Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What Are You Trying to Prove Through Your Writing Part 2 #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Elle, in a comment to my July Author Toolbox post about intention in writing, had it right. She said, “purpose must infuse each scene, each chapter of our stories.”  This is true. Each character needs to be necessary for the story you are telling--complete with its themes. And each scene needs to not only fit into the purpose of the story, but also build the story logic.

            I’d like to add that story needs to say something about life, and it does so by character growth. I think writing with purpose infuses our scenes and therefore our stories.

What are you trying to prove to the reader?
In my present college memoir, I feel I’m demonstrating that naiveté comes in all forms, even a mother trying to go to college and thinking she knows how the classroom works.

Before Victoria begins her college journey, she thinks all she needs to do is pay attention in class and learn what the professor teaches.
Not quite!

It started with the Math I review course. Supposedly, Victoria scored high enough on the math entrance exam to take a week-long crash course in math. She was excited. She thought if she purchased the math book and studied, she’d be fine.

A few intense days of the children making her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because she was incapable of creating anything edible once she returned home from class, woke her up. The professor had been handing out worksheets without explanation, stating that she wasn’t going to insult their intelligence by re-teaching these math procedures.
Victoria finally looked around the classroom. She was the only non-traditional student in the bunch. Her own children were the ones who told her to ask the teacher for help. Once the prof showed her how to do the first problem, she had no difficulty completing the worksheet. But the prof needed to show her a problem for each math topic.

When she took full-length semester courses, for many of the subjects, there was more teaching in class.
            However, Victoria’s naiveté didn’t stop there. Continuing with the assumption that a student just needs to listen to learn, Victoria discovers in the higher levels of education at university, the professors offer insight and maybe guidance, but then allow the college student to come to her own conclusions. Or be lost in the swirling details—like Victoria! 

*Please feel free to offer your thoughts or comments regarding Victoria’s naiveté or ask questions about how a non-traditional student may feel lost when attending college with students young enough to be her children. This helps me to move forward on my memoir. Thank you!*

Let’s look at a few books and see if what I think the point of the story is matches your own. I’m hoping you might have read one of these titles.

Consider E. L. Konigsburg’s middle-grade novel From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler first because it’s short and a classic. 

In this middle-grade book, Claudia Kincaid is like many children. She wants to be recognized for who she is; a smart 12 year old who plans things meticulously and always seems to know where she’s going and what she’s doing—until now. I don’t wish to rehash the plot, but I feel the point of the story is finding something to help you feel important.

Or how about this adult novel?

Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You is about mixed families [Asian and white] and mixed feelings, racism, and fitting in. But it is also about understanding each other and understanding happiness and how to find personal happiness—not someone else’s. I feel the point of this story is how miscommunication can ruin families or relationships.

            And because I write memoir, I wanted to include a non-fiction example.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg wrote Kate Remembered and showed the interconnectedness of Hollywood and Broadway during Hepburn’s life time. He also demonstrated how Hepburn was always in charge of her own life. And that’s the way it should be, right?

To move forward in any project or plot, both writers and characters need to come to terms with whatever is keeping them from achieving their goals. For me, it is my fear of uncertainty. Would I be able to complete this new task of obtaining a bachelor’s degree from college? I need to consider that many people struggle with fear and doubt before starting something new, something that might take years to accomplish.

Thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs or to join our Author Toolbox blog hop, click here

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Insecure Writers Want to Know: What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

            There’s a great question. At this time, I publish YA short stories, mostly with Cricket Magazine. The good thing is that Cricket buys first rights and then, after the 60 day exclusivity period, the rights revert back to the writer—me. This allows me to publish the stories again in any format I like so long as I give first publication credit to Cricket. I believe this is standard practice in publishing. Please advise if you know differently.

            Selling first rights to a market allows for top dollar in that market. Second rights allows for more money being made on the same story. I had published a non-fiction essay in Listen Magazine and received my rights back. Then I sold the same piece to a school board up north for a reading test they were putting together. And again, the rights revert to me.

            Of course, I need to take advantage of having these publishing rights. I should try and publish my short stories as an anthology or as e-book singles. I need my own artwork for any books I publish.

Do any of you have some suggestions for graphic art or how I can make my own photos or artwork look good on covers or pages? These are YA stories, remember.  

Also, if any of you have suggestions on where I should go to self-publish or e-publish short stories for young adults, please offer tips and/or websites or publishers to visit. This is a task I need to learn how to do or learn where to go to look for assistance. I hope to learn lots from your blog posts this month!

            As for my full-length college memoir manuscript…sigh…

            I took the month of August off to work on writing projects, remember? Well, my mother had been sick and in and out of the hospital for a long time. I, like my siblings, had been caring for her, allowing her to live independently as much as possible. In August, that all changed. I spent the month caring for my dying mother in my home. Which I would do again in a heartbeat!

I was only able to submit a few short pieces of writing this past month. The Lord finally blessed my mother with peace on August 27th. And after planning for the funeral, I hope to try and shake some of the sorrow from my shoulders, and hopefully out of my head—even if only for a little while—to be able to concentrate on writing again. Wish me luck!

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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s SupportGroup. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.