Friday, June 23, 2017

The Best Part of Writing Fiction

The best part is making stuff up. To create something out of a figment that flits through your mind so fast that you squint to capture an image. Then take that image – and sometimes it’s just a feeling – and create characters and circumstance. That’s the most gratifying part of being a fiction writer. Exciting, too. It’s the part that pulls you into a zone where nothing else exists but your imagination. And if you’re lucky – and talented – you can pull the reader into that fictional world you created. Make it so real that they want to be friends with your characters and visit their hometown. Or (at this point my brow lifts and my mouth curves into a wicked smile), the reader will double-check the locks and sleep with a light on.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Einstein, right? I don’t think he was talking about writing fiction but it works for me.
When I was a kid, my love of reading took me away from reality. The escape turned me into a daydreamer. That wasn’t such a bad thing. Not for me. Not then. I was constantly scolded. Told to get my nose out of the book and get outside and play. Seriously? Today I still love reading but have learned that being outside at the same time with balmy air breezing my face and the sound of water lapping against a shoreline is the ultimate escape. No better place to read. No better place to write. Give me nature and a laptop. Leave me alone to explore the undiscovered. To make stuff up.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Road Trip of a Writer

It’s all about the journey, my friend said. No kidding.
I had no idea I was embarking on a huge adventure when my wild imagination leaped from the keyboard onto the screen.
 My destination was mapped out clearly in my mind. I would simply send my riveting (lol) novel away to a publisher, be discovered, and live happily ever after (sometimes clich├ęs are the only way to go) in my writing nook pumping out bestsellers. (more laughter)
Actually, amidst the joy of writing I became overwhelmed with angst. Too many damn detours! It was no longer fun. Instead of following my own path, I had ventured onto the most popular roadway. A frenzy of frustration! Too much traffic. Angry congestion. Mistakes. The kind that made my confidence dwindle. I was lagging behind in the slow lane and just wanted to get off the road. And I tried. But the wanderlust was worse than the aggravation. So I merged back onto the highway.
Exhaling a deep breath, I settled in for a long ride. Some folks along the way gave me good writing advice, and others…well, let’s say it was the opposite. At that point, I couldn’t tell the difference. I followed it all like a dog chasing an old pick up.
Each road stop featured nurturing and inspiring people. Norma West Linder, Hope Morritt, and Peggy Fletcher are three of a multitude who gave me encouragement and hope when I was chugging along in first or second gear.
Mentors – too many to name – taught me to follow the speed limit and enjoy the sights. No rolling stops! And that it’s okay to get out and wander around when we need to work out the kinks. When we’re refreshed, hop back in, and rev up.

I accelerated into the passing lane. Getting stories published, winning a couple of contests, taking in a conference, and meeting some of my idols in the bestseller world. But the rules of the road say you can’t stay there forever. I moved to the middle lane. And loosened my grip on the wheel. What’s the hurry when there’s so much satisfaction and enjoyment en route.
It’s pleasurable being a part of the vibrant writing community. Being with others who share the passion! Penning a monthly magazine column and interacting with readers. Sharing fiction with critiquing buddies, socializing at writers’ dinners and events. Being exposed to, and appreciating, all types of literature. Developing a greater understanding of the publishing world. Learning! Learning! Learning! It’s what keeps the adrenalin pumping.
My enthusiasm is strong. My destination is still in focus. My years on the road have been good to me. The detours are filled with surprise and wonder that never cease to be.
Nothing thrilled – or humbled – me more than recently being appointed to the Board of Directors for the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts. The Board was included in the Mayor’s Honour List for 2016! It’s a privilege (thankfully I’m seldom intimidated) to be part of this hugely talented group supporting visual, literary, and performing arts in our city.

And so begins another side trip. One that will push me into overdrive and test my skills. The journey really is most important. After all, when you arrive at your destination, where else is there to go?