I’m so pleased to introduce Monica McCann to you all. She’s one of the contributing authors in A Hill Country Christmas- Truths for Troubled Trails. A former teacher, she’s helped introduce writing to many students, and now gets to GO FOR IT herself! I appreciated her thoughts here, since I’ve also written notes for a novel on many an unworthy scrap of paper. We’ll be hearing more from Monica, I’m sure of it!
I always imagined when I “became a real writer” that my writing would be this organized, linear, easy telling of a story on paper. After all, I have been telling stories to myself, to my pets, to my best friend my whole life. Ha! Silly me.
I have two novels and two short stories that I am in the middle of and none of them just flow from my fingers to my laptop. I have sticky notes and legal pads and 30 tabs open on my computer screen for research (yes,30, I just counted them). I am not claiming this is the best way, this is just my way.
What I have found to be true is that “writing” happens at all hours, in inconvenient places and not always on paper. It can be messy. Stories appear as we go about our day. Inspiration will dawn suddenly and as my daddy always said, “Gotta make hay while the sun shines.”
Sometimes that happens while you are on a plane dutifully reading a book to help you with your fear of the editing process. The exercise in this book shed light on one of my unfinished novels that lays waiting in the dark. I knew my aging brain would remember only part of the idea if I wrote it later, so I wanted to get it down.
I hadn’t brought my laptop or a notebook, and the tiny napkin from my airline refreshment would handle very little of my swoopy cursive. What did I find? The airsick bag! My whole row’s air-sick bags. Yep, I am a real writer.
One of my short story ideas started with a person and a geographical location. That led me to his sister, who authored a book about the place, which led me to another historical website, and there was my story waiting for me.
Driving to town yesterday, a song on the radio made me think about what it would be like to look someone in the eye that you had thought was lost to you in time. Suddenly my idea became two living, breathing people. I get horribly carsick so writing while sitting in the car is not my favorite, but I grabbed my new notebook out of my bag (My husband, appalled at my behavior on the airplane, bought me two.) I wrote feverishly, and oh so messy, in my notebook for the entire hour drive.
Today I am back at the computer, translating my scribbles from yesterday, and the voice memo I made for myself while walking this morning. A few more tabs of research will be opened. The husband or the dogs will interrupt me a dozen or more times, so the “writing” continues in my head.
I will continue to gather sticky notes and other pieces of my story here and there. None of this disqualifies me as a “real writer.” I am so thankful for people that encourage me to just tell the stories.
I think the truth I have been learning is the same truth the Velveteen Rabbit learned.
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit
Becoming a real writer is something that happens as you write. It is sometimes painful, often messy, and in the end, wonderfully real.
Tools of the trade
Monica McCann is one of the contributing authors in
A Hill Country Christmas- Truths for Troubled Trails.