Monday 3 May 2021

Hurdles VIII - A Personal Insight into Writing by M. L. Kulmatycki

While I’ve always considered myself self-aware, I’ve never had the time to wax philosophically about the process I use to write. I just do it. So I’m enjoying the opportunity this series of blog posts is giving me to reflect on the art of my writing and my craft. I’m also using this opportunity to take a closer at three authors who have influenced me – Stephen King, Dan Abnett, and Nora Roberts. 

When we talk about what hinders our writing, we need only to look to Stephen King to see the value of optimism and determination. I admire King for his ability to push forward successfully despite the numerous life challenges he has faced. When I am going through a difficult period in my writing, I remember that he believes important things are inherently difficult to write. Writing takes effort and determination. It is something we all should remember to make our writing journey easier.

While I couldn’t find any specific challenges that hinder Dan Abnett’s writing, I did find out that he enjoys the challenge of writing in a predefined universe. Finding what he refers to as “the best possible story” motivates his writing. A lot of my academic writing could be described as a gun for hire. So I can relate to the excitement of taking on a project with predetermined content and molding it into something powerful. Abnett also maintains his creativity level by switching his writing genres. He will divide his day between novel writing and comic scripting. This is also something I can also relate to as it is the process I use when I’m involved in designing book covers.

It’s interesting that one of the main obstacles to writing voiced by some of the previous bloggers echoes Nora Roberts- the business of writing. Those things that are part of the writing process and part of being an author, but are separate from writing the story. I would put blog/website, research, business correspondence, etc. all on this list. A bestselling author has a staff to take care of many of those tasks. I’m not that lucky. Those tasks are worked in after my writing time. For those of you who are following me, this explains the current state of my website – it’s the fourth time I’m redoing my blog because WordPress keeps retiring the themes I’ve chosen. The smart thing to do would be to choose a boring theme. But low, the artist in me won’t give in. 

I was personally pleased when I read that Nora Roberts feels every story is a challenge. Every new time I have taken on a new writing project I have been faced with a set of new challenges. This thought led me back down the road of introspection to figure out what actually hinders my writing. I pondered this question for several days. I’ve always considered writers’ block, telephone calls, and paying bills annoying things that need to be taken care of, not a hindrance to my writing. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found my answer - the first three chapters. 

While King, Abnett, and Roberts write in distinctly different genres, all three of them paint pictures with words. In order for me to paint a story, I spend time on those first few chapters to determine the style, tone, and characters needed to turn my sketch into a beautiful watercolour, a bright abstract piece, or a coloured pencil drawing. This takes time and more revisions than I would like to admit before I am happy that I’m creating a piece that will come alive in my readers’ minds. It is extremely frustrating when I reread my first three chapters only to find I’ve achieved a quick pencil sketch when a bright abstract piece is required. However, once I’ve completed those first three chapters and my masterpiece is begun, I find the rest of story an enjoyable write. Perhaps, I need to redefine how I look at this part of my writing process. It is part of the process, not a hindrance that needs to be overcome. As for the other things life throws at us, let’s not give them power by calling them hindrances, but minor annoyances. I’m banking on effort and determination to help me work out that tricky balance between time for writing and time for the everyday stuff life throws at me. 

Just a short side note about author Ernest Hemingway. Despite his romance with the bottle, Hemingway never drank while writing. So while you may be tempted to gulp your Bailey’s straight from the bottle to make your research more tolerable, dash off a new blog post, or cure the spell of writer’s block, it’s probably best left to savour it over ice at the end of the day.

You can find Lea at her website

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