My blogs generally focus on my writer’s life with stories about things that strike my fancy. Today I’m sharing a fun video aimed primarily for writers.
I first saw the video many years ago on the blog of The Steve Laube Agency. Fridays on his blog are FUN day and he shared this great video by James Andrew Wilson titled The Five Emotional Stages of Writing a Novel.
If you’re not a writer, I’m hope you can relate to some of the same stages in projects you undertake. And, it’ll help you understand your writer friends better.
I love the wisdom and wit of Benjamin Franklin. Wouldn’t we all love to have a do-over of at least some part of our lives?
Franklin suggests correcting faults or varying plot in our stories is an advantage. I would agree. Rewriting or revising is why I love storytelling–I can always change the story until my characters and I are happy with the results.
Nancy Thayer, the author of thirty-one books about the mysteries and romance of families and relationships, offers insightful advice with this quote. Revising should always an option in life and fiction.
This is the path around Capulin Volcano National Monument, located between Raton, NM and Clayton, NM. The site is on a direct route between Texas and Colorado. We stopped to hike the rim on one of our trips.
About the quote
The quote comes from an interview Quincy Jones did. Born March 14, 1933, in Chicago, Jones is an American musical performer, producer, arranger, and composer. His best-known works include Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the all-star charity recording “We Are the World,” the film The Color Purple, and the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air .
Many years ago one of my grandsons lived next door. He was home-schooled and sometimes I helped with his homework.
Writing was his least favorite subject. Fast forward to his first year in college and he loves his creative writing class. He sends me links when the Southwest Baptist University newsletter publishes his work.
His most recent publication was a poem, which reminded me of another homework poem, one I’d helped him with years ago. That poem was about a lizard.
Lazy lizards leap from leaf to leafAs green as a Sprite canLizards like to hide under the weatherRunning, hiding, and sneaking aroundCrazily, hastily, and hurriedly leaving their tails behind themThe miniature lizards are tiny compared to the big, blue sky
You can read about the do-your-homework challenge we had before he finally wrote the lizard poem here.
His newest poem is about seeing headlights and taillights as he journeys back and forth to college. I’ve copied it here, but you can also view it in the SBU Student Media Organization newsletter here.
As I drive down these roadsEach day, every night,I look up, I look back, andI see headlights and I see taillightsThe taillights in front, the headlights behindWhen they travel this life with me,The headlights ahead and the taillights in backWhen going to places I've already seen.There might be a lesson here or there might be none,But I do know behind each pair of lights is a someone.He may be an old man with nothing but the past,Or she may be a young girl nervous about class,They could be a happy couple, but then again maybe not,Or it might be somebody having the same thought.Maybe they’re hurting, or maybe they're fineMaybe they've given up or maybe they're still trying.Will I ever know, and do I really even care?Because what do I give them but the occasional stare?Are they in need, and if so, why?Could I help them, should I even try?If they're as real and loved as I am, or maybe more,Then why is it they're so easy to ignore?Is it because I don't know them individuallyBut can only speak in generalities?The answers to these questions I may never knowBut I frequently ponder them as along these roads I goAnd each day, and every night,I look up, I look back, and I see headlights and I see taillights
Looks to me like we have a budding writer joining his multi-published father, Dr. J.B. Hixson, and his Nana.
Once people know you are a writer, they ask questions. Usually questions you’ve heard a thousand times before, and you’d think writers would have a quick answer ready.
Instead, most of us appear at a loss for words. Not because we don’t want to talk about our work. It’s just writing doesn’t lend itself to easy or simple answers.
Let me explain what I mean with responses to some frequently asked writerly questions.
“How’s the novel coming?”
There’s really no good answer for this one because writing a novel is a long, tedious process. It’s like asking a pregnant woman if she’s had the baby yet.
Lauren B. Davis calls novels wild, unwieldy beasts that resist being tamed. “You have to keep at it day after day, even when it seems like absolutely nothing good is happening,” she says.
On a good day, the answer to this question would be the novel’s coming along. On a not so good day, you don’t want to ask.
Are your stories autobiographical?
The short answer is, of course, we writers extract from our lives for the elements of our work. Sometimes we fictionalize and disguise, sometimes we write vivid memoirs and call them fiction.
Fact is everything and anything is inspiration and fodder for a writer’s creative mind, including dinner party conversations and the clothes you’re wearing.
And once that answer soaks in you’ll never look at a writer the same way again.
“Are you published?”
This is such a double-edged question.
Any published author has an easy answer. You should expect to be handed a business card with all pertinent information.
But be prepared. This question may also raise an infomercial about everything a writer’s written since learning the alphabet.
On the other hand, for writers who are submitting to editors and agents with little or no results, it can be like salt in an open wound. It’s hard not to be sensitive when you’re working so hard to grab the golden ring.
When’s the next book coming out?
Writers love this question. Well, I do, but it’s a complicated response because you have to understand the process.
First, a writer has to complete a draft (writer speed greatly influences draft completion). After which, revisions and edits begin (and there can be many, many of these). Revisions and edits lead to more rewriting. A cover must be designed, back cover copy and blurbs prepared, and interior formatting done before the book finally goes on sale.The whole process can take years.
The answer depends on where a writer is in this publication process.
I’m not saying you should never ask questions. Quite the contrary, please do. We writers love to discuss our passion. Just understand when our answers aren’t quick and simple.
Words and I have a long-standing relationship. I spend an extraordinary amount of my time with words. I can’t seem to get enough of words.
I can lose myself in dictionaries and thesauruses for hours on end. I delight in discovering their rules, their uniqueness, and their amazing variety. These are just some of the words I’ve come to love.
Made up words
One of my favorites is dinglehopper, Scuttle the seagull’s word for a fork Ariel found in the Disney movie The Little Mermaid.
Scuttle twirls his feathery crest into a wild mess with the fork and says, “See? Just a little twirl here and a yank there and voila. You’ve got an aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over.”
I’ve used dinglehopper as a conversation starter at dinner parties. I’ve even been known to slip in the phrase “aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over” upon occasion. And, voila gets frequent use.
Dictionary.com sends a Word of the Day to my inbox every day. Krummholz was a recent word. It means a forest of stunted trees near the timberline on a mountain.
An interesting word, but I doubt its value for my daily conversation or writing. Maybe tomorrow’s word will be more useful.
Foreign language words
Foreign language words have begun to pop into my social media feeds more and more. A little link translates. I do wonder, though, about the accuracy of translations since I ran across the Greek word meraki in a recent blog.
You’ll find no on-line dictionary definitions for meraki.
A web search did turn up an article in NPR that explains meraki is an adjective, which describes doing something with soul, creativity, or love. According to the article, it is often used to describe cooking or preparing a meal, but it can also mean arranging a room, choosing decorations, or setting an elegant table.
There’s also an interesting variation to NPR’s definition from the comments on a different blog:
“I am Greek. Meraki is not an adj. It is a noun. Like the English word ‘gusto’ as in, ‘I eat with gusto.’ You do something with ‘meraki’. You do it with a good feeling, with a light heart and a smile. With all your heart. The best way to translate it would be to listen to the seven dwarves sing, “Whistle while you work…”
Meraki may not have an exact English translation and I may never have an opportunity to use the word in conversation or my writing, but isn’t it a great word to apply in our lives.
Our genres are different, but our process to a finished book is much the same. I also start with a seed. There’s no telling where a story idea will come from, but I rarely have a plan for the story. Except I do know there will be a satisfying ending.
I greatly admire those who can plot with colorful sticky notes and checkerboard graphics designating scenes. I envy the ones who know the percentage of each portion of three act structure or hero’s journey. I can’t do that hard as I try.
I begin with my happily-ever-after seed and watch it sprout and grow into a full-fledged story like a gardener. Sometimes I have to do a lot of pruning along the way to keep the story working. That is precisely what gardeners do for their plants.
If you’re a writer, what’s your writing process like? Do you garden or follow a blueprint?