Monday, 13 August 2012

Random Thoughts From The Day to Day Writer

I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I wrote a lot of stories as a child. I never showed them to anyone; nor did I save them. I would write little stories to entertain myself and then destroy them before anyone could find them and comment on them. I lived in fear that someone would read them and laugh at me. (It isn’t easy to show people what you write. It’s kind of like exposing your heart and soul.) I took a hiatus during high school, but once I started at NAIT, I picked up writing again. I tried my hand at poetry, short stories, sci-fi, and romance … okay I tried to write just about anything. At university, I applied to take a creative-writing poetry class. They get about 500 applications for 25 spots and I was accepted. But alas, I got pregnant and had to leave school. I sometimes wonder how my writing would have changed if I had taken that class.

While I was pregnant, I thought writing children’s books would be a good idea. I still do, but alas, I cannot draw to save my life and picture books require … well they need pictures. J

Raising kids is time consuming, even for a stay at home mom and I found almost no time to write until they were well into elementary school. That’s when the real writing started. In five years, I wrote at least seven or eight novels and started countless others. A lot of them even managed to find their way to publishing houses and back again. I had a lot of rejections, but it didn’t kill the urge to write, I just kept on plugging away at it.

Well, I did until we moved to our current home. Then the urge to write fell by the wayside for a long time. I’m not sure what was going on in my head, but the ideas simply weren’t there; maybe because I was venting my creativity through quilting. I’m still quilting, but the ideas for stories are coming hot and heavy again; so I write.

I’m not sure how I can explain the urge to write. Something drives me to put words onto paper. A lot of time what I write are just snippets. Partial scenes, bits and pieces of dialogue, plot ideas … incomplete thoughts that seem to need to find a home besides in my head. Occasionally, these ideas will make their way into a story that they were never intended for.  (I wrote a great break-up scene out of the blue one day. Last week, I discovered that it fit perfectly into one of my works in progress (WIPs). Woot woot!)

I don’t write because I have some altruistic urge to entertain people. (Of course that would be a nice plus.) Nor do I write because I want to be rich and famous; okay maybe that is part of it. *sneaky grin* I write because the ideas that come to me nag at me and irritate me until I write them down and purge myself of them.

Writing isn’t easy. Anyone can come up with a basic premise and scratch it down. But to invent a grouping of characters and make them interact with realistic personalities and a storyline that is interesting and believable can be quite taxing. There are days when the words just flow like water, but for me those days are rare. Usually I sit at the computer and stare into space, metaphorically banging my head into the desk and wishing the words would come. Some days, the words come easily but when revisited the next day, or during the editing process they turn out to be shit and have to be rewritten or deleted altogether. Other days, the words don’t come at all.

I strive to write 1500-2000 words a day on a current work in progress. That doesn’t count blog posts, emails, twittering or facebooking. It definitely doesn’t count new ideas or snippets that had to be written but are unrelated to my WIPs. If I am persistent and lucky, I get these words and they are good words. If not, I try to write extra the next day. On those days when the words won’t come, I force myself to write something. Anything. Stilted sentences, disjointed scenes, emotionless fights … I’ve created just about every kind of crappy prose ever witnessed. Later, I delete those words, unless during the process of forcing it they have turned into something worth keeping. I do this because I have learnt that sometimes forcing the brain and fingers to work often jump-starts the creative process and after a while the brain hits its grove and the words come.

So far today, I’ve been staring at this keyboard for four hours and have written NOTHING. Not one freaking word. It makes me want to scream in frustration. My current WIP is scheduled to release Sept 15. I have four short scenes to finish before edits begin. I will edit it three of four times myself before I send it off to my talented team of editors. They will slash and hack it apart. I will repair and re-write then re-edit and start formatting for publication. Somewhere in all of this, I have to hire a cover designer and help her bring forth the image I want to portray on the cover (not that I have any idea what that is.)  So really, I had best get my ass in gear and finish those scenes. I work best with a deadline which is probably a good thing.

When I was younger I had big dreams of writing a best-selling novel and earning millions of dollars. People would want my autograph. Back then, I had no idea how difficult the writing process could be. I still fantasise about travelling and writing. Someday I’m going back to London to stay at the Grand on Trafalgar and spend my days sipping coffee and writing in Trafalgar square.

Hope to see you there!


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