Monday, March 30, 2015

Paths of Success

Tomorrow, I am co-leading a Meet and Greet in North Durham for The Writers' Community of Durham Region with The Writing Fairy, Dorothea Helms at Blue Heron Books.  The purpose is to introduce local writers to each other, to the WCDR, and discuss proven methods of critiquing each others' writing.  We are hoping to meet fellow writers, new, emerging and seasoned, in the various stages of their writing path.


For any goal there is a path, but how to know what path to take?  As a Historical Fiction writer, I picture a wooded track, lush vegetation on all sides, bunnies frolicking and deer grazing on one side, with the dark figures and gleaming eyes of the unknown peering out the other.  The woods can be a bountiful sanctuary or a frightful, mysterious place.

The path has all kinds of off-shoots, and as you peer down them, deciding which fork in the road is right for you, it's good to take a look at the path you came down before veering off.

Think of the main path as the 'spine,' the road that gets you to the other side of the woods.  Now, why did you start on this path in the first place?  What's on the other side of the woods that made you begin this path? 

Map out the beginning, middle and end, just as you would a novel.  First, there is the step that takes you on this journey.  You attended your first writing circle and became hooked.  You must be a writer!

Now what?  Look at the end.  The one, true, spectacular goal you hope to achieve.  There's your spine.  The journey in between doesn't have to be a maze, but it will have a lot of off-shoots that will eventually take you to the right place. 

Go back to the beginning and list all the things you have to do to get to the other side of the woods.  Alternate between the beginning and the end, working forwards, working backwards, until all possibilities you can see are visible.  You will soon start to see a pattern. 

For instance, one of the things you may want to do from the time you go to your first meeting with other writers to the end goal of publishing a novel is get an agent.  Work back from there and list all the things you have to do to sign with an agent.  How do you find one?  What will you need prepared for that fateful day when you do meet one?  How can you learn how to prepare those materials most effectively? 

Sally, 1981...first draft

As you map out the things you need, and the things you need to get the things you need, you will find a very distinct pattern of learning, listening, connecting that will take you where you want to go.  And as you travel the planned path, you will add things as you go along, enhancing the journey.  You may find yourself stumbling from time to time, but you will soon get back on track, or simply take time to pause and appreciate the progress you've made.

Yes, even in 1978, all I wanted was to be a writer!

But by all means, take the first step!  Life is an adventure, and if you reach out and strive for that wonderful world you have envisioned, it gets easier and easier to see the bunnies and deer, and handle the dark figures with panache along the way.

The glorious horizon, where all things are possible- and worth writing about!

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