Sunday, March 27, 2011

On Writing: Who Am I?

A Season of Preparation:

Writing fiction has been a lifelong dream, but I am not in a season of my life where I can or should devote the time necessary for full time, professional writing.  Out of necessity, it has to remain a hobby. 

Just for now. 

I hope later that will change, and I will have more time to pursue it like I want to do, and find out if I even have enough talent to write publishable stories.

In the meantime I see this as a season of preparation.  I'm studying the craft of writing, and I write whenever I can, loving every minute of it. 

Who am I?

One of the things I'm trying to do is discover my voice, my audience, and my genre.  I've heard you should write what you love to read, but I love such a wide variety of books, and I have three manuscripts started that couldn't be more different.  One is Contemporary Christian Fiction, one is a verse novel, and one is a fairy tale.  Which one do I commit to finishing? 

Who am I as a writer?  Shannon Hale, one of my favorite authors, said, "I spent eighteen years writing unpublishable stuff, and I now realize it was all in pursuit of my voice." 

That's where I am at.  Do I want to write Contemporary Christian Fiction like my favorites Francine Rivers and Joel Rosenberg?  Do I want to write verse novels like Karen Hesse?  Do I want to write fairy tales like Gail Carson Levine and Shannon Hale?  Do I write for adults or for young adults and middle grade readers?  I'm not sure yet.  And when I settle in to the genre and audience that fits, what does Becky Avella the storyteller sound like? 

I don't know yet, but I'm praying about it, and I believe I can't know unless I just keep writing.  That's where I'll find myself.  Not in the thinking about it, but in the actual act of writing.  Just thinking about writing or talking about writing won't make me a writer.  I need to write.  Even if the progress is slow. 

My Goals:

I'm so thankful for the writing community.  I've been given some wonderful advice like this from my new friend Michelle Massaro at Adventures in Writing:

The next time you decide to pick up your pen, I'd encourage you to put it to one of your half-finished books instead of starting yet another from scratch.

Or this from author, Jody Hedlund:

With 3 uncompleted manuscripts, I'm also inclined to think you might need to push yourself to finish one of them, even if it's just as simple as giving yourself the goal of 300 words a day. (Or giving yourself the goal of finishing one during the summer.)

So those are my goals for now-

1.  I need to know what it feels like to actually cross the finish line instead of starting over. 
2.  I've settle on one of my manuscripts to finish and have dedicated this summer as the summer of a completed rough draft.  
3.  I know I'll have to turn off my self-editor and realize the first draft won't be perfect (or even good) and I'll need to turn off the the but "who am I really" questions and just write to "The End".  That voice will be discovered as I continue to finish manuscripts and in the revisions. 

I'm so excited! 


Blog Administrator, Karen L. Brahs said...

Hi, Beck!

I just wanted to leave you my thoughts because we share a common love - the NEED to write. And when we can't seem to pull two sentences together, it can be frustrating, can't it?

I learned a long time ago that, quite often, what I want to write and what the LORD wants me to write are two different things. Each time I would take off on my own, I'd hit a wall. Or, what I did write never satisfied me and I'd spend days in frustration trying to fix or change it. But when I learned to ask Him first, the words came with ease. So much so that they required very little editing! That always amazed me! Lol

Although I still have occasions where I want to finish that novel I began and for it to be a huge success, it's probably not in the present cards I've been dealt. Instead, I have realized that, for now, His plans are different. He has things to say through me that have sidelined my own desires. And He may have things to say through you and your blog(s)or, perhaps, through a different story line than what you are thinking you want to write.

I hope I'm making sense! Lol!

I want to encourage you to just keep writing, Beck. Even if it's a single word on a blank page. You never know when that one word will become a novel and make an impact on someone. It may even have a greater impact left alone.

You share the Eddy family gift of expressing yourself with the written word, and if you're like me, it's all you want to do. We're like Grandpa Duncan. I have a handwritten page of a list of 20 or 30 stories that your great grandfather wanted to write; all drawn from his life experiences, and they would have made a wonderful book. I would have loved to hear him tell them, but he was never able.

Sometimes the story we want to tell isn't the one the LORD wants us to tell. Tell His story for His honor and glory, then the things you want to write will come.

I love you!

Aunt Karen

Becky Avella said...

Thank you, Aunt Karen. That desire is in our blood, isn't it?

I really want to be lead by Him in what I do write, and that all of it will point back to Him. You're right, that is often different than what we think it should be but always better.

My first book is a perfect example of that. I wanted to be a novelist, but He had other plans for what He wanted me to write. I would never have asked to write that book, but the ways He is using it are a gift to me. I'm so thankful for that.

I pray all of my writing will happen that way. I do hope for novels, but only if He shares that dream with me. And I want whatever I do write to be an act of worship. Just like the runner in "Chariots of Fire" when he said God made him to run and when he runs he feels God's pleasure.

I dream of writing great stories that are a blessing to The Story Teller. : )

Thank you for your love and encouragement.

Jenny said...

We seem to be in similar spots in our lives. That desire to write is so deeply imbedded in me. I have 4 kids and we homeschool. NOT a lot of writing time in this home, but that desire is still there.
Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? I did in November for the first time and it encouraged me to push myself to write 50,000+ words in one novel.

Jody Hedlund said...

Hi Becky,

It's really great that you can evaluate where you're at and be realistic about it. As I mentioned before, I did the same thing. And honestly, it was the best thing for me. I grew so much during the season where I wasn't pursuing publication. God enriched me, strengthened me, and deepened me, so that when I finally felt the nudge to really go gung-ho again, I was ready.

In the meantime, it sounds like you have some realistic goals!

Many blessings!


A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Great post, Becky! I started reading it a couple days ago, got busy, and just finished it now. One of those weeks! :) Boy, I can relate to your struggle and your questions. I love those words of advice people gave you. I remember when I finished my first novel several years ago, it was a breakthrough in my writing life. I'd grown up writing, but I'd never actually FINISHED anything I started. Once the going got tough, I just stopped. It's never easy writing a novel, but it helps with the process to get a few under your belt. Keep searching and praying. And just enjoy the writing part! Someday when you're published you won't have as much freedom to experiment and have fun. :)