It's Who I Am

Whether as an author/illustrator at the age of five writing about a dashingly heroic cat and his cat damsel in distress or a good-natured, young raconteur describing the adventurous lives of unsuspecting patrons seated near me in restaurants, I've always made up stories. It only took me forty years to realize it is what I do best. So, welcome to Andoree, the country and creation of my imagination. Sit down and I'll spin you a tale or two.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Am I Cursed?

I read an interesting POST today on a blog I follow. It asks whether characters are truly autonomous or are shaped by the worldview of the writer. Are writers who have "foul-mouthed, bigoted, homophobic, murderous, frivolous, or down-right psychopathic" characters like that themselves? (Quote from Stephen King).

I've been mulling around on this all day. Here's what I think...

The other day I realized I hadn't been honest about one of my characters. He's hardened and angry because he has genuinely crappy parents and has grown up on the street. I had written my whole story without him uttering a single curse word. That's not Garreth. Garreth would curse and with flourish. I had over-tamed him. So I went back and allowed him to call his parents what he feels they are: "He openly declared his parents to be lousy, drunken jackasses..."

I really don't curse and this particular word is pretty impotent. If you met people who knew me they would never define me as foul-mouthed. (As confession, I have had those moments, but they have been few and far between. Unfriend me if you must.) Garreth, on the other hand, curses. It's part of his makeup and he's made up of characters and people I've read, seen, heard, known.

Because I'm writing a novel for younger kids, I'm sensitive to not allowing Garreth to go all out sailor on them. But, I recognized I was hiding too much of who he is in an effort to protect them. It's obviously not a trait to admire and the other characters don't admire him for it. Yet, he's not a complete thug. I once heard someone say he knew a man who was "rogue, but not blasphemous." That is Garreth. There are some wonderful qualities about him that should be admired; so, I say, don't dismiss him altogether. (A lesson to be learned by all straight-laced people. That foul-mouthed fellow just might be the best friend you could ever have. But, I digress...)

So, I think the answer to the post's question is NO and NO. I don't have to allow Garreth complete autonomy because I can, and should, reel him in a bit. On the other hand, just because I allow Garreth to swear doesn't mean I want others to develop the habit. 

Art reflects life. I believe that. If I were to write my story without a single broken, immoral, unjust, foul-mouthed, obstinate, person my story would be a snoozer! Stories are about conflict and conflict comes as a result of these types of people and situations. If someone wants a completely sterile piece with perfect people...well, I think they might have those in Stepford.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Little Perspective

Being a newbie to the official writing scene (that group of people who desire to be published) has been a bit overwhelming. I read blog posts and watch tweets and think to myself, "This scares me to death!" I wonder how Austen, Swift, Twain, and others would have fared in this world of social media meets writing. I mean, can you imagine Hemingway blogging, let alone tweeting! I don't know where he would have fit it in his writing, drinking, arm-wrestling schedule!

I just don't know. I need help so I don't lose sight of why I started writing my book to begin write a story for my kids. I have a tendency for "Ready, Fire, Aim" and am grateful for a husband who points that out when he sees me spinning a bit out of control. An example:

(For dramatic purposes imagine Lucile Ball and Desi Arnaz with a Texas accent)

Me: "I'm thinking I should attend a writer's conference?" Showing eight pages of information I've printed for emphasis.
Him: "Honey. Write your book."

Me: "I'm thinking I should join this writing group and attend its bimonthly meetings." Showing the calendar where I've already marked the meetings and times for the next year.
Him: "Honey. Just write your book."

Me: "My writing is crap and no one will publish it!" Flinging myself on the sofa dramatically face-first.
Him: "Honey. It's not crap. Write your book."

I think I need to calm down and write my book. I am happy to do my research and know what to do should I actually ever see my book cross an agent's table, but with the help of the hubby I'll try and keep a little perspective.

(I'm not certain how copyright rules apply with blogs, but I wanted to share a really great blog post I read on Rick Riordan's website. Having read all the Percy Jackson series and thoroughly enjoyed them, I really enjoyed learning why he wrote the stories to begin ADHD hero to encourage an ADHD son. What a great dad!)