Embracing The Writer’s Life.

You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.

Octavia E. Butler

Welcome to the tempering fires of a writer’s life. Reputedly an isolating one where unmeasurable joy lives alongside crushing disappointment and confusion. If you are a seasoned writer, you understand firsthand the arduous and daunting nature of the journey. A path filled with bucketsful of doubt and a pocketful of hope. I applaud our tenacity.

If you are a debutante writer, I also applaud your bravery. Remain open to sharing your work through writer’s groups and writing forums. Develop the strength to listen to the critiques and take on board the lessons offered. Take solace knowing the prolific writers of the past and present require their editor’s direction, just as Olympic level athletes require coaches. We must all strive to enrich our ability to craft a beautiful, authentic, well-structured story.

My embracement of the writer’s life started after several life events gouged deep crevasses into my soul. Recovery began when I embarked upon novel writing. An event that created an even greater shift in my world. Perspectives of people and their impact altered. They became fodder. Templates for storylines and characters. Idiosyncratic details became remarkably salient and assisted in fleshing out their personalities. A bonus, right? The silver lining of that black-cloud period.

The prospect pushed me to replace a book-sized handbag with one the size of diaper bag equipped with internal dividers to accommodate and facilitate easy access to a camera, journal, pens, and highlighters. When a storyline niggled my brain, I sought setting locations to place my characters. A walk around an interesting suburb’s block or seated at a café table in the area of interest began the process.

I recorded setting details – the sights, sounds, and smells. The weather and traffic. Focused on pedestrian details – ethnic orientation, age, facial expressions, dress, and how they clustered. Were they loners or part of a group such a family or friends or business cohorts? It was the beginning of my world building. A hospital and its surrounding neighbourhood in INVISIBLE When Shadows Call provided a rich sensory setting for the characters. The story shifted to my sisters magnificent log home nestled on the edge of a lake in British Columbia when the children required a safe refuge.

If a storyline sought a rural location, my camera and I traveled a scenic route through the countryside in search of an ideal setting. The property materialized in its own time, recognized only when it came into view. Once parked, I stood on the road’s edge and absorb pertinent  details. The house, outbuildings, and land. I willed the occupants to step outside and go about their day. While scouting for a setting for NaNoWriMo 2019, a trip to Wandering, Western Australia, gifted me with a glimpse into rural family life by their laundry. The clothes and how they were hung provided insight into the occupant’s personality and lifestyle. Clotheslines was born.

The clouds of dust at harvest time, the acrobatic flight of a swarm of birds, and a tumbling tumbleweed on the Saskatchewan prairies, set my imagination afire as I drove from Vancouver, British Columbia to Windsor, Ontario. Someplace Extraordinary emerged with such force I wrote the first draft during a NaNoWriMo challenge in 2012. The story remains one of my favourites.

What continues to amaze is accomplishment felt when those two words – THE END – are the last line typed on that pitiable mess called the first draft. How with each rewrite and edit, the gratification builds until a grin of satisfaction deemed it complete. Not perfect, but complete. The isolation and hours invested justified.

How about you? Are you a seasoned writer or a debutante? What drove you to the writer’s life? What is your source of inspiration? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for listening. Cheers.

S. C. Roberts

5 thoughts on “Embracing The Writer’s Life.

  1. I don’t know if I’m at the beginning or nearing the end of my writing journey. Who knows where life will take us? But I’m somewhere on the journey, and I’m glad.
    I love the way you get ideas. How about posting some of those pictures and telling us how they inspired you?

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  2. Love this. It reminded me of how I used to focus in on people and things around me in response to what I was currently writing. It inspired me to remind myself to try to be more observant of the little details, which often become significant fodder for a story.

    For me, a source of inspiration is often reading. I get a story awakening while in the middle of being lusciously lost in a great novel at times, and am forced to stare off into space as a new exciting world or character plays out in my head. I have ‘recovered’ from writer’s block more than once by giving myself permission to just read until my subconscious wakes up.

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    • The writer’s antennae makes us into benign voyeurs as we listen to strangers words and intonations, their appearance and idiosyncratic gestures, facial expressions and manner of dress. I can relate to how that sensitivity is diminished during the revision process. Our focus changes. Love the ‘story awakening’ and recovery from bout of writer’s block while immersed in a story. The power of a good story. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Loved this. Inspiration is found on news reports and by people watching. A quirk or unique gesture always sets my imagination in gear. I’ll be watching.

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    • Thanks for reading, Maxigirl. This social drive for diversity and inclusion has opened many avenues for writers. Topics we’d steer away from for fear of being insensitive are now requested as it means individuals with disabilities or psychological imbalances are given a presence/voice. And yes, keep watching. Cheers.

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