Not long ago, someone said to me, “I’d love to write, but I wouldn’t know what to write about!” To which I ALMOST (notice I said “almost”) replied, “Then if what to write about is your main concern, there’s a pretty good chance that you will never write.” It’s like walking. Without that first step, there is no walking. Without that first word or idea, there is no writing. And contrary to what a lot of people think, that first word or idea does not need to be anything outstanding or stupendous. It simply has to be something that interests you and that you can develop into something larger.
One thing I’ve learned about myself in my years of writing is that I tend to be much more subjective than objective, which is why I never liked newswriting or reporting. I actually got my start writing letters to the editor of a local newspaper, speaking out passionately about issues that meant something to me, to the point where the editor finally called me one day to offer me a job! My years as a local correspondent helped me to develop a broader set of objective skills, as I found myself writing about all the events that were going on in that town, from Boy Scout meetings to senior citizen activities to fifth-grade science fairs.
After years of doing both reporting and correspondent writing, I ventured into the world of online content writing, and spent a few more years doing that. Once again, it was all objective, as I had to take mundane material and fortify it with enough additional information that would make it appealing to a large audience of readers. That, too, eventually grew stale for me. Fast forward to the present day, and I am now attempting to write fiction, wherein I am learning that objectivity still rules, with one caveat: fiction writing does allow me some leeway where I can insert my own experiences as long as they don’t scream “my experiences!” But astute readers, and particularly anyone who knows me, will see me SOMEWHERE in my stories. It’s no secret that most fiction is in large part autobiographical, because where else does a writer initially depart from other than from his or her own life’s experiences?
Which leads me to the inspiration for my fourth eBook entitled “Collage.”
During the 1960’s, I met an elderly woman who had spent quite a few years opening her home and her life to foster children. Back then, fostering wasn’t the highly organized process that it has since become, and the children moved in and out of her life as circumstances dictated. The woman was herself very childlike and needy, and from all accounts, she placed more emphasis on what she stood to gain emotionally from the experience than what she was able to contribute.
Mrs. B, as I came to call her back then, remained with me in spirit long after her death; and the memory of those years stayed with me as well, resulting in a short story for a college writing class from which the book eventually evolved.
So my advice to a prospective writer is this: don’t underestimate even the most mundane events in your life. For each thing you experience may very well be the first word of a possible story. And it may take nothing more than you jotting it down or typing it across a screen to get things moving.
“Collage” is available in eBook format at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M7BMQA2