I’ve been trying hard to let this writing thing I’m doing progress in the most organic of ways. But I get impatient sometimes…
It’s been a year and a half since I joined a weekly writers’ critique group. (Keep reading to the end for a sappy little tribute to this group and all the people in it!) This weekly deadline to produce something shareworthy has been a great motivator. So good, as a matter of fact, that if I go more than a week these days without writing something I feel the need to up the dosage on my antidepressant.
I read a quote somewhere that “It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.” Gerald Brenan wrote it. #goals
I don’t usually sit down to write first thing in the morning, but I do try to put pen to paper by eleven AM every day. It’s still morning, so I supposed I’m technically following Gerry’s instructions. This habit has grown my writing abilities in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Just writing every day. So simple.
Reading authors who write in similar ways as I do has been great, too. It’s helped me learn to take the ideas in my head and get them down on paper, but to do it in a way that my sentences are interesting and vary in length and structure. Reading well written stuff is like taking a creative writing class, if you pay attention to what you’re reading. It’s a lot cheaper, too. Plus, and maybe it’s just me or my penchant for letting things flow organically, but I’d rather learn by reading than have some hack, who happens to have some letters behind his/her name, corrupt my voice because I don’t follow the rules.
It’s breaking those rules that makes my writing interesting, sometimes. Like, the sometimes when I write a line with awkward syntax on purpose. Ew? You might think so, but there’s a reason I do it. Maybe I want you to think extra long on what the character is doing at that moment… 😉
So here I am, finally at a point where I feel like my writing is consistently good. Consistently heartfelt. Consistently has truth in it. Consistently gives voice to a character who wants to be heard. Yay me!
Now it’s time to get down with the business part of writing. I write because it satisfies my creative desires better than anything else does. Why write if nobody’s ever going to read it, though, right? Well, not really. I have pages and pages and files of stuff nobody will ever read. Stories and characters that I love, but aren’t prime time ready, so to speak. They were more practice stories than anything else.
Could I go back and edit to make them better? Change them so they might become worthy of publication? Sure. I could. But what if that changes those characters in some fundamental way? I might not want to do that. Besides, I think of it as similar to a baseball player practicing his swing. All those hours swinging, building that muscle memory so that he can bat a .300 season. That’s what those stories are for me. Precious because I fall in love with all of my characters, but more because it’s nice to look back and see how far I’ve come.
This business end, though. Yikes! It feels daunting. How do I build a following? How do I let readers know what I’ve written? How do I find readers who like to read the kind of stories I write? That’s where I am right now. This morning I found an article for how to grow my Twitter following. I’m about to hop over and read that right now.
Wish me luck in this new part of my writing endeavors. I’ve never been good at self-promotion, so along with the excitement I’m feeling, I’m also trying to make this feel like a normal thing to do: toot my own horn.
Now, about my writer’s group? AMAZING group of people. We encompass a huge variety of writing styles, genres, levels of creativity and experience, all in one back room at a pizza joint every Monday night. We have some amazing writers who I can’t wait to slap down a few bills to buy their books when they’re officially published. We also have some not so great, but trying really hard to get there, writers. I’m somewhere in the middle…
When I first started attending we were a weekly group of maybe ten, but sometimes as small as three, for a while. Now we’re consistently a group of over twenty writers meeting for pizza and reading, and sometimes yelling over what we’ve read. Always great advice, though. Always. I wouldn’t trade this group for any other. <3
Welp. You’ve made it all the way to the end! Maybe you’re interested in my most recent short story, Birthmarked. I wrote about it here. If so, drop a line in the comment section and I’ll send you a link!
I thought it might be time to add another post about my writing process. Not that anybody’s asked for it, but I think it’s interesting to know how other writers go about putting their stories down on paper. So, I figured someone else might be, too.
First things first: At this point I am totally hung up on short story writing. I like a story I can get down on paper (I write my first drafts in a handy-dandy composition book) in just one sitting; two if it’s on the longish side. I don’t have a great attention span, either, so short stories suit me that way, too. Mostly, though, I’m gonna blame it on my main characters. They never seem to need more than a couple of thousand words to tell their tales.
Which is probably the main point of this post in the first place. When I write a story, the days or hours before I sit down to it always go something like this: I’ll think of a really good opening line for a story. Maybe I’m in bed about to fall asleep, or in the shower, rinsing my hair. Once I read a non-fiction story and was so struck by an observation in it I immediately knew I had to use that line.
Having that opening line is crucial, for me, because it’s how I find my characters for the story. Who would say something like that? Why? Who would she say it to – another person, or maybe to herself?
Sometimes I have a vague idea of how the story will go, but usually not. Most days, I sit down and start writing and the character tells me what to write next. Not in a I hear voices in my head sort of way, though. The story just comes out of my pen.
My most recent story, about a fourteen year-old drug addict, happened this way. I knew she was a cocky kid named Darla when I sat down to write her story, but that’s about it. Turns out she has a big purple birthmark on the right side of her face and found herself in a rehab group for adults. Who knew?
Darla did. I learned it yesterday, and now you know it, too.
My question, at this point is: Are you interested in reading the story? I don’t like to technically publish my stories here because if I’m able to publish them anywhere for pay, it needs to be previously unpublished. However, if you’re interested in reading Darla’s story, leave a comment below. You’ll have to sign in with an email address, but then I can send you a link 🙂 Sweet!
Don’t get me wrong. I love to write, LOVE IT, but eventually I’d LOVE IT even better if I could make a living from it. While I’m working on that part, I sure would like your support and to start to grow a following. I’m not looking to get famous, really. I don’t think I’d like it, honestly. But a hardcore group of people who like reading my stuff as much as I like writing it? That would be awesome!