This month’s question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?
This was a difficult question. I couldn’t think of any one thing specifically but just the knowing that writing in of itself has been incredibly valuable for me. Without it, I don’t think I’d be as “put-together” emotionally and mentally as I am.
Even though I’ve been writing for a number of years now, and have several of my short works published, I’m not famous or rich.
In fact, most people have no clue who I am.
I suppose that’s okay.
What matters to me is that the words I write impact people in some way.
So, yeah, I write for myself first but I also write to give voice (or try to) to those who cannot speak.
For me, writing is therapeutic.
Which means words matter.
And I want it to matter to the reader as well.
In the end, I can think of a particular lesson that writing has taught me.
Compassion for others.
Writing offers a way to let others know that they are not alone in feeling the way they’re feeling.
And for that one reader, the writer’s words can make all the difference in the world.
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
I’ve never really gave much notice to the term “fandom” until I looked up the meaning of the word in a dictionary:
-“the state or condition of being a fan of someone or something.”
This definition made me chuckle as it sounds like something out of a psychology textbook. So, I looked at what Wikipedia had to say:
-“a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest.”
Meaning, you can be a “fan” of not just individuals or movies or a particular kind of music; but, also of an ideal, an interest, motive, etc.. I think you get the idea.
I suppose now that I’m thinking (oh, so dangerous) I am a fan of multiple things.
For today, I will focus on one of them.
Women with great inner strength.
Helen Keller. Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. Mother Teresa. Anne Frank. Maya Angelou.
There are just too many to list here but the one who has been the greatest inspiration to me was Helen Keller.
Although I am legally blind and deaf, I still have enough of both to manage. But Helen had none of both and she still got around! There are days when I get frustrated at my shortcomings and limitations to the point I just want to quit and throw in the towel (and I’ve done this before which brought only misery for me), but I have to remind myself that there are (and have been) others who persevered and thrived despite their disabilities.
Which gives me hope.
And some days, that is all I need to continue on.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
(*YouTube Tuesday idea originally came from the Martians Attack blog)
I came across this video recently and loved how he presented some of the tips as well as how he came up with the story idea for Cujo.
Have you read any of his books? Which one is your favorite?
If you’d like to participate in YouTube Tuesday, post something from YouTube that you enjoyed and tell us a bit about it. Don’t forget to include the link to this post in yours so I can check it out. Also, if you’re on Twitter, Tweet about it using the hashtag #YouTubeTuesday.
Stephen King in his famous writing book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, has this to say about his daily word count:
“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book — something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.”
Wow…that’s a lot of writing!
What about you?
For this month’s IWSG Blog Hop, my question is this: As a writer, should I settle with a “niche”?
I discovered writing by “accident” at the age of eleven, and been writing on and off ever since. In 2007, my first (short) story was published. Now that I’m a full-time homemaker, I write almost every day.
Yet, I haven’t decided which form or genre or niche to settle on.
I’ve dabbled in poetry, screenwriting, essays, journaling/memoir, serial fiction, flash and short stories and have written in almost every genre (except for historical fiction).
What’s my problem?
I enjoy writing all of them.
I’ve been told that I should write whatever my heart and soul desire.
So, why am I so conflicted?
Although I have published many forms of writing but they’ve all been “short” (meaning under 10,000 words), I still have hope to publish a novel one day and that’s my dilemma.
If I write and publish a book in a particular genre, does that mean I’m stuck with that genre in the foreseeable future? Or, can I jump around from one genre to another? My main concern is confusing my readers especially if they enjoy reading only that particular genre and not the others.
Or, perhaps I’m making a huge mountain out of a molehill?
A few weeks ago (technically, more than 4 weeks), I put up a Poll to see what kind of characters you preferred to write (female, male, or other). Here are the results:
The down-size of this poll is that it didn’t capture whether the writers were male or female so I can’t make any further correlations. It seems that overwhelmingly we prefer females as our characters.
I wonder– why?
Do you find it easier to write from a female’s point of view? Or, perhaps you feel there need to be more female main characters in books?
Another interesting result I found was how high the stat for “other” was. Again, this poll didn’t capture (or further elaborate) what “other” entails.
Imagination runs rampant.
Today, we’ll continue the “character” series with another poll. This time about Character Archetypes.
I have mainly three reasons:
- Being a stay-at-home Mom, I have lots of difficulty with set writing schedules; however, I found that setting an overall monthly goal works better for me, and CampNaNoWriMo fits that agenda perfectly.
- I discovered writing serial fiction was much more enjoyable than writing novels (I can explain my reasons in another post if you’re interested-just let me know! 🙂 ). A current serial I began back in December stalled due to busyness that goes with family-life. I’m looking to Camp to help jump-start it. I’ve set a word-count goal for the month at 10,000 which should give me the spark I need.
- Community. I crave connection with other writers, and Camp gives it to me. Each participant is assigned to a cabin with other fellow Campers where we announce our goals; from there, our cabin mates encourage and support one another as we each try to achieve those goals.
What about you? Are you participating in any of these mentioned above?
I’m so excited to have a very special guest here with us today: Alison Morton who is the author to the alternative history series called Roma Nova. Be sure to check out her sites below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve been fascinated by the Romans since I was 11 and that’s a while ago! In between normal life events – earlier career in various sectors, marriage, raising our son, running my own business – I spent many of my vacations clambering over Roman Europe.
These days I live in France with my husband, write thrillers, cultivate a Roman herb garden and drink wine.
What aspects of your life led you to writing the kind of books you write?
I have a masters’ in history, six years’ military service and I love a good thriller. And I’ve always believed that a woman could run things as well as any man.
After the novel writing bug was triggered by a terrible film, all these came together and resulted in the Roma Nova thriller series.
What’s your favorite part about being a writer?
Two things: firstly, the research and the way you become diverted into looking up stuff totally unrelated to your work in progress and secondly, receiving an email or review from a reader who totally gets what you are trying to say in your books.
Tell us more about your books.
They’re adventure thrillers set in a modern Roman society run by strong women (Roma Nova). Of course, our heroines are fallible and of course they have strong love interests, but it’s the women who lead the action and call the shots. While the books are thrillers, there are no dripping body parts.
The first one, INCEPTIO, starts in New York when an ordinary girl, Karen Brown, is hunted by a government enforcer. But in steps an attractive Roma Novan spy who helps her escape. But Karen finds it isn’t just gratitude she feels towards him.
She discovers her Roma Nova heritage and her true name. Her new life in Roma Nova is shattered a few months later when the government enforcer crosses the Atlantic and comes after her. He has a very personal reason to pursue her …
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just sent the sixth book in the series to the copy editor and that will be out this April. Now I’m developing a novella, also set in Roma Nova.
How do you get into the minds of your characters?
I close my eyes and let them have conversations with each other. And sometimes I let them run around in my head acting out scenes. It’s important to establish each character’s separate personality from the start. Many people find it helpful to write out character profiles. Stories, whatever their setting and purpose, are all about people in the end.
What’s your favorite traveling destination? Any place you haven’t visited and would love to?
Rome is my absolute favourite – impressive in so many ways.
In 2015, we visited the US and Canada for seven weeks seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Washington DC, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Beverly Hills, New York, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Quebec and a lot else! Last year I did ten trips to the UK to speak at events as well as two here in France. In March I’m off to the London Book Fair and then to Dublin, Ireland to speak in June. That’s plenty of travel at present!
What do you see in the future for women in general?
I think we’ll keep nudging towards a more egalitarian world, but there’s a long way to go. We must continue to stand up for a truly equal place in the world and chisel away at ingrained and subconscious acceptance of stereotypes that surround us.
Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?
If you’re a writer keep writing and be persistent. Make your work the best it can be – no compromise! If you’re a reader, the best thing you can do when you read a wonderful book is to leave a review.
Social media links
Connect with Alison on her Roma Nova site
Facebook author page
Alison’s Amazon page
I have two questions for those who have had their works self-published.
- Which self-publishing company or service would you recommend, and why?
- Which ones should I stay away from?
Many thanks for your kind help!
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.