Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

You Are What You Write

It is said you are what you eat.  Well if that's true then I'm some weird mutation made of sushi, coffee, sweet tea, chocolate, and Special K protein cereal.  

But I believe we are what we write.  And I'm a nuclear medicine, Geiger-counting super mom, who can fling fiery sticks and knives into the air without blinking, and this must explain why I write thrillers.

Anyhow, your life is unique, you have lived it and it's your story. Nobody else's. You may have grown up by the ocean in a big city or perhaps you learned to fish in a small town in the mountains by a lake? You might be an amateur astronomer or an oral surgeon, or teach night school.  Or you could have the uncanny ability to whistle the Battle Hymn of the Republic while tap dancing.  

But what I'm trying to say is nobody else on earth has had the same experiences in life that you've had, and all of this plays into our outlook/voice/approach as a writer.  

Have you ever sat down and thought about the curious life experiences or talents you have?  Have any of these events wiggled their way into one of your manuscripts?  If I were a betting woman, I'd take those odds to  Vegas and bet that yes, you have written some of your own personal life experiences into your manuscripts.

If you haven't thought about this before, I double-dog dare you to dig down deep and think about your life right now.  What's unique about your background?  Are there any special skill-sets you possess?  What are your most vivid memories?  Which types of people make you irritated or mad?  What in your life has made you cry?  Have you ever witnessed injustice or endured a painful situation?  What's quirky about you?

All of these thoughts you can use to create your next manuscript, and to get you going we'll do a fun exercise that I hope can unlock some inspiration.  

Let's play "Getting To Know You"!

Tell us 3 wild and crazy facts about yourself we didn't know! Do you think these things helped turn you into the writer you are today?  How do these things influence your writing style or voice?  Have any of these deep, dark secrets made it into your manuscripts or inspired the type of character you create?

I'll get started first.  These are three wild and crazy things you didn't know about me.

1) I know how to use this device, and use it often.  As a writer, sometimes I write about unseen and deadly forces at work, which I guess, is kind of like ionizing radiation. It's all around you, but sometimes the characters don't see the danger.  But in case you're wondering, YES I will write about a character having to use this little contraption in the future, and YES it might find its way into the sequel for the manuscript I'm querying now.  Hopefully there will be a need for a sequel. 
This is a Geiger counter & I measure radiation with it.  

2)In college I used to twirl these at halftime as the featured twirler for the Univ. of Memphis.  I guess this says that in my writing I am okay with having my characters do dangerous stunts & take risks.  

Samoan knives and fire batons.  I would twirl 3 of them.
3)Also in college, I was in a few pageants.  It made my competitive nature come out even more and I loved that part.  It was fun winning scholarships, and one of the most difficult ones I competed in was a national pageant that I sadly lost, but made it into the final six. The winner was somebody you might have heard of, who was in a movie last year you also might have heard of. 

Yea, I was standing to the left of her (Roselyn Sanchez) onstage and was sort of p*ssed off.
Can I say that now after 19 yrs?  Hell yea.
I wanted to win. But then again, she was really nice & I liked her.  But I still wanted to win.  But if not me, then okay.

Looking back & thinking of my life's strange twists and turns, it's definitely no wonder I write the way I do. I've experienced love in my beautiful marriage and as a mother, have traveled (and want to do more), but I've also experienced  heartbreak, struggles, and many challenges during my forty-something years on this planet.

All of these things make us tell the stories we do, and each tale told is a part of you.  Cool, that rhymed! 


Andy Robinson said...

Hi Joey

Your blog certainly made me smile!

Although I am currently writing about my ten years as an overland expedition leader in some 80-odd countries, long term I want to write thrillers - already have my characters and plots waiting for me :)

Does my wild inner self dictate how I write?...for sure!

1) Like to do things my way - don't have much time for authority, fluff or sitting on the fence.

2) Willing to throw caution to the wind - too much analysis prevents spontaneity. Jump in and worry about it later.

3)Skating on thin ice - love pushing the boundaries to the limit, to see how far I can get.

Hmmm - think that sums me up. Could be a worry, but I know me too well!

When I get to the thrillers, my main man is someone I can identify with :)

T.J. said...

Yes, much of my life is in my writing. But I cover it with fantasy.

1. at the age of five, I thought I was playing in a new growth forest outside of Anchorage. I found out I was actually frolicking among a herd of moose. I'm known for getting into sticky situations without realizing it until a fuzzy nose is in my face. (Luckily, I wasn't considered a danger - moose have been known to kill humans in self defense).

2. I've seen, and been part of, the violence in prisons. I know what it feels like to have to fight despite stab wounds, broken bones and being covered in blood.

3. I'm not girly, per se, but I have my little things - like a love for all things handbag and boots. And a recent obsession with cute pajama bottoms.

All of these things are present in every MS. I just add mythology to make it more interesting LOL

Joey Francisco said...

Keep it coming!

@Andy: Can't wait to hear more from your travel adventures & find out how you'll weave them into stories.

@T.J.: I laughed out loud at your moose story! Now is that in any scene you've written about? Agree, all our struggles & challenges make up the unique person we see in the mirror. So tell me, what store sells the cutest pajamas right now? Love them in cold weather. :)

Alan said...

An interesting read, Joey, Thanks for sharing! You may not have won that day, but you are a winner in life (marriage, family, etc.)

Like Andy and T.J above, I also incorporate pieces of life's influences in my writing as well.

1. Sold eggs and produce to the local community while growing up on our family farm, and always was fascinated with out of state plates whenever one would venture by/through for a crate of eggs/fresh produce. As a result Geography became one of my favorite subjects in grade school.

2. A gifted athlete in several sports, someone my Pappy referred to early on as a "natural", never understood all the fuss about using it as some type of hero worship, thus to this day still downplay it, and begrudge the excessive dancing/celebrating after a score by today's athletes. It's okay to celebrate, but no need to gloate and rub it in.

3. My interest in writing about politics stems from my Pappy's years on the school-board, county chairman, etc. during a time when character development was just as an important part of the school curriculum as high marks. Thus my MC/or characters in general seek to do the right thing even if it means they may lose power, prestige, love, etc.

Again, great post! Keep 'em coming!

Joey Francisco said...

@Alan: That is cool how you grew to love geography from working on your family farm & so refreshing to see your beliefs on athletes & "showboating". Call me old school, but I think athletes should remember they're looked up to by kids like my son, so they should try to play just as well off the field in life, as they do on the field of battle. Character does count.

Having characters with a moral compass is good, plus it will further contrast the characters to the antagonists.

As soon as I can find time to scribble more, it'll keep coming my friend. So nice to meet you btw!

T.J. said...

Found the jammie bottoms on - Scooby and Transformer bottoms are my favs LOL