I don’t have any profound wisdom or insight for you this week. Simply write. Write what you know and what you don’t know. Because whoever said “write what you know” clearly wasn’t trying to write fantasy or science fiction. By science fiction I mean the fun sci-fi, not the geeky sci-fi with uber technical numbers, etc. If I had been better at math and science in high school, I might have a better time tackling books like “The Martian” but I confess the nearest to technical sci-fi I go is watching “The Next Generation.”
I’ve been writing Tamn, my third Heaven’s Edge novella and the full story is finally coming together. A year ago or so, I wrote a scene which I believed would be the intro to Tamn’s story. But I found myself wanting to know more. Like what the Pioneer shuttle went through after the crash, watching the mother ship blown out of the sky. I wanted to see Tamn’s journey and his character as more than Qeya’s intended future. His character has surprised me at every turn because he’s a lot more complicated and messed up than he seems on the surface. In Qeya, Tamn shows up like a hero and makes the sacrifice to stay behind so she can live. It’s been fun digging into the reasons why and uncover just how much he cares for Qeya. Tamn is a warrior and his own worst villain. He doesn’t see himself as a hero, though he knows Qeya and the other young crew view him that way. In truth he’s more like the perfect guy with the rotten core. The bad is brought out of him after he thinks Qeya and the rest of his family is dead. The only thing he has going for him is the Pioneer crew. So far I’ve loved peeling back his layers for that inner struggle between the easier darkness and person he wants to be.
Heaven’s Edge Three is a bridge between the events in Qeya and Ohre. Right now I’m hedging into the scene I first wrote a year ago. The beauty of all this is what I thought was the beginning of my story, picking up right from the end of Ohre, was in fact the end.
Writing is a funny process like that. I’ve read all sorts of books on writing, from Stephen King’s “Memoir” (so worth a read) to K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel. As I read these books I’ve also written books and every time I learn more about the craft and what works for me. Self-help books can be fantastic resources, in the previously mentioned cases, invaluable. But they aren’t meant to dictate your actions either. Sure, you can try it on, like a pair of pants that look great on the rack but not so great for your muffin top. Point being, don’t just rely on other people to tell you how to write. There’s only so much we can offer up to others on the craft, even the experts. Everyone will tell you the same thing we tell ourselves.
The best advice you’ll ever hear. Write what you know and what you don’t know. Discover your voice through writing, through working with editors (who are essentially better writers than you) and reading. Read the wisdom other authors and experts give with a grain of salt. You are the salt. You make your stories come to life. You might write into the unknown with no overall plan, or you may strictly adhere to an outline. Neither method is wrong or necessarily right for you. Try on different hats and see what helps you write the best book. If you’re struggling, grueling through each page, you may not be doing something right. While you should force yourself to write a little each day, you also can’t force creativity. Some days you will write utter crap and have to rework the scene the next day. But it’s all part of the process of becoming better, improving on what you already know. You become an expert at something by putting in your time and effort.
As much as marketing experts will tell you to devote your time to social media and networking for readers, don’t forget the most important thing.
Write. Write early in the morning, late into the night, or in between moments whenever you can catch a breath. Write in your mind as you fall asleep at night, and as you go about your day. Most of us aren’t full-time writers. We have jobs and families and busy lives, a dozen things pulling at our attention in different directions. While you should have priorities, you should also approach life as a writer. Which means living, soaking in each moment and pouring it back into your characters. And if you aren’t able to get out in the world, bring it to you through good books, through classic literature and honest stories. Let you mind and heart and soul be filled with beauty and darkness and everything in between, all the lovely gritty things that make us human.
This hasn’t been a traditional Writerly Witterings because right now I’ve got a heavy real life situation happening. Right now writing for me is therapeutic. I may not post regularly by the book for the next week or two as I’m busy helping take care of a loved one. But I’ll keep writing and share as much as I can with y’all as we start this new journey. I hope you’re encouraged to pull out your manuscript or journal and write today. It doesn’t have to be perfect or poignant, as long as it comes from your heart.
Jennifer Silverwood was raised deep in the heart of Texas and has been spinning yarns a mile high since childhood. In her spare time she reads and writes and tries to sustain her wanderlust, whether it’s the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, the highlands of Ecuador or a road trip to the next town. Always on the lookout for her next adventure, in print or reality, she dreams of one day proving to the masses that everything really is better in Texas. She is the author of the Heaven’s Edge series, Stay and Silver Hollow.