Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Farewell to 2016, Hello to Great Writing!

Here I am thinking about the past twelve
months and ways I can use those experiences
to improve my writing this year.  Wait! That's not me.
That's a camel chewing her (his?) cud,
and probably NOT thinking about her next novel.
Oh well, honest mistake.
Well, it's 2017 and I just grew accustomed to writing 2011 on my checks. I think my brainpower might be slipping a bit. At least all I have to do this year is make a tiny little mark on the last "1" rather than scribbling it all out and having the teller ask me to initial the date (after I've already sent it inside to her via the sucky-money thingie) for the 417th time this year.

A lot of things changed over the past year--my father moved in with us, my son-in-law moved out. The daughter with whom I live graduated from Veterinary Technical school, passed her boards, and is now employed as a vet tech. My granddaughter is growing by leaps and bounds and learning new things (like reading!) every single day. My other grandchildren (all boys) are also growing up faster than I'd like, and of course, I don't see them nearly as often as I'd prefer. My other two children, a daughter and son, are doing well and (gulp!) getting older themselves.

What's all this have to do with writing? Nothing--unless I use my past experiences during the coming year to flesh out characters, use places I've visited to describe my locations, or recall snippets of dialogue I've heard (or better yet, have written them down in the first place) and incorporate them into my characters' conversations. In my experience, 90% of what I write is done ahead of time, and by that I mean seeing, smelling, hearing, experiencing, and then mentally cataloging it all to reuse when the need arises. Grandchildren are a treasure trove of humor, wonder, and hilarious dialogue. My grown children are amazingly wise (considering who raised them), and oftentimes a memory of something they've said rises to the surface just when I need it.

And it's not just the happy or funny things that can touch our future writing. Sadness can also give us that little boost toward penning poignancy. Unfortunate events like a flat tire when you're running late, a broken windshield (or window or mirror or favorite vase), or that unexpected trip to the ER with expensive follow-up tests or therapy all lend realism to our words and layers to our characters' personalities and dialogue.

I've said it before, and I'll no doubt say it again--everything in our lives can help us create more realistic, fanciful, touching, inspirational, humorous, entertaining, and wondrous work for our readers to enjoy.

Let's all enjoy 2017 with an eye toward using each of our experiences--good, bad, or in-between--to add that little bit of sparkle to our future writing.
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