Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sirens Aren’t Only For Emergencies

Whether you’re a blogger or novelist or merely jot down letters that go to Aunt Tilly, you’re answering a call of some kind. People listen with heads, hearts, and ears. The only thing that differs from one time to the next is what they’re listening to.
And if a writer listens hard enough, she might just come to special territories yet uncharted.
When I got serious about writing a few years ago, I thought I’d stick to one genre and deviate only by age group. Children’s writing allowed for that choice. Along the way to seriousness I discovered many things.
After working on short stories for children, ages second grade and younger, I realized that I don’t have the knack of writing for very young children. I like those stories and books written for the age bracket. It hurt to learn that writing for that age wasn’t my long suit. I can’t think in the same vein they do. I’m much better creating stories for older children.
Along the way, too, I learned that I liked working in non-fiction more than fiction, which scared me silly. There are many exciting ideas out there in the real world that could excite a child. I wanted to be one of those who excited and entertained them with such stories. At the time I had a marvelous editor, who had faith in me and told me that my strength was non-fiction.
Why is it that other writers recognize our strengths long before we can?
In addition to that, I began writing for adults, both non-fiction and fiction. Poetry came into the mix, as well. I was one of THOSE writers; I found true pleasure only when writing in multiple genres for many audiences at the same time.
Enter the Dabbler
My nemesis had returned. I was a true dabbler, with fingers and toes in mud pies everywhere, never satisfied any other way. I should have known. I’d dabbled in hundreds of things during my life. As soon as I mastered them, I was off and running toward something new and different.
Was my nomadic lifestyle trait going to take over every aspect of my life? It seemed so. Knowing my past, I could attempt a prediction of my future in writing.  I studied and wrote for children and young adults when I began. I moved on to study more and to write for other writers. I segued into poetry only to find a different type of joy and expression. From there, I jumped over to the journalistic side of the house with local interest pieces and travel.
What Now?
Now the most serious work begins. I can finish my journalistic studies and move onto my first book in that arena. While I work on that with my sister and photographer partner, I can split the rest of my time with work on poetry projects, plotting and preliminary work on a women’s novel. When time allows, I’ll dabble in two different fantasy worlds for YA. Odd moments will find me working on articles and short stories for magazines and Yahoo.
A couple of years may pass before I get all of those projects done. I’ve learned a few things from NaNoWriMo, though. Plotting doesn’t take forever any more, since I learned how to plot from a few experts.
Besides, every writer knows that the initial writing doesn’t have to take years for a book today. It’s the rewrites, tweaking, querying, grabbing an agent’s attention and contract, and then marketing it to publishers and readers. That’s where the time lays waiting. Unless, of course, you’re building major universes to live in like some of the greats have done.
I’m also realistic enough to know that some of those projects will fall by the wayside. I’m doubly blessed in that I have terrific writer friends who will give me a good swift boot where it counts if I don’t do the best job I can on any project. They’ll hold my hand when my characters turn traitor and abandon me in the midst of a crisis. Laughter will take me by surprise when I’m most in need of it.
A writer’s circumstances ebb and flow with the Moon’s cycles as do the tides. Procrastination wars with frantic productivity and creative exuberance. I’ve climbed into my baby writer’s rowboat and placed my hands on the oars. My only decision of the moment concerns which port-o-call holds the greatest allure. Muse sirens call to me.
I cast my glance toward a distant shoreline named Journey and begin with the first stroke. I have heard that the destination isn’t as important as steps taken to get there. Each stroke of the oars will move me ever closer, but what will each stroke reveal along the way? That’s a question that can only be answered as they happen.
Until we meet here again,

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