Friday, January 15, 2016

Writing and Life

Writing and Life. We authors can't have one without the other. While the creating aspect of writing is a solitary business we wouldn't have much to offer if we weren't - out there - living, interacting with people, experiencing new places and things. Working at jobs. Relationships. Encounters. Participating in sports, yoga, gym workouts, walking the neighborhood. Jacqueline Sewald created a great post last week about where to find ideas. It really spoke to me personally, because I would dearly love to retire and write full time. HOWEVER. I'm not quite sure how we'd manage the bills (especially health insurance, but that is another story).

Making a living with writing is tough. To hone my craft I became a feature writer for a small newspaper and interviewed some of the most wonderful people, who all found unique ways to live their lives. For example:
  • A 104-year-old woman who decided to start riding a motorcycle. 
  • A seventy-year-old woman who learned to fly a small plane. 
  • A retired airplane engineer decided to build replica hot rods and sell them. 
  • Many, many lovely seniors utilize their creativity to help others - quilts, clothing, hats and gloves. 

This is a short list of articles written about people. Ah, people. To me, that's the key to a good story.
What happened? How do the characters feel? Where did do things happen to these people? What did the characters do for a living? Who are they deep down inside? What are their dreams, aspirations, fears? Finding the answers to these questions is extremely interesting. Authors can interview their character and discover and create their story.

Authors can utilize people they know or have seen as prototypes. What did they look like? What did they wear? How did they smell? How did they talk? One of the feisty ladies in my two novels is the image of an instructor I had in college. She floated into a room, her bangles tinkling, her long hair in a braid or bun, her long skirts skimming the tops of her leather sandals. Her grace and physical presence inspired me. Whenever Regina speaks in my story I visualize Dr. Konek. If I hadn't taken a class from her I might have seen her in the bookstore or on the street and still she would have captured my imagination.

The Annabelle character is a compilation of many women I've known, my grandmother being the main one, and she lives and has adventures that my aunts and I have had in the kitchen. Flour everywhere, salt being substituted for sugar in a recipe (yes, it happens) and the ultimate response when tasted. Cherries can be spit quite far.

Whether you have a large family or small there are episodes that will no doubt find their way into stories. Verbal ones or written, it doesn't make a difference. Make it real for the listener or reader. Share your living with them. Share your humor with them. Share your feelings with them. It's what makes story "real."

And don't forget to enjoy the adventure.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Bonnie,

I agree with you about your observations. I think writing nonfiction can make you a better fiction writer. The real world is full of interesting people that fiction writers can draw upon. This is also true about family. Our own families have wonderful stories to tell and are interesting and unique people.

Bonnie Tharp said...

HI JACQUI! Thanks for the comment. TGIF.