Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Obsessed or Possessed?

Have you ever visited a place and felt an overwhelming connection to it that inspired a need to be creative—whether through writing, painting, photography, or anything else? That place could be a region or a city or even a house. It doesn’t matter because it’s just a place where you feel you belong, a place you feel you understand, a place that feels like it’s racing through your veins, a place that feels like home. No, not just feels like home…it is home. For me, that place is New England, specifically Maine and the Boston area.

I can hear my family groaning right now. Yes, I’ve become obsessed with or possessed by that area. It’s almost like I lived there in a past life, or something. Even though I’m on the other side of the country and it’s been almost two years since I visited, the connection pulls at me until my gut hurts because I’m not there. Weird, huh? Yep, that’s me.

Anyway, the area inspired me to write, write, write. Touring the historic homes and buildings, hiking the trails throughout the numerous woods, speaking to the people who live there…I embraced all of it and still do. I can’t believe how much I was able to write after soaking it all in and ::sob:: returning to the West coast. I have no problem picturing my family living in one of those old houses on the rocky, Atlantic coast and watching the boats, filled to capacity with lobster traps, as they head toward the docks. And I’m writing away, inspired by something as simple as a butler’s pantry and basement—things you don’t normally find where I live.

It’s odd to think that I feel more at home, more comfortable, in a place that I’ve only visited, rather than in the place I’ve lived my entire life. Why is that?

I think some of this has to do with the fact that the East coast people know how to save and treasure their historic structures (and not plow them over to erect another mini-mall). Sure, the West has a remarkable history, too, but there aren’t a lot of physical reminders of this left—earthquakes and fires have something to do with this, but not everything. And since I write historical stories set in California, I know quite a bit about it’s colorful past. I just wish more of it had been saved.

I’ve always had a fascination with history, American or otherwise, and have recently discovered that some of my ancestors came to the New World in 1631 and are quite prominent throughout the history books; in fact, some are infamous (Salem, anyone?). Oh, and I also have Cherokee ancestry, so it’s safe to say that one side of my family has been here a loooong time.

Is it familial history that causes the connection, that inspires me to write? Maybe. I know I’d write no matter what, but just visiting New England wakened something else in me.

What about you guys? Ever experience anything like that?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Neck Deep in Revisions

That’s where I am right now—neck deep in the revision stage of two of my historical novels. The first in the series is completed and I've sent it out to find a home in the publishing world (fingers crossed), and the subsequent two novels have the first drafts completed. Woo-hoo! So now I’m revising. This is where the story really comes to life for me, where I have those “ah, yes, that’s it” moments. Gotta love those. It’s those moments that give me confidence as a writer.

But what has been exciting for me as I revise the second story in the series, which is set in London, York, and parts of Scotland, is the fact that I know I’ll be in those places in a few months and will be able to pick up some specific, killer-diller details about them to incorporate into the story. Although I do have to remember not to get bogged down with details, it’s fun to uncover those gems that thread the reader into the story—whether you find those gems in books, the Internet, or on location.

So I’m diving back into my revisions now. What about you? What stage of writing are you in right now—planning, first draft, revisions?

Monday, April 10, 2006

What I Have to Do

How many careers did you go through before you finally allowed yourself to write fiction?

For me, it was years of sales and retail management. I even went to college to major in business, but then I discovered…the humanity and liberal art courses. Those classes were so much more fascinating to me than business law, accounting, and economics! I’d come home from class, excited to discuss the Greek myths, philosophers, diverse religions, and history with my husband. So many cool stories to tell him about! Yet when I came home from a business class, he’d ask what I’d learned, and at the risk of sounding like a fourth grader, I’d shrug and say, “Nuthin’.”

Then one fall semester, I came down with pneumonia and dropped out until the spring semester. Being ill gave me time to evaluate in what direction my career was headed and whether I really wanted to go there. I knew I needed something else, something creative. And it was at that time that I found it in a box of old journals and keepsakes I had packed away after I’d graduated high school (I had decided I needed to grow up and get a “real” job). Inside the yellowed pages of my journals, I rediscovered my love of writing fiction. Writing was where I belonged, what I had to do.

It took me all of five seconds to figure out that I needed to change my major to English and focus on creative writing. And my husband, bless him, didn’t even bat an eye when I told him. That doesn’t mean I didn’t work, too, but I’d finally allowed myself to write fiction in my spare time, which made me a happy camper. Of course, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I write full time now.

So what about you guys? When did you allow yourself to write fiction?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

How Does the Author Do That?

When you read, do you read for pleasure? Or is the writer in you always present?

Ever since I started to write seriously, I can’t read a book without analyzing how the author handles plot, character, pacing, ect…

Does writing spoil my reading pleasure? Sometimes, I think it does. But then there are those times when I’ll be lost in a story and it’ll be eighty pages before I even think about the mechanics and devices involved. Those stories floor me because they manage to remind me that I’m a reader, not just a writer. I love that. And then, of course, I go back over the story and try to figure out HOW the author accomplished that! So, I guess I wind up analyzing the novel anyway. LOL

What about you guys?