My Eye-opening Second Reason for Writing

Over the past few years I’ve learned what it would take to climb a mountain in the Himalayas. I’ve studied supply lists for crossing the Pacific as a single sailor. I’ve wrapped my arms around high-frequency trading, come to understand the damage caused by oil exploration in the Niger Delta, and learned the history of U.S. immigration laws. It has been one hell of an adult education program.

My degree, if you will, is the six novels I’ve authored. I’ve discovered that the information living in my brain because of them is one of the seven reasons I write books.

Couldn’t you go research all these things and more, and not bother with the writing part, you might ask? It would be a fine question. Of course I could, but I probably wouldn’t. I’m curious about so many things, but my ability to get myself to sit down and learn about them instead of goofing off is pretty limited. Unless I’m doing it for one of my books. Then I will spend hours on it.

I’ve recently returned to participating in writers’ group, and that has started this reflecting on why I write. At a recent meeting, one writer was trying to describe the subject matter of Philip Roth’s books. “Anything he got a wild hair up his ass about,” she said.  I had to laugh, not only because it was apt, but because she had described one of the chief joys of writing.

You get to pick something you care about, anything that interests you, and then go learn enough to begin to weave a story. You don’t know where your imagination or your research will take you, but between the two of them you can bet it will be somewhere fascinating.

I haven’t only learned from research. The very act of producing books has forced me to to become more acquainted with software, graphics, and photo licensing. I’ve had to brush up my grammar. Do you know when to use “a while” and when to use “awhile”?  I do, now.

Writing has also forced me to stay more current with idioms and kept me more politically correct. No one says “on the QT” anymore, but “on the DL” is still used. Really? It is better to call a mentally challenged child cognitively impaired? Okay. Glad I know.

My ad hoc education program hasn’t been restricted to me, either. Others have been kind enough to seek out information for me in their own fields, leaving friends and relatives familiar with Mayan numbers and civil war battles. (Yes, my husband really did attend a re-enactment to help me with a book.)

Much of my education has come from the intriguing people I’ve been exposed to because of my writing. There is a lady in Denmark who shared her vacation photos from Iceland with me, to make d4 more realistic. Four wonderful women from India helped me with information and cultural sensitivity as I wrote c3. One went a step further, working with me to create a Sanskrit word needed for the story. I had taken a stab at it, using internet translation, and she laughed at my result. She took the problem to her father, a scholar who speaks Sanskrit, and “Jvalalaya, the Abode of Light” was born.

As I work to overcome the inertia and start a new series of books, the thrill of learning draws me forward. I have a giant “to read” pile already, much of it on artificial intelligence, which will play a large role in the world I am building. Anticipation of creating this world has me headed off in two very different directions this summer, attending two fabulous yet odd events I would have passed on without the added impetus of “this will really help me with the next novel.”

Yes, sometimes writing gets me up out of my chair to take in the world.

Of course, this still doesn’t explain what drives me to keep on with all the other time-consuming pieces of putting together a book. For that, I’m going to need to take a hard look at the other five reasons I spend most of my free time creating novels.

(Read more about why I write at The Number One Reason I Write Books, Nothing cool about modest ambitions  and I write because it’s cheaper than therapy.)

Check out the new cover

I’ve been working with Jennifer Fitzgerald at Mother Spider Marketing to redesign the z2 cover with a little more zing and a little less confusing combination of images.  I am very pleased with the result! Please check it out and let me know what you think.

new cover for z2

new cover for z2

 

Normal people

We have a 6 ft by 9 ft ledge in our house that sits over our front door and can only be accessed through an upstairs closet. It’s a small room, really, open on one side to the entry way and totally useless.  I’ve filled it with plants.  One day my son asked me “What would normal people do with a space like that?”

Not Normal

Not Normal

I’ve now had the privilege of having a few dozen complete strangers read and review my three novels.  Seeing my stories work, or not, through their eyes has been one of the most exciting things in my life.  I cannot begin to tell you what a growing experience this writing thing has been.  Sometimes a particular comment in a review overwhelms me, but none has more than the offhand remark of av0415 in her review of x0 on Library Thing.

“It’s quite different from normal books.” That’s just what she said.  “Normal books.”

It seems that with each novel I write, I have some sort of new personal confidence crisis.  I’m about 1/6 of the way into c3 (cee cubed), the fourth novel in this collection, and I am having my crisis already.  This one has to do with my writing style being too inaccessible. I change points of view too often and jump around too much and my last novel z2 took this even further than the first two books. I need to write more like everybody else.

So thank you, so very much, av0415 whoever you are. Thank you for reminding me of my son’s question long ago.  For although my son apologized quickly for any implied insult, he was astute enough to know how inwardly pleased I really was. Yes, I am happy that I don’t decorate like everyone else. Or dress or think or live in a way that is too easily described as normal.  And although I do want my books to be read and enjoyed by many, I am not trying to write them to be read and enjoyed by all. I need to remember that.

These aren’t normal books.  They aren’t written by a normal person. It’s okay. If your particular lack of normal has a common wavelength with mine, then you might enjoy these non-normal tales and that would be great.  But if you don’t, it’s fine too. We’re all not normal in our own way.

Check out the blog of fellow indie author Michael Brookes here  where he features the newly released z2. Michael is also about to release his third novel entitled “Conversations in the Abyss” and he will join us on this blog March 24 for a short interview.