Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

the writing lifestyle evolves

 photo from 2011 on the rim right below where Zane Grey's cabin stood before the big fire burned it

2011 was, for me, a transition year. It had been twenty years since I had made any serious attempt to see published the many books that I had written. Although, back then, I'd gotten encouragement from editors, it was clear that what they wanted in a romance wasn't what I wanted to write. I could have tried to fit the zeitgeist of the times, but it seemed wrong considering my view of life. It didn't stop me from continuing to write. I have pretty much written my whole life. 2011 was the year I had decided I would bring my books out as an indie writer. 
"I think one must finally take one's life into one's arms." Arthur Miller
When I looked over them, I saw they needed a LOT of editing. Some of that was because of how our culture had changed for my contemporary suspenses. Writing styles had changed for expectations, but some editing was because I was better at my craft than when I'd originally written them (luckily the plots and characters all held up and met my goals). My work that year involved going over each book word for word. In spending a lifetime writing, creating characters and stories, it had all been for myself, I didn't have to meet anyone else's expectations. That was about to change.

At the end of 2011, I brought out my first book, and 2012 was when I began learning about the other end of writing-- promoting (oh my gosh, what a lesson). The following was something I wrote that year after looking at all these books and immersing myself in writing and my own philosophy behind what I wrote. I kept the essence of the piece but did edit it-- I'm a better writer today than I was in 2011. I will be a better writer in five more years if I keep writing. It's how it works.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be more aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. Henry Miller 
Art is only a means to life , to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way-- something which is too often overlooked not only by the public, but by the artists themselves. If it becomes an end, it defeats itself. 

To put it another way, the process of creating art is what an artist is all about. The end product , that's the gravy in the process, but it's the creating which is most satisfying and challenging. It's about process; and if the process is confusing and conflicting at times, well that is also part of what it can be. Anything that flows with no emotional angst is probably craft. That doesn't mean there aren't those moments the creation is flowing, the artist/writer/creator is writing along, grinning, and feeling so good for how it went-- but they are matched with the times of writing, rewriting, writing again and eventually deciding to tear the whole thing apart. 

When in the midst of creating, often it involves spending time examining articles on how to be successful. Sometimes the articles can seem contradictory. Here are some recently read suggestions for writers on how to get a publisher to accept their work--
Get rid of all extraneous parts
Don't have events happen that don't carry the story forward. 
Edit down to the bones of what is needed. 
If your story is over 100,000 words , it means you didn't edit enough.

Except-- 

When I read a book that I am enjoying (also when I write stories), the little tidbits, the pieces that don't take it anywhere are sometimes the parts I enjoy most. Life isn't full of everything being directed toward a conclusion. Life is full of things that just happen and sometimes with seemingly no meaning, but they are part of the whole. It's like the grace notes in a piece of music or in a painting. The little things some may not even notice, but they are part of the whole picture and make it what it is more than the broader more obvious strokes. 

I see the conflict on these two opposing ideas being like a big X. Be concise and to the point but don't forget the grace notes. Both can be right-- when in balance.
Never lose track of where you are going.
Except--
Don't rush so much that you miss the roses along the way

So I try, when I am working on stories, to think of all that would happen or might, gloss over the points that don't matter, but never lose sight of those tiny jewels that aren't taking the plot forward but are very much part of the experience of the characters and of life. 

Little moments often tell the reader more about the character of people than the big ones. My favorite books to read are full of small moments. The problem is selecting the right ones to not bore the reader while leaving them with an enjoyable aftertaste. 

One other thing that working on my books has been reminding me. I have to like the characters to want to spend time with them at all. The other day I saw a review on a biography of a well-known woman artist of her time. It said she was a nasty woman but very successful at her painting. I thought why would I want to spend time reading a book about a nasty woman? I didn't buy it. I try to keep that in mind for my characters. If they don't seem interesting and aren't essentially likeable, why would a reader want to invest time in them.

4 comments:

Celia said...

I too, like the tidbits in a story. It makes the characters more like people. Some of the tidbits are good little stories with in the story.

Rain Trueax said...

They can end up my favorite parts like one book where the woman kept a garden. I don't even remember the name of the book but still remember the beautiful way the garden was described.

joared said...

I can enjoy little tidbits in a story, but expect it can be difficult to decide which ones to include and what to excise.

Enjoyed your earlier photos as I caught up on your August posts. Montana is one state we never managed to visit but one on our list until my husband's health decline preempted our travels. Will be interesting to hear in the future what you may choose relative to RV plans. Your cats provide a challenge to compatibility it sounds like.

Rain Trueax said...

I don't think we can go full-time as just too many complications especially involving the farm. But maybe more months in it. I would love a month in Montana. And I really like the idea of the 5th-wheel as a way to have more ease of towing and smoother on the road. It's in the future though. 'Going RV' is supposed to have new shows beginning the 14th, and it's been educational for costs and what the units offer. Things like outside kitchens or entertainment centers make sense for families with kids but definitely not for us where we don't watch that much tv period. We haven't started looking with just too much on the plate right now but maybe in September we will see what is out there in our area.

You have no idea on the challenge with the cats, Joared lol. I wrote about it more in my facebook and should probably copy paste that here as their community is not controlled by ours -- to say the least