In my work as a writing coach, I deal with many extreme feelings from writers, and I can empathize with them all. Although we are all aware that digging ditches or washing dishes for a living is much harder than being a writer, still, we have many moments when we are strung out with insecurity and twisting in pain over the judgment we feel from the folks who read us, or the isolation we feel when no one reads us at all!
I asked my client, Robin Gaines, a few questions about her process. Robin is a short story writer and former journalist; she just finished her first book, "Invincible Summers", signed with an agent, and is at work on her second. I recently interviewed her for an article in the July issue of The Writer magazine http://www.writermag.com/wrt/default.aspx?c=i and we decided to keep the conversation flowing!
I asked Robin what she thinks is the hardest thing about a writer's life? “The patience needed to get the work to sing,” she said. “And what is the most rewarding? When you laugh out loud or cry after reading your own work and forgetting for a moment that you are the author and not just reading it like a first time reader.”
As for a writing routine, Robin said, “I'm always writing. I'm always thinking of my characters and what they would do in certain situations. I think of my fictional family while I'm driving my real family around, making dinner, doing laundry, etc. When the cream of those snippets of dialogue and scenes rises above all the others I grab the small notebook I keep in my purse and write it all out. Then the next day when I'm sitting in front of my laptop I type out those ideas that I jotted down in my notebook and hope they become part of the larger story. I spend a lot of time writing out character pages before I start a story or novel. If I don't have the characters down pat, I can't get write their story.”
Often place becomes its own character in a piece of writing; Robin is based in the Detroit area and "Invincible Summers" takes place on and around her home turf. The wedding that I participated in last week (see blog archive!) took place in Midland, Michigan. Michigan seems like a dream to me now (props to Simon & Garfunkel Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits [Platinum Edition] , but let’s give a shout out to the writers it claims:
Theodore RoethkeOn Poetry and Craft , Marge PiercyWoman on the Edge of Time , Elmore LeonardRoad Dogs, Ernest HemingwayA Moveable Feast .
This week’s exercise for key-bangers: Blend the dialogue of real life with a vividly imagined place – that you’ve never been. Now reverse the exercise and focus on a place you know well, where you are or were deeply rooted, and create dialogue that you’d be surprised to hear in such a place.
And let me know your thoughts on this question of the week, writers: How much has your place of birth affected your writing?
And please drop by the salon at http://www.bangthekeys.com and check out my writer’s workshop in a bookBang the Keys !
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