Monday, June 4, 2018

Two Questions About Writing

Two questions about writing that I am asked most often.
1.  “How did you get started?” Since I was eleven years old, I earned my living as a dog groomer, so when I began my literary journey I had no writing experience.
a.    I joined a critique group and began writing every day.
  At first, my motivation was only that the adventure would be fun. But it wasn’t long before the act of creation became a pleasant surprise and grew into an addiction. In the writing world I am known as a “Pantser.”  I write by the seat of my pants –– no planning, no outlines, which suits me because I am an impulsive person. I just puke the words out onto paper.  
By surrounding myself with writers in a critique group and absorbing their wisdom, I began to grow as a writer. In the process,  we became family.
b.    I developed a thick skin. 
It’s easy just to write, but writing from the heart is very different … and very hard. In order to make my characters real and my stories believable, I ask questions.
Why did my character do what he did? What is he afraid of? How does he react to his surroundings? Who does he love? Who does he hate? What does he want? And always, always I ask why.
I can only write what I know, and thus, the process becomes a self-interrogation. The story is really about me.  The writing desk becomes a therapist’s couch. I write from the heart, I am part of my story and my story is a part of me, like the paper and the ink.
2.  How did you know you were any good?
I wasn’t very good in the beginning. But I didn’t know it. A good critique group and a thick skin carried me through my early years …and still does today! The writers in the group  pointed out my strengths and my weaknesses.  
a.   I gave up on being defensive. It was a rule in our group that when someone critiqued, you were not allowed to defend your work.  Listen, take what you like and leave the rest.  I learned that  when several voiced the same opinion, they just might be right and I just might have to give up my sentence or paragraph or chapter with which I had fallen in love.
b.  I gave up on being opinionated.  The number  of point of views in the world is infinite. Everyone views,  judges and reacts to a paragraph or a character based on their own experiences.  
c.  "Comparison is the thief of joy."  Theodore Roosevelt.
I no longer compete with the writer who has  the Master of Arts degree, or the writer who has been writing all his life and has produced a library of books.
I am unique. My message and my voice is like no one else’s. I believe the desire to write has been given to me and it was not by chance.  
I decided to believe in myself. After all, if I don’t who will?
d.   Be vulnerable.
Writing is one of the best ways to connect with other people and become influential. But a connection will only happen with vulnerability.

 By sharing my struggles and challenges in life, my readers  have  discovered that I, like my characters, have overcome great odds, sometimes sacrificing everything,  I hope  to inspire my readers to strive, achieve and realize their dreams against all odds,  just like my characters. 
I took up writing on a whim. Like falling in love, the whim became a passion, whichI hadn't realized  I had been missing   all my life.  I didn’t know I was lost until I found the art of writing. And like the perfect love affair, the writing experience changed me, making me to want to write better and better.

How did I get started?  I didn't balk at the fear. I jumped in and did something I had never done before.
How did I know I was any good? I didn’t know. But like any goal, it is only achieved by hard work, study and passion.

Coming Soon!!

 The Grieving Gift, my most recent book, portrays a young girl’s experience of becoming pregnant In the Bible belt of the Midwest during the early 60’s at the age of 16, when American values labeled you damaged goods and religion stamped you as a sinner. The character, Janice,  suffered the bullying  and shaming  attitude of society  and religion, yet  manages to withstand  as a single parent in  a world she doesn’t understand, because she had not been raised to know that her pregnancy was  a moral sin  and legally wrong. Perhaps she survived only because the internet did not exist. Her shame was limited to the public and religious community of the small town where she lived.

Oh, and don’t forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep writers motivated.


Other books by Judy Howard: JUDY’S AMAZON  AUTHOR  PAGE

Sportster's Blog: The Cat's Perspective Of Reading, Writing And Life

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.

Safe travels!


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