I love books.
I always have. When I was little and it was bedtime, I’d ask Mom or Dad for a book. They picked up pretty fast that I loved books, and that reading one would keep me occupied and content for quite a while. So, they made sure to always have a varied and entertaining supply handy, and were very generous at bedtime.
As soon as I got my treat, I’d open the colorful cover and go through the pages, enjoying both the feel and smell of the paper. The bright ink of the pictures would fascinate me. I was really young, like 2 or 3, so I couldn’t read yet, but that didn’t matter. The words and the pictures and the way they went together were just amazing to me. I was fascinated how they combined to tell a story.
That still fascinates me, but now its more how words fit together to make a story. There’s nothing I love better than a good book.
I’ve read novels in many genres. The ones that resonate with me are Romance novels. Ever since that first Barbara Cartland Regency romance I was loaned long ago – I’ve been hooked. The story was set in England around the time of the Napoleonic wars – also known as the Regency period. The setting was the verdant plenty of the English countryside. The heroine was innocent, yet clever and quite adventuresome. The hero was, of course, intense and irresistible. As I read the story, I wished I could be there with them, enjoying the country in all it’s Spring splendor. A little ways into the story, I could see where she was coming from and I was rooting for her. And the hero? Well, I was madly in love with him.
Did I mention I’m a romantic?
My reading tastes have changed some since those early romances. I enjoy paranormal, historical, contemporary, and suspenseful romantic stories now. True to my roots though, there’s nothing I love better than sinking my teeth into a good Regency historical. I’ll read one of those anytime.
One day I finished a book that I had so looked forward to reading. I was so disappointed – it did not end well. I tossed it away from me and said, “I can write better than that, and I’m no romance author!” That’s when my creative writing journey began.
I’ve always been good with words. I kill at essay-styles tests, and stringing together words is something I really love to do. Besides, I was already a writer, earning my living as a technical writer working in the software industry. Being a tech writer means I’m kinda a geek. See, what we do is learn software and write online help and user guides for them. We usually work for a company that creates those software packages. I know, boring, huh? Well, to geeks like me, it’s kinda exciting. “: )
Since I was pretty good at churning out those installation guides and process documents, I figured it would be an easy transition to creative writing. I mean how different can it be? It’s all about getting words on the paper, right?
Armed with bravado, I sat down at my computer and I started writing. I wrote for days and days about a girl and a boy and their relationship. I didn’t know much about dialogue, or action tags, or point of view and I frankly I didn’t care. I just wrote. I used my experience with reading romance novels to guide me.
Oh, and did I mention I knew absolutely nothing about pacing or scenes and sequels? And lets not even get started on my show vs. tell affliction!
Well, I didn’t and that’s where I biffed it. I soon learned creative writing is a totally different animal than penning the much less imaginative user guide or help page. Alas, as with most writers – that first work with its backstory dominating prologue and passive verbs will never see the light of day.
Never fear! My story has a happy ending.
After several years of study…and stubbing my toes on less than lyrical prose, I believe I’ve learned a thing or two about the craft of creative writing and my current work has improved from the early stuff. I’ve taken class after class, and I’ve joined a wonderful writing group – Colorado Romance Writers, which is a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. I’ve learned over the last couple of years how to be a better writer, and I continue to learn every day.
My weakness is a short attention span, so writing a book in linear fashion from start to finish is kinda difficult. OK it’s actually impossible. So, taking a page from my tech writer playbook, I now tend to jump from scene to scene and chapter to chapter and describe what my characters are telling me. Another weakness is that my creative writing grammar kinda sucks. I mean when you’re writing a user guide or a help file, ending with a preposition is a regular occurrence, and “Press OK.” is considered a sentence. “Press OK” in a romantic novel is a sentence fragment. Then again with a strategically placed comma, it could be a request.
Hmmm…ah well, never mind. I’ll save that idea for another musing.
I can’t recall the author whose work set me upon this journey, but I really do have to thank him/her. This writing has been an amazing trip, and it is one that I look forward to continuing every day.
Welcome to my world!