Monday, July 20, 2009

Can you help me out here? (It's about writing.)

I've got a question for you.

If I were to write a series of stories about my childhood on the farm, what would you like to hear about?

There are so many stories competing to be told... I just don't know where to start!

Some of you are here because you relate, in some way, to my way of looking at life, and my rural upbringing. Some of you, though, are here because it's totally different from your life, which makes it interesting and new.

I haven't been the best blogger lately. My posts are pretty short, and I haven't made time to go read the brilliant offerings from my fellow bloggers. (Sorry!!!) I don't think my blog's been up to the quality I'd like it to be.

I'm at a slightly uncomfortable place in my fledgling writing career. I've proven that I am capable of writing a whole novel from beginning to end, as well as rewriting and editing that novel until it's as close to perfect as I can get it. I've learned how to put in the research needed to learn how the publishing world works. I wrote the query letter and the synopsis and then rewrote them both over and over. I sent out over a hundred queries. I'm still here wondering what to do next.

The query letter once thought to be polished to perfection has not done its job. I plan to start it from scratch and get it right, then start the process again.

Big problem: I'm not writing enough! The new novel that had me fired up is becoming a chore and that is Not Good. I want to love writing again.

I think I could love writing about the kid I was, with the braided hair and "I love horses" T shirt. And the Shaun Cassidy T shirt.

Can you tell me what you'd like to read?


Sydney said...

Childhood horse stories are great. A story that got me into the swing of writing was my "horsaii" story. I wrote about the first memory I had of a horse. You can read it here

Heidi Willis said...

What a great idea!

My own, very uneducated advice, is to just start writing. Pick a memory that's vivid to you and write a "chapter." Then pick another memory and write another chapter.

Keep going until you run out of vivid memories you love.

Then you may have 40, and you can pare it down to maybe the 15 you love the best and figure out how to weave them together, or if you even want to weave them together.

Don't focus on just horses, or farm or shawn cassidy. Include it all. Isn't that what your life has been - all of it together?

I think this is a great idea... even if it only gets you excited about writing again! And I can totally see this as a book!

Heidi the Hick said...

Yep, Heidi, I'm thinking eventual book too! And you're so right that it all goes together. Thanks for backing me up on that!

Sydney, I've got a few minutes - I'll go read your story now.

Heidi the Hick said...

Sydney, I do remember reading that on Mugwump. I love how you went back to visit that old horse!

pseudosu said...

Oh hon. I relate. I'm drawn to your quirkiness and authenticity in case you want to know. That would come through no matter if you were rural or what.
It sounds like you want not only to write but to get published. I think Heidi's onto something with the weaving idea, but I'd stay away from a short story collection. They just don't sell-- or aren't right now.
Read some books about story structure to help you get a narrative arc mapped out (Save the cat, and anatomy of story are both good), and most of all-- see it through. Don't form a habit of starting and not finishing a bunch of "ideas" for novels.

Wow- I'm full of advice for another unpublished wanna be aren't I? Just trying to help. You're awesome. Keep at it!

Biddie said...

I think the rural life in general can be so interesting. When I moved out to Smallburg, and then NS, it was such a culture shock!
I didn't even know that party line phones (no not the find a date ones) even existed. I had never taken a yellow bus that dropped you off in front of your home.
The clothes were incredible. For the 1st time in my life I had Cougar hiking boots - passed down from....Andy?
Never mind the shock of living out east!
You have a million stories to tell. Whichever one that is the loudest in your head is the one to start with...:)

Angela said...

I would read a snarky Hick Chic guids to the universe type of funny tongue in cheek bathroom book.

Angela said...

Oops, typo, I meant "guide".

coffeypot said...

Sometimes the simplest is the easiest and best way to start. The first thought that comes to your mind is great. Start with that one and the others will follow. I don't know what to ask for because anything you write will be interesting to me. Oh! And I come by her because someone paid me too.:-)

Heidi the Hick said...

Coffey your check's in the mail. Pffft snort hee hee!

Angela, y'know, good idea!! Guide to the universe. Everybody could use that, right?!

Bid, that town alone could fill a book. YOU should write a series of stories about your immersion into small town life. And twenty years later, I'm still loving those Nova Scotia stories!

Sue, I'll have to look at those books, thanks! And I promise to continue with the quirky and authentic, just for you, babe.

The advice about finishing things is valuable. I've managed to finish four so far, but there are twice that amount, at least, that will never be anything more than scribbles. I"m not giving up on my novels but I just need to do some fun writing again.

It'll be quirky. I don't know how to do anything else!

Nicole said...

Oh, goodness. Shaun Cassidy ANYTHING would do it for me...especially on a farm!


Paul Tee said...

Heidi: At first, forget about a book. Start writing because (1) you love writing and (2) because there are stories in you.

I agree with Heidi Willis 100%, write about what is most vivid. And, by the time you have reached double digits, weaving the stories together into a book will become self-evident, and you will find the proper context.

I also agree with pseudosu, don't aim for short story anthologies.

But in the beginning, a story at a time is way less intimidating than "writing a whole book." Doing it piecemeal, makes climbing the mountiain less steep and even more likely. Do a stretch, take a rest, and you'll be surprised to find yourself on top.

We all know you have the talent and ability to stick with it. I can hardly wait to read it.

Matt Mullenix said...

How about an epic poem about the tempation of Eve and the fall of mankind as told from perspective of the Tree of Knowledge?

(OK, I'm reading Paradise Lost and it's taking a toll. But I still think that's got potential!)

Otherwise, I'd sure like to know about how a country girl reconciles her suburban life and rock-star lifestyle. "Horse Sense: A Hick Chic Guide to Modern Life"

Shelli said...

how about the slower pace compared to technoligy. maybe a girl who grew up on a farm thrown into a world to technology. the simple life in contrast to the busy one today.