Sunday, October 25, 2009

All right, all ready!

Just when I get a new chapter done on my book, half the critique group comes down with the flu and we cancel for this round. Rats! Now I have to wait until Nov. 4 (we meet twice a month). I guess that gives me time to re-write the chapter (again, and maybe a fourth time). I know we're supposed to (according to all the "experts" at writers conferences) write the whole stinking book first, then go back and rework it--and I will, sort of--but first, I have to reread the section leading into where I want to start, so I can get the rhythm. And that makes me want to reword stuff here and there, drop a sentence, improve a description...I can't help myself.

I did have some minor satisfaction this week, besides the writing. My 12-year-old daughter asked me something like "do you have any presidential autographs?" (only the Lord knows why) so I dug out a photo from my news days. I was standing with Gerald Ford, and the photo was signed "best wishes" to me. The usual photo op that news people get with any president, especially one campaigning, as Ford was at that moment. My kiddo was muy impressed. She wanted to borrow the photo to show her friends, but I suggested it was really not for handing around the neighborhood, and besides, nobody would really give a rip. It's not like it was REAGAN, for pete's sake!

Well, back to the novel. At this rate, it may actually be done in time to pay for a couple of her college textbooks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Playing make believe

Let's face it, sometimes writing fiction is simply a heck of a lot of fun because it's an extension of playing make believe. I create people, a place for them, and all the action. That is an awful lot of fun.

I always liked playing the bad guy when we kids were cowboys. The bad guy didn't have to play by the rules. If someone accused me of not being fair when I ambushed them, my response could be, "What's fair? I don't care, I'm the bad guy!" At least it was fun until my sister got mad and threw a broken toy gun at me. The ragged edge caught my cheek and left a nifty triangular scar that lasted a good many years.

I still find the bad guys more fun, and easier to "play." Am I warped? I have a character in my current novel who is full of herself and bad tempered. A lot of what she says is mean spirited and sarcastic. I love her! She says a lot of things I have thought of saying to people, but am too nice to say. And my niece said something really horrible recently that was so funny I'll probably put it in my character's mouth, too. A good line is a good line, if it's in character and advances the story, and I have the perfect spot for that line.

My heroine has to be a better person than that, but not completely good, or she'd be a total drag. Nobody would relate to her. So I also get to enjoy "playing" her bad side. And when she's good, she's so conflicted that I'm beginning to find that fun, too.

Playing make believe is a truly wonderful pastime for kids or adults.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The source of what you write

A lot of my writing stems from my daughter's struggles. A second novel (yes, I know I need to finish the first one) deals with a young girl as she grows from 12 to about 18 years old. She has been abandoned by her mother, doesn't even know who her father is, and is raised by her maternal grandmother. Is she what her mother said by abandoning her, or what her precious grandmother tells her she is, through the gifts of love and grace? It's about identity, in a different way then my current book is.

I'm finding that nearly everything I've written since my daughter's birth has been about identity. It's plagued me before, but took on a different perspective when I became a mother. As a military kid without roots or many real ties to extended family, I always felt somewhat adrift. I think now that this was a gift from God to give me more empathy with my daughter.

The identity of an adopted child affected with attachment disturbance is in constant flux, which causes upheaval. During the rough times, my life is all about her. During the calmer times, as I evaluate the situation, I also tap this rich source of angst and stress in our lives for my writing. I won't go into any detail about what our lives are like. Suffice it to say it's tough and it's precious--and every minute of grace counts. I will say I believe I can use those emotions to help me create real and relatable characters without exposing my husband's or daughter's personal secrets (I am pretty transparent about my own issues); and perhaps I can help bring healing to someone who reads and identifies with my characters. While I am sometimes a bit uneasy about how much of myself will be revealed in my work whether I intend it nor not, I think that is part of the healing process. And I do hope that as we heal in our household, some of my readers will come along with us. I don't write my books specifically to bring healing, but I do hope what I write will be more than just a fun ride.