The Inspiration, the Burden and the Irresistible Force
I get awakened in the middle of the night by an argument between characters in my head. I’ve learned to just get up, turn on the word processor and type it all out.
I was told stories of the old west as a small child. I lived around cowboys, cattle, horses, ranches and farms. Memories of grandparents and great grandparents turn into chapters in my mind.
I’m big on character sketches. It takes an incident to happen to a character before the rest of the book happens. Someone is hanging off a cliff. Well, how did that happen? How did he get that way. I wish I could outline, really. I’ve helped others do outlines, but it feels to confining for me. People die in my stories and I have to figure out what method causes it. I often leave some story lines unfinished. I edit, edit, and edit again. I don’t trust beta readers so the constructive and developmental editors get a work out. I can go from 122k down to 95k words in an edit so I’m not afraid of slashing. I taught my grandchildren to do this when they were in elementary school.
My fiction characters smell smells, feel the wind, taste flavors, and hear lots of sounds. From time to time, one of them will cock their head at me and say, “Watch this.”
Go work on all kinds of single paragraph writing prompts. My favorite is the grocery list one. Write 5 things on a grocery list. Now write one long sentence about who and why someone would need to go to the store to get that.
I write business non-fiction for people who decided this morning to start up their business. These are people who still work day jobs and are formatting their product and service while they sit in the drive-thru line.
My grandson sat beside me and listened to one of these stories one day. He looked at me and said,
“Grammy, that would make a good book. Why don’t you write one?”
On those occasions where I imbibe too much tequila, I tend to tell stories about some of the characters in my head. People tell me that I should write a book all the time. Western fiction is a minuscule niche that does have maybe two dozen authors. So go pick five tiny niches, like underwater basket weaving, and write 30,000 words.
In American schools, children are required to read for 45 minutes every night. They learn to hold a book in their hands. It forms a habit. Throughout an adult’s life they will come across interesting people who have written books. Some will be inspired to buy that book, sit down and read for 45 minutes. From papyrus to eReaders, people will always read books and books will always be published.
I love writing fiction and non-fiction. I want to write a cowboy cookbook but it feels like climbing Mt Everest. I’ve helped friends write erotica, thrillers, mysteries, and memoirs. My mother wrote poetry and I wish I had her talent to write.
My books are in e-books right now. Earlier this year I set up one book as an audio book. Then I found out it requires a whole new marketing strategy from an eBook. I’ve also discovered the trials and tribulations of getting one of my book printed into soft cover. Take all those diabolical evil criminal masterminds in the U.S. prison system and tell them they have to learn self-publishing. After a week, they will be reduced to sniveling, hulks in the corner confessing to everything.
I don’t use dictation as it feels like I’m doing the work twice. I’ve never tried to use a ghostwriter, but I might. I like co-writers where I can write out my 5,000 words, send it in and forget about it. I love editors. They are the only people who can tell me what I meant to say. I have employed the services of thirty different editors, fifteen cover designers, eight book printers, and one audio book voice. Yes, I keep busy.