Creative Thoughts on Creating Fiction

When I was frantic last week, a few fiction writers graciously helped me out. And so did an article I picked up today.

As I side note: Did you ever notice that answers come when you ask the right questions?

The surprising source was one of my favorite home decor magazines, Coastal Living. In their November 2011 issue, Million Dollar Decorators star Kathryn Ireland answers a few decorator question. I skimmed through them until I stopped at this:

If you can’t make it out, it says:

What are your rules for hanging art so that it looks pleasing and not chaotic?

KI: I prefer an unstructured look, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t basic principles. I like to start in the center of the wall with the largest piece of artwork, and work outward from there with smaller pieces. I never hang any piece of art higher than the tallest door frame and I keep every painting at least three feet off the ground. Most importantly, I always leave above three inches between each piece so they don’t look crowded-the artwork needs to breathe.

What does this have to do with writing?

It might be far-fetched. But it reminded me of what writer Natalia Sylvester said in her comments of my last post. Maybe it’s okay to let our work-in-progress guide us. Maybe there is freedom in that. Like Ireland says, “[T]he artwork needs to breathe.” But she also says, “that doesn’t mean there aren’t basic principles.” I think that adequately describes the process of writing.

What do you think? Is there a sense of structure in your madness and flexibility in your story’s structure? Is a blending of both needed to tell a good story?

Fiction Anxiety – Help!

{via pinterest}

I’m venturing into an unfamiliar territory. Fiction. Ack! Talk about anxiety. Fellow fiction writers I welcome your input on this one.

Anyway, I let my husband read passages from it every once in awhile. And while I wait, I try to appear calm, but I’m really scrutinizing every eye movement, every shift in his position.

What I got from him this time scared the bejeezus out of me.

“It’s good. But I’m worried about one thing.”

“What?” I asked. At this point, my mind went to horrible, bad plot, unbelievable characters, amateur storytelling.

What he said was, “I’m worried that you don’t know what’s going to happen next. But I read that the author I’m reading now does the same thing so maybe it’s okay.”

What do you guys think?

Do you know your entire story before you finish it? Or does your story take you on an adventure where you never know what’s going to happen until you write it?

Feel Like a Fake?

{via pinterest, originally from keep-calm-and.tumblr.com.}

A lot of writers I’ve talked to and read about say that no matter how much they’ve written, published, or even obtained awards for, they still feel like a fake.¬†And I’m one of them.

I sometimes wonder what it would take for me to feel validated as in the words of one writer friend, “a real writer.” As if, there was such a thing. Although I enthusiastically try to point out all the reasons he is a writer: the fact that he actually writes (writing a novel, in fact) and has a tremendous passion for it, I can hardly do the same for myself.

Fake and Bake Writer

Instead I try to fake and bake it like that famous wannabe fried chicken we all grew up with. Add a little lemon juice here, shake on some flour there. Look close and it’s a hot mess, but you can’t really tell the difference from far away.

The Pressure to Live Up to the Name

I’m not really sure why we all feel obligated to apologize or add disclaimers when people ask us what we do for a living. My dentist wouldn’t do it. And I can hardly imagine my doctor saying, “Well, I’m a doctor. But I just started my practice and I don’t have too many patients yet so…” If he did, I’d know why he had such a slim client load.

But yet I hear it from other writers and I hear it in myself. Maybe I do it to brace myself from the inevitable response. “Have you written a book? No? Oh.” {Awkward pause. Change of subject.} I guess you’re not a real writer then? Okay the last question was more like a reaction that goes off in my own mind, not necessarily theirs.

But it’s brutal out there. And if you haven’t written a dozen books yet or established yourself on the internet, and you have a BIG dream, but no real evidence to show for it, how can you claim you’re a writer right?

This Year Live BIG!

I admit I haven’t spend any time composing a resolutions list. And I want to. Even though a lot of people think it’s worthless to do so, I find that taking the time to reflect on the past year and create an intention for what you want in the next is a smart way to spend your New Year’s. Better than drinking yourself sick and beginning the new year with a hangover. Unless that’s your idea of fun.

But one thing I really really really want to do this year is try out feeling good about saying, “I’m a writer” and mean it. I want to say it without a hint of shame, without embarrassment, minus meekness, sans apologetic. I want to simply say that is my vocation, my passion, my livelihood and I am proud of it.

Why You Should Stop Faking It

Faking it may have worked for you thus far. But it’s not honoring you or your passion. {It’s also dishonest if you’re faking in other areas.} Your writing career begins when you take yourself and your skills seriously. Everyone can write, but it takes heart to be a writer.

What do you want to accomplish in 2012? Do you ever feel like writer fake too?

How Do You Know If Writing is For You?

When I first started blogging, I wrote about my love life, my schoolwork, my little mini dramas that would make for some interesting “Dear Diary” reads. A pint of ice-cream, a flashlight and it almost felt like you were sneaking a peek where you shouldn’t be.

Then, I wrote about weddings and baby showers for an online stationery company.

Now, I write mostly for me.

It’s interesting how from a simple seed of passion, a career can bloom. It took nurturing, hard work, and a sprinkle of faith. And it’s a system that needs to go on forever. Unless I want my career to look like our pitiful houseplant sitting on my windowsill. No love, no honey right?

Dr. Eric Maisel, a phenomenal writer and author wrote this in a lesson plan for his class I’m taking:

“It is vital for a person who has decided to turn germs of interest into full-fledged productive obsessions that he learn to distinguish between those things that interest him and those things that really interest him.”

When I think about it, my own writing story began from a sprout of interest, a trickle of self-doubt (can I really do this?), a handful of blind faith and a waterfall of passion.

I think that’s where you have to go when you want to pursue your dream. You have to look for the place where your heart skips a beat, where there’s a sense of flow, where there’s been subtle signs that lead you in a certain direction. And then you must keep following that path. Persevere through what feels impossible.

If you can do that and you still want to get to your computer every day, then it’s pretty possible that you are a writer.

How do you know for sure?

You do it. You do it every day despite feeling afraid. Despite being unsure. Regardless of what other people say or don’t say. You do it anyway.

Eventually the gap between where you are and where you want to be will lessen. Eventually you won’t have to ask yourself, “Am I a writer?” anymore. You’ll just know.

The One That You’ve Been Waiting For

I can only think of one thing right now. My strong desire to match what I feel on the inside to my outer writing life.

Have you ever watched a makeover show? The kind where men and women say, “Finally, I feel like how I look matches how I feel on the inside!”

That’s exactly what I’m going through with my writing these days.

I feel like I have an outpouring of inner wisdom, insight, compassion, emotion, struggles, hardships, inspiration to share. But they are wrapped up in my own neurosis, wading through fears of revealing too much and basic grammatical issues that’s keeping me from the one.

You know the one?

The one piece of writing that you are proud of. The one that you’ve always dreamed of writing, but somehow have let get carried away into the priorities of daily life.

Well that’s what I’m stuck on.

I’ve written oodles of newspaper and magazine articles on my dog, my rabbit, and unique companies around the town where I live. But I haven’t yet expressed the one that’s been buried beneath other articles that had to get written today or blog posts that supposed to be done yesterday.

But I’m working on it. And hopefully it will be done soon.

Like the 70 degree weather day in the edge of fall, hiding behind louder, more demanding days, it sits waiting. “When will you finish me?”

Know it too? Feel my pain?

Share it with me here.