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Monday MusesPosted Monday, January 9, 2012, at 8:01 PM
Nancy, Victoria, Nita and Brian sat at the table, all politely listening as I, as a fellow writer and editor of the Nevada Daily Mail and She and Ageless magazines talked on and on about how I'd begun writing in third grade -- mostly stories about a youngest sibling getting the better of an older sister or brother or both. Then I told of writing stories about dogs. Or dogs and children.
I suppose the tale would have been more interesting with some examples. Sorry, gals and guy.
See, I figured they might be uniquely interested, seeing as how I was talking to a writers' group that meets each Monday at 6 p.m. at Hardees in Nevada. They take it seriously and do writing exercises together that spark creativity and thought.
I even told them about how when I was a youngster, I kinda wanted to be Lois Lane, before finding out that Superman wasn't real and realizing what a ninny Lois Lane must have been to not figure out that Clark Kent and Superman were one and the same.
And I shared how news writing wasn't nearly as stiff and non-creative as I'd once had the impression it was. It's true that you don't make things up, but it takes a genuine effort to craft the best news stories, presenting those facts in ways people consistently want to read. I hope one of them will give it a try at some point.
The whole exchange got me thinking. What is it, really, that drives me to do this hard thing? Why do I spend all these hours making newspapers and magazines and writing and editing and coordinating and "other duties as assigned".
The answer is simple. It's the people. People -- all of the people, from the farmer's wife to the children to the guy standing on the corner, are all important threads in the fabric that makes a community. Telling their stories, good and bad, is an honor and a privilege. I'm also inspired by the opportunity to create and by the front row seat from which we journalists watch the day-to-day happenings that make up tomorrow's history. Plus, I've always wanted to write and get paid for it.
Brian is a writer and a photographer who takes up the craft "when something strikes me," he said. Oftentimes, he'll be inspired later by a photo or an incident from some time prior. I can relate to that. I make all sorts of connections and often end up developing news stories that begin with a tidbit of information overheard in passing or read in a historical account somewhere.
Victoria and Nita said they like writing fiction. Me, too. Sure, I like the reality gig; but anything can happen in fiction.
I've even written a novel and a couple of other, shorter books but none are ready for publication, mostly because the editor thing takes a lot of my time. But a word of warning to all those fiction writers out there -- in some ways, writing fiction's a bigger challenge than non-fiction, because you have to keep everything straight and remember accurately what you made up and where it's all going to end up. There's no wimpy relying on facts in good fiction writing. Here's how Ernest Hemingway put it: "You know that fiction, prose rather, is possibly the roughest trade of all in writing. You do not have the reference, the old important reference. You have the sheet of blank paper, the pencil, and the obligation to invent truer than things can be true."
That, too, is one of the reasons that novel's languished for so long. It's a hard thing to finely tune the details so that it all makes sense and flows from beginning to end as it should to be a truly well-done creation. Honestly, I don't know how JK Rowling (Harry Potter author) did it. All those characters! All those scenarios and rules and personality traits!
But even as I write of how hard it genuinely can be, I'm once again inspired to give a new project a try; although I know time and trials could still get in the way. I'm thrilled there's a writers' group in the area, and I hope I'll be able to participate now and then. Perhaps, one day, I'll write a novel about four genealogists who discover, um, something really funny, outrageous, scandalous or historically significant -- or all of the above -- that links them all together. Hmm.
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Exploring the obvious and the not so obvious in search of the oh, so elusive "something to do' that's all around us.