Updating the Writerly Life

Fun Research–or, writer in search of authenticity

You know how it is when you read a book, and you grimace because you just know, you know the writer’s not done his/her homework?  You know the “facts” in the scene aren’t facts at all, merely an example of a writer flying by the seat of his/her pants?

Well, most of us try to be accurate, try to make things as real as possible within the terms of the story.

So, in a search for authenticity in a scene I’d written for the curren WIP, I took a flying lesson. 

Yeah.  I know.  It’s a hard life, isn’t it??

Anyway, I got to crawl all over a four-seater Piper Archer and pick the instructor’s brain for help with the scene, a scene that as written was neither physically possible nor as interesting as it became after we played around with the plane and with ideas.

I think it’s better now, more exciting, and certainly now it’s. . . more accurate.

Next up?  Touch and go landings on a grass strip to add even more authenticity.

What I do for my readers, huh? 

VOICE, VOICE, VOICE

My kingdom for a voice! My kingdom for a voice!

So, Story Conference today, looking at a synopsis I’d done. An overly long, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink synopsis, and it might have included the kitchen sink. Atthat point, I couldn’t tell.

But here’s where voice became The Elephant in the Room.

Honest to pete, I know what my voice is. It’s edgy, tense, emotional, dramatic, and when I’m on my game, sexy. What did I have in this gawd-awful synopsis?

Cutesy. Yeah, cutesy.

Now, while I am a fabulous audience (Really, truly I am!) for funny and clever, shugah, I cain’t write funny to save my life.

Unfortunate, but true.

How in the world did all this cutesy, um stuff, make its way into a 31-page synopsis? Huh? Huh?

Because I got caught up with other people’s ideas and voices and lost sight of my own. Other writers could have turned these incidents into rib-splitting fabulosity of funniness and cleverness.

Not me. And, even in my best grammatic mode, not I. Nope, no way.

Now it’s back to the drawing board, thanks to my wonderful writing friend Margaret Watson, to fix this story and get it into my voice. My voice.

It ain’t easy being. . . real. Being yourself.

Even when you know better, really know better, you can still trip yourself up.

You just have to be on guard. All the time.

That’s one of the reasons writing is. . . ‘work.’

FINISHING?

Trying to wrap up several writing projects and finding it hugely, hugely difficult. I don’t know why finishing things becomes such a huge speedbump in the career highway, but for me it is. Fear? Avoidance of facing rejection? Sense of inadequacy? The old trope of the adult child of an alcoholic?

Sure, those may all be true. They may all be valid.

But they’re all excuses.

I know that.

But I also know that excuses, fear, avoidance and all that other garbage don’t count for diddly in the grand scheme of things. The only thing that counts, really, isn’t what you fear. . . but what you do.

I’m trying. I’m trying.

Finishing. It’s all about. . . finishing, isn’t it? When push comes to shove?

Like I said, I’m trying.

Writers Conferences

Although I mentioned a bit about the recent NINC Conference I attended in St. Pete Beach, Florida, I wanted to add some more now that I’ve been back in the Fall of the Midwest. To wit: how some writers’ conferences end up sending me into a blind panic, into major insecurity about my creativity and abilities, and. . . why this one was different.

I’ve thought it was the location. I mean, shoot, shugah, there’s nothing like being on a gorgeous sugar and beach with brilliant blue skies and more brilliant blue water slurping at the sand. Restful. Of course the smell of pina coladas, aka sunscreen lotion, was a nice sense memory, too. But I do think the location, at least for me, contributed to the mindset.

The size of the conference was also conducive to thoughtful discussion of what’s going on in publishing, what it all means, and whether or not tweeting is essential to selling. Kind of is. As is the whole digital movement, but that’s another story and, I think, one that in another situation would have made me vey anxious and scared.

But not at this conference where the mood was optimistic and energized. Was that the result of the terrifically knowledgeable industry people there? I think that was part of it, sure, because to a person, everyone seemed hopeful about what’s ahead for the world of stories even despite the faster than Superman speed of change.

Part of it, too, was the chance to spend time with writers who weren’t pitching or promoting. That may have been the loveliest aspect as everyone was more low key, none of that desperate look-at-me, look-at-me intensity.

I loved this conference more than any I’ve been to in recent memory. In my Best Three Conferences, in fact.

At any rate, I’d go again. In a heartbeat.