I believe it’s Stephen King who says that if you want to be a good writer, you must make time for lots of reading and lots of writing.
I’ve been trying to do lots of reading (let’s be honest here, I have book reviews scheduled through July already, plus I have THREE more already to write). I actually enjoy reading for the sake of reading, not just to research and dissect books. In fact, I rarely dissect books in the process of reading, but allow myself the privilege of enjoying the story. In fact, I just finished a book yesterday that had a TOTAL surprise element, even though now, looking back, I see ALL the foreshadowing for it. However, it wasn’t until the moment HAPPENED that I ever considered it to be an inevitability and I LOVED the surprise.
As I’m thinking back over the entire story, I’m considering the whole storyline and how everything eventually weaves together to be where I ended with it. I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate such feeling and surprise within my own stories.
I also just read a teen, uh, romance? I don’t even know what to call it, honestly, but I suppose it’s about a teenage romantic relationship – how they meet, the relationship, etc. During the part of the story where they are kept apart, I thought about one of my stories where two in love are kept apart and I was thinking a lot about how I could go about keeping them apart in a better way, while still keeping the yearning for each other alive.
The thing I love about all these stories is that I’m really diving into how stories work and asking myself why I like certain stories and why I dislike other stories. Why I finish books I don’t even like and why I struggle to finish books I think I like.
As I mentioned last week, I’m an Enneagram 5 (if you’re into that sort of thing) so I essentially collect pieces of information and store and file them – my brain is basically an episode of extreme hoarders – and let them all percolate together until something new comes out. Take the opening quote, for example. It would take me 12 seconds on the internet to find the actual quote and who said it, but after some internal deliberation, I’ve decided to just keep it as it is. As an example of ‘straight from my brain’. I have a lot of “I think so-and-so said this” stuff in my brain, because all of this information comes in and settles.
It can make for having a very busy brain space, but I’m okay with that. I enjoy being inside my own head (at least more than half the time) and I think that’s what makes me such a good author, because stories just swirl around in the primordial information soup of my head until a creature finally steps onto land.
So, I’ve definitely got the reading thing down.
Where I struggle a bit more is the lots of writing thing. There are times I do really well and other times where, well, I don’t.
I have some drafts of novels finished, but I need to be doing lots of character development right now in order to make these stories everything they can be. The most common criticism I’m receiving from readers is character development. So I’m trawling through character sheets and writing things down about my people. The fun part is that it’s not hard – I’m just gathering all the information I already know about them and getting it all down into one place. It’s gratifying to know that I have complete characters floating around in my head, but all the information needs to be pulled out of the soup and written down, where I can quickly reference it instead of needing to go fishing all the time.
My goal for the summer is to do a lot more writing – character development and editing and all that good stuff. That means I need some serious discipline to do what needs to be done, even if I don’t feel like it. My kids are finally at an age where they can entertain themselves for a couple hours (except when I’m trying to work, right???), and I’m fairly sure that no one is going to die from neglect, which means I actually CAN hide away and do some stuff. No excuses, just do it.
I am very excited for my stories and my characters. I hope to have something shoppable by the end of the summer and find the best way FOR ME to get my stories into print and into the hands of some readers.
For now, though, I continue to read, to learn, to watch how other magic is developed, how I can be delighted and surprised by stories. And I write and write in my notebook, developing stories and characters and learning how to do this writing thing REALLY well.
Until next time