Hi, friends. Another Sunday on the docket, and here we are. Today is the time for making lists of stuff to do, catch up on, and start. That’s a lot! I skipped a couple things I usually do to give me a more positive take on the day (every day), and I’ve learned I shouldn’t skip those routines. Note to self made. To keep me sane, I need those rituals.
I may have shared here I had a free online presentation by Carol Gino. She is a writer, a nurse who has written many books on how nursing needed changing during the last probably twenty or more years. She was a companion of Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather. He also wrote the screenplays for all three movies, although it seemed he was reluctant to do so. The talk was wonderful! Carol spoke with the East Coast-Italian-New York-Jersey accent we’ve all heard. She was very good.
Some tips I loved were these, between both the book and video: Write to your strength. What does that mean? When Mario told Carol theirs was “A love story.” She was a companion to him, and the nurse in her tended to his needs later in his life. He told her he couldn’t portray her in a book. He couldn’t write from a female point of view. He could only write from a male point of view and speak to the characters he does. He writes to the dark side of human nature. (He said their story was was a Neil Simon comedy, not a Romeo and Juliet tragedy.)
This got me to thinking. Maybe my strength is not what I think it is. In a discussion with my book coach, we discussed if I was most interested in writing a fiction story for pleasure, or do I want to write a story to offer hope to people who need to make dramatic, drastic changes in their lives. I’m pondering that greatly this weekend. If I write stories based on anyone’s overcoming a harsh life, meant to be inspiring, will I be pigeon hole myself as a “self-help writer,” “a writer with a depressing view of the world?” My other projects are:
“Grandpa’s Gone,” A true story the loss of a grandparent on Christmas Eve;
“Bonus Grandma’s,” A story about a little boy with six grandmas, because of blended families;
“What Are You Doing Now, Roxie?” A true story about a little boy and his grandparents’ dog, run over by a car after a stranger left their gate open. It deals with loss, and reminds kids to close gates and doors, not leave them open. I present it with kindness and focuses on love. It explains feelings of grief and why we have them.
Please chime in with your opinion. I need to figure this out. I just don’t want to be an author with a dark cloud over my head all the time.
So back to Mario and Carol. This is my absolute FAVORITE. Too bad you never had a quilting class. Writing is just like quilting. You start with one little patch. You add as many details as you can. Patients, miracles, heroes are where you start. Then you keep rewriting it. Writing is simple, and not easy, which is quite different. Being a quilter, this hits home for me in many, many ways.
As with my autumn quilt, I have selected many, many fabrics for many, many quilts. It is fun to think of each of those as a book, with characters and faults, with well structured writing to hold it all together. This quilt does the same. The characters and their faults are all the beautiful fabrics, each selected for this quilt. The construction is a solid structure that holds it all together. The re-writing is like spending time with a seam ripper. Quilters have to adjust their sewing often for precision. The quilting is the finishing touch, which is like an appropriate title and cover. It the project so much better.
This is where I am right now. The person I’m writing about goes through hell until she learns she has some self worth. Her journey towards that understanding is hard. She makes it. This will have a happy ending, folks. Eventually. You only learn to write by writing and rewriting. Use your own voice. A very timid little girl grows up to have a grownup woman’s voice who learns to value herself. Is that it? Opinions? Feedback? She is not playing a victim here. She is speaking her truth.
Other sage advice from the master? Names are important. Not only how they sound, but how they look on the page. They need to be pretty simple, easy to remember. Expert advice, Mario! You need to have some sympathy even for your worst characters. That could be very hard for the bad guy in the story. Every story has a bad guy or antagonist. Understanding helps immensely there.
I was writing another project, “These Walls DO Talk,” and one character is specifically not a good guy in his life at the point we meet him, in his 60s, a scoundrel and a womanizer. When I began the part about these characters at home, as children, I liked this guy, much to my chagrin. Puzo’s statement about having some sympathy for even your worst characters rang so true. It was a gift to hear that, Carol Gino!
The tension between the moral characters and the amoral ones is fascinating. There you may plant “hooks” to keep your reader reading. Most readers who love reading don’t want to read something boring. There are not enough hours in the day.
Thank you for reading today. If Carol Gino reads this, I’m honored you took the time. I plan to finish reading your book later this afternoon. For the others, I appreciate you going on this journey of writing with me. I will be back tomorrow. See you then! Be Kind, Be Courteous, Be Patient, Be Thoughtful. Be Positive. And don’t forget to get your turkey thawing! Ours is. Have a beautiful afternoon.