Stepping Stones Blog

Why I Write

I must admit that I have never participated in a “blog hop” but after reading Karen’s post I knew I wanted to join the fun.  

I was curious as to when this “hop” originated, but after doing a bit of research and following various links, I was only able to discern it has been active since at least mid-December.  That is exciting though – to think hundreds (thousands) of writers have taken part in this international community gathering.

The rules are simple – answer four basic questions:

Why I write:

I write because writing gives me a voice.  I am a shy, reserved, introvert.  In other words, I do not speak unless spoken to, and everyday chit-chat does not interest me.  I like to think about a subject before responding; I do not like to react in haste.  I enjoy formulating words in such a way that they truly communicate what I feel.  And… I like to be heard.

Writing also helps me to engage both sides of my brain.  I am heavily left-brained – highly organized, detail oriented, and a perfectionist.  For decades there was little room for creativity in my life.  I love that writing allows me to nurture that artistic muscle while utilizing my talents for cohesive structure and organization.

Lastly, I write because I truly believe everyone has a story to tell.  I would hope to not only tell my story as a legacy for my children and grandchildren, but also to inspire others to tell their story as well.

What am I working on:

I have only been writing since 2009, so I am still trying to discover my style and my interest.  Currently I love blogging because of the instant gratification I feel when connecting with readers.  I am also dabbling with memoir (I am currently working on a Sketchbook Project that is due August 1st) and travel writing.

I have plans to travel to Europe several times over the next few years and I want to capture the essence of place – the emotion and feeling as well as descriptive details.  To that end, I am taking a course this sumer  through the Iowa Summer Writing Festival on Writing about Nowhere. I believe there is value in writing about my hometown as well as exotic locales.

Lastly, I have an interest in Middle Grade historical fiction.  I completed NaNoWriMo 2013 with a novel that focused on a teenage girl who finds herself transported to Impressionist Paris circa 1880.  I would love to instill an interest in the arts in these young children which they will (hopefully) further develop in high school.

How does my writing differ from others in my genre:

Since I am so new to writing, I am not sure how mine differs except that my voice is distinct, so whatever story I tell will be infused with my personal point of view.

Having said that, my travel writing dream is to marry text with images.  If a picture is worth a thousand words,  I would like to write another 1500, producing a comprehensive photo essay.

My interest in MG Historical Fiction is based on personal experience.  I taught English for nine years and would often cringe when my high school students were intimidated by the classics.  It is my desire to write historical fiction that focuses on authors, artists, and musicians of the past so that children will gain familiarity with the classics before they begin to fear them.  I believe an early introduction will lay the groundwork for an enriching and fulfilling high school education.

How does my writing process work:

Because I write both non-fiction as well as fiction, I have two different processes:

Personal Essays:

Flannery O’Connor said, Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.  I believe this to be true.  I do not seem to be in short supply of what to write; I struggle with writing it well.

But I know that writing is like everything else in life, in order to improve we must practice… practice… practice.

I have set a goal to write ten minutes a day.  I reason if I can’t find ten minutes to devote to this vocation, then I cannot call myself a writer.   Sometimes this writing is in the form of blog posts, sometimes journal entries, sometimes brainstorming or crafting a more extensive piece.

The truth of the matter is … once I start writing, I rarely write less than thirty minutes and often longer.  It is the starting that is difficult:  putting the butt in the chair.

When focusing on a personal essay, the first draft is merely a verbal dump of all my thoughts on paper.  I overwrite in a stream-of-consciousness style.  I am a visual learner, so it is better for me to see the words before I begin to craft the final piece.

Next, I decide on a structure and begin to re-order paragraphs and sentences to fit that format.

Lastly, I begin to tighten.  This is obviously a skill that needs further refinement, but I am certain that with practice I will continue to improve.

Historical Fiction

Because of my strong left-brain personality, I am a plotter.  Once I knew the setting of the novel was Paris, 1880, I began to research in earnest.  I not only focused on the city, but also the Impressionist painters and their paintings.

I then decided to construct the novel using the names of paintings as chapter titles.  This helped me to organize the plot sequence.

I used the cork board function in Scrivener to create index cards for each chapter with a brief plot summary.  The cards could easily be reorganized to suit my needs, and as was often the case, I could easily add another chapter card when plot holes were revealed.

I am hoping NaNoWriMo 2014 can be used to revise this novel.  I have had a few beta readers critique the rough draft, and I have several extensive changes to make.  I am looking forward to experiencing this next phase of the novel writing process.

 

If you are interested in participating in this fun and challenging blog hop, just let me know in the comment section, and I will be happy to link to your blog.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Janie Waddell

    I don’t have a blog but have been writing for years – on and off. I am drawn to this type of thing – feedback from other writers and their ideas. Thanks. My style seems to be personal encouragement or photo essays. Wish I could figure it out. I am not organized but am extremely free-spirited. Hoping to get going on the road of passion..

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