Writing from Behind the Curve—Encouraging your long-lost story! Blog #2

Episode Title: Who are we writing for anyway?

In this second blog, I want to extend the thinking that I commented on in Blog #1 for short stories and novels. Let’s talk about the act of story writing, irrespective of its length. It has often occurred to me that certain assumptions are made about the typical evolution of a writer. You know, that a well-educated younger writer, long on aspiration but short on finances, puts all other personal interests aside and works relentlessly through the nights, always moving toward that best seller. The admonishment to this writer from the writing community is, of course, to keep writing, no matter what. And while this scene of dedication no doubt occurs and is commendable, I note, on the other hand, that there is little if anything said to the rest of us would be writers—the ones who achieved meaningful employment or management of a stable family life early on, stayed with it, took on ever greater responsibilities in job, family, and community, with the time constraints imposed therein, and never, then, got around to writing that short story or novel. So here we are at age 45, 55, or even 75, and find ourselves with the distant desire to write, but also reluctant to take the plunge. Why?

I mentioned in Blog #1 the rather surprising statistic that eighty percent of adults, when polled, say that they wanted to write a book at some point in their lives, but that only two percent actually do. As I indicated above, for many, life’s other demands took precedence. Over time, the thought of writing simply withdrew into the caverns of the mind. But what is stopping you now?

A little background: Fortunately, for all of us, there will always be dedicated young students that love the written word and wish to make a career conveying their stories. But even those trained in the art of writing have only a modest prospect. For every major writer, whose name might be widely known in reading circles, there are tens of thousands of even published writers for whom the bells of notoriety will never toll. In fact, a typical published book will average sales of just 250 copies per year and 3000 copies over its published lifetime (the now ubiquitous e-book will typically have sales much lower than this). And yet, we are fascinated when at a gathering we meet a published writer who comes to us with all of the romanticism that we have conjured up for those whose works are worth paying for. One who, through intellect and hard work, has crossed a bridge that we may have dreamed of crossing all of our busy adult lives.

Time has passed now and we are no longer that young person who could actually have made the decision to become the writer within, no matter where that might have taken us—to notoriety or to obscurity. So we say to ourselves that no one will want to read us at this late date, and certainly not publish us. And I say back to you, “So what?” You see, it is the wrong frame of reference to continue to think in terms of being published. That thinking is the sand in the machinery of your mind that grinds you into inactivity, into the abandonment of your life-long dream to write. Rather, ask yourself this: Do you still have a story to tell and does it really matter if it is published or even widely read? In short, first and foremost, you must write for yourself, not for family, friends, notoriety, and certainly not for a publisher. Yes, it is narrowly possible that you might become the Grandma Moses of writing (she didn’t begin to paint in earnest until she was 78). But more that likely you will not, and more than likely you will not be published in the traditional sense. However, you will have finally said what you have to say, as only you can say it.

What you will write, with some on-going encouragement from me, will be yours to hold dear, share with family and friends, or share with the world at large, as you see fit. Remember, should you choose, the digital cloud will allow the many generations who follow to read your story and to look back into your mind at what you thought was important to write. We’ll talk about the avenues you might pursue in the bruiting of your work in a later blog. For now, you’re on the launching pad, ready for that long overdue takeoff!

Future blogs will cover a number of practical matters that may be rolling around in your head about now. Let me throw out just a few that we’ll be dealing with:

  • But I’ve never even taken a writing class! 
  • How will I find time to write? They tell me I need to write daily.                       
  • Which of my story ideas should I write first?
  • Okay, I’m ready, but where do I begin?                                                            
  •  What if my writing and grammar skills are suspect?
  • How do I create characters that people will care about?
  • How do I deal with this thing called Writer’s Block?   

In the next Writing from Behind the Curve blog, we’ll begin the steps to your  fulfillment of something new from something old!

All the best,                                                                                                                      Dick Franklin                                                                                                                    richardsfranklin100@gmail.com                                                                                        Note: Dick Franklin is author of novels Joshua Rye, Serpent at the Well, and MOLTO GRANDE. Go to: amazon.com/author/dickfranklin

Writing from Behind the Curve—Encouraging your long-lost story! Blog #1

Link

Episode Title: It’s not too late!

Welcome to Writing from Behind the Curve. As the subtitle above indicates, this is a blog to encourage, persuade, cajole, or reason you into the world of the written word—your written word! My premise is a simple one: Within many of you awaits a story to be told—whether as a fiction short story or as a novel. It’s something you’ve thought about for years, even decades. But as with so many things, life has gotten in the way. Perhaps you’ve had a full and demanding career, or you’ve been the chief orchestrator of your family’s growth. Maybe both! With time having passed, maybe you’ve decided that it’s too late for you to tell your story, that no one will want to read what you have to say. Or you may think that first-time writers are mostly young and educated to be writers. But that’s where Writing from Behind the Curve comes in. You see, this blog, while hopefully informative for people at any age, is written specifically for you who accomplished other things in the first half of your life, but still retain that latent flicker to tell a story that has been bouncing around in that noggin of yours for the past ten, twenty, or even forty years. If you think this blog’s premise is but a fantasy at this late date, please read on.

Today’s forms of advanced communications, as we know, are no more than a smartphone text or computer email away. It is this digital world that brings with it a stunning development for anyone who wishes to write—the “digital cloud.” This means that anything you write can be stored for reading, not just in your lifetime but for the next hundred, five-hundred, or thousand years! Whatever you write today becomes part of your personal legacy. Do you want your short story or novel to be read by family and friends, perhaps others, long into the future? With today’s technology, this is actually possible.

It is with this background in mind that this blog is determined to accomplish one thing: to rekindle your desire—no matter how dormant—to write. Let me also say that I write this blog from the viewpoint of the lay writer; I am not pretending to be a professionally trained writer. Accordingly, this blog is not written for the well-trained, well-educated journalist or author. What I am able to share with you, one lay person to another, however, is my personal journey from non-writer to writer, and to share the experiences gained and knowledge learned during that journey.

About now, you may be thinking that I am someone who is about to take you through a technical class on writing. No, that’s not it; that couldn’t be further from the goal here. Let me give you an example of where I am going with this. When I was regularly visiting in-residence patients at a healthcare center in Durango, Colorado, I met Hildy, a wheelchair bound woman in her late seventies. I immediately recognized her love for reading; her small half room was stacked with books in every nook and cranny. She had a wonderful vocabulary, no doubt the extension of her voracious appetite for the written word. I had just completed the rewriting of a novel and, at her request, I agreed to share it with her. A couple of weeks later, we sat together to talk through the novel’s storyline: its protagonist, its other characters, its main plot and subplots, on so on. It was then that I asked this bright woman if she had ever written anything. No, but she had often thought that she would like to. So with a small amount of encouragement from me, she began, for the first time in her life, to write a few short stories.

During my visits to Hildy over the next couple of months, she would read me her stories; they were charming, touching, clever, and well written. One morning while I was shaving, the phone rang; it was Hildy. “I’m sorry to call so early, Dick, but I just had to tell my mentor. I have just been informed that I’ve won two first place ribbons and one honorable mention for the three stories I submitted to the county fair.”

The point in telling you of this special lady, gone now, is to argue for a renaissance in the way we think about writing. Statistically, some eighty percent of adults, when polled, have indicated that they wanted to write a book at some point in their lifetimes, but that only two percent actually do. I believe there are good, corrective answers to the disparity in these numbers, and that there is a way to finally write that long lost story. It just takes a different frame of reference, as I will discuss in the next blog.

I was in my mid forties, after a lengthy career in business, before I put word one to paper, so please don’t think that your age, if advanced, is in any way a hindrance. I believe Hildy proved that. This blog is written to encourage all of us, especially those with decades of life behind them, who may have long ago given up on putting pen to paper, or should I say fingers to keyboard.

Join me in this endeavor, this attempt to create something that will finally fulfill your latent desire to write that short story or novel. Writing anything has always been an intellectual challenge for most people, but what a wonderful and worthy challenge it can be. Dementia related disorders are the concern of many today, so what a fabulous way to stimulate the mind with something important and far above the trivial. Always remember, if you have something to say—only you can say it. The end product will be your end product and no one else’s—-something to be proud of.

This is the first episode in a semi-monthly blog. Above all, I hope it to be interactive, with much correspondence not only between you and me, but an exchange of information and experiences among all of our participants. Tell me what you think about joining in. I sincerely hope that you do. It’s not too late; it never was. Please comment below!

All the best,                                                                                                                      Dick Franklin                                                                                                                    richardsfranklin100@gmail.com                                                                                            Note: Dick Franklin is author of novels Joshua Rye, Serpent at the Well, and MOLTO GRANDE. Go to: amazon.com/author/dickfranklin