Last week I started reading The Writer’s Adventure Guide: 12 stages to Writing Your Book, by Beth Barany. The first stage that she outlines involves beginning where you are, but you must discover where that is first. The first exercise involves a 20 minute timed writing that discusses what writing means to you, what your goals are as a writer, and identifying your strengths and weaknesses which stand in your way or help you to meet those goals. She asked that you look at both the inner strengths and weaknesses, as well as those presented by the outer world around you. Part of the objective of this exercise is to help you begin viewing yourself as a writer, and although I’ve been doing that for a long time, I chose to do the exercise anyway. You never know when you may discover something unexpected by doing an exercise that you don’t think you really need. So, the following is the results of that first exercise for me, but I have great ambitions, so I didn’t stop at twenty minutes, but followed it through until I had covered all the areas suggested.
I am a writer. I live to write. Writing makes me feel free, because I can express myself through it. When I write, I can block out the outer world as I explore the inner world of the story or poem. My goal is to become a paid author, able to make enough to support my family and finance my writing career. I see myself 10 years from now traveling from place to place giving lectures, teaching workshops and signing books. I would also like to be attending conferences and workshop to increase my knowledge about writing, as I feel that writers must always continue to learn and grow and to develop their craft.
When I’m not writing, I am reading. I love being the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner and doing my blog, Writing to be Read, because I get to meet other authors and do book reviews. I also do book reviews for Webb Weavers. Doing book reviews puts me into both of the elements that I love. I get to read good books and then write the reviews for them. It’s the best of both worlds. Plus, by functioning in these capacities, I am able to increase my own visibility within the literary community.
Of course, this all revolves around the assumption that I will be a successful author by that time. I already have a children’s book being published, which I am waiting for with much anticipation. I have others written that will follow in the series, that are just lack polishing. Since I already have a publisher for the first book, I think that the chances are good that they will agree to publish the other in the series. I am waiting to submit the second story though, because I want to enter it in a Writer’s Digest writing contest. I truly feel this story is good enough to possibly win. I also have other children’s stories that wouldn’t fit into the series, but I think they might be good enough to stand alone.
In addition, I am planning to attend college this summer to get my MFA in creative writing, which will lend credibility for me as a teacher and help me to complete my novel. I have the story in my head, but I don’t know where to start to put it all in print. In the past I have written short stories and poetry. I have always just sat down and begun writing and the stories just have flowed out for me, but a novel length story presents a challenge, because it requires more detail and more than one or two characters be developed. Acquiring my MFA will help me to gain the skills that I need to overcome my weakness and write the novel that is now, only in my mind.
One day, I also plan to put together a collection of my best poetry, with illustrations. Publishers for poetry may be more difficult to find than they are for books or children’s stories, so I might consider self-publishing my poetry collection, maybe even as an E-book. E-books seem to be the rage these days. I wonder if poetry does well in the E-book format? I think that it might.
Also, in my head, there lies a memoir about my son Michael and his tragic death at the tender age of 19. I have begun many times to write such a book, but there are so many loose ends still, three and a half years later, that I don’t know how to end it. Even a memoir has to have an end to the story, does it not? Before one can see the tragedy of his death for what it is, they must understand who he was, which requires details about his childhood. I can remember details about his life as if they had occurred yesterday, but how much of this actually needs to be relayed to readers? No one will ever know Mike the way that I did, no matter how many words I put down on the page, or how eloquently I relay those details. That’s the problem. Because my words don’t seem to me to express what I want to say adequately, I always end up putting this project down only to start over at a later date, maybe from a different approach, but ultimately with the same results. I have been working on a nonfiction book, as well. It is still in the research stages, but I need to get a better idea of how I want to present the information. Again, I think an outline might help me to clarify my direction in my own mind.
As I said, I have thought of myself as a writer for many years. This exercise did make me look at my unfinished projects and evaluate the reasons why they are unfinished. I do fine with short stories, but longer books are intimidating to me. I think that outlining my story ideas might help in this area. As far as my memoir goes, I think I may still be too close to the story in real life. It isn’t over for me, and I don’t know if it ever will be truly. There are so many questions that I may never have the answers to. I think I need to let more time go by before I attempt to tackle that particular writing project.
So, I did come out with a better idea of my weaknesses and some ways to overcome them, or at least deal with them. I also was able to look at my strengths and the actions that I am taking that push me closer to my goal. My discoveries in this area pleased me. I think the things that I am already doing or have planned for the immediate future are a good start in the right direction.
The rest of the exercise consists of being aware of how my goals might change over the next week, now that I am more aware. Again I will follow through with the exercise, although I don’t think that they will change much. Barony instructs to start your book in this coming week, as well. For me, that will entail constructing an outline and exploring my characters. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, so be sure to drop back in for next week’s blog post.