Friday, August 30, 2013

When Bibliophiles Write

If I were to wager a guess, most of you who enjoy following book blogs have been bitten once or twice with the urge to write something of your own. Of the making of books there is no end, as one very wise man once said, and a very good thing too. Otherwise poor bibliophiles would be stuck extolling the praises of Dickens and Tolkien until the end of the world, and never have anything new to create a diversion.

Well, I think it quite permissible that a book blog, that explores not only good books, but also the principles behind them, can touch for a post or two on the writing angle. For those of you writers, we can have a good chat about the art and mystery of spinning those words into one intriguing web, and for those of you who love to read, but don't care to write--well, this will give you a little glimpse into a writer's mind.

This tag post celebrates the start of a new writer's blog Every Good Word, and though I'm at the tail end of the blog party, it's never to late to advertise a good resource, right? Meghan Gorecki had an inspiration out of the blue for a writing blog, to encourage fellow writers in moments of doubt and discouragement when the dream loses a little of its sparkle. She just launched it with a party, and this tag was one of the celebrations that I decided to join in on, being a writer myself.

1. What was your first-ever piece of writing?
A story that shall never see the light of day. I was ten, and I wrote a charming novella of a British princess who moved to America during the Revolutionary War and turned quite patriotic.

You may laugh if you like.

As for serious writing, my first modest achievements were honorable mention for poetry in a writing class, placing third in a political essay contest for the state of MI, and beginning my current novel at the tender age of 14. The original ghost of it began when I was 12, but the current draft began when I was 14. I also began my blog when I was 17, and I've been posting Tuesdays and Fridays ever since January 2012.

2. How old were you when you first began writing?
Probably around 10 or so when the bug first bit me, but around 12 when I began to take it seriously. And it's continued pretty much non-stop since then, for seven years straight--poetry, stories, essays, articles. I have a lot of things filed away in Word documents from years gone by. :) 

3. Name two writing goals. One short term & one long term. 
Short term: finish my novel re-write by editing a chapter a week, until it's finished. Long term: publication and several more books!

4. Do you write fiction or non-fiction?
Serious, straight-laced, absolutely essential-for-you fiction. Sure, it's hard to live with something so dull, but if you pretend really hard, making up your own stories can be semi-enjoyable. ;) *cough*

Now for the serious answer.

I have always had a lot of stories bouncing around in my head, and if I were to publish anything in book form, I think it would most likely be fiction, but in the end I write both. This blog reviews both fiction and nonfiction from all time periods, and I can write serious articles with not a speck of fancy in them, even on subjects other than books. I think it's vital to know how to do both, so you can reach a wide range of audiences. But I would say if I were to sit down in my free time, I would generally always choose fiction over nonfiction.

5. Bouncing off of question 4, what's your favorite genre to write in?
Historical and modern. I don't ascribe to the prevailing notion that writing modern-day stories is fairly worthless. You can have a good, meaty story with ipods and internet in it just as well as swords and chain mail, and I'd like to write a few modern-day things some day.
At the same time, historical writing is absolutely fascinating, because we can look back and interpret events in a light that people living during those times couldn't do. We see them in the perspective of their affect on the world and the Church, and I think that can bring an added dimension that people writing during the time period don't have.

6. One writing lesson you've learned since 2013 began.

Because you're the only one who can write the particular story you're working on, as you have the clearest vision of what you want it to be, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking it all depends on you to get it done. In reality, it's something the Lord has entrusted you to accomplish, and only He can enable you to finish it. I have learned that my projects are really His--and He has given me the privilege of helping to achieve them. Therefore, I need to hold my precious stories and ideas with open hands, that God can move wherever He chooses.

Can I do two? Thank-you. Let's have two. This is a bonus:

Vulnerability is an inescapable part of writing, whether you're blogging, writing a novel, emailing someone, or working on a historical treatise. And we as writers must learn to embrace it. You're always going to get some facts wrong and miss-spell a few words and fumble here and there. All authors are fallible humans, and though a book has only one name on the front cover, and an article has only one person authoring it, it's the culmination of many peoples' advice and critiques. That's a good thing, because we aren't meant to be independent bodies of Christ. We are one Body, meant to come alongside and help each other. And vulnerability won't kill you. You may die a thousand deaths on more than one occasion, but you'll always bounce back. So find people that are safe to be vulnerable with, who will point you back to the Lord and pray very hard for you, and you'll be blessed beyond measure.

7. Favorite author, off the top of your head!
Dickens! He can cram in plots and characters like nobody's business and tie them all up brilliantly at the end. He makes me laugh (even Oliver Twist--who said that wasn't funny?) and cry, and hold my breath. Bleak House, my latest read of his, was particularly brilliant.

8. Three current favorite books.
Oh dear. I really couldn't say. Um, let me do this before I freeze up at trying to narrow it down.  The Silmarillion. It's (Not That) Complicated. Great Expectations.

(I had to narrow it down from seven.)

9. Biggest influence on your writing {person}:
Junior Bibliophile (my younger sister). Most definitely. She listened to my entire first draft of one of my novels, and she comments on every single blog post. She's a dream fanner. She even hides my laptop for me when I need to take a break.

10. What's your go-to writing music?
Definitely Celtic. I've particularly been enjoying "The Star of the County Down" and "The Isle of Innisfree" lately. :)

11. List three to five writing quirks of yours! Little habits, must-haves as you write, etc.
1. Writing music has to be vocals. I can't write well with instrumental. Many people find vocals distracting, but for me they create something very important for my concentration: white noise. When I put on instrumental, I always feel like I am writing in complete silence, and that makes it way too easy to stray to the social networking. Vocals keep me on track and focused when writing a story. However, when writing emails I generally prefer instrumentals or very quiet vocals, and when I write blog posts for My Lady Bibliophile I can't have any music at all, or I get distracted. So for various things I have different music guidelines.
2. I never, ever write in my pajamas, and I always have to comb my hair first. Combed hair is essential; I think I could write in pajamas if I had to, but I never feel fully with it until I have my hair back in a ponytail.
3. I have to have a little notebook with me at all times: several by my bed, and one in my purse, for that stray inspiration that always hits at 11:00. It comes at the oddest times. And it's always the most exciting, violent, or harrowing stuff that you don't want to be thinking about just before you go to sleep.
4. I prefer not to eat or drink and write at the same time.
5. When I'm writing by hand, I like to use a pen. Some pages are fearfully scribbled since I can't erase, but the smoothness of the ink makes the words flow easier. I had great fun writing my novel by hand, and going through all the ink in numerous pens and having to get new ones. :) It's quite the achievement, and always makes you feel that you are making progress.

12. What, in three sentences or less, does your writing mean to you?
An incredible gift from God that I get to enjoy every day, one that, several years ago, I would never have asked for or seen as part of my future. A beautiful opportunity to connect with like minded readers through my blog, and to grow deeper friendships with those who read my more private endeavors. And the exhilaration of crafting characters who grow and take on personalities of their own--who make me laugh and cry and watch with breathless wonder as they come out on the page.

Thanks, Meghan, for a fun tag, and embarking on this new blog! I've been inspired by everything I've read thus far, and I look forward to the encouragement and teaching you'll be offering to your readers in future. All success to your endeavor!

If you're a writer, be sure to check out Every Good Word!. :)

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Come back Tuesday, when I'm going to discuss writing a blog specifically, and some of the things I've learned about blogging since beginning My Lady Bibliophile.

Lady Bibliophile


  1. Dear Lady B,
    This was a fun post! I like your writing quirks! They are very nice and they definitely fit your personality. I think I started writing with a pen because you like it so much. Fearful amount of scribbling! ;) And I am very happy to help hide your laptop or change your desktop background anytime you need me to. :P I love reading your excerpts-they are very tantalizing...
    You should do a few more posts on writing sometime.

    1. This was a fun post to write. :D You've been very good with the laptop lately, but I'm afraid I couldn't give you an A+ as far as the desktop backgrounds. That mouse this week... *shudder*

      I'm looking forward to doing a post on blog writing this Tuesday!


  2. Thanks SO much for linking up, Lady B!!! LOVED your answers & getting to know a kindred spirited writer!

    1. I really enjoyed your tag, Meghan; they were great questions! Thanks for stopping by. :D


  3. Schuyler, I am so glad you joined up!! I have written up that tag post too, I just haven't had time to post it yet. But I love it when you talk about your writing!!! Yayy!!

    I find it so amazing that you started to write roughly around the time you were 12, and 14 when you become 'serious' - because that was pretty much the same with me as well. :). And yes, those ungodly hours of the night are oft' the times when the greatest inspiration and drama flows through my pen - curled up in my blankets under torchlight, scribbling with my fountain pen (pencils are hard to write with!) some really emotional melodramatic piece - I love waking up in the morning and going through it and laughing over the way my mind worked in those silent hours... *sighs* - :D ooo, we are different about the music - I find music with vocals distracting while writing, instrumental is always best, while you are the opposite - but not always does vocal music distract me in my writing... it really depends ;).

    I love how described what writing means to you - oh yes, Schuyler, it is truly a gift that I would never have believed God would have blessed me with in my younger years. But it sure has been an abundant blessing!!! About the lessons you learnt in 2013, I love them - something we all must learn. How truly, it is God's work in us. A verse that has been a great inspiration to me with all that I undertake, but has been specially poignant in my writing is in John 15, when Christ told His disciples 'without Me, you can do nothing' - how we need to abide in Him, and really as you put it "hold my precious stories and ideas with open hands, that God can move wherever He chooses." Amen, sister!

    Ah, and the Silmarilion is a current favourite with me as well ^_^. I am curious to read more of Dickens - him being your favourite author!

    Many blessings in Christ,
    Love, Joy

    1. I'm so looking forward to reading your answers to these questions, Joy! :D

      I wish I could write under the covers like that, but I would wake everyone up, so I'm not really able to right now. Most times I am able to jot down what I need to remember a particular scene that's playing in my mind, but ocasionally I lose inspiration, and that's always a little sad, because you know it would have been good if you could only remember it.

      I've been praying for your first chapter, and hope you're finding good success with it. Remember, don't agonize too much! It's always best to finish something and move on to the next bit, and come back later. And of course, if you need some help I would be most happy to offer any assistance in my power. *innocent whistle*

      Definitely try out a Dickens! Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, and Bleak House. :) Those are the best, and absolutely on-the-edge of your seat adventure. Well, I can say that because I'm used to Dickens, but some people do find him a little slow at first. :) But he's worth persevering through!

      God bless, thanks so much for commenting! I always enjoy hearing from you. :)


  4. I loved this post.

    I liked your remarks on historical writing, and also this:
    "And vulnerability won't kill you. You may die a thousand deaths on more than one occasion, but you'll always bounce back." Which is good for all writers to remember.

    Celtic too. : )

    And being dressed with combed hair before you write. Oh, that made me laugh. Not at you, but at myself. The idea had never occurred to me.

    "And the exhilaration of crafting characters who grow and take on personalities of their own--who make me laugh and cry and watch with breathless wonder as they come out on the page." That is beautiful. :')

    Thanks for the glimpse into your writing life.

    ~The Philologist

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! There is no greater fun, aside from writing stories, to writing about writing itself. :D Keeps us authors occupied discussing it for hours...

      It must be our family personality; I never did school in my pajamas, to my recollection, all the way through. :) So we always chuckled over people who said 'Homeschooling is can do it in your PJs!" ;)


  5. I prefer to be dressed and have my hair ready for the day, too, before I feel like I can "get in touch with my inner artist" :P--we must be related!

    That's really interesting that you prefer to write to vocal music. I think with me it's silence or the whitest of white noise that helps to create the environment I need (or have strongly adapted to)--I don't see how we could be related. :)

    I love the "Can I do two? Thank you. Let's have two." That made me laugh out loud.

    I also appreciated this one (pretend that it's italicized): I have learned that my projects are really His--and He has given me the privilege of helping to achieve them. Therefore, I need to hold my precious stories and ideas with open hands, that God can move wherever He chooses.

    Amen. I want to echo that!

    Thank you for the informative and enjoyable post!

    1. I think I must get the pajama thing from you; I'm not sure that the rest of my siblings have it to the same extent. :D Goes to prove that every kid picks up on different characteristics from their parents, and it's fun to see how it has all played out thus far in our family.

      I laughed writing this post, and I'm glad you enjoyed it as well!



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