An Unmatched Set of Luggage

Sorry about being so late with today's post. Life intervened, and I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off, as my mother used to say. I'll indicate below where I got sidetracked. And coming back here after I finished the post . . . I think I did lose my train of thought somewhere along the way. For that I apologize. I hope you're able to discern something from this post, and I promise to aim higher next week.

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As writers, we bring our past to our work.

Last Tuesday my post was about me being a Texan, which I am, but with a twist because I lived on the East Coast for many years. Because of that, my views are not totally Texas-centric.

This doesn't mean I love Texas less, it means that I see it from a different viewpoint than someone who has lived here all his or her life, like the reader who left a great comment showing all the things she loves about our state.

So that brings me to today's writing post.

We read all the time about there being only a finite number of plots: Man vs. Man, Man vs. The Elements, etc. We make these overall plots into original stories by creating characters to act them out. But our characters and plot twists and turns are influenced by what we, as individuals, bring to the table. Or, rather, to the keyboard.

Given any scenario, no two writers will produce the same story. A writer from New England will tell a different tale about a bank robber than a writer who's lived in Arizona all her life. A man returning from war will write a different love story than will a Mr. Mom who has a corporate wife. The key is to tap into ACK!!! . . . . . ok, I've returned from life on the run and it's ONLY six hours later. So if things don't quite flow you can just shoot me now.

As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, we bring our own baggage to our stories. But don't be afraid to open up all those pieces of luggage. Let the real you leap onto the page and give your stories life.

I don't mean that each and every character or story you write needs to mimic you and your life. I mean that in everything that makes you unique, you'll find a kernel of universal emotion. Remember how you felt when the sky fell on your head or the big bad wolf tried to steal your cookies or the glass slipper fit your foot. Because I guarantee you, the author down the road felt something different from you or reacted differently to the same experience. If he's willing to pour those emotions into a story and you're not, guess whose will sell.

It's much easier for me to say to do this than it is to put into practice. I'm a private person, and I'm still learning to open up enough of myself to make a difference. If it's easy for you to write an emotional scene, you probably haven't opened up enough either.

I've never journaled, but I think writers who do probably find this easier to do in one respect. But the flip side is they run the risk of becoming mired in an emotion they don't want to revisit.

One thing for sure - no one ever said writing was easy.