I was able to begin drafting a profile of each character, i.e. hair and eye colour, occupation, family members, if needed, needs and drivers, etc.

I know many writers who do complete, complex story and character outlines before actually beginning to write the story. I’m not one of them. I tend to think as I type, and let the story and characters evolve. I guess I figured that’s what editing is for. That’s when you get the chance to go back and re-visit each aspect of your work and modify it as you think is needed. Editing is also where I go back to make sure I’ve stayed with the right POV throughout the chapter. I have definitely caught myself “head hopping”, or losing the original POV I’d started out with at the beginning of the chapter. This is most likely because life gets in the way of writing. I have a husband, family, and outside obligations that can and do interrupt my writing time. It’s very easy to forget where you are in the writing process and pick up where you hadn’t intended. I also don’t set time or word count limits on myself. Although I usually wrap up a writing session at the end of a chapter, again, life sometimes gets in the way and I need to stop before the end of a chapter. Rather than go back and re-read an entire chapter, I’ll also often go back a couple of pages to refresh my mind on where I was, and start where I left off. I know, many writers would likely shudder to think of doing this, but it works for me. Again, I figure if I’ve messed up, I’ll fix it when I get to the editing stage. During the first draft writing, my goal is to write, not edit. It may be very different for each writer, and each one must choose what works best for them, their personality, and their lives. I do what I do because it’s how I work best. I know this, and don’t fight it.

Oddly enough, I’ve recently heard a few people who know me well say that one character or another sounds like me, but doesn’t fit with their vision of the character. That’s a tough one, since as the writer, I can really only write as me, or should I say, variations of me and my personality. We all have inner voices and are multi-dimensional. Writers simply take all those dimensions and put them into a story. We do occasionally have a certain person we know of, or have read about, and imagine their POV, but again, it really comes down to how the writer perceives those characters. I suppose each point of view, each character, is really my own, but manifests in different forms and voices. It’s a fun and exciting thought.

Communicating

Communicating

To me, writing is really just another extension of my desire to communicate with others. Even though I can, and do, speak publicly on a number of topics, I’m actually an introvert. I prefer smaller groups and intimate settings rather than loud, boisterous gatherings. It sounds strange, but I’d rather be up on the stage speaking, than standing in crowd. Writing also allows me the opportunity to express different thoughts and ideas, and explore new adventures with exciting characters who live far more exciting lives than I do myself. Because of my love of travel, I tend to seek out settings that are far removed from where I currently live. This is not because I don’t love where I live, I most certainly do, it is just that when I write, I want to reach beyond where I am and learn as I go. Just as with choosing POV in writing, choosing the setting is just as important to the finished product. However, choosing the setting for a story is another blog post I’ll address next time.

The next time you read something by an author, be aware of and think about the POV the writer has chosen. Did you enjoy it, and if so, why? If not, why not? If you are a writer, do you have a favourite POV? If so, why?

Please do take a moment to comment in the comments section to share your thoughts and ideas. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing with your social networking circles. Thank you.

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