Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Writing from Life

Quick updates:
- NaNo is a no-go this year. My creative writing class has me blissfully writing everyday and, unless a collection of "stream of consciousness" writings count towards a 50,000 word novel, there will be no NaNo.
- I'm actually ok with not participating in NaNo this year. Really.
- I have a new addiction. Reuben sandwiches. I had my first one this weekend, which is odd considering my father LOVED them and my mom eats them every chance she gets. I think the whole sauerkraut thing scare me. Facing your fears can be tasty!

Something my creative writing professor said last week has really stuck with me. "Creative writers write from life". This goes back to that old, terribly over spoken phrase "Write what you know". I used to balk at this, thinking, "but I don't want to write about growing up in suburbia with a dog and a rabbit that attacked my cousin." I have learned through this class that this isn't exactly what that phrase means.

One of our exercises last week was to list at least five things about ourselves that was unique, that we could dive deeper into and write about. I found myself thinking about my ancestors, how they came from Ireland and settled in the south. I wondered about my grandfather's grandparents who came over the Appalachian mountains in a covered wagon to settle in north Georgia. The Appalachian region has been haunting me lately, which explains my sudden craving for bluegrass music and black eyed peas. I wonder where this could lead?

The point is not that I'm strange, but that we all have things in our past that make up a delicious soup of awesome. One we can all ladle up and write about. I've been thinking more and more about researching my family history to dig up some stories. Turn up that old soil and see what's there. We all have so much holding us up, so many people who have gone before us. What were their stories? How do their stories translate into our own lives?

What about you? What do you know? Where did you come from? How can you turn your past, maybe even a past you don't know, into stories that speak to the here and now?
Trust me when I tell you this exercise is very, very enlightening! Have fun! Be bold!



  1. I'm all right with not doing NaNo as well. And I'd like to hear about that attack rabbit.

  2. I've begun doing family genealogy and it's fascinating to find out about my ancestors. Knowing where they came from is important. My ancestors are Irish, too. I come from the Campbells. : )

  3. I've always wanted to dig deeper into my family history--there have to be some amazing stories in there! Sounds like your class is going super well.

  4. I've always wanted to dig deeper into my family history--there have to be some amazing stories in there! Sounds like your class is going super well.

  5. I love that exercise you described. I should give it a go. I think my past bubbles up into my writing without me even realising it. I'll be writing and then I'd think, oh, I recognise where that's coming from (it's never planned).

  6. I got distracted by the bluegrass music. Your ancestors must be singing to you to write their story. They're there in the telling and in how you see the world. Write on!

  7. I could have sworn I already commented on this... Maybe I'm losing my mind? That wouldn't surprise me.

    Anyway, I think it's brilliant that you are writing everyday. Nano is just a motivator to do that anyway, so really, you don't need NaNo. :)

  8. Interesting, thank you for passing on the saying and the exercise. I have the urge to write something from my Native American roots, but only have incomplete ideas, so far. I'll have to make my own list of five things, though. A creative writing class sounds wonderful to stir up ideas and inspiration.

  9. I was assisting a wonderful lady last night as she taught a large group of twelve-year-old girls how to make cinnamon rolls. This lady kept using the phrase, "As the daughter of a grocery store owner ..."

    It made me smile. Then I started a sentence, "As the daugher of an insurance salesman ..."

    ha. Reading about your father loving Reuben sandwiches made me think of this!!

  10. I'm quasi doing NaNo. I'm writing, but not with the 50k goal. So I'm updating how many words I'm getting, but man, it's weird to see everyone whizzing past me. "Delicious soup of awesome" <--- Yes! Love this!

  11. Sorry about no Nano this year, but glad you are okay with it! :) He he glad you have a new sandwich addiction, sounds good!

    Have a business card giveaway if you are interested love: http://www.oceandreams4sierra.com/2011/11/uprintingcom-business-cards-giveaway.html


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