As an independent editor/beta reader, I see a lot of writers fall into the message trap – they have something they want to say, something they feel is important, and they’re very passionate about it.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this – in fact, even if you’re a pantser (vs a plotter), you should be able to articulate what the core of your story is about. There may be more than one theme or message or question that you’re exploring, or there may be just one central message or theme.
The problem I see, especially with newer writers, is that they sometimes focus on the message instead of the story.
Continue reading “A message is not a story”
I’ve done over the past few months what I often do, which is turn inward. I always tell myself I’ll keep a blog going, and it’s not for lack of words and ideas that I don’t. It’s more just that introvert’s tendency to want to live in your own head, in your own private writings, in your own little world.
I’m recommitted to writing – not that I left necessarily, but I got distracted by other things for a while. Now I’m clearing those other things out of my life so that I can get back to that one thing.
That got me to thinking about why it look me so long to get here…
Continue reading “A recommitment to writing”
I belong to a support group, and someone in that group recommended reading a YA book called ‘Jacob Have I Loved.’ It’s about a girl who grows up on an island in the Chesapeake Bay area with a twin sister who’s very different from her – favored and pampered by their parents and the community in general. The title refers to this Bible verse (even though it’s not a religious book):
As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’ – Romans 9:13
To give context, in the Bible, Jacob and Esau are twins. Esau is the older one, but Jacob deceives him and receives a very important blessing from their elderly father. The book invokes the conflict between Jacob and Esau in the title; the narrator relates to Esau, as technically she’s the oldest, but it’s the youngest who manages to take attention away from her.
I was reading with a purpose – specifically to look at the dynamic between the siblings and within the family unit. Art reflects life, after all.
What I found were great examples of ‘show, don’t tell’ and subtlety in writing.
Continue reading “The art of subtlety in writing”
For many of us who live in the U.S., this is a frightening time. I feel the ball of anxiety tightening in my chest everyday, triggering a queasy feeling, an uneasiness that hovers around me. My concern for this country and the people in it is at unprecedented levels – I am, at times, actually breathless when I consider the possibilities that the next few years could bring.
It has not been a surprise that I find myself turning more toward the arts, both to soothe me and to energize me.
Art and literature have, at many times throughout history, been sources of subversiveness and protest. And so I write furiously, building a story that was born from my anxiety and anger. It’s one of those tiny sparks of hope that I have, that some humans respond to calls for conformity and oppression by creating something non-conformist and sharing it with others.
Continue reading “Throwing out sparks”
Grad school is out for the summer, which means I finally have more time to decompress…and think, and write, and read about things that aren’t part of my grad program. Someone once described grad school to me as intellectual boot camp, and I think there’s a truth to that. I would actually call it emotional boot camp as well. This isn’t my first grad program, so I knew going in that it would, at times, encompass a lot of my brain’s energy.
I’m also doing it with a chronic illness (which keeps throwing new and interesting symptoms at me), and a searing need to write. And writing is what I’m here to write about.
I don’t post as much of my writing publicly because it’s shifted. I had a few realizations as I got older, and one was that my early fixation on publishing had less to do with publishing and more to do with wanting to feel heard.
Continue reading “Word gardener”