Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rules and More Writing Rules

Just when I think I've heard it all and learned it all, someone posts something different. Writing is an ongoing journey of learning. Can someone say amen!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Death of an Ex-Spouse

Where do you, or any writer, get ideas from? Do you do lots of research on a subject you’re not familiar with (military, war, politics, medical)? Or are you like me and write from personal experience, or the experiences of those you know?

In my book Like A Cedar In Lebanon one of the main characters is Lebby who is young, sweet, and naïve. She suffers abuse, control and manipulation by Jack. I understood how Lebby felt, and would feel, in her situation because I had experienced it. Jerry was my Jack.

Jerry died suddenly, unexpectedly last Friday, four days ago. The father of my children, my husband for twenty-two years, and yet we were strangers to each other. Those twenty-two years produced more bad memories than good, and when he left – for I could not leave, no matter how much I wanted to – I was relieved, happy, set free.

God brought healing and eventual forgiveness into my heart. It wasn’t an easy process. I’ve been remarried for almost nineteen years, happily married, and blessed. My heart aches for my children, though. I watch them grieve and I have no words to say. People have said to me (several times), “I’m sorry for your loss.” I have no response other than, “Thank you.” What I don’t say is I don’t feel a loss, at least not in that sense. But I am sad. Sad for my children, sad for Jerry’s wife, Gladys (a good woman), sad for the life he lived.

Jerry loved to the best of his ability, trying to be a good father despite the lack of a good father in his life. I never doubted he loved our kids. I know he didn’t know how to be a good husband. He could have had he given God control of his life. How very sad that so many live their lives troubled and unfulfilled by not surrendering to the love and care of a Heavenly Father.

Jerry’s gone, and I have mixed feelings. All the bad memories have surfaced; things I thought I had made my peace with. But life is a series of choices, so I choose to be there for my children -- to be thankful for the five children that came from our marriage, for the depth of God’s love I experienced because of the dire circumstances in my marriage, the lessons I learned, and the fodder it has given me for writing.

RIP Jerry!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Of Character and Characters

A couple weeks ago the men from our church went on a three day camping/fishing trip in beautiful pine country (Phoenix is all desert) by Woods Canyon Lake. The first night there my grandson, Nathanael, gave a Bible devotion around the campfire.

The next day they were approached by a couple of ladies from the next camp site. They had overheard the devotion the night before and just wanted to say how much they appreciated seeing a group of men and boys praying and studying the Bible.

Overheard! Overhearing! If others heard our conversations when we weren’t aware, would they compliment us? Would they say, “I knew that’s how she/he really is?” Our character is not how we speak and behave when others are listening or watching. It’s what we do when we think no one sees or hears.

Being a writer is like letting others inside our heads, inside our thoughts. I’ve usually found that most writers’ personalities are reflected in their work. Some live out their dreams, angst, desires, experiences (good and bad), obsessions, and any number of things in their writing.

I write from experience, either my own or others I know or have known. I’m allowing people inside my mind and thoughts. To do so makes us vulnerable. Of course, my writing is fiction and my characters are fictional. I have been asked concerning my book Like A Cedar In Lebanon if I am Lebby. I’ve also been asked by one of my daughters if she is Lebby.

The answer is that my characters are usually a composite of several real people. So if you wonder if I’ve patterned a character after you, well, maybe. Just maybe.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Keeping It Simple

A few weeks ago at a church picnic I met a nice young man from South Korea who is in the U.S. attending flight school. We sat at the same picnic table and had marvelous conversation, me inquiring about life in South Korea, and he about life here. He speaks great English, but carefully chooses his words and enunciates with precision. Despite the language barrier, we understood each other.

As a reader, I want novels to entertain me. I don’t want to have to experience deep thinking to understand what I’m reading. I do understand why some writers use elaborate, lofty, thought-provoking words because it's their style. I’m sure many readers enjoy that, but I don’t.

Recently I read a book by a known author. I loved his first book. In fact, I devoured it, and then read it a second time. So I was excited when a friend gave me a copy of his second book. It, too, is an amazing story, but PLEASE! Spare me the vocabulary journey of intellectual spout. It wasn’t necessary to tell the story. He was “birthed in an explosion of light, an inner expanding universe coalescing its own internal solar systems and galaxies with unimagined symmetry and elegance.”  Please, just say you were born!  And he described employees as fawning sycophants in another paragraph filled with lofty, uncommon words. I admit, although I have an intelligent grasp on vocabulary, I did look up sycophants.

My point is this – who are you trying to impress with your writing? Your average reader gets bogged down with deep-thinking descriptions. However, I guess it really, really boils down to who is your target audience?

To relate to my young, new friend from South Korea, we had to communicate well enough to understand each other without thinking of the meaning of what the other said. Know your target audience and write accordingly.

By the way, the above book I mentioned, I absolutely fell in love with it at chapter nine.