Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Thing About the Writing Thing

I write stuff because I don’t know how to not write stuff. It’s just something I have always done. I tell stories. Sometimes, when I think they’re interesting enough, I write them down. I would write for myself even if I thought no one else would ever read it.

However, I’m going to be honest right now. I want other people to read it. Not in an academic sort of way. I don’t care if something I write gets put into a textbook and studied 100 years from now. Well, okay, a teeny part of me would be flattered. But let’s be serious. That’s about as likely as winning the lottery. I just want to write stuff that people like. Things that entertain. And, yes, I would like to be paid for it. Because if I get paid for it, I can afford the time to write more of it.

Keats Life and LettersI don’t care about writing a book that has a “moral” or a “message” for the reader. Frankly, if a writer cares more about a story’s message than about the characters and whether the reader is entertained, I’m not interested in reading it. That doesn’t mean entertaining books can’t teach us something. I’m just saying, I don’t believe that should be the primary goal of fiction.

Keats wrote in his letters about the purpose of poetry, saying that:

We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us—and if we do not agree, seems to put its hand in its breeches pocket. Poetry should be great & unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one’s soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself but with its subject.—How beautiful are the retired flowers! how would they lose their beauty were they to throng into the highway crying out, ‘admire me I am a violet! dote upon me I am a primrose! (Selections from Keats’s letters, Poetry Foundation)

I think you could substitute the word “fiction” where he says “poetry.” I don’t read fiction to be lectured to. If I gain some sort of insight after reading  a story, that’s a bonus. But first and foremost, I want to be caught up by the words. I want to find the book so engaging that I can’t stop reading it. I want to be excited enough to share it with others.

That’s what I aspire to do as a writer. To create something that fascinates the reader. To tell a story that is worth the telling.

Character Questionnaire from The Script Lab – Whenever I get stuck and can’t seem to make forward motion on a story, I work on character. For me, character is where all story comes from. If you know the characters deeply, then every action and reaction flows from that. You can anticipate what they will say, how they will react in given situations, ways that they will challenge other characters, etc. Sometimes, knowing your character means doing research, though it may also mean simply digging deep within to conjure up those details that make the character come alive for the reader.

One last thing about writing that I want to share is this TED talk video with Amy Tan talking about Where Does Creativity Hide, which is a question I find fascinating as well:

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Spring has Sprung

Mom and I in the Lake District of England

I’m in the midst of a flurry of Spring cleaning in every part of my life.

Now that all the rooms in my house are finally finished, I am going through the last of the things I had in storage at my parents’ house, trying to determine what stays, what goes, and how the last two rooms will be organized. My exercise room has been filled with boxes all winter. Some of it has old essays I wrote as an undergraduate. I’ve found all my photo albums and journals (the photo to the right is one I found there), and it’s been a treat to sort through them.

Other boxes are strange assortments of things from previous moves–makeup cases I’d forgotten I’d owned, a hairdryer with a British plug on the end which came in handy during my many trips there in my 20s but which now is useless (unless I go again…), old zip drive disks from back when I was a web designer. Most of it needs to be chucked out, but once in a while I come across something I’ve been missing like my calligraphy paper, pens, and ink. Because there are a few buried treasures, I need to go through all of it, and that takes time.

In addition, I have several posters and framed works of art that need hanging. And by several, I mean over twenty things. However, the rooms are big, and if I look through them carefully, I have ample wall space to manage all of them. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at hanging things on my own, so I’m hoping I can enlist some help and do them all in one day.

It’s also time to begin putting in the garden. I’m hoping to have some seeds in the ground this weekend. Nothing tastes better than a lunchtime salad made from fresh veggies picked that morning. My mother and I love planting things and watching them flourish. Because I don’t have much backyard space, I’m plant everything in containers, and we’ve had great success in past years.

Also, next week is time for Layla and Mustang Sally to get their seasonal “big buzz” haircuts. They’re both looking pretty shaggy after letting their hair grow over the long winter, and I’m looking forward to seeing them both looking (and smelling) their best.

I’ve also started walking again now that the weather is nicer. I have really missed being outside in the fresh air.

As for my job on the campus, we are in the last four weeks of the semester, and the students are in a frenzy. This year, we have six students who are graduating and only three who will be returning to work next year, so I’m in the middle of the recruitment process and grieving for the loss of such a great group. It will be hard letting this group go. There’s also our annual book sale coming up, and I have bed and breakfast guests coming for campus events on the first two weekends in May.

Still, with all of that going on, I’m determined to make time for writing and working on launching my podcast.

My plan is to have the first draft of my next book project completed by the end of June. It might go faster once the school semester is over, but I’m trying to be realistic about my time constraints for the next month. I’m also hoping to get edits back shortly from Book 1, and once the changes are made, I’ll be sending out queries.

As for the podcast, I’m hoping to have two of them posted this month, but it may only be possible to complete one. It’s a big learning curve. I have done video editing before, and I know how to do audio editing as well, but there are a lot of parts to the process of producing a podcast that I’m still working on streamlining. That will get easier with practice, I know.

It’s a lot happening all at once, but I love being busy, and all of the projects are things that make me happy. Still, I’m looking forward to having them behind me because the summer is not far away, and I’ve got big plans.

The Real Delia Podcast is Coming

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Miranda and I have been working on a new project, a podcast that I’ll record and post every two weeks. There will be interviews, book reviews, website suggestions, and some fun discussions with my guest hosts each week. We’ve completed the intro, found our first guest to interview, and are planning on recording later this week. I’m very excited to get it all done, and I hope to have everything ready to post later this month.

I plan to focus my interviews on Fiction and Non-Fiction relating to:

  • Horror
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Supernatural Fiction
  • Dark Fiction
  • Vampires
  • Television/Film
  • Writing/Editing/Publishing

If you would like to be interviewed on my podcast, send me an email to discuss it (deliaremington13@gmail.com). I am now scheduling interviews for May-August.