Monday, June 24, 2013

Writing is Work

By Laurie Epps

Going out with friends is not only a way to relieve stress and experience life's joys, but it can also make for some powerful moments to capture as writers. Think about these moments. Remember that exact moment in time. While your friend was talking, did you stare at the flowers on the table because of some bad news? What color were the flowers? What kind of flowers were they? Zoom out, did the rest of the world seem blurry? This is where you start. Capture that vignette and time, and expand on it.

This week, in Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg talks about recapturing those moments as a starting point for our writing. So buckle up, and join the conversation.

Talk is the Exercise Ground
pp. 84-85

Conversations with friends are a great beginning source of ideas. Talking is good exercise, and it serves as a good warm up for the quiet hours of writing. Think of the stories you tell over and and over again. That's a great start to lots of new material. Remember to notice the different ways you can tell how someone is feeling. These subtle nuances of body language and expressions will show the reader how they're feeling.

What are some exercises you do to help you build your characters or feel what they are feeling at the time? For me, journaling is a very effective tool. What devices do you use? Please share with me your comments below.

Writing Is a Communal Act
pp. 86-88

"Writers are great lovers. They fall in love with other writers. That's how they learn to write. They take on a writer, read everything by him or her, read it over and over again until they understand how the writer moves, pauses, and sees. That's what being a lover is: stepping out of yourself, stepping into someone else's skin. Your ability to love another's writing means those capabilities are awakened in you. It will only make you bigger; it won't make you a copycat."

This quote spoke to me because it restates that expression that imitation is the highest form of flattery. We have to be careful and know that copying a style isn't always a bad thing.

However, we must also remember to not to get to cocky and to think that we are a better writer than anyone else. We need to remember that it's ok to make a little room. We all have room to learn and grow at our craft.

One Plus One Equals a Mercedes Benz
p. 89

This talks about opening up your mind to not such concrete details. Every sixth grade teacher can tell you that every paper is written the same way. A book report starts off like this: "This book is about ________. I like this book because of__________." Instead of making more abstract parralels.

Example: The power of the human spirit to overcome the oppressive bourgeois in the topic of the novel Les Miserables. Compelling and victorious, we learn that goodness and mercy ill triumph against evil. With the backdrop of the French Revolution, Victor Hugo paints a fresco of hope and inspiration for his readers.

Be an Animal

Be in the moment. When an animal stalks his prey, he doesn't worry about what bills he has to pay, or about that postcard he needs to write. The animal notices the way the light shines  through the tundra grass, the twitching sound in the bushes that's a potential meal. As writers, we need to harness this carnal ability within us all, and write about it.

When we write, we bring a part of ourselves with us when we're writing. For example, I am a single-mother, college student, poet, traveler, and dreamer who weaves these details into the very fabric of my stories. 

What elements do you bring to your stories? Who are you when you bring it to your writing. Please share in the comments section below and join the conversation.

Please come back next week and we'll discuss pages 93-104.

Laurie Epps is a non-fiction author, essayist, editor, and poet living in Anderson, South Carolina. A seeker of beauty, her is dream is to travel the world one day and tell the many stories of those she meets. To read more of Laurie's stories come back here for her column about Poetry on Thursdays, or follow her Tuesday column dedicated to writing on:

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