I admit, I’ve been doing more reading than writing in the last week – I finished A Red Herring Without Mustard and started W is for Wasted this week. And for some unfathomable reason I was contemplating the requirements for a Ph.D in English. I got over that very quickly! I like to write and read, I like books and poems and whatnot. But, I have no real interest in taking a pile of classes, and writing a bunch of stuff about literary criticism and important arty novels. I like mysteries and history and poems. So, that’s what I’m going to stick with. (I had actually decided to leave the poems for a while and concentrate on a new novel, but at Tonight It’s Poetry on Sunday a poet inspired a new set of poems!! Though they will have to wait a while, because I really am focussing on the novel.) I have actually spent quite a bit of time thinking about what kind of writer I am and aspire to be. I decided that if I were to go back to school to become a better writer I would apply to a Master of Fine Arts in Writing program not a Ph.D in English, because I want to write stories. I want to tell fictionalized stories of the past because, as a historian, I believe the past has a lot to tell us if we just stop plunging into the future and listen. When I started the novel I began with a few pages of introduction which was a lame attempt at an actual novel but it did give me a brief picture of my protagonist. Until I wrote the lame introduction my protagonist had not told me a lot about herself so it was a step forward. Then I saw this on Facebook:
A message from author Karen Lord (who I hadn’t heard of) which was also posted on the website for Shared Worlds, a summer writing experience at Wofford College in South Carolina, where Ms. Lord was writer-in-residence. Once I saw this message I knew exactly what I was going to spend the next year doing – writing the back story! Hopefully, the ‘front story’ will present itself as I’m writing the back story. This week I’ve figured out my protagonist’s name, that she had an uncle who joined the navy and went off to war in 1939 and that she has a very working class voice. The message on Ms. Lord’s hand also reminded me of how much I love the Harry Potter series. Whatever you think of J.K. Rowling and her wizard empire, I think one must admit she is an amazing writer. She created such a rich universe in those books that I have no doubt she has rooms full of notebooks with maps and family trees and character sketches that will never see the light of day. This intimate knowledge of her world comes across in the books. More than the orphan hero, in my opinion, it is the magical world and all of its characters that draw the reader further and further into the story. I have aspired to write like Ms. Rowling since I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but I thought it was impossible. A talent like Ms. Rowling’s isn’t just available to anyone! Or is it? If I can imagine and create a world that is interesting and compelling, and set an interesting and compelling story within it, then I too will be a writer like Ms. Rowling. Well, perhaps not a gajillionaire, but a writer of a good story set in a good universe. What more does a writer and storyteller need? So, now that I think I have a story that may be interesting to others I can sit down and write some more back story about my character and the world she lives in.
It’s always nice to have the path open up in front of me after stumbling through the dark woods for a while!
Be Lovely to Each Other,