My Writing Life

on February 25, 2015

I haven’t posted in awhile.  That’s obvious.  But I’m still writing, only it’s been in long hand, in a notebook.  I decided that I should post some of those writings here.  That way, I’ll have the posts pertaining to the process of writing a novel here where they can be read periodically.

So, I’m writing a novel, most likely historical fiction, about my grand-aunts, my grandfather’s younger sisters.  These two aunts were born in the 1900’s in what was then Oklahoma Territory.  Their lives encompassed Oklahoma statehood, an era of national prosperity and the Great Depression, major cultural shifts, including the era of the flappers, and massive changes in technology, cars, radio, telephone, electricity, etc.   During this time, these sisters became bank robbers. Yes, that’s right.  They ran with a gang of bandits.  But that story will be in the book and you can read it there.

What I intend to write here is about the process of writing and the journey it takes, literally, figuratively and creatively, as well as some flights of fancy.  Currently, I’m working on some character development.  Actually, all of the characters involved are ‘quite the characters’.  It’s my job to discover their voices, their actions, thoughts and beliefs.  Even though I’m related to the two main characters (my grand-aunts), I knew them when I was only a child and not very well.  You see, i come from a very large family – I have over 60 first cousins, and I’m closer in age to some of my second cousins.  So, it’s understandable that I may not know some family members very well or at all.

Back to process… I have found that understanding my characters, since I have only bits and pieces of memory regarding these two women and tales from other family members has been somewhat of analysis.  Specifically, psycho-analysis, as I ask questions such as “What would Goldie think about me writing her story?” which leads to “What would I think of someone writing my story?”  It’s a double-whammy of psycho-analysis, first for the character, then for me (or is it the other way around?). I have found that in writing about another, telling their story, requires that I not only place myself in their shoes, but also attempt to think like them, to see the world through their eyes.  To accomplish this, I must not automatically go to my natural reactions, but to consider other’s reactions thoughts, beliefs, and culture.  There is almost a 100 years difference between the time this story takes place and my time.  Times have changed drastically.

That brings another consideration to light.  Ross MacDonald stated, “We re-shape ourselves when we write.”  That’s all well and good, but I need to re-shape myself only in the timeless ways.  Re-shaping to a culture 100 years in the past could become detrimental to my present.

On one hand, it would have been nice to have had the opportunity to speak with the characters that I’m writing about, or some of their descendants, but I’ve found that to be difficult if not impossible.  Most have died, or it brings back bad memories to the family members.  The flip side of that fact is that I have more room for creativity to bloom.  In the meantime, I’m trying to be as informed as possible by the research.

Til next time…


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