Saturday, September 11, 2010

the Book that Got me Started

So when I got serious about writing I knew I needed help.
The first thing I did was write a friend. She's a professor of literature and is published herself. She didn't tell me not to do it. So that's a good sign, right?

My friend encouraged me to familiarize yourself with queries and the Writer's Digest. So I did what everyone does in 2010 I googled: How to become a writer
and no joke I took notes from the article that popped up.

This could be a long journey.

The next day I went to the library. I live in a small town with a small library but who am I to despise small beginnings? This is the book I found:
"Writing Life Stories; How to Make Memories into Memoirs, Ideas into Essays, and Life into Literature"
by Bill Roorbach

The title alone spoke to me. Because I'm no expert on anything except my own life. I love to write about my life. Hmm, sounds a little egocentric.
I hate sounding egocentric.

Chapter 1 "Why is it so hard to sit down and write? Great expectations, for one thing."

Roorbach is speaking to me. Because I have great expectations. And it is hard to sit down and write.
But I want to turn my life into a better story so I'm willing do something hard.

As it turns out the book is a workbook of sorts. You read along and do the exercises and I think that maybe by the end you'll know the difference between a memoir and autobiography and a protagonist and an antagonist.

Exercise One; A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Roorbach says, "...set yourself up in a decent writing environment. Not too beautiful (lest you get distracted by the view), not too Spartan (lest you find it a place best avoided), but a place you can hope to be uninterrupted for the blocks of time available for writing."

Crap! I'm in trouble. First, there is not one unused square foot of space in out home. I'm not kidding. We live in the first home Sears Roebuck sold in their 1900 Modern Home Catalog. It's well over 100 years old. It has 800 square feet on top of 800 square feet. 7 people and 1 Jack Russell occupy every inch in this home. Creating a home office is impossible.

Secondly, I am never, ever, under any condition, not un-interruptable. Have I mentioned I have 5 kids?

Thirdly, a clean space to work from? Have I mentioned I have 5 kids? Ok, that line gets old, even I know that but seriously what is the definition of clean? If 'picked up' counts then I think I'll be in business. For you see I am forever picking up after the kids!

If it is hard to be a writer, how difficult will it be for me? I'm part time employed with the school district. Part time self employed with a missions organization and full time wife and mom.

Well, I'll stick with Exercise One. I'll just have to make a few little tweaks.
I vow to have a well lit space. Wherever the laptop and I find ourselves - it may not be clean, it may not be quiet and it may not have a view. But it will be well lit!

(sidenote: should anyone ever actually see this I am sorry for the certain improper notations. Mr. Roorbach if I've neglected to quote you properly know that it is only in my novice-ness not because I wish to steal any material. I hope in an upcoming exercise I might learn how to properly use excerpts from books.)

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