Until you have a clear picture, Just Write. What? Anything. Whatever is on your mind. Just write and see where your mind takes you. Just like reading takes you on a journey outside of your environment, writing does the same thing. I allow you to escape to lands unknown…past and future.
In 1995, because my core training came from over 10 years of computer programming, I took a more technical route when I began to write again. I completed a few months of therapy and enjoyed the structured journaling my therapist had me do during and after each session. Today, I found my manuscript and was shocked to see it was typewritten. Typed not on a computer, but an electric typewriter. I remember owning a blue Brother’s electric typewriter in the 60s, but I do not know if that was the one I used.
I entitled it “You Must Be Kidding”. I advise my authors when they begin writing not to be overly structured. My advice is to write in composition books, journals, pieces of paper or talk on their smartphones or tablets. It was more important not to lose the thought or story. Capture it, however, they can.
Being a structured programmer, I created an outline based on the facts of my life. My story was not a memoir or biography but it was to be based on my life experiences.
Page 1: Reported my birth year and every year in which something eventful occurred spanning from 1950 – 1985; birth, first home in Germantown, elementary school, junior and senior high schools, my first and second corporate jobs, three marriages and my return to college to earn my degree.
Page 2: Listed all of the places I lived between 1950 and 1972…although I lived at a different location in 1978 through 1985. Each year had a description of who I lived with, where we lived and any other pertinent information I wanted to record at the time.
Page 3: Just had a page titled “Credit Cards and Debt.” (I don’t know why I would write about that.)
Page 4: This page listed four category headings:
- 72.0000 – Life with Cliff
- 79.0000 – Life with Joe
- 83.0000 – Life with Don
- 85.0000 – Deborah’s Life
The next five pages described events in detail. Honestly, not the content of a final draft. Just information I wanted to glean content from. It was my plan to write romance novels. I wanted to give my heroines happy and fulfilling lives because I wasn’t doing such a good job with my own relationships. Writing allowed me to experience feelings I could not feel through my marriage.
I began reading the entire series of books by successful romance authors and study their writing styles. These were just four of my favorites, and I read all of their books. It was as if I were taking a course on about each author.
- Julie Garwood (17 Novels)
- Jude Devereux (50 Novels and 5 Short Stories)
- Kathleen Woodiwiss (10 Novels)
- Judith McNaught (12 Novels and 2 Short Stories)
I figured with my multiple marriages, I could write a series of African-American romance novels. My plan was to create my characters based on my husbands and people I knew. As a writer, I was in control of how they responded to challenges in their relationships, the outcomes would be different from how mine turned out. Instead of being married to three different men, the stories would be about three married sisters. These women would be able to work out their differences with their husbands. That was the plan.
So, back to you. What to write? The professionals say to write what you know. That was what my first rejection letter told me. When I was 18, I submitted a short story to Redbook. They liked the story but believed it not realistic. It was a story about a telephone operator (took place in the 70s before the breakup of Bell Telephone and advent of cell phones) and a stranger who always called at 2:00 am. As the story evolved, they became friends and at the end, she agreed to meet him after work. This, of course, was against the rules, but they became very attracted to each other.
Now I’m not sure what part they believed was not realistic. I wrote what I knew. I was an Information Operator in the Directory Assistance Department for a year at Bell. I had many men compliment me on my sweet voice. I was also invited out for drinks after work. So the only missing piece was, she was African-American and he was European-American. That was the only part of the story I had not experienced in my short lifetime.
As I write this, I realize I did eventually fulfill that missing piece of the story with my marriage to my husband, Joe. I went against the rules, met him for a drink and we married 7 months later by a Rabbi.
So writing what you know is not a real reason to have your story rejected. How many science fiction and fantasy writers really experienced every aspect of their tales? So do not be forced to change your story, unless it is to strengthen and clarify it.
Write as the spirit leads you. Just Write.