Writing Monday (hey, I’m a little behind): Books about writing

This past January, little introverted me braved the waters and went to her first ever Georgia Romance Writers meeting. I only wish I had known about this organization sooner. That very first meeting, a wonderful person pulled me aside and asked me if I knew about Deb Dixon’s book, Goals, Motivation, and Conflict. I shook my head no and wondered to what she was referring. That same day I drove home and ordered a copy of the book off of the website she recommended ¬†(this alone told me the person who recommended it to me is definitely a person who knows about her craft because she saved me around a hundred dollars.)

I read the book and wondered about the line that said that finding goals, motivations and conflicts would become invasive and that writers look for goals, motivations and conflicts all the time.

Additionally, I had the honor of listening to Ms. Dixon present a major speech based on her book at this year’s Moonlight and Magnolias conference. In addition to reading her book, I now heard her information presented to me, yet another way of assimilating the information contained in the book.

If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. Ms. Dixon presents a new way of looking at characterization that I had never realized before I read it.

To my surprise, I discovered she was right. I do analyze other works to discover character’s goals, motivations, and conflicts. Last night, my wonderful hubby and I went to a retro screening of It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Throughout the movie, I found myself thinking about George Bailey and how his goals and motivations were thwarted at every turn. I also found myself thinking about Mr. Potter’s goals, motivations and conflicts. I wondered for the first time if Mr. Potter knew exactly how much George Bailey meant to him. It can’t be very much fun to have your flunkies do your bidding all the time. George provided him with a challenge, a reason to get out of bed. Without George around, what was Mr. Potter going to do? How would he enjoy life with no conflict in it?

Needless to say, I love It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s a marvelous movie and I find something new every time I watch it. This time in addition to the new analysis of it, I noticed that the crony that’s always in back of Mr. Potter is listed in the credits as his bodyguard. Hmm, that was telling. For the first time, I saw the guy in the scenes but thought he was the only friend Potter had, a fellow crony who delighted in suppressing the dreams and hopes of the citizens of Bedford Falls. Instead, the guy was his bodyguard.

But I digress. As a write-at-home mom, I am now searching out character’s goals, convicts and motivations. This book influenced not only my writing but also the way I approach movies and other books. What books relating to your career have influenced you?

Writing Mondays: Support, support, support

Writing is not a solitary experience. Unless you write something and stick it under your bed, there are at least two people involved in writing: a writer and a reader. So many times, there are even more people involved in the writing process.

When I first started writing, I thought writing was a solitary experience. I thought I would write a book, send it out to publishers and get a magical acceptance letter. For the most part, I thought a writer simply sat down at a computer or with a pen and paper or with a recorder and wrote words. (No, I do not wish to buy the Brooklyn Bridge from anyone.)

Over the past couple of years, though, I’ve learned that I was wrong. Although that may work for some people and may have been the way for writers in years’ past, I’ve discovered that writers need support.

They need the support of their family who will miss them while they go write the words, edit the words, edit some more, put the manuscript down for a bit, and then edit again. Writers need the support of other authors: to become their critique partners, beta readers, contest judges and so on. I am so thankful for the first person to ever read my work and how kind she was to a complete greenhorn who didn’t know the first thing about point of view. (I’m still learning the craft side, every single day).

I am very thankful (yeah, I’m running a little behind this year-I’m on ¬†Thanksgiving when I should be writing out my Christmas cards and wrapping the gifts I haven’t bought yet) for writing groups. This year, I joined a local writer’s group and the experience has been wonderful for me. I’ve met new friends and discovered writers, some of whom have become my role models. I’m in absolute awe of several GRW members who are not only truly nice but truly gifted. Each meeting is a mini-pep rally which leaves me stoked to return to my work in progress and make it better as well as finish it.

So I’m learning that I cannot simply hole up in a little room and crank out a book. I could, but I’m learning that by reaching out and having others read my work and tell me that I need to work on POV, pacing, word repetition, characterization and more, that makes me a better writer (well at least, I’m hoping it’s making me a better writer).

So if there are any writers out there who want to write a book and haven’t, sit down and write it. Then have someone read it and give you feedback on how to make your work better. Support from your fellow writers will make you a better writer.

The gist of this is that support is necessary: support from family, support from friends, and support from other writers. When you reach out for it, you might be surprised at how well others respond to you.

What support has propelled you to become a better writer? If you don’t write, what about your hobbies? What support has propelled you to a greater love of your hobby?

NaNoWriMo

Some people are lucky enough to know what they want to do from the moment they can talk about it. My son MJ has wanted to be an emergency room doctor for the past six years, and I look forward to finding out whether he ever completes that goal or changes his mind.

Some of us may have an idea of what we want to do but never take the first step. All my life I’ve been writing down snippets of poems or stories, even going as far as to enter a high school writing contest a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It wasn’t until I finally admitted to myself that writing was something I needed to do that I took the first step to writing a book.

I wrote the book and then got a little sidetracked when I found out I was pregnant. When I discovered I was pregnant, I had visions of typing during naps and rocking the baby while typing on my laptop. Then I discovered that I was pregnant with twins (hello Cupcake and Chunk). It’s too hard to rock twins and type at the same time. So I gave myself a maternity leave, but something happened. I thought about characters and realized writing is a part of my nature.

So when my maternity leave ended, I started writing a non-fiction book. Then I heard about NaNoWriMo less than a week before it started last year. I geared myself up and wrote 50,000 words. I completed a book and found writer’s groups. To my surprise, I had not written The Next Big Thing in Romance, but I discovered something more: I discovered that despite my book’s flaws (and it had many), I wanted to make it better. I wanted to improve my craft. Last year’s NaNoWriMo convinced me I could do it. Since then, I’ve spent time learning how to write: learning about dialogue, POV, word repetition, pacing. I’m still learning how to write, but I’m finding people and groups who are helping me. This year I entered NaNoWriMo with the conviction I could do it, especially with the help of those around me, including my daughter Kath who also won NaNoWriMo this year.

So this is my first blog on the journey about my trying to learn how to write as I weave the road I hope will lead to becoming a published author someday. I’d write more except I left my hero in a living room with his sister when he really wants to be at the heroine’s house instead. Happy writing or happy finding what you want to do and taking that first step to doing it.