THE WRITER’S LIFE | C. M. Turner
The most important thing I have learned from being a writer is to be a good listener. The books I write are a blend of my imagination, intertwined with bits and pieces of old family stories. These precious hand-me-downs have trickled down to me through time, from parents, grandparents, great grandparents...even in-laws.
At night, my mother weaved words and stories through my head like a finely crafted tapestry and my grandmother once showed me a letter in the family Bible, written by her mother as a young girl. My great grandmother, after spending the night at a girlfriend’s house, wrote of being awakened and terrorized by a malevolent ghost that chased them through a corridor. This made a lasting impression that is often reflected in my writing.
Speaking strictly for myself, I have never had to look very far to find interesting characters and stories. They are all around us. We need only to listen. I store nuts for winter…squirrel away every trivial detail and fragment of minutiae that could prove useful in the future. At times, one of these tasty morsels just pops into mind while I’m writing. I believe most books are rooted in these simple beginnings…a collection of life’s little crumbs and tidbits, gathered and compiled along the way.
I also believe, we each have stories in us longing to be told. You don’t need to be a writer for this to be true. Everyone has a story to tell. When I contemplate this, it occurs to me those are the ones I’d like to tell. Stories, repressed, hidden, savored over a lifetime…yet too wicked and dangerous, too personal to reveal. Cutting edge and raw, stories with teeth that draw blood.
Sometimes, it isn’t easy to determine, what has been created purely from imagination and what unfolds from memory. Memories always play a major role, but they can be easily manipulated…bent and distorted to fit a storyline. Does anyone else find it unsettling when a character’s memory mirrors their own? I think what’s more disturbing, is becoming aware that every character is part of you, not just the hero. We must claim our villains, as well.
All writers have their own approach, their own process. Mine is very basic. I do not make drafts or draw outlines. For me, that’s entirely too regimented. I prefer to just start and keep at it until the story begins to feel like it’s writing itself. I never know for sure where it’s going until it’s taken me there… if it will be short or evolve into a full-length novel? My only claim to discipline is that I will never give up. I will write, write a little more, and re-write until it’s finished.
My favorite part of the writer’s life, is finding the appropriate quote(s) for a book…naming the characters, towns, businesses, etc. and coming up with a meaningful title while envisioning a cover.
The most difficult part is the grueling task of research and editing. I have someone who handles the final edits but it’s reminiscent of that old-adage about getting a maid. It doesn’t matter if she’s coming, you still clean/editbefore she does, rather than risk her find your household/book in any state of disarray!
There’s one last thing I’d like to mention, in regards, to this life. We aren’t all sitting at home in cozy, peaceful offices, magically trying to piece together a book. Today I am that writer, however, it wasn’t always that way. Like most of you, I struggled for years…juggling work, raising a family, and trying to fit my writing in whenever and wherever I could. It wasn’t easy but I’m the living proof it can be done, SO NEVER GIVE-UP! I somehow managed to squeeze in many short stories and four full-length novels, most of which are in different stages of edit awaiting publication.
I’m retired now and have all the time in the world to write. I’ve started my first new novel in twenty-years, and while pleased...it feels like something’s missing. I miss those old days and ways. I miss that pressure, that momentum, that constant excitement of having to squeeze it all in and racing to beat the clock. I miss the challenge! It motivated me, kept me going, kept me running in that race against time. In this writer’s opinion, leisure may afford you the time to think everything through and plot, but it doesn’t guarantee it will be your finest work.
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Thank you so much for your inspiring blog post C.M! It has been a pleasure to get to know you and your writing process a little bit better! If you enjoyed this post, comments and shares are always appreciated! Thank you!
Until next time, find your Peace, Love, Hustle, then Read or Write! xox Bibiana www.bibianakrall.com