by Lisa Sledge
Fiction is beautiful.
When something difficult comes my way I become a mess. I fall apart. I cry and yell and make all sorts of terrible mistakes. Grace under fire is a foreign concept for me.
In fiction we put our characters in a situation, watch them flail around for a while, and then let them work their way out. They make it to the point in which it ends. For better or worse, there is a conclusion.
A resolution. A sigh.
It’s easy to forget, stuck in the middle of our own problems, that nothing is forever. Fiction reminds us of the bigger picture. And it gives us heroes. My favorites are the ones who make an even worse mess of life than I do.
Because if they can find a way out of the troubles of their story, their moment, I begin to believe there’s a way out of mine.
Most fiction is not actually fiction at all. In fact, sometimes I think it is more honest than nonfiction. Ever read a politician’s autobiography?
Whatever we write, lets weave truth into our stories. Lets fill the world with hope.
Hope is real.
And so is fiction.
Last night was terrific fun.
We had a lot of people show. If we keep doing these, I bet we’ll get a full room. (I’m thinking of another restaurant next time. Just to change things up?)
What do you think about us asking someone to come and read from their pubbed novel next time?
What if, instead of all of us reading, we did a mini-write-a-thon? What if someone spoke on craft?
We should have planned to have Ann Dee read from HER fabulous novel.
You were inspiring all. I loved the fresh voices I heard, the original details and the story you each conveyed in just a few words. It will be lovely to hold your books in my hands–or watch your plays.
Keep writing. We’ll do another one of these in a couple of months.
And we’ll have something writerly happen very soon.
Right, Ann Dee?
We will be there at 7:15 to miss the BYU game traffic!
See you soon!
1. I’ve reserved a room for us at the Provo Olive Garden (504 W 2230 N, Provo, UT 84604). It’s under my name (Carol). 7 pm. Bring 100-250 words to read. Depending on # of people, we’ll decide the amount to share. Make sure you mark your piece at 100 words, 150, and 200. We’ll also do a freewrite or two–short ones–that we can share tonight, too.
2. from Cheryl Van Eck
I love #FirstWorldProblems. Things like “I have too much dip for my chips. But if I open a new bag of chips, then I’ll have too many chips for my dip.”
What does this have to do with writing? World building.
For many of us, we live in a first world country, which means sometimes our biggest problem is that we have two hours with nothing to do and all 1,000 satellite channels have nothing good on.
But if your character also lives in a first world country, then it means they aren’t generally worried about having water to take a shower, or having a place to sleep, or having food to eat.
What if that changed? What if your character was plopped into a situation where nothing was taken for granted? Think of Ron in the final Harry Potter book. It had never occurred to me that Ron, who was known to be “poor,” had actually led a pretty pampered life. And when that was taken away from him, he cracked under the pressure.
And for a bonus point? In the comments, write your best #FirstWorldProblems!
3. Brenda Bensch
How do you start writing? I mean, right from the very beginning, without any prior experience, the very first day? One way is to write FROM the very beginning. About YOU. Anne Lamott suggested “Start with your childhood… Plug your nose and jump in, and write down all your memories as truthfully as you can.” The claim is that from such memories, you may glean powerful stories, or story ideas, with gripping plots and even important themes. You may need to write a lot about all your early memories to get there, but keep on truckin’ !
So, stuck? Write about YOU!
Finally–my thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who may have lost someone they loved on September 11, 2001. We were all changed by that day. I usually cancel classes, don’t go anywhere, stay at home and watch the horrific footage of what happened 13 years ago. This morning, Carolina and I awoke and lit four candles at the time that first airplane hit the first tower. Tonight, I’ll spend some time with good people, good writers. A moment of thought for all who were lost.
This from Carol: UT friends–dinner at the Olive Garden, 7 pm, September 11. That’s this Thursday. Come with 100-250 words to read. We’ve done this a few times and it’s always fun. I might bring a karaoke machine. I might just sing to you. I might just sing your writing. Hope to see you there!
This from me: Alfredo!
This from Anne Lamott: What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.
Come learn how to live and die!
by Lisa Sledge
I have a four year-old son. He is sincere and sweet and innocent. And he’s a mama’s boy, which feeds my ego and gives me bragging rights over my husband.
More often than not, I find myself writing at night, but mornings are my most creative and best hours for working. On a good day, if the children didn’t get me up six times during the night, I’m up by 4:30am. I never know when the kids will wake. It could be 6am or they might get up at 8am. More often than not, it’s somewhere in between.
The first thing my Emmett does in the morning is come find me. When he sees me with my laptop, he says, “Mom, it’s time for me to write my story too.” We go downstairs, sit on the love seat that belonged to my grandmother, and I type as he dictates. I reread the story at least five times so he can correct any mistakes. Then we print his work, decorate it, and mail it off to some lucky friend or relative.
We went on vacation last month, spending time with family, but it didn’t slow him down. He authored at least one story every day.
One of my good friends from high school days heard that Emmett likes to write. She gifted him a bound book with blank pages and a special green pen. In two days he’s filled every page with random chicken-scratch letters. Now he corners the nearest adult and tells his story, turning each page as if he’s really reading.
Watching him, I forget my anxiety and remember why I write. It’s fun. And it makes me happy.
Why do you write?
Moving up north has been great, but finding a part time job has been difficult.
Especially since I have a big trip coming up.
But I gotta keep trying.
Same with my writing. I’m not feeling very inspired right now.
I have pages and pages of brainstorming ideas, but when it comes to writing a story, it’s all sounding pretty crappy.
But I gotta keep trying.
How do you get inspired?
Maybe i should start meditating. Maybe clearing my head will help.
Maybe being stressed isn’t making my writing crappy.
Either way, it’s tough. But I gotta keep trying.
What’s that fish say in Finding Nemo?
Gotta keep swimming. Gotta keep trying.