Step Into the Realm

Have you ever longed for a dream project to become a reality all the while living in a state that hovers somewhere between excitement and fear? If so, then you’re probably an artist. And if you’re an artist, then you know that talking about what you’re going to do is where creativity goes to die and fear to thrive.

For writers, we often talk about all the great stories we’re going to write. Many of us even have a notebook devoted to story ideas where we jot them down so we can pretend to stay focused on our WIP. Then one day, when the guilt gets to be too much, we make the commitment to not just set aside time for writing but actually write.

We attend writers’ groups, join online writing communities, and scour the Internet for writing advice all in the hopes of producing a piece of writing worthy of publication. There are good days and bad days, and then one day, it all pays off.

Stepping out in faith has been a large part of my writing process, and I’d say finding an excellent beta reader was where it started. I have been blessed to have a beta reader who catches my mistakes, asks the right questions to keep my plot on course, and challenges me to see things from a different perspective. He also provides amazing feedback and encouragement.

Then there’s my editor, who is a Godsend. When I was feeling my most resistant to completing my own dream, she entered the picture as an answer to prayer. Her expertise and energy never cease to amaze me. Combined with my beta reader, I have two people in my corner who often believe in me more than I believe in myself.

My blessings don’t end there. My husband has been through every high and every low of the writing process with me. I know I sometimes take him for granted, but as soon as I remember, I express my gratitude. He’s so compassionate and forgiving that occasionally I agree with my mother: I don’t deserve him.

My son lies on the other end of the spectrum from my husband, but that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes, his tougher approach riled me up, but it made me strive to be a better writer and prove to the little upstart that I could finish. Besides, what kind of parental example would I be setting if I didn’t complete what I started, which is the whole point of this post.

It is my very great pleasure to announce that my novel, Realm, is officially in production.

Thank you, dear followers, for taking this journey with me. Stay tuned for all the exciting updates.

~HL Gibson

What You Write is as Important as What You Write

What you write is as important as what you write. No, that’s not a typo. It’s the beginning of something I’d like to discuss with you.

Writing inspiration comes in many ways from many different places, and if you’re like me, it never fails to arrive at a moment when you’re unable to grab a pen and paper to jot it down. Regardless of how you gain inspiration, you now have a great story idea in your head that you know in your heart must be released into the world.

The writing process usually begins with some plotting, perhaps a little research, and maybe a smidgen of editing along the way. Before you know it, you have a first draft in hand.

You love this piece of writing because it’s your creation from start to finish. When you dig in for the fine-tuning, you realize that your WIP could use something. It’s good, but it’s not great like when you first conceived it. Obviously, you don’t want to add superfluous dialog or excessive description that reads like filler. Still, there is something needed.

Hopefully, your writing journey has not led you to the dark side of writing. What I mean is the use of foul language and/or violence in any of its hideous forms as a means of ramping up your story.

One of the promises I made to myself and my readers was to realistically portray life in my writing. I don’t shy away from difficult topics. The tagline on my blog says as much: Writing Life One Word at a Time. With that being said, there are certain topics that, if written about, must be handled carefully and certain expressions that should be used judiciously and sparingly.

I remember several years ago attempting to read a novel about a violent assault on a young woman complete with some of the most callous description I’d ever read. The novel was highly acclaimed, but all I could think was Dear God . . . this very thing has happened to someone’s daughter, and here it is being written about most insensitively for use as entertainment. In addition to that book, there have been many other novels that I stopped reading because the language was so vile and added nothing to the story.

Do these scenarios happen in real life? Of course. Do people spew foul language for numerous reasons? Yes. Can a writer incorporate painful situations and extreme emotion into his/her writing without compromising quality? Absolutely. My point is that if you’re including violence and swearing simply for shock value, then your approach to writing is immature.

Another instance where writers need to exercise maturity is when writing about intimacy. I cannot tell you how many cringe-worthy sex scenes I skimmed until I could locate the storyline again. These books were often tossed aside because most people are especially bad at writing a sex scene.

Before you assume that all I read is smut, please be assured that is not true. Unfortunately, though, examples of what I’ve described slipped into otherwise terrific novels written by good writers. I have been shocked out of an engrossing storyline by such miserable scenes, and I had to wonder if the author had a moment in which he/she lapsed into poor judgment.

Is it because we live in an era where everything—no matter how vulgar, painful, or private—is made accessible that writers have allowed this into their writing? I would implore you to exercise extreme caution regarding what you set before your eyes because it becomes that which you take into your heart and mind. And there are some things that are not meant for entertainment.

To take the beautiful tool that is language, drag it through the mud, and slap it on the page for thrills is the shallow end of the writing pool. I encourage you to write deeper. Use your fiction to shed light on the complicated matters in life but do it without glorifying evil.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

Throwing Down the GauntletToday’s blog post originated with a challenge from fellow author, Lucy Flint. I had never heard of the 7/7/7/7 Challenge, but I accepted after reading the rules.

The challenge is extended from one writer to the next. Those who accept 1) locate page seven of his/her current Work in Progress (WIP), 2) count down seven lines, 3) include the next seven lines from his/her WIP in a blog post, and, 4) challenge seven different writers to do the same.

Sounds painless. Furthermore, if I can’t stand up to critiques from fellow authors and followers, what will keep me from crumbling when professional reviews of my writing start rolling in? So, without further ado, here is the appropriate portion to satisfy the challenge from my current WIP, a short story currently titled “The Shape of My Dreams”:

“Excuse me, counselor, but you’re the one who recently lectured me about saving money, especially for our upcoming vacation, and suddenly you have endless funds for decorating. If you’re going to spend money on something, why not upgrade that old door lock with a nice digital security system?”

I throw back the covers and storm off to the bathroom. Mark follows.

“I don’t want to go to Cancun and don’t start on me about the age of this building,” I say around a mouthful of toothpaste.

“Why not?”

Hopefully, you can tell that this argument between my protagonist, Ellen, and her boyfriend, Mark, is not going well. Mark’s snide use of her profession against her only serves to heat up their fight. This story is still largely in my mind and appears in disjointed chunks in my notebook. Accepting this challenge has inspired me to complete it.

Now, I’m nominating:

1) JS Mawdsley (Once for J)

2) JS Mawdsley (Once for S)

3) William Frederick

4) Carrie Tangenberg

5) Marie C. Collins

6) Mark Tilbury

7) Clay S. Robinson

There is absolutely no pressure or obligation to participate if you don’t feel ready to at this time.

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