This week I’ve been busy getting the house looking presentable for a visit from the Mother-In-Law. It’s not your typical MIL visit that people usually dread, this is different, you see, my MIL lives overseas and the last time she was able to visit was more than five years ago for my eldest child’s first birthday. She is probably the nicest MIL anyone could wish for, so I’m actually looking forward to her visit, also she is a terrific cook, so that’s an added bonus!
Another positive outcome of her visit is that I was forced to tackle the room that is supposed to be an office, but has had boxes stuffed inside from every time I changed moved classrooms and changed schools. So now I have a little place to call my own where I can write. There’s not much in the room just a laptop, some notebooks and an ever growing collection of books in the overflowing bookshelf, but it’s my own little creative space and I think I’m going to enjoy it.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot” -Stephen King
It’s going to take me a little while to get used to this new creative space. It feels strange to sit here typing this week’s post and not breaking my back leaning over a laptop on the lounge while the kids run around me, but I think I am going to enjoy my own creative space.
If you write, where do you write? Is it in the serenity of your garden in the afternoon sun? Or perhaps it’s in a quiet space with just a simple writing desk and a notebook or laptop that allows the words to flow? Maybe you work best in the hustle and bustle of your local coffee shop or in bed in the hours before sunrise. However you choose to write, you need to find what’s best for you, it doesn’t matter if your creative space is a little room in your house with a desk and little more or if your creative space is simply anywhere you can bring your laptop and your creative mind.
Now that I finally have a place to call my own it would be nice if the WiFi would work as well.
In the cyber world of blogging I have the privilege of connecting with other writers, some published, some not, but each of them shares their thoughts, knowledge and talents for us to follow and appreciate. One such blogger I am really appreciating at the moment is Gwen Stephens of The 4 A.M. Writer. Gwen’s latest blog postWriting the Wrong Storyreally spoke to me, in her post Gwen talks about a piece of writing she was working on a while back and the difficulty she was having in writing it. After much thought and time, Gwen realised that she was writing from the wrong point of view, she essentially was writing the wrong story.
While I have been in a similar situation to Gwen before, I didn’t resist the change as Gwen did at first, as it was fairly early on in the writing process. However, I now find myself in this situation yet again, some of you may remember my WIP telling the story of Thomas and Rose in the early 1930s. This story was being written from the POV of Thomas, a troubled man with a dark past, who is emotionally detached from the world until he meets Rose. In this paranormal historical romance fiction (it doesn’t fit into one genre), I’ve been struggling to tell Thomas’ story from his POV, without sounding like he loves talking about himself. The truth is Thomas doesn’t like to talk about himself at all and finds it difficult to express his feelings and emotions as he has emotionally detached himself from the world and others for so long. As a way of combatting this I began a journal for Thomas, as a way of expressing himself, his feelings and the darkness of his past. The journal would only be read by Rose, as it was her idea to keep the journal in the first place, as a way of dealing with his past, a sort of therapeutic tool I guess.
Even after making this change, the words have stopped flowing again. It’s been about 6 weeks since I have added anything to this WIP, each time I sit down to write I just reread the words on the screen without any idea of what comes next. I know where the story is heading and the major events and so on, but I don’t know how they get from one key event to the next. After reading Gwen’s blog and pondering about it over the last few days, I’ve now realised and accepted that while the story being told is Thomas’, it is Rose who is telling his story with the help of his journal. Others will often see us in a different light to what we see ourselves (thanks Jess), this is why I think it is an important change to make. By exploring the character of Thomas through the eyes of Rose, along with the insight of his journal, I believe (and hope) it will add more depth to the character, allowing the readers to connect with the story, creating a reality for these characters which the reader can relate to.
So as I set off to rewrite, I thank you Gwen, for helping me realise that I was writing the wrong story and whilst change can be scary sometimes change is necessary in order to move forward (and it’s not just writing I’m talking about).
Has there been times when you have realised that resistance is futile and that change is necessary in order to move forward?
This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit. Fiction writers, present company included, don’t understand very much about what they do- not why it works when it’s good, not why is doesn’t work when it’s bad. I figured the shorter the book , the less bullshit -Stephen King (On Writing- A Memoir of the Craft)
Well it happened, I said farewell to my twenties and welcomed the first day of my thirties with a brand new outlook. I’ve decided that now I have my new grey hairs hidden, I can start to get over this whole “getting older” thing and with my additional years of experience I’m going delve deeper into exploring the person I am and the person I want to be.
It has now been six months since I began my journey towards embracing the writer within and already I feel I have come so far in this journey. Writing has enabled me to explore my thoughts, ideas and dreams. Each day I feel as though I am taking another step in the right direction and with each new idea, each new insight into a character and each new word I am feeling the excitement and liberation of not only knowing your true self, but also embracing it.
As I share the writer within with those around me and those who follow this little blog of mine, I am allowing people to see a little bit of my soul, pieces of me that I once kept hidden. I’m not really sure why I kept these pieces of me from seeing the light of day and I’m not really sure what helped me to make the decision to share these pieces with the world, but since making this leap of faith I have not regretted it, not for even a second. I look forward to writing each blog post on a Sunday and I especially look forward to the rare moments I have to write and explore my WIP. I love following my characters on their journey as they tell their stories, I love figuring out what makes them tick, their likes and dislikes and most of all I love the feeling of satisfaction you get when you find the perfect word (or name).
Since I began my journey, those close to me have followed my journey and have given me a lot of encouragement over the last six months. One such person is my uncle, who has opened up the world of Stephen King to me. Of course, I already was fully aware who the remarkable Stephen King was, yet I have regrettably never actually read any of his books, something which I intend to change quick smart by reading my very first Stephen King book On Writing- A Memoir of the Craft, a birthday gift from my uncle. Now I am going to terribly embarrass this uncle by showing everyone his softer side. My uncle is an Australian truck driving type of bloke, who appreciates both a well-brewed beer and a well-written book. For you to understand the significance of this gift, you must first understand the usual method of gift-giving of my uncle. Not knowing what “us kids” like he gives my grandmother money to go shopping, which she does to the extent of wrapping the gift and even writing in the card for him. Not this time though, maybe he’s getting soft in his old age, but there was so much thought placed into this gift that it was decided enough in advance to be able to order the book in time for my birthday, he even bought and wrote in the card himself.
The thoughtful gift, encouraging me to continue my journey
So far I’ve read the foreward and I appreciate the brutal honesty of Mr King. So now this writer is off to explore the world of writing through the words and insight of the remarkable Mr Stephen King, hopefully my three children agree with this plan.
This week while watching some crappy television, soppy movies and reading some romance novels (procrastinating from yet another assignment), I scoffed at some of the “Hollywood” reunions between the main characters. After their heart-wrenching (often brief) separation the day of their reunion would arrive. They would lock eyes, everything around them would become a blur, their luggage (there’s often some sort of bags) would be dropped instantly, without any thought of leaving unattended baggage at an airport, as they rush towards each other. He would then lift her in a strong, powerful embrace kissing her passionately, with no concern over indecent public displays of affection or grossing out the kid that was walking past them. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but real life is nothing like the characters of Hollywood movies or our favourite fiction. Real life is full of awkward moments and sometimes I think Hollywood is setting us up for disappointment. I shamefully admit, I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey and other similar fiction and I’ll tell you now, if real life was like that, no one would be leaving their bedrooms and the world as we know it would cease to exist. So let’s just remember that Hollywood moments are fiction and don’t be disappointed if your reunion is more “awkward moment” than “Hollywood moment”. Real-life reunions go something like this….
The day that I have been dreaming about for longer than I’d like to remember had finally arrived, the memory of our separation was too painful to consider, this was the day and I didn’t want to feel anything but happiness.
The last time we said goodbye, we had no idea when we would see each other again. That was the hardest thing about our separation, I think, not knowing when. What took him away was beyond our control, but we knew it had to happen before our life together could really start. During the long months we were apart, I began to feel as though the day would never arrive, the day when we would be together again. I had fantasized in my head many times what it would be like the first time we saw each other, after spending so much time apart. I imagined it would be something straight out of the movies. I would be waiting anxiously, scanning every person, every face that came through the doors. Then suddenly, he would be there. Our eyes would lock on each other and everything else around us would be out of focus, everything else would cease to exist for that brief moment. Then he would rush to me and lift me into his arms, pulling me into the strength and warmth of his embrace that I had longed for during those long lonely months, kissing me passionately.
In reality, the reunion was nothing like that. I was nervous and sick to my stomach, I was worried that we might not recognise each other after all this time. My worry was all for nothing though, I think there may have been a brief moment when we locked eyes and the world around went out of focus, but after that the long awaited reunion was full of awkwardness. As I watched him approach with an undoubtedly goofy grin on my face, there was no rushing, no Hollywood style dramatic embrace, instead it was a timidly placed kiss and a silly gift that now I think was probably completely pointless. I think I cried a bit, I didn’t have any words at that moment. All those months when I just wanted to see him and talk to him, without having to use a phone and then he was there, right in front of me and I had no words.
It was a surreal experience, after all the time we spent waiting, not knowing when this day would arrive and now it had, all I could do was quietly observe, not really believing that it was happening.
After the awkward reunion, it didn’t take us long to settle back to what we were before that difficult time, but it wasn’t the same as before, we weren’t the same. As a couple we had already been through so much and we would be forever changed for that, but it was a change for the better, we were stronger, we appreciated the time we had together.
No matter how difficult those times apart were and how painful it was, I never want to forget. I never want to forget the pain and the loneliness I felt, even in a room full of people. I never want to forget what we went though, because it was then that I realised what love really was, I was young but I knew it was love, because being away from someone shouldn’t hurt that much. Sometimes the pain was almost unbearable but somehow we got through it all and we are stronger for it. Absence doesn’t necessarily make the heart grow fonder, my love for him didn’t grow through our separation but I began to understand the depth of love I felt, absence makes the heart understand and appreciate love and to cherish it always.
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” -Maya Angelou
This week we sadly saw the passing of author, poet, activist, dancer, actress, director and singer, Maya Angelou. Whilst I admittedly have not read any of her work in full, I have heard of her and know the inspirational person she was. When I read the sad news of her passing I began to gain a glimpse of the life Maya lived. Like the lives of many others, it was full of ups and downs but the most inspiring thing about the life Maya lived, I believe, was her ability to reinvent herself, with a life full of new beginnings.
According to Wikipedia (not always 100% reliable, but in this case I believe its information will suffice) Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4th, 1928. Her childhood was not an easy one by any means, her parents had a tumultuous relationship and Maya and her older brother would live with their grandmother more than once throughout their childhood. Maya Angelou was an amazingly strong woman and despite the difficulties she faced in her life, Maya has been awarded over 50 honorary degrees and is a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist and also, she was a mother. In fact Maya had her first child shortly after graduating high school and despite being a single mother in difficult time, she went from strength to strength to become an inspiration to people all over the world.
In light of my new-found appreciation of the person that was the inspirational Maya Angelou, I have been thinking about new beginnings. The times in our lives when we pick ourselves up and start again. It may be a time when our world has come crashing down or a time when we realise that things need to change, this is when we experience these new beginnings. Sometimes we begin this journey by making a conscious decision to start over or change direction, other times our path is altered subconsciously or by external forces. When thinking about the life of Maya Angelou and the new beginnings she experienced throughout her life, I began reflecting not only on my own journey and each new beginning I have experienced, but also the journeys and new beginnings of my characters, particularly in my (not so) short story, The Start of a New Beginning. After delving deeper into the journey of my characters and the changes in their lives, I have decided that the title for this WIP doesn’t adequately describe the journey of my characters and the many times when their lives have come crashing down and again, they start over. So in keeping with this sentiment, I am now referring to this WIP as New Beginnings.
If you would like to know more about the person who was Maya Angelou, both Wikipedia and Maya’s official website are great sources