The Writing Life – An Update

Tentative Cover Shot for Dakota Blues

I usually post every Friday about issues facing us older women, but I’m also a writer and occasionally I’ve got to spout off about that, so bear with me.

I’ve been working on my novel, Dakota Blues, for a few years now. It’s taking a long time because I’m learning as I go. That’s cool; I’m teaching myself to write. I read everything I can get my hands on, attend conferences, and ask for feedback from my critique group. Recently I hired an editor.

Wendy’s feedback was really helpful. She made some observations relative to pace, tension, and the believability of characters. Like a wise professor, she also complimented me and I felt empowered. With the changes she recommended, my manuscript will be perfect.

I’m not as disciplined as some people. My friend Kathryn for example will get up at four in the morning and write until lunchtime almost every day. She’s a Ferrari; I’m more a touring convertible.

I sometimes wonder why I’m working so hard to create a work that, in this publishing environment, will probably not earn a lot of money, if any. I could be playing with my granddaughter,

or golfing.

What would my life be like if I weren’t, in effect, starting a small business at the age of 57?

What drives me? Am I stupid?

Well, maybe. But here’s what else:

  1. I have four more books in my head about the experiences of middle-aged women. I want to share these with you, but they have to wait their turn and Dakota Blues is first.
  2. I don’t know.

That’s right. For a girl who hates the idea of sleepwalking through her life, I cannot tell you what drives me to write. Mom says I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid. If I stopped writing, I think it would be hard to get out of bed in the morning. Now that I’m immersed in Dakota Blues, I love my characters. To me, they’re like real people who are in prison, slipping notes to me through the bars. I have to set them free.

Kindle readers can contact me at LMSpreen@yahoo.com.

Comments

  1. Peggy says

    We are new to Hemet. I’ve been looking to connect with other writers and I JUST happened across this page. I’m thrilled. I’m also a 57 year old woman who has been writing forever…I have a degree from UCLA in literature and an M.A. in Creative Writing from CSUN. I’ve published and won awards for my poetry, but about 10 years ago I lost interest in writing poetry. One day, it just died for me. Don’t know why. I’ve written and published articles on alternative health II had my own health column in a Colorado magazine for over three years, and “new age hooey” as one of my friends calls it. An article I authored on the uses of fruit in magic is in Lleweylln’s 2012 Magic Almanac, now available in bookstores and Amazon.com. Also, I was a technical writer for 20 years. For eleven years, I was with a writers’ critque group in Los Angeles, and for seven years I was in a poetry group in Colorado. I’m writing my first novel (nearly done with the first draft) and I would much love to hook up with other writers in Hemet. Does your critique group have room for one more?

  2. says

    Lynne
    Your words remind me so much of me. I don’t really write because I want to, I write because I have to. As the experts say, “just open a vein!” The difficulty is finding the time and energy to write about life as we are experiencing it WITHOUT missing out on anything! Stick with it! As I am sure you have already discovered….the only thing more painful than writing is NOT writing. I, for one, can’t wait to reading Dakota Blues!

  3. says

    Hi Lynne, I was told about your sight by a friend who follows you, how amazing that I am also a 57 year old who started a small business while still working full time. I just started moderating the B&N.com Fiction General Discussion book club forum and I also was just hired (after years of doing it for free) to review books by RT reviews. And I ask myself those very same questions all the time. The thoughts you presented impressed me because they’re those that we all have to face and it’s nice to know we’re not alone.
    Susan said she invited you to the forum but I’ll give you a link too
    http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Fiction-General-Discussion/bd-p/FictGeneral

    please feel free to snoop around perhaps throw ideas off us and just let us know what’s happening.
    good luck with your writing, sometimes when you take the time to smell the roses you can describe them better

    deb

  4. says

    This is encouraging. I’m not a writer, but about it not being too late to actualize something that has always been there no matter what age you are — yes and thank you. Very good to hear at this moment.

  5. says

    I calculated once that I make – $00.57 (that’s minus 57 cents) for every book I write. “Art” is the only business I know where we work to lose money and love it anyway! For some of us writing is coded into our DNA, as essential as water to a fish. We write because we must, not because it “makes sense”.

  6. says

    “To me, they’re like real people who are in prison, slipping notes to me through the bars. I have to set them free.” Awesome thought. I haven’t yet found the time and discipline to slug through a first draft. That is quite an accomplishment. Look forward to seeing how the rest of the story turns out.

    • says

      Thanks, SouthMainMuse. When I start my next book (I seem to come up with titles first, and this is going to be called “Golden Years, My @$$”), I will structure it first so as to avoid having to rewrite so much. I like the way Larry Brooks at StoryFix.com thinks it through. I’ve been searching for a better understanding of structure and I think that’s the Holy Grail. Best wishes.

  7. says

    Oh Lynne, once again you strike to the heart of the matter for those of us who are “called to” write. Sometimes I feel the stories choose us and coax us out of that prison cell. We live our lives the best we can balancing life ‘s fleeting moments with beloved people and activities(love your pictures!),constantly trying to weave in writing time in the mix. Let’s face it, we’re writers; we can’t help ourselves. I say, let’s just keep writing and set ourselves free of all those stories swirling around in our heads. I, for one ,will be looking forward to Dakota Blue and the other four books waiting to be set free! :-)

    • says

      Thanks, Kathy. And now that you’re a Retirement Virgin, you have lots of time. Later when you’ve adjusted to being retired, you will have so little time you’ll wonder how you ever worked. Keep me posted.

  8. Jean says

    What a great post and comments. Doubt, fear, love, passion, vulnerability, joy…we breath because we must. We write for the same reason.

  9. Kathy says

    Lynne, this situation you find yourself in….some of it is self doubt, I assure you, and it’s not uncommon…the writers I’ve talked to all have had doubts of one kind or another along the way. I lament this same situation! Of course, this is not the answer to your questions, though…but support groups are healthy to have, and your editor sounds like a good support for you, and a knowledgeable one. And, you do need honest ones, too!

    You asked, what drives you? I think you know that answer. And, NO, you are NOT stupid, so please don’t call yourself that…..but you are the only one who can answer, as far as what drives you.

    Unlike you, I haven’t been a writer all my life, just half of it. I’m a visual artist. Creativity has always been part of my life, and what drives a person who has to create, comes from many things. Look at your history, background, and your exposure to living life. Everyone is unique in these aspects. Look at your personality. Look at the things in your life that are important to you, and only you. The internal drive shifts you into gear. If someone doesn’t have that drive, or the imagination developed enough to create, I see no point to continue, unless it’s only for study. Anyone can learn the basics of all art, not everyone can turn it into something that speaks out loud to them, and to others.

    And, Lynne, it’s not your characters that are in prison, it’s you. They should be handing you notes, and a file in a cake! Listen to them, ask them where they want you to take them….yes, talk to them! Again, I’ve asked many authors this question, and they DO talk to their characters. But, be prepared to listen, listen, and listen. I think that’s the major problem of conflict in a support group of many….some people can only hear their own voice, and sometimes that voice isn’t enough, and can cause further conflict of interest, and stifle a certain amount of creativity…just be aware.

    I, personally, have always had an imagination that wanted to live outside of my mind. I was probably about fifteen, when I was told by a teacher in high school, that I had something inside of me that needed to be taken out of its slumber. My mother was artistic, she was an expert at what she did, but she didn’t try to develop it…she was a perfectionist, in that her perfection was to follow everyone else’s rules, no matter what, and she had no desire, no creative spark, whatsoever. Over the years, my brother has taken his art in many directions. He’s creative, but follows the major rules….I learned what I needed to know in my dozens of art classes; now I follow NO rules. That’s what makes writing, or any creative venture, fun for me! It makes me happy when that baby is born, comes into the world and you can say….she belongs to me! The hard part is letting go of that child. It can be difficult for some writers to let go. You put yourself out there. You become vulnerable…just be prepared. So, you see, Lynne, my history dictated a certain amount of who I am, and what I’ve become.

    I have a muse. That muse sits in my head, and when she speaks to me, I JUMP! Day or night, rain or shine….I JUMP!

    Good Luck!

    • says

      Kathy, what an awesome, inspiring comment. I laughed out loud at this: “it’s not your characters that are in prison, it’s you. They should be handing you notes, and a file in a cake!” Thanks for the creative boost.

    • says

      Debbie, you crack me up! Just leave ‘em in the future. Everybody knows we’re all moving too fast to get it all perfect. I’m always messing up to and too, and their and there. My former boss, long ago, called me a perfectionist. I smiled happily until he followed up with, “Perfectionists fear criticixm.” So now i try two leve errors alone 2 sho i am avobe all that.

  10. says

    There’s nothing wrong with slow and steady, Lynne. Writers, for all our similarities, aren’t cookies cut from a mold. Some work fast; some slow. Some are adept at painting a picture; others, at pacing a scene. What’s impressive is that, regardless of whether your work ever achieves publication, you’re still growing and learning and being relevant (just like your mom!). And I know exactly what you mean about your characters being real and clamoring to get out — mine are inn the same boat! At least you’ve got an editor to help you over the rough spots.

  11. says

    WoW! Do I ever relate to this post! First of all, we’re the exact same age (although I’m still trying to figure out how I got to be 57 – wasn’t I just 37 a couple years ago??) I’m a writer, too – so ‘nough said! Since I was a young child, I’ve been reading, dreaming of being an author, reading about other writers, studying writing, etc. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I got “serious” about it. I’ve sometimes asked myself the very same questions…and tried to give up the “dream.” But, I can’t…and won’t. Even if I never get published. I am a writer!

    • says

      Yep, Cindy, it’s something beyond a hobby or even a passion. It’s like having the eye color you’re born with – you’re a writer. THE END. Right?
      PS I don’t count the first 20 years, only the “adult” years. So we’re 37! (That’s what I FEEL like, anyway!)

  12. says

    Hey Lynne,

    Love the new color theme on the blog. It is new isn’t it?? : /
    Your granddaughter is so cute!
    Love the golfing hat!
    And finally, if you’ve ever noticed, there’s a lot more convertibles driving around than Ferraris (no disrespect to your friend).
    My little Miata is parked in my driveway, but it often wakes up and drives around in my head bumping into new ideas. LOL

    Hang in there – you’ll get ‘er done and maybe by the time you do, the publishing industry will be on track again. Can’t wait to read all your books!!!!

    xoxox
    V

  13. Carol says

    Sounds like you and I have a lot in common! I write poetry, but it wasn’t till I turned 58 that I wondered if I was more than just a dabbler. With some encouragement, I called myself poet. I have the makings of several books of poetry all queued up. Started to edit the first one, but it has been a year and a half and stalled. I figured I had to finish it first before moving to the next. But now I wonder if I chose the right group of poems to start with. With a friend’s help and advice, have 98% finished a chapbook, instead of a full book. And newer poems, not the one I started. I recently left my job, after 20 years. Now I seem to be poised on the edge of a new career as writer. Ready to set my poems free, just as if they were characters. I am interested to see how we both progress along the path. If I can only stop worrying about “how few years are left”!
    Carol

    • says

      Oh, Carol! RE the “how few years are left”, I put it in perspective this way: My mom is just like us, vibrant, excited about life, striving to improve herself, etc. Yet she is 86. Whenever I feel badly about “how few years are left”, I remind myself that Mom would love to have those 29 years back. Thanks for writing, and keep me posted about your progress.

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