When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

I knew from the first moment I looped twist ties through a thick stack of notebook paper with the edges still frayed that I wanted to be a writer. There was this feverish excitement to watch written words come alive. And when you’re six years old and add a few pictures sketched and colored with Crayola crayons, well you might as well be a NYTBSA.

Yep, six years old with these characters that seemed to come from nowhere. They were my creation, my friends and once they were out on paper they were no longer imaginary, they were real people.amazing_silhouette_photograph_14

I started telling anyone who would listen that I was going to be an author when I grew up. I was going to write fiction. I don’t know where I got such a big, complex dreams but it seemed I knew and understood them intuitively.

After a few years I stopped this ridiculous confession because as I looked around no one in my circle of influence was talking about writing books and authors and such. Do those people even get paid? What would you even write?

By sixth grade grownups were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. By the looks on their faces I knew it had to be something that required college and a degree I could hang on the wall in my office.

When I grow up I want to be a psychologist.

When I said this people drew in long breaths and smiled with admiration. Psychologists were smart people. Educated folk, they said. This was a wise choice. With a clear head and a dedication to school I could become that or even an accountant. You see my Daddy said I should become an accountant and I could, once I learned how to be good with numbers. His brown eyes let up as if he could see it in his mind’s eyes.

Yes, I would be either a psychologist or an accountant as Daddy suggested.

My father worked at General Motors for 30 years. On the, weekends he wrote and read every day, for hours. About a year after he retired he died. After his death we found piles of notebooks filled with his writings. I wonder if anyone ever asked him what he wanted to be? I wonder when he sat in the big chair with his tall legs crossed looking over his bifocals writing in those notepads did he ever wish he could do that all day?

Well, I went to college and graduated with honors.  I got a Bachelor’s in Journalism so at least I would be sure to get paid if I just insisted on writing.

I don’t quite remember when my dream to become a fiction writer began to die. I suppose it was a slow process, like someone who is terminally ill and finally stops struggling against the inevitable. It’s almost a relief just to give in. There’s a feeling of satisfying indolence when you’re no longer struggling. I guess that must be what a physical death feels like.

When dreams die, they usually die young.

They die in the womb; at the point when they should be cared for the most, tended to to  make sure the roots are strong.  They don’t usually die brutally; but go the way of neglect. We stop speaking over them, we don’t feed them anymore. We smother them with the expectations from others, disappointments and fears we’ve learned from our environment and all the lies we tell ourselves.

Eventually, as a young woman, I discovered this little seed; hidden and long forgotten.  Stories played in my head, like when I was six. They needed to be recorded.

Whenever there is something still alive there is hope.

Not all dreams die young. Some dreams just refuse to die.

Learning the Craft of Writing

Learning the Craft of Writing

After three novels and several short stories in several months my debut novel will be published. What a thrill, what a ride. Some may say: It took you three novels? Are you kidding! Yeah, I thought the same more times than you care to know. Yet, in retrospect I know that my first works were just a pouring out from my imagination without true direction. There was no real adherence to or study of the craft of novel writing.Plot & Structure

Then I prayed about it and God directed me to learn the craft. Yes, there are those who have written wonderful books without studying the art. To them I say, God bless. Happy trails. Yet, I believe to be truly good at this art form consistently, it is necessary to know the craft.

I began to read writers’ magazines and stumbled on articles about plotting, sub-plotting, theme, voice and such things. Great.  I hadn’t thought of any of this while I was hammering away at the keyboard. I knew that such fundamentals existed, but I reasoned I had read enough books to figure it out and everything necessary would somehow naturally emerge (It turned out this kind of reasoning was like believing I could make a good movie because I’d watched so many great ones. Wait for my remake of Glory.) I picked up a copy of James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure and poured over it, highlighted areas and dog eared pages.  I became an avid reader of the Writer’s Digest magazine. I read certain articles repeatedly, searched out the meaning of voice, theme and plot; I compared writing in first versus third person and so on.

As I honed my techniques, I began to understand the parts of a novel and the way it unfolds. I wrote again. Another novel was born. But this time, because I didn’t know how to move a story along, this thing had a myriad of plots and they were going in so many directions the entire book got away from me. My reader probably would’ve given up halfway through the book–eyes crossed. Sigh. Patience is not my strongest virtue. But I patiently continued to work at it.

And finally, 2006 In Three Days was born as I sat in an office, out of work, seeking help. This time I started with the characters. I developed them until I knew them intimately. Not just their physical appearance, but their likes and dislikes, their personalities; what makes them do what they do, their walk, accents and inclinations. And then I worked it most every day, just a few pages consistently because I was working fulltime and had three kids to care for.  And now it is here. It is time. And I plan to enjoy the journey and the path on which God has set me.