Writing Much, Despite Reading Struggles

Fragonard painting of woman reading

(painted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve read many fellow authors’ declarations of being avid readers when they were children. That they would sneak a book under their covers and get in another few precious moments of reading exciting books before their parents would remind them to go to sleep.

Others would talk about remembering reading at a very early age and loving it throughout their childhood into their adult years. This dedication and love of reading books led them to write books themselves. And this seems to make a whole lot of sense. You read a lot, you get ideas, and you naturally write with these inspirational stories having primed the creative pump in your imaginative brain.

But this wasn’t my experience.

At times I feel both sad and amazed that my writing journey is not the usual, logical path of my fellow writers. I’m an anomaly of sorts. I truly believe it.

I grew up hating to read. As early as I can remember, I had little interest in books, other than to look at the colorful pictures and at times, listen to my dad or a teacher read a story to me and my fellow students.

young girl reading book

Reading had been a struggle for me, a lot of hard work. By mid grade school age, it was discovered I had reading comprehension problems. When my dad wasn’t away on a case (he was a lawyer and a judge in the Air Force), he’d spend an hour or so a night sitting with me on the couch, listening to me read aloud one of the classics in large, vivid books with plenty of pictures, but with age-appropriate, tough words.

I remember agonizing through reading each sentence. It was so laborious–a tremendous mental work akin to the hard, physical work of pushing a heavy rock up a steep hill. But Dad kept encouraging me, guiding me along, patiently working with me for about three years (around fourth to sixth grade).

I went into junior high school still struggling to a certain extent, with little interest in reading, let alone learning. This was my academic path throughout high school, as well.

But something had changed. I did read a few assigned books in my English literature class in eleventh grade, and when I a sophomore, I fell in love with the North & South TV mini-series and ended up reading the first two books in the series. Also, when I was eighteen and nineteen, I read the whole eight-volume series of the Kent Family Chronicles (both series written by John Jakes).

I think, perhaps, watching TV and movies helped me create my stories in lieu of reading. I’ve always been a visual learner.

As for gaining an interest in learning, it wasn’t until I went to business college a couple of years after graduating high school, that I was ready to learn and wanted to learn.

But here’s the unbelievable part of my journey.

Throughout all of my struggles with reading, I wrote all the time with little effort, from second grade all the way through my teens and early twenties before putting it aside when I married and had children.

As you know, if you read any of my older blog posts, I returned to writing in 2014, and it felt so good to be back where I believe I belonged.

How could a child, a young girl, a woman, write stories with plots, decent sentence structures, spelling, some stories over a hundred pages in length, but rarely ever pick up a book until her late teens, early twenties?

It’s a tiny miracle to me.

shining bright light of miracles

This tiny miracle tells me this is my talent, God’s gift to me.

I finally realized this only about two years ago. It hit me like a refreshing, cool breeze on a warm spring day. And I’m so glad it did. Since my early twenties, I’ve been reading and continue to read many, many books.

 

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Say It Loudly and Proudly…You ARE a Writer

fountain pen on white paper

I read a couple of blog posts from fellow writers this past week talking about their hesitancies in calling themselves writers or authors, even though both of them have had works published.

The main thoughts that ran through my head were, “Well, of course, you’re a writer. You’ve written books, published them, and continue to write. Why wouldn’t you call yourself a writer?”

As I understood their explanations, when they were asked what they do, they weren’t confident enough in themselves due to the social stigma of saying “I’m a writer.”

If they were to say they were writers, they’d often get questions like, “Have you been published?” or worse, “Yes, but what’s your real job.”  So some fellow authors would respond with falling back on their other day job, such as working in an office or a stay-at-home mom.

But they came to the realization that they ARE worthy of the title of writer. They ARE WRITERS/AUTHORS. It’s part of who they are. It’s a part of who all of us writers are.

It’s an extension of ourselves. Our hearts, souls, experiences, and unique social and cultural backgrounds. We share this indirectly and sometimes directly in our writings, and it’s a good thing.

writing on the grass

I have to tell you, saying I am a writer has been easy. It is one area in my life where I have complete confidence.

I knew I could write in my teens and early twenties, even though I lacked a lot of  knowledge on how to write in-depth characters, totally believable plots, and point of view (POV).

Even after I quit writing from around 1997 to 2014, I never thought I couldn’t write. I’d just put it on the back burner due to putting business college, a job, my marriage, and then my children along with my husband as my top priority (as I felt I should be).

I didn’t really think too much about picking up a pen and scrawling across a blank sheet of paper then because few ideas sprung up.

Life works that way, I think. Things happen when they’re supposed to.

sunset orange

Ideas began to sprout in the summer and early fall of 2014 before I registered for online college to get a degree in Creative Writing and English.

The ideas did start popping up when I knew I could make my schooling experience all about writing stories, all about a future in what has always been in me since I was a child.

That flame has never been totally doused.

Playing certain sports and writing stories were the only two things I had total confidence in myself throughout my childhood, adulthood, up to the present day.

My confidence grew through four years in college. All the negative thoughts I had of myself that I’d heard from people throughout my life lessened, became small, insignificant. I began to see myself much more positively.

proud woman

Yes, I am smart. Yes, I can write very well. Yes, I am a writer. It’s part of who I am. I’m thankful I’ve not felt insecure, scared, or apprehensive in telling people who ask me what I do.

Even if I’d never had anything published, I’m still an author. It’s my job. It’s my main focus every day in the midst of my family and life of faith.

Have you had the confidence to tell others you are a writer? If you’re writing on a regular basis. If it’s your passion. If it’s part of who you are, YOU ARE A WRITER. Wear that badge with honor and pride.

 

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Getting That First Draft Done…Like, Now

painting of author stuck

As I continue revising, editing, and polishing my novel, Passage of Promise, as it runs through my online critique group, in my spare time, I drop into my novella, Mourning Dove,  switching it from first to third person as I did with my novel because I prefer that. I’ve also revised sections and added scenes. Actually, I still have a few more scenes I need to add that were prompted through beta reader and hubby feedback.

But in the past couple of days, I’ve reached to the back burner where my WIP (work in progress), What She Didn’t Know, has been sitting the last two months, waiting to have me add scenes and chapters.

So, I wrote up a scene and chapter yesterday, and it felt good. I wasn’t sure I could get back into the story, but what always helps me is reading previous chapters to prime the creative pump and get myself back into the lives of the three sisters in the case of this story.

Yesterday, I shared with my husband the many plot points and my characters in my WIP. After explaining all the different relationship conflicts with each of the three sisters, my husband said, “What is this? A soap opera?” Haha!

I told him these types of storylines often go through my head. I asked his opinion on one of my ideas for one of the minor characters (one that could be fatal or not fatal). He chose the second and said, “I think there’s already enough drama.”

Oh, but we writers thrive on drama with our characters. It’s called conflict in the world of writers. 😀

I started What She Didn’t Know January 14, 2018. A freaking year ago! I can’t believe I haven’t finished it yet!

Three months. I’m giving myself three months to at least write as many of the chapters I’ve got notes on as I can, hoping the first draft will be done by the end of that time period. If not, at least it’ll be close.

writing's hard gif

First drafts can be very difficult. I’ve read plenty of articles of fellow writers struggling to finish their novels. I blame my half-done piece on working on my other done pieces.

It’s never taken me this long to write a story of any type. It’s time to hunker down.

All fellow writers struggling through their first drafts, let’s unite in getting them done before summer!

And DON’T GIVE UP! You know your story is good and worth the effort! Your characters are calling your name, telling you they’re waiting for their next encounters, next conflicts, next DRAMA. 😉

Happy writing!

 

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