I’ve been a facilitator for creative writing workshops, offered by my local community center, for a decade. One of the best things about this job is reading and listening to the stories of attendees who seek feedback for their memoirs, creative nonfiction, novels, and so forth.
What I’ve learned over the past decade is that being born and raised in Canada, has pretty much given me a sheltered life compared to others. I’ve worked with writers from Iraq, France, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, India, Australia, and other countries that have suffered greatly from war, droughts, violent misogyny, racial prejudice, disease, and poverty on a scale I couldn’t have imagined until I heard their stories.
I watch a lot of national news, which tends to capture short segments of hardships in other parts of the world. But these stations play the same clips over and over without digging much deeper except for the occasional documentary. Yes, the images are heartbreaking and shocking, but making a lasting impact is diminished when those images are constantly replaced by commercials for Ford trucks and super soft toilet paper.
I’m grateful to these writers for opening my eyes in vivid, excruciating detail. I hope they all publish their books one day, and then I will tell you about them and hope that you read them.
Now that the rainy season is here in British Columbia, my afternoons of yard work are pretty much over, so I’ve rejigged my daily schedule to reserve more time for reading and online learning in the afternoons. Maybe I’ll do more editing as well. Heaven knows there are still plenty of changes to make in my urban fantasy.
Those who follow my blog know that I’ve reading a fair bit on self-publishing and marketing over the past month. I’m also investing my time on great books for writers. One of them is Writing Monsters by Philip Athans, which is a great guide for anyone who’s writing horror, science fiction, or fantasy. What I really like about this book is the way he makes the reader think about why a monster should appear in one’s story. What is its purpose? How and when it should appear? He even provides a checklist of questions as we come up with new and innovative scary creatures. There’s plenty in the world to frighten us these days, and tapping into what scares us most is a good start to creating fictional monsters.
Stephen King’s book On Writing, was published twenty years ago and has been recommended to me numerous times, so I finally bought a copy and am just over halfway through the book now. I’m really enjoying his unique and candid approach which, as the title reflects, is more of a memoir in the first half than a how-to book. The book is filled with anecdotes from his childhood, teen years, and early married life, when he first wrote Carrie, a character he’s never really liked, by the way. Out of those experiences, are terrific writing insights and tips, which I’m jotting down.
If you’re stuck indoors and looking to improve your writing, these books might help. I’ve also started reading The Occupation Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. The introductory pages have already given me ideas for a paranormal series I’ve been mulling over for several weeks. The ideas are coming along, faster than I can write and edit them, but that’s not a terrible place to be!