So, I wrote a post in the middle or end of June. Not one I was particularly proud of, but a post. But due to getting locked out of my account and life getting extremely busy. I never posted it. Sorry about that.
Here’s what I’ve done in the past two months. Moved into our new house; painted my bedroom and helped paint several other rooms; tried and failed to find places for all my books (who needs a bed anyway); tried and succeeded to be accepted as a guest at next year’s Marscon (YAY!); had extremely bad luck with cars (hit/ran into a car while walking, minor injuries; accidentally rear-ended a car, no injuries, no damage to their car, significant damage to mine; been rear-ended myself, no injuries, negligible damage to my car, no idea about theirs; and blown out a tire, now replaced); planned a camping trip (leave today); started to build a website (still in progress); and arranged to publish my novel, Secrets of the Moon Fox.
Yes, Secrets of the Moon Fox comes out this Friday in print and ebook. Audiobook format should be available soon. I am extremely excited. First chapter can be read here. No, this blog will not become a ‘buy my book’ advertisement center. I do hope though that you will pardon me some excitement.
This is the post that I originally wrote back at the end of June. It does contain description of mildly violent and traumatic events. Hopefully not to the point that it will trigger anyone but I felt the warning should be given. I have not edited it to change the reflection of time so the Tuesday referred to was in June, and this post was written about a day or two after the death of Anton Yelchin. Haven’t done the interview yet either, so you can still send questions. Provided nothing goes tragically wrong during the camping trip, I will post again Wednesday or Thursday with a link to my new website and more information about my novel.
Turning your experiences into Writing gold.
I ran into a car last Tuesday. Literally. I was crossing the street, not at the crosswalk because the sidewalk was under construction. I passed a truck that was stopped at a stoplight, but the truck coming the other way and I didn’t see each other in time. I remember trying to stop, even putting my arms out to stop myself. That was probably a mistake, because my arms landed on the car that was still going faster than I was and in a different direction. I careened into the side, hit the street and rolled. Through it all, I can still remember my incredulous thought of ‘I actually got hit with a car!’ as if these things just didn’t happen.
I was fine. Got up right away and started looking for my shoes, both of which had been knocked off. One was at my foot, while the other was a couple feet away. A couple scrapes, some bruises. I’m sore, but I’ll heal.
I’m not telling this story for sympathy, or in some misguided attempt to compare or compete with the recent tragedy of Anton Yelchin (RIP). I’m fine and the accident was probably mostly my fault. I’m telling this story because it is a recent experience that can and likely will shape me as a writer. Being mugged at gunpoint a few years ago did. So did the forty-two hour train ride that I took when I was ten. Not to mention the years of living in Russia.
My experiences both are and are not unique. Many other people have been through one or more of the experiences I have. Maybe there are a rare few that have been through all of those. You have my sympathies. But even still, it won’t be the same. My sister took the same train ride I did, and was in Russia when I was, and even longer. She’s even had her own experiences of being hit by a car (no injuries) and being held up her first night at work (she thought it was a drill). But what we went through and what we remember are different because we are different. Because of our temperaments, ages, and other experiences, what we went through was unique to us.
They can also aid in writing. What I have been through, what I remember, allows me to portray certain things in a way that feels authentic, because I remember what I felt and thought when something happened to me. When I was mugged, I found myself unable to look away from the gun. So on at least two occasions when I was writing about a character who was untrained in fighting being threatened with a weapon, they couldn’t look away either. I’ve had characters take trains in Europe that are nigh on identical to the ones I rode in.
Oh, you don’t have any exciting experiences to recount? I’ll bet you do. Maybe something you don’t even realize is unusual to someone else because it’s common for you. Or maybe you should consider your less exciting memories. When I was about nine, Mom set up this little play tent in the back yard of our house in Philly and let my sister and I camp out there. I remember waking up in the early morning and finding slugs had crawled on the mesh door. Not an important memory. Doubtful it’s one that has had any major impact on my life, but it is a memory. It wouldn’t make a plot, but if I ever do a story about people camping, I can throw in something similar for color. Or mention just how loud leaf bugs are when they hit a tent. (Different camping trip).
To make the best use of your memories, exciting and small, I would recommend journaling. It’s amazing what you forget that you are sure is indelibly etched in your brain. I have found notes of stories that I have forgotten writing, and been surprised about how different the story has become. I’ve read old journal entries and been surprised that I had forgotten things that seemed so important at the time. Write it down, tell someone, do what it takes to remember the little details because those details will be what adds wealth and depth to your stories.
Share a memory? Large or small, the choice is yours.
Note: I have an agreement for the interview mentioned in the last blog post, but it has not yet taken place. So you still have a chance to ask a question. Either here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.