Unlike many writers, I didn't start early. I didn't write a chapter book when I was eight. Didn't publish poetry in high school. Didn't sell to a literary magazine in college. Had no clue I wanted to write.
I read a lot. I loved getting lost in other worlds, other people's lives. Still do.
All my life, however, stories have formed in my head. Not always complete stories, though. Sometimes a snippet of dialogue, sometimes a plot snippet, sometimes a character name with a visual image and hints of what the person is about.
As I grew older, some of these bits grew as well. Sort of like having a make believe friend, only I had a whole cast and crew - each with an individual agenda.
What did I know? I thought everyone's head was like mine.
One year at work, I ended up with someone else's calendar - and kept it. At the top of each page was a color photograph. That first work day in January, I wrote a couple of paragraphs about that picture. And I did that for every work day of the year. I kept them in a file on my computer. I did it sort of like this blog, before I started my day. Sometimes the photos were no-starters for me and I had only a paragraph or two. Sometimes I had a real flash story - or a story beginning - written in a matter of minutes.
It was the beginning of getting all the people out of my head and onto paper/screen/whatever. A few years after that, I started to write for real. I took a few creative writing type courses, bought a bushel of how-to books, and dived in.
I thought I knew how to write.
I knew nothing.
Then I found these marvelous things called critique groups. All in all, at one time or another, I belonged to seven or eight, I think. Not all at once. I learned a lot from each group. And I hope a few of those group members learned a little from me.
Now I have two critique partners I rely on to tell me when something sucks. They're good, and they tell me that a lot!
I still have a lot to learn.
So I keep writing. The more I write, the more I learn. The more I read, the more I learn.
On these Monday writing posts, I try to stay away from specifics. For every "writing rule" out there, you can find hundreds of places on the web that will tell you how to accomplish it. Most will be different. That's because writers are human, and each of us approaches the writing situation from a unique position. What works for Amy would send Tom screaming from the room.
What I do try to accomplish is to give you tips on what has worked for me. How I do certain things. When I do write about specifics, such as characterization, I strive to make the post open-ended and not cast in stone. I don't plan to ever make a writing post and say this is how you must construct a scene.
If I did, you might laugh so hard you'd snort coffee up your nose. Why should you listen to me? My short fiction and articles have been published, but no novels. No non-fiction books. You can't find me in your local bookstore. Yet. So if no one knows who I am, what do I know?
Like learning from critique groups about why certain things work and others don't, I think you can learn from me different ways to keep your writing going in the right direction. Feel free to tell me I'm full of it. Won't be the first time.
But give me a shot on Mondays. You just might find an occasional ah-ha! moment. Or a tidbit that keeps you writing for one more day.
I hope so.