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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Those Writers Were You

cropped-rose-and-book1.jpg

As writers, we struggle at times to get words on a page, ideas formulated, and plots created. We labor through a crummy first draft, along the way, sporadically wondering why we are writing the particular stories we are trying to write at that time.

Sometimes we feel alone, like we’re the only ones with brain melt from the overwhelming mental effort it takes to create storylines, plots, characters, and scenes.

In between those struggles, we read books we truly adore, finding them superbly written, taking us out of our worlds and into the characters’ worlds.

We thank the magnificent authors for spurring ideas for our own stories and helping us to write our next few paragraphs, or even chapters.

A few days ago, I came across an inspirational quote via a meme circulating on Twitter that really did uplift me and made me feel like all my work was worth it. And it made me realize all these wonderfully written books by these awesome writers were once where I was before they were known and their books soared in the published and reading realm.

“Never forget that every single one of your favorite books

were once awful, error-filled, unpolished first drafts.” — Unknown

 

Now, go finish that first draft, those revisions, and know your book(s) is/are just as spectacular as the ones you read.

 

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Enveloped in the Story

Ever since I finished up college, I’ve been engrossed in writing, revising, editing, critiquing, and reading. Like nearly all day.

I’ve barely had time to stop in here and write anything.

I’m enjoying the world of my characters. 

I’ve got three stories which I’m working on. I alternate from one to the other. It’s very satisfying. 

For a couple of months, I’d been working on my novel, Passage of Promise. The last half of the story is still waiting to run through the critique online group. It’ll be the end of January before submitting it is done.

But several days ago, I flipped over to my WIP, What She Didn’t Know, and reread, revised, and added a few scenes. 

Then I returned to my novella, Mourning Dove. I’ve been working on this for the past few days and am loving it. Using the feedback from the critters when I ran the story through around last spring, I’ve been strengthening those chapters.

I asked my husband questions on police procedures and medical issues a couple of days back, which opened up new ideas, new scenes to implement into this amazing story. I’ve only received positive feedback on this piece because of its wonderful message, decent plot, and likable characters. 

Here are the two blurbs I’ve been working on with my novel and novella.

Passage of Promise:

Marina waited all her life for someone like him. But failure is Marina’s middle name. Sent by her family to the Greek island of Santorini to fetch her great grandmother’s wonder-working icon for her sick nephew, Marina finds it has been stolen. She meets and falls in love with attractive Joel, a history teacher and art collector. He helps her to search for the icon. As time sprints by in the week-long search, perpetual pressure and ridicule from her mother leaves Marina on the brink of defeat. When she finds out who took the icon, the realization nearly sends her spiraling out of control. Personal, devastating failure hits her hard, and she’s left hollow. With icon in hand and lost love stinging her heart, Marina returns home to face battles with her mother and her nephew’s waning health. Clinging to a last shred of hope, will it be enough for Marina to overcome her failures and find love and healing?

Mourning Dove:

Gabby lost her husband, Andrew, in a car accident six months ago.  In the midst of struggling to emerge from her grief, she discovers Andrew’s cousin, Jordan, is homeless. With strong determination, Gabby strives to help Jordan in any way she can.  While sifting through clothes in her closet, Gabby discovers notes by Andrew and Jordan discussing a special gift for her a month before Andrew’s death. Can Jordan be the key to unlocking Andrew’s gift to her?  But amid this good will stands a belligerent homeless man hunting down Jordan for a past wrong. Although frightened by this vagabond seen creeping around her property, Gabby swallows her fear and focuses on aiding Jordan, giving her a new purpose in her life. But will Gabby take that new purpose too far?

I’ll probably publish Mourning Dove first, as I am still not totally satisfied with Passage of Promise

I’ll send it to a couple publishers and see if either accepts it. If not, I’ll go another route.

Tell me what you think. Your thoughts and opinions are important to me. You’re potentially my future readers. God willing! 

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