The Wonderful World of Soup~

Soup is an endless sea of wonder, just like the many things I choose to write about. My thoughts explore Writing, World to National Events, Family Catastrophes (past and present) or whatever seems to get me thinking while sipping hot soup, tea, cider or a cold Pepsi...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ghost Writer Extrordinaire

I want to be a writer and if possible, an amazing writer. A column writer, a blog writer, a fictional writer, a news writer/reporter and I'd even settle for a ghost writer. Even though a ghost writer doesn't typically involve super-natural phenomena, I'd like to be one as much as I like a good ghost story.
Speaking of ghosts, my WIP (work in progress) is a YA novel told in the early 1800s, through the POV (Point of View) of a ghost. My ghost is the cousin of the future Queen Victoria and is a kind of guardian to her. It is an epic fantasy or at least that's what I'm shooting for. I've named it Keeper of the Dragonflies and that's all I'm going to say for now.
So, why the fascination with ghosts? Well, most people believe in restless spirits and hauntings, so a ghost holds up well in any audience. I remember wanting to only read ghost stories in the 4th or 5th grade. As a kid, I loved the thrill of a fictional spirit. The average kid (not the whining babies who suck their thumbs until the 6th grade) likes to be scared.
Ghosts are better than shadows or monsters. Ghosts can be so effective in altering an emotion or feeling, goosebumps are next to guaranteed. These spirits can see things and do things the average character cannot. A ghost is also a deeply conflicted soul. The bests kinds of ghosts died tragically and usually died young. If you can work in a murdered ghost, than you may have a great character.
The main trouble I'm facing is keeping the ghost strongly "present" as I tell the story of Queen Victoria. This spirit is not the protagonist and she is not even the antagonist. Her main purpose is narrator, but she is also inside the story. She shares her feelings, her pains and her ideas, while also sharing the thoughts of the main character. An irony in the story is that if she hadn't died, she would have been the next Queen of England. So she is also a little angry, jealous and odd at times.
Sadly, I don't remember most of the ghost tales I read or was told to as a child. Only a few stand out in my memory. The Headless Horsemen was one, but that was more of a horror story than a true ghost story. I'm pretty sure I read Stephen King's "Christine" as well. I believe there were a few from the Hardy Boys series, but don't ask me for the titles. Most of the ghost stories I came across were shared orally around a campfire in the dark, with myself often being the narrator. Maybe it's because I'm nearing 40, but I can't even recall one of those stories. On the other bloody hand, I do remember how I felt.
Every sound and each gust of wind hold a new weight after a good spirit tale. The trees awake from a deep sleep and stretch out their spiny limbs as if to catch you and do you harm. Even the nocturnal birds and night-time scavengers seem to know when a ghost story has been delivered.
After all, what good would a ghost story be without a creepy owl or a haunting voice carried on the wind. It's just the wind and my imagination playing tricks on me of course. That would be the most probable, but what if the crying sound in the wind was more than that? What if that sound is a restless spirit whom you've just disturbed? Is this spirit angry, evil or lost? Maybe those wished away ghosts have been following me for years, and cursing the ground I walk upon. No wonder I have such bad luck and so many mismatched socks.
Perhaps it is not a spirit at all, but a zombie instead. I'm fairly certain that a zombie only wants live company and will take one's body back into his grave.
Walk gently into the night my friends and never travel alone...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Keep The Passion Fellow Writers

I recently read an article on Facebook written by Nicholas Sparks. On a totally incoherent note, this proves that all of my time is not wasted on social networking. But more importantly, it proves how interested I am in figuring out this whole publishing mystery.
If I were to sum up (& probably butcher) the message of his article, it would go something like this:
Know your characters completely. A solid writer should have their main character's inner and outer conflicts down before the story can begin. The plot should also be firmly "plotted" ahead of time. Just like a sound structure needs a firm foundation, so does a good story. Finally, if the story doesn't take off and keep your interest over a reasonable amount of time, then it's dead. For example, Sparks writes daily and usually takes about 5 months to get a story out.
One particular story, however, was taking much longer and he didn't have many of the conflicts worked out. He found himself stumped and asking others for plausible details . Sparks basically called this attempt a failure which he later learned from. He also said he was grateful that he experienced such a failure to pinpoint his mistakes and the basics of character development. He became more motivated and decided to make this error a strength.
I will not even begin to compare myself to Mr. Sparks. When he admitted that it takes him about 5 months to complete a detailed, riveting novel, I was impressed. But take note. He is a professional author who has published more than a dozen successful and top-selling works. I take closer to a year or so to write a novel, usually while holding down a full-time job.  I'm also the mother of four children that I've committed myself to caring for. Besides, spending time with them is crucial to their emotional, spiritual and physical development. I also like them tremendously. Some may have the ability to put the family on the back burner, but I'd rather not jump on that wagon.
Now this doesn't mean my laundry never piles higher than normal while I'm writing or that I can't skip on mopping the kitchen floor for a few more days. I have no problem ignoring those weeds in the back yard either. But I have to wait until my prodigies are tucked away in bed most of the time. It is also impossible to write a good scene when two active boys or giggly teenagers are around.
So, I may not get that story in my head out as quickly and magnificently as Sparks. But if I've learned anything about this whole ordeal, it's this...keep on writing and keep the passion. Afterall, I have a good story to tell my audience too and the dream of being a published author is still alive and kicking!
Oh, and just one more note to think over for Mr. Sparks. I bet you could revive that story if you really wanted to. Afterall, it took the writer of The Help 61 attempts & a high number of rewrites to finally publish her book. Don't give up on that story Nick!