Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group - July

It's time for the IWSG again, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh
Alex has provided a way for writers who blog to share their thoughts and feelings about where they are in their process and receive support in return. It's a real blessing. Here are my thoughts for this month.

I never intended to write fiction. I love reading it. Have since I was a child. But writing it? A whole other ball of wax, ballgame, can of worms, see what I mean, cliche after cliche. I am not a fiction writer. But somehow, I have been called upon to write the story the voice whispered to me in the Scottish Highlands and then again in Ireland, "Tell my story, tell my story."

Oy vay! My first draft is done. The bare bones of the story are down on paper. But it is flat. It lacks all the things that make a novel rich and engage the reader - lush descriptions, significant details, the infamous showing versus telling. I am busy reading writing books about all of these issues and honestly, folks, I get it. But getting it and writing that way are two very different things. It feels like I'd rather yank a tooth out of my head than try to come up with better ways to say what I'm saying.

In the past, my writing has flowed naturally out of me. With this, I have to stop and think about how to say what I'm trying to say. One of the craft books says to ask, "What's the evidence?" In other words, instead of saying "She's in pain" (telling), say, "it was like a knife in her gut and she doubled over" or something like that to "show" the pain.

But frankly, I look at my sentences and my eyes glaze over. And truthfully, I don't want to work this hard. There, I've whined my truth. I want it to be easy. Just like I wanted to be able to play guitar after learning three chords. Once I accepted that it would take hard work and practice, that things don't usually come easily, at least nothing worthwhile comes easily, it got better.

So, I need to accept that this does not come easily to me, that it will take hard work and practice to make the manuscript better. The craft book I read also said that Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to practice together with one of them saying a line "telling" it and the other coming up with ways of "showing" it. If they felt they needed that kind of practice, who am I to think I should just be able to do it, just like that (snapping my fingers here).

How about you?



When reading a book I don't think people realise how much hard work goes into getting to the finished product. I hope all goes well for you and your book.


Karen Jones Gowen said...

Just finishing the rough draft is a huge accomplishment. Let it set awhile until you're ready to tackle it. And don't worry too much about the craft of writing fiction books. Trying to follow all the "rules" can make for some stiff writing.

jaybird said...

I feel like you've done all the hard work already- you have a completed first draft! Wow-that's already something to be proud of.

My humble advice is this Karen- don't think too hard. Allow the same thing that inspired you to write in the first place (the Scottish Highlands) to organically flow through you and onto paper. Allow everything you felt, saw, and experienced come back through your words and out onto paper. I have a feeling what you write will be just beautiful!

And nothing worth while has ever come easy-to me. I have had to work hard for it all :)

Karen Walker said...

Yvonne, that is so true. I know I never thought about it before I wrote.
Karen, thanks, I think I came to the same concusion.
jaybird, your words really spoke to me - thank you so much

L.G. Smith said...

Yep, it's hard. Writing well is even harder. But there's nothing like that feeling of nailing it, when you know you captured an emotion with a single image or described something with just the right details to make it shine. Even if it takes a lot of time and effort to avoid cliches, the results are worth it. :)

MollyMom103 said...

OK, writing does not come easy to anyone. I feel the need to find the scupture in the solid stone mass of words. I hunger to find that connection with reads. It keeps me going. You are a star to be on this journey! I'm new to IWSG, hi!

Siv Ottem said...

Writing is torture, I hate it but I love it at the same time. FOr me there just is no choice. You are not alone, I don't think writing comes easy for any writer, not even the greats like Hemmingway or Stephen King (yes I consider him a great writer) Good Luck!

Liz Fichera said...

The first draft is always the worst. Fear not. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it, right? Hang in there. Keep writing. Keep believing.

Karen Walker said...

I so need to hear all of these words of wisdom. thanks everyone

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You want it to be easy - LOL!

There is a difference between writing fiction and non-fiction. The non-fiction was probably just as hard, but since it was familiar, you didn't realize it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Get Jessica Bell's book! The writing book about showing not telling. Her examples rock. They will help make it easier for you.

Suze said...

I've always hated craft books, Karen. They kill the whisper. Try to go back to the place where the Scottish Highlands are the most alive for you. And remember, not the first metaphor that comes to mind, not the second, but the third. Rhubarb words.

Writing fiction is the spirit at play. Good fiction, anyway. It's vogue now to make it a chore. I say glide above it. Be in love.

Two cents.

You know, I've made a decision (about my writing) recently that warrants that coffee. Let me know when you're up for it.

Believing in you.

Helen Ginger said...

I read and re-read my work so much that I end up having to set it aside for a few days, then pick it up again and try to read it as if it were new and fresh to me. And I have to slow myself down so that I don't read what is not there, like small words such as "to" or "the" or "as", etc.

Sometimes, it helps if you read it via a different median. If you usually read it on your computer, print out the manuscript or a section of it and read and mark it that way. Or you can create a pdf and read it as if it were an e-book.

kimlajevardi.com said...

I understand your desire to have it just happen. I think at some point and time we've all just wished we were good without the work, but, the work doesn't just make the story come alive, I think it makes us come alive as well. In the two years I've been working on my manuscript, I've wrung my hands and looked at the words, then I've retyped and looked at the words, and I've read CP critiques and looked at the words. And each time, I realize, I'm getting closer to the center of the story, to the center of who it is I'm talking about. The work is better now, and I think I'm growing as well. This sounds hokey, but I believe that my arc is an invisible thread within each sentence, each paragraph, and it's woven together with the character arcs within my story. I can see the world more clearly now because I'm more willing to look.

I rambled a bit, but keep writing. You'll find what you're looking for. Great IWSG post!

(This Writer's Growing)

S.K. Anthony said...

Finishing the first rough draft is fantastic news! Yes, you still have work but you WILL get it done!

Tonja said...

Finding a great critique partner and critiquing her work has improved my writing a lot. I think it just takes time and work. I recently read Beginnings, Middles & Ends (or something close to that title). It read fast and was very useful for me.

Karen Walker said...

Diane, you're right - it was hard, but more familiar.
Alex, I have Jessica's book and have read it and you're right - the examples rock, but it doesn't mean I can do it.
Suze, I love you, I just do.
Helen, great idea - I'll do it!
Kim, thank you for your "ramble" - it was very wise.
SK, I think I will, too. I just needed to whine.
Tonja, thanks

Huntress, aka CD Coffelt said...

Writing isn't easy.
(whoa. is that deep or what)

My point *patting my pockets. I know I put it somewhere* is: writing is such a mental exercise. The unwriterly folks have no idea what it takes to push that idea out of the brain and onto paper.

Then again, I bet you have days when the Muses sit on your shoulder and your fingers fly over the keyboard. Right?
CD Coffelt ponders at Spirit Called
And critiques at UnicornBell

Lisa said...

Oh so very true! And the truth shall set you free, right? Sure. At least you can say it out loud!!! Great post, one I can so relate to...

Beverly Fox said...

I used to believe- not just about writing but about everything- that if I was meant to do it then I would be able to do 'naturally'. That some innate talent should pop up out of nowhere and magically give me the ability to do it really, really well. And I didn't do a lot of things that I could have been good at because I didn't have natural talent.
It’s taken me a long time to learn the lesson that you are reminding yourself of- that EVERYTHING in life worth doing well takes work. A lot of work. Way more than any of us humans (who always take the easy way out when given the option) would like.
But I’ve also learned that it is the thing I struggle the most with that proves most rewarding when done. That passage that I agonized over- it ends up being better than the ones that came easily. That one fragment that drove me nuts- shines so much brighter than the one that came easily. And the story that I put off writing for fear of not being able to do it right- well, it’s still as good as that brilliant, glistening muse-inspired idea I had in my head. But it is pretty damned good. And so much better than the idea was simply for the shear fact that it exists.
It always comes down to the same lesson, again and again: just write.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Beverly Fox said...

BTW, I just became your 600th follower! W00t!

Denise Covey said...

Yes Karen, you echo my post in many ways. I suggest you put your ms away for a time then come back to it. You don't have to 'show' every time. And pass your work around to a trusted few.


Karen Walker said...

Huntress, so true.
Lisa, so glad i'm not alone!
Beverly, so loved the thoughts you shared here. And oh my goodness, thank you for realizing you are my 600th follower. I didn't even realize. I should have done a giveaway or something. Oy!

DL Hammons said...

I don't believe the writers who feel the process seems totally natural -- don't really exist! :)

LD Masterson said...

I used to run (before my knees gave out) and if someone asked me if I enjoyed running I'd admit I didn't. But I enjoyed having run. The way I felt after a run, the satisfaction, was worth pushing myself to get out there and do it. Sometimes I think writing can be like that. I don't always enjoy the process, the actual writing, but I love having written. Going back and reading the finished, polished work and being able to say, I did that.

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah I know. And this feeling of eyes glazing over while editing never goes away.

I love editing. But after a point, I'm like: "WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE'S MORE TO FIX????"

It's horrible to be at that point.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This is why i have such admiration for writers - your perseverance and determination. It's amazing and inspiring :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen - you can do it .. and you will do it - you've lots of happy thoughts here to follow and feel your way to moving on ..

Enjoy the process - it's having a passion .. if this is what you want - you'll achieve ... and I know you will

You're so well on the way .. cheers Hilary

Arlee Bird said...

I know the feeling. Sometimes the words just spew forth, but often I can easily find something to keep me from writing to avoid the frustration.

A Faraway View

subtlekate said...

Congratulations on completing the draft. That's wonderful.