The Nine Worlds of Writers (part 7)

The Nine Worlds of Writers (and how to make them perfect adjacent)

I’ve been told for six months that “its gonna get busier” at work, a cringe-worthy phrase in the light of my current 45-hour work week and 45-minute one-way commute, coupled with living with a steadily declining dementia sufferer. So when my editor told me she needed my blog series by the 29th of June, I could literally feel my frontal lobe slamming into my skull. I’m already on empty. Staving off an inner toddler tantrum, I denied my anxiety, allowing only the tiniest “In a perfect world I’d have…” moment.  Truth is, there are lots of “worlds” out there, none of which are perfect. It’s all in how we as writers spin them. So over the next nine weeks, I’m going to spin a few of which I am familiar:

Welcome to the nine worlds of writers!

Blinded by the Light

Writers are a peculiar breed, especially the poetic or those prone to perpetual passages of prose. We read the beautiful words of others and are enamored. We linger over sentences and dream of writing grand and lovely things. We wait for unicorns and fairy dust and muses, and just the right atmosphere, and when the universe smiles and all comes together over that cup of oolong—we lose ourselves for hours or days and wax wistful that it cannot be a lifetime.

Unfortunately, muses and fairies (and especially unicorns) are a capricious lot. And while they sprinkle some lovely multicolored dust, we simply can’t stay with them. Creatures who inhabit the land of magic and light have no concept of time and care little for the mortals who gaze at them fondly across the pages.

It's ok to dream, but writing is an action verb.  

Inspiration is fickle. Sit down and write, and keep writing until you come up with something to write about. The law of averages will be in your favor if you write regularly. When you are suddenly inspired by all means ride that winged creature to the end of the earth and back, but know that you are your own muse and light is best when we are lit from within.

Writers write. If you’re telling the world you’re a writer who is waiting for the magical illuminated moment, you’re not a writer. You’re a wannabe. It truly is that simple. Besides, that muse thing only works in movies, and even in movies it doesn’t work very well.

The next time you have time and you’re not reading this blog (which you should be doing weekly because we love you and write things to assist you) google the movie Xanadu. You’ll learn all you need to know about sappy, muse-y meatless drivel. Well, I liked it but I also like unicorns and Tinkerbell. I just keep those likes off my page and out of my books. And although it tweaks my thread a bit more than would be in my comfort zone, I’ll add the realm of sparkly vampires to the mix along with talking dogs.

Fantastical creatures simply can’t feed your writer need. Don’t be distracted by them. They are the literary equivalent of glitter glue in preschool. I’ll leave you with that.

Tammy Boehm
Associate Editor

The Nine Worlds of Writers (part 6)

The Nine Worlds of Writers (and how to make them perfect adjacent)

I’ve been told for six months that “its gonna get busier” at work, a cringe-worthy phrase in the light of my current 45-hour work week and 45-minute one-way commute, coupled with living with a steadily declining dementia sufferer. So when my editor told me she needed my blog series by the 29th of June, I could literally feel my frontal lobe slamming into my skull. I’m already on empty. Staving off an inner toddler tantrum, I denied my anxiety, allowing only the tiniest “In a perfect world I’d have…” moment.  Truth is, there are lots of “worlds” out there, none of which are perfect. It’s all in how we as writers spin them. So over the next nine weeks, I’m going to spin a few of which I am familiar:

Welcome to the nine worlds of writers!

Building a mystery

When I was young and had a head full of lyrics and time on my hands, I fancied myself an up and coming Stevie Nicks. I permed my hair, circled gracefully (not), and practiced my pout in the mirror. I spent time and energy to my detriment, developing a vague, mysterious persona that I couldn’t stick to when life got real.

And yes, life—even for the most carefully developed persona—will eventually get real. If your writer identity is without substance, when life happens, the writing won’t. When my petty little rock star chanteuse dreams crumpled, I took a long hiatus. I got married, had kids, got a degree, and then picked up a pen again. And I learned that as a writer I am better when I am real.

I still listen to Stevie when I write, but even when creating a completely fictional setting, I endeavor to bring my reader into it: to see the brilliance of the third sun as it sets on a frosty horizon, filling the skyline with pearlescent cumulous clouds. I want the reader to smell the swamp water as it laps lazily against the dugout canoe. To feel the soft ringlets brushed from a toddler’s forehead as she sleeps.

The best stories aren’t built around vagaries and personas but rather remembered in specific, tangible moments. Make it sing by making your story real. And sing it with your own beautiful voice.

It's fine to admire other writers and artists and to learn from them as you develop your own specific brand of writing, but just as no one can be you, you cannot be those you adore. And getting all caught up in the adoration will eventually leave you feeling hollow. (and if you’re not careful, you may be labeled a stalker)

While vague, mysterious personas may be romantic and keeping distance from yourself and your work seems appropriate on certain levels, its right back to what I’ve said in the last few installments: be real. Readers want you real. If you’re too ephemeral, you and your writing will not survive the test of time.

Tammy Boehm
Associate Editor

The Nine Worlds of Writers (part 5)

The Nine Worlds of Writers (and how to make them perfect adjacent)

I’ve been told for six months that “its gonna get busier” at work, a cringe-worthy phrase in the light of my current 45-hour work week and 45-minute one-way commute, coupled with living with a steadily declining dementia sufferer. So when my editor told me she needed my blog series by the 29th of June, I could literally feel my frontal lobe slamming into my skull. I’m already on empty. Staving off an inner toddler tantrum, I denied my anxiety, allowing only the tiniest “In a perfect world I’d have…” moment.  Truth is, there are lots of “worlds” out there, none of which are perfect. It’s all in how we as writers spin them. So over the next nine weeks, I’m going to spin a few of which I am familiar:

Welcome to the nine worlds of writers!

The world of giants

This world is full of things and people bigger than you. At any given moment, situations can sprout arms and legs and grow ten feet tall, blocking the view and stomping out dreams. Some of them compete for mental real estate, while others just scare us and send us running away from our writing work. While most of them can get big and unruly quickly, they can be managed with little things like scheduled writing time and setting parameters with family, friends, and other hobbies to allow for time with your creative self.

The really scary giants though are the ones we create in our minds when we speak the words “I’m not as good as” or “I can’t write like” or “I shouldn’t waste my time on.”

The only way to rid your world of this type of giant is: don’t give it voice. “Good” writing is largely subjective. Protect your mental and emotional land from marauding ego-stomping giants by educating yourself on the craft of writing. Write, write, and rewrite. Find a focus group that will read your work. Use an editor. And if you want to publish, do your homework on several publishing entities before you send something off to any of them. Make sure you follow the publishing house’s instructions. Your amazing sci-fant novella will never be picked up by Zondervan, but Rad Writing might just love you and your world full of ten-foot-tall hominids.

The thing about most giants is that they may be big, but they’re inherently slow.  Most giants can be killed or rendered harmless by a little sweat equity, leaving you time and space to write. So when you are surrounded by giants, be a giant killer. Even better, should you see something large and hairy looming on your horizon, enforce your protective parameters and banish the giant from your realm. 

Prepare ahead for giants and you’ll spend minimal time dealing with them in your world. There is a story arc regarding David and Goliath that addresses dealing with giants. While David took out Goliath with one well-placed stone, he chose five stones before facing Goliath. Be prepared. It may take more than one projectile lobbed at the head of your giant, but it will fall.

Tammy Boehm
Associate Editor

The Nine Worlds of Writers (part 4)

The Nine Worlds of Writers (and how to make them perfect adjacent)

I’ve been told for six months that “its gonna get busier” at work, a cringe-worthy phrase in the light of my current 45-hour work week and 45-minute one-way commute, coupled with living with a steadily declining dementia sufferer. So when my editor told me she needed my blog series by the 29th of June, I could literally feel my frontal lobe slamming into my skull. I’m already on empty. Staving off an inner toddler tantrum, I denied my anxiety, allowing only the tiniest “In a perfect world I’d have…” moment.  Truth is, there are lots of “worlds” out there, none of which are perfect. It’s all in how we as writers spin them. So over the next nine weeks, I’m going to spin a few of which I am familiar:

Welcome to the nine worlds of writers!

Home is where the heart of your story is

Midgard, Middle Earth, and yes even Kansas share that common bond of center in the hearts of man. As a writer of fiction, there are times when I consider my center full of a grinding day job, a lousy commute, a resident senior with advancing dementia and all the worries life brings, as something to escape. My daily life makes me weary. Who wants to read my sadness, my failures, my unfinished goals and broken dreams? Who could possibly relate to my humanity besides every human on the planet who has breathed or has yet to breathe?

Perhaps the most important world for the writer is the world in which we live. There is power in transparency. There is peace in truth. There is resonance that will echo through even the most fanciful of characters you create if behind the veneer of fantasy you have placed a part of the you who lives and breathes day to day.

Your readers may be drawn by the glamor, but will only stay with your storyline if it is woven around what is real to all of us. Never discount who you are in the where you are. Your story is your word fingerprint. Your mundane may just be someone else’s magic.

With each experience you (the writer) experiences, you experience growth, emotion, and so many things relevant to the human condition. Just as you would share your home with a friend, sharing your journey in this world with your reader is the thing that feeds the soul. And the takeaway in revealing your heart, in sharing your world as you know it is that your world will become brighter.

We weren’t designed to inhabit this home alone, but when the world becomes harsh and cold, humans become insular. If you are a writer, you already have the draw on your heart to break the barriers, to communicate and share. So start with yourself. Write your story. Make it clear. Write what you know. Edit to protect the innocent, and be careful not to overshare, but do share.

Tammy Boehm
Associate Editor

The Nine Worlds of Writers (part 3)

The Nine Worlds of Writers (and how to make them perfect adjacent)

I’ve been told for six months that “its gonna get busier” at work, a cringe-worthy phrase in the light of my current 45-hour work week and 45-minute one-way commute, coupled with living with a steadily declining dementia sufferer. So when my editor told me she needed my blog series by the 29th of June, I could literally feel my frontal lobe slamming into my skull. I’m already on empty. Staving off an inner toddler tantrum, I denied my anxiety, allowing only the tiniest “In a perfect world I’d have…” moment.  Truth is, there are lots of “worlds” out there, none of which are perfect. It’s all in how we as writers spin them. So over the next nine weeks, I’m going to spin a few of which I am familiar:

Welcome to the nine worlds of writers!

Over the rainbow

Traipsing the rainbow bridge to cavort in mystical realms didn’t work well for Dorothy and it won’t work for the writer in you either. Whatever our gods are, however beautiful they may be, when we spend our time focused on the wealth and the glory at the other side of any destination, we miss the magical ride of life. The more time we spend with our gods in the sky, the more we lose the ability to translate beauty to paper for our reader.

While the creation of fictional worlds is paramount to those who write the genre, perpetual thoughts of grandeur that aren’t somehow grounded in terra firma will never bring you the joy finishing your collection of poems or your trilogy will because, while all writers are at times dreamers, not all dreamers are writers.

So when you are distracted from the day to day tasks of writing and rewriting by an ephemeral rainbow bridge offering transport to the land of heroes and gods and goddesses, remember that while you can create worlds in which heroes and heroines move with ease, you cannot stay there.

Furthermore, the beauty you picture in your mind will never sparkle and shimmer unless you apply sweat and editing. And sometimes, even the most amazing of made up realms, never hits the best seller list. As in life, so in writing. Enjoy the journey—and your reader will enjoy it too.

Focus on the moments along the way. The scent of honeysuckle in a summer sunset, the ringlets around a toddler’s face. The way the cat studies you while you try to type.

Dorothy is right… there’s no place like home. And only you can take us there. Those little moments you spend carefully studying the sparkle, breathing life into the colors and capturing the image on paper will eventually result in a beautiful world for your reader, even if that reader is only one person. Everyone dreams in varying vibrancy but you are uniquely gifted to share your sparkle.

And while I myself with my poetic inclinations almost never use one word when twenty will suffice, have been swatted by more than one expert for “on the nose” writing, if you have a plethora of words, editing is easier. So dream while you sleep, then wake up and write the rainbow.

Tammy Boehm
Associate Editor