I joined a local writers’ group a few months ago, and this blog is the result.
I was seeking support and inspiration to refocus on my novel, which I hadn’t looked at for more than a year. Blogging, I was told, is essential for all writers in this multi-platform world of e-books and social media. Also heard that I need to brand. Just hope I don’t hurt myself, as I did with the wood-burning tool that my older brother told me not to mess with. Wood burning looked easy enough. Hard, though, for a kid who liked to hold pencils near his mouth while thinking.
Like I need another distraction to take typing time away from my story of teen pals, preachers, prostitutes and river pirates in the 1880s Pacific Northwest.
Well, turns out I do! At least I’m typing and sharing regularly. And as I’ve always told myself, all that I lack as a writer is a body of work. If you write, you are by definition a writer. Never mind whether you’re a good, decent or poor writer. That’s for the critics to decide. Just be the writer.
I have no answer for writer’s block, except to say that real writers by nature are compelled to write. Now, thanks to blogging, anyone can easily share their work or thoughts and get feedback. That’s also why I enjoy my circle of friends in Writers Kickstart. We write to amuse ourselves and to share tips about being (gasp!) published. It’s all very supportive and constructive. My colleagues are extremely talented and passionate about their work. We’ve got sci-fi fanciers, world builders, humanists, poets, darksiders and spiritualists. Some of it’s raw. Often it’s humorous. Always it’s entertaining. If you filmed us, the soundtrack could include bagpipes playing “It’s Long Way to the Top . . . ”
I spent 33 years as a newspaper journalist and figured I could easily make up better stories than the ones bound by truth. Turns out, that’s not the case. I enjoy history and read much more nonfiction that fiction. Among the journalists I’ve most admired are news commentator Eric Sevareid and sports columnist Art Thiel. Two fiction writers that I particularly enjoy are Garrison Keillor and Chuck Palahniuk.
When I’m dry of fresh ransom notes, I intend to post an occasional prompt that I’ve written and shared as an exercise for one of our bi-weekly Writers Kickstart meetings. Each meeting, someone suggests a topic and we write about it in 500 words or less. You can write strictly on topic, or vaguely on topic, or ignore the prompt and write something entirely unrelated. Rules are like prison bars for anyone seeking escape; the bendable the better. I lean toward memoirs as I try to embrace the adage to “write about something you know.”
The current prompt from Writers Kickstart is to take a favorite fictional character and write about them, putting them in a new scene, new story or any sort of new light. I’m thinking “Fishing with Boo Radley.” That will have nothing to do with my novel, although fishing provides a good backdrop for character study. Got a guy named Melville branded.