Tuesday, July 30, 2013
When I was in college, one of my favorite TV shows was the daytime soap, Another World. I wanted to be a writer so the fictional story surrounding Cory Publishing Company was always appealing. Felicia was the romance writer whose "real-life" adventures rivaled those in her novels.
People do occasionally ask me if my stories are based on real experiences. My answer is "yes" and "no." Most of my magazine articles have been biographical, usually based on travels or my experiences as a teacher. My books are part escapism, part therapy.
Take the trilogy I am working on now. Wendy in A New Season is a school teacher. She does have a son and does rescue an abandoned dog. All that is real. Even the experience where Wendy is pulled over by a traffic cop is based on reality. The rest is mostly fabrication, an interesting story.
You see that mixture with most authors. Louisa May Alcott's, Little Women, was fiction based on her own experiences growing up with her sisters. Even the father that left his family to fight in the war was much like the father who frequently abandoned his family to take care of other matters. The women, at a young age, learned to fend for themselves.
Why do authors mix fiction with their own experiences? We are taught to write about things we know. It gives the story a sense of authenticity. In some sense, writer let others know a little about themselves that they might not otherwise share. The writer becomes vulnerable. In that respect, writing can be a frightening thing.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
For the past couple of years I've been experimenting with gardening. Nothing big, just a few large pot for some starter plants. The patio tomatoes have been successful. The banana peppers, not so much.
I am doing better in my backyard experiment than last year and as I enjoy a sandwich, made with a tomato I grew, I meditate on how gardening is a lot like writing.
1. You start out with a seed of an idea. It may come from a dream, a "what if" idea, or an inner person that wants to be known by the outside world. Most people get these seeds. They dismiss them and the seed is seldom planted.
2. Writers commit to the seed. They put words to paper--or electronic device. They are like the gardeners as they outline and create a story.
3. The outline is finished. Now the writer, like the gardener, tills the soil and nurtures the seedling. The writer completes a book.
4. The gardener watches the plant grow and becomes impatient as time passes. He has done all he can do. He feeds the plant and cares for it, but will he ever see any fruit? Boy, a writer knows about waiting.
5. Then, if he is diligent, there is finally a pay-off; fruit, the herb, the mature vegetable, or a flower blooms. For the writer it is winning a contest, being published, having someone say your story touched them, or maybe even a contract.
That's good stuff.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
I spent an amazing day with my singles class at a Boys Ranch. The boys, ages 10 to 18, live about 6 to a cabin, along with a married couple and their children. It is like a large family unit.
We committed to monthly birthday parties for the boys and today's unusually mild weather made the cookout most successful. As the food grilled the boys were eager to talk to the adults. They shared their summer schedule, up by 7:00 and off to work on the farm by 8:00. Then a 2 hour lunch break, then back to work by 4:00 or 5:00. They didn't seem to mind. Hard work was rewarded.
Just before we ate, one of the cabin parents shared that the cow had just given birth to a calf. A few of the boys were called to help and the rest of us could see the calf after the meal.
After everyone was full of burgers, hot dogs, and chips, there was birthday cake and ice cream. When we sang to the two teens who had July birthdays, both looked emotional. This meant something to them.
Then we saw the cow and calf. Both looked beat, but soon the calf was stretching his legs and learning to walk. What a perfect place to teach a boy to grow into a man.
At the end of the day one of the boy was helping me carry my lawn chairs to the car. As he chattered about the ranch, I asked, "How long have you lived here?"
"A year and a half," he replied.
"You really like it here, don't you," I continued.
With a big smile he said, "Yes. It's home."
I guess that's what we all want, home.
Monday, July 1, 2013
So here it is. The book is finally available for downloading. What is that like?
Relief is the first thing I feel. This has been a long, long road. My first draft was written in 2006. I received a multitude of rejection letters, trying to find the right publisher. With each rejection came a new rewrite. The story grew more and more interesting. I can't recall how many times I wanted to give up, yet here I am.
Next there is a sense of satisfaction. People will meet my characters and live their lives for awhile. For a writer, it doesn't get better than that.
I must admit that there was a sense of pride. I pull up my name on Amazon and there I am. Then there will be interviews, meet & greets, and public speaking engagements. This book is my baby and I am a proud momma.
THEN COMES THE CRASH!
Right about the time I get to feeling really good about myself, I call a family member.
"Hey, guess what," I say. "The local news paper is running a story about me and the book release."
"Really," the person says. "I guess you're lucky that it's a slow news week."
And that, my friends, sums it all up.