My Writing Process

Every writer develops a writing process, a routine, a style. There is no ” one size fits all” in writing, and the same reason why I stay away from “the how to’s” and “the must do’s.” Certain guidelines, tips, and recommendations have worked for me and many other authors, but it does not mean that it will work for everyone. I follow my own heart and mind when establishing my writing process and developing my style. I welcome what will benefit it and discard what will not. I am grateful that there is so much information out there to help me and widen my point of view. This was not available many years ago.

When I commit to a story its development starts – ideas, images, dreams, and serendipity make themselves a part of my daily living. When I write and I put myself in a receiving state. Inspiration will come in many forms and from many sources. In that receiving state I don’t pass judgement, however,  it helps me recognize when something is not working or just doesn’t feel right. Some writers can edit as they write, or as they finish a page, a chapter, or the day’s work. I cannot do that. It seems to interfere with the receiving state, and degree of inspiration, as well with the flow of ideas.

My first draft is truly a rough draft. After it is done, I must take a break from the story, and then editing can begin, in several rounds from one draft to the next. Only when something does not feel right will I go back and change it during the first draft, and only because it will influence the rest of the story, and it becomes a mental road block for me. Point of view is a perfect example of something that might feel wrong in the beginning of a story, and must be dealt with right away. Another example is a character that defied me until I had to change everything about him – his looks, his demeanor, personality, and even role, from secondary to primary. It was not what I had intended, but I became aware in the very early stage of writing the story. Awareness came in the form of this character refusing to be written in a certain way, and even shutting up. This may sound weird to some people, but if you are a writer immersed in your craft you get the point, and understand it.

I believe that the more you write the more you grow and evolve, and so does your process. It is a living endeavor that does not stay the same, and it should not. Never the less, it has to be nourished and developed. The love of a lifetime.

 

On Saying Goodbye

Losing a loved one is never easy. Whether a partner in life, a friend, or family member, it is one of the most painful experiences. Having to say goodbye when one is not ready is devastating, and it may render a person numb out of an unexpected dose of pain. One of the secondary themes in my novel The Five-dollar Miracle is the loss of a spouse, and the feelings and emotions that go with it.

Last year I experienced the loss of loved ones, and just a few weeks after I had finished writing a chapter dealing with this topic, a friend died unexpectedly leaving her partner experiencing the feelings of pain, loss, desolation, and so many other emotions that can only be described by someone who has gone through it.

As writers, we draw from our experiences when we try to convey through our writing, and the rest we imagine or draw from observation; we try to do the best we can when portraying what we have not experienced. Many times, we place ourselves in those situations fictionally, and try to understand or visualize the array of emotions surrounding a particular situation. At other times, inspiration seems to take our hand and guide us in our writing. We try our best, and as writers that is all we can do, but I can say with certainty that our writing will only match the synergy of our experience.

On Faith and Doing

The cloud

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Faith – Confident belief. Trust. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Doing – To perform or execute. To fulfill; complete. To bring about. To put into action. (American Heritage Dictionary)

 

Our faith is tested many times. We come out stronger or confused, in doubt, and/or unable to advance. When we want or need to do something  we’ve planned, and we proceed with confident caution, that is the easy way. However, many times we have to proceed by faith, not knowing if the best plan that we made will work; that is, if the circumstances permitted planning. Otherwise, we must push through confusion, doubt, and even chaos, with only a little light ahead of us, barely visible – our bit of faith illuminating the way. We must do by faith.

Becoming petrified by the fear that confusion and chaos bring will hinder advance and growth. We may become stuck or a situation will turn worse. It is best to do by faith than succumb to fear. In any case life goes on, for better or for worse. When in doubt, act in faith.

Inspirational Image

AMONG THORNS

Photo by MAD

Today I share an inspirational image of a cluster of roses among thorns. I took this picture one summer. Sometimes an image inspires a poem. This picture inspired this one. I hope you become inspired by the image as well.

 

Miracles Abound

 

Lonely soul, scattered dreams

tears of sorrow, never seen.

Cast the shadows in the mist

dark of hours, felt within.

 

Search for light, where not seen

look for love, deep within.

Sorrow blasts a creation act

Miracles abound in your backyard.

 

Nestled by thorns, shade, and morass

your light awaits, to bloom, to shine.

Pure white flower, fragrant soul

Miracles abound, right by your side.

 

Covered by thorns, beauty asleep

ready to sprout the seed within

Atlantis lost, Eden bestow

Where there is hope a bloom will show.

The Loudest Story

I am most comfortable when I write. I express myself better in writing. It feels like a second skin. I have been asked, “how do you know what to write?” or told, “I would like to write but I don’t know what to write or how to start.” There is no right answer; just start. However, there is a process I go through when selecting the next story to be written. I have several notes on possible future novels. These notes do not follow any particular order. I write these ideas down when they appear. These ideas may come to me at any time, day or night, and even when I’m writing the current story. Quickly, I make a note of it and save it. When I finish the novel I’m working on I experience a new flow of ideas. Many times, one particular idea will cross my mind on several occasions and will stick around more than the rest. Although I review my notes to select the next story, there is always one story that becomes “loud” in my head. It grabs my attention and I start thinking about it with a measure of obsession. It is the story that screams at me, and I end up choosing the idea as the topic of my next novel. After I commit myself to it, the developing process starts, and I give it my undivided attention and total focus. The rest is set aside; even an idea that I might prefer. I found the process of writing a trilogy a bit forced for the reason of having to continue a story, although an idea developed into three books. I found that I prefer to write a single story – beginning to end, whether that story turns out to be a short story or a novel.

This is how I decide what to write next. On a personal note, I always start writing a new story by saying a prayer about the work I am about to start; call it a superstition, or rite of passage, if you may, but it is something I do. This is my process as far as selecting what story to write next. It may be a fresh idea or one stored for future use, but it is always the story that screams the loudest, the one that wants to be written now. I don’t take writing for granted, nor inspiration; for it I am grateful. Immensely.

 

What’s Next?

What’s next? It seems to be the perpetual question. It is our human nature to want to keep on going, do better, achieve, evolve … . It seems that as soon as something is achieved, another goal appears in the mind, as if there was no time to enjoy the prize and celebrate the achievement. Whether you are an overachiever or not, the desire presents itself, sometimes as a burning fire to the next level, or as discontent with the present. We forget about the sweetness of the now, and about enjoying the fruits of our hard labor.

As a writer, I focus on the story at hand; however, other stories are brewing or are waiting to be written. It is tempting to hear the plea and to attempt to start writing them, although I have found that I can only write one story at a time, unlike other authors. Instead, I dismiss it and concentrate on the current story, blocking everything else. If a new idea crosses my mind, I jot it down for later consideration, when the timing is right. I don’t succumb to the urge of developing it further.

To each story I pledge my undivided attention, until it is written, edited, and published. Not until then, do I consider my next story. That is another process, which I will write about on a future post – how to select which story to write next. At the moment my focus is in editing The Five-dollar Miracle, and hopefully publish it by the end of this year.

I would like to hear about your writing process and experience – do you write one story at a time or do you split your effort into several?

Finding Peace in Who I Am

Peace – The absence of war or other hostilities. An agreement or treaty to end hostilities. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Peace. We like the word. We hope for peace on earth. We dream of peace. We pray for peace. However, we see peace as something outside ourselves. Something that happens in the outside. Seldom do we relate to peace within, or when we do, we attach it to spirituality.

According to the above definition of peace, the absence of war and hostilities is necessary to achieve peace. There must be an agreement, a treaty, for peace to be possible. To achieve peace within, the same agreement with oneself must happen, not out of spirituality, religious beliefs, or a third-party (although those could be a door/a catalyst for some people) but out of acceptance and understanding. How can I find peace in who I am? And without involving third parties?

It is a question I’ve asked myself many times. It is an evolving question. As individuals, we grow and evolve. We fight outside wars and inner battles. We deal with feelings, emotions, and facts. We dream, we imagine, we hope, we love, we hate … . We embrace complexity, many times in the quest for simplicity, in the search for truth. I’ve come to the realization that for truth to be found there must be inner peace, and for inner peace to be present, there must be acceptance and understanding of my self, of the one who I am, the one who grows and evolves.

How do I find peace in who I am? By not fighting the process. By not being at war or resisting the inevitability of evolution. By agreeing to take every step in the journey in acceptance and understanding. Whether the battle originates internally, or is a result of focusing on the fire being directed from outside sources, the only way to achieve peace is by looking at my truth objectively, and understand, accept, that I am in the moment. The past I am is no more, and the future I am is an illusion. I am now, and as long as I understand and accept that, then I am at peace.