Where'd THAT come from?

Almost to the day, ten years ago I began to write my first novel. I'd had an idea of story I wanted to read from the time I was fourteen and had read many a science fiction book. But...I had absolutely no ability or desire to write it myself.

Words do not come easy...or so I thought. If order flowers I have to get help from the clerk to determine what to write on the little cards. You know, those little ones, the ones that should say something nice or appropriate to the sentiment of the occassion. Well, I can look at one of those cards and begin to bleed out my eyes before anything comes to mind. Then I have to destroy a couple as I change my mind. Luckily for me, age has brought me the gift of less embarrassment. I now merely ask the clerk what would be good. It saves time and the recipient isn't as horrified or disappointed. Ditto with memos and letters.

I thought if I ever met a writer I would give them the idea for this book and they would write it and I would read it. Since I didn't want any preconceived ideas of how the book would go, I made sure not to think about it. Then I found out writers have their own ideas and don't want anyone else's. I was a little miffed to discover this. My husband of twenty years gave me a look and told me if I'd written a page a month I'd be finished by now and know how it ended. I decided to start the next day. But, I couldn't write it.

As I lay down to sleep that night, a person came into my head, the younger sister of my heroine. She had been inspired into action by her older sister's success. I jumped up and wrote that down. The next day, I began to write the younger sister's story and as it unfolded over the next nine months, out of the murky depths of my innermost mind, the bare bones of the first story came out of the mist.

Since then I've learned I really am a writer of novels. That book finished in nine months, the next almost nine years. I still can't write those pesky little cards for flowers etc without feeling like I'm against the wall they use for the firing squad. Talent can be like that.

The Proving Zone stories flow from the tips of my fingers like a symphony of flavors, scents, and delights. Other writingly stuff--not at all. The purpose of this post, should I be too dense to pick the right words to get my thoughts across, is to share my belief that writing talent, ability, and desire are not the stuff of knowing, it is the stuff of exploration. Writing novels gives me great joy and contentment as I root around in my murky head for the perfect word or phrase to describe exactly what my characters taste, feel, or do.
The next best joy is that 'gotcha' moment when readers who would not normally read my kind of novel become engaged in it--sometimes to the point they read all night. As an author, I love THAT feeling!

I hope you feel encouraged to begin. Don't let age, condition, preconceived lack of talent, hail, mist, or dead of night stop you from enjoying the process of writing whatever kind of writing you find fun to do.

About those who say nasty things about your writing or thoughts on it. Please remember: Not every story is for every reader.


Joan Vincent said...

Nina, thank you for sharing your journey. On the Beau Monde loop they have been discussing writing versus success and the tough market. One writer, Delle Jacobs, posted the following --Do your best to treasure
the journey of your writing, because all the other parts- "the fame, validation, money, etc, are elusive. And perhaps, in terms of a life well lived, are not what is truly valuable." Not that they are saying not to pursue success but to take joy from the smaller successes of say, mastering grammer, constructing a sentence, a paragraph, or a scene that satisfies and pleases your dramatic sense, or finishing a manuscript. Listen to the inner voices of your characters, not the ones with doubt or even the ones from the outside. Just write. It's the first step to any form of success.

Reese Mobley said...

This is the perfect post for anyone who is afraid to put pen to paper for the first time. I love to write and still get giddy when I find the perfect word or sentence to complete my thoughts.

The one thing I have learned to do is write down those good ideas when they enter my mind--no matter when or where I am. I can't tell myself I'll remember them later because that doesn't always happen.

Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Nina.

Pat Davids said...

What a great post. I'm always in awe of your way with words.

Just the other day, a lady approached me about writing a story for her. As our conversation progressed through the reasons why I couldn't do that, she unfolded a synopsis and part of a first chapter. The light bulb came on for her when I told her she was already writing the book. She didn't need me. I pointed her toward our local writing groups and I hope she continues with her dream.

Rox Delaney said...

Didn't most if not all of us start writing for the sheer joy of it? Sure, there are downsides, but that's true for everything in life.

Those people who talk about writing a book probably never will. When someone says to me, "I've always wanted to write a book," my answer now is, "Then do it."

When I was 18-19, I wrote a book that was probably about 250,000 words. It was typed using a thirdhand typewriter on mostly onion skin paper, because that was available to me at that time. It was a good 3 inches thick when I finally managed to wrap up the story, which was awful. But I never, ever gave a thought to it ever being published. I did it because I wanted to get the story that kept going on in my head down on paper.

I'm not even sure where it is now. That may be a blessing. LOL But I LOVED writing it.

Nina Sipes said...

Thank you all for the encouragement you give. So many writers know from their childhood that they want to express themselves with writing. I hope to encourage those who never gave it a thought or actively shunned it like I did.

I can imagine me waiting forever, for as we've talked before, there aren't many authors in my neck of the prairie, for me to find an author, let alone one to write my story. The story would NEVER have been written and I would be minus friends, good ones, and exciting experiences. I do mean exciting. Meeting writers, talking with them, exploring their minds and work, it gives me chills of fun to do this. I am foam, floating at the edge of the great group, slipping around, with the best view in the house of the activity for all--different, yet together. I love and have developed a craving for that split feeling of observation/group. The isolation I require to survive my daily life, with the together in mind's process of other writers.

Eventually, I too will be absorbed into the great group. Because of the collective support and individual information of members of WARA, I tread less afraid of the writing future.

Nina Sipes said...

What HAVE I been drinking? Another side of me just wrote that last post. Can you imagine? I've been sorting and culling all day and getting ready to arm wrestle my scanner into actually working instead of sitting there like a lump. Technology thumping is also a part of writing!

Penny Rader said...

"...writing talent, ability, and desire are not the stuff of knowing, it is the stuff of exploration."

Wow. Thanks for this, Nina. I'm not one of those people who knew from birth that she wanted to write. I am one of those people who freaks herself out and lets fear get in her way because most of the time I just don't know what to write, or I'm afraid it will be stupid and no one will like it or "get" it. I do get an excited thrill when a scene, or at least part of a scene, pops into my head. I just wish it would happen more often, with more regularity. I am counting down the days of tax season. Writing is a muscle and I need get back into a routine and work that muscle...and ward off the fear.

Nina Sipes said...


I wrote a response to you--the story of the Dresses, but realized it should be a blog, it was so long. I hope you will enjoy it. I'll post it on the 10th.


Penny Rader said...

I can't wait to read the story of the dresses, Nina!