Thursday, November 29, 2012

Confessions

When I was young I use to read late into the night using sources of light such as a flashlight, a small lamp hooked to the bottom of the bunk bead (I was on the bottom bunk), and sometimes light from the hallway. My mom always told me that if I kept doing this I would ruin my eyes and need glasses. Well, I kept doing it - and my mother was correct. I now wear glasses. I didn't need glasses until I was an adult, but I blame all the deteriorating eye sight to those late nights with bad light sources.
So now for the confession. I still love reading late into the night when I find a good book that won't let me put it down. The master bathroom, connected to our bedroom, allows light to shine across the foot of our bed. So sometimes, when my husband is sleeping and I just HAVE TO KNOW what happens next, I'll turn on that light, lay with my head at the foot of the bed, and my feet up by my pillow, and keep reading. I'm not sure if he knows how often I actually do that, but there it is - I love books that make me read late into the night with weak lighting. Although, as I type this I realize that since I live in a house with several other rooms and I no longer get in trouble for getting out of bed after 'bed time' ... I should probably just go into another room, turn on the light, and not ruin my eyes further or disturb my husbands sleep. But really, who has time to think of those things when a book has you hooked?
Other confessions?
I sometimes try to type without wearing my glasses because then I'm too focused on seeing the screen to stop and correct mistakes. It lets me get a lot more written and I can go back to edit later with no interruptions. (Note: this usually ends in a headache and usually begins because I'm too involved in my story to go find my glasses on my bedside table.)
When I write, I like to eat gummy candies or fruit snacks.
I love to listen to music while I type - favorite writing music? Disney songs and Christmas music - yes, even in the middle of summer.
Whenever I get an idea I jump up from whatever I'm doing and sprint for the office to write it down. My husband is used to this and usually laughs at me, but it seems to startled company when they first see it happen.
I bought a set of 24 yellow notebooks from Costco and always have 1-2 on my bedside table, on the edge of my desk, on the kitchen counter, in my purse, and sometimes in other random locations - this makes it easy to grab one and write whenever a thought enters my head and must be put on paper immediately.
My husband has learned that if I wake up in the morning and grab my notebook and start writing like a mad woman, this means I usually had a very vivid dream that could make a good story. He's a wonderful husband and has also learned that it is best not to interrupt me while I'm doing this as I tend to get a bit snappish until the idea is safely on paper - just in case I forget details.
And last confession - my husband is the biggest support I have for my writing. He always wants to know how much I have written, what I am writing about, and constantly encourages me to keep writing. When my laptop decided to start falling apart he bought me a new computer so I wouldn't miss a beat in my writing. I love him dearly for being my best cheerleader!

Those are my confessions .... what are yours?


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Writer vs. Author

Recently I have found myself in a position to critique other people's work. I have read some truly amazing bits of writing, and also some truly terrible bits of writing. But my job is not to tell a person that their writing may be terrible, but rather to give positive, encouraging feedback to help them learn more and perhaps improve their writing. However, this experience has put me to mind thinking about where I started and where I am now. My writing was on the 'truly terrible' end when I first attempted to put the stories from my mind into paper. Yet, over the last fifteen years I have studied, worked, written and rewritten, and polished my style and my writing.
Thinking on this, however, I had to ask myself (when seeing some of these terrible pieces I was critiquing) if it was fair for all those who write stories to be lumped into the general category of being a "writer." Or for that matter, even the category of an "author." This second thought frightened me even more than the first and I was very off put by the idea that someone who just whipped out a story, terrible as it may be, and I would both be called authors. It was as if my years of work seemed to count for nothing next to this minor input of effort to write a book. Thankfully, several of my wonderful family members stepped in and reminded me that BEING AN AUTHOR IS AN EARNED TITLE.
This is not to say that those who write terrible at this time cannot one day be considered to be "authors," but rather that it is through time and effort that the title is earned. So what is it that discerns a 'writer' - which is anyone who can write - from an 'author?" What makes you earn that title? I think it is the time and effort that is put into getting the education, researching, writing, rewriting, killing off a manuscript and starting new even though it was your baby and you loved it, and honestly putting your whole heart into what you enjoy and loving what you create.

And that was when it dawned on me that "Anyone can write, but an author creates."
Just to be sure I was not making things up in order to satisfy my wounded pride in the moment, I went to the Webster's new World Dictionary (my favorite companion along side the thesaurus) and found two very interesting definitions:

Writer n. one who writes

Author n. one who makes or creates something

I realized that I have been striving to write something well, and to make it memorable, and to show the world my talent and have them WANT my book out there for others to read and share in my joy of creating. Writing a book and creating a story can be the same thing, but can also be totally and completely different. Creating a story takes time, passion, talent, research, and a drive that sometimes keeps you up all night because you don't want to let your characters down. It making a world that draws people in and  becomes real - smells that permeate from the pages of the book as the setting springs up around the reader. Characters that walk off the pages and don't let a reader forget them even long after the book is closed and done. It's creating life in the pages of that manuscript.
Suddenly my effort was made worth it when I realized that my goal is not just to be published, but to have my book loved, desired by others, and treasured for the story it tells. As long as I can share my creativity and love of writing with another person, and make that person feel my passion and my joy through the story that I have written, then I have succeeded.
That is how I became an author. I created!