Way back last summer, Kenya Johnson tagged me in an Author Blog Tour, where authors share their writing process. Then Susan Zutautas tagged me in another tour, asking why I write. I wrote a post combining the how and why, but for myriad reasons, I never got round to publishing. Now I’ve been tagged yet again. This time, Heather and Robin at Write On Sisters nominated me for the Very Inspiring Bloggers award. I feel thrilled to be Very Inspiring! This morning, I got a second nomination for that award, this time by Rowena of Beyond the Flow. Thank you all!
Honestly, the way people are nominating me, you’d think I’d started a blogging initiative or something… Seriously, I’m pleased to say that everyone who tagged me or whom I have tagged is also involved in 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.
Kenya is a multi-tasking mom, who as well as blogging at KenyaGJohnson.com has written a book, The Christopher Chronicles, full of fun things her son has said. Reading them makes me wish I’d written down more things my kids said when they were little. Kenya and her family will have something to treasure for life!
Susan and I met a few years ago when we both wrote on HubPages. She still writes there, as well as on her blog Everything Susan. She also has a novella: New In Town. In it, a young woman meets an enigmatic young man. They appear to have a lot in common, but all is not as it seems. Susan has been through a lot in her life and I admire how she’s coped, so you’ll see her name further down this post when I share my nominations for Very Inspiring Bloggers! (Oops, have I given too much away?)
I’ve only recently met Heather, Robin and Rowena through 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, so I can’t tell you a huge lot about them other than that compassion matters to them and that they are cool for nominating me for a fun award!
For the blog tours, I explain how and why I write. And for the Inspiring Blogger Award I’m asked to share 7 personal facts. I’ll see if I can fit them around the how and why!
Fact 1. My first novel, Drawings in Sand, was really my second. I wrote a novel when I was 13, complete with chapter headings. 3 years later, I found it when I was cleaning out a cupboard and felt so embarrassed at my juvenille writing that burned it.
My writing process, Part 1
Sometimes I envy writers who start with sub-headings or plot points and fill in the gaps. I’ve tried, but it rarely works for me. On the other hand, I love it when inspiration grabs me and words pour out that I had no idea I was going to write. So I’m not complaining!
When I wrote Drawings In Sand, I was also coping with frequently ill children, so I needed a way of writing that allowed words to flow even when inspiration didn’t come and grab me by the neck. The short version of it is – just keep writing whatever; you’ll find a longer version in A Pig of a Post.
Fact 2. My second daughter was born 3 months prematurely. She is fifteen now, and I still feel superstitious about saying she’s doing fine. Actually, she’s wonderful!
Writing Process, Part 2.
My characters drive the plot, not the other way round. I will have an idea of where the story should go, but between the beginning and the ending, characters develop and anything could happen. This is both exciting and at times frustrating! One novel went so far off track that it’s currently taking a rest in the wilderness. I will get my hiking boots back on and go in search of it some day. Meantime I’m working on a new simpler novel and a series of linked short stories – I’m really excited about that latter project.
Fact 3. I was interested to see that Heather of Write on Sisters had a Shetland pony when she was young. We had seven or so – because I grew up on the Shetland Isles! One of my favourite things to do was go out into the hills where the ponies were and feel the wind in my hair as I soaked up atmosphere of the wilderness.
Why do I write?
Why indeed? What has compelled me to keep going, since long before that “novel” I wrote aged thirteen?
One way or another, it’s always been about repair. By this, I mean healing the way we talk to each other and to ourselves, the way we treat our planet and its inhabitants, human, animal, plant and mineral. It’s also about facing fears.
I’ve moved on a bit since then and nowadays I don’t really believe evil people exist. Evil exists, but we all have the capacity for evil and for healing and repair. I also believe we get that repair by compassion and understanding. So that’s mostly what I write about, both in fiction and non-fiction.
Starting 1000 Voices Speak was an extension of something I’ve been trying to do for years. It’s so exciting to team up with so many other writers who have similar aims. It’s so wonderful to see people write about how they’ve felt encouraged, inspired or heartened to be taking part.
Fact 5: What motivates me more than anything is feeling that what I do can make a difference in some small way.
Even with fiction, I want to do more than just entertain. I’m totally okay with fiction as entertainment, but what moves me to write is something deeper. I love when people say they recognise their hidden selves in my writing. I love when they say they feel understood and cared for. (And if they hate my writing, and say so – well I sort of love that too because I get to see just how unconditional – or not – my love of humankind really is! Let’s just say I’m a work-in-progress.)
Fact 6: I’ve passed my love of writing on to my older daughter who has already written several novels (unpublished as yet) and won a Young Writer’s Award. She wrote her first aged eleven, and I have not let her burn it!
Fact 7: I once had a pet black lamb and wrote a poem about her. I’ve long since lost the poem, but I remember one line: “Like a black leaf fluttering in the wind.” Possibly it’s as well I didn’t take up poetry!
Meet the Writers
The final part of this blog hop is to introduce you to some more authors and Very Inspiring Bloggers: Jo Chandler, Tamara Woods, Geoff Le Pard, and of course Susan Zutautas.
Jo is the author of the award winning novel, This Side of Forever. This novel shares a theme with my novel Drawings in Sand – of alcohol abuse and of redemption. I love that we both tackled this theme, but in different ways. My novel is aimed at adults, while Jo’s is aimed at teenagers. The main character in This Side of Forever is a sixteen-year-old girl who is already drinking too much when her best friend dies in a car crash. Dark stuff, but Jo handles it all with compassion, making this book an engrossing read, and not just for teenagers. Jo used to work in journalism and worked for Wind, a non-profit organization supporting teenagers who are living on the streets. Jo drew on this experience when writing Street Girl, her second novel, which should be out soon. I’m delighted that Jo is taking part in 1000 Voices Speak next week and looking forward to reading her post.
Tamara Woods will be familiar to those of you in 1000 Voices Speak. Not only is she a poet and writer, she also makes videos – including the one for 1000 Voices below!
Tamara was raised (fairly happily) in West Virginia, where she began writing poetry at the age of 12. Her first poetry collection is available at Sakura Publishing and Amazon. She has previous experience as a newspaper journalist, an event organizer, volunteer with AmeriCorps and VISTA, in addition to work with people with disabilities. She is currently partnering with three other poets to create The Reverie Poetry Journal. She also maintains her poetry/fiction blog PenPaperPad, as well as contributing writer for the online ‘zine Lefty Pop and writing articles as a full-time freelance writer. She is a hillbilly hermit in Honolulu living with her Mathmagician.
Of course you’ve met Susan further up this post, but here’s why she is so inspiring: Susan has been through breast cancer twice, and in 2013 she was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Susan didn’t give in though, and kept writing through much of her treatment. That treatment was a success and in December 2014, she went into remission. Long may that continue!
Finally, I will introduce Geoff Le Pard, who has already received the Inspiring Blogger Award, so he’s just taking part in the author tour. Geoff’s productivity leaves me slightly envious because he published his first novel, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle late last year and is already well through his second. Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, as you can probably tell from the title, is a funny book though it also manages to cover serious issues in a sensitive way.