From one writer to another, do you usually base your story’s setting on real places?
Or, do you prefer to create them from your imagination?
From one writer to another, do you usually base your story’s setting on real places?
Or, do you prefer to create them from your imagination?
Why do writers write?
The answer seems obvious, and the reasons are similar among most writers.
It’s because we must.
It’s who we are.
We have no choice but to write…
or go stark, raving mad.
There has to be more to it than that.
In my mind, at least.
We must dig deeper.
There is a reason other than the ones we give to people (even to ourselves).
What is it?
Why write at all? What’s the true driving force behind this passion? This innate desire to put words down? To create?
There has to be more than just “I need to write.”
Is it because we are already mad?
Perhaps we need to be crazy enough to dig deep into our minds, the deepest, darkest parts of our psyche in order to pull out our masterpieces.
To share openly with the world.
To be willing to be criticized and ridiculed.
But why do all this?
Writers are an eccentric lot.
the reasons behind the why of what we do are infinite.
To try to even understand us is…
So, don’t bother.
Just accept us for who we are.
Just accept yourself for who you are.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”-Stephen King
Why did you fall in love with books? How about with writing?
For me, it was the ability of books to transport me to other worlds; to meet new and interesting characters, to explore exciting and wondrous places and creatures. They took me away from reality and I discovered the magical realm of imagination.
In time, I learned to transform those fantastical worlds in to words.
Magic was real to me. I believed in impossibilities.
Myths and legends.
I’ve been called naive for most of my life. Probably because I choose not to see the world in its present state (dark, ugly and full of chaos and violence); but with possibilities and potentials.
Hope and beauty.
I choose to look at the world with a child-like view.
Hence, I still believe in Santa Claus and elves, and knights in shining armors.
Does this make me silly?
It’s how I survive in these ever darkening times.
However, for the past several years reality has been slowly poisoning my mind.
I wanted to write darker stuff. The media is full of these kinds of images and messages.
My inner being grew more hollowed.
Depression and negative thoughts settled in.
These writings that I could never seem to finish made me feel so…so empty.
I began to doubt myself as a writer, and even considered giving it up completely.
Then yesterday I sat down to watch an old favorite movie; one I hadn’t seen in several years. Actually, I watched the first two back-to-back:
I felt like a kid all over again. My mind full of magical things.
The same ideas I had many years ago but have shelved them.
It’s time I honor the writer I truly am.
“I want to be magic. I want to touch the heart of the world and make it smile. I want to be a friend of elves and live in a tree. Or under a hill. I want to marry a moonbeam and hear the stars sing. I don’t want to pretend at magic anymore. I want to be magic.”-Charles de Lint
The infamous quote by the great Ray Bradbury:
What the heck does this even mean?
What about you? What do you think he meant when he said this?
I’ve had it pretty easy in my writing life. Grammar and syntax come naturally to me. I had great English teachers who praised my creativity and encouraged me. My mother was a reader who indoctrinated me early in the joys of fiction, with the help of a great library. No one suggested that writing wasn’t a good career choice, or that I needed to be more practical. I’ve had support out the wazoo.
So far as a crucible to forge a writer in, my childhood was a good one.
Many writers have had more to overcome—unsupportive or outright abusive families, second languages, mental health issues, political persecution. All that is to say that I know I have very #firstworldproblems when it comes to my writing life.
See, I was always going to be a writer. Ask people who knew me in first grade. It’s always been on my agenda. An assumption, like being a mom and a teacher. A given.
As I grew up, I used to talk about writing a lot. I’d get all dreamy and imagine my future career as a world-famous novelist. But it was always a hazy dream, filmed through Vaseline so you couldn’t see the harder realities of it: the actual work. It was “someday.”
But I wasn’t doing anything to make it happen.
Sure, I wrote. Once in a while. When I felt inspired. When I was in the mood, or when one of my ideas was just so tenacious there was no escaping it. But I didn’t take myself seriously as a writer, and neither did anyone else. Why would they? It was like I thought some big publisher was going to somehow just find me and pay me to write without my ever having proven I could even do it. A fantasy discovery scenario. Not a career plan.
Then, I was turning 42, which Douglas Adams taught us is the answer to life, the universe and everything. It was my crisis moment. I told myself it was time to give writing a serious attempt. There was a lot less “someday” left than there once was.
The obstacles in my writing life were all internal. Setting priorities, finding focus, making time. I was my own worst enemy, putting my own dream last on the list of things I would spend my days and hours and years on.
That’s when I committed to a daily writing habit. It was a game-changer for me.
It was harder than that might seem. At age 42, I was in the middle of a teaching career and a marriage. I was parenting two daughters and a dog, maintaining a house and household, fighting the battle of the bulge, and trying to have some kind of social life. There were a lot of pulls on my time. And I’d made a habit of many years of giving my time away.
But, I started to insist on writing time. Slowly, over the course of a few months, I renegotiated my contract with life, and made sure there was room in it for writing. I gave up things that I could: television, social opportunities that I didn’t want badly. My initial goal was 250 words per day. Just one page. And I struggled to put down that many words. It took me two or three hours some nights. It was hard and frustrating.
But I am stubborn. And it got easier. Soon, I could write 250 words in half an hour. I learned that the words didn’t have to all be keepers. That sometimes, I had to write garbage to get it out and get to the good stuff underneath. I learned that if I could just get something on the page, I’d be able to make it better in the next pass, but that I had to give myself something to work with.
Now, I can’t imagine a day without writing. I write somewhere between 800 and 4,000 words a day, depending on other life demands. A day when I only write 250 words is a day that was full of lots of other life—parties, sickness, travel, or something—and a decision I made about my use of time.
My family notices when I haven’t written. They see me getting grumpy and say, “Hey Mom, did you write yet today?” the way other families might suggest you get a sandwich, take a nap, or take your meds. It’s that important to my equilibrium.
And because I’m writing every day, I’m getting better at it. I have flow. I’m finishing things, revising and polishing and publishing things. People are reading them. Some people even like them. This summer, I sent my third novel off to my publisher. I get to say things like “my publisher.”
So all this is to say, if you want to be a writer, you’ll have to write. Look at your life. Figure out what’s in your way (even if it’s only you that’s in your own way). And find your way around those obstacles. You can’t ever get there if you don’t start the journey. And it’s quite a trip!
Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a mom and novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. You can find her Menopausal Superhero series from Curiosity Quills on Amazon, or request it at your favorite independent (or big box) bookstore. You can find her online on her blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+, and now on Tumblr.
*Today we have a special guest with us- D. Denise Dianaty!
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you write.
Well, when I think of ME, I think, “I am an artist.” It isn’t just something I do… it’s who I am, bone deep. I’ve always enjoyed singing. I have a nice little church voice. My mother thought it was more and saw in me a chance to realize her dream of a Country Gospel star. So, I began college at a Christian college studying music, specializing in Voice. I was miserable. The only class I passed was Drawing and Painting.
The elective… LOL
As a visual artist, writing always seemed sort of second nature to me. It was a kind of companion to my art. Many of my drawings and paintings inspired or were inspired by poetry. I’d sit down, for example, writing out notes about a painting I was planning, and poetry would be result.
How long have you been writing?
Once upon a time, I kept scads of journals and sketch diaries under my mattress. When we moved, my mother found them and was deeply offended by them. She destroyed them with fire in the BBQ grill. I didn’t share my writing for over thirty years. I convinced myself it was all just very bad, rather pathetic poetry. As my mother called, “wallowing in self-pitying drama.” But, I didn’t stop writing. I just hid that part of me away for a very long time. I didn’t share my art much either. It did see more light of day than my poetry. Art classes in school kept that part of my creative expression alive.
Why do you prefer to write short stories/plays/scripts over other forms? What are you currently working on?
Every year in junior and senior high school (middle school and high school for you millennial readers), it was an agreement, I’d take chorus or voice for mother, and she’d let me take Art for my second elective. Oooo! TWO electives in school? Generous, eh? I had drama club in high school too! And Home Ec as well as Vocational Office Education. School used to actually teach you stuff to get a job with and included entire classes of art and music. WOW! Radical thinking, right? LOL Anyway, a couple of years ago, a writer friend of mine who’d occasionally tried to convince me that I was a poet, introduced me to the idea of writers’ forums to test the waters to see if there was anything to the idea.
I went to look for them online and found http://WritersCafe.org .
After around a year there, I’d gained enough confidence to start composing a partly autobiographical book of my poetry to self-publish. I also tested my mettle writing fiction. I published the book of poetry on Amazon. Then, the first short novella I wrote was very well received on the Cafe. It seemed everyone who read it was telling me I should publish it. So, I did.
I’m glad I published both books. And, even though I’ve had little sales, I’m working on a couple more.
It’s like…it’s like I had been gagged for nearly forty years. When the gag was finally ripped off…well, it’s like that verse in “Fight Song”:
And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time!
No one is ever going to silence me again while I breathe.
Do you have any advice for writers trying to get published for the first time?
My best advice for writers is to remember that “Writers write always. Great writers read… then write.” And don’t ever let anyone silence your voice.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
My favorite writer is and always will be my brilliant friend who helped me take back my voice. She is the sister of my heart. I do have other favorites, primarily Georgette Heyer, Lois MacMaster-Bujold, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Emily Brontë, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, Charlotte Browning, Omar Khayyam, Arthur Guiterman, and more.
You moderate/run various groups like We PAW Bloggers and Pandora’s Box of Horrors; what inspired you to start them?
WE PAW Bloggers was begun by Pryde Foltz. She made me admin and turned her primary focus to WE PAW on YouTube. WE PAW Bloggers is a group focused on driving readers to our larger bodies of work. That, and the protections of date stamping and/or copyrighting that are automatic parts of blog sites and writers’ forum sites, is the reason the group requires sharing external links our writers’ accounts.
Pandora’s Box of Horrors began on the Women Writers, Women Bloggers (WWWB) group. There was this post, around Halloween. Someone started a list of horror words. I think it was me who had the idea to turn those horror words into the basis of a horror short story contest. I created the Pandora community page for that contest. This year, I ran the Challenge 2016 and found that a community page wasn’t meeting the group need for a place to interact as I’d hoped. So I created the Pandora’s Box of Horrors group page. After this year’s challenge is wrapped up, I’m going to shut down the community page run with the group page.
You’re also passionate about various issues. Tell us about them.
Most of the issues I’m most passionate about are social issues and this current election cycle. I got started engaging on social media after reading an article about self-promotion as an author. See, I have a problem with naked self-promotion. I just can’t get past feeling like a braggart.
The article – I can’t recall the name or source now – suggested authors “create a relevant presence” by engaging intelligently in social media. “Activism in writing” was advised in another, very similar article – again, I can’t recall the source now.
Most of my blogging lately has been issue related, rather than pure writing for the sake of the creative art of writing.
*Want more? Here are her various sites:
Today, we’re featuring an interview with a writer who’s also a mother and an elementary school teacher: Tabatha Shipley!
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you write.
I write fiction, usually for a younger audience. As a teacher I became aware of a lack of interesting material in a younger age range that exposed kids to third person point of view. I set out to write something different for that audience.
How long have you been writing?
Since I could hold a pen! Writing is my outlet for stress.
In this capacity though, about a year of serious focus on honing my craft and writing for a wider audience.
What are you currently working on?
My first dive into fiction for general adult readers! I’m excited and yet equally frightened by what kinds of thriller my mind is capable of producing.
Do you consider yourself to be an introvert or extrovert?
Introvert, but I hide it really well when I have to.
What do you love best about being a teacher?
That moment when a kid just GETS it. You see their eyes light up and realize they just learned the power of knowledge. There is nothing else in the world like that feeling. It is the drug that all good teachers are completely addicted to.
What is your favorite book? Why?
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
First because JK Rowling is the Queen of writing and I just want to immerse myself in her life and her brilliance.
But there are a lot of books for that. I picked this one specifically because it shows that all people have that hidden side. Your hero has something dark inside him as much as your perceived bad guy has some deep passions within him.
Have any additional comments or advice for our readers/writers?
Find a story that begs to be told and tell it. It is that simple and that difficult.
Thank you, Tabatha, for sharing your passion and insight with us! You can find her at her blog, Developing Our Wings
Hard to believe that we’re heading down the final stretch of 2016. The holidays are just around the corner.
Speaking of holidays…have you noticed that several stores have put out their Christmas decorations already???
Let the craziness begin.
I’m glancing at my remaining writerly agenda for the rest of the year, and it looks to be a busy one.
I learned that two of my poems will be published in a literary zine; and a nonfiction piece with another zine. My novella, Tomorrow Falls (part one), is currently being published with Piker Press in weekly installments. I’m working with various places as a contributor/interviewer/poetry consultant.
In November I plan to participate in National Novel Writing Month to write the second part for Tomorrow Falls.
What about you? How’s the rest of the year looks for you?
*Today I love to introduce to you a very special lady-Amy Bovaird, best-selling author of Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith. She’s here to talk to us about her struggles and challenges with a progressive disease, and how she uses her faith and humor to persevere.
I was delighted when Carrie asked me to write a guest post for her blog back in the spring of this year. But first I was traveling and then I was working frantically to finish my new book, Cane Confessions, The Lighter Side to Mobility. It wasn’t until now that I had time to write the post. I’m grateful for Carrie’s flexibility and to have the opportunity today to share my story.
As someone losing her vision and hearing, I face many obstacles each day. The only constant is that I will continue to lose more vision and hearing. The variables change at different intervals of this disease I suffer: what I now know to be Usher Syndrome, the leading cause of deaf blindness in the world.
There are three types of Usher Syndrome: A, B and C. The first begins with hearing loss early in life, the second type is adolescence and the third, the type I have is discovered later and is characterized by a late onset of progressing hearing loss.
Vision loss is a challenge; hearing loss is a completely different challenge. Neither is like being born deaf or blind. Thus, the progressiveness of Usher is the biggest hurdle of all. One never quite adjusts because the losses are ongoing.
Probably my biggest struggle came about eight years ago when I faced using a white cane. To me and many others losing their vision, using a cane shouted “I am blind,” louder than any word. For some reason, being blind is viewed typically as a weakness or deficit by both society and the person who faces the cane.
I overcame the obstacles attached to using a white cane through my faith. Strangely enough, God used a completely blind mobility instructor to help me overcome my fears and to bring “blindness” into perspective. It’s only as negative or restrictive as the person facing it, permits it to be. This wowed me!
Now, it’s not what others think about me that challenges me. As a child of God, I believe have great value and that God has a plan for my life. If I hold to this truth, that becomes my constant and the changing visual and hearing perspectives are manageable. Instead of being overwhelmed with the frustrations I face every day, I look for the humor in these situations.
Once I dropped a box of raisins and no matter how many times I bent over to pick them up, I would turn back to the floor and see yet another raisin or two I missed. By the fifth time, it seemed I had gotten them all (but I found another a week later that I missed). That same day, I knocked over my paper shredder. I groaned as I bent to sweep the shred into a dust pan. Again, no matter how many times I tried to sweep them all up, I still found stray pieces outside my line of vision. It’s teaching me patience. These spilled raisins and paper shreddings represent my everyday difficulties, whatever they may actually be. It could be not seeing the top of a trash can, or like today, not seeing the recycle bin at the local grocery store though it was nearby. Humor and patience help me face up to the everyday vision hurdles.
Losing my hearing takes even more patience. With moderate to severe hearing loss, I am easily frustrated and have cried a few times. I hate to keep admitting when I can’t hear a person, especially after three or four attempts. One of the ways I cope is to pretend I’ve heard. But sometimes that gets me into hot water! God is working on my heart to bring about more honest communication and to let my pride go.
We all experience aggravation but ultimately, we choose how to cope with them. What has helped me in recent years is looking at positive role models of those who live with Usher Syndrome or Retinitis Pigmentosa (ongoing vision loss). I also journal and talk to others. I try to live a life of gratitude and appreciation for the acts of kindness others show me. Humor and it. Laughter helps me keep to continue picking up the spilled raison and paper shreddings each day. Most importantly, I’m learning to trust God’s plan for me, even when I can’t see or hear what’s coming around the bend.
As an international traveler and teacher, Amy was diagnosed several years ago with a dual disability—progressive vision and hearing loss due to Usher Syndrome—but continues to enjoy running, hiking and traveling. Amy is an accomplished public speaker on a variety of topics based on her life experiences and also volunteers with local and national animal rescue organizations. She has written two books: Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith (© 2014) and Cane Confessions: The Lighter Side to Mobility, to be released in November 2016. She blogs about the challenges she faces as she loses more vision and hearing, shares the lessons God reveals to her through her difficulties and manages to find humor around almost every corner.
How do you keep your readers coming back for more? Is it the main protagonist/antagonist? Or perhaps it’s the thrilling storytelling? Better yet, maybe it’s a combination of interesting characters and edge-of-your-seat story line. So…in your experience, what have you noticed readers enjoy most about the stories you write?
By voting (you’ll have to let me know that you voted) or commenting, you’ll have an opportunity to either guest blog or be interviewed here (your choice!).
Why do writers write? Fundamentally it’s pretty much the same. We write because we must; because this is who we are. I could say the same for me, but I prefer to look at this from a slightly different perspective: what would happen if I didn’t write?
I’ve done it before. This “hiatus” lasted for nearly ten years and I felt the consequences of my writing inaction.
Misery. Pure, pure misery.
There was also hate there. And anger. At what? At myself. At life. At various people.
During this period, I dealt with a lot of losses. My vision and hearing due to a progressive disease. The death of my first husband at the age of 25. A miscarriage. Nearly losing my second husband to Pericarditis. Job loss due to restructuring. My father to an aggressive lung disease.
You know, life.
It’s something we all experience. We get up each morning. We breathe. We eat (except for those who live solely by coffee). We go about our daily duties. And for those of us who can, we sleep.
Day in. Day out.
As humans, we’re survivors. I mean look at the history of mankind. It’s a miracle that we even exist!
So, that’s what I did. I strived to survive. Only it wasn’t enough. Anxiety and depression slipped into my life. I felt I was slowly losing myself. Heck, I wanted to lose myself! I mean why did I keep fighting to live? At some point in our existence, we all die.
Something was missing. A piece of me was missing. I just couldn’t figure it out.
My second husband, Jay, presented me with a gift for no special occasion. It was out of love he gave me this precious item, and because he knew me better than I did.
A beautiful leather-bound book full of white pages.
I instinctively knew what I had to do. I took a pen and painstakingly filled each page with words. As Hemingway so eloquently said years ago, I bled on those pages.
I’d found the missing piece of myself.
My writing soul.
So, whenever I’m asked, why do I write?
I write because the price is too high NOT to.
I’ve been writing (somewhat) regularly since 2007; so that’s about nine years now. Most of this time I focused on fiction (of supernatural or apocalyptic nature) while occasionally dabbling in poetry or essays. While fiction is still my first love, I find that I am being pulled more and more towards writing nonfiction.
Wait a minute. Hold the phone.
What exactly is nonfiction?
Here’s my favorite word: research.
Nonfiction (according to Dictionary.com): is “the branch of literature comprising works of narrative prose dealing with or offering opinions or conjectures upon facts and reality.”
Some examples are:
academic paper, autobiography, biography, book report, creative nonfiction, diary, dictionary, encyclopedia, essay, handbook, journal and memoir.
I looked at a few of these examples a bit further.
Essay (Dictionary.com) is “a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative.”
This would include: “literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author.” (Wikipedia)
Essay can take on other creative forms: film essay or photographic essay.
Memoir Versus Autobiography: are very similar to one another in that they give intimate details of one’s life. What are the differences?
Autobiography focuses more on chronological events, and deals mostly with facts and reality. Memoir, on the other hand, is less obsessed with facts and more about emotional truth. It generally has a subject of focus rather than detailing all the chronological events of one’s life.
What if I don’t want to deal completely in the nonfiction and yet don’t want it to be all imaginary either. What other options would I have?
Semi-fiction is “fiction implementing a great deal of nonfiction such as a fictional description based on a true story.” (Wikipedia)
One example of semi-fiction would be an autobiographical novel which is a form of novel that merges elements of fiction with autobiography.
At the age of forty-five, I am finding it increasingly difficult NOT to write about my life experiences. Some of them however are still painful to me today, or I am afraid of hurting loved ones, so I tend to stay away from anything truly autobiographical in nature. Yet I don’t want my work to be based entirely on facts or reality either. I want to explore the emotional truth of my life experiences so memoir and essay are attractive to me.
The only way to honestly find out is by writing them.
These are questions I have posed in today’s Thursday Talk Shop over at We PAW Bloggers on Facebook.
They’re serious ones. Thought-provoking.
Dare to continue?
If you lost one (or more) of your five senses, would this affect you as a writer (or as a poet or blogger)? How so?
The loss of which sense(s) would you consider to be the most detrimental to you?
Could losing this sense make you a better writer (or poet or blogger)? Or, worse?
Lets try an experiment.
The sense you deemed as essential NOT to lose…vision-blindfold yourself; hearing-wear earmuffs or plugs; smell-place a tape over both nostrils; sensation-wear thick clothing on your body (or anything that would dull the sensation); taste-nothing goes in your mouth…envision yourself without this particular sense. Would you be able to write or blog WITHOUT this ability? Would something be missing from your stories, poems, or articles? What ways would you be able to compensate for this loss?
Now, find an artist, or any person of interest who is missing this sense…how did he or she overcome this “disability” and succeeded in spite of it?
“There are two kinds of ‘disabled’ persons: Those who dwell on what they have lost and those who concentrate on what they have left.” -Thomas Szasz
In honor of Usher Syndrome Awareness Day on September 17th, I’m walking at least one mile a day for 25 days. I’ll then join my USH family around the world for the final 1.2 miles in this mile-a-thon.
Or, even better, send an e-mail to friends you think might be interested in contributing and include a link to my page!
Thanks so much for your generosity!