Saturday, December 29, 2012

Writing Hearts

Something odd is happening. I am working (slowly) on editing and re-writing a story. I have struggled with this story before because my characters were not fitting with the plot. So I let them speak and things improved. However, now as I work to fine tune this story the same problem is happening. The characters keep telling a story that is not quite the one I want. Instead they are telling another story.

Up until a few hours ago, I was rather annoyed by this fact. I have been trying to write something funny and serious about something I know a little bit about. I have had mixed advice about whether writing what you know is better than not. However, it seems whether I know things or not my characters consistently return to what I know.

I don't mean that in a practical sense but something deeper. It took me a little while to realize this odd thing that is happening is that I am not only finding my characters voice but my own. And what I have to say is much more personal and revealing than I am ready to share. My characters are little extensions of me in one way or another and they are shedding light on me: my heart, my desires and my thoughts. This is not something I expected and have not experienced in writing before. But to be fair I am not surprised because this project is probably closest to my heart and one that I have work with more depth on than any other.

But that doesn't mean the story fits yet or is by any means finished. My voice (me) is being slowly revealed and someday this process, I think will develop my character(s) both on the page and in me. I look forward to seeing how this unfolds.

Some people write what's in their heart and I guess, some people like me have to write to find what's in their heart.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Writing the story, the story of Re-Writing

Today marks the beginning of edits on the rough draft I have been working on. It is a complete story and a complete mess in many ways. The base story is good but several questions about how to tell it remain. For the month that I wrote it I had to turn my editors side off to get the words out. But now my editors side is back on and if full force. Nothing seems like it will be good enough. I guess a happy medium needs to be found.

This is another new adventure in story telling. I have lots of starts but very little work finished. Complete drafts mean editing and I have yet to really finish a complete second draft over a few pages. Now I have 170 staring back at me crying out for clarification, proper grammar and reworking. Well I better get to work. At least I think my characters and I have finally reached an understanding. So here goes on the journey to a second draft!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Let them Speak

A few weeks ago, I ran into a road block. The story I was working on had a problem: the characters and plot were not going together. My characters were well developed and ready but the plot I had didn't fit them. Debating I wondered if I needed to change my plot or change my characters. I expressed the problem to some others and they suggested that my characters might be leading me elsewhere.

I pondered this. I am new to writing stories but the idea that my characters might have their own voices bothered me. I had created them. I had their story planned but why wouldn't they comply? Then I ran across this quote from William Faulkner, 
"It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does." 

Considering my characters this way helped a lot. I needed to let them speak. I needed to let them tell their story. I could have continued to try to force my characters to comply but all it did was frustrate me. After some playing and trying different things I began to write the story they were telling. Its not what I thought it would be nor do I know were it is going. 

It may sound odd but its like having a friend share their own story instead of hoping they would share yours. I didn't know that this could happen but if Faulkner experienced this, I must be in good company. The road block has been destroyed all because I let them speak.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Learning to Write

A few years ago when I first got my road bike I experienced quite the learning curve. Riding a road bike with clip-in pedals is a much different experience then cruising a parking lot on your brother's old bike. I was becoming more than a causal rider. I was becoming a roadie, a cyclist who shares the road with cars. Before purchasing my bike, I hadn't ridden in several years and never over eight miles at a time. However, the allure of a triathlon led me to the bike shop where I spent my entire tax return.

It took me all summer to become a vaguely coordinated rider. I tipped over often forgetting that my feet were now attached to the pedals and required advanced planning when stopping. I left a lot of skin on the road that first year as I adjusted to this new sport. I discovered quickly that thin racing tires did not allow for the same cushion for error that my old Schwinn bike did, when I was a kid. I also learned that physically I had my limits and riding forty eight miles wasn't the same as riding eight, just longer.

I could tell plenty of stories about that first year and my transformation into a cyclist since. However, this isn't the blog for that. ( Yet the lessons I learned through the process of riding that first year seem eerily parallel to become a writer.

I may have known how to ride a bike just like I know how to write a sentence or essay but having the basics doesn't mean I know what I am doing. I had to learn how to clip in and out of my pedals, build endurance and figure out how to shift the gears for hill climbing. This is much the same as finding my voice, building characters and plot and figuring out how to tell the story in readable manner.

Like I said, I fell a lot that first year. I think that means when I write garbage it all is in the name of learning. I may have the scars on my knees to prove what not to do on the bike; just like I will have countless pieces of how not to tell a story. However, each bit of road rash taught me and now three years later I hardly ever fall. I used to ride in a rather clumsy uncoordinated manner fumbling with my gears as I went but now I know myself, my gears and how to spin along with skill.

I think as I learn to write I need to remember that process so in three years I will be able to see my progress. I have by no means mastered cycling but I have become a cyclist. I believe the same may hold true for writing. I won't master it in three years but with some work I can become a writer. So here's to a little writer's rash!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Finding my Voice

There is a drawer in my kitchen full of utensils, flatware and numerous odd kitchen apparatuses.  Every time I open that drawer I may have to dig through all the extras to get what I want. That search can sometimes be for a utensil I know how to use and need for its intended purpose. I often find something in that drawer that I am shocked I have or have no idea what it does.

I think that finding my voice as a writer and as a person as some commonalities with that kitchen drawer. What I need is in there but I don't know how to use all the pieces. I might know how to use the knife and fork but if I am to make a great detailed meal, I will need more utensils than that. Much like writing a story, I will have to go beyond the my basic knowledge of sentence structure to create a compelling tale.

I am still learning what this means and discovering my voice in the stories I tell. I read the following article on how to do this.
Yet, I know that this is just a recipe for helping to find my voice. Becoming a writer like becoming a great cook; it doesn't happen overnight. I must learn what I have in my drawer and how to use it. It may not be the only step in creating a great meal or story but it certainly a good place to start.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bad Review

It is hard for me to be share my work, especially one of the stories I am writing. The characters are so much a part of me and extensions of myself that sharing them feels incredibly vulnerable. I have to take time after sharing any part of this story to review the critique. This means taking steps of separating myself from my characters so we can both benefit and grow from the critique.

I recently had to do this after some feedback I got during the writing class I am taking. It was rough to hear that my lead character wasn't connecting with the reader. I want her to but I struggle to tell her story on paper as clearly as it is in my head. So I will try again but the sting of not receiving a glowing review still remains a bit.

When it comes to storytelling, I really don't know what I am doing. Or really how to do it. I write because I love to make people think and laugh, because I have excess thoughts and ideas to share and I need an outlet and because it helps me process life. But its hard to turn something so personal over to complete strangers for reviewing especially when it is misunderstood.

However, that is part of the process and it will only help me to grow as a writer. And it has solidified that I want to do this. I want to write and although it requires vulnerability and sometimes criticism, that is not going to stop me. Especially since laughing and thinking are involved.

When I rode horses as a kid I was told after my first fall, "You're not a real rider until you fall off." So maybe the same applies, "You're not real writer until you have a bad review."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Trying a New Thing

This blog is an endeavor in bringing all my blogs and writing under one heading. Its also about doing just as the title says, whether it is my character, the characters I am writing or just being myself. (haha) Please stay tuned and we will see what happens. Thanks!