Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Watch This Spot

Since the end of July I have been writing on this blog, experimenting with format and words. Who am I as a writer? Where am I going with my writing? Those were questions to be answered. This is my 75th blog. I have met a few people on the way. I got lots of help from experienced bloggers and I also helped a few others get started on their own great blogs.

I started writing for publication for the first time as a freshman in high school. I fell in love with various authors then. My passions were on my sleeve. Now, I just turned old. I mean, I have been feeling really old. It's time to write my stories and send them out.

My day job has always been teaching. If I could, I'd tell you my war stories--about students who were murdered, children who triumphed, muddy days, hard fought days, and days when I wondered just what was I doing. I hold back on telling those stories. They are still raw in my heart. But I broke through some barriers just telling you about my own life and past.

Stories need to be told. As a Christian, my whole soul and passion for life has been about sharing The Story of God in Old and New Testaments and The Gospel. And God urges us to tell our own stories--to give testimony in this life. But how do you do it? Different people do this in different ways. When you die, what was your story? Who will know it? You don't have to be a writer to do this. Sometimes it is merely by the way you live. I am a writer and even if I didn't write, I can't change that. I must find ways to tell my stories. I have been looking for my format and the way to convey this thing inside of me by doing this blog.

For many years I got away from fiction. I still resisted even as I "doctored" others' fiction. I knew how to fix it. Some of those people are now published. Some are still working on it, but I believe they will get there--just some time and more work. I believe in writers. I help them as I am able.

Now, I want to do my own fiction, my own stories. I am not resisting any longer. I have studied it inside and out. The final puzzle piece for me was to choose my genre. I thought it would be historical as I blogged. It may still be. I love reading historicals. I cut my teeth on James Michener sagas. But the historicals seem to be "on hold." Instead, I have other stories, which elbowed their way to the front.

These other genres won't leave me alone, and yesterday I was looking over some exercises in fiction I did at a conference under Robin Lee Hatcher's direction. She called it automatic writing. We wrote four assignments in less than an hour. I'll show you the uncensored, unedited versions. You tell me if any one of these four stories you would read. I know they are stories that are on my mind.

1. Creativity: key word--rotting figs
(by Crystal Miller)

When I was asked to come home to write a column for the hometown newspaper, reviewing restaurants no less, it was about as attractive of an offer as rotting figs.I spent the whole time I was growing up in that town plotting to get away--and now to review restaurants there--well, make me gag. I had just lost 50 pounds. This would blow everything. So the whole thing of my life's ambitions had just decayed into this slimy mess of rotting figs. But I couldn't say no.

I was flat broke and my dad was offering me the job.

Thanks, Dad.

Exercise 2--Robin played music for us. She said the music suggested and/or enhanced the mood. (Play music with no words.)
By Crystal Miller

The wedding march was strongly absent. In its place was a surreal, soothing piano tune, playing almost like a music box--melodical. Although the music was peaceful, soothing my raw nerves, comforting, saying "trust, trust," my mind still screamed, "Stop! No! Wait!"

But yet my daughter greeted her soon-to-be husband at the altar to embark on a new journey in her life. One I did not approve of and felt certain was wrong, doomed. But as her father I said to her, "I'm here. I made it."

Tara gave me a quick smile. "It'll be ok, dad. Trust."

I didn't think so. Your daughter quickly marrying her sweetheart with just a handful of people there, and then being shipped across an ocean in fatigues and combat boots was not what I envisioned for my little girl for whom I'd read Little Women.If I'd had a son, well, yeah, maybe I would've seen him sent to "Operation Freedom." But not my only daughter, my only blood tie in the whole world.

Exercise 3--Unrelated phrases
Harrison Ford
Civil War
Oh, go jump in the lake!
Died May 10, 1776

By Crystal Miller

He shoved his fedora back on his head and shot me a look that reminded me of Harrison Ford in the Raiders movie. I put my hands on my hips and widened my stance.
"Ok, want to start the next Civil War, honey? Want to see what will happen when you fire the shot at my Fort Sumpter? Fine. Great. I'd sooner go jump in a lake than back down now."
He challenged my genealogy, my dates, and the fact that my ancestor had died on May 10, 1776, just before he was set to meet to sign that sacred American document, The Declaration of Independence. Indications were that he'd been murdered. I lacked the smoking gun.
"Blast your hide," I said.
"Katherine Elizabeth Throgmorton, you are ceremoniously expelled from this club."
I was sure my grandmother turned in her grave at that moment.

Exercise 4: automatic writing
By Crystal Miller

"I thought you were my wife."
"No," I said,"I don't think so."
"Well, you look just like her from behind, and really, from the front, too."
He stared at me.
"But I'm not her. I'm me. Mary Elizabeth Riley and I'm not married to anyone."
His face drained of color, and carried that cliched, "deer in the headlights" glaze.
"Have you lost your wife in this group?" I asked.
He paused, searching for words.
"She's dead."

Anyway. One thing I've figured out--I always start any story in first person. This POV pops up even when I have strangled it and gone to 3rd person.

Do any of the four exercises show promise? Historical? Romance? Suspense? Contemporary? Romantic comedy? (Just who am I, anyway?) I have stacks of manuscripts. They don't resemble each other. Being branded is not happening.

So,since blogger is wanting us to change over to the new format,it's really close to Christmas, and I am going to be spending time working on my fiction daily (committed, that is,)this blog will change dramatically. My writing has changed in the writing of this blog.I have changed. I've listened to readers. I've listened to my closest advisors in my writing. It is time.

So if you have anything to add, advise, direct about my type of writing--now is the time. I'm ready. It's happening.

(Gifts to be added daily in separate blog entries until I'm to 1000.)


Anonymous said...

I think they show you can write anything. The question comes back to what is your passion. What gets your juices flowing so that you can't stop the story. You just want to tell it. Answer that, and you'll know where to start :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree that you should write the story that you just have to tell. You're a wonderful storyteller so I believe you'll do good whichever genre you choose.