fiction · Uncategorized

The Moral Point of View and Broccoli

This week has been a rewarding one in my writing career. I’ve recently joined an online critique group and have been overwhelmed with the positive and constructive feedback from authors and others aspiring to that title. I’ve met a few writing coaches who have helped me with my letters to agents and I’ve also developed friendships with other writers whose work I admire. Each morning this week I’ve awoken to feedback from people within the group from all over the world. This is something I have needed for a long time. I’ve been longing for a writing community and am so happy to have found a place that feels like home already.

As I open Bird by Bird┬áby Anne Lamott I am happy to say that the wisdom I took from this week’s reading was received right on time. I had been struggling with a story I’m working on and trying to defeat writer’s block. I needed the reminders from both chapters today which encouraged me to look within myself for the moral point of view of my story as well as to my intuition in order to hear the voice of the character I’m currently wrestling with in my mind. I hope you will find my summaries of these chapters insightful!

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The Moral Point of View

“There is no point gathering an audience and demanding its attention unless you have something to say that is important and constructive.” (Lamott 108)

Within each person lies a moral compass. An internal directive which distinguishes between good, bad, and evil. Within each reader is the desire to interact with characters and conflicts that test that moral compass and strengthen its tendency toward True North.

Writing is an expression of our moral points of view as authors. We write about problems of our world and mask those things behind fictitious characters and settings. Our stories are born of human experience and blanched in lessons of life.

Although setting out to teach a lesson is seldom our goal as writers we become teachers in our craft as we highlight what is important to us in our novels. I love the quote above by Anne Lamott which speaks to the fact that our stories should all in some way reflect this life and apply to the grander scheme of humanity. There should be something to learn or glean from your work. So what are you trying to tell the world with your story?

Broccoli

One of the most important resources in a writer’s arsenal is their intuition. Many of us had our intuition suppressed long ago as children. Things that we were certain of despite their insanity were scoffed at by adults or peers in our lives. As a writer, you really have to reclaim that intuition. To write from a rational mind only is to create dull stories full of true conflicts and characters based on all of your friends (or enemies.)

When you are able to think outside of the rational, your characters begin to take on a life of their own. Your intuition surrenders to their lives and the world in which they live instead of controlling those aspects of the story.

Anne Lamott uses broccoli as a metaphor for her intuition because of an old skit with Mel Gibson when he is told to, “Listen to your broccoli, it will tell you how to eat it.” It’s the same principal with writing. If you try to dictate your characters and plot then you will end up with a drab reflection of reality. Listen to the characters in your mind. Let them have the freedom to write their own stories. Be the vessel that communicates on their behalf. Do not stifle the irrational mind.

The Ameri Brit Mom

fiction · Uncategorized

How Do You Know When You’re Done//Looking Around

Oh, Saturday mornings! The bliss of my week. A couple of hours for me, writing, and coffee. Being a full time teacher makes it hard to carry out my passion for writing on a daily basis, but heaven help you if you come between me and my Saturday mornings. I’ve been storing up a lot of ideas and writing for today and I’m planning to make some major progress in personal projects over the next few hours. So here’s to another Saturday morning starting with a bit of wisdom from Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird.

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How Do You Know When You’re Done?

Here’s the thing about writing: the process is different from person to person and also from book to book. There really is no “aha!” moment in which all is resolved and the book is perfect. In fact, it never will be perfect. So it isn’t really a matter of when the book is done, but rather when you choose to be done with the book yourself. Usually when your intellect tells you that it is time to move on to another project then it is time to put to rest your current one. You are done.

I’m currently on the verge of wrapping up my first book. I know there are still things that could be better, but I’ve started planning out my next book so it’s about time to be done with my first novel.

Looking Around

This is the first chapter of the second section: The Writing Frame of Mind.

As a writer, your job is to pay attention to people and surroundings and to transfer feelings of sympathy and compassion onto those things to create stories. To just tell of a woman in ugly clothes is a boring story. Writers put themselves in the shoes of the people they observe, and oftentimes that’s where stories begin.

Most characters are based on real people. They start in your mind as you pass a stranger at the mall or in an airport. From there the idea for a character snowballs. Sometimes, this is not something we are even conscious of, but many times when you sit down to write a story you pull a character from your subconscious based on an experience or a real person. In order to give life to such characters we should keep an open mind. Watch with compassion and take in the essence of the person to give real life to your characters. Look around and be aware, because in a crowd you may just find your new protagonist.

The Ameri Brit Mom