Today I’m featuring 2 guest posts from Debbie Brown, author of Snow Job, which was released just 5 days ago! The first she discussed about “Writing What You Know”. The next post she talks about “Making/Taking Time to Write”.
Write what you know
Yeah, yeah, I know. You’ve heard it before, and so have I. But let me just tell you that THIS time, I know exactly WHY we are so lovingly told to write what we know. This time I didn’t, and I found myself feeling like the proverbial fish out of water. In my latest novel, Snow Job, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and outside of my field of expertise.
In my bio, I mention that I have worked as a nurse, a teacher, a martial arts coach, (I hold 3 black belts in 3 different styles, from 1st to 3rd Dan.) I have flown planes, painted for an art gallery, and done a whole slew of other things. Recently, someone reading my bio out loud added, “Yeah, for four minutes each.” So to rectify that…Four years was the shortest stint I did in any one of my adventures.All that to say, that I have a great variety of experiences and expertise to choose from for my writing, and I should have stayed within those parameters.
In my life, I have had the opportunity to go on “survival training,” acquiring valuable skills and knowledge, and have not only taught these very skills to teens through the Canadian Cadet Movement, but I have used this knowledge in my books as well. So when I hear in the comments that it is impossible for a teen to have such knowledge, I smile to myself and let it slide, wondering about the sheltered lives some people have led.
Writing Snow Job, in which my main character (a NY family or divorce lawyer), appears at ease in her domain, was worthy of a headache or two for me. I spent days, never mind hours, researching tidbits of information. And I am not talking about a whole bunch of court jargon and details to fill an entire chapter…but a few terms peppered throughout the scenes. I did turn to a young woman who had recently passed the bar herself, to answer some of my questions and ease my inner panic. I am very grateful, Ariane, for your patience.
On the flipside, tossing in little bits of military flavor was a breeze. I recently received my service medal, for having completed the number of years required of a member of the Canadian military. When I am not being Mom, Sensei, Coach, or Debbie Brown -Author, I am called Captain Brown…and I am a proud member of the Canadian Forces. This stuff I know very well, and I can easily write about it.
I feel blessed to have been able to acquire the knowledge and skills that lovingly fill my bag of author spices, adding flavor and aroma to my writing. Of course there’s that other bag of colorful characters…he he he…and if our paths cross, you might never even know that you too have been added to it, only to make an appearance in one of my books later on down the line.
There is unavoidable research in novel writing, because I believe we are always going to expand on our inner data base as we write. But when we are mercilessly thrown into the unknown, where so few of our tools can be of service, it becomes a daunting task to create convincing characters and settings.
So once again, I can only advise you to save yourself unnecessary headaches, and write what you know.
Making or Taking Time to Write
My youngest turned two a few days ago, and I have yet to sleep through the night. Her older brother and sisters had long since done so, but sleep is fleeting for my 6th child. Never before had I lost sleep over a colicky baby, a teething baby or a baby that demanded to be nursed every hour or two…all night long. Nope…not ever. So it would seem as though this one is cashing in on all those unused hours. (I didn’t know you could do that!)
At home, we eat organic and buy whole foods, so 98% of all preparation is from scratch. Far from being a time-savor. It is a choice. I homeschool, also by choice, and the group we belong too has activities every week. (We have apple picking, a visit to the botanical gardens (to see the pumpkins), the planetarium and bio-dome all lined up between now and the Holidays. I work part time on evenings and weekends.Even more time is taken out of my schedule to prepare lessons and then to wax and iron my uniform. Then there are everyday household chores and activities…all done before I can even think about sitting down to write.
Once I do make it in front of my computer, I realise how long it’s been since my last blog post, tweet or Facebook update. Sigh, not to mention the ton of emails waiting patiently for me in my inbox.
This weekend, we are out in the bush with our staff cadets, getting them ready for our unit’s upcoming expedition. I wonder and worry how my daughter will fare, but I have little choice. Though I have to admit that this might be the closest to getting a full night’s sleep I’ll have had in a long while…and I am really looking forward to that. (Oh! In case you are wondering what the heck I’m talking about…I am a Captain, second in command of an Army Cadet unit, and have been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for over 15 years.)
Needless to say, that once I do get back, I’ll need a day or so to recover. I’m not 20 anymore, but I’m sure my sleepless nights are to blame for the fatigue.
So, throw all these things into my schedule, and as you can see…my writing time is far from abundant. But wait! All is not lost, because my 5th novel is about to make an appearance in the world. I guess that means that somewhere along the line, through stolen moments, I was able to write.I can confirm that, YES, my hard head and deep desire to create would not let me give up, and it drove me to write. Sometimes it was no more than a sentence because of the nutty schedule I keep, but every little bit adds up. If you do read Snow Job, let me know what you think about it.
Sure, I’d love a PRIVATE office, you know with little or no distractions, an endless supply of hot cocoa (recipe found at the back of Snow Job), and designated (yet flexible) writing hours. As I write this, my 2-year-old is flipping out…sigh. I have to go put her to bed now…and wait until she falls asleep so I can crawl out in the dark of night and steal a few minutes to write.
Never give up. Don’t wait for the right time or the perfect conditions to allow yourself time to write…just write. Write what you can, write when you can. It’ll pay off in the end.