Confessions of a would be “lone writer”

Looking at my previous posting: I pick up complaining, and I’m aware I  don’t like that. I thought of removing it but I decided not to, as I struggle to get anything on my blog at all. Not because I don’t want to  (I tell myself) but I just don’t have the time…

Possibly it’s because I’m older (…as noted: I can not possibly the latest “new young writer” as I’m definitely not young!…)  and I had a definite fantasy about what being online meant when I started.   I thought being able to email my material–the ideas that meant so much to me, the characters that were alive to me–to the “right” person  (usually an actor, producer: at the time I wanted to a screen writer) would mean  they ‘d become as enthusiastic as I was about my material, offering me whatever support I needed to get the project off the ground.  The email/internet gave me access to that person.

And of course, I quickly discovered that wasn’t true. Other people–famous or not–have their own projects that they’re working on, and they didn’t have the time and energy to focus on mine–even if they were interested.  Why would it be any other way?

I did, however, “put out to the universe” ..(if I may use that terminology)… that I really wanted someone who would read my material, come to  appreciate it, and give me the support  I needed to get it together and  “out there”. And lo and behold I did find my writing consultant, Julie Rodriguez over the internet. Julie and I have working together for almost 5 years now  (I believe we started in the later part of 2011)  and  her work with me has been so invaluable  that I have discovered  the real  fantasy that I haboured: the myth of the lone writer who’s simple brilliance  draws in the reader.

And that is very definitely a myth.

If I want to put my writing “out there”,  I need   to put  flesh  and bones on the characters, put them in concrete situations that speak to others as much as me. That’s hard work…and collaborative work.  I can’t assume that what makes sense to me will necessarily make sense to the reader.  And if it doesn’t and I go down that path than I’ll be simply  writing for myself…which is fine if that’s what I want to do … But if as a storyteller I want to have others read it, I  need Julie  as sounding board.  Without her I would have been able to finish and put of what I have…

…Which reminds me:  Coming out soon.. the third novella in the  Kooteani Brown series…”Where fantasy  ‘gets real’…”

But that’s the topic for another blog…

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “working” writer

Anthony Trollope, the famous Victorian novelist who wrote– among other things the Palliser  novels– had for many years a flourishing career in the  British  Post Office. Apparently he’d  get up early in the morning and write before going to work.

I wonder: exactly how he did he do it? !  I have a time when I get up in the morning when I’m full of energy; and if I can use that time to write then I see myself as getting something done. (Reminding myself that good writing is work…not something I could throw together in a haphazard  manner and expect to be done with it)

And especially with my  “day” job, I often have pulls on that precious time–things that need the same level of  concentration; and if I were to put off to later in the day would never get done. I just don’t have that same energy level later in the day.

O to be like Trollope–to be able to write for  2-3 hours and then go off skipping to my job and have the energy to do all the projects there!

Of course,  Anthony Trollope never had to clean the house, do the yard work, make meals. He had a wife and servants to do that.  And maybe he had a secretary/editor–someone who would sense of his notes; clean them up, so that he could let go of the messy re-writing, and get on with the  larger story.

I don’t know…and I guess I could find out.

I just know that I beginning not to believe in the “lone writer” .  Writing that is to be shared  is a collaborative effort.

I mean: what’s  the point if I  can’t communicate  the essence of the story in ways that make the characters  come alive to others?… if they get lost in my egocentric meanderings–never to see the light of day in anyone else’s understanding?

Now that’s  the subject of another blog…

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Fantasy gets real..

I won’t even go into how long it’s been since I’ve blogged, or the “reasons” for it…

I have continued  with  writing though, having just finished my third novella in the Kootenai Brown series: “WANTED ILLUSTRIOUS ANCESTOR: LEGACY LEGENDARY”.  With Julie Rodriguez  as writing mentor and editor,  I’m about not only to add it  to the series; but to revamp and reissue the first two Kootenai  Brown  novellas as well–offering them together as a trilogy. (…I can’t begin to express my debt to  Julie without whom I would never be able to get  these  stories into  a form  that I could put “out there”…)

This morning when I was thinking about  blogging,  I told myself: I  “should” get on my blog and talk about my upcoming “book launch”…when  I  thought: “I can’t. I’m so preoccupied with what’s happening at my  day job; I don’t have the energy.”  Feeling tired, I decided  to relax and soak  in the tub–at least I could do that…

And it didn’t take me very long–relaxing as I was– to realize one the things that I love about writing the Kootenai Brown series is that I’m writing about serious  issues that come up in my life.. in a humorous  fanciful  way. The very issues that are preoccupying this morning.

For example, right now  I’m  working within  an organization that  uses bureaucratic solutions. I’m aware that I’m not at all comfortable with this way of doing things.

And the protagonist in the first novella (WANTED: PASSIONATE HERO)  Marcy Wilkins expresses this same feeling  when in the midst of an imaginary gun fight,  she finds herself  trying to sort  through a deluge  of  random papers that threaten to overwhelm her.  She tells her childhood cowboy hero Trey Gallant  that she must: feign some interest in  these papers and the motions they contain  “…  as if I believe that intellectual statements with correct wording have anything to do with why anyone ever does anything..”  (in other words: addressing what’s really going on).  She  goes  on to admit her fear that if she doesn’t feign the proper interest in these  that  her employers  won’t employ her, not at a living wage at least…something that she’s afraid of not having.

So being a hero in her own life is much more complicated than being a hero in  the imaginary world  of ’60’s TV westerns where the hero, though challenged,  can prosper being who he is…

But it’s a good place to start. And lots of fun, too.

The second novella (WANTED NOBLE COMPANION:INTEGRITY REQUIRED) also deals with another pressing issue.  The protagonist  Connie Butt wants to have the integrity  of her imaginary hero, Xavier, a  Cyrano de Bergerac type character, who boldly attacks the corruption of those around him. But she soon discovers–it’s not as simple as that. Xavier himself  has feet of clay,  and its in her acceptance of him as he is, that allows her to discover what real integrity is.

That’s a necessary lesson for me as I’m tempted to decry  (and envy) my colleagues who seem  to fit so well in  the bureaucratic system. The truth is that I want them to think and act like me. And they don’t.

True integrity doesn’t mean that I attack them and who they are, feeling superior. It means that I get on with doing what I need to be doing in my life;  and let others get on with theirs,   however it works for them. I reminded of the saying: being selfish isn’t doing what you want; it’s trying to get others to do what you want.

The  third novella  (WANTED ILLUSTRIOUS ANCESTOR:LEGACY  LEGENDARY) begins with yet another issue that came up.  I began it  after receiving  some old hospital records  about my mother’s grandfather who had been institutionalized. I wanted to romanticize him: maybe he was some heroic French Canadian plainsman (similar to the fantasy hero in the novella) who went crazy  because he couldn’t endure  losing his freedom to the rigid restrictions  of modernity.  Of course, when I read the few pages of records, a very different picture emerged…Just as  a very different picture emerges for Amelia Butt, the protagonist of W:I  when she enters the world of her fantasy …where she  discovers  history  becoming   more human, more flawed …and   the injustice that happens when  who you are doesn’t fit into the larger  picture of what “has” to be…

Of course, good  Fantasy is a good story, with quirky characters–a good read. And it “gets real”  by  addressing the human concerns all of us face..in a deliciously fanciful way that touches us deeply–in away nothing else can…

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper